Saturday, February 09, 2013

El Dorado!

El Dorado is Spanish for a place of fabulous wealth.
Isn't it curious that in wealthy southern California a nature park would be so named?
Perhaps not, considering how costly southern California real estate is worth these days.
If the nature park was up for sale as a piece of property, someone would soon be getting some pretty big bucks.
While visiting Sara (the blogger who writes Come Away with Me) a week ago we were able to visit the nature center and enjoy nature free of charge.
How nice is that?

I personally was delighted that we could stroll at our own pace without dodging runners or feeling like we should be putting a bit more effort into our own gait.

So come along with us on our walk.
Near the parking lot was a holly bush draped shaggy with fallen pine needles.

Across a foot bridge we went, over barely flowing water.

The green headed mallard population quickly swam up to greet and welcome us.

Signs warned of feeding them so I suspect their welcome was genuine rather than handout inspired.

Now I will confess that I have a soft spot for turtles.
Seeing one perched on a log made me quite happy.

A pregnant pine tree?

I do not know the name of this little guy but he was swimming along all by his lonesome, paddling as fast and hard as he could in the shallow stream.

Mini gardens sprung up of their own accord in the hollowed out tops of logs: charming!

Tribal mask or bug?

Bonus:  A Great Egret!
(Its correct name is "Great Egret"...that isn't a comment about this particular egret.)
All together now, join me in singing line from "I did it my way" with Frank Sinatra:

Egrets....I've had a few, but then too few to mention...

A freaked out cat tail.
Or a cat tail gone to seed.
Depends on your perspective and cat-savvy.

We sauntered along a mile long path, enjoying the dappled sunlight and shadows beneath the mostly bare trees.

As any photo taking blogger knows, picture taking stops are to be expected and enjoyed.
I enjoyed taking this picture of Sara shooting a photo.
We have spent a weekend together in SLC taking pictures of fall color two years ago.
I think we could probably enjoy similar weekends just about anywhere that is scenic.

I am guessing this is a squirrel drey rather than a bird's nest, but I could be wrong.

Don't you love seeing Mr. and Mrs. Mallards?
They always seem to be together in pairs, and we always call them Mr. and Mrs.

I don't know if there are Mr. and Mrs. Grebes...
Sara and I chatted briefly about the classic black and white grebe wardrobe, with their lime green accent leggings.
I think the white bills are a nice touch.

The mallards are so much more fashion forward with that light changing green/blue head feather trick.

A stack of turtles on a log brings to mind the Dr. Seuss classic Yurtle the Turtle, a book that was first published when I was a child.
There was even a Yurtle the Turtle board game released with the book, which our family owned.

I don't recall what kind of turtle Yertle was, but these are (I think) painted turtles.
Or maybe red sliders.
Lots of kids own this kind of turtle growing up when I was a kid.
The pet turtles were about 2-3 inches big and usually lived in a plastic tray with a fake palm tree.
I  was so surprised to learn later that they actually DO live in the wild!

They seem to have very nice easy going lives....

Swim around, find a nice log, stretch out, soak up the sun.
Reflect in the water.

Occasionally look around.
Nice life!

Isn't that peaceful?

The turtles all seem to get along and are willing to share the best sunning logs.

But of course, even the most blissful lives have intrusive elements.

Who doesn't have a butt-in-ski person or couple in their lives?

Turtle:  Just stay still...maybe they will just glide by and not stop in this time.

Turtle:  Oh hi...

Mr. Mallard:  Hey, you mind if I just hang around with you all for a little while?

Mrs. Mallard:  Listen, while I have you all here I wanted to ask you about...

Mr. Mallard: Oh man, my back has been itching me so bad lately...

This duck was the ultimate "photo bomb" duck!
He just would not get out of the picture.

Apparently it was all about Mr. Mallard.

He swam back and forth, crossing over the log, stopping on the log...

Standing on the log...

He stared at me like if to ask if I was getting his best side.

I was proud of the three turtles who stood their ground, er, log.

In the end, they all together created a colorful picture.

Now do you see what I see?
This turtle is sporting a mustache!

Isn't that the cutest turtle thing ever???
Very jaunty!
(I got the giggles when I noticed the mustache in the photo after taking the picture.)
Sara promises to return to El Dorado from time to time to take pictures of the park in the various seasons.
I am glad she has such a neat place to go; it seemed like a place one could easily spend a morning or afternoon at, pack in a lunch or the makings of an afternoon tea; a place to be with a friend or all alone.
I only had 24 hours with Sara.
I got to me her dear Miss Kitty, (who was not as thrilled to meet me as I was to meet her, typical of cats!)
I got to hear her Music Man playing on his piano.
We got a chance to sit on her cover patio and enjoy the comfortable January late morning chatting about odds and ends.
Her home is a welcoming and peaceful as her blog.
I was blessed by her hospitality and friendship!
Thank you for letting me come spend the night and see in person so many of the beautiful things you have shared with us all on your blog over the years!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Visiting Sara in Long Beach

Last week I went from the pencil sketch snow dappled mountains of southern Utah to the vibrant watercolor sea shores of southern California!
We had gone to San Diego to assist Bernie's father with clearing out some of Bernie's mother's belongings after her passing last November.
I also was taking the opportunity to see my own parents, particularly my Dad, who  has had some surgery last month.
It was good to be able to go visit for a week.
My friend Sara lives in Long Beach.
We had known each other briefly back in the early 1970's in college related Bible studies.
Our paths did not cross again until about five years ago, when she discovered my blog on the Internet.
It really is too bad that we lost so many years...we had our first born babies just days apart and lived quite near each other but had not know that.
She has come to visit me in Utah twice; this trip to California I was looking forward to having two days with her and a chance to explore the scenes in her world that I have only seen via her blog page.
It was an easy two hour drive from San Diego up the coast to Long Beach.
A bay side lunch was suggested...

