To Bishop and Back

With our recent travels we haven’t had much opportunity to play grandparents so this past weekend we made our way to Bishop. Along with visiting family we had the task of delivering a Tigermoth camping trailer. Here’s the trailer ready to tow over to Bishop and a photo of my son’s family sitting inside. This should be a great camper for a family that loves to camp. Well designed and quite fun!

Our short trip and the fact that we were recovering from colds kept us close to home, although we did manage to get out to explore a bit. The Cottonwoods were showing color. And we took a short hike in Birchim Canyon just off of Highway 395.

On Sunday November 5, we made the return trip, stopping near the Groveland Ranger Station just off of Highway 120 to enjoy the display of the black oaks. A mix of green, yellow and red.

Back from the UK

On October 3 we boarded a plane from San Francisco to Heathrow. The purpose of our trip was to escort my aunt Sue back to England to visit family and friends. Sue came to the US in 1964 after graduating from a horticultural school. She and one of her classmates were hired to work for a wealthy estate owner in New York. She eventually married my uncle, hence becoming my aunt. She is now 87 and asked us to escort her back to England.

Once we were on the ground at Heathrow, Sue’s nephew Peter met us with his car and drove us around much of the south part of England.

One of our first stops was in Chelmsford, just northeast of London where we visited with Sues cousin Tricia. Tricia served us Elevenses, which is what the English call tea when served in the morning. Tricia is in the blue sweater, with her son-in-law pouring tea. Sue is on the right. From there we made our way to Witney where we visited with Margaret, with whom Sue had come to the US to work on the Greentree Estate in Manhasset, NY. The two of them eventually went on a yearlong road trip around North America after working the estate. Margaret served us a home cooked meal of venison stew. That’s Peter serving up a bowl of stew. Our trip included many stops in the south of England and Cornwall. The orange marks on the map indicate places I captured photos. I’m in the process of sorting through some 1400 photos, so there will be more stories to tell. Stay tuned.

We covered a little over 1000 miles by car and added a trip to Edinburgh where Sue had more friends to visit. Much of our traveling was on country roads over the rolling hills of Cornwall with green fields, quaint villages and hedgerows. We also managed to visit Oxford and Sherborne Abbey.

One of the highlights of the trips was visiting Mevagissey. Sue’s nephew Andrew did the driving stint to Mevagissey, where his singing group, Barrett’s Privateers were participating in a sea chanty festival. Andrew is the third person from the left. What fun!

And of course, while in Cornwall, I had to have a pasty, the national dish of Cornwall, a flakey pastry pocket filled with steak and potatoes. We did get out for a few walks in the countryside including a walk on the Camel Trail between Wadebridge and Padstow. Here’s a photo of the trail as it passes through a tunnel of trees.

Mendocino Tunnel Vision

Seven of us gathered on the beach at Russian Gulch to explore the coast north to Point Cabrillo. When paddling around rocks we wear helmets and prefer plastic boats that are more forgiving when banging into rocks. We also wear wetsuits or drysuits should we end up going for a swim. We were on the water about 9 am. After a few days of rough water, we had calm conditions, with little wind and little wave action which afforded us to opportunity to explore just about every cave and arch between Russian Gulch Beach and Point Cabrillo.

We did have one person go for a swim early in our paddle. A good opportunity to practice a T-rescue.

We paddled north along the coast noodling into every feature we could find. I had a GoPro camera attached to my helmet and was able to record much of our cave exploration.

We did find a couple of channels that offered some dynamic water. A few members of our pod opted to avoid the surging and sloshing water by paddling outside the rocks where conditions were calmer. Those of us that paddled inside the rocks had some fun bracing and practicing boat control.

We arrived at Point Cabrillo just before noon and found a very protected beach on which to land for lunch. After lunch we noodled our way back down the coast, once again taking advantage of the conditions to paddle in and out of the many caves and tunnels.

We were back on the beach a little after 3 pm, having logged 7.7 miles. You can see the track of our paddle on the map. An excellent day on the water with some good paddling friends.

Big River Paddle

The Big River offers a spectacular opportunity to for a calm water paddle in Mendocino. This is a favorite paddle for a number of our BASK club members, and an option when conditions on the coast are a bit challenging.

Today we had quite a group of paddlers launching from the beach. Both well seasoned and experienced paddlers and a few people that are new to kayaking. Paddling here feels like being in a canyon between the towering redwoods and fir trees lining the river.

We split into two pods, with the faster paddlers in the lead and the slower paddlers poking along behind. This worked until we happened on a family of otters that were feeding along the bank and seemed to be oblivious to us. We watched for quite awhile before continuing on up the river. Trying to photograph the otters was a challenge. I did not capture anything of interest.

