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April 6, 1861: Santa Ynez Valley

April 6, 2011

Rideau Vineyard

Rideau Vineyard (site of Rancho Alamo Pintado); by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 22

[Today] I visited the hills two or three miles north of camp in the morning, alone, for Averill was under the weather. In the afternoon we raised camp and came about ten or twelve miles to our present camp, near Santa Inez Mission….

great old coast live

Coast Live Oak; by randomtruth, on Flickr

We camped…about four miles from the Mission at a little ranch owned by an American—the Ranch Alamo Pintado. It was a lovely spot. Large oaks scattered here and there, the green grass beneath, and the great profusion of flowers, made it look like a fine park. There are two species of oaks here. One is an evergreen, with great spreading branches, gnarled and knotted trunks, worthless for timber because it is never straight and it has so many branches, but beautiful, as a tree, with its dark green foliage. The other is a deciduous tree. Like the first it branches low down, so it, too, is useless for timber. It is a most beautiful tree, however, the large limbs branching in great curves—not Gothic arches like the elm, but great round curves, great Roman arches of thirty to fifty feet span, coming down again near the ground. Sometimes such a limb will be thirty feet high twenty or thirty feet from the tree, and again near the end almost touch the ground. A tree close by camp, under which I wrote on Sunday, had a head of over a hundred feet in diameter, and the trunk was about fifteen feet in circumference in the smallest place below the branches. A trailing lichen hangs from every branch, delicate as lace, of a greenish gray color, swaying with every breeze—the effect is beautiful….

I killed a rattlesnake [here]. He was within a rod or two of the tent, a small one, of another species from the first. There are several species of rattlesnakes found in this state, but all are dangerous. This fellow had fangs sharp as needles. We examined them. When not irritated they are covered with skin, like the claw of a cat, but are erected when required for use. This fellow, like the last, did not show fight until after he was attacked.

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