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Parade of Roses and Autumn

Tournament of Roses, Pasadena (1/1/18) Frank McDonough

Tournament of Roses, Pasadena (1/1/18) Frank McDonough

Each New Year’s Day, the world marvels at the amazing floral floats made for the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena.

What often isn’t seen in the worldwide coverage of the parade is the lingering fall color to be seen along the streets of Pasadena.

Los Angeles County color spotter Frank McDonough captured some of it and shares it with us.

Pasadena – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

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Fall Color Run

Gilman St., Berkeley (11/18/17) Sandy Steinman

Marathoners passed Peak fall color on their route along historic Telegraph Ave., through North Berkeley and the vibrant Fourth Street district, down Gilman Street, along the waterfront and back to downtown Berkeley this past weekend, while competing in the Berkeley Half Marathon.

Berkeley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Fall Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

California loves its farmer’s markets.

There are literally hundreds of them in the state, and they are found in just about any city of significant population.

Los Angeles has 30 farmer’s markets… some periodic, some permanent.

Although farmer’s markets can be enjoyed year-round here, they’re best in autumn.

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

There’s just nothing quite as satisfying as exploring a farmer’s market’s booths and wares on a crisp autumn day. You walk the market in a cozy sweater and spend time leisurely chatting with the farmers, artists, authors and vendors.

Buying at a farmer’s market isn’t just about what you buy, it’s about the relationship you make with the person selling it.

Today, I bought three books, as birthday gifts, directly from the author, a writing instructor at the University of the Pacific.

I didn’t need a book review to know they might be something worth treasuring. His enthusiasm communicated that. You don’t get that on Amazon.com. Spending time at a farmer’s market gives you that and more.

Robert Kermen spent Veterans Day in Nevada City at its farmer’s market. The fall color in town was so-so, but the color to be seen at its farmer’s market was off the charts.

CLICK HERE for where to find farmer’s markets in California.


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Rainbow Season

Rainbow and Sandhill Cranes, Lodi (11/4/17) Crys Black

California is entering its rainbow season. It runs from autumn through springtime.

When storms are clearing, the best time to see rainbows is when the sun is behind you and you are looking toward rain or mist.

Color spotter Crys Black captured just such a moment at the Sandhill Crane festival (Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, west of Lodi) as sunset approached.

A storm had just departed and illuminated by sunset light in the moist sky were rainbows and Sandhill Cranes. The latter were returning to the reserve to spend the night safe from predators.

Rainbow season provides all sorts of moments in which to be inspired by nature’s beauty.


Mushroom Madness in Mendocino

Fly Amanita (poisonous) mushroom, Mendocino Mushroom, Wine and Beer Festival, Nov 3 – 12

Chanterelle growing on a Mendocino forest floor

Mushrooms, 3,000 varieties of them, will be hunted, discussed, tasted and feted at Mendocino County’s 19th Annual Mushroom Wine and Beer Festival, Nov. 3 – 12. It is the world’s largest mushroom festival.

What makes Mendocino County such a great mushroom foraging area? “It’s the trees,” says Eric Schramm who will be leading a hike from Jughandle Creek Farm on Nov. 12, one of many walks, talks, cooking classes, concerts, rides and hunts focused on learning more about Mendocino mushrooms.

Mendocino’s forests are populated with many evergreen and deciduous trees whose fallen leaves and needles cultivate a broad variety of spores.

For the fall color spotter, Mendocino County’s forest are speckled with autumn color from: (orange) black oak, (yellow) bigleaf maple, (orange-yellow) valley oak, (yellow) white alder, (red-purple) creek dogwood, (gold-orange) various willows, (yellow) California buckeye, (burgundy) choke cherry, (yellow) Oregon ash, (chartreuse) vine maple, (gold) black cottonwood, (red) Klamath plum and all those mushrooms.

Schramm notes that the detritus deposited on the forest floor by certain trees, combined  with Mendocino’s moist coastal climate, nourishes the abundant growth of fungi. It is tree species that leads foragers to prized mushrooms. Chanterelle grow beneath Douglas fir, black trumpet below tan oak and porcini underneath shore pine.

“The annual haul is nothing short of historic,” writes Visit Mendocino, and the response is that mushrooms make just about every great Mendocino menu. Mendocino’s wine makers and brewers find inventive ways to pair their makings with nature’s bounty in endlessly tantalizing ways, making Mendocino the go-to destination for mushroom lovers.

