There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label california. Show all posts
Showing posts with label california. Show all posts

20 August 2017

McCloud Falls

Lately I've been waiting until I arrive at my destination before looking for things to do in the area. I like the spontaneity more than the prior planning. My last day in the Mount Shasta area of California finds me searching for a hike before I head back down the mountain to the airport.

Enter the tiny mountain town of McCloud, and McCloud Falls.
You can enter this hiking trail from a few different areas, but I choose to start at the bottom where Lower McCloud Falls is visible, and make my way upwards to Middle and Upper McCloud Falls.

In the early morning light I find only a single Native American woman, fishing for breakfast as her fire gets going to stave off the chill. I start hiking along the trail, but turn around momentarily and capture a picture of her casting her pole into the river. It starts my soul on fire as much as the kindling in her fire pit as the wood crackles and burns.
Further on up the trail I pass the occasional cluster of tents, their occupants still sleeping in warm blankets. I tiptoe past them in silence.
Morning mist dances above Middle McCloud Falls. A girl and her dog are splashing in the river below. I have a morsel of breakfast as I watch the mist and spray weave and turn in the power of the falling water.
A sharp incline has me climbing above the gorge and eventually I find myself at Upper McCloud Falls. The water rushes through the rocks more quickly here as the canyon narrows itself. I have not encountered another soul for this last little bit, and cherish the solitude.
The trail starts to fill with more adventurers as I make my way back down, the campgrounds come alive with the sounds of children waking and bacon sizzling on camp stoves.

28 July 2017

Mount Shasta

It was easily over four hours from the bay area up to the pristine mountains of Mount Shasta in northern California. Years before a friend of mine had shown me a picture of them hiking here, and that was all she wrote. I took a mental note and planned for the day that I would one day witness the beauty with my own eyes.
I pull into my cabin by the lake, and unpack my groceries of fresh fruit and whiskey, break out the ice and relax on the porch. I only want to be here now, no other place to be. In this moment, with just you and me.
Oh yes, just be here now.

02 July 2017

Pirate Tower

Could his long lost love be locked away in a tower, just like in the fairy tales of olde? With just a sprinkle of imagination and a childlike wonder for adventure, he goes on a quest to find out...
A tiny clearing is found in between the maddeningly small streets lined with homes of financial giants. He steps lightly, as he doesn't want to wake the sleeping beasts. Brightly colored flowers open their pistils and stamens, pointing him in the right direction.
He comes to the edge of the ocean, watching sea creatures scurry along the moss covered rocks, clinging tightly as the waves crash down upon them.

Some lose the battle and are swept back out into the Pacific. He crawls along the rocky precipice with stealth precision. In the breeze he hears the faint call for help from an angelic voice.

"I'm up here...."
The Tower looms before him, yet their are no stairs to climb, nor a door to enter. The voice calling to him is maddening, like the never ending waves crashing all around.

"How will I reach my long lost love?"
A tiny opening is found, large enough that only his hand can fit through. He bravely reaches inside. The softest caress brushes his callused and aged fingers, letting him know she is inside, waiting eternally for him....

to find the key.

13 June 2017


Berkeley is a microcosm of New York City, in my opinion. Each block is a world unto itself, wrapped in it's own beliefs and ignorant of what is happening beyonds its own sidewalk borders.
Only the homeless cross the unseen lines that separate the city from itself, refugees in their own country. Yet their is a love and unselfishness that floats in the pungent air.
The more I see this country being ripped apart by politics and hatred, I find redemption and solace in a place such as Berkeley.

An island in a sea of garbage filled with zombies that walk crooked lines and spew garbled nonsense.

08 June 2017

A Giant in a Child's Gnome Maze

The garden maze was laid out perfectly before the Giant's eyes.

Little gnome houses could be seen, the tricky parts not so tricky after all for the ugly and lumber some beast.

Yet he enters regardless....
The Giant pretends he is a Little, no higher than the garden walls, and wanders with such pretense. He finds little gnome houses full of tiny furniture and gnome families making evening food preparations.
Around and around the Giant goes, delighting in the intricacies of the garden maze. To pretend is to let his beastly mind wander in creativity, and to do that is to be free.
He lets out a loud, jovial laugh as he finds his way out of the maze. The gnomes scamper and hide at the sound of this intruder....

then return to their evening activities once the Giant is gone.

07 June 2017

The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

It was mid afternoon in January, and I was driving around the hills of Santa Barbara with the windows down and the ocean breeze was transporting my mind to happier places.

I eventually find the Botanical Gardens I was told about. Five and a half miles of hiking trails that take you through the varied landscapes that California has to offer.

