Sunday, June 29, 2014

California's North Coast

It speaks for itself.

On Saturday we got picnic supplies from the Roundman Smokehouse in Fort Bragg, a place we have been frequenting since the 1970s, and on Sunday we picnicked at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge where most of these pictures were taken.

In the mid 19th century the Federal government urged settlers to "reclaim" wetlands for agricultural use. Today the government promotes returning these lands to their natural state. This barn from the 1920s is all that remains of the farm that once occupied these lands.

And these egrets, ducks and even a bald eagle (not depicted) are the beneficiaries of the newer policies. So successful have they been that the Feds allow hunting in the refuge.

And dinner tonight here, perhaps the only place on the coast that still serves the incomparable Oregon raxor clams, the delicacy of a lifetime!

On the Road Again

Each year for nearly ten years now we head up to Ashland, Oregon in June or July for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and from time to time we also go further up the coast and over to Portland.

By now we have a settled travel routine that takes us in about two hundred mile bites up the Northern California Coast to Fort Bragg, from there to Brookings, Oregon and from there to Ashland. It’s a lovely trip and one that features a lot of the kind of driving that I love, twisty mountain roads.

So these images are from our first day, along the Northern California Coast from Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg with a stop at Fort Ross, the southernmost penetration of the Russian Empire in America. (Russian Hill in San Francisco just doesn’t count, trust me.)
As we stepped out at this vista point over the North Coast we turned to one another in agreement that for all the wonders we have seen these past few months, our coast is incomparable

Fort Ross, a recreation of the 1830s original Russian -American Company outpost

California poppies

This claims to be the earliest windmill in California, it's picturesque

Fort Bragg is just up the coast from it's tonier twin, Mendocino. We kinda prefer the real town vibe of FB, though there is The Gallery in Mendocino, a favorite bookshop.

Fort Bragg's "Guest House"
It looks like a plain storefront, but this is ice cream Mecca
Cowlicks, replete with worshipful patrons, Sharon had Black Forest and Mushroom, and I had Chocolate Raspberry and Ginger, fine hors d'ourves to dinner that night as Silver's on the Wharf, where Sharon has been going since the 1950s as a child.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

High Sierras

For the past fourteen years a group of us has gone up to Wishon Dam, above Shaver Lake on an annual encampment. Many of our group are seasoned outdoorsmen and for some of us this is a once a year adventure in a tent. It’s an unstructured weekend. For me, some years have featured some extensive hiking and even fishing, this year featured card playing and lazing about.

Since I seem to be in blog mode, I thought I’d share a bit of the experience.

Even my cellphone snapshots can't suppress the grandeur of the Sierra scenery

Me and Mikey from a couple of years ago

For the first time this year, I played and lo0st only about $10 over two nights, not bad for a novice. Here from 2012 the real deal, so to speak

Some come up to rest, this, of a friend from a couple of years ago could have been me this year
This year we drove rather than walked, though in any year Lilypad (below) would have been a very long walk

Closing ceremonies as your humble servant and Dr. Fong fold the flag
The real close, though, is usually in Shaver Lake. Here the infamous Two Forks readies himself

Waitress Kim was a very good sport
A job well done, and from there we drove down the mountain. Now begins the planning for 2015.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

San Francisco??

So, on Monday after a week of settling back home and starting to catch up on life and pens, I ask Sharon if she wants to do something, a day trip, and she says, “yeah, ever since we returned I want to go be a tourist in my favorite city, San Francisco.” So, I finish testing and shipping a few pens, and don’t get out the photo studio (it’s in a box and when deployed it lives on the dining room table—this is a small house) which is what I am supposed to be doing--images of new pens, ya know--and off we go.

Tourists in our own hometown, so to speak (we live in a suburb).

We spent the day on the Embarcadero, the old Port of San Francisco, so rich with the city's gold rush era history and now a tourist Mecca
From here you can see most of the city's skylines, and I use the plural advisedly, since there are more than one. Looking west here you get a sense of the mixed use of the city, highrise and low rise residences, churches.
The iconic Coit Tower, given to the city by Lily Hitchcock Coit, an early supporter of the fire brigades and the site of equally iconic WPA murals, recently restored.

The Transamerica "needle" once seen as an eyesore, is now an icon, representing SF's financial district. Once the City was regnant financially, now it is eclipsed by LA. Today, much of what is built downtown (and we have strict limitations) is directed to living or tourist or cultural space

Couldn't even think about tourism and San Francisco without the wharf, Fisherman's Wharf, which actually is still active
And crab is king, but not king crab, dungeness, the best crab in the universe

as these folks will attest, along with the clam chowder in bowls made from scooped out sourdough rounds
Opposite the wharf is a fave of Sharon's, the Musee Mechanique, a warehouse full of old novelties and games
My favorite, the Toothpick Fantasy, a boardwalk made of. . . you guessed it

And there's the Lone Sound Ranger, an enthusiastic one-man band tribute to Johhn Cash. He professed concern that my image would end up on YouTube and his mom realize that he is not "in college."
Alcatraz, the "rock." You've seen the film, right?

and the birds for which it is named. What's amazing as that 45 years ago they were all but extinct on the bay. Me, I like pelicans and Pelikans
We finished up the day at the Ferry Building Marketplace, home of Blue Bottle Coffee and other culinary luminaries. I forgot to get an image, here's a stolen one.