Tag Archives: Russian River

Seals and pelicans wait for the sun.

At least, that’s what it seemed to me they were doing. At Jenner-by-the-Sea so many Pacific Harbor Seals give birth and rear their young on the sand spits that they call it a rookery or a nursery. It’s where the Russian River opens into the Pacific along the North Coast of California, and the beach there is called Goat Rock. This photo shows them on both sides of the river, the town hidden by fog above the farthest shore.

My friend and I had made the drive to the beach pretty early in the morning, having been told by the weather people that it would be mostly sunny. It was not — but 60° and not windy is pretty good for this coastline, where beaches are not consistently sunny until August or September.

You’re not supposed to get closer than 50 feet to the seals; I think we were a little closer than that, but we stood quietly staring and none of the animals seemed to mind us or change what they were doing. The seals didn’t move much, but their various colors were interesting, and they would go in and come out of the water occasionally, or look up at us.

The pelicans were more thrilling, and even more numerous, flying back and forth or just hanging with the sea gulls and seals. But they were also harder to photograph! In the middle of the middle picture below, it’s pelicans who are forming a flotilla in the river. We didn’t see any diving to fish.

After stopping by another beach where we enjoyed some of that “mostly sun,” we took a slightly different route back inland along a narrow road where bright patches of wildflowers caught my attention, springing up through the dry grass.

rattlesnake grass

I especially noticed the leaves on the one just above, because they resembled those of the little native beach plant in my garden, Eriogonum latifolium or seaside buckwheat, that I bought at a local nursery three years ago. It has never bloomed, or even grown very much.

When I got home, I went out back to take a picture to compare, and what do you know? It is blooming right now!! And I do believe…

Flying high.

30 vineyards and trees About twenty years ago my son and son-in-law were both learning to fly airplanes, and after they were qualified they offered at different times to take me up flying with them. I declined, I think because there was usually someone else more eager on whatever day they asked, when I didn’t feel relaxed enough to appreciate the experience.P1000035 Russian R


Yesterday when that same son-in-law Nate was here helping me with electronics stuff, he offered to fly me over to the coast, and I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I have all kinds of disposable time these days and in this case the time was available on a day when I was also in a happy and calm mood.

We flew over vineyards and trees, and along the Russian River as it flows to the ocean.



At the mouth of the river is Jenner-by-the-Sea.

48 at Jenner

flying ocean Jenner 5-15

P1000056 Hwy 1


It was a mild and lovely day, with some clouds. At times we bumped over crests of waves, waves of air that followed the contours of the hills.

And we flew along Highway 1 for a few miles, as it twists back and forth above the cliffs. In a plane, switchbacks were not necessary.

Just inland the Copper Mountain Mandala Buddhist retreat center was spread out over the hills in all its glittering and elaborate glory.


66 retreat center 7 w ocean

Nate didn’t have an extra headset so that we could talk to each other; I wore some hearing protectors I used to put on in the days when Mr. Glad’s drum practice was going on downstairs. So my pilot and I mostly rode along in a comfortable silence, unless I wanted to lift one side of my headgear and lean close to him to try to communicate above the loud hum of the propellers.

Nate said he was flying at about 150 miles per hour on his way over to my house earlier in the day; I don’t know how fast we were moving on this tour. I had no sense of time up there — every moment did seem precious, as the scenes passed behind us so quickly, and it was only a half hour, so I’m told, before we were floating down over the runway again and had landed with a soft bump.

Knowing that we are suffering drought, you might wonder at all the green in my pictures. We have been blessed by some late rains, as recently as three days ago. In another month or two, there will be more brown and gold tones mixed in.

On the theme of water I will leave you with a last picture, of Lake Sonoma, a source of water for cities and agriculture, created in the 80’s from the building of Warm Springs Dam on Dry Creek. Obviously the creek is not always Dry. Our North Bay counties are beautiful even in drought, but I’m happy as can be that I was given an aerial view just at this season, in a moist springtime.

76 Lk Sonoma