Category Archives: Travel

Conception Explodes Off Channel Islands

Conception Explodes Off Channel Islands

I posted this comment to this NYTimes article California Boat Fire Kills at Least 20; Haunting Pleas as Flames Erupt

I spent two nights on the Conception with a Sierra Club trip to the channel islands in October 2017. It has a main stairway from the passenger bunks below deck to the kitchen on the main deck and also a secondary escape hatch which they made sure we knew about in the Emergency Procedure Drill they held. The hatch opened to the main deck cabin, which we all saw was engulfed in flames. I am also a diver and have slept on other boats and you are right, they are similar. Typically, the crew sleeps close to the wheel house, far from the passengers. I am stunned by this tragedy.

Channel Is Conception Explosion

Conception Boat Fire

The Conception at Daybreak

Conception Below Deck Floor Plan

The Secondary Escape Hatch Was Under The “N”

I have not yet written about the Sierra Club trip because it was shortly after the October 2017 fires in Santa Rosa. I had planned the Channel Islands trip months earlier, and paid for it in advance, as required, so I had to go. Frankly, I was grateful to get out of Santa Rosa even though I was coming down with a massive cold contracted in the shelters. But more on that later.

Camp Fare

Camp Fare

It has been over 100° in Santa Rosa for a couple of days. To avoid cooking, I am enjoying my favorite camp fare: previously grilled chicken thigh, quinoa, and caponata (eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, capers, olives, vinegar).

Caponata, Quinoa, grilled chicken

Perseid Meteor Shower – Wrights Lake

Perseid Meteor Shower – Wrights Lake

The sky would be as dark as possible after 2 a.m. on Sunday August 11 because that’s when the bright, three-quarters moon set. I rose from my tent and walked to the end of the pier (see below). Walking in the dark in the pre-dawn hours in an unfamiliar place, using red cellophane rubber-banded over my flashlight to retain my night vision, was a challenge. The lake pier was only about half a mile from my tent, but it required several turns. Distances seem so much longer in the dark. There were audio cues, like the water rushing over the dam, and roadway cues, like the bridge just below the dam. When I reached the cow catcher by the park entrance, I realized I had made a wrong turn and had to retrace my steps in the dark.

Wright's Lake Silhouette
Silhouetted At the End of the Pier – Wrights Lake

The meteor shower was beautiful. I saw about four in 30 minutes, sitting in my little green fold-up chair on the pier. While the vast sky was great, next time I will find a meadow to lie in with my sleeping bag. Our camp (site 60 in the RV area on the south side of the lake) was in the trees that ringed a meadow. Sites 61 and 62 were in the meadow in the center, just across the narrow paved road. Earlier in the day, we hiked toward Rockbound trailhead and Dark Lake and found this beautiful meadow. Trey took this photo using my cellphone.

Anet in Sierra flower meadow

The Rockbound trailhead is the gateway to many stunning vistas and is very near the tent campground on the west side of the lake. I would love to someday set foot in Desolation Wilderness.

Rockbound Trailhead near Wrights Lake with Anet
Wrights on Bottom Left, Emerald Bay Top Right, Desolation in Center

Here is the map with notes for tent camping and kayaking. Note the rocky tent sites near the Rockbound Trailhead. These sites are have comfortable privacy but they are a long carry from the lake. Sites 1-3 are close to the small beach adjacent to the pier which is a good put-in, and they are well removed from the day use area which can get noisy. The RV area is called Meadow Loop on the south side of the lake. Trees rim the meadow, so the sites on the outer edges have more shade. The RVs use bright motion lights at night and the generators can be noisy in the afternoons as they provide air conditioning, so it is not ideal for tent camping. There are clean pit toilets and good-tasting cold water from the spigots. A very enjoyable campground when you choose your site wisely.

Map Wright's Lake Camping Facilities

Dark Lake is just above the Rockbound Trailhead and has a nice, small, beach put-in right by the road. One would have to move the vehicle to the nearby parking. Notice the little squares on the map on the north side of Dark Lake. These are summer homes that have been grandfathered in by the Eldorade National Forest. There is a nice path around Dark Lake, pictured below.

Dark Lake
Dark Lake
Wrights Lake Campground Sign

The Wrights Lake campground did not open until after the Fourth of July because of the late May snow. About a week before it opened for camping, Trey and others camping at Ice House Reservoir had driven over to check it out. They were able to paddle the small lake and liked it so much we returned six weeks later. The campsites can be reserved through Recreation.gov until about mid-October, the Camp Host told us, and then it is walk-in (first come first served) until snow closes the camp.

