Pirate’s Cove

October 15th – 16th

I leave El Capitan Park early and drive west and north on Highway 101. I stop at another state park at Gaviota, just out of curiosity. It’s closed for the season.

I continue north and inland, and in short order I’ve passed Point Conception and Point Arguello on the coast. Anyone familiar with California knows that northward of these two landmarks we are no longer in southern California. It’s cooler here and the ocean water gradually becomes cold.

I stop at the village of Solvang for lunch. Solvang was founded by Danish settlers and tries to look it. I take no pictures, but you can see plenty of photos here. You can read about Solvang here and here.

By late afternoon I arrive at Pismo Beach State Park. It’s cool here, breezy, and in the evening a heavy dew gathers on my picnic table. I can’t sit outside and work.

But the next morning is sunny and bright and I go to a place with the evocative name of Pirate’s Cove. It’s on an isolated stretch of the coast between Pismo Beach and Avila Beach:

1_coast near Pismo Beach

 

It even has a pirate’s cave…

2_the pirate's cave

…through which we can see a lot of wildlife:

3_bird colonies

 

The cove seen from above…

October 14-16_Captitan to Paso 042 4_view onto Pirate's Cove

…and from the opposite shore:

5_cove from the opposite end

 

The water temperature isn’t bad at all, considering where we are now, and normally the cove would be a good swimming hole, but the surf is rough today, the waves high.

11_would be a good swimming hole, but...

 

Above us some opulent homes…

7_with some opulent houses above

…and more:

6_more houses

 

In fact, Pirate’s Cove is indeed a good swimming hole…

8_in fact it is a good swimming hole...

…and an ideal place for nude sunbathing:

9_seal sunbathing on rock in cove

10_another sunbather

 

I’ve been lucky with wildlife lately.

Advertisements

Up the coast

I’m in Malibu today, reporting on the last three days.  There are more pictures to come, but I’ve had a problem with my camera. I hope to get it taken care of tomorrow.

 

October 8th to 11th

I leave Jamul on the 8th and begin to slowly make my way up the coast of southern California, camping at Carlsbad the first night.

1_campsite at Carlsbad

This isn’t a very nice campground and it’s expensive. Many of the beach state parks in southern California are now managed as money-making operations by local municipalities or even private interests.

But there nice sunsets here…

2_sunset at Carlsbad

…and we’re right on the path of southern migration…

5_flying south

…which reminds me that I should be on my way north.

 

Early the next morning I’m on my way north along the Pacific Coast Highway. I stop at San Onofre State Park, but the campground is closed for the season. I use my pass from the campground in Carlsbad to spend a few hours there. It’s enormous and empty, whereas Carlsbad was crowded.

6_beach at San Onofre

San Onofre Beach is hard to get to. Everywhere there are signs warning us of the unstable cliffs and that we should keep back.

8_cliffs at San Onofre

This beach is isolated and empty, yet our State Park System must nevertheless try to impose prudish laws:

7_no nudity

 

Later in the day I finally arrive in San Clemente, the beach resort town that became famous in the early 1970s as the location of the Western White House, the California home of then president Richard Nixon. It’s quite near San Onofre State Park.

Fabienne and Wayne, you are right, San Clemente State Park is very nice. It’s the best I’ve seen, with good services and a pleasant personnel, even if they make me change campsites for the second night. This is my second campsite, not so nice as the first:

9_San Clemente campsite 1 10_San Clement campsite 2

(But I didn’t get a picture of the first one. I had a lot more trees there.)

I like San Clemente. The town center is nearby and has everything I need, especially a café with a good internet connection; so I get a lot of work done.  I’m now working on : Heritage materials and biofouling mitigation through UV-C irradiation in show caves: State-of-the-art and future challenges.

And they have nice sunsets too:

11_San Clemente-sunset

But there are beautiful sunsets all along this coast.

 

One afternoon I take a long walk south of the park to look at some of the expensive homes on the bluff above the beach.

18_houses full west_look fragile

17_houses up close

 

Speaking of unstable cliffs, all along the California coast, north and south, there are problems with houses sliding down the cliffs. I wonder if and when it may happen to some of these homes:

14_San Clemente houses 2

Some of them look very fragile:

19_very fragile 13_San Clement houses 1

Especially this one:

20_especially this one

I wonder if structures such as these can last another twenty years. Then again, I suppose that these are just another sort of cliff dwelling. They, too, may have to be abandoned.

Tucson

Hi everyone,

I’m still in San Diego. I’ll report on my activities here in a few days.

Reading: Mormon Country by Wallace  Stegner. Originally published in 1942, this essay is fascinating, if you’re interested in this type of thing. I am.

Article currently working on: Bivalve and barnacle larvae distribution driven by water temperature in a Mediterranean lagoon

Editing note added on October 14th: Captain has alerted me to the fact that I’d misnamed the saguaro cactus as organ pipe (which is yet another type of cactus). I’ve corrected the mistake here.

