Phoebe and I explored this hiking spot in Carmel Valley last week. I had been wanting to check out more of the area for a while since the land reminds me so much of my hometown, the Ojai Valley in Southern California. When I walked these paths, I felt like I had found a refuge in which I could ease my homesickness. I took off my sandals and walked barefoot like I used to do with my best friend, Christy, in the Ventura River Preserve in Ojai. We found a shady spot to rest and relax beside Carmel River. The Ventura River dried up last year in Ojai along with the Sespe River, leaving nowhere for people (or other animals?) to escape the heat. A sign posted on the bridge traversing the Carmel River informed me that it’s at a critically low level but at least it is still flowing. A meadow grows between the river and the mountains where the trails wind through the foothills and into canyons beneath canopies of oak.