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.

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.

Carpinteria

We took a trip down to Carpinteria for the Memorial Day weekend. It’s a small town between Ventura and Santa Barbara. The odd thing is I will always remember the name of this town for Kai’s Power Tools, a set of Photoshop plug-ins that were popular in the early 90s. The company that made KPT, was based in Carpinteria.

Kai Power Tools let you do some psychedelic effects like Mandelbrots and Fractals with a funky realtime user interface that encouraged experimentation. The problem with these plug-ins was you had to be the first person to use them. Otherwise, they were way to recognizable. Also, they made everything you did look an album cover for Yes.

Back in the late 90s, I was at MacWorld industry party in San Francisco. I think it was hosted by Corel or Adobe. I was with my buddy Raji Krishneswami (I just love his name). We had just arrived and on our way in, we passed Kai Krause, the “Kai” inventor of the power tools of his namesake, who was with comedian Charles Fleischer. I recognized both of them and said, “Hey Kai”, and turned to Fleischer and said, “Welcome Back Kotter, right?”

Neither of them seemed to appreciate the reference, but at least I remembered who they were. Most people there didn’t seem to notice either one of them.

Italy Trip

So the big news for the end of 2018 is we went to Italy. I didn’t post anything while we were on the trip because I was too busy enjoying myself, and I didn’t want it to be known we were out of town for so long.

The trip was amazing. My wife is a natural born travel planner. She put the whole thing together and got the idea to go for Christmas and New Years after seeing pictures from a friend of her’s who did the same thing last year.

We took the kids and they are great travel companions. We visited Venice, Florence, and Rome over 10 days. You can never spend enough time in Italy i have discovered. However, we did spend enough time there to get a great feel for it.

I will be posting more details from the trip in individual pages on the site. The first installment is ready and online now. Go check it out.

Yosemite, again

We took yet another trip up to Yosemite this right before Thanksgiving. It was our second time this year. We went up earlier to catch the fire falls but missed it. 

It was a very short day trip with my father-in-law. We had to be back for dinner in town, so there wasn’t any time for hiking or site seeing. Instead, I just got a couple pictures using my phone and Osmo Mobile.

  • Wide-angle Half Dome
  • Super Wide Half Dome
  • Outside the Majestic (Formerly the Ahwanee)
  • Large rock
  • Great room of the Ahwanee
  • Great room of the Ahwanee

Sea Otter 2017 Summary

This post is long overdue. We made our annual trek to the Sea Otter Classic at the Laguna Seca racetrack in Monterey, CA. It was our 4th year in a row, 3rd camping.

Ready to roll.

My son’s buddy flew in and we picked him up at the airport on the way down. After we got him, we stopped for lunch and parked, a dude was yelling something about bikes. We gave him the Shaka , like that’s ride dude, we’re going somewhere cool. Then we saw him pointing, to the ground and figured out he was saying, “your bike rack broke off.’

We looked the back of the Westy and sure enough, the bike and the bike rack were gone. The fell off when we went over a speed bump in the parking lot. The guy had picked up the whole rack with three bikes and dragged into the grass. Miraculously, the bikes and the rack were fine. It was a new Thule swing-out. I had not locked the vibration knob and it loosed up over the 30 mile drive. Luckily it fell off in a parking lot and not on 101.

We camped in the usual area, I think we might have even gotten the same two spots as last year. Dustin and the folks from Humboldt State were on the corner as always. The guy to our north had driven all the way from Minnesota in a sweet 4×4 custom van complete with air compressor on the front.

Home

Settled

Contrails in the morning.

Twinning is winning!

The two years prior, my buddies from Chicago had come, but didn’t make it this year. So it was just me, Jordan, my son and his buddy. I missed having the guys, but it forced me to meet some new people including some great guys from Livermore (Chris and Tyler), and a Scottish guy (Chris) from Monterey with a Westy just like mine.

Thursday we drove down and mostly tooled around the expo. It was a pretty low key night. Fox had a dialed out RV up the hill and were showing movies outside.

The next day I met the guys from Livermore. One of the used to have a bike shop, but now reps KTM bikes. He loaned me one and I went to the expo with them. We got back to the campsite in the afternoon and Jordan arrived.

Bike-powered smoothies.

Mork the dork.

My temporary Tasco Tat.

