Conditions Change


Hi All,

Thank you for your support. Your visits. And more. I have downgraded the site visually, but it’s still there for a resource.

A year ago April, we moved to Salem, Oregon. It suits our love of nature and culture.

After two knee replacement surgeries and a broken leg, I was not much in a walking or blogging mood. I considered renaming the blog and adding more Oregon, but it’s not how I want to spend my time. We do continue to explore and live near some grand parks. The ocean is a little too far, though.

I am walking. But not a lot.

I have struggled to write. I joined a group here, where each person shares their work. After reading old stuff, I finally got to new stuff. Poems were popping into my head. I’ve joined another group, called Shut Up and Write! Each person writes in silence for an hour. I get six pages of dialog when I get going.

In the spirit of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, I approached the Salem Theater Network both at a Saturday Market and asked, “Is there a playwright group in town?” Response from the Chemeketa College Theater professor was, “No. But I have interested writers.” I said, “Let’s start a group.” And so we have one. Now called the 45th Parallel Playwrights. We (6-8 playwrights) meet monthly, at the Keizer Homegrown Theater. I’m so happy with how well the group has worked. As of our fifth meeting, several of us have submitted plays, one is a finalist in a film festival and we are planning a reading of our works in the spring.

Thanks again. Happy Walking.

Lynn Millar


Year End in Review (2017) Part III

Oh, I promise this is the last one. We just went so many places, even with a few months off, it has taken a long time to show off. Well it is only three posts and not twenty-something.

To see Part I (local hills) and Part II (mostly Nevada, Southern Utah and Eastern California)

At the end of October, we  made a trip to Grass Valley in the Sierra foothills. First we stopped at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. (I used to work for Southern Pacific.) We had fun with  many new exhibits.

We wandered around the state park at the Empire Mines. You can live pretty well, as owner, given that you don’t have to actually work in “the oldest, largest, deepest, longest and richest gold mine”. It operated from 1856 to 1956.

Grass Valley and Nevada City really know how to celebrate Halloween. Grass Valley closed part of downtown for kids to trick or treat from store to store. In Nevada City, many homes got serious about decorations.

I’m sure we walked more places, but one of the most memorable and a new one to us, was Deer Island in Marin County. No longer an island it does overlook wetlands (and Hwy 101 and 37). We found this amazing bay tree – Mike and Cole posed for size comparison. (Can you see them? Apologies for the quality of the phone picture.)

A place we often walk is Spring Lake, this time we enjoyed the dog play in the swimming lagoon.

And then with a bizarre break in the rain pattern (one that aggravated the Southern California fires) we took the chance to go to Oregon in early December.

In Salem, Oregon, a formal Riverfront Park follows the Willamette River. A children’s museum, ice rink and carousal are only steps from downtown. A new bridge connects to the wild lands and trails of Minto-Brown Island Park.

Before we left this part of the state we went to a small town of Silverton and the Oregon Gardens. Even in winter this botanical garden was spectacular with a vast variety of trees.

Always ones to enjoy the ocean, we spent some time at Lincoln City on the Oregon coast.

Lincoln City also has a large Devil’s Lake. Mike is crazy about lakes.

South of there the Siletz River met the ocean in a grand looking place.

And finally at year end, we had Christmas Day ‘dinner’ at Doran Beach. Doran is our default place to go. I can verify that with the most pictures I have of any one place. (This tree near the jetty had a few ornaments.)

All in all it was a great traveling year. Hope you all have a great new year.

Lynn & Mike Millar


Year End in Review Part II

See Part I Year in Review.

My best pictures continue—

My broken leg meant we cancelled a trip to Oregon in July, but we kept a date with a trip to Nevada and southern Utah in September. First stop was Las Vegas where we enjoyed the rugged geology of the desert and an evening’s trip to ‘Venice.’

First to Red Rock Canyon, a short distance west of Las Vegas. We didn’t walk much as we had trouble with the 100 degree temperatures. Great interpretive center though.