Along about noon we found a spot where we could land for lunch. There are not many places up the river where one can land easily. After lunch we continued up the river until several paddlers decided it was time to turn back. Three of us split off from the main pod and paddled back.

It seems that a logging company had none some work maintaining logging roads and we explored a couple of culverts they had installed and poked our noses into a little waterfall that was flowing down the bank. We logged a little over nine miles by my recollection. My phone battery died before we got back to our landing and hence I lost part of my GPS track.

Albion River Paddle

This was our first full day in Mendocino, having arrived the evening before to join our fellow BASK members (Bay Area Sea Kayakers) at Van Damne State Park. The fog was just starting to clear as we launched from the boat ramp at the Albion River Campground. This is a private campground and there is a $10 fee to launch a kayak here.

There were 11 of us and we were on the water at 10:20. What makes this paddle fun is following the meandering river through the coastal forest and passing houseboats that have untold stories to tell. There are also plenty of pilings and remnants from logging days. Along about noon it was time to find a landing spot for lunch.

Three paddlers opted to land early at a convenient spot on the bank. The rest of us paddled on until we found the waterway blocked by a downed tree. With no convenient spot to land we paddled back down the river to join the fellow paddlers that had stopped earlier.

We were back at our launch site at 3 pm having logged nine miles. You can see more photos in an online gallery. You can also read about previous adventures here.

Solano Avenue Stroll 2023

Today I had my artwork on display at the Solano Avenue Stroll. The Stroll is the East Bay’s largest street festival. It features over four hundred vendors including 50 entertainers, 25 food booths, 100 government and non-profit agencies, 100 artisans, jewelers, makers, and much more! I’ve participated in the Stroll in the past with the last time being 2015. Since then, I was so busy with my commercial photography it didn’t make much sense to participate. Now it’s time to get my artwork in front of more people so here we are. The stroll draws some 100,000 people. This year it seemed be well attended.

We were on the street setting up at 7:15 in the morning. The event opened to the public at 10:00 and ran until 5:00 PM. It was quite well attended with a constant flow people walking up and down the mile of vendors. Over the course of the day, we connected with friends we hadn’t seen in years, and we made many new acquaintances. We had a number of panoramic images on display.

To attract interest, I offered to give away a framed print, Wreck of the Reyes. I had quite a few people sign up to win, and after the event I spun the Wheel of Names to select a winner.

Congratulations to Thomas! Thanks to everybody that stopped by to visit. It was a fun event. And if you’d like to follow me and my fine art photography visit and sign up for my newsletter. We run a number of giveaways and sales over the course of the year.

Celebrating 50 Years

Fifty years ago Joann and exchanged wedding vows. Little did we know what the future would hold. It’s been a marvelous adventure, and I can’t imagine sharing fifty years with anyone else. To celebrate we decided to go wine tasting. We booked a couple of nights at a cute AirBnB in Sonoma called The Hacienda.

My grandparents moved to Sonoma in 1957, so I have many childhood memories, so I always enjoy a visit to Sonoma. On Wednesday morning we dropped our dog Carson off at Metrodog and drove up to Sonoma. We arrived with time to spare before checking into our accommodations. We walked around the square and had lunch at the Plaza Bistro. I had the special, a paella, which was out of this world. Delicious! After lunch we stopped at the Cheese Factory where we bought wine, cheese, crackers and a few other snacks.

Then it was off to the Sonoma Botanical Garden, a lovely place with large collection of Asian plants and a couple of lily ponds. It was a warm day so the walk through the shaded woodlands was welcome.

In the morning it was time to go wine tasting. Joann was inspired by an article in the San Francisco Chronical by Sara Schneider talking about the Moon Mountain Wine District. We had reservations to visit two wineries, Stone Edge Farm and Repris.

The road to Stone Edge was a very pretty, very windy, drive up the mountain. Philippe, the Director of Hospitality greeted us and gave us a tour of the facilities along with the history and philosophy of the farm. Mac McQuown, the Proprietor is quite and innovator. The estate produces first-growth quality Bordeaux-style wines from organically grown grapes in keeping with the highest environmental standards. The estate also has a microgrid that supplies all the electrical needs for the facility.

The wine tasting was quite educational, learning how to distinguish between wines with nuances of site, age and a host of other factors. We tasted some truly exceptional wines.

From Stone Edge we drove back down the mountain and over to Repris. As with Stone Edge, Cabernet grapes do well here. The yield on the mountain is less than that at the lower elevations, but the quality of the fruit lends itself to some excellent wines. Our tour included a jaunt around part of the mountain to a vantage point that gave us a good view of the property and a tour of the caves.