Road Sign Ice House Reservoir

My efforts to get to Utica Lake for the annual meteor display have failed for the last three years due to smoke from forest fires and insurmountable logistical difficulties. I was so happy to get a chance to join photographer Trey Steinhart and his wife Becky in this area named for the dairy farmer who worked the land until about 1950. The drive from Santa Rosa took four hours on a Sunday morning in mid-August. The tricky part is making a left turn on Highway 50 which is only a two-lane mountain road in this stretch just a little north of Kyburz. Thank the stars that a space opened up just as I needed to turn.

Wrights Lake Road

The sign above appears just about where the “31 min” indicator is on the map below. The six miles are to the turn onto Route 50, north of Kyburz.

Ice House Reservoir Top Left, Wrights Lake Top Right, Kyburz Bottom Center

Ice House Reservoir OBNDY

Ice House Reservoir OBNDY

About a year ago, Jane Richter reserved space in Silver Lakes for the four-night annual Old But Not Dead Yet (OBNDY) camp out. She kept following up with the Forest Service as the June 27 start date got closer, but on the morning of the 27th the Forest Service cancelled our reservations. Jane and others were already on the road, so we scrambled to find campsites on the weekend before the Fourth of July holiday.

Marin Canoe and Kayak club was camping at Ice House Reservoir and they found spots for Lori’s RV, Trey’s Trailer, and Jane. They captured the first-come sites on the main loop that were doubles and allowed the space to be shared. Deb Turner pitched her tent in next to Lori’s spiffy new Travato RV. Jane’s friends shared her double site.

Ice House Resort Map

The map at left shows the main loop with Units starting at 1. The yellow highlight marks where the car campers were. Liam and I found space in an adjacent loop on the other site of the Boat Ramp which is a tent-only area. These were not car camping sites like Jane’s in the first loop. We had to carry in our equipment about 1000 yards from Liam’s truck which was parked the boat-ramp parking lot, but we scored the beautiful site 39 right on the water which allowed us to tie up our kayaks near our picnic table.

The reservoir was beautiful and featured two dams, one of which seemed to drop off the edge of the earth.

Photographer Trey Steinhart was with us and captured this breathtaking image of dawn the next morning.

Ice House Reservoir Dawn

Just a few moment later, some Canada Geese swam into view, looking for breakfast.

Ice House Reservior Canada Geese by Trey Steinhart

The OBNDY paddlers joined the Marin Canoe and Kayak Club for a great, midday paddle. I am the third kayaker from the right, in the green boat.

Kayakers on Ice House Reservoir

Trey and the others paddled the next day at nearby Wright’s Lake. I plan to check it out soon because it looks great.


Elkhorn Slough – Moss Landing

Elkhorn Slough – Moss Landing


Elkhorn Slough
The King Tide (+7 feet) coincided with a spectacular full moon, flooding the salt water marsh just north of Monterey, CA. We were able to get much closer to wildlife than usual, and were surrounded by friendly sea otters and wary seals. Banks of kerlews lined the edges of the water and formations of pelicans punctuated the sky.

Liam, Anet, Jane, Becky

Photographer Trey Steinhart paddled with us both days. Because he takes the pictures, he rarely appears in them. I took this photo of him, but he took the next few following.

kayak Trey Steinhart

Kayak sail

Liam sailing back – photo by Trey

Curlew Flock Elkhorn Slough

Curlew Flock – photo by Trey

photo by Trey

We got an early start on our first day, Monday, and it was quite chilly. The Petaluma Paddle Pushers set out in two waves: some about 30 minutes before us, and the rest about 15 minutes before us.

Liam

The King Tide flooded areas that were normally dry. Here Jane hugs a “State Patrolled Hunting Area” sign.

Elkhorn Slough

Our Leader, Jane

This submerged bridge is not passable, even in dry weather.

Submerged Bridge

We had a great lunch at nearby Phil’s Fish Market. Luckily, Trey knew how to get there.

Trey, Becky, Lori, Jane, Liam with the Inflatable Snowmen

We were lucky enough to get a table right on the beach, with an admiring audience of hungry sea gulls.

