Nature Remembers

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Desert Primrose (Camissonia brevipes), photographed in Death Valley, February 2016.
“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” ― Wendell Berry

Thursday Lunch Break

The weather prediction for today was 100% chance of rain, so we were expecting to get wet on our paddle; our Thursday BASK lunch paddle.  The rain held off though and we had a very pleasant paddle, launching from China Camp Beach in Marin and paddling along the shore past the quarry. Our original destination was Dynamite Beach, although we decided to change plans and paddle around the Marin Islands before finding a beach near Point San Pedro, near the quarry for lunch. There were three of us on the paddle, Danny, Susan and myself. More picture here and you can view the track of our paddle here

Lost in the Fog

On Friday, December 9, four of us, Brett, Mark, Nick and I, launched our kayaks from Nick’s Cove and paddled to Avila beach near the entrance to Tomales Bay where we set up camp for the night. Calm water and occasional rain prevailed over the course of the trip. We were careful to set up camp high on the beach with a high tide of 6 ft predicted for 7:40 in the morning. After setting up camp we explored the beach and tide pools. A hearty pot of soup was a welcome dinner in the cool damp environment of the Point Reyes peninsula. Over the night the rain came in and dumped on us,  letting up in the morning. The biggest challenge of the morning was getting started without a pot of hot coffee. Seems somebody left the coffee in the car; which was motivation to break camp and head for the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station.

Back on the water we found ourselves working hard to paddle up the bay against the ebbing current and with the fog down on the deck our visibility was about a half-mile. We paddled close to shore for the sake of visibility, and once we were within sight of Hog Island we make our break to cross the Bay and head back to our launch point. Not quite lost in the fog, but cautious about our navigation. We did prove that with the right equipment to stay warm and dry you can even have fun kayak camping in the fog and rain in the middle of December on Tomales Bay. Next time it’s every man for himself when it comes to the coffee. You can see additional photos from the trip here and an approximation of our route here.

 

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.

France: Beyond Bread and Wine

First stop in the morning on our waking tour, and the bike tour as well, was the local boulangerie. It was a real treat to walk into a French bakery in a small town and buy fresh bread. Part of the treat was the opportunity to interact with the local people. While we didn’t have much of a command of the French language, we were always able to communicate with the few words we had and by pointing to what we wanted. Such a variety of choices from which to choose. From the boulangeire, we would then head to the butcher for salami or cured ham of some sort, then the produce market for apples, peaches, or what ever else we might need for our picnic lunch. Once we were provisioned with bread, cheese, and fruit we would head off for the days adventure, walking ancient paths, and country roads.. At the end of the day’s walk we would typically have a fine four course dinner with a local wine. No shortage of fine wine in the Dordogne. Bread and wine becoming the bookends for our daily adventures.

The highlight of the trip though, wasn’t the bread, the food, the wine, or the places we visited. It was the people. Everywhere we went the people were warmhearted  and friendly, whether it was the old woman we met on the first day of our walk, the clerks at the boulangeries, or the inn keepers.

One event in particular stands out as a highlight. Dinner at La Maison Rose. La Maison Rose is a small bead and breakfast in Origne. Dinner is served family style with guests and hosts sitting on benches at a long table. The house, was once the presbytery for the church across the street, and it’s easy to imagine we’re simply carrying on a tradition that has gone on for centuries in the dining room. We shared dinner with Mr et Mme de Rochefort, the hosts, with a fabulous four course dinner of roast rabbit, fresh bread, and a local Bordeaux wine. It was a treat to be entertained by the Rocheforts and to visit with guests from New Zealand, England, and South Africa. Gathering around a common table and sharing bread and wine is like medicine for the soul.

 

World Tourism Day

La Cité du Vin. Bordeaux, France.
La Cité du Vin. Bordeaux, France.

Having just returned from France, I thought it would be appropriate to share something from our recent travels for World Tourism Day. One of the locations we visited was La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux. I was struck by the design of the building, with it’s flowing curves and ribs. Evocative of  knotted vines, wine barrels, wine turning in the glass, and the swirls and eddies of the the adjacent Garonne River. The website says “Each and every architectural detail evokes liquid elements and the very soul of wine.” Beyond the design, the museum houses exhibits about wine, covering every aspect of wine that you might imagine.

Ibuprophen s’il vous plaît?

Our first stop when we reached Le Barp was the pharmacy. Ibuprophen is the “lubricant” that seems to keep our muscles and joints working. When we run out, or bodies threaten to seize up like a car engine running without oil. We left home with what we thought was a sufficient supply, but it seems we miscalculated.

With a fresh supply of our “lubricant” we managed to log 62 kilometers, leaving Le Barp about 9:30, stopping for bread, salami, cheese and fruit before pedaling through the forest and into the maritime provinces where we stopped to look at the oyster producing areas, through the Parc Ornithologique and on to Arcachon, arriving in Arcachon about 5:30.