Once home, I googled "salamander california woods" and quickly came across the taricha family of newts and learned that we had spotted the Coast Range Newt. After one sentence, my eyes were drawn to the red text in the second paragraph:
Warning The skin secretions of the newts of the genus Taricha contain toxins similar to those found in pufferfish liver. These are among the deadliest natural toxins yet discovered. A healthy adult human will die from eating just one newt. Care should be taken to wash hands thoroughly after handling newts
Yikes!!! We were going to die? (We shall see.) Did we really eat our lunch with our hands only minutes after handling those pokey fellows? (Yes.) What were we thinking? (We weren't.)
We forgot one big lesson from life. If something in nature is brightly-colored, that typically means...HELLO, IF YOU EAT ME, YOU WILL DIE. Luckily, neither of us did. Later I discovered that these specific newts aren't all that toxic, so my fears were unwarranted. My comment/advice on newts: yes, they are cute to look at...just don't put them in your mouth.