3,000 mushroom varieties grow in Mendocino County. 500 are edible.

Mushrooms are not just good to eat (that is, the 500 edible varieties growing in Mendocino County), but they’re also wonderful to photograph, as seen in the slider across the top of our site.

Schramm says not only is it just plain fun to go mushroom hunting, but festival goers learn a lot about the medicinal, spiritual, culinary, scientific and emotional benefits of mushrooms, stating, “Mushrooms are the wave of the future. We’re just starting to understand their many uses as tools in bioremediation to naturally clean the Earth.”

So, here’s a rundown of some of the fungi fest’s favorites. CLICK HERE for links to them:

  • Daily – Mushroom Hunt Ride, Ricochet Ridge Ranch, Ft. Bragg.
  • Daily – Live Mushroom Exhibit, Ford House Museum, Mendocino.
  • Nov. 3 – Wild Mushroom and Winemaker Dinner, MacCallum House Inn and Graziano.
  • Nov. 3 – 5 – Mushroom Exploration Tours, Stanford Inn, Mendocino.
  • Nov. 4 – Mushroom Foraging at UC Hopland Research and Extension Center.
  • Nov. 4 – Guitarist Alex de Grassi, UC Hopland Research and Extension Center.
  • Nov. 3 – Coro Winemaker Dinner at the Golden Pig.
  • Nov. 4 – Afternoon Tea at Glendeven Inn with mushroom tea sandwiches.
  • Nov. 4 – Mad Fritz Brewing Co. at the Bewildered Pig.
  • Nov. 5 – Bars, Bordellos and Mushrooms, Kelley House, Mendocino.
  • Nov. 5 – Mycellium in Art & History, Mendocino Art Center.
  • Nov. 5 – Ravens Restaurant medicinal mushroom breakfast.
  • Nov. 5 – Pennyroyal Farm mushroom brunch.
  • Nov. 5 – Foray with Mario Abreu (for beginning foragers), Ft. Bragg.
  • Nov. 7 – Blue Collar Winemaker Dinner at Cucina Verona.
  • Nov. 8 – Barra of Mendocino Winemaker Dinner at Crush.
  • Nov. 8 – Wild Fish Winemaker Dinner.
  • Nov. 10 – Little River Inn Mushroom and Belgian Beer Dinner.
  • Nov. 11 – Mushrooms at the Mendocino Coast Bontanical Gardens, Ft. Bragg.
  • Nov. 11 – Mushroom Foray and Cooking Class at Jade Court, Ft. Bragg.
  • Nov. 11 – Maple Creek Winery/Artevino Mushroom Hike & Forage.
  • Nov. 11 – Saracina Mushroom Foraging and Gourmet Luncheon.
  • Nov. 11 – Jaxon Keys Winemaker Dinner.
  • Nov. 11 – Yamakiri Winery and Ravens Restaurant Mushroom and Winemaker Dinner.
  • Nov. 11 – Campovida Winemaker Dinner.
  • Nov. 12 – Fungi Finale – A Walk on the Wild Side with Eric Schramm, Caspar.
  • Ongoing Excursions/Tours as Posted – Skunk Train, Point Arena Lighthouse, B. Bryan Preserve (endangered African hoof stock).

During November, 25 hotel properties in Mendocino County are offering special packages. Follow the above link to them.



Shasta Cascade A Harvest of Events

Mt. Shasta, Upper Sacramento River (10/21/16) Philip Reedy

Patchy color is appearing early across the Shasta Cascade, providing opportunities to harvest an autumn drive with a car show, road race, trout derby and all sorts of festivals (music, food, and fun). Here are some of the events that will be happening up north on this coming and the following weekend.

Oct. 6

– Olive Festival, Corning Car Show


Oct. 7  

– Bizz Johnson Marathon  ( Susanville)

– Harvest Moon Liberty Fest ( Anderson River Park )

– Johnny Appleseed Days . ( Paradise )

– Manton Apple Festival ( Manton )

– Salmon Festival (Weaverville)


Oct. 14 

– Apple Harvest Festival . ( Mc Cloud) .

– Shasta Lake Trout Derby


Aspen Festival Returns to Alpine County

Hope Valley (10/8/16) Andrew Zheng

With only 1,138 residents, Alpine County is California’s smallest county, but what it lacks in population, it makes up in Quaking Aspen.