 

September 25th – 30th

Tucson is hot. Very hot, even this late in the season. In the high nineties F (36 to 38° C). And it doesn’t cool down very much at night.

I arrive around lunch time from Patagonia and find a motel. I plan to stay through the weekend as I have an appointment to get Van serviced tomorrow morning and to see a chiropractor myself on Monday. Yes, my back has been giving me trouble.

I spend the next several days visiting the area, getting my errands done, working on some papers and working on the blog. One day I drive up to Summerhaven, in the eastern mountains. It’s much cooler up there. Also, I visit some of the local restaurants. And early in the morning I ride my bike around the city center and on the university campus (which is very impressive, by the way).

I find some of the houses in Tucson to be really interesting, particularly in the northern hill area. Many of the houses in the city center look traditionally American, but with the predominating desert vegetation (of course). However, to the north of the city lie the Catalina Mountains, and below them many a posh and intriguing neighborhood. There, I have a hard time seeing the houses due to the heavy vegetation that surrounds them.

The Catalina Mountains in the late afternoon light:

Catalina Mts. 1

The mountains extend from west to east, the entire length of the city.

 

The area gives me my first photo of a saguaro cactus. I saw my first one driving into the city from the east. Apparently they’re a low altitude plant, so we don’t see them in Patagonia or Portal.

Catalina 3 + cactus

 

But the saguaro cacti are only a part of the local flora:

Cacti 1_organ pipe + vegetation

Cacti 2 + vegetation

The plant life here is, in fact, quite abundant and diverse.

 

The perfect saguaro, with a small prickly pear at its feet…

Cacti 4_perfect organ pipe

…but I recognize some other plants too.

 

Here we see an agave and my old friend the barrel cactus.

House 2 + agave + barrel + vegetation

 

And here are two barrel cacti, one of them with a red blossom on top. They have a cholla for a neighbor.

Barrel + cholla

The red blossom up close:

Barrel  + red blossom

Does it turn yellow when it fully opens?

Barrel + yellow blossom

Maybe Lois or Val can tell us?

 

Facing the east, as you can see, there are a good many houses here…

Catalina 5_many houses_east

…though sometimes they’re difficult to see:

House + cacti

 

They appear to be buried in the plant life, with only the roof visible:

Houses 3 bis...

 

Occasionally you get a good glimpse of a part of the house…

Catalina 2

…but not much more.

 

I like Tucson.

 

Into Utah…

August 24th and 25th, 2014

I drive down the canyon from Great Basin National Park toward the dry valley and small town of Baker below:

1_as I head down into the dry valley

The desert is never far.

 

On the way I see this ancient wreck in a field beside the road:

2_I come upon this 1920 Dodge and its driver

The driver doesn’t look like he’s fit to be behind the wheel of a car.  Someone has written “1920 Dodge” on the side of the car. I turn around to look at my own 2011 Dodge, some distance back:

3_and I cast a glance at my 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan

I have a decision to make. I really don’t know which way I’m going when I get down to the highway, either left to go into central Utah, or right, to southern Utah and the string of national parks that await me there. This type of dilemma will arrive more than once.

I decide that I want to see central Utah too, so I turn left and soon cross the stateline…

4_cross into Utah, yellow flower and desert grass

…where these familiar flowers greet me and the clumps of desert grass are much thicker and more widespread than in Nevada.

We continue to go up over small mountain ranges and then through low valleys, but a new feature soon appears. This is Sevier Lake, a dry or not so dry lake (you decide, based on what you see here):

5b_Sevier Lake bis

Sevier Lake, into which flows the Sevier River…

6_into which flows the Sevier River, or what's left of it

…or what’s left of it after so much of its water has been taken for irrigation.

In the town of Delta the Sevier River welcomes me with those familiar yellow flowers:

7_Delta_the Sevier River with flowers

The Sevier is to become a friend that I will meet again and again.

From here I head north and east through Millard, Juab and Sanpete counties, through irrigated farmlands and neat little towns like Nephi, Fountain Green, Moroni and Ephraim. Moroni, if you don’t know, is the name of the angel who appeared to young Joseph Smith and instructed him several times. Regardless of what anyone may think of the Mormon Church, I’m struck by Mormon efficiency and ingenuity in making this desert bloom. After the dry valleys of Nevada, the town and entire valley of Nephi is particularly impressive with its green fields. Then again, Utah seems to have water that Nevada simply does not have.

Driving down the Sanpete Valley we see the profile of the Manti Mormon temple from some distance–somewhat incongruous in this terrain, yet entirely expected. Once in town I take this close up:

8_Manti temple, on arrival

 

Manti, named after a city mentioned in the Book of Mormon, is a very pleasant town…

9_downtown Manti-pleasant town

…and a historic one in the framework of the Mormon migration and settlement of Utah. It was the first settlement founded outside the northern Wasatch strip (Ogden, Salt Lake, Provo) and one of the first communities to have a temple…

This statue is of the Indian chief Wakara and some Mormon immigrants. Wakara is said to have invited the Mormons to settle here  to teach his people the ways of farming:

10_a historic Mormon town

I wonder if Wakara knew what he was letting himself in for.