Yet it's the sunlight that transposes this place into a magical wonder on this day. Soft warmth cascades down, from the redwood trees to the Japanese gardens.
Back then I was still reeling from the reality of our new President, as was most of California. The peace here helps to keep me calm in this new Trump era.
I focus on the light between the trees, the sun that forever shines and always rises to signal the beginning of a new day. It's constant revolution around our planet helps to keep me centered in an uncertain future.
I can always find a peaceful homecoming in Nature.

05 June 2017


I settle into my seat at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park just as the opening act walks onto the stage. I overhear the girls behind me remark "is that Karen Elson, Jack White's ex?"
What I saw was a beautiful red head, not someone's ex-wife, nor a former British supermodel. What I heard were heartbreaking lyrics, a tortured soul singing about her pain, and the magic that comes from baring your soul.
Goosebumps start as Ryan Adams comes onto the stage. This will have been my third time seeing him perform live, but after the first song I could tell that for me, he has never sounded better vocally, and the band was in tight form.
Perhaps it was because he was playing in his hometown, or perhaps it was just that he is in a good place in life, but no matter the reason, his Prisoner tour to showcase his newest album is a tour de force.
The night compromised of a 23 song set list that had such classic songs as Magnolia Mountain, Gimme something good, and Firecracker, as well as a new version of When the Stars Go Blue, plenty of tracks from the new album, and a final acoustic performance of Come Pick Me Up sung as a duet with Kate Elson.
If you have the chance, get out to see Ryan Adams this summer, as you won't regret it.

08 May 2017

Inspiration Point

I haven't seen California this lush and green in....forever. I think the plane has taken a detour and I've been re-routed. The call to be in the mountains above Berkeley is even stronger now.
Tilden regional park just above the city offers great hiking trails and jaw-dropping views of both the bay and the inland valleys. I find a trail and just start walking....

I lone black cow comes across my path, and is just as curious about me as I am about it.

Woah big fella.

I keep going, and eventually find myself at a place called Inspiration Point. The clouds have partially lifted and the Golden Gate Bridge is visible.

A couple is sitting on a park bench overlooking the bay. It's the purest example of strained love I've seen in quite awhile.
and I find it beautiful.

12 April 2017

Sigur Ros

I had never even heard of the band Sigur Ros before, but I know my instincts well enough by now to listen when I hear the words....
I find myself at the top of Berkeley's Greek Theatre, listening to lyrics in Icelandic, having no idea what they mean, but feeling the power of this group's music come through loud and clear.

They were phenomenal!
I can't recommend them enough, and if you have the chance, go see them live. It won't matter that you can't understand what they are singing about, the lead singer's falsetto voice, the light show, the ethereal and hypnotic feeling of the music, and the playing of guitar's with a bow string will be more than enough for you to fall in love with Sigur Ros.

28 March 2017

Ventura Pier

The gringo shuffles his boots slowly along the boardwalk, waiting for the sun to rise. The ocean waves of Ventura are his ever constant companion.
He finds a quiet spot underneath the pier to sit and listen to the music the waves make as they cascade across the smooth stones on the beach.

He remembers hearing this music before, in Lima, in another life time.
The sadness seems to play a little more loudly this day, and he wonders if his time has come.

Not a bad way to go, the gringo ponders as his toes get soaked in the rising tide. He takes a step closer before seeing a squirrel on a rock watching him.

The squirrel speaks to him, "Today is not your day for banana fish".
He supposes not, and heeds the wise words of the squirrel and continues to listen to the ocean's music before carrying on through another day.

14 March 2017

The cliffs of Elwood

Emerging from Goleta Grove I can hear the old familiar sound of ocean waves breaking on the shore. Roads crisscross along the Elwood Cliffs in playful fashion, the young run along the trails, the elderly hold hands in the morning sun.
I find a secluded spot on the cliff's edge, cross my legs in meditating fashion, close my eyes and recite poetry in my mind.

When I open them, a lone crane is a few feet from me. It is watching the ocean too as the morning fog burns off in the sun and escapes into the seaside bluffs.
A kinship is born between us, two creatures placed upon this earth at the same time, neither looking to harm the other, both only making their way through this world with a semblance of self awareness in their surroundings.

Do you take the time to truly appreciate where you are?

09 March 2017

Goleta Grove

I had a dream of walking amongst thousands of butterflies, their wings beating so furiously that the motion lifted my body in the air and away I went, up into the atmosphere.
The reality of my day at Goleta Grove however was quite different from my dream. The morning along the California coastline was in the lower 40's, and I was wearing shorts.

My research showed that the monarch butterflies cluster together high up in the Eucalyptus trees when its cold. These clusters can look like dead leaves when the butterflies wings are closed.