At night we took a side trip to Venice.

On our way out of town the next day, we took a route near the Valley of Fire. Enough fire for us with the heat.

Our drive to Southern Utah was amazing, but Bryce Canyon called first for a real visit. Driving along a ridge, we stopped at a series of overlooks. I was amazed at the distance I could see of repeating plauteaus and canyons. That land goes to the Grand Canyon.

The next day we went to Zion National Park, where we looked up instead of out.

Zooming along on our way back home, we left southern Utah. We had to make a stop in Las Vegas again and dashed through Death Valley. Not very welcoming but spectacular.

More haunting was a stop at Manzanar, a detention camp of 10,000 Japanese during World War II. Museum is a true learning experience of this horrible part of our history.

Mike wanted to continue up Hwy 395 on the backside of the Sierra Nevadas. After an uncharacteristic day, where we made an unplanned stop at Manzanar, the next day we decided while in the neighborhood to go to Mammoth Lakes. An area of ski resorts, in fall, it lacked the bustle. We took a short walk to the Devil’s Postpile.

Next, we went June Lake that Mike had seen in a magazine and found the more charming Silver Lake where we stopped for lunch.

Next – are you breathless? I’m getting winded just listing every stop we made one day. Here’s Mono Lake.

We thought, “why not stop at South Lake Tahoe” on the way to our last stop of the day. So we did. The shoreline has been dressed up with promenades, picnic tables and nice spots to look at a beautiful lake. Whew!

And then there’s Halloween in Grass Valley and Nevada City – they know how to do it up.

Okay. Too much information. I think I’ll have to do Part III.

See you next time.


Year End in Review Part I

Since I never got to sharing many of our walks and probably won’t get around to it now – I thought, I could show you my best pictures. You can find more trail details on my site or on the famous Google.

In February, we walked to the north end of the trail along the restored wetland at the old Hamilton Air Base in Novato. The wetland area was opened to the bay in 2014.

We hiked many a hill in the next few months to find spring wildflowers. Here are most of the places. The wildflowers didn’t make a great appearance in my pictures. But in reality, they were amazing.

At the far end of Drakes Bay, Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore has a wide variety of views and in spring, a great show of flowers.

Taylor Mountain provided wildflowers and views to Santa Rosa.

Foothill Regional was a match of wildflowers and view.

Healdsburg Ridge supplied views to the river and had a spring carpet of wildflowers on the Serpentine Trail.

Another part of the Bay Trail near Sears Point provided some wildflowers and no hills but with views to San Francisco and the East Bay.

At the other end of Sonoma County is Gualala Regional Park with connection to a coastal trail along Sea Ranch.

Sonoma Mountain park has views of valleys and mountains. A trail connects to Jack London Park. Not sure when I’ll ever do that.

A new place for us was in Marin County at Tennessee Valley. The trail leads to the ocean and had some fine wildflowers in the meadows.

Come May, we went to Moore Creek in Napa County. We were a little late for the peak wildflowers but the green colors were great.

In June, we made a trip to Atascadero and Morro Bay. Beautiful as always, with a new lake find – Santa Margarita Lake.

On our way back home we stopped at Coyote Hills along the East Bay – complete with nectar garden.

It was a busy first half of the year. Breaking my leg came on June 14th – a great breaking point. But we got on the trail in September. So there will be a Part II.

Here’s one wildflower picture that came out okay – from Santa Margarita Lake.

Get ready for this year’s wildflowers. The common yellowthroats are already feeding on my rosemary bush. Spring is coming.

Words and Pictures by Lynn Millar

Happy New Year!


Season’s Greetings

I wish to all of you the best of the season and good cheer in the new year.

Best intentions have not meant I actually posted all our walks in Sonoma County, Marin County, Morro Bay, East Bay and a fine trip to Nevada and southwest Utah. But hey they were great. You would have loved them.

But having recovered from my broken leg, I am scheduled to have my other knee replaced. I have asked the doctor to also replace my desire to write. I’m sure he removed it last year by mistake.

