The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Fall Farmers Market Color to Warm Your Day

Last November I escaped the ‘Polar Vortex’ by visiting family in FL.  There’s a cold snap chilling family and friends all over.  Here, the sun shines brightly despite the cold.  I’m thankful for that and enjoying it during walks.

This is knitwear season, folks.  I love it!  Snuggling under quilts while knitting at night is so pleasant.  My two wool, thickly cabled Fishermans Sweaters are on duty as well as all those hats, shawls and mitts the summer tucked away.  I’ve been working on top-secret Christmas knitting and behind on uploading pics of not-so-top-secret items. More on that later.

Today, I’ll paint the last room in the house, my bath.  The to do list is long, including sorting out the mountains of boxes in the garage and a trip to the Habitat For Humanity thrift shop to donate (and sleuth for a few things I’m looking for.)

The carrot on the stick:  I can start unpacking books, my shell and rock collection, hang photos and artwork, all those fun things that make a home feel like a home.

Hang on…neighbor walking past with his dog Oscar. Have to step onto the porch and say hello.  They are a delightful family.

I just love my neighborhood!

I thought I’d share some colorful pics from last weekend’s farmers market to help brighten things up:


Stay warm!


How do you cook cabbage?  I’m looking for ideas.

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I can’t get enough of sautéed greens.

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Stay warm!

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Rachel Comes to Cali. – Mendocino Coast

My youngest sister Rachel visited me, here in CA, in February.  We hadn’t time together, just us two, in years. Rachel was 6+ months preggers.  She’s the lovely little Lillian’s mom.

Rachel prepared a delicious Valentines dinner.  We did some local sightseeing and took a little road trip up the Mendocino Coast.

The Mendo Coast’s a favorite destination of mine.  Depending on the time of the year/location one chooses there are empty, rugged beaches and miles of trails to be enjoyed.

Especially green and lush in the (rainy) winter, I look forward to fog-shrouded days such as we had on Glass Beach.

Rachel had this destination picked out.  In Fort Bragg, a former garbage dump occupied primo real estate on city-edge bluff top above the ocean.  Closed in 1967, it now belongs to the State Parks.



A favorite tourist destination, pretty beaches offer unique beach-combing.

Glass. Loads of glass. Decades of waves act as a tumbler, leaving rounded bits of glass strewn about.

Please Note:  Collecting of glass on this beach is prohibited. Please leave for others to enjoy. 



Rachel and I stayed at the Jug handle Creek Farm and Nature Center.  An old farmhouse, they have rooms (private and dorm) to let for reasonable rates.  I think it was $40 each per night?  Quirky and old, a well-stocked kitchen allows preparation of meals. the living room has a wood stove we enjoyed for hours that night, I with knitting in my lap and Rachel with embroidery.

Such a pretty home:




A photo of a photo of the home as a working farm:



The rooms are simple and pleasantly plain with antique furnishings. No central heat, the stove heats the house.  Snug under layers of quilts, I (a chilly sleeper) was warm as could be.



Out back a greenhouse and lovely yard held clues to gardens galore.





Native plants filled the greenhouse:



I enjoyed Rachel and I’s quality time.  Glad to have it. Once Lillian (baby whats’it at that time) arrived I knew her life would get very busy.  Was glad to share this little slice of heaven with her.



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McClures Beach Goodness

Accessible from the parking lot for the Tomales Point Hike I shared with you, McClures beach is small but packs a punch.  Point Reyes National Seashore has over 80 miles of shoreline.

This one’s pretty easy to get to being a short down-hill walk (about half a mile each way, I believe.)

Being the day after a three-day stretch of work I was exhausted, needing decompression.


A field of mustard along Pierce Point Rd on the drive out.  A thin ribbon of road, it’s the best kind.


Sticky Monkey Flower on the trail down.  Butterflies dig it and the Miwok Native Americans used it as an antiseptic agent.


I parked my butt here on a blanket, removed my shoes, letting my senses reboot.




Turkey Vultures were flying in a figure eight type pattern directly overhead.  Made me a little uneasy I’ll admit.  Then I noted them landing beside the rock pile against the sandy cliff in the background.  Wings outspread and hopping about they must have been picking apart some sort of carcass.

Knowing they weren’t scouting out my beached figure I closed my eyes and napped. It was glorious.  Then I woke, ate lunch, read, knit, and repeated.

A bathing beauty. I enjoy watching vultures fly.


Remember my mentioning in THIS POST the Point Reyes Penn. being formed of granitic rocks capped in sedimentary rocks?  Here’s a great example of that.  As a cute aside, a little girl ran up, scampered to the top of this pile of granite and peered down at my sitting form below.  “This is dollar bill mountain,” She exclaimed. According to her folks she once found a dollar bill atop here and was searching for another.


Dusk nearing.  The other end of the beach has rocks one can pass over at low tides but they look really dangerous to me.



I haven’t figured out how to take decent dusk photos.



Headed back up in the dark. On the way home was treated to a full moon rising. Stopped at Nicasio Lake to watch its yellow path stretch across the black surface.


What a day.





