Sunday, August 29, 2010

Henry Cowell Redwoods

I have been home a few weeks since the end of our cross country road trip and I have been sifting through the 1200 pictures I took during the three weeks. There are still a few stories to be told from the family's ten days in Santa Cruz, California, our home town before Key West.We were staying in the Santa Cruz mountains in a friend's granny unit so it was the work of a moment for me to wake Cheyenne and tip toe out to the car in the clammy gray early light and head out to her favorite walk in the redwoods. We weren't alone, pulling off Graham Hill Road: That was a bunch of active, but friendly dogs. Cheyenne as usual preferred her own company and we let the pack move off up the trail ahead of us.The area we were walking is a bit hard to define precisely, possibly at the top end of Henry Cowell State Park and possibly part of the Big Trees Railroad narrow gauge tourist railway that runs at the top of the hill... however there is no signage so we walked most mornings and enjoyed the peace and quiet together.The sun was a welcome sight as coastal California normally sees night time lows close to 50 degrees and that's too damned cold for a Florida resident in summer.The flora in these pine woods is rather unusual but it is in keeping with the foggy atmosphere of the place.
For Cheyenne the cool temperatures just stimulated her desire to walk and explore.
I stood around watching the sun come up as Cheyenne rooted around in the poison oak (she later transferred enough of the oil to my arm, presumably in a hug, that I got a nice rash to remember the walks by).Walking these places the smell in the air is what I remember. It's a mixture of dust, for the summer dry season is arid and last seven months. Then there is the wild sage, the pine needles and the cool damp morning air. By noon it may be 85 degrees, but at this stage of the day the morning is cool and pleasant.
Downtown Santa Cruz, close to the ocean may be socked in by low hanging clouds, the so-called marine "fog," but up here a couple of thousand feet the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I recognize a mountain bike jump, but for Cheyenne a pile of sticks is just an obstruction on the trail.
Up in the chaparral of this particular trail there is a bizarre cleft in the ground, a trench that puts me in mind of World War One fortifications. Cheyenne was not the least bit amused and I had to coax her into walking down the first time she encountered the narrowing gap in the ground:
At the base it is too narrow for two feet and walking the sides takes a certain sense of balance.
Slow poke!
Where south Florida has gumbo limbo with it's famously peeling bark, California has madrone, a particular tortured tree that grows in spirals and has the same bright red colored wood as Florida's gumbo limbo.This is a dog that likes to sniff. She loved coming back as many mornings as I would bring her.
This part of the walk is decidedly part of the tourist tour by railway conducted in these parts by the Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad company of nearby Felton.
With the sun well up it's time to call it a day and put an end to our companionable hour together.
Home for breakfast and another day of meeting and greeting old friends. A fine start to the day was this daily morning walk.