Posted by: GeekHiker | January 7, 2009

Christmas Day-Tripping

(What, you haven’t commented on my couch post yet? I KNOW some of you are still going to respond, right? 😉 )

After a pleasant morning and lunch of good food and opening gifts Christmas Day, Dad found himself feeling a bit antsy. It was a beautiful day outside, a series of storms having passed over the Central Valley the previous night.

Those storms also made the drive up a heckuv’a lot of fun, believe me.

Heading north from their house, we soon found ourselves leaving the suburbs of Sacramento, heading out on a two lane country road.

X-Mas 08 01
Two lane road on the way out of town

The area’s still pretty rural, and we found ourselves stopping multiple times to take photos of, for example, flocks of turkeys.

X-Mas 08 02
Turkeys running away from my camera!

No doubt they were happy to have survived the holidays intact.

Heading North on Highway 99, we decided to head towards the Sutter Buttes. I had last seen them from the other side, along Interstate 5, on my trip to Oregon.

X-Mas 08 03
Sutter Buttes from along Highway 99

Our original goal had been to drive around the Buttes, but we started late, so we elected to stop at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. A lone deer stepped out to greet us.

X-Mas 08 04
Curious deer checking us out when we arrived

The whole area is a wetland, one of the few remaining and surrounded by farmland. Stopping at the information kiosk, turkey vultures ruled the eucalyptus trees above us.

X-Mas 08 05
Note that I’m not standing directly UNDER the turkey vulture

Heading out on the loop drive, the gravel road threaded it’s way through marshes and wetlands. The day was clear, the air crisp, the sky a bright blue. Typical for winter in the Central Valley.

There were, shall we say, a few birds:

X-Mas 08 06
Flocks of birds rising up into the winter sky

Our speed soon slowed to a crawl as we kept our eyes peeled. High up in one of the trees, lording over his domain, sat a juvenile bald eagle:

X-Mas 08 07
Juvenile bald eagle (I think)

As the sun started to set, we headed back to The Parentage’s house.

X-Mas 08 09
Sun setting over the wetlands

Not that nature is ever very far away from their new place. The next evening, this raptor sat on their back fence, less than ten feet away.

X-Mas 08 08
Raptor on the back fence

Wish I got hawks like that outside my front window!



  1. gorgeous pics as usual, and i love the new blog layout/header!

    that “Two lane road on the way out of town” looks like a lot of roads around here in NoVA

  2. Great pictures. I may have had trained geese but you … you had a whole trained menagerie. Awesome pictures and great new header.

  3. wow, beautiful pictures…such amazing views. you’re gonna make me want to go hiking.

  4. you are really quite talented with the old camera, aren’t you? and I think the reason people aren’t responding to your travel posts is because they were just very well-written and did not seem to NEED any response. But maybe I should go read them to make sure! (ha, am only kidding, I did read them, and I did mean that).

  5. that picture of the sun setting over the wetlands is BEAUUUUUUUUUTIFUL.

    honest it looks like you are in south carolina. which is where you should be. duh.

  6. Love the shots. The one with the birds over the lake makes me think of Neil Young’s song “Helpless.”

  7. Were you in motion for the Sutter Buttes picture? Great work! Its breathtaking.

  8. Fantastic pictures!

  9. Charlotte Harris – Thanks for the compliment. There’s a surprising number of roads like that in CA, given the huge distances between big cities out here…

    Homer-Dog – LOL, thought you might like those!

    Blakspring – Thanks! So go hiking then!

    Kori – Well, I try. The post I was referring to was the one seeking couches to crash on.

    Kristin – Too kind! So you’re saying SC looks like CA you mean, right? 😉

    Phil – I would have never thought of the song. Cool!

    BackPackerMomma – Yeah, a shot out the window. Just a lucky one.

    Dingo – Thanks!

  10. These pictures are gorgeous! THAT’S where you got your blog header from, what a fantastic photo. Makes me want to hit the road and drive northwest.

  11. The two lane road shot reminds me of my time in the Midwest – I miss scenes like that.

    The shot of the sunset over the wetlands? I would love to frame that and hang it on my wall 🙂

  12. Very pretty 🙂

  13. Fab photos as per usual.

    Weird to see turkeys just roaming around…

  14. OMG! GREAT PICTURES! My favorites were the turkeys and the turkey buzzard. 🙂

  15. Turkeys are fugly. I have no problem eating them whatsoever. Lambs though, can’t eat those. They’re so cute when they suck on my fingers. Awwwwhhhh….

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