Last month, when I was driving on California's legendary "I-5", I decided to stop in Redding to do my daily walk. The access from I-5 to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park must be remarkably easy, because before I knew it, I was in the parking lot of the section that is the very closest to Redding's renown landmark, The Sundial Bridge. While doing some photography at the bridge, I noticed a sign adjacent to the bridge that had the name "McConnell" in it. The name caught my attention because the day before, I had hiked across a new pedestrian bridge over Lake Siskiyou in Mt. Shasta, and I had read that the bridge was financed, in part, by a grant from The McConnell Foundation. Likewise, I had witnessed the coming to fruition, of the Mt. Shasta Skatepark, also made possible, in part, by a McConnell Foundation grant!
To access the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, I first needed to cross this magnificent, glass-floored structure, that also received part of its funding from The McConnell Foundation. If you are interested, you can see the blog I wrote about The Sundial Bridge in my blog archives.
The bridge provides a way for pedestrians and bicyclers to cross the Sacramento River, without having to dodge automobiles and 18-wheelers!
When I reached the arboretum, I read that the area consists of 20 acres of Mediterranean-climate display gardens, a children's garden, and a medicinal garden.
The acreage is enclosed in metal fencing, but the day I visited, the gates were wide open, and many folks were taking the opportunity to do what Turtle Bay Park says in their namesake to do---EXPLORE!
The grounds are flat, and wheel-chair accessible, with park benches placed throughout for sitting, if desired.
This is one of two beautiful water features at the park. The inscriptions carved into the various granite components of the water feature all relate to marine ecology, and can serve as a teaching tool for those who take the time to read them.
By following the markings on this simulated "stairway", one learns the basics of the aquatic life cycle.
Probably, these children are just more interested in jumping on the granite slabs and splashing in the water, than learning about the lifestory of the salmon!
I had never seen evergreen trees like this, and was fascinated by their sculptural profiles. They represented a certain latitude of a Mediterranean-climate plant (this simply menas an area between the latitudes of 30 - 45 degrees, a little less than halfway from the equator to the poles.) That would include the area around Redding, as well as the part of Chili where this particular evergreen plant originates.
The children's garden is called the "Mosaic Oasis" and has numerous mosaic sculptures for the children to play on, plus this large centerpiece mosaic where parents can sit and watch as their children explore the nearby surroundings.
When the gates are open, the arboretum connects to the Sacramento River Trail, which bicyclists can use to ride several miles along the river.
That is one reason the center traffic-way through the garden is so wide. The idea is for pedestrians and bicyclists to both be able to use it simultaneously.
This riparian forest of valley oaks and native vegetation provides a buffer zone between the Sacramento River and the botanical gardens.
As I was exiting the arboretum/botanical gardens, I was able to enjoy this stunning view of the Sundial Bridge that I had not been able to see on previous visits to the area. In my travels over the last several years, I have been deeply impressed by (and thankful for!) the philanthropy of those who lived before me. I have seen beautiful parks made possible by names like Rockefeller, Raley, Hershey, and Walton. These were families that prospered, but they also GAVE abundantly. It reminds me of the famous verse, written in 27 different languages, at the front of every Gideon Bible: "For God so loved the world, that He GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, would not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16 And that is the essence of Christmas: When man reaches out to God, it is called "religion". When God reaches out to man, it is called "Christmas". If you would like to learn more about the topics I discussed in this blog, visit http://www.turtlebay.org/ , http://www.mcconnellfoundation.org/ or http://www.gideons.org/ Miles of smiles! Tricia