Aspen forests populate seven viewing areas in Alpine County: the Hope Valley, Woodfords Canyon, Monitor Pass, East Fork Carson River, Ebbett’s Pass, Hermit Valley and Bear Valley/Lake Alpine.

Though Alpine County is just south of my base in El Dorado County, I’ve never scouted Ebbett’s Pass, Hermit Valley or Bear Valley/Lake Alpine. That’s an omission I hope to correct, and just might do so during the Alpine Aspen Festival, Oct. 7 – 8.

The festival occurs in the Hope Valley, which is a favorite destination for fall color spotters due to its proximity to Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and the SF Bay Area.

Planned are interpretive hikes, photography and en plein air painting, a ranch tour, music and – of course – food (Dutch oven cooking and a feed benefitting East Fork Fire).

There are a bunch of first reports on the line. Let’s see who gets to them, first.



Time Your Trips to These Bishop Events

Groves Above Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (10/2/16) Daniel Stas

Want to combine your fall color spotting with a special event? Here’s a list of upcoming events near Bishop (US 395) and what areas are likely to be peaking.

Fourth Week of September

Fall Color is predicted to be patchy to near peak up Bishop Creek Canyon

  • 22 – Downtown Bishop Fall Fling- Dine in one of Bishop’s restaurants then stroll to participating shops. Live entertainment, free raffle to win $250 gift certificate.
  • 22 – 24 – Annual Pow Wow & California Native American Day Celebration.  Parade, traditional dancing, hand games, art & crafts, music, food & more.
  • 22 – 24– Slim Princess Reunion, Laws Museum. Southern Pacific narrow-gauge locomotive #18 (the Slim Princess) has been parked in Independence since 1955. This is its coming out party, with the locomotive to run under its own steam for the first time in 63 years. Grounds admission: $10, Children 12 and under, free.  Caboose rides: $20 (limited) Advance tickets are now sold out. carsoncolorado.com.

First Week of October

Fall Color is predicted to be near peak to peaking up Bishop Creek Canyon

  • 1 – Nov. 15 – Fall Tagged Fish Trout Contest.  Catch a specially tagged fish and win a cash prize.

Second Week of October

Fall color is predicted to be past peak at the highest elevations of Bishop Creek Canyon, though near peak to peaking at lower elevations.

  • 6 – 7 – Lone Pine Film Festival.  Tours, stars, panels, parade, memorabilia dealers, arts & crafts show, music, and more. Museum of Western Film History. (760) 876-9909.
  • 7 – Choo Choo Swap Meet – Tri-County Fairgrounds, Bishop. (760) 873-5950.
  • 7 – BIG Parking Lot Dance Party.  Long Beach’s Elm Street Band will be playing Classic Rock & Roll dance party favorites in the parking lot at Schats Roadhouse. Free.
  • 7 – 8 – Owens Valley Cruisers Fall Colors Car Show, Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.  owensvalleycruisers.com.

Third Week of October

Fall color is predicted to be past peak in Bishop Creek Canyon, though peaking in the Round Valley to Pine Creek.

  • 13 – 15 – VCMC Dual Sport Motorcycle Ride.  Organized by Ventura County Motorcycle Club. venturacountymc.com (760) 873-3588
  • 13 – 14 – “Romancing the West, How the West was Sung,” a critically acclaimed “Time Traveling Documentary and concert.” Hidden Creeks Ranch, Bishop. RomancingtheWest.org. (760) 873-7750
  • 21 – Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance 5K Fun Run/Walk. 9 a.m., Bishop City Park. (760) 872-3811.

Fourth Week of October

Fall Color is predicted to be peaking in and around Bishop (Buckley Ponds and Rawson Ponds).

  • 27 – 29 – Eastern Sierra History Conference – About the people, places, and events that flavored the Eastern Sierra. Field trips and tours of Eastern Sierra cultural and historical sites (additional charges apply).  Oct. 28 dinner with local authors. Oct. 29 field trips. $90/adults, $75/seniors, $20/students, includes dinner. Single day: $45/Fri., $65/Sat. Register at ESIA.org, Eventbrite.com. or (760) 873-2411.
  • 28 – Downtown Bishop Chocolate Art Walk. Visit shops & galleries, peruse art and taste chocolate treats.  4 – 8 p.m., Free.