 

I take several pictures of the temple at different times of the day:

That first afternoon, on arrival…

11a_Manti temple-afternoon

…that evening…

11b_Manti temple-evening

…the following morning, the north profile…

11c_Manti temple-morning

…and the south profile:

11d_Manti temple-south profile-morning

 

The temple grounds are a good place from which to take pictures of the town and its surroundings:

…north…

12a_view north_green fields

…south and west:

12b_view south_green Manti 12c_view west_green fields

Notice the shadow of the temple in the foreground of the righthand picture.

I take a long bike ride around the town this morning, taking pictures of the irrigated fields west of town; everywhere, everything is green:

12d_irrigated fields west of town 12e_irrigated sheep pasture

 

I take pictures of many of the houses, too. Manti appears to be one of those idyllic American towns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries:

14a_Manti house 14b_Manti house

14c_Manti house 14d_Manti house

14e_Manti house 14fbis_very nice

New or old, well kept or not, they reflect a period, and an image.  Of course, there are many houses of more modest standing too and also, as all over the US, a number of mobile homes.

 

Other noticeable buildings in town…

This was once a Presbyterian church, but is now home to the American Legion:

13b_old Presbyterian

The local Mormon church, with its characteristic low roof and short steeple:

15_Manti Mormon church parking lot

Not a very good angle, but it was the best I could do. This is taken on Monday morning. At 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoon this parking lot was full to overflowing.

Later this morning I go for a drive around the valley and take pictures of the countryside…

17a_green countryside around Manti

…and of the town from an overlook:

18a_view of Manti from above_west 18b_view of Manti from above_south

 

Manti is well known for its annual Mormon Miracle Pageant which takes place every year in the early summer. You can learn more about it here.

And you can learn more about the Manti temple here.

Johnsville

August 18th, 2014

I leave Redding this morning, heading east into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After getting back from the hot springs yesterday afternoon I did some shopping and a few other errands. Redding is the California town that, in fact, I now know the best. It’s where my mother lived for many years until her death in October of 2013. I would visit her here and spend days at a time in town and visiting the surrounding area.

I pass by my mother’s house on my way out of town. The new owners have, of course, changed it a bit. They have removed a large shade tree that was in front of the house, something I would not have done since summer temperatures here regularly reach 35 to 40 °C or higher. Here’s a picture of the house:

32_mom's house2

 

Van is ready to go:

33_next morning, ready to leave

 

And I arrive in the aptly named town of Johnsville around 2 in the afternoon, via the Feather River Canyon scenic route. I stop for a swim along the way, but take no pictures.

Here we are in the Sierra, in an old mining town, where a childhood friend of mine, Mark, and his wife Katie, have a house. We visit the old mine and its museum. Here’s Mark and Katie in front of the old asseyor’s office:

2_Mark and wife Katie

 

Here’s Mark:

1_my friend Mark

The sign on the end of the trough says the we can pan for gold here all day for just 4$. We have other things to do.

 

The mine facilities, which finally closed during the first World War:

3_the mine

It hasn’t been maintained the way the Assay Office has, or the Blacksmith shop:

4_blacksmith shop 6_inside the blacksmith shop

 

Johnsville is entirely surrounded by Plumas Eureka State Park, and the town itself is a Plumas County Historical Reserve. Houses must be restored or built respecting the styles of 1880. We take a long walk around the town.

Mark and Katie’s house:

7_M & K's house in Johnsville 7b_their house bis

 

Another house that was in Mark’s family for a long time:

8_red house in Mark's family 9_red house2

 

There are many picturesque and attractive houses in town:

10_grey house

 

These more rustic ones:

12_rustic wooden house 13_another rustic

 

These, either renovated or newly built in the style of the period:

14_cute farm style house 15_modern rustic house

 

This one is for sale:

16_house for sale

Mark tells me that there are at least six houses for sale in Johnsville at the moment.

 

Then there is the old Johnsville Hotel:

11bis_hotel 11ter_hotel

 

Of course there are a few period structures too:

18_old fire house 19_a period structure

The one on the left was once the Johnsville Fire Department.

 

The Johnsville Historical Society occupies the old church:

21bis_historical

 

Inside…

22_inside the old church

…there is a display of period kitchen wares…

23_display of period kitchen wares

…a period organ and piano:

24_organ 25_upright piano

 

After an excellent dinner we take a bumpy drive up the mountain to Eureka Lake for a swim:

27_bis_lake

 

The next morning I take a few pictures of the deer that come near the house. Mark has set out a salt lick for them on a tree stump:

29_deer at salt lick

 

They soon see me, but don’t seem too afraid:

30_they see me, but...

The chipmunks, however, avoid my camera.

I leave Johnsville just after breakfast.  And now, as promised, I am off on my true road trip, out across the desert.