Category Archives: river

Sightseeing at Home.

Entrance to Kern Preserve

Entrance to Kern Preserve

Recently I  was asked to write about sightseeing around my new home in the country, in the middle of nowhere, in a one-horse town in Kern county, California.

After seven years living abroad and traveling the world, I’ve moved to the small town of Lake Isabella, CA, population 2300. With one main road and three traffic lights, there are no sights to visit. To understand and appreciate the extraordinary diversity and raw elegance of my new home, one has to venture into its essence..

Situated in the high desert, on the edge of the majestic Sequoia National Forest, home to the world’s largest trees, this small hamlet offers easy access to countless activities for everyone. The surrounding landscape is as magnificient as the gorgeous trees.

 Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella

In spite of the drought, the lake is still full of bass for sport fishing and kayaking. There are two rivers and countless creeks for trout fishing, rafting, tubing, swimming,  more extreme kayaking,  just putzing around in the shallow water, or stretching out on one of the smooth boulders that line the river.  My friend’s daughter, Rose, has lent me a kayak, and I just bought the necessary life jacket at a local thrift store. I’m ready. Estoy lista!

I’ve already taken advantage of a few of the hundreds of hiking trails in the area. They   range from ea

Kern Preserve

Kern Preserve

sy to difficult, and most are accessible. Camping and lodging is plentiful. One need only contact the Park Department to make camping reservations within the park, and each small town has at least one motel or lodge.

In addition to water sports, you can picnic on one of the National Forest’s developed picnic areas, go horse riding, mountain biking or view wildlife from your car or while hiking with your camera or binoculars. Use your manners. How close do you want a complete stranger coming to your family?

During the winter, with any luck at all, there are ski slopes, snowshoeing, and even snowmobiling which I must say I am not fond of  because of the damage done to the forest floor.

At night, after a hard day of outdoor fun, people flock to the many pubs in the surrounding towns for great food made to order, locally brewed beer, and to listen or dance to live music played by excellent blue grass and folk bands. Before bed, take time to marvel at the crisp, clear sky above you. Track NASA’s satellites, identify your constellation, view the Milky Way, and wish on a falling star.

Don’t Pee In The Water.

The Amacayacu lodge or headquarters sets in the confluence of the rios Mata Mata and Amazon. I was sitting on the front dock of the Amazon when some workers from the Mocaqua community docked their boat. Before going back to his roofing job, one of the young guys, took off his shirt and did a back flip into the Amazon. “Ahh,” I though, “I can swim here.” When I mentioned it to Tomas, he suggested I swim in the Mata Mata, by the boat dock, where the people who work here dock. “It’s also somewhat cleaner than the Amazon,” he added. “Fine by me,” I think, so I packed my bathing suit.

When I got here I asked Alejandro, one of the student geologists interning here if he ever swam there.”Yes. almost every day I swim. It’s beautiful. The water is warm on the top, but down under it is cool and refreshing. But, Rubi, it’s very important you don’t pee in the water.” “Why?” I asked reasonably. “It’s not good for you because of the fishes.” Ummm. I understand my pee might be not good for the fishes, but why not good for me? I pondered this. The following day I was in the kitchen with Pedro, another one of the students. “Pedro, what will happen if I pee in the water?”
“He looked at me with startling blue eyes.”It’s very bad because of the little fishes that can enter your body through the place where you pee.” Yikes.

Again I pondered. The practical side of me thinks this is something a mother would say to her kids to keep them from polluting the river, then I considered the many strange critters that live here: the piranha, fluorescent bugs, plants, and fungi, exotic insects, pink dolphins, even trees that are protected by pointy cudgels that strangle interlopers. This rainforest is a scene painted by the Brothers Grimm. If the wolf can eat the grandmother and dress in her clothes, there’s a pretty good chance a fish can enter the peeing place.

I will probably swim, but not laugh hard while I’m in the process, or sneeze.

Itanuas

Itaunas, Espirto Santo Ruby on the beach. Itaunis I’ve spent 7 days here.Unfortunately Google won’t post my photos. It’s too bad because the place is gorgeous. I leave today for Porto Seguro, about half way between here and Salvador. The owners of That Hostel in Itaunas, Grant and Paula have been gracious and generous.

Grant, Paula, with Peanut, Butter, & Jelly at That Hostel

Grant, Paula, with Peanut, Butter, & Jelly at That Hostel

He is an American-she a Brazilian, both travelers with an understanding of the frustrations and immense rewards. I could get lost here on the East Coast of Brazil on the southern border of the state of Bahia, in this dusty, rural town with no paved roads and exceptionally friendly folks. Thick vegetation begins at the deck and stretches to the horizon, broken only by the lovely Rio Itaunas that snakes through it. A short walk away are the dunes: shifting and changing minute by minute, fringed by the Atlantic Ocean.

Ruby on the beach.

Ruby on the beach.

Last night, led by our gracious hosts, Grant and Paula, we trooped to the dunes to lie under the stars. I wished my friend, Dave Boulden, had been there to guide us through the brightly lit, wondrous ceiling of the Southern Hemisphere. The dunes now cover the entire original town because the founders removed the trees and diverted the river.

A dip in the river.

A dip in the river.

It took a few decades, but still, if you have a 30 year mortgage and the house disappears before it is paid for you would, with good reason, be pissed. If that isn’t a lesson in what will happen when you mess with Mother Nature I can’t imagine what else might wake us up. On my first walk on the beach I found a perfect small, fragile sand dollar, not bigger than a quarter.It didn’t last long in my pocket, but I had the sense to take its picture. image I noted the absence of gulls, tankers, off-shore platforms along the coast. Noone I asked seems to know why there aren’t any. The water here is warm, as are the hearts of the Brazilians I’ve met. Sebastian, from Argentina and Isabella from Austria, my roommates in the 4 bed dorm, told me yesterday that the night before I woke them with an apparent bad dream. I was struggling with someone. “ Who are you!?. What do you want?! Help me!! Isabella said she was alarmed and thought maybe I needed help just then, but decided it was a struggle with my dream weavers.

Travelers at That Hostel.

Travelers at That Hostel.

They’ve gone. Last night there was not sign of them. Good riddance I say. Itaunas has so many birds. Flocks of parrots have flown past, canaries are plentiful as are colorful finches, and the beautiful red and black Corrupiao with some white on its wings.image Vultures rest in the trees as do a smaller, green parrot. Troops of marmosets apparently visit when the red goiaba tree that hangs over the deck has fruit.