Paddling Paradise

BASK Thursday Lunch Paddle. December 1, 2016.

Thursday, December 1 turned out to be a perfect day for paddling. There were two of us on the BASK Thursday Lunch Paddle, Danny and myself. Seemed like we had the entire bay to ourselves with nary another boat in site. We launched from Loch Lomond Yacht Harbor, paddled out around the Marin Islands in perfect paddling conditions, nearly flat calm, and then headed to China Camp where we stopped for lunch.  Our paddle covered 8.5 miles. You can view more photos here. And view the track log here.

Beaulieu: The Joy of Walking

I’m never quite so content as when I’m walking. Perhaps I’m just a restless soul, but put me on a trail and I feel at home. Something about walking that just soothes the soul. I’ve lived in the same house for some 30 plus years, and even when I’m at home reading a book, there’s a part of me that’s just anxious to be moving.

For our walk today our innkeeper drove us to an overlook above the ancient town of Curemonte. From there we walked to Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, a distance of eight miles. At the start of our walk we met a woman who stopped to chat. Not that we could understand much of what we said, but her enthusiasm communicated enough. It’s clear she wanted us to know the delights of the local environment. From there is was up a hill, past farms, down into a valley, across a stream, and on over hill and dale, through woods with a light rain until we reached Bealieu. A delightful walk.

 

Book Review: The Oyster War

 

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I just finished reading The Oyster Wars by Summer Brennan. I was drawn to this book when my brother left it with me following a visit a few months ago. I’ve had some interest in this story for some time. The location where the Oyster farm was is one of my favorite locations to go kayaking. I have a brother who is himself an oyster farmer (not the one with the book), and having studied marine biology myself, I was quite interested in science behind the story.

This turns out to be quite a compelling story about the fate of the Drakes Bay Oyster company. And also an intriguing analysis of how various interests can play into commerce and environmental issues. The author provides some background, going back to the oyster pirates of 1897 and the days of Jack London.

To be honest, I have followed this issue only remotely while it was developing, aware of some of the issues, and hopeful that the oyster farm and the National Park service would find a way to live together in harmony, protecting the natural resources while permitting aquaculture to continue. After all, if you can have cattle on the land, why not ousters in the Estero? Nevertheless, Having read Summer’s book, I’m inclined to believe that the oyster farm had no future operating in a wilderness area.

If you have any interest in environmental issues, commerce and culture and how those forces might collide, I recommend this book.

The biggest lesson I learned from this book can be summed up in a quote Brennan provides from Tom Strickland:

“I think that the situation has been hijacked by interest groups with different agendas who have spun out narratives that have no relationship to the facts.”

This seems to apply to any number of issues we face.

 

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.