Johnson Ranch Open Space

This was a good walk to whip up an appetite before heading down to Avila. (I saw a baby whale from the San Luis Harbor Pier, but I couldn't get a good picture.)

The path is a mostly through fields of gold. (The green season is pretty much over.) 

But there are a few nice shady spots. 

There was even water in a creek, though I didn't get a picture. And I never did see the pond that was supposed to be in the old quarry. I don't know if that's the drought or my lack of observation skills!


My grandfather used to say that Upstate New York was God's country. 

I don't know about that. I do know that since I've moved out here to San Luis Obispo County, I've found this county has a whole lot of beauty. There's ocean, farmland, mountains, deserts and even a salt lake. 

These are from Rocky's Trail at Santa Margarita Lake. 

Maybe God moved out to California, too. 

Dry Days

I know that they got some rain up north. We hear that Shasta is doing well. But, folks, California is still in a drought. 

This is a sign at Lake Santa Margarita that is impossible to disobey:

The guy at the camp store told me the lake is at 13%.  All I can say is that the boat ramps don't even make it to the water. 

I think that's a 15 foot drop. 

Between the Sisters

I went for a hike today along Morro Bay's Quarry  Trail. After a sharp left at the gate to what I assume used to be a quarry, a quick little climb took me to an overlook above Chorro Creek. 

In one direction, the inland hills are lovely. 

and in the other clouds hovered over the estuary:

A lovely little two mile hike. A shame I walked away with a tick. 

Antique, Junk or Junque

It was a smorgasbord of antiques this weekend with the Paso Robles Fairground and Cayucos' Ocean Abenue hosting gobs of vendors. 

Here's a sampling:

I'm not sure if this is a game or Art, but it'll cost you $60 (or a reasonable offer). 

Continuing the theme of dealing with the dead, this dresser is sure to freak your daughter out. The "goodbye" is particularly distressing to me, not sure why. 

This guy was making brooms and doing a brisk business. 

I like the look but I don't want furniture that gives me bad dreams about tetanus. 

Which also rules out random pieces of school bus. I think those days are not high on my list for needing enshrinement. 

But if I could have flown in this as a kid I would have. 


It's been so quiet around here. There's so little to report. I haven't even started a painting this year. I'm tired, mostly, I think. 

Today I spent an hour opening and sorting the Monopoly tokens I've picked up from Albertsons. 

No winners yet. 

Birthday Tree 2016

Well the time just keeps zooming down the highway. Two years in Cayucos already! I moved here near my birthday, so that means I'm on my third birthday tree. 

This year, I went for lime so I can make margaritas and tequila-lime chicken burritos with my own produce. Here's the little guy: 

This was the pot that last year's tree, an olive, was living in. Don't worry; I was worried it was having trouble with the wind, so I gave it a new home:

I was pretty happy to find that the olive tree produced fruit in its first year! I didn't do anything with it, but it was still exciting. The avocado is still alive, but the sun and drought have been hard on it. It still hasn't provided any fruit. So we'll just have to wait and see on the lines. 

We are in a quarantine area, so the line tree will never leave. 

First Ride 2016

My last bike ride was at the end of October. I could blame the struggle for today's 14 miles on the wind (which was bad), but honestly. Not riding for a quarter does set me back. 

Cayucos Pier Painting

I forgot to post my painting progress. So far, I've lived in Cayucos two years and I've created on painting each year.

This one started off as a sketch on orange:

This year was the year that the Cayucos Pier was reconstructed. I enjoyed finally getting to walk on it this fall. While the work was going on, somebody kept climbing out to put a pirate flag on the crane.

EOY: Reading

Just a quick wrap-up this year. My blogging is down. My reading is down. I was so crazy busy back in 2015. Here's to this year being about slowing down.

This year, when I did read, I tried to make a conscious effort to lean toward women writers. I only read 27 books this year (down from 56/61 last year). Because I was trying, we'll start with statistics:

Fiction::Non-Fiction - 26::1

Female::Male - 23::3 (1 unknown), count by book

Birth by Country (author count):

XX Canada
X Malaysia

XXX Unknown

Still very US heavy. As an English-speaker, it's hard to get away from. This year, I'm going to try to shift my countries a little, though I'm not sure it'll be as easy to do as shifting to women, just because it's not obvious from the author's name. (It's not always with women authors, either, but it's a little easier.)

