Vacation in California. News flash: I like California.

Elizabeth and I had a wonderful vacation in California. We saw so much -- and I found out that plants in California are different than ones in Texas. Duh! But to see it all in person was just amazing! I've got many hundreds of observations to upload, but in the meantime, here's a little recap of the nature-y adventures that we had.

Sunday, April 23: We flew into San Francisco from DFW quite early in the morning. We did a couple things around San Francisco (along with what felt like millions of other people!). We also drove to Candlestick Point State Recreational Area and saw some neat plants. After that, we drove south and made a couple stops along the road -- the lupines in CA are super showy! We stopped then at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve and ended up walking around quite a bit. The sun was starting to set already, so we had to pick a place to stay -- ended up in Oakland to prep for a GREAT day tomorrow.

Monday, April 24: Today was one of the best days ever. I seriously could not have had a better day. Elizabeth and I met up with @kueda for a breakfast, then headed over to Mount Diablo. At Mount Diablo, we met up with @tiwane @alexshepard and @joelle . The plan was to walk a bit around Mount Diablo and then head over to California Academy of Sciences to see iNat headquarters. Well, we didn't end up getting there because Mount Diablo is freaking incredible! The diversity of plants and insects there is remarkable -- I was going ga-ga over even the most common plants. We spent like 7 hours walking around 7 miles all around Mount Diablo. I found out that I'm out of shape, but my adrenaline and excitement over seeing all of this new stuff kept me going. After one of the best hikes of my life, we grabbed some pizza in Oakland (got to meet @catchang too!). Elizabeth and I stayed at a place at Fisherman's Wharf. I crashed hard.

Tuesday, April 25: Elizabeth and I walked up to around Fisherman's Wharf in the AM and then went to California Academy of Science to see iNat headquarters. I really enjoyed this -- especially seeing some of the ideas printed out on the wall and the some of the thought diagrams written out on the dry erase board. I missed seeing @loarie @kestrel and @rebeccafay ... perhaps next time! Got some Mexican food with the group and Elizabeth and I headed north to see family. We made a few stops around Golden Gate Bridge and some of the natural areas. Spent the night with the family in Mill Valley.

Wednesday, April 26: We headed a bit north to a quilt store and some little urban parks, and then went to Point Reyes -- had a blast here. Spotted many different small plants by the lighthouse (the fog was mighty thick, so we couldn't even see the water from the cliffs). Headed back down to spend the night with family in Mill Valley.

Thursday, April 27: Today, we headed further north and stopped at some fabric stores at Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Cloverdale -- while Elizabeth shopped, I was meandering in the ditches looking at neat weeds! We continued up north, stopped at Navarro River Redwoods State Park to see the mighty redwoods and some cute salamanders, then stopped at Van Damme State Park further north. I was hoping to do a bit of tide-pooling, but the tides didn't cooperate with me. All good -- more incentive to come back! Elizabeth and I stayed at Medocino at a pretty nice old-timey hotel.

Friday, April 28: We explored a bit around Medocino (although, the wind was brutally cold coming off the coast!), and then went more inland. We stopped at quilt store in Ukiah then continued down to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. Saw a few neat things -- a ring neck snake with a bright orange belly was a highlight. We continued south to Sonoma to visit another quilt store, and I went to an incredible park close to the river. After that, we stopped in Napa, and then back to the family in Mill Valley.

Saturday, April 29: We went with family to the top of Mount Tamalpais -- great views of the city and saw some nice plants while up there. Elizabeth and I spent most of today being with family, and that was nice. We stayed at a hotel close to the airport for a fairly early flight out.

Sunday, April 30: Unfortunately, the vacation had to end, and we flew back to DFW.

Overall, it was one of the best weeks that I've had in a while -- I saw such diversity -- as Chuck Sexton (@gcwarbler) tells me, "Travel is taxonomically broadening" -- I couldn't agree more. It was an especially meaningful experience to spend time with the iNat folks. I tried to express to them how thankful I am for their work in this revolutionary tool. iNat is a tool that helps me greater appreciate nature. :)

Stay tuned for LOTS of CA observations!

Posted on 05 May, 2017 05:05 by sambiology sambiology


Super to meet you and Elizabeth- glad you had an amazing time.

Posted by catchang about 7 years ago

Aww @sambiology you're the best! Happy you had such a great trip!

Posted by alexshepard about 7 years ago

Glad you had fun, Sam, and I'm jealous of the ringneck! Also glad you got to experience the insane cold of the wind off the CA coast, that stuff is no joke!

Posted by tiwane about 7 years ago

I love this!! For my birthday about a month and a half ago, I had no idea about inaturalist, but we did drive from Mt. Hood to Cannon beach Oregon. I was really hoping to see some Murre on the coast. Did not. It sounds like a penguin's dream!! Floaty and flying!! We had a lot of arguing scrub jays (also a cow that escaped and were looking in our windows!) at our Airbnb and I did get to see some birds I loved which were half blue and black! We actually bought a local artist's rendition painting of the birds we saw! You are an inspiring individual. Glad you had an awesome time! Thanks for this post! The diversity in the PNW is so amazing, we are considering to drop everything and move there. I wish I knew about then!!

Posted by nicki7 about 7 years ago

Sounds like an amazing time!! Next time we all want to go, ok?!

Posted by kimberlietx about 7 years ago

You know we would've taken you tidepooling so you could get some CA nudibranchs on your life list.... :) Next time!

Posted by kestrel about 7 years ago

Yes, I love Point Reyes Natl. Seashore! Lots of wildlife and those California wildflowers are amazing! I have a few observations listed, from a trip there, in April 2016!

Posted by robin_g about 7 years ago

So glad we finally got a chance to meet!!! That was a blast! Next lunch is on me!!!!

Posted by joelle about 7 years ago

Yes definitely next time!

Posted by loarie about 7 years ago

I went to high school in the foothills of Mount Diablo! Didn't take many nature hikes at the time...but then iNaturalist hadn't been invented yet (or, you know, the World Wide Web). And my mom used to be in the Diablo Valley Quilters' Guild, so I've probably been to some of those same quilt shops! :D Wow; I would love to go back and iNat my old stomping grounds now that I actually know some botany and entomology.

And @nicky7 -- bet your blue-and-black was a Steller's Jay. Love those guys.

Posted by jennformatics about 7 years ago

I'm jealous too! So glad you had such a good time, and that you saw the redwoods.

Posted by abigailmm about 7 years ago

Sounds like a great trip. It is impossible to see it all so you'll have to come back.

Posted by vermfly about 7 years ago

That's a great part of the country, Sam. Sounds like such a fun trip!

Posted by tadamcochran about 7 years ago

You see why I have hiked hundreds of times at Mount Diablo . Great diversity of plants , butterflies , etc. Maybe someday we will meet .

Posted by kevinhintsa about 7 years ago

Ah, it all sounds lovely Sam. :) I am glad you had such a nice time!

Posted by susanhewitt almost 7 years ago

It was a very fun vacation. Thanks for sharing your comments A big greeting from oaxaca, mexico.!!!!

Posted by geomanuel almost 7 years ago

Sounds like a whirlwind, fun adventure! So sorry to miss you while you were in the 'hood! Hope to meet up some day. :)

Posted by direbecca almost 7 years ago

One of the great things about California is that you can often go just a few miles and see completely different biodiversity. Skyline Wilderness and Westwood Hills are just on opposite sides of Napa, but they are very different.

Posted by jasonhernandez74 over 2 years ago

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