I look forward to every morning sunrise on the Fair Oaks Bridge, and the American River Parkway to discover and celebrate the gifts of the outdoor world.
The American River Parkway is “The Jewel of Sacramento.” Fair Oaks Bluffs are the “Crown Jewels.”
One Sunday morning in September I decide to get up early and watch the wildlife wake up at the Fair Oaks Bridge. I arrive at dawn before the sun rises over the trees.
This morning wake up is now a regular activity, generally spending an hour or more to watch, listen and write. I can easily ride my bicycle to the bridge along the bike path – an activity I usually reserve for later in the morning.
“I don’t know where it is possible to love the planet or not, but I do know that it is possible to love the places we can see, touch, smell and experience.”
David Orr, Earth in Mind
The Fair Oaks Bridge was completed in 1909. It is a “Truss” bridge and an icon for the community of Fair Oaks. Fair Oaks Village is widely known for its chickens, whose wake up calls provide music each morning and continue throughout the day. Chickens are featured throughout blog posts in photos and video.
The bridge connects Fair Oaks Village with the American River Parkway, stretching 37 miles through suburban communities of Sacramento and into the city. The bridge sits alongside the Fair Oaks Bluffs – also displayed in many photographs within blog posts. Fair Oaks Bridge is one of those places for me to see, touch, smell and experience! The community of Fair Oaks is located about 15 miles northeast of the city of Sacramento. Our family home for more than 20 years and Fair Oaks Bridge remains one of my favorite places.
Bright light reflects on the water. A cool breeze blows across my face. Today, unlike yesterday, a loud hum echoes from the Sunrise Blvd. bridge crossing as early risers drive to and from Highway 50.
The roosters have already finished their morning wake up calls. A few stragglers are still crowing. Two men float in their boats with fishing lines cast. More cyclists ride by than the same time yesterday. Walkers are out with their dogs. As I walk onto the bridge, an egret flies in on the west side and quickly hides in the shrubbery at the shore. Ducks swim in pairs, searching for breakfast nibbles on insects. Tomorrow I will bring bread to feed them down at the boat launch ramp.Read more
So many ways to celebrate and enjoy the outdoors at the American River on any day.
Today’s post highlights my morning bike ride on the American River Parkway. I call this site “my peaceful spot” because it is one of many favorite stops to enjoy the view, watch the San Juan Rapids and get my feet wet.
A dozen squirrels leap across the bike path searching for acorns to store for the winter. One clings to the trees beside my bike. It stops to stare, holding the acorn in its mouth and decides to run off and disappear from view. Squirrels are amazing creatures to watch. They crawl, leap, and stop to chew when they think no one is watching. Then off they go again climbing up the next tree.Read more
This morning I ride to the Fair Oaks Bridge, waiting until 8:40 when the day warms up a little more. The air blows cold against my face and I wear long riding pants and a sweatshirt. Boats are abundant this morning – nine on the west side of the bridge and three more on the east side. Seagulls are still on watch.
The photo shows the river as a silent pool in the foreground and fast moving rapids in the background divided by a narrow wall of rocks. Fishermen stand on the opposite riverbank – as they do many days this time of year when the salmon return home.
I wonder how many different species of wildlife – birds, waterfowl and insects live along this river? I have seen snakes, coyotes, wild turkeys, squirrels, deer and rabbits.
Fair Oaks bridge is home to both spiders and pigeons. Roosters hide in trees in Fair Oaks Village and on the banks of the river. I keep searching the trees to find the singing roosters. Haven’t find them yet.
Fallen logs are great places to hide. Still looking for the river otter family that lives near the fallen log near the bridge. I can only guess that the river with its varying depths is home to frogs and crabs in addition to the ducks and Canada Geese I see daily. Several places along the river, islands sit in the middle as a resting place for ducks and geese. The birds and the fisherman know the shallow areas of the river lined with gravel are ideal spawning beds for Chinook Salmon.
Hundreds of cyclists and dozens of walkers are on the trail today. A line of six inline skaters roll past me.
So many sights, sounds and discoveries on this short section of the 33-mile long trail.
Each time I visit the bridge, I walk from a nearby parking in the Fair Oaks Village. I listen, I look, I get a “feel” for the morning. Today everything is quiet. Not a single crow from the chickens. No cars driving on the street. Not a single person walking through the Village. I walk downhill to the bridge entrance and see grass as green as emeralds.
Several months have passed since the landscape was so green. I wonder if I will see fairies dancing or leaping from the grasses.
The American River is quiet once again after one of the wettest winters in 20 years.
Birds are twittering in distant trees. The entire boat launch ramp is visible, except for a wide strip of mud stretched across it. The sun rises behind thin, white streaks of clouds. I see a cyclist and a pair of walkers this morning out even earlier than I am.
As I walk to the bridge, I wonder what wildlife has returned to this part of the river. Half dozen pigeons fly in circles over the bridge three times before deciding to settle down on the overhead frame. One flies down and wanders the bridge deck to be joined later by a second pigeon.
As I look out to the water, searching for wildlife, I hear Canada Geese honking immediately behind me. I turn around to see them sitting on a round cement support leg of the bridge (outside the upright bars), discussing what to do next. An instant later, they fly into the sky still engaged in conversation. Next I check for spider webs attached to the bridge and see several perfectly spun webs, no spider to be found.Read more
Water is flowing fast and flooding the sandy banks, rocks and other land forms where people usually sit and picnic.
During the summer I can sit on a rock and dangle my feet into shallow water to cool off. More water will come as melted snow rushes down navigates through the Sierra Nevada mountains into the American River.
To my far left, I catch a quick glance at a family of Canada Geese emerging from the rocks and walking into a quiet, shallow area between rocks for a swim. Nine tiny goslings and their parents. My first sighting of babies this year! On my ride back home, I see a skinny little snake about 12” long in the middle of the bike path. I dragged it to the dirt and the back half of its body wriggled and curved. The top half was still. I think it was near death. I let it lay in peace.Read more
Lovely, quiet morning. The air chilled, a slight breeze blowing. Scattered, puffy white clouds fill the sky.
I missed Fair Oaks Village and the chickens today. I rode my bike from home directly to the boat launch ramp. My morning melody is birds in trees chirping and twittering, combined with the distant buzz of motorcycles and humming cars crossing the Sunrise Blvd. bridge.
Canada geese and ducks are silent and still as they sit at the dry end of the boat ramp. Some ducks engaged in their morning clean up rituals. Sunrise is so early, the sun is well above the trees before I arrive. Pigeons wander the riverbank cooing and searching for nibbles. No people are here save a few boaters waiting on bites from shad.
Minutes later the geese and ducks wander up the boat launch ramp looking for breakfast. They approach me waiting for handouts.
An ideal day to spend at the American River after a week of scorching heat all day and evening.
I approached Jim’s crossing over the river and see no waterfowl. Not a single one! Where are they? So much has changed since the winter floods to those who visit the river regularly and see the difference.
I ride to the boat launch ramp before riding up to the Fair Oaks Bridge. Fishermen are out in their boats, hoping to catch Shad Skippers. These men are the second group of fisherman out on the river in the past couple weeks trying their luck. Kayaks are launching into the river.
Two boats are already in the water with one more to launch. The boat sits in front of a backdrop composed of Canada Geese. From a distance it appears they are floating backwards. Maybe they are as the geese roll along with the current.Read more