Birth by Decade (author count):

  • 1950s XXX
  • 1960s XXX
  • 1970s XXXXXXXX
  • 1980s XXXX

This year has a much smaller range of ages. Twice as many from the 80s as last year but I didn't read anything terribly old or by anyone terribly old.

I don't have a whole lot fascinating to say about my experience switching to women authors. I definitely found authors I'd not heard of and some were great and some were not.

Circus, Circus

Every year seems to bring small collections in my reading. This year, there were a couple of circus-based books. Both The Night Circus and Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti were interesting, weird reads. Mechanique was more firmly in the realm of Weird Fiction, with its half-mechanical circus performers and dystopian setting. The Night Circus was more of a fantasy; it reminded me very much of The Prestige.


I always enjoy finding an author who has already started a series and has a few books under her belt. It means that if I really like her writing, I've got more to dig into right away. This year, Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache mysteries gave me an opportunity to spend time in a gentle little town in Canada with a quirky accepting community. Karen Miller's Mage books were also fun.

Other Favorites

There are three books that I loved, but I don't think I would have picked them up unless I was challenging myself to read more women. And so I'm excited to have the authors to come back to now.

Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor was really interesting because of the voice of the young emperor. He is unexpectedly tossed into power in a world he doesn't understand -- not a whole 'nother world, just a different kind of political world than he was trained to excel in. He's nervous and young, angry and not at all sure he belongs. Its use of rings reminded me of the 99% invisible episode on Challenge Coins.

Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet gave me that sort of Firefly fix. I love space opera that features entrepreneurs instead of military agents, even when there is military stuff going on.

Naomi Novik's Uprooted is an excellent fairy tale. It doesn't feature some damsel waiting to be saved.


I loved Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown. I think this one is a pretty obvious hit for me. It fits in well with past reads by Susanna Clarke and Neil Williamson.


I might have deeper thoughts later or I might not.

I'm in Keokuk, Iowa, today.

The hotel receptionist aslked me what brought me here and I answered, "Random chance."  And it really was. I couldn't head home for the weekend from St. Louis, so I just picked a random place to use my hotel points and drove up here to see what is here. 

I cut myself shaving yesterday. I have a big gash on my chin. it's probably not as big as I think it is, but it's still bleeding a day and a half after cutting it. So I didn't shave today. 

So here's the thing. This is my America. I can randomly drive to a town and spend a weekend there. I can look like a mess. I can go to a river side restaurant and nobody cares that I'm wandering around their town looking like a vagrant. 

I don't have to have a reason for anything I do. And even if I did, it's nobody's business. 

That's what I think of when I think of Freedom. This is my America. 

But nobody is afraid of me. I'm an old white guy. I don't want my country to become a place where you have to have a good reason to do something like drive over the state line to another town. Where we are so driven by fear that we lose our ability to wander, to explore, to innovate. 

I want everyone in Anerica to be allowed this freedom. And I sure don't want to give it up myself. 


Even after a week, I was still a bit blarsted from jet lag. Rotterdam is a lovely place.

Though Amsterdam is where most of the mushrooms and smoking seem to be, I couldn't resist this one.

My hotel in Rotterdam was just more nicely placed than the one in Amsterdam, being right on the water.

Lighthouse Century

So I signed up for this century ride (choosing the metric century as my goal), thinking that the cost and deadline would get me out biking to work up to a point where I could ride 65 miles in one day. And this definitely worked -- getting me out on the road three times a week, including progressively longer rides on the weekends, as described earlier.

I also knew that there was a risk I'd not be able to actually do the ride because I had a gig in Denver during the week, ending on Friday. My task was to finish the class in time to get from Denver to Phoenix in time to take the last flight from Phoenix to San Luis Obispo.

I didn't have much trouble getting out of class. It was a good group of hackers and they picked up things more quickly than I'm used to. So I got up to the airport to find that my flight was delayed. Since SLO is such a small airport, there really aren't many options for rerouting. But the flight was only delayed enough to make my connection time (assuming that nothing else changed) be about 15 minutes and the planes were actually scheduled so that I'd land at B1 and leave from B2.

Of course it didn't work out that way. The delay didn't get worse, but the SLO flight was moved to a different concourse. After we landed, but still taxiing, I checked my flight information to find that USAir had rescheduled me for a flight first thing in the morning!

