Admittedly, I was distracted from my task of documenting Woodson Bridge by the incredible annular solar eclipse of May 2012, but it was also a birder’s paradise. In one tree alone, we saw western bluebirds, nests of white-breasted nuthatches and Bullock’s orioles, and a Nuttall’s and a few Acorn woodpeckers, which is not to mention the circling osprey or the giant flock of nesting barn swallows.
The charming adobe at William B. Ide may not have been the actual home of William B. Ide, but it still holds a great deal of cultural and historic significance.
Colusa-Sacramento State Recreation Area is a small but charming park on the Sacramento River. A short hike leads to a beautiful beach along the banks, and in May, everything is covered in the soft seeds of the cottonwood trees.
Austin Creek State Recreation Area is a beautiful and surprisingly vast wilderness area just north of Armstrong Redwoods. It’s well worth the drive up the narrow crumbling road from the redwood grove up to the sweeping vistas above Austin Creek, especially during the spring, when you can see the incredible variety of wildflowers in bloom.
The charming California State Mining and Mineral Museum has a beautiful collection of gems and minerals, several replicas and miniatures of mining towns and equipment, and a walk-through mine.
Limekiln boasts a beautiful campground among the redwoods, a sheltered beach cove, dramatic waterfalls, and the eerie lime kilns themselves, hidden in the woods. Sadly, many of the trails are already overgrown or blocked by fallen trees, a reminder that it requires ongoing stewardship to keep these parks accessible to the public.
Just south of the much better-known Point Lobos State Reserve, Garrapata State Park offers vistas that easily rival its famous neighbor’s. Sunset at Garrapata gave us all the fireworks we could have hoped for on New Years Eve 2011.
The highlight of Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park is The Diggins, an area of beautiful cliffs exposed by miners as they washed away entire mountains in search of gold. What appears to be natural beauty is actually the result of rather destructive human behavior, but that does little to detract from the beauty of the warm glow of the cliffs in the late afternoon light.