Thursday, May 24, 2012


 When I was preparing for my most recent visit to northern California, I had no idea I would have the opportunity to visit a waterside nature conservation area, and even more surprisingly, that this nature center would be within view of the San Francisco skyline (as seen in the background of this photo).
 One of my "California Cousins" explored the area with me, and our trek took us through grassy meadows, hillside steps, over wooden pedestrian bridges, along the edge of the water, and to the top of the hill!
 Along the way, we saw a wide variety of colorful "flora" (aka, plants)
 as well, as some remains of the water "fauna" (aka, animals).   The reason we had this opportunity is because another one of my "California Cousins" is renting a condo (shown in the next photograph) that actually extends out OVER the water!
 Views from here are magnificent! The "reward" for our trek along the shore and over the hills, was finding the architectural gem, called Lyford House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  What is even MORE amazing, is that this home was built in the 1800's, on nearby Strawberry Point, as the centerpiece of a dairy farm.  It was brought to this present location BY BARGE in 1957! 
 The Lyford House is now the centerpiece of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary.
 With this incredible view of the San Francisco skyline and bay, you can see why it is a popular place to rent for weddings and other special events.  In addition, there are two smaller buildings available for rent for family gatherings or group meetings.  Check out their website, , for information on rental fees, and regularly-scheduled educational events that occur there. 
 Adjacent to the Victorian-era home, are well-maintained steps leading down to a rocky beach, several feet below.
 On the center's website, there were photographs of couples in their wedding attire, posing on this deck that is built out over the edge of the hill.
 This same deck also is a great place to try to spot one of the 200 species of birds that either live in this area, or stop over during their migratory flights.
 I was particularly impressed that the deck was equipped with a permanent, weatherproof field guide to birds the viewer might spot from this location.  In addition, a visitor could pick up copies of the official Richardson Bay bird list at the center's educational annex.
 The Audubon Center makes a big push to attract school field trips.  Their website lists several professionally-trained naturalists to coordinate these learning experiences.   And, having just completed a "tour of duty" as a volunteer assisting with school field trips at a nearby state park in Arkansas, I do not want to leave out the fact that there is a section on the Center's website, where the reader can find out about volunteer opportunities at this location.  Most of the nature centers I have visited around the country could not keep their programs running, without a dedicated staff of volunteers!
 The education area of the Audubon Center has exhibits, classrooms, and a wheel-chair accessible restroom.
 These tree logs provide the perfect setting for an outdoor classroom, where youngsters can be taught about nature. 
 Since there is a water habitat as part of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center/Sanctuary, these nets can be used by the students to study aquatic life.
 Sometimes the path we traveled at the Audubon Center was shaded by native tress and shrubs.
 Other times, the path we traveled at the Audubon Center was wide open to the sun and sky!  The various types of paths encountered at this beautiful location are a reminder of the words of Acts 2:28 that say "You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence."  Indeed, I was filled with joy to get to explore the paths of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center!  Start planning now to make a visit to this area an experience that will be in YOUR future path!  Log on to  or ,  for additional activities in a place that seems a world away from any metropolis.  It is a location that is sure to give you "miles of smiles"!!  Tricia 
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