Phil's Fish House

Liam, Lori, Becky, Trey, Jane

Had a great two-day paddle, enjoyed our stay at the Lone Oak Lodge and our hunt for a Thai restaurant one night, and an Italian restaurant another. So much fun!

 

Wright’s Beach – Black Friday 2017

Wright’s Beach – Black Friday 2017

Sunrise Sat 25 Nov 2017


It was a real treat to meet Jane Richter who invited her O.B.N.D.Y. MeetUp group to her annual Black Friday camp-out at Wright’s Beach. It is halfway between Doran Beach and Jenner on the Kortum Trail, but I had never been before because it is part of Sonoma Coast State Park and reservations need to be made online six months in advance at www.parks.ca.gov. Lori P. and Jane were on the phone as they made the reservation for site 13 which is a pull-through at the end of the inside loop (about $10 cheaper than the oceanside sites) which was ideal for Jane’s cute fiberglass trailer. Lori’s van and Liam’s pickup all fit in the site behind Jane’s rig, and there was room for Liam’s tent, too.

I shared adjacent site 18 with Trey Steinhart and his wife Becky, also tent campers. I nestled my little green tent in the trees between the two campsites and decorated the gnarly trees with battery-operated string lights so that I would not clonk my head during the night. There was a campground-wide celebration of the wedding anniversary of someone in a family I surmise are regulars, but they were well-behaved and the night was quiet and dark. I slept well to the sound of pounding surf. Love it, and if I go back by myself, I will try to get campsite 11 which is slightly off the loop road in a little interior eddy and has the most cover. Jane pointed out the spot where she likes to stretch a hammock when her car has been relegated to overflow parking.

We enjoyed an informal dinner at the Tides restaurant in Bodega Bay.

Strong winds and high surf made kayak-crabbing inadvisable on Saturday morning, so we took a walk at the bird sanctuary with Nancy, one of Lori’s friends whom we met, along with body-surfer Kate, at the Doran Day Use area. Liam and I spent some time in the afternoon planning our Sicily trip in October 2018 while the others went to buy crab for Jane’s crab fest.

Tray and Jane Cook Crabs

Kortum Trail

Kortum Trail

Saturday Saunterers

Beautiful hike on the Kortum Trail with the Saturday Saunterers led by Joe Tenn while Bob Martin is in Europe with Eva.

This hike follows the north section, from Blind Beach to Shell Beach. The trail starts from the cliffs above Blind Beach, overlooking Goat Rock just to the north. The trail heads south along the exposed coastal bluffs to Shell Beach, a sandy pocket beach surrounded by jagged offshore rocks. En route to the beach are southward views that span all the way to Point Reyes.

We visited the big rocks where Martha says that the smooth spots, high on the rocks, were rubbed to that glossy finish by mastodons with itchy backs. They were also festooned with chalk in the cracks from boulderers. The sky was clear and the Pacific very calm, the way it is in late September.

Sign at Shell Beach



We saw this tuft of pampas grass as we walked down to the black sand of Shell Beach. I suspect the black sand is not from shells, but from the black rocks that mark this sharp cliff. The walk back took a slightly different route which seemed even steeper. Kathy, hiking with us for the first time, got into some difficulty but old pals Rich and Richard made sure she got back to the cars safely.

I spent the walk back trying to find someone to go with me to Earlfest later that day. Jason and David already had tickets through Kaiser, and neither Marsha nor Frances wanted to go.

We drove down to Goat Rock beach and had a nice lunch on the logs and a chatty, fun ride back. Great day, until I got home and discovered my cell phone had fallen out of my pocket. Made some panicky calls to Rich and Richard and, whew! my phone was discovered and promptly returned. Completely blew Earlfest off my agenda. I sewed the pockets on those pants halfway closed before I went to bed that night. Hope I don’t make THAT mistake again!

Lake Berryessa Labor Day 2017

Lake Berryessa Labor Day 2017

Lakes Hennessey and Berryessa

I set a goal to boat at Lake Berryessa, and prepared for this on my way back from the Solar Eclipse by going to Winters on I-5 and learning the route past these two lakes to Calistoga. I got my chance on Labor Day, and boated with Cathey from Napa, and Brent Swinth. Because the temperatures had been wicked hot, we met at 8:30 a.m. which required leaving at 7 a.m. We were on the water by 9 and enjoyed several dips to cool off. We were off the water by 12:30 when the picnic grounds were filling up with music and fragrances of delicious food.