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My New Favorite Hike – Tomales Point

I’ve found my new favorite  local hike.

Tomales Point.  Dramatic and grand it’s also a geologic marvel.

An aerial photo would help explain the geology of the point.  I found the website of a photographer named Robert Campbell.  Yow!  Stunning.  Visit this link and find the 4th photo from the bottom titled “Point Reyes Station and Tomales Bay.”

Consider Tomales Bay a finger on the pulse of the notorious San Andreas Fault, poking the little town of Point Reyes Station.  Said bay and Olema Valley running south are called a Rift Zone.  The great earthquake of 1906, which demolished most of San Franciso, wrecked havoc on the little farming communities in this area.

This geology info I’ve gleaned from a meaty but useful field-trip booklet by the USGS.

The Point Reyes Peninsula calls the Pacific Plate home.  It took an 80-100 million year long ride up the coast from Southern CA.  Marin County sits on the North American Plate.  Most of the rocks on the east side of the Tomales Bay are sedimentary in nature (mostly sandstone) with some pillow basalt from underwater volcano action mixed in.  The peninsula’s make-up is much like what’s found on the Big Sur coast down south,  more ancient granitic rocks frosted in sedimentary covers.  Makes sense.

This map shows how the peninsula connects to the mainland:

On to Tomales Point.

Back to Robert Campbell’s website.  Find the last photo on the page, titled “Tomales Point.”  Imagine walking out to the tip.

That’s this hike.

One drives all the way out Pierce Pt. Rd. to its end.  There sits the old Pierce Pt. Ranch. Once the most successful and largest dairy farm in the area, it ceased operations in 1973.  The site includes the home built in 1869, a large barn, a school and numerous outbuildings.

This photo I took on a later, fog-free trip from the road above it.  I like that you can see how the ranch sits in relation to the bay (on the right), the Pacific on the left and the point.

The ranch house:

Left the buildings and headed out the trail.  Walking through this felt like I was floating along.  It’s open and treeless up there.  Maybe this is why early sailors feared sailing off the earth?

Looking back at McClures Beach  (that’s a future post):

Looking ahead at the ragged coastline. Cue the sun:

Cue parting clouds with angelic voices singing down:  I got a view of what was to come.

There’s a gap mid frame above.  My pics of this area did not come out. It’s called (?Windy Gap?).  Pierce Point Ranch once had a second farm here.  Must’ve been a harsh place to live and work.  Long gone, now it’s spring is a favorite spot for Tule Elk.  Nearly hunted to oblivion they were reintroduced and now thrive.  Here are some I passed by:

Many stop above the old farm site making it a 4 mile round trip.  I went to the end.  It’s a bit of a sandy slog past the gap but well worth it.

At the end I planted my butt down and listened. Waves, birds, and the offshore buoy’s steady bell were a perfect foil for a sort of meditation.

Once I had my fill, I retraced my steps back.

9.5 miles out and back.  A handful of rolling hills keep the mostly flat hike honest. It is wide-open.  Be ready for weather changes and bring warm clothing if you go.

Back at the ranch (har har) a raven (my favorite bird) was tapping at and making noises at a window. Was it trying to enter?  Did it think it’s reflection another bird?  Amusing.

Should make a beautiful spring flower hike I suspect.

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Salt Point State Park – Walking With the Birds

Let me start off by sharing an important camping tip:   paper towels will work as a coffee filter in a pinch.  Add more coffee to make up for the thickness.

Hey…when you’re desperate …


I found the Salt Point Trail and walked from Fisk Mill Cove to Stump Beach and back.

These coves once bustled with Aleutian seal/otter hunters (Russian fur traders enlisted them) and lumber schooners taking the redwoods away.  Now, it’s peaceful and quiet save for the sound of waves on rocks.

Talk about variety! The hike started in a straw-colored grassy meadow, took me through several mossy, fern-covered ravines, over wooden bridges, and through a dense pine forest.

Looking down at (I think it was) Fisk Mill Cove once I walked through the woods and looked back. The northern CA coast is rugged. Finding places where man has no control over the landscape, I think, is important for one’s sense of place in the grand scheme of things.  Here it couldn’t be more obvious.

A stand of Bishop Pine with their wind-shaped slanted tops gated the open bluff top.

Walking along the ocean bluffs puts one pretty close to soaring birds, sometimes at eye-level as they ride the thermals.  Most of the trail was along an open meadow.  Here’s where the birds flew alongside me.

A couple beaches beckoned. I scrambled down to one when a shiny object caught my eye. My first intact abalone shell!  It is the prettiest thing, iridescent green and pink.  A treasure.

One of those beaches:

Tafoni means “cavern” in Italian.  This phenomenon the park is known for.  Being sandstone, the water and winds shape the rocks into beautiful, organic forms. Some resemble bowling balls, others are more pocketed, folded, honeycombed and cavernous in form.  This sandstone contributed to the construction of San Francisco’s streets and buildings in the mid 1800’s.  Eyebolts, drillholes and other remnants of rock quarrying (is that a word?) can be spotted in/near Gerstle Cove.

