Holiday greetings to all of you–our friend Jane emailed that our December posts are like opening Advent windows. I like that idea, and it seems the last month driving the entire coast of California brought us experiences that felt like opening windows on an Advent calendar–little snapshots of moments and memories to bring us joy.

That being said, traveling with Bill as my constant companion the past thirteen weeks has required addressing occasional disturbances in the Force–irritations, impatience, judgements, blood sugar drops–that have crept up now and then. Marion’s close quarters do not allow for tensions to simmer long. The issues are talked about–often revealing our foibles–and then the air clears, thank goodness.

California, meanwhile, supposedly gets its name from the mythical Black Queen, Calafia, where her origins are described on this KQED webpage: “Take “California” for example. The name comes from a best-selling romance novel written in 1510 called “Las Sergas de Esplandián” or “The Deeds of Esplandián.”

Queen Calafia of California poster by Steve Simon. From the site

“In the book, the author describes California as a remote island full of gold and precious stones. The island was protected by beautiful black warrior women who lived like the Amazons and served their ruler, Queen Calafia. The novel was so popular that when Spanish explorers arrived, they named their discovery after the mythical island.”

At the moment I’m hot-spotting in Marion at the Harris Beach State Park campground across from the Pacific Ocean, whose waves pound rhythmically, in Brookings OR. I commend Oregon State Parks for their free showers–it’s usually .25 a minute at California State Park showers– that are in good repair, and their paved camp sites. Makes a difference when it is wet outside and we do not wish to track mud into our tiny home. We visit our daughter Gillian Dec. 12 + 13, our friends Bert + Beth–former neighbors we miss so much!–and arrive home Dec. 15 after 91 days on the road.  I return to writing about Whidbey until we hit the road in 2024. All photos by Kate Poss, unless otherwise noted. 

Santa Cruz CA

A week ago we met with our long-time friend of 50 years, Bridget Maloney, a retired teacher who  loves her family, tennis, traveling, and the environs in Santa Cruz. Arriving at her comfortable home, Bill was pleased to see Bridget had baked one of her delicious apple pies. After pie, ice cream and a short visit, Bridget drove us up the coast to Pescadero. We stopped to eat at Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos, a cash-only taqueria located in a gas station off the Pacific Coast Hwy. Our Santa Cruz friends Eva and Jacob recommended this hole-in-the-wall eatery, which makes good food in an unpretentious setting. We ate outside nearby the largest magnolia tree I’d ever seen. The food is remarkable for the deep satisfaction it provides.

Giant magnolia next door to Mercado & Taqueria de Amigos in Pescadero. A gem of a place!

Bridget drove us next to the Costanoa eco-adventure resort, where we parked and walked across the highway to the White House Beach Trail. Oh my! We arrived near sunset and felt the power of this secluded spot with vistas of the coast. The sunset kept on giving its gifts. Walking back to Costanoa, we met the owner who invited us to attend the Dec. 21 Solstice celebration. Thanks for a memorable evening, Bridget!

Feeling the good juju at White House Beach Trail with our long-time friend, Bridget. Bill took the photo
Bill and Bridget check out the Pacific Coast above Santa Cruz.
The view looking toward Santa Cruz from White House Beach
Bill and Bridget silhouetted against the setting sun and ‘sun dog’ at White House Beach trail
Sea stacks at White House Beach
Sun sets into a bed of clouds on the horizon
Bridget took this photo, which to us looked like a flaming Pegasus cloud above the Monterey Cypress

The following morning, Bill and I said good-bye to one of our all-time favorite campgrounds at New Brighton State Beach, and drove once again to Pescadero to eat breakfast at Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos. Along the way, we noticed vultures standing on a snag, drying their wings, creating a cross shape in their silhouette. Inspirational! At breakfast we were in the zone, listening to the cafe staff sing to the voluptuous sounds of Ana Gabriel and Marisela, whose music appeared on the cafe’s YouTube TV. Bill and I ate our breakfast tacos, feeling the passion. “This music makes me feel like how I want to be with you,” Bill said. A little gem of a morning.

Housed in a Pescadero gas station, this humble exterior contains a new favorite Mexican cafe, Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos.
Breakfast burrito bowl at Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos
Bill watches love music sung by Ana Gabriel and Marisela on Mercado & Taqueria De Amigo’s YouTube channel

Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen

We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, always a thrill, and drove to the Sugarloaf Ridge State Park near Glen Ellen. It was raining when we pulled up to the visitor center and office, the only place to get wifi and wifi cell service. We were assigned site 14 near the bathroom. There weren’t many campers on this Wednesday night. Bill enjoyed more of Bridget’s pie. The following morning we watched more than two dozen turkeys run across our camp meadow. The hens pointed their heads straight ahead to chase a lone Great Blue Heron from where it grazed. The toms put on a show with raised tail feathers and their puffing out their long chest beards.That night we listened to KRSH 95.5 radio playing some darned good Americana music, notably Nina Gerber’s new album, Time is Funny That Way, an homage to late artists, including her bandmate Kate Wolf.

