Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Only Bear in the Woods

Hi Kids,
Does anyone know the name of this bridge and where it is?  I'll give you a hint: the name doesn't describe the bridge's color -- that's orange.  Even before the bridge was built; even before gold was discovered in California; an American explorer described the bay it crosses -- which flows into the Pacific Ocean -- as a "golden gate" for trading routes to Asian countries across the ocean. 

Yes, it's the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco -- one of the most famous bridges in America.  And Miss Elaine and I crossed the bridge on the way to Healdsburg, which is a bit more than an hour's drive north of the city.
This probably looks familiar from the post card I sent you.  It is the Haydon Street Bed and Breakfast -- a very cozy place to stay -- and the breakfasts were really good, too.  One morning we had oranges picked right off the tree.  Here are lemons growing on a tree in the front yard.  We didn't have any lemonade -- but we could have!
We visited the Healdsburg Museum and met Miss Holly, the curator.  We were particularly interested in the Indians who lived in this area before white people came.  They were Pomo Indians, some of their descendents still live here, and they are famous for their skill in making baskets.  You can seem a couple of Pomo baskets at Philbrook Downtown in Tulsa.  Miss Holly let us go into her office.  She showed us a very old photo of a Pomo woman, Emma Manual, carrying her child in a cradle basket.

Then Miss Holly brought out a cradle basket and let me sit in it.  The basket was made of willow a hundred years ago -- but it was still strong.
Healdsburg is in Sonoma County.  It is very beautiful -- even in winter.  They grow a lot of grapes here -- and olives.
My favorite spot in the county was the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.  Redwoods are more properly called Sequoias.  There are several related trees -- coastal redwoods, giant redwoods and dawn redwoods.  The coastal redwoods are taller, but not as heavy, as giant redwoods and the dawn redwoods are more delicate.  The trees at Armstrong are coastal redwoods.  This is me, lying down, looking up at a tall tree -- but I soon saw trees much taller
Special trees have been give special names.  This is Parson Jones -- the tallest tree in the forest.  It is 310 feet tall. Parson Jones was the man who was married to Kate Armstrong who saved the trees in this park.  I think they should have named the tree after her!  Look how big the trunk is!
This is Colonel Armstrong -- it is the oldest tree, 1400 years old!  It is named after Kate's father who gave her the land.  He was a lumberman but she didn't want these trees to be cut down.  I'm really glad.
It was very shady in the woods.  The trees block the sunlight so few plants grow on the ground.  There are no bears here because there is no food for them.  So I was the biggest bear in the woods!

This was Miss Elaine's favorite spot.  The trees here grow in a natural circle.  People named it Burbank Circle after a famous botanist who lived in Sonoma County.  In the middle of the circle were wide benches where people could lie down and look up at the trees.  Miss Elaine did -- and she took this picture.

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