Thursday, April 23, 2020

Ascent to Glory

California Light, San Francisco's Sunset District

The Ascent

Skyline from Grandview Park


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I've been bringing my phone camera along on all my walks since the stay-at-home went into effect, taking a picture a day from about the same spot looking out toward Mt. Tam from Grandview Park. Occasionally I'll see something else along the walk that I want to photograph.

Once before today I thought I might have a chance to see a glory but that one fizzled out as the fog rose too high. This morning, though, the light and fog came together just right. 

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lucky Dogs

Yosemite in April, and only a lucky few who get to enjoy it this year. Can you imagine being able to shelter in place in Yosemite Valley? I think I could handle that for quite some time.

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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Joshua Tree

I'm not sure I'm going to keep posting these virtual photography trips from bygone days. They're making me antsy to go outside and do the real thing. One thing's for sure, we will never take "freedom to roam" for granted again.

Although Joshua Tree and pretty much every other national park are closed for the duration, there is a bright side. For the wildlife, at least.

Plus we get to breathe significantly cleaner air. The last time I was in Joshua Tree the Keys View overlook was choked out with smog. Check out the Purple Air map now. Take a picture of it. Then check it out again after the world gets its carbon curve back into hockey stick mode. 

Boulder & Juniper

Gambel's Quail

Flowering Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Flower Close-Up

California Thrasher


Fishhook Cactus

Mojave Mound Cactus

The Easter Bunny

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The Outback

Putting a load of laundry in the dryer, another in the wash. Pouring some kibble for the cat who just woke from her nap and brushed with a meow against my leg. Down the stairs to our little garden looking so fine with a sky-fallen coat of jewels in the leaves, Easter colors in the bleeding hearts. Finding spiritual renewal in my own back yard.

Bleeding Heart (cropped)

Bleeding Heart Leaves

Miner's Lettuce

Unfurling Fern


Calla Lily Leaf

Calla Lily

White Garden Flower (whose name I no longer recall).

Pink Garden Flower (whose name I no longer recall).

Orange Garden Flower (whose name I no longer recall).

I Should Remember the Name of This Common Garden Herb 
But it's Slipping My Mind

Yard Buddha

Yard Buddha's Cat

May a sense of life renewed 
fill your souls every day, 
wherever you are.

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A Place of Shelter

Mountain Glory.

Since all the gates were locked and the pull-outs cordoned off, last week's attempt to hike up the mountain to check on my trail cams didn't work out. However, I noticed on the drive home that the pull-outs on Panoramic Highway near the junction of Muir Woods and Sequoia Valley roads were not cordoned off, so I went back up this week, this time with my e-bike in tow, in the hope the pull-outs would still be open.

They were, and it was awesome to ride up the mountain among the fog and redwoods, with only two vehicles passing me the whole way. Up near Rock Spring the sky lupine were doing their April thing, and I turned around after snapping this photo to see a coyote looking down at me from the embankment above the road.

I locked my bike at the bottom of the trail, where a pair of deer browsed along the edge of the meadow a good social distance away.

Although I was on a mission to replace the batteries in my cams, I took a few minutes just to savor a little woodland ecstasy, complete with fog beams, moss-covered trees, wet and spongy duff smelling fresh and mushroomy, and the gobbles of turkeys sounding from just down the hill.

A coyote showed up on this cam for the first time and was picked up by a second cam not too far away. I actually kick myself now because I moved that second cam to capture a different angle, which previous experience indicated might yield better results. In normal times, having seen these new images, I would have gone back up there the next day with my fourth cam, the one I use in my back yard, to get better coverage on that area.

At least one bobcat has been showing up more frequently as well. This cam also captured a very pregnant doe.

The gray fox (and the bobcat) are still scent-posting below this Douglas fir. The gray squirrel still shows up a lot here, and a jackrabbit has been passing through quite often. Not as many deer as earlier in the year, and no quail, scrub jays, or varied thrush in the last few weeks. 

There were quite a few other cyclists on the mountain, and still more coming up the hill as I descended. The glide back down was cold on my bare legs but still superb, and I wasn't passed by a single car (my ebike is Class II, with a top assist speed of 20 mph, but I was often coasting between 25 and 35 mph). 

When I got back to the road junction I could see a piece of paper flapping on my windshield. It looked too big to be a parking ticket, and indeed it turned out to be a warning note, which is why I didn't go back the next day to set another trail cam. 

Although I grudgingly understand the reasoning behind such draconian orders and am all about sheltering in place, I feel a heck of a lot safer in the woods than I do in the local grocery store or even when I'm out for a walk in my own neighborhood. 

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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Foggy Morning

Even though it was 12 years ago this month, I still remember driving through the pre-dawn darkness down a narrow backroad and squinting out my window through heavy fog in the hope of finding some wildflower meadows I'd heard of but whose precise locations I did not know.

I also remember the excitement I felt when the colorful landscape finally began to reveal itself. I pulled off the road and had the place to myself for a couple of hours before I finally continued to my next destination.

I could have wished for more interesting light on the landscape, but the fog's nicely diffused light was just right for more intimate portraits among the Owl's Clover and other wildflowers.

Lupine & Goldfields

Tidy Tips

Baby Blue Eyes

California Evening Primrose

A Flower Spider Abides

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Road & Trail

Joshua Tree in Bloom

I don't recall exactly where I was when I pulled over to photograph these two high desert scenes in April 2003. It might have been somewhere between Highway 395 and Lake Isabella.

Eleven years earlier I was on my first backpacking trip with a group called Desert Survivors when I stopped to photograph this desert tortoise whose mouth was stained green from its recent leafy breakfast.

We hadn't hiked far past the desert tortoise when we encountered this sidewinder rattlesnake sunning itself in a creosote bush.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Piedras Blancas

When I shot this sunset in 1995 the elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas was fairly new and only beginning to get noticed by people driving by. There was no boardwalk, and Friends of the Elephant Seal was still two years away from training its first docents. 

The first boardwalk was built eight years after I shot the sunset photo, with another boardwalk opening in 2010. These elephant seal shots were all taken in April 2008, two years before the north boardwalk was built.

Thanks to the boardwalks, Piedras Blancas is a great place to view elephant seals. I came here once in the winter during pupping season and was astounded by the amazing experience of raw nature as seals gave birth right before our eyes and gulls swooped down to feed on placentas.

In these April 2008 shots, the seals were much more subdued.

Subdued like this seal, whose expression reminds me of my own when on Friday I went up to Mt. Tam to swap new batteries into my wildlife cams, only to find I couldn't get access. The gates are locked at Bootjack and Pantoll, as well as above the Alice Eastwood Group Camp, and even the parking pull-outs along the road are closed.

I'd like to think we're going to pull through this very soon and go back to the days of innocence, lying on the beach in the warm afternoon sun.

But I'm staying prepared for a much longer haul, like an industrious California ground squirrel in spring.

In addition to the numerous ground squirrels, the parking area at Piedras Blancas is also a good place to look for brush rabbits after you've had your fill of elephant seals.

Sometimes there's little else to do than simply enjoy the comforts of home and wait things out. 

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Big Sur

Coastal Poppies

Redwoods and Pico Blanco

Big Sur Sunset

Big Sur Coast with Echium

Partington Creek

Lupine and Owl's Clover, Fort Hunter Liggett

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