Marion dwarfed by campground host trailer at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Marion at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Photo by Bill Poss
Bill enjoys Bridget’s famous apple pie
Turkeys on parade at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Our friend Christine Schreier, who we first met in 2000 as a Waldorf handwork teacher on Whidbey Island, moved back to Sonoma County for a while, and we always enjoyed visiting with her and her daughter Francisca, who later became mother to a pair of great children, Dakota and Isla. We missed them this year, since the family moved a year ago to Arkansas. However a legacy remains in Christine’s friends, whose neighbors we continue to see, namely Margie and Ritch Foster, interesting, kind, can-do community-minded people, whose company we so enjoy. We took them to El Molino Central in Sonoma, as recommended by Marty Fernandez on Whidbey. Great food here! Margie and Ritch took us the following night for Tibetan food at Yeti in Glen Ellen. We learned that Margie likes quilting so much, she even takes a sewing machine on the plane with her on biannual trips to their timeshare on Kauai.

Good food and good friends at El Molino Central in Sonoma. Bill and Kate are joined by Margie and Ritch Foster. Our server took our photo
El Molino Central serves top drawer Mexican food in a casual atmosphere
El Molino Central has earned the Sonoma Valley People’s Choice several years in a row
These chicken enchiladas suiza are delicious at El Molina Central in Sonoma

After spending a record $7.50 for a load of laundry at the Glen Ellen Laundromat, Bill and I took a walk at the Sonoma Regional Park, where our favorite oak, we call her the lady tree for her curves, still stands. An inferno blazed through the area in 2017, resulting in Margie and Ritch being evacuated for two weeks. Their house survived. The couple provided mobile homes on their property for the unlucky folks who lost their homes until they could rebuild.

Toyon Berry at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Oak leaves at Sonoma Regional Park in Glen Ellen
Bill and the ‘Lady Tree’ at Sonoma Regional Park. She survived a terrible fire in 2017
Craggly oak overlook of Valley of the Moon
Sonoma Regional Park in Glen Ellen is home to a lot of dog walkers. Here is an homage to Zoe, who crossed the doggy rainbow bridge

Sebastopol CA

By Saturday Dec. 9 we left camp and drove to Sebastopol to stay with Ruth and Jack Dunlap. Ruth got to know us through our posts on Christine Schreier’s Facebook pages. We’ve house sat for Ruth and Jack, and find we have travel, food, books, and a love of adventure in common. Ruth and Jack are active in the local Rotary, and we accompanied them to a festive holiday party that night, the highlight of which was the host’s mother Marsha and her granddaughter Claire giving a heartfelt Hanukkah blessing and song. Ken, Marsha’s son, gave a wish for peace in the troubled world.

Marsha in orange jacket, and granddaughter Claire in white sweater, bring Rotary revelers together for a Hanukkah blessing and song
Following delicious breakfast and a hot tub we said goodbye to our friends Ruth and Jack Dunlap

Humboldt Redwood State Park

Saying goodbye to Ruth and Jack, we drove up Hwy 101 to camp among the redwoods.

Bill took this photo of me between a pair of titan coastal redwoods at Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Marion in site 18 at Burlington campground, Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Photo by Bill Poss
Gould Grove nature trail near Humboldt State Redwoods’ visitor center. Photo by Bill Poss
Bill amidst redwood titans at Gould Grove Nature Trail
After leaving camp at Burlington, we drove to the Elk Grove Meadow where we walked among more vintage redwood giants. This shadow photo shows us appearing from the forest into the sun. Kate’s ponytails look like antenna.

Though we arrived at 3 PM, the tall redwoods, more than 300 feet tall, made the ground below dark. We walked a bit in the nearby Gould Founder’s Grove, a marvel of titan lady and lord trees more than 1,100 years old. Here is a link to these trees that inspire us with their nobility and sensation of being in the presence of wise elders.

Now, we’ve left California, and are left with but a few days before we return home. Thanks for being a part of our journey and blessings to you during the holidays. Love, Bajada Bill and Cactus Kate



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  1. Kate and Bill, I so enjoy your ruminations and insights to places and people your meet on your wonderful journeys. I especially like that the places you write about are off-the-beaten-path. As a solo woman traveler I have avoided the iconic places as they are overcrowded and suffocating. I have encountered things on my way that would have been impossible in a group as I am able to change course depending, literally, on a poster seen in a local window advertising an event not widely know in the world of tourism. Thanks so much for sharing yourselves and showing your human sides too. Diana

    • Kate Poss | With Photos by David Welton on

      Diana, I really appreciate your words. We, too, appreciate the flexibility of being able to listen to our intuition and take the ‘road less traveled.’ It was a gift meeting you and look forward to being ‘pen’ pals until we meet again.

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