Carrizo Plain National Monument

In 2012 I was looking for a nice ride near Bakersfield while on my way home from buying my bucket-list motorcycle in Redlands. I decided to head west on Hwy 58, through the fossil fuel maze around McKittrick, to enjoy a ride into the hills and see some wildflowers at Carrizo Plain. It was a great springtime ride, and I loved the countryside there in central California. Rolling hills all the way over to Carrizo, which is sort of a little Death Valley. It was just a quick stop as I looked out over Soda Lake, but I knew I had to return someday.

From the BLM website…Three hundred years ago, California’s Central Valley was vast grassland where antelope and elk grazed and wildflowers swept the spring landscape. Today, amid urban and agriculture development, a remnant remains in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. In 2001, Bill Clinton designated Carrizo Plain a National Monument and here’s a link to the proclamation, which is good reading: https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/programs-nlcs-california-carrizo-plain-proclamation.pdf

Soda Lake, Carrizo Plain National Monument
Soda Lake

We finally returned in March this year, traveling in our Solis and spending a couple of nights at Selby Campground. We hiked from the camp, relaxed, played guitar, enjoyed the sun, and talked to a few very interesting people. Our two favorites were octogenarians with 20+ years of RVing experience and still enjoying it immensely, whether traveling alone or with company. One was solo-traveling for six weeks over to the Grand Canyon! I admired their independence and resourcefulness.

Selby camp is a special place to spend time and we especially enjoyed those dramatic moments each day as the sun passed over the horizon. As for the other campground, KCL, we’ll have to stay there next time. We heard it is quite different and frequented by a pair of great horned owls.

Selby Campground

Sunrise colors of Carrizo. March 2021
Carrizo Plain
Our Solis
Selby Rocks
Sunrise over Selby Camp

A Rainy Wintery Day

Lots of rain in San Francisco. And snow in the Sierras. Happy New Year. We found a nice spot to sit through a leisurely lunch, even though it took some wet walking. Pelted with rain. But BART works good. Wonderful soul food at Brenda’s, and a great place to enjoy a  stormy day.

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Brenda’s French Soul Food. Nice menu, great food.

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Taking care of business at Brenda’s.

Oakland West

Oakland West. Open air, after the trip under the Bay.

13th Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival – 2013

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The crowd at the Star Stage enjoys Natalie Maines on Saturday!

It is hard to believe this free event even exists! Yet each year since 2001, thanks to Warren Hellman, Golden Gate Park swallows up a mass of humanity and somehow everyone gets along together while they enjoy great music, sunshine and the type of camaraderie that only a magical event like this can inspire!

This year about 800,000 people attended over the three days. 84 acts performed on the 6 stages, and the police reported just two arrests! I always remember my out of town guests in 2011 remarking to their friends back home that after Emmylou Harris closed the festival, as she has done every year, people started picking up after themselves before leaving. Well of course! Warren Hellman expected his guests to take care of the park, and that is what people do every year.

Headliners included Bonnie Raitt, Bozz Skaggs, The Flatlanders, Natalie Maines, Dr Ralph Stanley, Allison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Steve Martin Chris Isaak, The Forest Rangers with Katey Sagal , and Elvin Bishop.

Each year I think about all the hassles of getting into San Francisco, finding parking, and dealing with the crowds…and sometimes I almost lose my resolve to attend. But the moment I arrive, and settle back to enjoy the event…and all the people, I know I have arrived and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Read more here:  http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Festival-draws-record-crowd-organizers-say-4876581.php

See more photos here: http://www.thomaspappas.com/Home/Hardly_Strictly_-_2013.html

Visit the festival site at: http://www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com

The Bay Bridge

San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge san francisco california

A long time coming! This photo is from 13 March 2005, and you can see the beginnings of the new span! Finally tomorrow it will open, and in a few years the old bridge will be gone!

Take the Bay Bridge heading west, and enjoy some of the most beautiful views you can imagine. Enjoy the view of the Transamerica building and the financial district; the steep hills of San Francisco; look out to Alcatraz and Angel Island…and Marin beyond! One day it might be as clear as a bell, with the big blue western sky above. Another day, and nothing but fog. and still another day, as the fog slides through the Gate it spares us a glimpse of something beautiful!

Heading east, enjoy the views of the Hills before descending into Oakland and past the Trojan Horses loading containers on ships. Don’t forget to point out the Campanile at UC Berkeley in case there are newcomers in the car. Survive the maze of possibilities to head north, east or south at the end of the bridge – no distracted driving allowed here – and then you are on your way!

Here’s to the new span!

The Day the Sea Lions were Released

December 13 2011

I happened to be in the Marin Headlands with my friend Christina and we decided to stop in at the Marine Mammal Center. How lucky we were to learn they would be releasing two sea lions back to the wild that day! The sea lions had been suffering from a bacterial infection but were now recovered!

So, not only a beautiful sunny December day in Sausalito enjoying the coast, but the opportunity to see these sea lions return to their natural habitat!

I hope you enjoy my photos.

Marine Mammal Center Fauna Marin California
13 December 2011 – Two sea lions celebrate their return to their native habitat after recovering from illness at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito California!
Marine Mammal Center Fauna Marin California Seasons Greetings
Marine Mammal Center volunteers releasing sea lions back to the sea!
Marine Mammal Center Fauna Marin California
Plywood shields are used to guide the sea lions and also for protection, if needed!
Marine Mammal Center Fauna Marin California
Back to the sea…at last!

Beware the Roller Derby Lady of Union Square!

Today was the second time I saw the Roller Derby lady of Union Square in downtown San Francisco. She skates backwards, at quite a good speed, around Union Square threading her way past pedestrians, and seems to do 10-20 laps from what I have seen! Counter-clockwise…not that it matters! I don’t know if she has hit anyone yet but it seems it is just a matter of time before she does!

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