California 2022

It had been about a year since Norma and I last saw my parents. They are now in their twilight years. From now on, my annual visits are going to become at least semi-annual...perhaps even quarterly.

 Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Tails CaliforniaOpen accordion icon
The previous day, Norma took Daphne to stay with her sister, Mia. Her owners and us have a good relationship when it comes to dogsitting. We love having Mia stay with us and we hope they enjoy having Daphne with them.

Norma and I were up early finishing packing. We left the house two hours prior to our flight departure and parked in the long term parking lot at Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport. Getting our bags checked in at Southwest Airlines was very efficient but getting through security was very slow. We made our flight with not a lot of time to spare. Next time we should leave at least two hours and fifteen minutes prior to departure.

We flew into San Diego and then transferred to Sacramento. The first leg of the flight was extremely long. Fortunately, I updated my iPod so I had plenty of good music. I thought about our recent trip to North Carolina on September 3-6, 2022. Back then, the songs Heads Carolina, Tails California and She Had Me At Heads Carolina were in my mind. I was thinking of them again but this time, we flipped tails.

In San Diego, I saw Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), where I went to boot camp.
MCRD sign, seen from the airport

The confidence course climbing tower looked much newer than the one I remember. Unfortunately, I saw no recruits training.
Marine confidence course climbing tower

Norma and I rented a new Nissan Versa. It is a very nice car with all the high tech features that our cars don't have like a backup camera and bluetooth. It had lots of power and plenty of newfangled safety features.

It rained a lot. That's not so unusual for this time of year in the Sacramento area. Unlike Maryland, Sacramento has no warm rains so we were welcomed to wet, cold, and miserable weather. But it was better than being stuck on a plane.

It was good seeing my folks. My mom and I went for a neighborhood walk after the rain let up.

That night, we played Bandu, a game similar to Jenga. Didn't really follow the rules.
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 Wednesday, November 2, 2022

DowntownOpen accordion icon
It wasn't raining but it was cold...colder than Maryland. Seeing the Maryland forecast, I would have preferred to have been back home on the water.

My mom and Norma went to a Japanese bakery called Mahoroba and bought some food. Sacramento has a very ethnically diverse population and that means there is a huge variety of choices when it comes to food that one can purchase.

Later that morning, Norma and I went to downtown Sacramento to check out the farmers market at the State Capitol Mall. Unfortunately, after driving and walking around for awhile, we realized that the season was over. Despite all the construction, it made for a nice walk.
State Capitol

A lot of fruit trees grow on the Capitol Mall. Here is one I could not identify.
Unknown fruit tree on Capitol Mall

I always thought the downtown Sacramento area was kind of ugly. Now it has murals so it isn't as bad but overall, I find it unattractive. Lots of crazy people too. I think Sacramento has more than its fair share of that.

We took the scenic urban drive home through downtown and midtown. I saw my old middle school. There don't seem to be many businesses left that I remember.
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Kaki, part oneOpen accordion icon
My parents have a hummingbird feeder which attracts a lot of them. They have a distinctive buzzing sound and the ones there seem to not mind being around people.
Hummingbird at feeder

I spent some time updating my parents' computer and getting their browser configured the way they like.

Norma, my mom, and I picked hachiya persimmons (kaki) in their back yard and then I pruned the tree. I'm guessing we got ten gallons of persimmons.
Norma with kaki
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Kenpo KarateOpen accordion icon
I stopped in to visit my first martial art instructor, Arnie. I started studying Kenpo Karate with him at the age of nine. He taught me a lot but it was more than just Karate. He was also a role model and a mentor. I still look up to him. At 80 years old, he doesn't participate much in class (he was teaching that night) but when he does get up to demonstrate something, he still moves like a Karate master. I am very impressed with his verbal communication skills and sharp mind. I think teaching Kenpo gives him purpose.

From left to right below are Arnie, Bob, me, Dale, and David.
Kenpo class

I know Sacramento has a lot of homeless people but in the past, they were mainly in the downtown area. Now many have tents set up on the side of high-visibility, busy roads near the suburbs, like around where Arnie lives. I think the more Sacramento tries to do to help them, the more the city attracts. It is a complex problem and I don't think anyone has a good solution.
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 Thursday, November 3, 2022

Kaki, part twoOpen accordion icon
In the morning, I spent some time updating my Marine Corps League's detachment web page. November is a very busy time with the Marine Corps birthday and Veterans Day.

