Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve

Delicate foliage of the Coastal Redwoods is almost lacy in appearance, with narrow, sharp-pointed needles growing one-half to three-quarters of an inch long. Cones from these giants are only about an inch long with 14 to 24 seeds. Redwood seedlings grow rapidly, more than a foot a year in good conditions.

In 1936 this magnificent grove was opened to the public as Armstrong Redwoods State Park. In 1964 the grove’s status was changed to a State Reserve.

Sense the quiet as you walk trails through these giant trees, small streams, and tiny patches of sunlight.

As you can see, this tree is 1300 years old. Coastal Redwoods can live more than 2000 years. The high tannin content of the wood gives the trees remarkable resistance to fungus diseases and insect infestations. Their thick fibrous bark insulates them even more from forest fires.

A natural Coastal Redwood forest is a perfect recycling system. The soil contains few nutrients; most of the substance necessary for life is in the trees themselves, living and dead. If trees are removed from the forest instead of being allowed to die and decay naturally, many nutrients are lost from the cycle.
More photos later. It’s so hard to capture their magnificence, size, and presence. And you feel so insignificant.

More Free Travel Ideas

These folks are surfing…real boards, real waves coming…

Have you ever thought about couchsurfing? is an online hospitality club that lets you find a stranger’s house or couch to sleep on. They have the most technically advanced search ability where travelers can view every possible open couch in a specified radius. Sound crazy? How about welcoming someone you’ve never met into your own home to sleep for the night?
Clubs like these are becoming popular among all ages and all countries. You get the chance to meet people who tend to be open-minded, curious, and generous. debuted in 2000 and currently has more than 328,500 members. It features the most comprehensive security procedures. Before being accepted as guests, travelers must first provide full names and passport numbers. pushes their members not to accept a free stay unless they can host within six months.

For all three clubs, hosts and crashers are paired up based on profiles that include languages spoken, location and interests. Many members clarify what they don’t want…drugs for instance. Although safety cannot be absolutely guaranteed, members post messages about their visits went. Read before you go.

Go on a road trip in someone else’s car. Don’t steal it…volunteer for driveaway duty. Driveaway is a situation that arises when a car owner needs his vehicle moved to a new location and either can’t or doesn’t want to do the driving. Rather than pay to ship the car, the owner signs his ride up for a driveaway program.
Drivers need to fill out an application form, present a valid driver’s license, and references. Sometimes you will need to be fingerprinted and submit a driving history. For insurance reasons, drivers are usually required to be at least 23 years old. Usually the first tank of gas is free, the rest of the expenses are yours. is the biggest player in the US with about 150 opportunities per month. Some offices will take requests for specific routes and call you when there is a match. There are some limits on mileage, time of day for driving, and duration. It would be a good idea to check your route ahead of time for construction detours, weather delays, etc.

Happy Trails…

Free Travel Ideas

Want to score a free trip? Sure…who doesn’t? Take a look at these tips. Just a warning…they’re not for everybody. Research, timing, patience, luck, and sometimes sweat are required. But you can’t beat the price.

Sister City Exchanges:
Sister Cities International is a nonprofit network that partners hundreds of US cities with international “sister” cities having similar climates, industries or populations ( The local governments of sister cities might exchange ideas about health care, traffic, playgrounds, etc.
Participants are expected to be active in sister city projects and host counterparts when they come to town. Travelers should expect to run fundraisers for trips as most cities don’t’ foot the entire bill.

Hiking trail volunteers get the chance for reduced or even free cabins, bedding, food, or campsites. In return you are asked to clear debris, build rock steps, or reconfigure switchbacks, depending upon the trail.

The Continental Divide Trail Alliance runs two to seven day trips with catered meals at national parks such as Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Glacier (303-838-3760 or

The Pacific Northwest Trail Association focuses on a path leading from Washington’s Olympic Mountains into Montana (877-854-9415 or

From Maine to Georgia volunteers can join one or two week trips organized by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (304-535-6331 or

Don’t have a rich aunt in Tuscany who wants you to house-sit for six months? Look into a service that lists house sitting opportunities and chill out at a Caribbean villa, care for cats and chickens at a French farmhouse, or keep the moat clean at a castle.

Before signing up on any assignment, ask questions. Who pays the bills? How many pets? Any special needs? What attention does the garden or lawn or moat require? Ask for previous house sitters numbers and contact them about their experience. posts more than 1,000 house-sitting openings per year, most in the US. It will cost you $30 per year to see online listings. costs $45 and had a list of 298 openings, including 117 in Australia. is a site where the houses are all left behind by academics on teaching assignments.

Stay tuned…more to come tomorrow.


First stop…Paraduxx Winery and four yummy wines for tasting. If you are unsure about a wine as you taste it, take a bite of either cheese or cracker and taste again. The taste of the wine will be different after you have that bite. I guarantee it. Try it…

Last stop of the day…Bouchon Bakery for a lemon tart and cappuccino. What a way to end the day.

Save Money While Traveling

Perhaps you want to sample the local food. Get a real feel for what the locals eat.

Search out street fairs to purchase a locally made trip souvenir. Often these are less expensive than what you find in “tourist shops”.

Take a ride on the F Line Trolley car in San Francisco. When you get home, frame your ticket and a photo of you with the trolley car for an inexpensive memento.

Again, sample some local food at a farmer’s market. If you are thinking about an expensive restaurant, check our and buy a $25 gift certificate for only $10. Look at any day or time restrictions, but usually these are a great deal.

Cash in any hotel reward points quickly. Don’t save for a “foggy day”.

Ferry Building in San Franciso

Take a stroll to the Ferry Building along the bay and munch your way through the whole building. These are just a few of the places you can satisfy your cravings…

Fruits and vegetables…

Maybe caviar is more your liking…

Try the olive oil…

Stay tuned…more delights will follow.

The Jade Coast

California’s coast is often called the Jade Coast. For one thing, the emerald green waters can look more like jade than emeralds. Mainly because jade has many different hues of greens, blues, and even whites…much like the coastline.

Another reason is the jade found along much of the coast. Knowing that there are several types of jade in multiple colors has brought gem hounds from all over to search for this beautiful stone. Divers have secret coves off the coast where they bring up jade. Some spots are off limits unless you’re registered.

But…by Bodega Bay all you have to do is walk the beach. Small, various colors of polished jade stones get washed up here. Probably not large enough or high enough quality for gem stone collectors, jewelry makers or carvers it still is fun to come across your find of “gems”.

Quite the collection…for starters. I’ve now been bitten by the “jade bug”. Must go back to search for more…