Redwoods in Orange County?

Redwood Grove in Brea, California

Redwood Grove in Brea, California

My love affair with trees started as a kid growing up in the Pacific Northwest.  I grew up camping and hiking in the national forests of Oregon.  I love the fresh clean air, shade and endless trails the forest provides.  When I found out there was a small grove of Redwoods here in Orange County I had to go see them for myself.

The trees are in Brea, California inside Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The trail isn’t what I would consider a hike, but it is an easy walk well worth doing to see the trees.  The paths are well maintained and good for all skill levels and young children.  In the middle of this dry, dusty canyon rises a small grove of beautiful sequoia trees.  I took the photo above from the hillside using a wide-angle lens to show the size of the trees and the terrain outside the grove.  The surrounding landscape is dry and the plant life appears dead except for a few struggling cacti.

The moment I stepped into the grove I noticed a dramatic difference.  The air was much cooler and the trail became damp and even muddy in some areas.  The air was fresh and sweet too.  The day I went there was a nice breeze and it felt wonderful after the dusty walk to get there.  I could have spent all day under these big beauties.

The story behind the grove is interesting.  According to the park’s Nature Center, in 1975 coastal redwood seedlings were given away as part of a promotion from a local bank.  After the promotion ended, the bank still had 600 seedlings.  The bank donated them to the Fullerton College agricultural center.  Later the college donated them to the county.  The trees were planted, and the redwood grove was born.  Since being planted, many of the trees have grown to over 100 feet.  Although I’m not a tree expert, the trees seem to be too close together to grow to their full height of 400 feet.  Many of them are struggling to survive and there is a large amount of dead underbrush, but this may just be part of the drought we’re experiencing in California.

If you need to beat the heat or just need a change of scenery I would recommend this trail.



Shipwreck Trail


Sunday my husband and I left our teenage kids to do their thing while we went to do our thing.  We drove along the coast to explore a new hiking trail: Shipwreck Trail on the Palos Verdes Penninsula. Despite reviews warning us of rocky and dangerous terrain we decided to go anyway lured by the promise of gorgeous views, tide pools, cove surfing and many photo opportunities.

The trail did not disappoint.  We loved it.  We took lots of photos and had an interesting adventure at the end. As we began our trek back through the rocky landscape we found a steep, dirt trail we knew would save us time. We could see it was steep, but as we started up it proved trickier than we imagined.  The path was unstable and loose so each step was like a tiny landslide. The big rocks on each side of the path initially looked like good hand holds but crumbled when we touched them.  Just when we thought we’d made a terrible mistake, the path became more stable and easier to climb.  After we made it to the top we agreed we should have taken a photo of the path before we attempted it.  We knew our kids wouldn’t believe us when we told them the story.

We will definitely go back because the Palos Verdes cove had some interesting surfing and we never made it to the actual shipwreck.  I read in the trail guide that the shipwreck is the SS Dominator from 1961.  All the reviews said the shipwreck was cool and worth the hike.  Next time…


3 A.M. Thoughts

Everest -A time lapse short film from Elia Saikaly on Vimeo.

You know that quote, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”  I’ve always applied that quote to professional goals rather than personal goals.  I don’t know why.  I am single-minded when it comes to myself so maybe that’s why. Or maybe it’s because our culture is obsessed with accomplishments.  Either way, when I woke up thinking about it early this morning I knew the answer.  I’d climb Everest if I knew I could not fail.  I’d summit that mountain and sit on top of the world for as long as I could.

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

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Some days I feel restless.

Call it wanderlust or itchy feet, but every once in a while I get an urge to just go and be in nature.

So Otis and I set out to find adventure. He loves to go. Maybe he feels restless too.

I was imagining canyon vistas with sweeping views.

Well, let’s just say my canyon adventure was more like a walk in a park than an adventure hike.

It was pretty, just not what I was imagining.

Trail apps are great, but until you go explore the place you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into.  I both love this and loathe this at the same time.

Otis had fun chasing squirrels and ducks. He got some good exercise. I was happy to get out.

Instead of posting the details of my hike and the photos from said hike, I am posting one photo of a blooming tree from our walk in the park.

It’s January and things are blooming all over Southern California. January! It’s crazy. While most people are living in the polar vortex I’m living in a perpetual garden.

It’s wonderful.


