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Point Reyes National Seashore

Well, I’m back from my trip to the San Francisco area. But there are oodles of pictures and places to share so we can keep on field tripping.

Take a full tank of gasoline—hybrid even better—and head on out to the remote and top-of-the-world Point Reyes National Seashore, all 70,000 acres about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. Wow!

When you go, enjoy the rolling coastal grasslands on the way. Pass the cows and cattle of the historic landmark ranches—a beautifully pastoral landscape scene in Northern California’s green season. It’s an opportunity to learn about the history of ranching here if you so choose. You might be interested in reading about The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), the first land trust in the United States to focus on farmland preservation. http://www.malt.org/

Though it was April, once arriving at the top we found a need to hunt in the trunk for a buried set of ear muffs and scarf. There is a wind chill factor at the top of the world—it may be the windiest point on the Pacific coastline. Ear muffs worked well for one set of ears. A rumpled white towel had to stand in as a scarf for the other person–me. Didn’t care how silly I looked with a white towel wound around my neck and ears. One can enjoy the geology, the passing gray whales if you’re lucky (we weren’t). The overhead views of the ocean bring various movie dramas to mind. Just dress in layers.

Ice plants are a delight to see. Read the signs all about the wonderful world of lichens and algae. Though not true plants, they dot and coat the rocky landscape at Point Reyes with a reward of color. Surviving harsh winds and salt spray, hundreds of other species of plants and animals inhabit this expansive seashore—900 species of vascular plants alone. I didn’t see nearly that many, but someone’s sure been doing a lot of counting. “Over 50 plants at Point Reyes are currently listed [and monitored] by the Federal government, State government, or the California Native Plant Society as being rare, threatened, or endangered.” Find out more at http://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm.

Now, there is a lighthouse with legacy down a steep set of 308 stairs. But judging from the huffing and puffing of the 20 year olds coming back up the stairs—I skipped that part and used my imagination.

We timed the field trip perfectly finishing up the field trip just as an eerie fog crept in over the cliffs from the Pacific.

An aside: The latrine at the top of the world offers no running water, so pack those pre-moistened wipes for freshening up!

Nancy R. Peck

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In this season, perhaps you follow this unknown author’s credo:

“The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it.” 

Pineapples have found their way into the Annals of Icons representing the notion of power, wealth and hospitality.

You probably know the story of the audacious ship captains who skewered defenseless pineapples on their fence posts indicating “OK fair-weather friends, I’m back from the tropics. I’m accepting visitors. Come on over and BYOBrandy.”

With this theme in mind I went a-hunting for my mother’s pineapple upside-down cake retro-recipe . . . and photos of pineapples. I thought this picture was impressive.

Dunmore Park, Scotland
Dunmore Park, Scotland

Scotsman John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, commissioned this formal garden. The construction of the pineapple garden house was interrupted a bit when he went to Virginia in 1771 to serve as what would be the last colonial governorship of Virginia.

Murray used his hothouse to grow pineapples using a furnace-driven heating system in the walls. The design and stone-mason crafting is impressive. Each element of the pineapple dome is curved, graded and drained to avert damage from frost and water accumulation.

The pineapple structure is located in Dunmore Park near Airth, Scotland.

Photo by ‘itmpa’ Creative Commons Attribution License, Flickr

Nancy R. Peck

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Treehouses. It seems almost every adult maintains fantasies about them. Have you ever desired a tree-vacation for the bird’s eye view? Wanted to be smothered in the free essential oils of Forest? Sought some solitude? Free of clutter? I have just the place for you—where Design pays a visit to Nature.

Hotel treehouse

Mirrorcube Photo courtesy of Treehotel

Treehotel in Harads, Sweden. (The link should bring you to the Google translator.) 

Now a trip just south of the Arctic Circle may not have been on your top ten, but maybe a look at this will win you over to visit. And I realize there are other hotels that latch on to that yen to return to youth-play and tree escapism. And some do it Swiss Family Robinson style. But if your tastes navigate elsewhere, Treehotel might just be the ticket. 

The project is a collaboration between some of Scandinavia’s leading designers and architects. I read that the plan includes erecting 24 units over a five year period and to continue adding variety and architectural involvement. Steps toward minimizing the hotel’s environmental impact—including eco-friendly plumbing and heating—are considered. In the case of the Mirrorcube, Treehotel’s co-founder Kent Lindvall (guidance counselor turned hotelier) says a special film applied to the glass will be visible by birds.

Whether or not you are able to go out on this limb of a tree-trip, DO look at the fun pictures on the Treehotel website (link above). There’s the Mirrorcube unit which I’ve pictured above, the Bird’s Nest, the UFO, and others. Rise above it all on this trip.

Nancy R. Peck

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