Return to Tomales Bay

We were back in Tomales Bay this weekend for more kayaking. This time we stayed in Dillon Beach at a little one-bedroom cottage we rented a few blocks from the beach.

We dropped the boats in where Tomales Bay meets the Pacific Ocean at a private RV park called Lawson’s Landing. This place is unique in that it’s the only place one can see rednecks and Trump supporters in Marin County.

When we arrived the night before, we got news Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. So seeing all that trash whooping it up was all the more disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love camping, and I own a camper, but RV’ing is not camping. It’s a trailer park flash mob. I admit it. I hate being around rednecks. They can’t have a good unless it’s ruining someone else’s good time. Everything they bring has a 2-cycle engine and requires gas. So they’re stinking up the place and drowning out everyone else’s music. If I didn’t give a shit about the environment, I’d invent a diesel powered Bluetooth speaker that belches black smoke to Uncle Cracker.

Back in the boats, life was good again. Low-tide was ending and all the clammers were heading back to shore. We crossed the boat channel and careened along the coves of Point Reyes before heading back against the tide and wind. It took about three times longer to cover the same distance. Still, totally worth it. All morning we were surrounded by seals and brown pelicans. No shark sightings, which was a little disappointing.

After kayaking, we packed a picnic with Caprese sandwiches and cold beers. Then we just chilled on the beach for a couple hours. You know, like a couple of boogie lib yuppies.

For dinner we drove down to Nick’s Cove. We met up with some friends and their 11-week old American Bully puppy – Bear. There was a perfect sunset, followed by just a sliver of moon. A great night to see the Milky Way. We closed Nick’s and drove back up Highway 1 in the dark. A totally different experience from driving it during the day.

AQI

I have a headache and my chest hurts this morning. I can only surmise it’s due to the poor air quality we’re currently experiencing. It’s that, or I am having a psychosomatic reaction to knowing how bad the air quality rating is. Right now, it’s at 175, which is considered pretty bad. There’s a prediction it could get up to 400, which is really really bad. Anything over 100 is unhealthy.

This is all being caused by the raging wildfires all over the west. We’re just not getting past all the fires burning in the Bay Area. Last I checked the SCU fire that was just a few miles from us is contained, but not completely out. That’s pretty crazy seeing as it started nearly a month ago. 

The current fires contributing to the poor air quality, and the orange skies earlier this week are way up north in the Mendocino National forrest. That fire, has surpassed, in size, the fires down here. The fires down here were ranked 2nd and 3rd largest in California history. It looks like one or both of those will be broken. Not anything to be proud of.

That’s just California. Washington and Oregon are suffering immensely as well. Over a half million people are under an evacuation warning in Oregon. That’s insane. I’m used to fires down here, I’ve never really seen anything like this up there. 

A couple years ago, I read a book called “The Big Burn” by Tim Egan. The book tells the story of a massive fire that destroyed forests spanning Washington, Idaho and Montana in August of 1910. Similar to this year’s fire, they were made worse by super dry conditions and strong winds. 

The book not only tells the story of the firefight, but how it influenced Teddy Roosevelt to focus more on preservation of the forests instead of caving to the industries that wanted to clear cut them. 

The fire burned over 3 million acres and killed 78 people. Here’s the link to the book if you’re interested.

It’s a really good book. I’m surprised it was never made into a movie. Give it time, I guess.

Laurie Kilmartin

Back in 2019 when live comedy was still a thing. I booked and produced a show at Crooked Vine Winery featuring comedian and writer Laurie Kilmartin. She is one of the funniest comedian around, hands down.

I had been producing comedy shows in the Bay Area for about a year, booking local comics. Once I got the hang of it, I decided to reach out to one of my favorites. I think I first saw Laurie on Conan O’Brien where she is also a writer for the show.

We couldn’t have asked for a better night for the show. The weather was terrific. We had two amazing food trucks and everyone who performed has the audience laughing their ass off.

I don’t have any video I can share, but trust me, it was awesome.

The highlight for me was getting to hang out with Laurie the next day as I gave her a ride to the airport.

  • Austin Blaylock, Me, Laurie, and Samson Koletkar
  • Laurie…murdering
  • Samson
  • Austin
  • Fans

Hi-atus

I know it’s coming up on a year since I last posted something. Not for a lack of having anything to say, as much as inertia. So here’s a big post in terms of bandwidth, not necessarily content.

