Saturday, January 2, 2010

Quick Trip up the Coast

We got away for New Year's Eve/Birthdays and headed up for a quick trip to Bodega Bay. It was pretty rainy but we managed a couple of hikes without getting too wet. The first was along some coastal bluffs, hoping to see some whales. No luck, but we enjoyed the views anyway.

While hiking along the bluffs, I realized that there is one invasive plant in California that I do hold a soft spot for. With most invasives, I have a hard time seeing past their destructive personalities and am unable to appreciate any beauty they may have. Out of town guests will ohh and ahh over Scotch Broom in bloom but they just look wretched to me. And that ratty Pampas Grass. So ugly. Oh, but get me anywhere near a patch of Iceplant that is blushing red and I melt. Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis, is a horribly invasive plant along most of the California coast. Up close it looks completely out of place with any native vegetation. The thick succulent leaves look totally wrong next to our scrubby California plants. But when Iceplant turns that glorious red I just don't care. The color is so perfect with the rugged browns and grays of the coastline. And in winter, the fresh green (non-native) grass is set off to perfection by the splashes of scarlet. The leaves turn red in droughty situations when anthocyanin is produced due to stress. It is the same chemical reaction that occurs in trees that produce a red fall color. Maybe I'm fond of the Iceplant because I'm so starved for fall color in California!

This quick trip was the first time I've ever spent in the Bodega Bay area other than just passing through. The area was really quite charming, especially on these cold, foggy days. I hope to have another chance to explore for longer sometime, especially some of the apple orchards we passed!

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