Magic in Marin

It was a last minute decision that handed me a day bigger than life, in fact as big as life could be if it were completely unrestrained, if it were as wildly free as the proto universe. After kayaking the Napa River and stopping for a beer at a new brewery in Sonoma, I intended to camp somewhere near Santa Rosa and perhaps hike Sonoma Mountain on Sunday. However, driving north on the 12 in the gathering dusk, as I passed Kenwood, I hit the brakes and spun a U turn in the middle of the highway. My favorite free camping area in Marin, near Muir Beach called to me for some strange subconscious reasons.
Perhaps the Napa River was giving me a hint, although I didn’t realize it at the time. There was something larger than life there, the two bridges I paddled under arched above me 60 or 70 feet, and some massive crane hung over the river, and I couldn’t imagine what sort of things it had lifted.
Settled in on the ridge above Muir Beach, I curled up in my sleeping bag with a good book and finally drifted off to sleep.
Morning broke with the soft, gentle mist of morning fog, a fog that makes time seem to slow down or at least my relationship to time. It was already an hour later than it should have been due to daylight savings time, an absurd idea in any case. I got dressed and thought about my objectives, visit the Marin Headlands, get breakfast and maybe kayak along the San Francisco waterfront.
But then there was the cutoff to Muir Woods, a place I hadn’t seen in decades, and it was still early enough to actually get in. In fact it was so early the rangers hadn’t opened the pay window yet, and there were only about a dozen more hikers, as I wandered through the wonderful park, along the creek and under a blanket of fog that hung in the high branches. The profound silence of an early morning in the redwoods set the mood for the rest of the day, the mood of subdued magic, of a constant state of anticipation. I was in no hurry, except that I hadn’t eaten in over fourteen hours and I was getting hungry.
Just before Highway One ended at the 101, I found the Dipsea Café, and despite the Sunday crowds, there was a place at the counter. Then after breakfast I took a short walk along the little channel that leads to Richardson Bay, and I saw people on bikes cruising along the network of paths that ran along the water, and I watched pairs of ducks and geese trying their best to ignore me. I realized I could spend at least an entire day on these paths and waterways, and my mind extended beyond my line of sight to the joy-filled miles that awaited me on another day.
Then, driving up the Marin Headlands, more bikes making that aerobic climb, and I imagined my lungs sucking in air as my legs worked the peddles, while I stole glances at the Golden Gate.
Parking at the top of the road I hiked up Hawk Hill and watched three laughing teen girls running, pointing and shouting. Sail boats slipped quietly under the bridge, and the city skyline shimmered in the fog. Then the long road down toward Point Bonita, with a stop to explore the bunkers, and a hike down to the pocket beach and up through the dunes, the only place on the Headlands where I was alone.
After a visit to the Marine Mammal Center, where I watched a young doe slowly cross the road and start up the hillside, I parked at the beach, walked by a mass of Sunday beach people and then up the Coastal Trail for more sweeping views. And all along the trail, as far as I could see, there were people exploring, wandering, enjoying this perfect day. The coastal hills that seemed to roll away forever played with my imagination.
The day was leading me, and time was slipping away, and by the time I reached San Francisco, it was too late and too crowded to launch a kayak.
There was a realization embedded in the day that couldn’t quite surface until I got on the 280 headed toward home. I looked over at dark brown cows dotting kelly-green hills in a stunning contrast and a kite on a fence post, fluffing its feathers and preparing to search for a meal. Then I thought about all I wanted to see in that one small piece of Marin, the network of hiking trails, the trail from Tennessee Valley to the beach, the great complex of Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais State Park, the miles of bike paths, the hidden beaches, the network of channels to paddle, and I saw it as if it were the whole world, more than I can explore, less than a small piece of a small county, but bigger than reality, at least what we usually consider reality.
In comparison, daily life is like the two dimensional images on TV, a series of scenes, tethered to but not intimately connected to the whole person, to the many levels of awareness and existence. This day was visceral.
Each of these images from this one day was itself infinite, and there are an infinite number of these images, seen, imagined and still unknown and unsuspected, and had I 1,000 or even 10,000 years to discover them, I would still only have a fleeting glimpse. The immensity of it all left me stunned and breathless and desperate for more. Life was never more rich.