I did manage recently to walk down these stairs to the beach in Lincoln City Oregon and back up. Yeah! With tourist ignorance. There is a shorter access point nearby.

Sonoma County continues to recover from the fires. More parks are open. Neighborhoods are still frightening to pass through, but debris is being removed and many people will rebuild. Our heart aches with new understanding for the people in Southern California.

These pictures are from Sonoma Valley Regional Park that reopened a couple of weeks. Memorials and ghosts of fallen trees and yet beautiful.

Best of everything to all of you.



Fires and more Fires

Updates as of November 12th – All evacuations centers are closed. Finley Center starting recreational classes again. Clean up is well under way. Deadline for toxic clean up is tomorrow.

The night of October 8, 2017 a number of fires started in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties. The conditions were ripe for fires to start and spread quickly in firestorm fashion. We personally were very lucky only losing power for two days. We were ready to evacuate, but we weren’t under an order. The air was filled with smoke for days and we escaped to Bodega Bay to have fresh air for a few hours on several afternoons. We had friends, ex-coworkers, family of friends who lost everything. Houses burned completely to the ground. Over 100k acres burned with over 6500 structures destroyed and 42 lives lost.

The fires are now 100% contained. Below is some information on Parks – some badly damaged and still closed. Also below is some other information about the fires and recovery.

I tried to write about the experience, but since the personal impact was small compared to others, it seemed inconsequential. Today, I came across an article that well describes the power and destruction of one of the fires – and the impact on so many lives.


A monster firestorm became unstoppable almost as soon as it started

by By Kevin Fagan, Jill Tucker, Lizzie Johnson, Peter Fimrite, Marissa Lang, Kurtis Alexander, Esther Mobley, and Michael Cabanatuan


State Parks

Annadel State Park and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park all were severely damaged. Sugarloaf notice. Trione-Annadel.

Santa Rosa City Parks

The Finley Center at W. College and Stony Point had been an evacuation center. The swim center has reopened. As of November 4th, the Finley Center is the last of the evacuation centers. Recreations programs might restart soon. Steele Lane activities start again on Monday October 23rd. Other park information.

Regional Parks

All parks are open to the West of Hwy 101. Foothill is open. Crane Creek and North Sonoma Mountain have opened. All others closed. See Park List for closures.

Random Information

Sonoma County centralized information for recovery: Recover

Map of structures burned or damaged in the fire. California had many fires in October see Cal Map

Scope: 6492 homes and businesses in Santa Rosa destroyed. More damaged. Forty dead. 23 here. 220,000 acres from all the Northern California Fires. 110,000 of those acres here. Current status of fires here. (Last updated October 30th).  We now have 100% containment on all fires.

Kaiser Hospital evacuated patients in the early Monday morning hours surrounded by fire. Kaiser and Sutter Hospital are now open.



Salt Point One Last(?) Time

In January, we went to Salt Point on the Sonoma Coast. It was last day of our state park pass. (We were not renewing. That may seem odd for this is one of our favorite parks, but we just don’t go to state parks that often. We’re very provincial with our regional park pass.)

But I digress. Beauty is beauty. The waves in Gerstle Cove can be mesmerizing. It is also a marine reserve and the small visitors center overlooks the cove.

The short trail that is wheelchair accessible had been repaved.

The trail curves around some fine examples of the the rocky coast, carved and uplifted.

We didn’t go much further than the paved path as the winter rains had left the trail very wet – a river runs through it. This is not an uncommon problem in the winter and spring when the water runs down the mountains and across this plain.

As I was still  not walking well – this vista would have to do anyway.

I love the coast at any time of year. Remember that the fall is a great time to visit the coast – the sea shines blue.

Links to our other walks: The One and Only Salt Point, and What the Tafoni.

Or visit the state’s website about Salt Point

More Salt Point trails: From the main parking lot you can hike to Stump Cove, to Fisk Mill and Horseshoe Cove.