Phoneography Challenge: Nature

Today’s submission is inspired by sunsets and sunrises.  There is something magical about a sunset.  As evening approaches I find myself looking out to see if the sky will light up and draw me down to the beach to watch the sun slowly descend beyond view.  Some evenings the sunset is so vibrant people stop, pull their car over and jump out to catch a glimpse of the end of the day.  It’s fascinating how we are drawn to sunsets more so than sunrises.  Recently though I’ve fallen in love with the sunrise.  It’s difficult to get out of bed in the dark and cold to see the sunrise, but it’s so worth it.  Watching the sun peek over the horizon or peek over the mountains restores my soul.  The color before sunrise changes gradually from its cool edge to a warm, vibrant center.  It bathes everything in beauty and it changes moment to moment, East to West.  I’ve become a light chaser since I moved to the beach.  Everyday is a new opportunity to see something new and I love it! Below are three of my favorite sunrise photos.  I was out testing a new toy, my watershot housing for my iPhone.  It was a great day.  Which one do you like best?  The light is different in each one and the colors are phenomenal.  It was a beautiful sunrise.


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Sunrise Crystal Cove

Today is the first anniversary of the Phoneography Challenge by Lens and Pens by Sally.  I’ve only been participating for a short time, but I enjoy participating in part because it keeps me blogging and it inspires me.  I also enjoy this community and the people I’ve come to know through their submissions.  Thanks Sally and congratulations!

This Place Is Part of Me Too

This Place from Instrument on Vimeo.

I love living at the beach in Southern California.  It’s warm, sunny and unlike any place I’ve ever lived before.  Once in a while though it reminds me of the Oregon Coast.  This morning the clouds hung low and gray covering me in a cool dampness.  It was peaceful and beautiful just like the Oregon Coast.

Today’s video feature gives you a taste of the rugged beauty of the Oregon Coast.  There truly is no place like it.  Watch the video and if you can, go visit.  Rain or shine it’s one of the most beautiful and interesting places you’ll ever visit.

I can’t mention the Oregon Coast without including one of its unique treasures: The Balance & Light Gift Gallery in Rockaway Beach.  The owners create one-of-a-kind gifts using Oregon rain and recycled light bulbs.  They call them Oregon Du Drops.  I have four myself and one of them commemorates my beach trip from one tip of the Oregon Coast to the other.  Cat and Dubois are the creative owners.  They are the most interesting people.  If you’re in the area stop in and visit them.  The shop is located at 480 Highway 101 South in Rockaway Beach or check them out online at



Daily Prompt: Texture

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When I read today’s daily prompt was texture, I immediately thought of all the photos I’ve taken of sand, rocks and shells. I live six blocks from the beach so I’m taking photos of it all the time.  But recently I took a photo that had great texture and it’s a bit unexpected.  The combination of the foam on the water, the movement of the water and the drama in the clouds made it the perfect choice for texture.

Nostalgic November


Today is my grandmother’s birthday.  She would have been ninety-one.  She was my mom’s mom. I’ve been thinking about her a lot this week, more than any other year since her death.  This month is also the birth month of my grandfather, my dad’s dad.  He would have been 107 on November 10th.  I remember both of them fondly and think of them often.  Although they were very different, I have them to thank for my love of the outdoors.

My grandma lived with us when I was young and she loved to camp.  I think she camped with us well into her sixties. And, when I tell you we camped, we camped in tents on the ground.  There were no beds or cots and she never complained.  She loved it.  She taught my sisters and I how to pee in the woods.  We called it shake, rattle and roll.   She was full of life.  She used to ride with all the grandkids in the back of my uncle’s pickup and sing, “Home on the Range”.  She wasn’t the classic grandma you read about in books, but she taught us to love the outdoors and all that God created.  Every time I smell campfire I think of her.  It was her most favorite thing about camping.

My grandpa worked for the U.S. Forest Service and the Montana Forestry Department.  He knew more about trees and plants than I’d ever want to know.  Sometimes he would tell me about the plants he most loved.  I remember one time when we were visiting him in California he took me through his rose garden.   He had planted so many varieties and he knew everything about them.  I like to think that my love of roses and tinkering in my garden came from him.  He loved trees too and must have planted hundreds, if not thousands in his time.  I loved to hear his stories about spotting fires from the lookouts and fixing the trails so hikers could enjoy them.  My most favorite story was about the time he met a grizzly on the trail and lived to tell about it.  His face would light up at the memory.  I thought he was pretty cool.   My son reminds me of him sometimes.  He loves the outdoors too and has a quiet, thoughtful way about him.  When he was a little boy he was my grandpa’s spitting image too.

As we enter this month of thanksgiving, I am thankful for family and all they pass on to us through their own loves and passions.