It’s been a crazy busy few weeks, but I’m finally getting around to writing about the trip Ted and I took to California. I can sum it up in one phrase: It was great!
We headed out to San Francisco because Ted was accepted into a climate change training with Al Gore. While he was networking with other climate change activists, I enjoyed a couple of days of reflection at Mercy Center Burlingame, a pleasant 2-mile walk away.
It was amazing how quickly we got out of the sunny, warm temps hovering over a very urban Burlingame, just outside San Francisco, and into fog, cooler temperatures and rugged, rural landscapes heading south on Route 1.
By the time we got to Dogwood Farm, run by Ted’s nephew Ned and his wife, Rachel, I was putting on a fleece jacket over my t-shirt and ready to change from shorts to jeans.
They live in a small farmhouse and built a couple of yurts for farmworkers and guests. Our yurt was just big enough for a bed and chest, with an electric heater that we were grateful for to take the chill out of the air at night. There was an outdoor, solar-powered shower that I tried out after an unusual sunny day had heated the water sufficiently.
We spent a delightful 3 full days there, waking up each morning to the abundance of rows of flowers, vegetables and strawberries grown for a weekly farmers’ market and a couple of CSA shares.
One morning we helped harvest peppers, summer squash chard and kale, just enough time to get a good understanding of the hard work of a farmer. Two Mexican-born laborers were harvesting strawberries, and Ned told us how he pays a good wage as well as grows using organic methods, and he has to regularly explain at the market that that’s why his produce is a little higher-priced than others who may not make such choices.
We also walked amid the redwood trees in the state park across the road, and strolled along a rugged nearby beach, where we saw dolphins playing in the surf. It’s impressive how this entire coastline is preserved by the state and dotted with state parks. So different from East Coast beaches developed to the max with condos, hotels and tourist shops.
On our final full day, Ned and Rachel took the day off and escorted us to Big Basin State Park, just south on Route 1. Just as they had predicted, it was sunny and a few degrees warmer than at their farm just a few miles away. We parked across the road and marveled at the kite surfers, who glide and jump over the waves, pulled by giant, colorful kites flying overhead. Ned is a naturalist who once worked at a nature education center, and he identified various types of trees and birds as we walked on trails that at one point overlooked a farm that is part of the park.
After our hike, we drove south to Santa Cruz, passing by stunning coastal views and then the well-used walking/biking path along the city’s bayside. It was the scene you’d expect in northern California, with aging skateboarders, guys with extremely long gray beards bicycling and multiple yoga studios and surf shops. We just stood on the sidewalk looking over the bay for awhile, watching kayakers and a mom and baby otter happily swimming our way. We had dinner at a fabulous fusion Asian place, and topped it off with dessert at — if you can believe it — Marianne’s Ice Cream.