The uphill portion of the park is on the other side of Hwy 1. In geological terms the area is a series of uplifted plateaus. One place to hike is to the top plateau, where the pygmy trees grow.

Directions: 18 miles north of Jenner

Walking Distance: 2.5 mile round trip to Stump Cove

Parking: $8 day use. Buy annual pass – there are different passes at different price levels now.

Visitor Center: Open on weekends 10-3. Will introduce to the underwater park, Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve

Wheelchair accessible: Picnic grounds. Only the first short paved path at the ocean parking lot.

Bathroom: At campgrounds, picnic grounds, and near the ocean.

Dogs: No dogs. – okay on paved roads and parking lots with leash.

Camping, Horseback riding and fishing: Please check the park’s website.

See you on the trail!

Words and pictures by Lynn Millar

Poking Around Petaluma Marshes


I was still not walking much in January this year, but we wanted to check how the water levels were doing at Ellis Creek and Shollenberger Park in this wet winter. Due to the drought for years the area had been painfully dry and not much use to migratory birds.

Ellis Creek

On the first of January, this was how the Ellis Creek area looked. Of course, the water treatment ponds were full and the trail to Shollenberger was soggy.

The water here is intentional as it’s one of the last polishing ponds for the water treatment plant. The birds still appreciate them.

More on Ellis Creek.

Shollenberger Park

Afraid I only got one picture at Shollenberger.

Here’s one previously taken in winter with high tide on the river.

More Shollenberger. Note that Point Reyes Bird Observatory is now Point Blue.

Alman Marsh

In March, I was walking better and we thought to walk along the Alman Marsh near the  Petaluma River. That’s the span of Hwy 101 over the river and the new green railroad bridge – where the new SMART train runs, starting today. (I understand view from the train of the wetlands is great.)

The trail here was dry with a few odd holes in the trail’s mesh.

However, when we made a turn to follow the trail away from the river, the trail became impassable. Bicyclists told us, it wasn’t going to be any better. Once again, I wasn’t going to be able to see the ponds in Shollenberger.

Easiest spot to access this trail is to turn off Hwy 116 on Baywood Dr. and drive to the south end of Sheraton parking lot  For our previous walk at Alman Marsh. 

Petaluma Fun

Petaluma power station a la, PG&E. It only appears the car is plugged in. But certainly, more electric cars in the county.

Petaluma being a chicken capital of sort has chicken in an egg finials on many sidewalk posts. To hitch your horse? Or your chicken?


Along the river from the marshes to downtown Petaluma, you’ll have a fun time. Click Walking along the Petaluma River.

See you on the trail!

Words and most pictures by Lynn Millar. Mike’s picture from 2010 is here.

Walking Jack London

Well, this trip was also a while ago but intervening new knee, broken leg and election that all behaved badly – it’s taken too much time to write again. For the lowdown on where I’ve been or not been this past year please see Not Walking.

Jack London State Historic Park

We love London State Park in Glen Ellen, CA and come here as often as possible. The Valley of the Moon Natural History Association  is doing a great job of managing this 750 acre park and providing services the state could never fund. Check out their site for information, tour times and where your dog can walk on leash.

I was walking more easily at the end of December, so we could visit for the first time in months. We had a little of fall season

and a little spring.

Besides the beauty and the history of this park and the Beauty Ranch section, I was hoping I would be inspired to return to writing. Here’s Charmian’s sleeping porch in the cottage. She typed her husband’s illegible (to me) writing. Jack London wrote 1000 words/day. Could I?

We took a little docent tour of the building next to the cottage that houses a large entertainment lounge and the kitchen.

And for the first time we got another peek at the Londons’ life or the servants’ life – the laundry room. Most rustic place in the park, other than the places in ruins.

For the more industrious of you – the trails that go up the hill to the Alpine Lake and beyond. The main trail is part of the Bay Ridge Trail. The trails also link to the Sonoma Mountain Trail. Some people park one car on one side of the hill and drive around to the other side and hike back. It’s a tough 8 miles. More information? Just click London to Sonoma. I think I’d recommend hiking up the trail and down the Sonoma Mountain side for the views of the Santa Rosa plain.

