I came south this weekend for the sunshine. Three days of being focused in the studio on painting kept me from noticing the gray days. Still warm out, but fall seems to be creeping in early. Even with a chunk of the "Dog Days" painting unfinished and the whole needing a polish it was time to fly south for a few days.

Thirty miles from home I found the sun and put the top down on the Mini Cooper. Six-and-a-half hours of wind,sunshine and IPod music later I arrived at my friend Pam's house in Medford, Oregon. Medford seems to be the servant to beautiful upscale old school Ashland, ten miles down the road. I love it here, surrounded by green mountains and with the same weather as inland northern California.

Yesterday we had a Mini mini road trip and headed over the Redwoods. Nice traveling with a local girl, we avoided freeways and wound through beautiful country including a stretch of road aptly named the narrows. It should also have "the curves" added to its moniker. What a road for motorcycles! Through Cave Point into California and past the bored Vegetable Police (what a horrible job that, "Do you have any fruits or vegetables all day long?" One has to wonder what they did to be punished that way. On past Gasquet (not gasket but gaskee, it sill amuses me) to a sharp left turn and the back end of the Jedediah Smith National Park/Reserve. Who knew a dirt road could take you deep into the Redwoods? The grove we visited was called Stout Grove, and hilariously enough it was given to the park as a memorial to a dead lumber baron. Great, 40 acres of the trees he tried to demolish stand forever in his memory.

The grove was beautiful. Mosquitoes yes, but the trees made up for the minor annoyance. We could hear the Smith river off to one side rushing through its rocky bed, but it was so quiet in the woods, only birdsong in our ears. No cars, very few people and no noisy screaming children tearing through the place at all. I do love places that are un-touristed. September is a phenomenal time to travel, everyone back in school, weather still good-today's tip. I shot about 150 photos that will have to be edited to find the ten good ones, God bless digital photography….and we headed out of the forest and down the hill to the Pacific in Crescent Beach.

Down highway 101 I saw fishing boats in the harbor and on impulse made a right into the parking lot. Bingo. Tuna boats had just arrived and were cleaning fish to the utter delight of a pack of seals who begged in the water like big tame dogs. One seal got in a fight with seagulls over the same tidbit which was fun to watch. Feral cats were hiding in the bushes scampering away at the approach of humans, and wisps of mist were rising when we left and headed north to find a beach. Del Norte county had a nice long empty beach and we wandered down to watch the sunset and the waves. Emptiest beach I ever saw, of both people and things. A few rocks, no shells and only three humans building a sand citadel down the way. Pelicans were heading south to their rookery for the night, on a sea stack down the way and we watched them dip into the waves and sail past as we basked in the buttery sunshine.

We ate our dinner of tuna salad sandwiches at a picnic table on the headland, sharing the remnants with gulls before we hit the road for a two and a half hour drive home,  capped by the sight of a big fire on Blackwell hill just a few miles away from Pam's house.

Today, thrift stores, and calling in at emporiums that might handle my jewelry down this way. Another fine day of sun and friend time before I have to head home again tomorrow morning and back to the easel and several hours of photo editing. Life is good.

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