Lake Berryessa Labor Day 2017

Brazil Camp 2017

Brazil Camp 2017

Sue Nelson and I signed up for the second week of Brazil Camp, but Sue had to move her participation to the first week and I could not join her because of the eclipse — can’t move an eclipse! Here are a few photos from the Saturday 26 August celebration that started at 11 a.m. and danced and drummed and paraded on until the 3 p.m. feast.

Dance Finale Brazil Camp 2017

The lady on the left joined us for lunch. She is a forensic architect who works on construction defects cases and had a fascinating story of how she got into that unusual line of work. Sue is dancing at the two o’clock position above.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByZ1PCtxW2o4S1dSZ0tabV9IZFE 25 second clip of circle dance

Sue Dancing

Sue Nelson During Quiet Moment On Main Stage

Eclipse 2013

Eclipse 2013

Eclipse Path in Oregon

Took a 1300 mile road trip to see the Eclipse in Lebanon OR, which is near Corvallis and Albany. I visited Ashland for the first time to see some Shakespeare, visited my sisters in Portland, met sister Connie’s two newest grandchildren, and spent an interesting night in Redding on my way back.

Starting on Sunday morning, we took a leisurely trip up I-5, stopping in Oakland, Oregon, a quaint town a few miles away from the freeway. We had lunch at Tolly’s, where it took me three tries to get the hard-boiled egg for my Cobb Salad. So different from the solicitous restaurant service in Ashland! Sharon and I went shopping in the quaint town and visited their many antiques stores and unique museum while Steve, who had been doing the driving, took a nap after lunch. The Oakland Museum has

Rooms full of furniture typical of many early Oakland homes, a bank exhibit, post office, general store and more. There is a clothing display, toys, photographs, tools and stories of Oakland’s history.

Sharon at Tolly’s

Len Rummel, Joe Dunne, Linda Rummel

Even though we left fairly early on Sunday, it was a hot day and it took about six hours to get from the Emigrant Lake County Recreation Area near Ashland to the Speasl Road farm of Len and Linda Rummel, world travelers and parents of Loren, a classmate and business partner of Joe Dunne, the son of my first cousin Steve and his wife Sharon.

We arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday, and Steve and Sharon were thrilled to learn that the Rummel’s farm had a full hook-up for their trailer, complete with power, water and sewer. This was important because both Sharon and her son Joe were suffering from an intestinal bug that I was happy to have dodged. I met Steve and Sharon’s daughter Erin for the first time, when she arrived at Rummel’s farm with two of her friends who were on their way to a conference in the state of Washington. She had driven them to the beach earlier in the morning, then all the way back to Lebanon in the center of the state and in the zone of totality.

The Rummels were having their annual friends & family reunion so there was a big dinner Sunday night with barbecued hot dogs and lots of food at the long table seen in the background in the photo below. I contributed a package of award-winning hot dogs from Whole Foods, and some interesting grilling sausages from Trader Joe’s, plus a loaf from GoGuetteBread in Santa Rosa. I was pretty tired, though, so I skipped the group dinner and just had some bread and cheese in the trailer and called in an early night. The Big Day would start in the morning.

Viewing Eclipse at Rummel Farm

Engineer Len Rummel and educator Linda Rummel had plenty of eclipse glasses for viewing. My favorite part was the tour of the artworks in the house while we waited for the sun and the moon to do their dance. What an astonishing collection of art from all over the world, and Len’s tiny sculptures of insects, displayed on the vast terrain of his bedroom windowsill. Then, the treat of getting to chat with their remarkable range of friends.

Len and Linda’s children were born in Arabia where they lived for many years, Len working as an engineer and Linda as an educator. Their love for islamic art, textile and rugs is evident in their beautiful, comfortable home which has benefited from many update and upgrades since they purchased it more than twenty years ago.

I was interested to see how their animals would react to the eclipse, including their chickens. They usually have a large vegetable garden, but did not plant this year. Probably good, because there were so many fires this summer due to the heat that particulate matter in the air was high and air quality was poor.

Len and Hound

The image below comes closest to my experience of the eclipse. Most of the viewers had not seen totality before and I could not help but announce as it was commencing, “here it comes. Bailey’s beads!” I just sat in awe during totality, but there was something different time. At about the 5 o’clock position, there was a purple edged brightness that become more prominent as the moon’s passage continued, before everything exploded back into light. It was a solar flare.