See you on the trail!?


Words and pictures by Lynn, some pictures by Mike.

For our other posts at London : Walking where Jack London Lived and Beauty Ranch.

Walking Ukiah

Well, this trip was a while ago but intervening new knee, broken leg and election that all behaved badly – it’s taken time. For the lowdown on where I’ve been or not been this past year please see Not Walking.

I’ll start with last fall’s trip to Ukiah, an hour north of Santa Rosa, CA.

On the way to Ukiah, there are several treats. One is Real Goods in Hopland and the other we went to for the first time is the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

10k Buddhas

How could we have passed over this place a with a name like City of Ten Thousand Buddhas? We finally visited this beautiful 700 acre campus in Talmage. It looked familiar. I think because it used to be a state hospital, like the one in Glen Ellen. The Dharma Realm Buddhist Association purchased the land in 1974. It now houses several halls, library, museum, schools and university.

Since I was not walking well, we only visited the Visitor Center and the hall with the 10,000 Buddhas. I did not count, but it was an impressive and peaceful experience. I can understand protecting the buddhas, but the plastic coverings dulled the ambiance.

The City has classes and events open to all and sometimes has events in downtown Ukiah. The restaurant and bookstore were not open the day we were there. Check in at the Administration Building or click 10,000 Buddhas for more information.

Vichy Spring Resort

Vichy entrance

Vichy Spring Resort in Ukiah was started in1854. Native Americans enjoyed the springs for over thousands of years before that. We just visited last fall. Please explore the history on their website. When you visit you can imagine the previous visitors like Jack London and Mark Twain.

Vichy Baths

Not that I could walk them but there are 700 acres of wooded trails around the resort’s buildings and spring area. I did enjoy the carbonated mineral bath and the hot soaking pool. After fine massages, we were almost fully melted. We never got around to enjoying the large swimming pool but did enjoy our old-fashioned room and tasty breakfast. (You could enjoy a variety of accommodations or day visit the springs.)

Vichy Hot Spring

Low Gap Park

Low Gap

Across from the Ukiah High School on Low Gap Road is a Mendocino Regional Park of 80 acres called Low Gap Park on Orr Creek. It is packed with many kinds of recreation (playground, picnic area, skate park, disc golf, hiking trails, archery range, horseshoe pits, amphitheater and an amazing dog park.)

The dog park is divided into a section for Large and Brave Dogs and one for Small and Shy Dogs.

Low Gap Dog Park

Mike did take a short walk into the oak woodlands on a rough dirt trail along the creek. (Mike’s picture.) Check Ukiah Valley Trail Group for a map of the couple of miles of trail here.

Grace Hudson Museum

Close to downtown Ukiah is the Grace Hudson Museum. Exhibits change from time to time, but the museum focuses on Grace Hudson’s art and the culture of Native Americans. Grace Hudson studied art at the San Francisco School of Design in the 1880s. She came to focus on painting the portraits of many Pomo people.


Grace Hudson Museum

Pomo basketry is featured in the museum. We were stunned by the intricacy and beauty of these useful baskets.

native baskets

The Sun House

Next door is the Sun House where Grace and her husband John lived starting in 1911. Docents lead tours of this gorgeous Craftsman style home. Grace had a painting studio here.

Sun House Living Room

If you love the details of this period you’ll relish this house. As I imagined actually living here, it seemed a little ‘rustic.’ (Maybe if I had a cook and a better bed.)

Sun House Dining Room

We had a busy few days in Ukiah and thoroughly enjoyed visiting places we hadn’t been to before. What fun for a supposed familiar place. Of course, we ate well at Schat’s Bakery and Cafe, Patrona, Chop Chop, and for a sports bar fix, Crush.

See you on the trail!

Words and pictures by Lynn Millar (oh, my phone went dead, it’s Mike’s picture of the Buddhas.)

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