First Week of November

Fall Color is predicted to be peaking to past peak in and around Bishop.

  • 3 – 5 – American Alpine Club’s Fall Highball Craggin’ Classic.  Demos, clinics, film screenings, stewardship.  www.cragginclassic.com.
  • 4 – Toiyabe Road Run.  Register 7:30 – 8:45 a.m. at the Millpond Recreation Center. 5k/10k run starts at 9 AM, 1k walk starts at 9:15. (760) 873-8461.
  • 5 – Steel Parade – Caribbean music. 3 p.m. Dorothy Joseph Auditorium, Bishop Union High School.  bishopcca.org.

Timing is Everything

Convict Lake (10/7/13) Susan Morning

Here’s a list of fall events happening near Mammoth Lakes. Since timing is everything when it comes to seeing fall color, should you plan to be Outside on the Eastside for these events, here’s what should be showing. Click on name of event for link to its website.

Now, through Nov. 15 – Ambush at the Lake Fishing Derby – This annual fall fishing derby occurs at Convict Lake in Autumn. If you love fly fishing and nature (as I do), what better way to combine the two than participating in Ambush at the Lake? The aspen should be peaking around Convict Lake between Oct. 6 and 15. Stay tuned to our updates.

Sept. 14 – 17 – Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Games – Subalpine lakes in the Eastern Sierra are beginning to show spots of color, though it’s still early for peak color. The Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Games is a mountain bike event on Mammoth Mountain – big league. If you’re up for a vigorous hike, trek up to any lake above 9,000′ for views of early color.

Sept. 17 – Tails & Trails Dog Fest – You’re probably not gonna hike uphill to see fall color, if you’re traveling with your best friend. High Sierra trails can be rough on their pads, unless protected. So, after you participate in the easy walks in this dog-friendly event, drive up Bishop Creek Canyon on your way to/from Mammoth Lakes to see what’s happening at South Lake, Sabrina Lake or North Lake.

Sept. 22 – 24 – Mammoth Oktoberfest – Again, the high subalpine lakes are where to see the best fall color, made even better with a picnic and beer purchased at the Mammoth Oktoberfest. Upper Rock Creek, south of Mammoth Lakes, should be near peak.

Oct. 27 – 29 – Morrison’s Bonus Fishing Derby – Whoa, Nelli! 14 fish will be tagged on this weekend, as part of Ambush at the Lake, and worth $2,000 each, to any angler who lands ’em. By the end of October, most of the areas near Mammoth Lakes have peaked, though good color should still be available north of town, along US 395 between Lee Vining and Topaz.



LA’s Descanso Gardens Becomes an Enchanted Forest

Symphony of Oaks, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Flower Power, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Super Pool, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge.

That’s because several of the most beloved areas within the 150-acre garden become the “Enchanted Forest of Light” at night, through Jan. 8.

Unlike other festivals of lights that cover trees with twinkly lights, Descanso Gardens bathes its urban forest with intensely colored flood lights.

Rainbow Sycamores, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Luminous Lawn, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Super Pool, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

However, this is more than a light show.  Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted Forest of Light is an interactive, nighttime experience unlike anything else in Los Angeles with a one-mile walk through eight distinct lighting displays.

As visitors walk through the enchanted forest, they trigger light displays and are awed by the beauty of the illuminated forest.

Highlights include “The Pool,” an interactive light sculpture by artist Jen Lewin in which people manipulate colors by walking over lighted pads.

In the Symphony of Oaks, visitors manipulate sounds and lights that fill the Oak Grove.

Descanso’s famous Japanese Garden is the last attraction along the walk before stopping for hot cocoa or a snack.

Flower Power, Enchanted Forest of Light (12/13/16) Descanso Gardens

Because of the show’s popularity, tickets are timed and must be purchased in advance.

White birch, La Cañada Flintridge (12/12/16) Descanso Gardens

Gingko biloba, La Cañada Flintridge (12/12/16) Descanso Gardens

Crepe myrtle, La Cañada Flintridge (12/12/16) Descanso Gardens

During daytime, the gardens provide a continuing show of nature’s color with native and exotic trees at full peak fall color.

Enchanted: Forest of Lights, Descanso Gardens,La Cañada Flintridge – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!