Once again, we tasted some excellent wines, and left with one bottle from each of the vineyards.

On Friday morning, the date of our actual anniversary, we had breakfast at Baker and Cook, which had excellent food. Then it was a tour of the Sonoma State Historic Park, where we refreshed our knowledge of the history of California, including the 25 days in 1846 when California was an independent nation.

Back from Bishop

Close to two months have lapsed since my last blog posting. So many adventures to share. I like to post in chronological order, which isn’t necessarily the order in which I write, so stay tuned as I fill in some of the back-dated adventures.

Or adventures recently took us over the Sierra to visit family and celebrate birthdays. For our return trip we left Bishop on the afternoon on July 29, with a stop at Donna the Dog Lady to pick up our dog Carson, who spent the night there since we were involved in some activities where Carson was not welcome.

With daytime temperatures of 100 degrees, we were hoping to gain some elevation and to find some trees for shade. Green Creek near Bridgeport seemed to offer a good bet for the night. We turned off onto Green Creek Road and followed the well-graded dirt road for a little over six miles where we found a level spot to park the rig for the night at 7900 feet. Carson was happy to wander around camp off-leash. Having set up camp we discovered that the mosquitos were quite abundant, so we did our best to cover any exposed skin and break out the repellent.

Green Creek is a gorgeous spot with Jeffrey pines, aspen and willows. The California Department of Fish and Game maintains the Green Creek Wildlife Area, a 720 acres protected area that includes habitat for mule deer migration and fawning. It’s also home to black bear, beaver, bald eagle, grouse, mountain quail and various waterfowl. We decided to camp outside of the wildlife area, which is marked with signs.

I wandered around our camp in the evening and again in the morning with my camera, in this case an iPhone 14. I was intrigued by the lush green vegetation, the aspen trees and the wildflowers. We saw lupine, penstemon, and prickly poppies. Once the mosquitos became annoying it was nice to take refuge in the camper with its screened windows that still afforded us a view.

Rock Creek

Our granddaughter’s fifth birthday was reason enough to join family at Rock Creek. So here we are at the East Fork Campground on Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierra, our granddaughter, her parents and two sets of grandparents.

We spent two nights here at 9000 feet of elevation, a cool retreat from the heat of the Owens Valley. For breakfast we fired up the Dutch Oven and cooked up a mushroom and brie breakfast strata, one of our favorite breakfast recipes. The hot coals provided heat to warm hands on the chilly morning. With two days to explore, our adventures included hiking around part of Rock Creek Lake and also paddling on the lake.

The trails were linked with wildflowers including Sulphur buckwheat, paintbrush, Lupine, and penstemon and a host of other flowers.

Between us we had three boats, two canoes and one kayak. We even managed to get our dog Carson into a canoe and were pleased to discover that he was a mellow pooch in the boat.

It’s such a lovely experience to paddle a boat on a quiet High Sierra Lake. It’s not a big lake. I logged 1.4 miles paddling around the perimeter. A peaceful and relaxing paddle. At one point we poked our boats up into the creek that feeds the lake and got a sense of white-water paddling. We were here mid-week arriving on Wednesday and leaving on Friday and we were surprised at how many people were here. This is a popular place for fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities. I would imagine the weekend would find the campgrounds full and parking for fishing and hiking scarce.

Ice Cream Paddle

The Lopez Island BASK (Bay Area Sea Kayakers) trip is a biennial event, with the exception of a break during the Covid pandemic. We spent a week camping at Spencer Spit Campground and over the course of the week we did a number of day paddles. One of the traditions is to paddle over to Blakely Island for ice cream. So today is our ice cream paddle. There were 11 of us on the beach at Spencer Spit ready to launch at 9 am. We had clear skies and no wind, a marvelous start for the day. We paddled out to Frost Island and then set a course for Bald Bluff with the intention of minimizing our time crossing the ferry route.

We kept a keen eye out for ferry traffic as well as other boating traffic as we made our crossing. Once we were across, we paddled just far enough offshore to stay out of any eddies and to take advantage of the current.

We landed on the beach at the Blakely Marina at 10:30, too early for lunch but not too early for ice cream.

We took our time eating ice cream and lunch and waiting for the current to change so that we could enjoy an easy paddle back. You can see the 11 of us in the photo below. Once we were back in the boats we poked our noses out into Peavine Pass, where the current was running strong, and made a quick turn to enter the “express” lane for a fast ride. On the return trip we held up for ferry traffic to pass with ferries going both directions.

We were back on the beach at Spencer Point a little after 2 pm. We logged 9.4 miles on the day’s paddle. An excellent outing with a fun group of friends.

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