Kayaking for Sanity

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I was reading an article about Terry Tempest Williams and struck by the quote “Wilderness is not my leisure or my recreation… It is my sanity.” I’m not sure if San Francisco Bay qualifies at what Williams considers wilderness, but I do know that after a paddle I feel I regain my sanity.

Yesterday, I managed to put aside client work and go paddling with several fellow BASK members for the weekly “Thursday Lunch Paddle.” There were four of us, Danny, Susan, Chris and myself. We launched from the beach at the Encinal Boat Ramp, and being that there was a minus tide we had to drag our boats across the mudflat to the water. We paddled out and around the aircraft carrier Hornet, and then on to a little beach at the west end of the former naval base. With the rising tide we ate a quick lunch and got back on the water just as the beach was disappearing. I’ve posted some additional photos from our trip here on a Photoshelter galleryy. You can also view a track or our paddle on my GaiaGPS page.

 

 

Quail Hollow Ranch

Pacific Madrone in Quail Hollow Ranch County Park
Pacific Madrone in Quail Hollow Ranch County Park

We had some time on Saturday afternoon to do a little exploring around Scott’s Valley and we discovered a lovely little park, Quail Hollow Ranch County Park. We’ve visited some of the more popular state parks in the area, but this was a treat. On a three mile loop we past on other hiker.  I’ve posted the track of the hike on GaiaGPS.

From the park office we took the Woodrat trail to the Sunset trail, with a short side trip to the end of the Sunset trail and back around the Sunset trail and Lower Chaparral trail returning to the park office. Despite the fact that there was a wedding going on near the park office, we only saw one hiker on the trail. The park encompasses an amazing variety of habitats,  from pond and surrounding riparian to dry chaparral and the unique sandhills habitat. You cans also find cixed evergreen forests, redwoods, and grasslands. We started in a grassland meadow and meandered through redwoods and coastal chaparral. A number of plants were in bloom including  Bush Poppies, Dendromecon rigida and  Sticky Monkey Flower, Mimulus. This is an easy three mile hike on well maintained trails.

Finding Photos in Your Own Backyard

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I was out photographing a project for a client yesterday, and awestruck by this mural, painted on the side of a warehouse. I’m intrigued by murals, and it seems Oakland has a good share of murals and other public art. I’m continually reminded that I don’t have to go very far to look for photos. Mind you, my bucket list has plenty of places I’d like to visit, and sometimes I pine for the opportunity to travel and spend time in the natural environment that I love, but yesterday I left this photo shoot smiling, and happy to have discovered a an artistic treasure close to home.

Monolith in a Rain Puddle

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I was out walking the dog yesterday; and as always, on the look out for something interesting to photograph. I’m a firm believe in trying to create interest in mundane objects. I think we can look for beauty or interest in our own back yard without having to go to Yosemite, Iceland, or wherever. Not that there’s anything wrong with photographing grand landscapes, but I think the trained eye will do better in those places, and like a musician practicing scales, perhaps this is the practice in seeing that leads to the skill of capturing something grand when the opportunity arises.

I spied this piece of debris in a field next to St. Jerome Catholic Church, a few blocks from my house. So I started playing with it to see what I could do. While I’m not going to make this into a print to hang on the wall; there are some technical problems with the image. But as an exercise is seeing images, I think I was successful. This is also an example of using the tools at hand, an iPhone 6S, and a software app called Pro HDR. Unfortunately I was hand-holding the phone, and apparently introduced some movement between the two exposures.

Death Valley Superbloom

Spectacular display of wildflowers in Death Valley

Desert Gold  (camissonia brevipes),  Death Valley National Park
Desert Gold (camissonia brevipes), Death Valley National Park

The news reports are calling this years wildflower bloom in Death Valley a “superbloom;” the best show in a decade. I was able to carve out a few days last week to make a quick trip. If you are going to Death Valley you might want to check out the park website page about wildflowers. There’s also a link on the page to check out the current conditions. Last week large sections of the valley were carpeted with Desert Gold, the bloom working it’s way north. The wildflower display will likely continue into April, as the succession of flowers takes place. It’s quite a site to see what’s usually bare rocky soil awash with yellow.

Some advice for looking for flowers; get out of the car and walk. I took a walk up a wash, and found a patch of flowers I wanted to photograph. When I stopped,  all I saw were the stalks of Desert Gold. I sat down on the ground to get a good vantage point, and while I was on the ground, I started seeing plants that I hadn’t seen when I was standing.  Many of the plants where just putting up flower stalks, with flowers yet to come later in the season.

I’ve posted a gallery of photos from my trip. Here’s a link to a selection of wildflower photos.

I’ll be posting more about my trip over the next few days, so stay tuned.