August 2020 was a blur. It started out pretty low-key. We went kayaking up in Tomales Bay and stayed at Nick’s Cove. It was a great relaxing weekend, just the kind of break we needed to prepare ourselves for plagues 6 and 7 of 2020.

  • Loaded up the new Outback with the Kayaks
  • Nick’s waterfront cabins
  • All the big names
  • Boat house
  • Hog Island in the fog
  • Hog Island of oyster fame, in the morning
  • Tomales Bay

What started as an unpleasant heatwave – temps around 105-110 range became a local blackout. For us, it wasn’t a rolling blackouts like the rest of the state. The substation in our town had a massive failure. So we checked into a hotel. The next morning we woke up to a lightning storm right out of Ghostbusters.

In about an hour, there were over 12,000 lightning strikes. Many of them set off fires that are still burning, having claimed 1.6 million acres and counting.

The SCU Lightning Complex fire has the dubious distinction of being the 2nd largest fire in California history, and the one closest to where I live.

At one point we were 1 mile from the evacuation zone. I live in town, far from nature, so wildfires didn’t used to be a concern for me. Ever since Santa Rosa in 2017, all bets are off.

The skies and air quality has been improving. Today feels kind of normal. A week ago, we had one of the worst AQI scores in the world at 300. It was the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve been to Delhi, India in October.

Today a friend asked how we were doing with the fires. I told him it looks like we’re out of the woods for now, because, after all these fires, I think California is out of woods.

  • First signs of smoke from the SCU fire, 10 miles away.
  • Mount Diablo in the distance
  • Smoke from the LZU complex fire 50 miles north
  • Sunset under cloud of smoke.
  • Vineyards of Concannon
  • AQI 300+
  • 1 week of fires
  • Scorched earth at Sycamore Grove
  • Burned hill where I mountain bike weekly.

50/50

I had my annual physical last week. The doctor said everything looked pretty good. The only thing he was concerned about was my BMI score. BMI for those of you who don’t know stands for Body Mass Index. It’s what you should weigh based on your height. Mine was 31, and the doctor said he’d like to see it come down to something more normal like 22-23.

That didn’t sound too bad. So I asked him what I should do, and he said, “Based on my height, I should lose about 50 pounds.”

“Holy shit! What else have you got?”

He said, “Well, if we look at your weight, you could grow 13 inches.”

I’m not sure which path to take. I just know when I’m done, I’ll have to get new clothes anyhow.

My wife asked how did things go at my physical. When I told her what the doctor said, she was genuinely surprised and said, “Wow, but you don’t look that fat.” With a tear in my eye, I hugged her and said, “You noticed.”

She showed me an article that Rob Gronkowski lost 50 pounds in 6 months and he feels great. He doesn’t have the body aches, or heart burn anymore. It’s because he’s mostly eating a plant-based diet and drinking less. She figured, if Gronk can do it, why can’t you?

So I set a goal for myself of 50 by 50, and that’s what I’ll be doing for the next 6 months.

Since my physical, I’ve become something of a health nut and people are starting to notice. A woman I work with asked if I’ve been juicing. I thought she meant steroids, so I said, “I’m flattered, but this is all natural.” Then I flexed a little.

She said, “No, I meant doing a juice cleanse.”

“Yeah, why?”

She said, “We noticed you’ve been something of an insufferable prick lately.”

Yeah, that’s one of the side effects. They really ought to put some kind of warning label on the side of my Vitamix. Warning, use of this product will make others want to tell you to shut the hell up.

What I learned the week of July 15, 2019

Elon Musk is coming up with more wearable technologies to make us look like geriatric nerds from outer space.


As if it didn’t already sound like the name of a 70s TV drama, The Squad could have easily been called The White Shadow.


The Donald had eyebrows on fleek all the way back in 1992.


Nobody knows how to throw an anniversary like New York.


James Bond fans will believe everything except that 007 can be a black woman.

Quake

Up until yesterday, I have experienced only 2 earthquakes in my life. Both were in Illinois, and I have lived in California over 12 years.

The first quake was in 1987. Technically, I didn’t feel it. I was in my grandma’s front yard talking to a friend. When I came inside she asked, “what in the hell was I doing out there?” Because the house had shook a little. I joked, it was probably an earthquake. Sure enough on the news that night we had maybe a 2.0 or something.

The second was in the early 2000s. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of the chain on a table lamp jiggling. Again, another minor quake.

