Have I really been quiet since September? I need to get back to writing. The practice is important. 

Too much work travel this year, I guess. Last week i was in LA. I got to spend a few days 30 miles south of the fire in Ventura and 15 miles west of a fire on the 405. The Ventura (Thomas) fire kept me from coming home up the 101.  I drove up i5, which added a couple of hours, because it’s longer and because there was a fire along the 5, too. 

I’ve really adopted the “the” in front of road names. I find this odd because I could never bring myself to say Nevada City the way the locals did. It just felt pretentious of me, like coming back from France and spouting off about Paree. 

Before I left today, I stopped in Morro Bay for a flu shot. Here’s a picture of Morro Bay’s crab pot Christmas tree. 

I went to the drug store and was shot by a certified immunizer! She commented on the weather (which was gorgeous). I noted that I hoped the wind died down. This led to the fires, of course. I mentioned I had been down there. She said that they were set on purpose by people throwing flares at the grass. I shook my head and said “What’s wrong with people?”

She said, “Well the truth is, we let too many people into this country who don’t like us.”

I was stunned. I didn’t want to have a political conversation at a drugstore. But what are you supposed to do? Even after having lived in Nevada County, I forget that California isn’t all hippies. I feel bad that I didn’t fight the woman. At least it wasn’t a public conversation. Would you have said anything?

I just said, “Well plenty of people who are born here don’t like us.” I should have mentioned that I was in Vegas last month. I was there for a conference in Mandalay Bay. It was surreal how everything just seemed normal (except for all the Vegas Strong merchandise). 

What a world.  

Well, as we stumble blindly into this holiday season, I hope for peace on earth and goodwill to all, but I wouldn’t place a bet on it. 

Big Falls Hike

This weekend's hike was down on the other side of San Luis Obispo up in the Santa Lucia Wilderness.

Along the way, I had to drive across a creek several times. I even had to drive in it for a bit at one point:

I tried this hike earlier in the year, but the creek was too high for my car to get through. I have a four-wheel drive car, but it isn't high-clearance. I've not driven it into deep water.

The hike was a good one. It was less than two miles to Big Falls, but it was good climbing, so a good bit of exercise.

Here is the view from the top of Big Falls.

When I say from the top, I'm being literal. The waterfall was completely and utterly dry. Here's a view from the bottom.

It was a good hike, but I can't imagine how I'd get up there when there's water.

Still Foggy

Such a foggy year!

A Walk on the Pacific Coast Highway

Well, more like a walk on the Cabrillo Highway. California One runs along the coast and is famously known as the PCH, but many stretches have different names. Along the Central Coast, it's named after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo.

And up past the county line, the road has been closed these several months, first because of a bridge failure. Then, while a replacement has been under construction, an extraordinarily large landslide ensured that the highway would be closed for some time.

So I figured why not take a little walk on it? Wouldn't it be neat to walk down the middle line of a highway I've driven on so many times?

Here's a picture of the highway:

Why is it so far away, you ask? Well, the road is blocked just past the curve where Salmon Creek is. And yesterday, the roadblock had an attendant. I didn't want to ask if it was ok to walk on the road.

Yes, I was chicken.

Instead, I walked up the Buckeye Trail. The trailhead is at the parking lot where the old house sits, between the creek and the road block.

I'm glad I went this way. I had no idea the trail was here and it's a great trail! It starts off steep, but within a mile, I was walking along the tops of hills overlooking the highway and the Pacific.

Isn't the Pacific gorgeous? Ugh, the fog has been crazy this year. This is only my fourth summer, but it's certainly been more foggy and foggy later than I've ever experienced.

But at least it's not hot.

At times, the fog made it seem like I was walking along an island mountain, ready to fall off at any time.

And there were a few scary spots that I didn't take pictures for. I liked the feel of being in a fantasy world, where unknown creatures might appear at any moment. Certainly, it was deserted, since only one end of the trail is accessible these days.

I took a left when the trail intersected with another one. I look forward to taking the Buckeye further north to see what I can see.

The Soda Springs trail took me to actual trees! Deciduous and everything!

The trail winds down between two creeks (still flowing even in August) and different kinds of trees. I can't remember the last time I saw leaves on a path like this. The trail terminates at a parking spot along CA-1. It was empty, of course. It was 600 feet back up the hill, so I decided to walk back along the highway.

I walked about a mile back to my car. I'm glad I did it. It was a lot of fun to see the road without cars and look over the cliffs in places where I'd never have been able to pull over. And I got a closer look at things I'd seen before -- this has been here since way back before the slides, when there used to be a single lane control signal.

But it was also scary. I don't know if walking on the road there is legal. There was a helicopter buzzing the coast, and I could imagine I was being pursued by the fuzz. But more scary were the trucks. Most of the time you could hear them coming, because nothing else was going on on that road. And so while there were stretches of quiet and weirdness walking along the highway, other times there were airbrakes and the need to get out of the way. These tractor-trailers were carrying big boulders up to the landslide site for the new road construction. When I say large, I mean like only fitting three in the trailer.

