Devin and I talk a lot about how great California is, so much that I'm sure some of our New York compatriots are sick and tired of us extolling its virtues. But when it takes fifteen minutes to drive from Manhattan to someplace that looks like this, then we can talk.
To be fair, Manhattan and Northern California both have their virtues. However, the things that make me the happiest are: Being immersed in nature, clean air, silence, no crowds, plants, animals, and good food. Manhattan has one of these things, and only in exchange for quite a bit of money. I'm sure it hits all the Quality of Life requirements for many, many people--but for me, Central Park does not compare to this.
It's December, which is the rainy season, so everything was green instead of gold. It looked like the Shire! Some of the trees were naked, but a lot of the oaks still had their glossy green leaves.
Here's Devin, surveying his home turf.
Some stretches of the hike are sunny and blue-skied, and some are shaded and mossy.
Dirt paths beat concrete.
Deer and an oak.
The view of the valley from the crest of a hill.
Grazers. We saw more deer on this hike than we'd ever seen at Rancho San Antonio--doe, bucks, and fawns.
Element of surprise.
Rancho also has a little farm with a cow, goats, sheep, a pig, and chickens. Here, goats waiting for dinner.
A persimmon tree! I've missed persimmons so much...you can get amazing apples and pears in NYC, but any persimmons are waxy and yellow green and have been shipped from California. Same thing with pomegranates...they're way better closer to the source. I also adore how ripe persimmons look on the bough--the tree sheds its leaves before the fruit is ripe, so they look like great orange ornaments adorning the branches.
A rafter of turkeys!
Hello, lovely valley! We're glad to see you again.