Yesterday, I was in a meeting and felt two quick bounces. I thought maybe someone had dropped a really large box in the room above us. Then we all agreed, it was definitely a quake. It lasted maybe 1 second and was over. There wasn’t any time to get under a desk let alone get scared. We all had a good laugh and consulted our phones.

Within minutes it was reported. We had a 4.3 earthquake and we were about 10 miles from the epicenter.

There’s a pretty active fault line near the area we were at. Last year there were about 200-300 quakes in that region. When you go to the USGS website, you’ll see earthquakes are happening all the time. Good or bad, I’m not sure. I’m glad to have the first Cali Quake out of the way.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

We have 4 Cooper’s hawks that were born in our neighborhood some time ago. They’re adolescent birds now, so they’re spending a lot of time hunting and squawking at each other.

Typically, only 1 or or 2 make it to this age from what I’ve heard from our tree guy. So to have four is a big deal.

Last night I came home and 3 of them were in the same tree when the fourth arrived with something in his talon. The others figured it must be dinner time and rushed over. They all picked at it until finally the one dropped it. Turned out to be a pine cone. Wah wah.

I did a little research on these birds and they are one of the most common type of hawk. They’re a medium sized bird and mostly hunt other, smaller birds and critters. We have a ton of hummingbirds around us too, and surprisingly, they make a a lot of noise too.

Another thing I learned about these hawks. They evidently shit white paint, all over my car.

These hawks remind me of a funny-ish story from about 10 years ago. It was in our old neighborhood in Chicago.

I was out walking my dog and noticed my neighbor Margaret looking at something. It was a small hawk on the ground. It was about the age of the ones around me now. It was old enough to be out on it’s own, but not full-sized and it was being stalked by a cat. Margaret was worried for both animals and said she thought the hawk might have an injured wing and wanted to help it out.

So I went back to my house and grabbed our dog’s metal crate. I came back with the crate and a pair of yard gloves. The hawk hopped around Margaret’s yard a little bit, but wasn’t hard to catch. I gently wrapped both hands around it like I was Jim Fowler taking it to the “Tonight Show.”

I held the surprisingly subdued raptor and admired its sharp talons as inserted it into the dog crate. That was all it took to bring the bird back to life. It went berserk and flapped it’s wings and shrieked. Worried it might hurt itself more in the cage, I yanked it out and let it go and it flew up onto another neighbor’s roof. Apparently the wings were working.

I took the crate home, and grabbed the dog to finish the walk we had started earlier. When I came back around the block, the hawk was back on the ground hopping around again. So I took the dog home, got the yard gloves and brought the hawk to our backyard where I thought it would be safer.

The poor bastard I should have left well enough alone.

Then I started Googling trying to figure out who to call to come get the bird, and possibly hand me some kind of honorific for being such a great steward of wildlife. Instead, I learned that I had broken several laws and could be sentenced to 2 years in prison and subject to a minimum of $10,000 in fines for violating the migratory bird act.

I eventually got a hold of someone at a bird sanctuary about 2 hours from Chicago. I lied and told him the bird just happened to be in the backyard and appeared injured. He told me I could bring it out to them and they could nurse it back to health. Since it was just a Cooper’s hawk, and not rare at all, they probably wouldn’t bother.

It was a little bit of a downer to find out I wasn’t saving an endangered species. At least I could get on with my day of not doing anything useful for the environment.

I went to check on the hawk, and he had keeled over and died. I felt terrible, and yes, I probably accelerated his inevitable death by a day or two.

So I put the gloves back on, and wrapped my hands around his rigid body. Figuring such a majestic bird deserved something better than a garbage can funeral, I tossed him in the creek behind our house for the closest thing to a burial at sea.

So, if those 4 hawks in my neighborhood are reading this, just know that if something happens to you here, you’re on your own.

Dog Gone

I received a set of these six balls as a gift for my dog from my son. They have teeth painted on them and they squeak. My dog has gone bat shit crazy over them, and not in a good way. She whines when she’s around them and even more when she’s not.

She’s never acted like this with any toys I’ve bought before. She’s had plenty of stuff that squeaks, so it’s got to be the teeth.

I think it’s some kind of maternal instinct kicking in, because she could have easily destroyed all of them in minutes after I released them into the yard. Instead she tries to get a couple in her mouth at one time, and bats them around with her feet.

It was kind of cute in the beginning. But after two days of nonstop whining I had to throw them in a bag and hide the bag. I’ll save them for when my son is home and is trying to get some sleep.

https://vimeo.com/343489329