Tafoni from a distance:

Up close:

See the white marks on the lower portion of this boulder? That’s climbers’ chalk.  People boulder here, perched above the surf.  What a location!

Another boulder with chalked up problems on it:

Looking back at the thick forest  I’d emerged from:

The trail through the woods, being quite overgrown, took some attention to follow:

Spring will be a great time to return with the flowers (both on the bluff and in the Rhododendron Preserve) and the waterfalls two creeks make when tumbling down to the beach.  They were more of a splash a this dry time.

After I finished hiking, since I forgot my headlamp (recall the raccoon incident mentioned in my last post) I drove to the little market store. Passed this fella on the hwy and we met up in the parking lot.  I’ve forgotten his name (Michael, maybe?). He’d been biking around the US (meaning along each coast, across the south, and across the Canadian border.) His home being Santa Cruz, CA he was looking forward to reaching it.  He’d been gone two years. What an accomplishment! His wee dog trotted along and jumped into the kid trailer when it needed a rest. A very entertaining sight, I admire the guys gumption and hope he made it home safe and sound.

Meeting unusual people, walking level with the birds, finding your first abalone shell, and having to make coffee in paper towels are what road trips are all about.  That and beach knitting. What could be better?

Next week I start a big trip. More on that later.

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Salt Point State Park – Gerstle Cove – Crusty and Squishy Stuff

I spent a few days at Salt Point State Park, about 70 miles north of here, way back in August.  I’m a little behind in sharing…yep.

The park covers 6000 acres and includes an underwater park for SCUBA and abalone divers, 20 miles of hiking trails, some of them bike-able, camping and numerous beaches/coves.  Six miles of coast and bluff tops, open grasslands, forested hills, creeks, pygmy forests (didn’t get to those) offer diversity.  Adjoining the park is the Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve.  Come spring, the forest fills with blooms. Must return!

Getting there near dusk, craving a beach sunset, I headed to Gerstle Cove. This is the park’s access to the underwater park.  It was a foggy evening, mysterious in a way.

There was plenty of flotsam and jetsam to pick through:

Not sure what these are. Perhaps they housed a critter at one time. Anyone know?

Salt encrusting an indentation in a rock. So cool!



I Camped in a nearly empty campground that night.   Made a fire and roasted a couple marshmallows.  A rustling in the grass interrupted the quiet. Forgetting my headlamp,  my heart quickened.  What was it?

Beady little raccoon eyes reflected in the firelight, staring up at me from several yards away.  A shoo and a toss of a log sent it scurrying away. Ah…campground raccoons.

The next day, one hell of a hike and McGyver coffee making.  More on that later.

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Point Bonita – Isn’t She Lovely?

Imagine looking across the SF Bay mouth with no iconic red bridge spanning the shores.  Hard to imagine, eh?

Sleuthing on Google images, this photo, post 1906 SF earthquake, shows the city in a state of rebuild.  Note Alcatraz island in the lower right corner with no bridge to Marin in the left.

This post was born of curiosity from a jaunt down to Point Bonita Lighthouse.  A docent, standing at lighthouse bridge, shared much info and history.  Curious for more tidbits, at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center I viewed some old photos (photographing some for this post) and picked the brains of some park employees for more info.

A little online sleuthing furthered my edu-macation.


Point Bonita greets one on the left as you enter the bay.  See highlighted point below:

How did it come to be?

Hollers of “Gold!” filled the CA air in 1848.  In 1849 San Francisco, being the main port for gold seekers entering CA, boomed from 900 to 20,000 occupants.  All that boat traffic = numerous shipwrecks off the treacherous coast guarding the bay.

Point Bonita was the 3rd lighthouse built on the west coast.  Originally 300′ above the water, they found the fog too thick for the lighthouse’s beam of light to be effective.  It was located at its current, lower elevation quite close to the water.

A lovely drawing of the original lighthouse. Note, no GGB:

It amazes me to think of families growing up in these lighthouses.  I enjoy touring lighthouses.  Stepping into the keeper’s quarters reveals layers of lives.  Imagine, this was the backyard for some children:

Bonita Cove had a full on rescue operations set up.  Boat houses on the hillsides emptied their contents to the shore via long ramps. Many lives were risked by the sailors in those rescue boats.

Today, standing on the point, the GGB exists.  Marin Headlands/Golden Gate Nat’l Park protects the surrounding land offering up miles of trails, beaches, a hostel, the Marine Mammal Center, an Arts center and a great little visitor center.

And the lighthouse?  She is absolutely beautiful.

A suspension bridge links her sliver of rock foundation to the access tunnel.

Being long overdue for repairs, it is slated for complete replacement and closed to the public.  Quite a feat this will be as the bridge is anchored via a large spiral cable embedded in the bedrock.  The docent mentioned barges and helicopters as part of the process.

Another view into Point Bonita Cove, there are leftovers from the rescue stations.  Seals haul out onto the starfish crusted rocks below. It’s a great place to just stand and observe.

I love spending time here.  Now for that GGB – I’ve got some ideas for future posts on that iconic landmark.