My mom and I went for a walk in the neighborhood. It was cold and sunny. Since there is often so little humidity in Sacramento, the nights don't hold heat from the previous day, but it often warms up later in the day.

Norma and my mom peeled the persimmons we picked yesterday. I sharpened a few knives and lots of garden tools. Also mounted a fire extinguisher.
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Hachiya persimmons in a bucket
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Norma peeling the skin off kaki
Norma peeling.
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Sliced persimmons on dehydrator rack
Ready to dehydrate.
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Dehydrated persimmon ready to eat

I found my old boot camp issued scrub brush from 1987. I used it for washing clothes back in the day.
Boot camp scrub brush, circa 1987

Chatted with the neighbor, Wayne, across the street.

Did lots of online shopping for my folks.

Norma and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.

That evening, we watched the movie "Silverado." I determined there are sound issues when the DVD player is used. Will look into that later.

Here's the four of us.
My parents, Norma, and me in the kitchen
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 Friday, November 4, 2022

Drive to JennerOpen accordion icon
My mom and I took care of some elder care stuff.

I saw a hawk across the street from my parents' house.
Hawk perched on pole

In the early afternoon, before the rush hour traffic, Norma and I drove out to a big vacation house in Jenner, near the mouth of the Russian River. This place is owned by a friend who let us stay there for free.

Norma and I had a little time to enjoy the beauty of the cliffs overlooking the beach nearby before it got dark. The weather was not great but the sun did come out a little. Here are some views from various pulloffs on the west side of route 1, near Bodega Bay.
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Norma with the Pacific Ocean behind
Norma and the Pacific.
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I took this snapshot during a brief moment of sunlight
Moment of sun.
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Seagull on table with ocean view behind
Western gull.

That night, we ate dinner at a fancy restaurant called River's End. I think it was the only dinner restaurant in Jenner.
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 Saturday, November 5, 2022

Rainy JennerOpen accordion icon
It was a rainy, miserable day.

Norma and I walked down to the Jenner Visitors Center where we learned a little about the town.
Jenner reflects all of western Sonoma County history. For more than three thousand years, the Native American Pomo dwelled here in relative harmony. The Russian settlers at Willow Creek brought the first changes to the area. The Russian Era was followed by the great Rule Ranch, then a lumbermill...and today, summer visitors.
- from information sign at Visitors Center

The Visitors Center is also a good place to rent and launch kayaks.

The last time we were here was October 15, 2013. If I had to move back to California, I probably wouldn't mind living in a place along the coast. Kayaking in the Pacific is very unforgiving so I would really need to work on my skills. But tidepooling is something anyone can do. I think it would satisfy the naturalist in me.

We had breakfast at Café Aquatica. It would have been a great place to sit outside and enjoy the view of the Russian River had it not been raining.

The most expensive gasoline I saw was in Jenner...$6 per gallon for regular unleaded. In contrast, it is $4 back in Maryland.

Walking back to the house, we saw some really large angel's trumpet flowers in someone's yard.
Angel's trumpet flowers

There wasn't much to do in the area that didn't involve being in the rain. We couldn't figure out how to get the DVD player working at the house so I watched the movie "Just Go with It" which I could stream.
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TidepoolingOpen accordion icon
By the late afternoon, the rain stopped so we did some tidepooling at Shell Beach. The sun came out briefly but it was mostly overcast.
Norma photographing wildlife in a tidepool

Norma and I saw a lot of starfish such as those at the bottom of this page. These are also called "sea stars."
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Purple and orange sea stars between rocks
Between rocks.
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Norma with orange starfish
Norma and starfish.
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We also saw some giant green anemones like the one at the top of this page. I suspect we saw other types too but since I can't really tell the difference, I'm just generically calling them sea anemones.
Sea anemone

There were lots of barnacles.
Barnacles on rock

I'm not a fan of eating shellfish but my parents would sometimes go collect clams and mussels. We saw a lot of the latter.
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Close-up of mussels
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Hundreds of mussels on rock
Lots of mussels.

