California Gold

Monday evening I came back from a full week in California!

I started the trip bydriving from Portland, OR to Santa Rosa, CA (north of San Francisco) to bring down something for my friend. This was Monday.

Tuesday I drove from Santa Rosa to the 1 on the coast. Crossing the Coastal Range showed me beautiful gold-and-green landscapes which are very photogenic although it's due to lack of any kind of water. Poor environment!

The coast was fabulous too, and the road is so windy (not for the wind, from all the curves) and I had to pay attention to my almost empty gas tank! But I did it just fine and I really enjoyed the 30-or-so miles I've drive along the famous coastal highway.

San Francisco is of course unique. I enjoyed walking around town, from the bay side to the Golden Gate Park. I went to the California Academy of Sciences, designed by Renzo Piano. what a beautiful building, that is real architecture. And the exhibits are beautiful! The De Young museum was nice too and I got to see a beautiful art exhibit of Romanticist master artist J.M.W. Turner. Fantastic!

I then flew to Los Angeles on Thursday, meeting my girlfriend at the airport, to spend the rest of the time at the beach on Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Great weather, warm water and palm trees were lovely and a nice change of scenery from the PNW. I splashed in the water and played with the big waves for hours every day. I realized that last year I completely skipped beach time, which is weird because I grew up in Trieste (and go there every year) so going to the beach is a must and something I love! Therefore, I was glad we went.

One day we went to the Getty Center and it was even better than what I remembered! It is a beautiful center, a real and quality meeting of architecture, landscaping and art! The exhibit are beautiful and the day was gorgeous. We stayed there more than 4 hours and we coudl ahve stayed even longer!

Photos to come soon (so many things to do now that I am moving)!

Look here on the Dreams' Chest Instagram for many more photos from my travel around the Golden State!

The Getty Center Landscape and Architecture Los Angeles California

Perception of the Natural Environment - II

As I wrote, last week I came back from solo backpacking in Alaska. Backpacking for four nights put me in a new perspective on my life's rhythm as well as on the surrounding environment and, importantly, how I related to it.

Whoever goes tent-camping, hike-camping or backpacking realizes, on different levels, how little is needed to live and have a perfectly entertaining day. Especially for backpacking, you go down to the barely minimum.

Talking to people, I realized how many misinterpret barely minimum with nothing to do. And that's not true! First of all, I love the necessary tasks for camping, from setting camp up by pitching the tent, for example, wood gathering and chopping (I like this one especially), preparing meals and appropriately cleaning afterwards, to name a few. Second, they take time, they fill the day. Third, I still always have my journal, books with me, everywhere I go, and might still work out with a run or a swim. Fourth, I have a whole forest/mountain/beach to explore!

The important factor is that even simple camp chores put me in relation with the surrounding landscape. I need to know where I am in order to find my optimal tent spot. I need to asses what's around me in order to find wood -0 or food, if I'm fishing or hunting (I haven't done these so far). I need to observe the sky and how it changes to have a fair idea of the weather.

I relate with the environment with all my senses and I respect Nature in every aspect, enjoying how it changes and savoring every moment.

The entire Alaska is bear country. I haven't seen any, but that doesn't mean they are not around. I am particularly proud of my hanging of the food.

The entire Alaska is bear country. I haven't seen any, but that doesn't mean they are not around. I am particularly proud of my hanging of the food.

In My Mind - Solo Backpacking in Alaska's Resurrection Bay

I went backpacking by myself in Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska. On my way south from Anchorage I took the train. The ride is spectacular! And cheap (89$). The bus is cheaper (40$) but the scenery is nothing close (I took the bus on the way back). The train mostly rides away from towns and highways and the views are beautiful. I didn't see any animals but the landscape changes from untouched valleys, to lush green mountains, to deep gorges and calm bays. The rails are literally on the edge. Beautiful.

Resurrection Bay is easy to explore since water taxis can go virtually anywhere, or you can kayak or hike. Hiking is the most restrictive way, because there aren't many trails and the distances are big, but that's what I did.

Backpacking by myself was an experience I wanted to have for some time. I love being in my head and backpacking for four nights/four days game me plenty of time for it. For long periods of time I was just observing my surroundings. I have way more complicated thoughts on a normal day, but there, alone for hours, time was paced only by the rhythm of my walking. I let Nature filter through my senses. It's a delicate but filling sensation. The landscape is pristine, wild and majestic, but mostly silent.

In this order but in few days, I hiked from Seward to Tonsina to North Beach to Fort Gilvray to South Beach and back again. The longest hike was 11 miles between 7:45am to 3:30pm, with an hour break in the middle. I loved it! My 66 pounds backpack didn't feel heavy. Once I accepted the weight at the beginning of the trip, it bothered my shoulders for the pressure at the end of the day but my legs were totally fine. The view of the bay from Fort McGilvray, an abandoned WWII fort, was one of my favorites of this trip. I am not used to see WWII ruins outside of Europe. It was an interesting sight, almost out of place. It was also a great point for reflections and again absorbing my surroundings with the breeze, without thoughts or distractions.

This trip was fairly quick. I want to go back to travel around new areas. I want to backpack in Denali next time.

[photos of the trip to come soon!]


Kayaker in Resurrection Bay Seward Alaska USA

Perception of the Natural Environment

Last Friday I came back from a week of camping. We stayed at Lake Crescent in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State (USA) and in French Beach in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

The second day after we arrived on the Island, the sky was completely covered in sooth and smoke from wildfires raging in the center of the Island. The smoke had a pink tint early in the morning and a yellow one later in the evening in the direction of the sun (see photo below).

I realized one more time how the perception of the natural environment changes from city life to outdoors life in nature.

I've spent outdoors all my life, either in the yard (not really outdoors, but at least among trees), or camping or hiking on the Alps. And I've also lived all of my life in the city. When people are in the city, they are too disconnected to what happens in the natural environment. Drought 8such as the effects on Detroit Lake in Oregon), or wildfires, or unusual weather - realizing the real impact on changing patterns in nature is possible only if people physically feel the changes.

Feeling Nature is the best way to understand and respect it. So we can learn how to preserve it.

Wildfire French Beach Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada