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The road winds slowly north to Anchor Bay.
Cells say “No Service”. Redwoods and moss breathe
salty sea cooled mist as Inner oceans
grow calm and clear. This balance is ancient.

Looking inward, while outwardly overwhelmed by beauty, one afternoon in Anchor Bay, Northern California.

It’s so, so tempting to “aim the camera”, setup the canvas or sit with sketchbook at any of the spectacular panoramic vistas along this section of the North California Coast. It’s almost cliché yet it’s still awesomely personal. So what do you do with a single afternoon? Do you scramble like crazy to “document” and catalogue everything or simply slow down and let it all soak in?

The Northern California Coastline screams out beauty revealing a timeless, rugged survival that, for me, transcends my own personal need to create Art. That’s real power, that’s huge. I learned long ago not to take from Nature and Wilderness. Nature has always been my favorite teacher. She floors me. She’s thorough, unforgiving and humbling while also awe inspiring. John Muir listened, wrote, and worked tirelessly for change. He was one of my first heroes. His writings have always welled up within me when I’m profoundly moved by wilderness.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” [1]

Anyone who’s driven Highway 1 from The Russian River, through Fort Ross, Timber Cove, Stillwater Cove passed Salt Point on up to Sea Ranch and Gualala with it’s sprawling estuary, past Anchor Bay and the historic Point Arena Lighthouse flanked by the unbelievable Stormetta Public Lands knows how special this long stretch of coastline is. Drive a few minutes more through the Navaro River Redwoods State Park, the must see (and spend quality time at) Buckhorn Cove and then into Mendocino. It’s just overwhelming. Along with Point Lobos, Yosemite and a few other heavenly retreats, this is California at it’s best. And hopefully, most of it will stay this way for our grand children’s grand children without the curse of development capitalizing on every tiny nuance nature and time have created, for ALL of us.

We had just one day to drive to Anchor Bay, and back, while also enjoying a day off from our overly busy lives. If I stopped at every 10 out of 10 vista point along the way we would never have made it to Anchor Bay at all. So instead, we strolled quietly along an empty stretch of sandy beach and windy, fogy bluff and just breathed it in, listening as much as seeing. I could have just as easily set up a microphone on the open, shoreline and recorded seabirds, waves and the tireless wind. It would have been the same, inside.

With that as introduction, here are a few images from one day last weekend. They’re inward and personal. It takes effort NOT to photograph everything in such a spectacular land and seascape. It takes extra effort to create a photograph of what you hear or how you feel as opposed to what your eyes see. It’s also a lifetime’s work and pleasure.

In an increasingly frenetic time when quantity seems to be more important than quality, when “sharing”, posting and therefore proving [to someone and everyone]: “I saw This, I ate This, I purchased This, I did This, I was Here” ad infinitum is the norm, I feel the need to step out of the flow and simply listen, watch, breathe calmly and enjoy. I know who I am and don’t need to prove it to anyone. It’s taken me a lifetime to reach this point and I prefer to savor it, and just “be”.

Once again John Muir’s thoughts on the same theme, from almost a century ago ::

“Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.” [2]

And this final quote especially rings true for me, and perhaps explains my own reaction, and choice to focus inward ::

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” [3]

[1] John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938). University of Madison Press, 1938, republished 1979, pg 439.

[2] John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938). University of Madison Press, 1938, republished 1979, pg 320.

[3] Our National Parks, by John Muir, (1901). The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1901, pg 56.