This winter marks the ninth year that I’ve been going with Scott up to Sea Ranch on at least a yearly basis. Some years we got three times, other years only once, but we try and make the trip up there as often as we can find time to get away. And for those nine years the ocean is what always captures my attention. I could sit and stare at those waves coming in and out for hours on end and when that gets old, we make driftwood forts or go shell hunting or climb sandstone cliffs. But this year in the house we stayed in there were a few books about the Sea Ranch hikes and I discovered that one was right next to the house we were staying in. It was called the Monarch Glen because this is where Monarch Butterflies comes during their migration to seek shelter. While I didn’t see any butterflies, I did see all of these enchanting vistas.
Towards the middle of this short walk, there is a forest who’s floor was covered in all sorts of mushrooms. Scott is a mushroom hunter, as you may recall from last year’s porcini harvest. So I brought him back to help me identify some of these beautiful specimens. Below is my favorite an Amenita Muscaria, which you dare not eat! We also saw lots of coral mushrooms, Candy Caps, which are good for eating, and a whole slew of mushrooms that held names like Death Cap and Dark Angel and such. In fact as we walked and drove around we were astonished by all the mushrooms! They were everywhere, it was a bit like being in Alice in Wonderland.
Fueled by mushroom inspiration, when we finally left yesterday we stopped off at Two Fish Bakery for a loaf of sourdough and headed down the coast, very slowly and with frequent stops for woodsy mushroom hikes. We did find oyster mushrooms and winter chanterelles along the way. And just before we headed inland back for Sonoma, we stopped in Bodega Bay for some live crabs for our dinners feast.
Mushroom hunting is very fun, even just walking around looking at them, this year especially. However, as I’m sure you know, if you dare to pick and eat please do examine them closely and bring Mushrooms Demystified with you. Or better yet join your local mycological society for a group foray to learn what is good to eat.