The morning was a chilly walk through a morning forest full of clusters of dead leaves high up in the branches. Yet, I do not complain as I have the place pretty much to myself.
As the sun warms the forest, the occasional monarch flutters down from a cluster to bask in the sunlight. This happens a few times throughout the morning, each time is its own magical thrill.

I have no expectations when trying to observe Nature in its natural habitat, I just take what the day is willing to show me.

26 February 2017

the Story of Solvang

Founded in 1911 by three Danish immigrants, the dream for a safe place to live and raise Danish families began. Buying large tracts of land for farming, homes, and a town started what is known as Solvang.

A "sunny field" indeed.
The place is undeniably charming, even with it's throngs of tourists flooding the small town streets. I feel like a character out of a Hans Christian Anderson story, perhaps a lone ogre or an elderly dwarf.
Maybe I'm a cobbler, looking for work so that I too can feed my family living on my small spot of land here in America.

Perhaps I'm a lone prince, looking for a princess in the fairy land of opportunity.
After all, I have roots in this culture, this place of Danish immigrants.

A place reminiscent of the hopes and dreams of all immigrants looking to come here.

At least, I do hope that we can continue to keep that dream alive.

01 February 2017

the Cholla Gardens

Melancholy mixed with tears covered the man's face as he made his way through the desert, racing the setting sun. An oasis of chollas appear before him, a giant cluster of prickly beauty, seemingly unreal.
He walks into the garden of cacti in a dream-like state of mind. A drum circle of young hipsters chants rhythmically. A young girl looks up, her eyes pierce his soul from her hand knit beanie.

He flashes back to his own lost love.
The moon pulls out the strangest of emotions, the truest of colors lying within each of us, waiting to explode with indignant rage, in the Cholla Gardens of Joshua Tree.

30 January 2017

a moment with the music of Ventura Beach

 "The ceremony is about to begin. The entertainment for this evening is not new, you've seen this entertainment through and through you have seen your birth, your life, your may recall all the rest. Did you have a good world when you died? -enough to base a movie on??”

I wonder about this more often than not. The words of the Lizard King rattle repeatedly around in my skull.

In La La land I dream of being a Hollywood director while the ocean waves play a symphony along the smooth stones of Ventura Beach.
People are sitting in yoga poses to my right, in deep meditation to my left. Even the homeless stop their rummaging to enjoy the sunrise.

I make a movie to take home and remember.

It will be enough for today.

09 December 2016

The seafood and ocean waves of Point Arena

"Being outdoors is as essential to my life as water, food, and air."
If the ocean waves ever stopped their endless crashing upon the rocky shores, Point Arena would be unbearably silent. Yet they do not, and life seems to create itself along the shoreline. Gulls line up along the rooftop of the only restaurant to be found. I wander the old and rickety building until I find the back entrance.

Long bearded fisherman line the bar, drinks barely touched as they re-hash the same old conversations.

The seafood is divine.
A lone dog on the pier is eyeing me as I make my way to ocean. He doesn't bark, I carefully tiptoe as I walk, afraid to crush a seashell.

I find a smooth stone to sit and watch the tide ebb and flow with my racing mind.
If you are searching for a place off the beaten path, a place where you can let your mind unwind, Point Arena may just be the destination you need.
It worked for me. 

08 December 2016

the return to Joshua Tree

Everything comes full circle if you have enough time and patience. I seem to have buckets of both. It had been ten years since I'd been to Joshua Tree National Park. I returned to walk the among the beautiful trees and to re-kindle a lost love, to feel the spirit of her that passed away a couple of months after our first trip here....
We talk about how I've gotten visibly older, I tell her she looks the same.

All the natural beauty here fails in comparison to the light she shines.
I sit in the same spot we did originally, high up on a boulder, and watch the sun set low into the sky before it disappears. I feel your warm breath on my neck as the stars twinkle in the night.
Your Angel Rays are here to stay, forever with me in this special place.

02 December 2016

the Wharf Master Inn

Down a gravelly road I travel, the ocean sounds growing stronger with each turn of the wheel. The small coastal town of Point Arena disappears into the thick forest growth.

Fishing boats and lobster traps are stacked along the roadside. Beaten and weathered wood buildings of intense character loom ahead.

The sign for my retreat is seen, the Wharf Master's Inn.
It's not a hotel so much as a scattered stack of buildings on the hillside, connected by rickety staircases. I make my way into the lobby, and check out with a local bottle of wine and a sense of contentment.
I have a deck with an ocean view, overlooking the local restaurant that serves seafood brought in by local fisherman. I search for blue whales while sipping red, dance to Ray Lamontagne whenever the moment strikes me.
The candles burn low late into the night as the stars come out to play, illuminating this hidden paradise.