One of my favorite spots on Earth is the Northern California/Southern Oregon coastline. That is where I am currently, most likely waking up this Sunday morning nestled in a Redwood grove covered in a misty rain. I took this long weekend getaway to visit old friends, see places dear to my heart and recharge my soul.
I flew into Portland, OR and we headed for the coast after a deliciously big breakfast at The Original Pancake House. Our first stop was Westwind, tucked into the shores of the Pacific at the confluence of the Salmon River on the mid-Oregon coast. It's a 529 acre preserve that also serves as host to YWCA summer camps, volunteer groups and your random wedding rental. This nonprofit serves a vital role in preserving the unique coastal ecosystem and connecting people to nature through place-based learning opportunities. I can not say enough about how generous, dedicated and passionate the staff is to the restoration and conservation of this slice of land. Our price of admission- volunteer for whatever they need help with. In our case this was beach clean-up.
This place has it all! Sand dollars dotted the beach like stepping stones. Three bald eagles gazed protectively at the tide pool as we explored the enchanted shallows filled with starfish, sea anemones, tiny blue crabs and mussels. We hiked through the temperate rainforest filled with trillium, fungus and amphibians to a freshwater lake. We hiked onward and upward to a high meadow bluff with the beginnings of the spring wildflowers, bobcat scat and a wind so beautifully intense you had to lean into it to stay upright. This open meadow overlooking the churning Pacific Ocean at dusk was a sight for eager eyes and filled my heart with gratitude. After a day of exploring, Hilary and Andy made a delectable vegetarian camp dinner known as volcanoes (recipe).
We headed further south down the coast into Northern California during a day drive filled with rocky ocean outcrops, fog and spitting rain! This is where my favorite species of tree resides. The Coast Redwood tree only grows in this unique coastal climate of fog. The fog provides the moisture essential for the Coast Redwood to thrive. This tall tree exists in a small range stretching from southern Oregon down to Central California, inland 50 miles or so from the coast. The Coast Redwood is the tallest tree in the world, reaching a height of 379 feet. That's taller than the Statue of Liberty!
This magnificent tree is so tall and dense that as it ascends, the ecosystem (all living and non-living components interacting) changes! Never before documented species are being discovered on each branch of these trees. This is not to mention the delicate symbiotic relationships between various species that have developed over millennia (Redwoods can live over a thousand years!). Check out the book The Wild Trees by Richard Preston or this National Geographic photo gallery.
Another one of my favorite sights while visiting this wet climate is the moss! It drips down vines in delicate strands and forms mats along collapsed tree trunks and exposed rock. It carpets forest floors blending rocky outcrops and vegetation in a seamless fading of greens that no human hand could create. It simply shimmers in the morning dew adding depth and life to everything I see. There's one particular moss in the temperate rainforest that is a minty green and hangs unkemptly off trees. It is appropriately known as Old Man's Beard.
There are also banana slugs! Slugs are a secret fascination of mine. Banana slugs can be over 9 inches long and weigh 4 ounces- they are huge! They cruise along at a maximum speed of 6 and 1/2 inches per minute. I find their slime trails to be pretty cool. In the morning sun, these slime trails criss cross the damp ground much like a two year with a sparkle marker might draw on your wall. The trail of slime is actually a signal to other slugs they are ready to mate. They are hermaphroditic, exchanging sperm for reproduction. Each slug will then lay up to 75 eggs. Slugs are detritivores or decomposers. They help recycle plant matter into soil humus and play an important role in the recycling of nutrients within the ecosystem. I bet you didn't think you we're going to get the slug life history when you woke up this morning!
What a trip so far! Well, I'm off...to where? I don't know know! All I know is that I've got to GO!
Upcoming Classes & Events
Tuesdays- Meditation- Converging Paths Meditation Center, 7-8:15p
Wednesdays- April 17- June 12: Park Yoga- The Enchanted Cottage, East Sandusky Bay MetroPark, 5:30-6:30pm. Bring a mat or blanket- no experience necessary! We will be outside on the deck when the weather is warm or perhaps take a winding, walking meditation through the meadows!
Fridays- Morning Yoga- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 9am A gentle yoga practice perfect for starting your weekend!
Friday, April 19: Froggy Fridays! James McBride Arboretum, 7pm. Join me as we listen for and look for frogs. These amphibians have come out of hibernation and their breeding calls are getting loud! Listen for and try to catch spring peepers, chorus frogs, American toads, and leopard frogs! Plan to get wet if you want to catch frogs! Nets provided. Registration appreciated.
Sunday, April 21: Earth Day Extravaganza! Osborn MetroPark, 12-5pm. Come out and celebrate Earth Day with us! Food, crafts, Trashion Show, live music and green demonstrations! Come see me and our snakes on the front porch of the Frost Center!
Thursday, April 25: Full Moon Night Hike- Edison Woods MetroPark, main entrance, Rt 61, 8:30pm. Join me for a beautiful night hike on each month's full moon! Please leave flashlights at home; the moon will light our way. Family and friends are always welcome! Hikes will last about an hour. Registration appreciated.
Mondays, May 6- June 10: Runner's Yoga- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 5:30-6:30pm. Join Jess for a class designed specifically for runners! We will cover yoga basics, breathing and the deep stretching essential to the practice of running.
Sunday, May 12: Mother's Day Meditation- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 10am-12pm. Come celebrate our mothers at this free meditation class and stick around for tea, baked goods and fellowship afterwards!
Sundays, May 12- June 2: Meditation- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 10-11am. Various meditation practices, gentle stretching and perhaps some chanting!