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Not everything is in Calif. Sedona, AZ

In Sedona the red rock formations change with every change in lighting. From our condo or from downtown, the views were impressive. A two hour hike can take someone to incredible vistas.

for more: meadefischer.com

In the morning the light keeps changing, offering different shots at any given time.

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Headwaters Forest Trail

Remember Julia Butterfly Hill and her two year tree sit? Remember the protests and finally the purchase of Headwaters Forest Reserve?
I took a bike/hike there recently, at the end of Elk Creek Road near Eureka. I biked the first three miles to the second bridge. Bikes and pets can go no further. I locked the bike and hiked the rest of the way. The forest is all second grove until you get to the top and the grove of 1,000 year old trees. IMG_5141

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Be careful what you believe

The people who murdered journalists at Charlie Hebdo were willing to kill for their beliefs. I don’t think anyone reading this would go that far, but beliefs create a slippery slope, and while killings in in the name of beliefs in this country are relatively rare, they still cause much social damage.
Here are just a few examples. While all states require children to get vaccinations to enroll, California is among 20 that allow parents to opt out. Many of these parents believe vaccinations cause autism, despite the scientific evidence. They put their children at risk.
88 percent of scientists surveyed said it is safe to eat genetically modified foods, while only 37 percent of the public say it is safe and 57 percent say it is unsafe. And these folks based these beliefs on what?
There is a long history of violence associated with beliefs about racial and ethnic groups.
Beliefs are not the same as facts. That life on earth depends on energy from the sun is a fact, but the idea that the sun was put where it is for the purpose of human life is an unproven and unprovable belief. Science deals in facts, or closer and closer approximations of the facts. A belief may have a fact or two at its core, but it has chartered an independent course from the facts. Often it isn’t ourselves who twist facts into beliefs, but rather someone we read or see on the news. We often take these opinions to heart and call them true.
The problem is that beliefs are always at least partially wrong. That doesn’t mean that the person with an opposing belief is right. Both sides have some truth to bring to the issue, but it’s always a partial truth. If you are 60 percent right and your opponent 40 percent, you are both still wrong because you both believe you are absolutely right. And that level of belief means you will argue, obstruct and vilify the other, hopefully not resorting to murder.
It seems beliefs are most commonly associated with religion, politics and social issues, such as ethics. For example, both the political right and the left have viable ideas, but they both have a basket full of foolishness, but both sides believe they are 100 percent correct. Everyone thinks their religion is the only right one, and they all have something worthwhile to say about how we live together as a community. They also all have some odd and even dangerous ideas.
People say you have to believe in something, but why? We can look at a buffet of ideas, pick one that we think is the best and act on that, under the supposition that it fits our notions of what is right and useful. We can subscribe without necessarily believing. This way, our minds are open to arguments from other points of view, and we can, if convinced, change our opinion.
Just as the words of the prophet are not the final words, the words of your political party or church or philosophy are not the final words. A great line from a Rush song: “you’re so full of what is right, you can’t see what is true.” As the philosopher Henri Bergson said, “A perfect definition applies only to a completed reality,” and despite your beliefs reality is a work in progress.

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Marine Protected Areas of Del Norte County

Our northwestern most county is showing their pride in the new Marine Protected Area program, one designed to protect and enhance our marine resources, such as sustainable fishing. Each of these places provide a great photo op, so when in the area, bring your camera and check out the sign. CRESCENT CITYmpa

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Three more things to love about Crescent City

I never get tired of exploring Del Norte County. Recently, I stayed at the Curly Redwood Motel, on 101 at the south end of town, constructed from a single redwood tree. Reasonable rates, comfortable bed and a very large, clean room made this a delightful find.
I love art galleries, particularly ones with outstanding artists. I discovered The Gallery at 175 H. Street, rather hidden away, near the harbor. There are some incredible local artists whose work is featured there.
The Good Harvest Restaurant on 101 at the south end of Crescent City is a local’s favorite. Nice ambiance, great food, good service and reasonable prices make this my must stop when in town. DSCN1024

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Headwaters Forest

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IMG_5141Remember Julia Butterfly Hill and her tree sit for two years to save Headwaters forest? Well, if you haven’t hiked up there, you’ve missed something. The 11 mile round trip from the trail head near Eureka is pretty steep, but the first 3 miles isn’t bad and can be done by bike. The old growth requires going to the top, a 1400 foot climb.

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