I found a few limpets. These always remind me of the Don Knotts movie, "The Incredible Mr. Limpet."
Limpet on rock

We saw lots of black turban snails, some were taken over by hermit crabs.
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Black turban snail with hermit crab living inside
Hermit crab.
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Black turban snail shell on my hand
Black turban.
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Crab claw visible in snail shell

Unlike Maryland, which has very little, we came across a great deal of seaweed.
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Norma holding seaweed
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Seaweed rooted to rocks
Roots on rocks.
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Two pieces of long seaweed
Long seaweed.
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This seaweed felt rough like velcro
Rough seaweed.

Maryland is known for the blue crab but here in California, we saw much different crustaceans.
One of my favorite creatures along the California coast is the mossy chiton which we have seen before. They remind me of trilobites.
Mossy chiton on rock

We saw some harbor seals. They kept their distance.
Harbor seals

I found more interesting things than Norma that day.
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Kortum TrailOpen accordion icon
With a little bit of time before it started getting dark, we went for a short hike on the Kortum Trail.

It was foggy and visibility was terrible.
Foggy boardwalk

The moisture in the air kept the water from evaporating on the plants. Some accumulated and hung at the ends of small flowers, looking like Christmas ornaments.
Plant with big dewdrops

Most of what we saw was just fields of dry grass. I suspect it is lovely in the early spring but that day, there wasn't much to see. But we did come across some interesting foliage.
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Purple flower
Purple flower.
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We turned around at Sunset Boulders.

A raptor flew past us. I got this snapshot from afar and later determined it is a northern harrier.
Northern harrier perched

We saw lots of holes in the ground, each about two to three inches in diameter. I never found out what made them.
Holes in the ground along our hiking trail

A common garden snail may not seem photo-worthy in California but I don't see these where we live in Maryland. Why? Because Maryland is very humid. One evolutionary purpose of snail shells is to hold in moisture so they don't dry out.
Land snail
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DinnerOpen accordion icon
We ate dinner again at River's End. One thing about these fancy restaurants is they really make an effort to make the place look nice, both from the inside and out. While waiting for a table, I noticed how they grew a lovely variety of succulent plants. I suppose the moist cold air from the Pacific Ocean helps keep them looking fresh.
Plants hanging on wall outside restaurant

Back at the house, we found a salamander on the porch.
Salamander on porch
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 Sunday, November 6, 2022

BurlingameOpen accordion icon
We cleaned up the house then went to the Burlingame Farmers Market.
Burlingame Farmers Market

Here, we met cousins Steve and Cindy and Steve's girlfriend, Kelly. Then we had brunch at Copenhagen Bakery.
Steve, Cindy, Kelly, and Norma eating brunch

There was an accordion player street musician doing a great job pulling a Milli Vanilli...he was going through the motions of playing without actually producing any of his own music. I suspected this but then Kelly confirmed it.

One thing I hate about California is all the places where dogs are not allowed. A sign at the farmers market clearly stated that animals were not allowed. It was nice to see so many people ignoring it.
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Moss BeachOpen accordion icon
We drove to James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. This is rated as an excellent area for tidepooling. Low tide was at 1525. It was around the same time as yesterday but because daylight savings time ended, we got an extra hour.

We met at the Fitzgerald Marine Ranger Station & Parking. This place is manned by park rangers who can answer all your questions about the area.

I led us on a circuit hike on wooded and grassy trails and various neighborhoods from the parking lot to Pillar Point Bluff.

Our first wildlife encounter was a banana slug.
Banana slug

Many of the yards in the residential areas were well landscaped. At one house, we saw some Australian sugarbush flowers.
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Sugarbush flower.
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Here we are at our turnaround point.
All of us on the trail

We could see the "Golf Ball" in the distance.
From here you can see the telemetry antenna covered by a hard, white plastic shell at the Pillar Point Air Force Station. This station tracks the flight accuracy of missiles, especially those launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base near Santa Maria in Southern California. If someting goes wrong with the missile launch, Command Control at Pillar Point sends the signal to blow up the missile. The station also sends up engines for satellites and moves satellite positions.
- from sign at James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
Steve with the golf ball behind

From high up, we could see harbor seals on the rocks below.
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Harbor seals
Harbor seals.
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More harbor seals
More seals.

There were also numerous brown pelicans. Didn't see any white ones.
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Brown pelicans
Brown pelicans.
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More brown pelicans
More pelicans.