There were also a few locals driving around, so my image of an isolated abandoned highway weren't quite realistic. Still, it was another good walk, and when I got back to the road block, the roadblock attendant was talking to a local in a pickup truck. I walked along the other side of the truck and wasn't stopped. I'm sure they noticed me; I just wasn't worth the bother.

Valencia Peak Trail Hike - Montaña de Oro

Trying to get a little more exercise in these days. Travel makes it hard to be daily.

Today I took a long walk on several connecting trails in Montaña de Oro. Badger to Beebe to Valencia Peak to Rattlesnake.

The fog is heavy this year.

Salmon Creek Hike

I went hiking up north of Ragged Point today. They've opened the road almost to Gorda. I have no idea when CA 1 is going to be open again, what with the broken bridge and the quarter-mile mudslide.

I wonder if it's allowed to walk on the closed highway. That would be a nice walk, and an unusual opportunity.

I hiked up the hill above the falls. I didn't make it very far, but there were some nice views of the fog:

Poppies #3

And so today I start my third painting within a 12 month period!

Poppies #2 - Final

Well, it looks like I haven't provided a painting update since April. The painting went through several iterations, but I'm now at that point where anything I do is either unnoticeable or makes the painting worse. Maybe this is the limit of how good I can get.

I like the layout of this one, but I'm really not happy with the way the texture of the canvas shows through. I don't know if I'm not putting enough paint on my brush or if my paint isn't mixed well enough. Maybe the paint isn't wet enough.

Here's what I'm talking about. Take a look at this texture:

If anyone knows what I'm doing wrong here, please drop a line in the comments. It's frustrating.

Anyway, here's the finished product. This is more or less what the end of my street looked like back in March.

Kitchen Evolution

Since I moved in, the thing I've really wanted to do is get rid of this:

It's metal so it is hard to work with. It's metal so it's rusting. And it's metal so I can't have a dishwasher. Without a dishwasher, what counter space was there was taken up by the drying rack. And on the other side, everything I chopped would roll into the sink, which was annoying if I had suds in the sink.

So, I contracted with a company back in January and they came in in early April to do this:

Then they did this:

And it was awesome, but then I had to wait for the counter people to get their act together (and for my travel schedule to calm down). Finally, last week, it turned into this:

And I could cook my first meal in months:

The silver rectangle under the counter is a dishwasher and I love it. It's a drawer that pulls out and it does about half a load. Half a load is perfect for a guy living on his own in a shack by the ocean.

And today I installed this for the blind cabinet next to the stove:

I haven't put anything on it because I'm still waiting for the backsplash to be installed, but the metal racks are for using the space that's hard to get to under the counter beside the stove.

Painting Update

Well, I'm also slow at getting the painting started this year. I only got around to a second painting session today. I spent some time penciling.

This year, I'm trying something different. Usually, I work from back to front, as if painting the foreground over the background were some sort of 3D exercise in my 2D painting. This year, I'm starting with the important details and will try to fill in as I go.

Here, I'm talking about the first three flowers' petals. I'm not sure if this will work for me, but that's what experimenting is all about.

Birthday Tree 2017

Wow, I'm behind on everything.

Generally, I buy a tree every year for my birthday. I'm rarely on my birthday when I do, but this year has been particularly slow. And then I've been slow to document it. I got the tree over a month ago. Now it's time to show you.

But first an update on previous trees planted here in Cayucos.

Last year's tree was a wee lime tree. It looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

The poor thing lost all of its leaves in the sun last year, so I moved it behind the fence for a little protection and a good number of leaves grew back.

2015's tree was an olive. It looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

Everyone talks about how the weather on the Central Coast is "Mediterranean." i think the fact that my most successful tree so far has been the olive kind of bears that our.

My first tree was back after I moved in in 2014.

It was a happy little tree:

And I killed it.

I was trying to move it from the whiskey barrel to a nicer spot with a little shade, but I think I hacked at its roots. Poor thing went quickly.

Since I've had the most success with the olive tree, this year I kept to the Mediterranean theme.

I planted another stick! This one is a fig tree. The nursery said the fig is the only tree it won't guarantee for a year, so wish me luck.

And So It Begins

This year's painting has been started. 


Halcon Days

It was another gorgeous day today, so I thought I'd go try the Rocky Canyon Trail in the sunshine instead of in the rain.

Unfortunately, part of the road to the quarry was missing. This is Halcon (sic) Road. The hike starts from the other side of the river and goes up hill. Driving there is still possible, but I think it would have taken another half hour to get there. So, I took a walk around on this side of the river.

This is the first year since I've moved to the Central Coast that I've seen the Salinas River actually have water in it.

There were a lot of signs around warning about Trespassing and Parking and other disreputable things a man can do in the wilderness. But I have to say, this sends a bit of a mixed message:

Still, I guess folks around here have an opinion about Good and Evil:

For The Birds

During my weekly stop at Schooner's Wharf...