For the solar eclipse last Sunday, Carolyna and I headed up to the summit of Kneeland where hundreds of others had already gathered to watch the spectacular "ring of fire" show. Of course, the whole shebang ended up being a typical Humboldt moment when big gray clouds rolled in to ruin the fun. The spot on top of Kneeland was beautiful though with green pastures and a birds-eye-view of the trees below. Somehow I managed to snap one shot of the eclipse, although not a spectacular one. Then on the way down Kneeland hill, which is a gnarly, windy road, my engine shut off sporadically, causing my steering wheel and brakes to freeze up. It took a lot of effort to bring my car to a crashing halt at a turn-out, which was miraculously there right when I needed it. The whole event reminded me of Janet's astrological prediction that the eclipse brings devastation and she even told me specifically "do not drive", but alas, I am an astronomy nerd and I couldn't resist the opportunity to see a full eclipse. When it happens again in the next 40 years I will be more prepared. 
Here are some pictures of the tall trees from Tall Trees Grove...
    Yesterday I hiked Tall Trees Grove for the first time with Stephen and Eric. First we had to get a Free Day Pass from the Forest Headquarters in Orick and the password to the gate code, since only a limited number of people hike Tall Trees in a given day. Heading towards the grove, we passed a scenic overlook which is the photograph above. Then once we passed the gate, a thin dirt road winds its way to the entrance where the hike begins with a steady decline down a cliff, Giants shooting up from below. At the ground level is a beautiful loop through a grove of Big-leafed Maples among a thick carpet of sword ferns and of course Giants around every turn. The path is lined with a nearby river where camping is allowed. The hike back to the top was a pretty steep elevation change but it was well worth it. The hike leaves you with a feeling of victory.
There are many felled trees along the path that have been sawed across for the hiker's sake. It's always a trip to walk past these split open trunks and lazily run your fingers across the thousands of rings.
A beautiful turquoise river runs beside Tall Trees Grove and it's a wonderful spot for camping or taking a refreshing dip before the hike back up.
We met a couple girls from southern Germany who were driving from San Fran to Vancouver, seeing the sights along the way, and they decided to hike Tall Trees Grove. We spotted for them the infamous banana slug, the 2nd largest mollusk in the world, several times over and they were amazed they hadn't seen it on their own.
The Big Leaf Maple trees caused the light coming through the canopy to scatter along the trail in majestic rays.
Eric and I in Tall Trees Grove
    It's about time I do a blog entry on California's official state mollusk. Banana slugs are the decomposers of the redwood forest and your journey into the forest is not complete until you spot one of these suckers, which isn't hard to do because they are very plentiful.
A typical slug can grow from 6 to 10 inches.
When in danger the slug will emit a thick mucus coating
and make their body shorter and fatter!
Banana slugs need a lot of moisture so on a dry day, they are often found next to a creek, wrapping themselves in the moist plants.
Slugs use tentacles to sense their environment.
The "eyestalks" on the top detect light or movement.
Itty bitty baby!
How many banana slugs do you count above? I found 10!
I grew Sunflowers last summer and took these pictures as they opened up.
It's that time of year again to go down to Pierson's and get starters for a new round of gardening...
        After crossing the Samoa Bridge heading toward Manila from Eureka, make a right and Ma-le'l Dunes will be down Young Lane on your left. There is a North and South side, each with various trails that branch off in all directions, encompassing coastal dune, forest, wetland, and estuarine ecosystems. After passing by a small forest of Sitka Spruce and Beach Pine, the trail transforms from green pastures to enormous, dunes that are seemingly endless, spreading as far out as the eye can see. The entire time one can hear waves lapping against the shore and taste salt in the air, but with no visual proof of the ocean itself until the very end, which is a rewarding vista. Meanwhile, splashes of wildflowers dot the dunes with bright yellow, purple, and pink hues. It's an incredible feat that these delicate, flowering creatures can root themselves in the ever-moving sand and extract drinking water from the salty sea.
Wedding Rock
    It's was the Monday before finals week and my significant other and I were feeling stressed to the max, so we decided to forget our obligations for the day and spend the morning tide-pooling at Patrick's Point State Park. First we hiked to the glorious vista atop Wedding Rock and from there we took the Rim Trail to Patrick's Point for a peek and then climbed down to the base of Rocky Point just in time for low tide. We spotted numerous orange, red, and purple starfish and aquamarine anemones. We saw tiny striped fish and even the monstrous Sunflower Star swimming with the current. Finally the huge crashing waves became too prevalent to ignore so we booked it out of there fast, making our way along the Rim Trail to Palmer's Point for the sweeping view at the end.
The start of The Rim Trail
Leading to Patrick's Point
Walking through the coastal rainforest is dream-like... as if the bunnies hopping along the trail should be wearing waistcoats.
This is Rocky Point where there are always sea lions honking nearby... This is where we went tide-pooling
Sunflower Star, so beautiful!
A mama and her baby grazing at Palmer's Point
The following pictures were taken while tide-pooling at Palmer's Point and Trinidad Beach on different occasions...
    College Cove is a very secret beach, not least of all because it is hard to reach. Entering upon the parking lot you are immediately faced with potholes the size of ponds and the trek on foot can be very precarious if you take the wrong path. You may find yourself crawling horizontally like a crab with your feet first, but hopefully you can find the stairs amid the maze of beautiful cliff-side trails that beckon you. Once your feet have reached the sand it is tempting to stay put, but at the very end of the beach, past the rocky shore-line to the even more secluded beach on the south end, there is a rocky island that juts out into the ocean and a foot-worn path that brings you to an extraordinary look-out point at its pinnacle. 
This is the south end of College Cove and the aforementioned path begins on the rock formation to the right.
This is a view from the secret, hidden beach
    At the apex of the rock formation was a Humboldt moment just waiting for us. Three separate branches at the highest points were adorned with colorful yarn for a mysterious purpose. All we will likely ever know is that somebody went to the effort of putting it there, but whether for spiritual, emotional, or some other reason, we can only imagine.
Driving North on 101 on our way to the trail, we spotted many elk from the window and I snapped the following shots on the side of the road. We saw for the first time a young elk feeding from its mother and a couple males in a sparring match.
The West Ridge Trail is a 6 mile loop at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
The corkscrew tree is at the end of the trail... 15 trees wound together.
On our way home we were blessed with magnificent hot pink streaks across the ribbon of sky above the highway and we were so taken with it that we pulled over somewhere with an ocean view until all the glory of the sunset had faded.
    The HSU Calypso Band performance was this past weekend. I took some footage on my camera from the balcony of Eric rockin the bass pans. I'm so proud! Congratulations Eric on your first show!!! I know there will be so much more to come.