The five us us headed downhill to get closer to the water.
Walking downhill

I found some iceplant flowers.
Yellow iceplant flower

The water was rough. I kept wondering what it would be like to sea kayak in this area. I saw no kayakers but I did see surfers between yesterday and today. This area is home to the Mavericks Surf Contest.
The best waves at Mavericks are created by storms off the coast of Japan, which produce strong winds that interact with the ocean's surface. Wind energy is transformed into wave energy, called a swell.
When swells complete the journey across the Pacific and reach Mavericks, they encounter an abrupt change in water depth along with a uniquely shaped sea floor. As a result, the wave heights increase dramatically and form perfectly shaped giant waves.

- from National Marine Sanctuary sign
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TidepoolingOpen accordion icon
After our walk, we started tidepooling around 1430. This was the main event. We walked down Seal Cove Trail and started exploring. Norma and I quickly came across our most unusual find for the week. I determined it is a gumboot chiton.
The gumboot is one of about 650 species of chitons that have remained virtually unchanged for over 500 million years.
The gumboot uses its tonguelike radula to scrape algae from rocks. The radula has many tiny teeth capped with magnetite, an iron mineral harder than stainless steel. The teeth contain so much magnetite, in fact, that a magnet can pick them up!

- from Monterey Bay Aquarium - Gumboot chiton
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Bottom of gumboot chiton
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Top of gumboot chiton

I saw a warning marker built in the 1940s, before World War II. A red flag on top warned planes and ships about target practice. Today, birds use it to roost and dry their wings.
Warning market out in the water

We did most of our tidepooling around 37.519963, -122.514255. Unlike yesterday, which was a little treacherous due to the uneven surfaces, slippery terrain, and crashing waves, this area was flatter and easier to navigate. It was suitable for small children.

Sea anemones were prolific.
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Green sea anemone
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Very small orange sea anemone
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Red sea anemone
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Green with red vegetation surrounding
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Greenish-brown sea anemone
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Yellowish-green sea anemone

Unlike Shell Beach, where we looked yesterday, I only found one starfish, a very small six-armed star.
Six-armed star

Norma found a LOT more interesting stuff than me througout the day. She spotted a fairly large crab that I couldn't get a good picture of. I saw a dead norther kelp crab next to a barnacle.
Underside of northern kelp crab

We came across some tidepool sculpins which were well camouflaged.
Tidepool sculpin fish

I only saw a couple of jellyfish.
Jellyfish on land

Someone, I think Norma, found an abalone.
Abalone attached to rock

Norma did a great job finding purple sea urchins.
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Purple sea urchin
Purple urchin.
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Dead sea urchin, possibly eaten by sea anemone
Dead in anenome.
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Purple sea urchin with snail
Urchin and snail.

I was fairly confident in identifying most of what we saw but in the last urchin photo, there is a snail on top of it. It is a black turban snail turned upside down. But I think there might be something on the snail, perhaps an orange sea slug. I haven't been able to find any pictures of a black turban snail upside down in the water so I don't know if the orange thing is from the snail or another animal.
Black turban snail upside down, possibly with sea slug on top

Between yesterday and today, which place did I prefer for tidepooling? Hard to say. We saw a lot of interesting critters at both places.

That night, we had dinner at Moss Beach Distillery before heading back to Sacramento.
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 Monday, November 7, 2022

Helping outOpen accordion icon
My mom and I took care of some elder care stuff.

Back at their house, I fixed up their porch handrail. Like many, it is black, which doesn't work so well in the hot Sacramento summer sun. They had some pipe insulation on it but I thought it looked unattractive so I purchased a fabric pool ladder cover and put that on. It was too big so I padded it with pipe insulation that fit underneathe.

I got their television working properly. It wasn't hooked up correctly so the sound from the DVD player was poor. The picture was too dark and I determined that it was set for low energy mode. I put it in standard mode.

 Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Heading homeOpen accordion icon
I get bored on long plane flights so my strategy is to stay up late the previous day/night so I sleep on the place. That also seems to help me get adjusted to the time change.

I spent a lot of time sorting through photos, backing up stuff on the computer, and getting things packed up. We took home a lot of dehydrated persimmons.

It was another rainy day.

After bidding farewell to my folks, I returned the rental car and we boarded our flight. The trip was uneventful.

We arrived back at home very late that night. The next morning, Norma picked up Daphne and I saw her on Wednesday night. It was good to be home. Daphne, Chester, and the chickens were well. The bees drank all their sugar water so I assume they were doing o.k. too.

Cluster of starfish, purple and orange
Starfish at Shell Beach, Bodega Bay