The official Sea Otter chillin’

Saturday morning, we were going to go for a long ride. But Chris stopped by after his race and had an iced coffee with us, which led to beers, which led to the expo, and led to no ride.

Saturday night is the big night around campground E. The Humboldt State guys have their jumping contest and nobody has a race int he morning. We had a taco bar at our place and invited a bunch of neighbors to chow down. After dark, it was time for Bugsy to take his longboard down the 6-story Corkscrew curve around 40mph. But not until he’s had a few puffs and gulps of courage.

Me and Bugsy.

Jumping competition.

Jordan waiting for the Jiffy Pop to burn

The Corkscrew

Bamboo Bike with flask. Perfect for the environment.

Willie?

Dance party at the Humboldt State campsite.

Nailed It!

It was a very good year, and looking forward to next. I’m hoping that we can coordinate to get 3-4 sites with the folks I met and make it an even bigger shindig.

Kissing cousins.

Breakfast of champions.

Driving home.

Two new stickers for the window.

Sea Otter 2016

Another Sea Otter Classic has come and gone. This year didn’t disappoint. My buddies came out from Chicago and rented a rather large RV. They learned the hard way that Monterey, CA gets cold at night.

This year we bailed on the organized ride and did our own. We rode into the towns of Monterey and Pacific Grove and on to Carmel by way of 17 Mile Drive.

We had perfect weather and met a cast of characters out of central casting. The best being a bleach blond 48 year old beach bum who told us his life story no less than 3 times because we gave him a beer. It was like someone gave a seagull one potato chip and it wouldn’t leave. We learned he has 6 kids. He’s lived on 8 continents and visite 88 countries. Not to go to Santa Cruz because it’s a bad scene and they stole his bike.

Sunday, I entered my first mountain bike race. First I got a flat 3 miles in. Second I flipped over my handlebars on a washboard descent. I tacoed the front wheel on my new bike and separated my shoulder. I managed to straighten it out enough to finish the race. I managed to place 34 out of 38 in my age group. Not bad.

I have some great pictures to share when I’m not writing on my phone.

One last hurrah

The kids start school soon, so we wanted to get in one last day of hanging out. We played hooky for a half day (leaving the phones on of course) and took a drive around San Francisco to see some of the sites we’ve overlooked in the past.

The first stop was the Cliff House and Sutro Baths ruins. One of the best things about having a smartphone is being able to look stuff up on Wikipedia while you are at the spot. I was reading about the bath houses and trying to figure out where things where at. There was once an amusement park near the site as well.

From there we headed over to Golden Gate Park to check out the Japanese Tea Garden and Flower Conservatory. It felt like Summer was already over because it was so overcast and cool.

We topped the day off in Pacific Heights and had dinner with our friends David and Stephanie. They had not seen my son since he was a baby. The last time they saw him he was about 18 months old. A bunch of us had gone out for Ethiopian food. I was the only one with a kid so none of us had really thought through the timing. We lasted about an hour before total meltdown. On the way home, we grabbed some fries at Jack in the Box and all was good again.

Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park

Sutro Baths
Sutro Baths

Tahoe and biking

I went up to Tahoe this past Sunday with my son and his friend. It’s pretty cool to be able to load up the car with bikes and be only 3 hours away from some of the most beautiful parts of the country.

There’s a place up there called Woodward my son wanted to go to. They have day and summer camps there where they’ll teach you all the extreme sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, dirt bikes, and par core (sp?).

While the guys were busy doing flips and shit into foam pits, I went for a ride along the Donner Pass. I started down at the lake and road up to the Summit.

Donner Lake from the Summit
Donner Lake from the summit

Donner Summit
Donner Summit 7135 Feet

Woodward Skateboard Bowl
Woodward Skate Bowl

Woodward Foam Pits
Woodward Foam Pits

Donner Lake
Donner Lake through the trees

IMG_0232 (1)
Bridge near Donner Summit

Yosemite Day Trip

It’s easy to forget how close we are to some of the best National Parks in the country, one of them being Yosemite. It’s only about 130 miles away, but takes a little over 3 hours to get there. For Mother’s Day we took a day trip over to one of my favorite places on earth. There’s not much else to report, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Bear Trap strategically placed by the backpacker's campsite.
Bear Trap strategically placed by the backpacker’s campsite.

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