Blue crab cake appetizers were delicious!

We strolled around the marina both before and after lunch, enjoying the sunshine and ocean scents on a winters day.
The tall ship in dock was apparently a new arrival.

A typical SoCal girls outing: Lunch and a bit of shop perusal.

And bird watching/nearly dodging...

We hopped in Sara's private Lear jet and went over to Venice...

OH those canal side mansions!

I have notice that when houses cost 9, 10, 11 million or so, they tend to have custom made doors.
I like such doors very much.

Classy and classic teak with a modern vibe.

Arched traditional styles with moorish antique vibes

Victorian stain glass with a garden vibe.

Can't decide if this is Greek Island, or ???
The weathered appearance of the door:  Is it really an old door or a replica of an old door?
Or an entirely new design?

Fish scales: I am sure that some artist was inspired by fish scales for this door.

I love how the whale bone back bone was used for holding the address numbers.
I am not so clueless as to believe this "fishing shack" rough hewed plank/ threw it together with odds and ends look is real.
Pretty sure an architect was involved...

Over the years Sara has posted many pictures from this walk on her blog as part of a doors and window blogging challenge.
I have been sooo wanting to see these doors in person.
It was just as fantastic as the photos had lead me to believe.

The canal is lined on both sides with mansions that look like smallish cottages, with narrow frontage and small courtyard in front. 
The houses are actually pretty large and fill up a block in length.
Most houses had a boat parked out front, and the canal does lead to open water eventually.

Some of the uber rich apparently felt that an elegant home and beautiful boat wasn't quite enough to complete the scene.
A pirate would though.

And a Bob's Big Boy??
(Most wealthy folks have quirky humor I have found!)

They also tend to like their privacy.
Now I have a window like that in my own bathroom.
About 1/100 that size.
Now why would anyone with a view of the canal want to not have view through their window just so no one could have a view through their window to them?
A mystery for sure!

The plants of Southern California are equally interesting to me.
I grew up with them and was quite bored with them by the time I left the area.
Now I find their sculptural qualities very appealing.

Succulents with their meaty leaves are cool!
I would gladly collect them and create a space for them in my home if I could just figure out where that could happen.

A succulent version of a sunflower....

I think this is the cactus variety that is used to make tequila?
As a child I was told by some ranger/teacher/camp leader that Indians used to pull out the thorn from the tip of the leaves, which drew out fibers that were attached to the thorn.
This thorn/fiber combination served as a needle and thread for Indian clothing mending.
As a kid I occasionally attempted to pull out the needle with the alleged ready made thread.
Attempted, but never succeeded.
Now I wonder if Indians really actually did that.

The red hot poker plant used as a planting on the docking piles impressed me.
I would have cheerfully  knocked on the facing house's impressive door and told the homeowner that I appreciated the extra botanical touch.

Palm trees trunks that my knowing eye can see have been newly trimmed.
The ruddy freshness contrasts so nicely against the blue skies and the green palm fronds compared to the grayish stalk of the non-trimmed slowly frond stem shedding palm on the right.

Blurred vision via plants!

Palms in the wild have pantaloons, right Sara?
(We saw a wild one, untrimmed, the next day...)

The pattern of palm leaves are slightly different and yet the same in all palms.
Such an organized orderly plant that most people associate with vacations!

Succulents come in a rainbow assortment of pastel shades.

The tacky Bob's Big Boy sculpture was balanced out at another home by the tasteful angel soaring over head.

Secretly I want a reason to have a pointed place on my roof top for mounting an equally charming weather vane.

Mermaids...I miss my mermaid loving daughter.

(I don't think I would want this weather vane, but my marlin fishing dad really is pretty impressive!)

Only one door sported a wreath.
I guess you could call it a wreath...
Quite nautical/seashore inspired.

Most of the houses had equally impressive boats docked out front.
And some even had two dingies on board. be a two dingy family, boat wise that is.
(Most family have one or two dingy members human wise already.)

Would you believe the home owner/gardener found a rose tree named "Ebb Tide"?
How perfect!

It was so wonderful to at long last be walking this canal with Sara.
She has taken this walk many times over the years and shared on her blog the many eye catching elements that she sees.
This time...there was something new for the home owners to see.

Jill and Sara together on a blogger's photo taking outing!

And yes I did think our presence did add some extra class to the Long Beach Yacht Club for a bit.
We are both somewhat sun adverse, with skin that burns easily.
Neither of us long for life on a yacht.
(Or the expense that goes along with owning a yacht...oy!)
Still...there is just something about walking around a marina filled with the boats and sounds of the water.
It was a day to remember, it was a really good day!