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.
Roosters are still calling “good morning” still hidden for the night in trees and shrubs. Some are very early risers and wander about in the street.
A cloudless sky. I arrive at 7 am wearing a T-shirt and shorts and put down my backpack. A lone kayaker approaches boat dock after an early morning row. One lone boat – 2 men – casting their fishing rods. I see the same woman jogging today. I wonder how many people I will see that come here as walkers, joggers or dog walkers every day? The bridge is quiet so far, with few cyclists or walkers.Read more
Clouds cover the sky. Raindrops fall on my windshield. In the 10 minutes it takes for me to walk to the river, the sky has already brightened. The raindrops that fall on the bridge quickly evaporate. I feel a cool breeze blow against my face. This is the first moisture of late summer and in a few minutes the drizzle has passed.
Roosters wake up the neighborhood with their calls – one crowing and another responds. Far fewer roosters are awake. Maybe the chill has kept them hiding in trees a little longer?
I know the morning sun has risen over the trees. Yet I cannot see it today hidden behind dense cloud cover.Read more
By the time I arrive at Fair Oaks Bridge at 7:15 am, the sun has already risen high above the trees, glowing yellow and hot in a cloudless sky. The bridge is already filled with sunlight.
Morning walkers pass by. We exchange good mornings and smiles. Garage doors lift and shut as residents of the village drive on to the street and away to begin their workday.
A young boy alongside in a boat struggles with his fishing pole sitting in one of the boats alongside two men who are also fishing. The boy gives up, tosses the pole and begins to explore the boat, walking back and forth, checking its bottom for something interesting to examine
Five boats filled with fisherman cast their lines into the cloudy green water. The boats sit at some distance apart on the east side of the bridge. Thousands of salmon will be arriving soon, jumping randomly out the water. They have not yet arrived from their long journey from the Pacific, through the Delta sloughs, up the Sacramento River and into the American River. Many will end their journey near the Fair Oaks Bridge.Read more
I finally acknowledge the passing of summer’s long, warm days when the cool mornings of October arrive. With sunlight and bike rides along the American River that last until 9 pm. Dew covers my car windshield in the morning now. The air is chilled at 645 am. My first Sunday morning on Fair Oaks Bridge, I wore shorts and a t-shirt, warmed quickly by the sun. Today, Friday I wear my denim jacket and slip on a pair of jeans. Yesterday’s morning temperature was 55. Today it is 53. As days grow shorter, and fall blends into winter, morning temperatures will drop further to 45 and then 35 and sometimes the high 20s. I will enjoy these mornings on the bridge before the chill of morning gives me a reason to stay longer at home.
Usually I wake gently as I walk to the bridge, listening to the morning symphony of roosters. Today my morning explodes with deafening sound as I walk down the street as a motorcycle with his radio turned up comes up from behind. I am jarred awake. My morning “fog” instantly evaporates.
Determined fisherman sit in their boats waiting. I have no idea when they arrive. Each morning they are already here. They must come before dawn to catch the salmon as they rise for breakfast. I notice the moon in the sky. During my first Sunday, the moon was full. Today, hardly a week later, the moon is now half visible.Read more
The eastern sky looks as if an artist brushed in pale pinks to add some contrast to the blue sky.
I return to the bridge for my seventh consecutive day. Clouds that blanketed the sky last night after dark are all gone. To the west, traffic is light on the Sunrise bridge. Whizz and roar of traffic carries through the air.
Morning temperature of 55 degrees continues. As the sun rises, it casts a warming light on the bridge. I enjoy feeling its warmth on my face. I wear my denim jacket again today to keep the chill off my arms.Read more
This is a quiet Sunday morning when the neighborhood sleeps late. Roosters are awake. My first impressions when I approach the bridge is how bright it is so early in the day. I wonder how the shadows change as the sun moves through the sky? I will return to the bridge before sunset and find out.
Today instead of seeing scenic beauty first in the morning, I see remnants of a dozen burnt out sparklers and fountains saved from the fourth of July left in the center of the bridge.
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
Mornings on Fair Oaks Bridge or American River Parkway create a foundation to begin my day. I arrive late today, at 9 am. The Fair Oaks Village neighborhood is fully awake. My walks usually pass through quiet streets at 630 or 7am. Now they are filled with rushing cars. A pickup truck appears from a side street and sputters off. Roosters quiet, except for an occasional call to grab attention. They have emerged from the trees and walk the park looking for breakfast. A few early morning fishermen are still in their boats.
I enjoy learning the patterns of the morning – the fishermen are always first before dawn! Ducks emerge next. The pigeons arrive flying in their circle dance, then the smaller birds greet me from the top of the bridge. Geese sleep late and most of them arrive long after the ducks have already finished their morning grooming. Egrets keep themselves hidden. It is a gift to see one or two arrive later in the morning.
Why do pigeons settle on one side of the bridge? Is it warmer there?
Cyclists arrive at 630 wearing headlamps and continue crossing the bridge all day long. Some carrying backpacks commuting to work. Some dressed in cycling attire out for pleasure or training rides. The walkers come by 7 am. Walkers with dogs are always out for early morning walks.Read more
As I drive through the Village, residents are walking about holding steaming cups of coffee and warm their hands. Where are the people? Morning walkers? cyclists? I walk slowly down to the bridge. A few roosters greet me. Their wake up calls are long over.
I arrive and do my regular check for new spider webs and spiders. Where are the spiders? So many webs cover the bridge frame and the spiders have left. I keep looking. Maybe the temperatures are too cool for them? I have walked the bridge many times in summer and seen a dozen spiders doing their daily work.
Cyclists in matching attire rumble past me. Always in a hurry, speeding by as fast as they can ride. The only words ever spoken are “on your left” or “bikes up.” The bridge always shakes when cylists pass by. Even a heavy runner causes the bridge to vibrate. Pairs of walkers engaged in deep conversation pass by not even looking to either side of the bridge.Read more