Still, I'd been upgraded to first class from Denver, so I was sitting in 1A and I bolted up the jetway and over to the gate where my SLO flight was. And I made it! They had scheduled a flight for me in the morning so I'd be guaranteed to have a seat just in case, which really would have been good had it been needed. So I got home on the late flight and was able to get about six hours of sleep. And in the morning, I drove over to Morro Bay to register.

It was a gorgeous morning.

The sun is rising from the right direction to shine onto the Morro Bay power plant.

I got my number:

and I bought a jersey:

I love the zebra stripes. The zebras today were on the north side of San Simeon. A couple on the trip told me that they also saw whales crest during the ride. I saw the swarms of birds that usually mean whales, but I never saw them.

Other free stuff included a rubber bracelet, the patch in the picture above, and a wristband for the BBQ bash after the ride.

The ride had three rest stops. The first and last were in a park in Cambria. Lots of people the first go around. They provided an awfully good variety of snacks:

But the main reason for that stop was to get a chance to refill water bottles and just sit in the shade. The view of the ocean from the park was popular.

The second rest stop was at the turnaround point, which was a lookout spot from which you can see the lighthouse for which the ride is named. There wasn't much shade, but it was fairly crowded. (The lighthouse is in this picture, I promise.)

And this is the point at which we really started to spread out in terms of speed. By the time I got to the final rest stop, the crowd had thinned quite a bit:

And then from this point on, I never passed another person. I was passed quite a lot, of course. I wasn't the last one back to the school, but I might have been the last metric century rider -- the 85 and 100 mile riders mostly beat me, too.

But the important thing is that I made it. I hadn't ridden my bike hardly at all this year until I decided to train for this in August. And with living in the mountains, it's been six or seven years since I rode more than 10 miles in a day. So I'm pretty proud to have made it through.

The next thing is to see if my weekly biking sticks. If I still get on the bike on Tuesday to go have dinner at the Wee Shack, it will have been worth it. Maybe if I work at it all year, next time my bottom won't start hurting in the first 20 miles.

All Biking All the Time

Good News: Registration positions opened up on the SLO Lighthouse Ride, so I'm going to be able to do the ride next week.

Bad News: I have to keep biking to work up to this thing, which takes a whole lot of time out of my week, so all there is to report on on this blog is biking.

Yesterday, I stayed on track, making 55 miles.

Of course, for me, that took 8 hours or so. It seems that next week's 65 mile ride might just barely be possible.

The zebras were out this week!

Stay tuned for next week's big ride. Hopefully I'll make it back from my trip to Denver.

Biking Progress

Well, I've been doing OK on working up to the century. My plan was to do the metric century (only 65 miles) because I'm so dang slow and there aren't enough hours in the day. Today, I did 45 miles (10 more than last week). If I add 10 miles next week and can do another 10 the following week, then I can do the century. Here's my chart of distances so far this year:

(Green is biking, yellow is walking, red is kayaking. A drop off in the others was to be expected, I guess.)

Sadly, though, I waited too long to sign up for the SLO Lighthouse Ride. I'm on a waiting list, but I'm kicking myself for putting it off. The motivation to get out and ride disappeared when I realized I probably won't get to do the organized ride. I have my fingers crossed, and if I can't do it, maybe I'll find another one.

But at least I got up and did my ride today.


My Nevada City readers (if you're still out there) will not be impressed by the elevation gain on this ride -- I start at 60 feet -- but the winds here are tough, folks. And they come from the side so there's no relief in a round trip. 

Still, I'm pretty sure this is my first 20 mile ride since I moved to California six years ago. It's probably equal to a 4 mile ride up in the hills but I'm trying to dig out of a sedentary hole to ride a metric century, so it's a good baby step. 

Spoke Lives

Well I broke another spoke today, just a day after getting another spoke replaced. 

I guess that means I'm back on the bike at least. 

No Hope in Spokes

I decided it was time to clean up my exercise act and get back on the bicycle. I'm going to work up to the Lighthouse Century.

And, of course, I immediately broke a spoke. I'd like to think it's the fates out to get me, but most likely my weight is just too much stress on this ole bicycle.

The sea fog here is terribly hard on the bike. Everything is rusting so quickly.

Under the Boardwalk

(well, under a pier at Morro Bay)

Before and After

In spite of the dryness here, that walnut next door just seems to grow like crazy. I've cut it back once since I moved in, mostly because it was trying to puncture the roof of my shed. (Before I put a solid roof on it, it was just plastic. Take a look at the link and see how fast that walnut has been growing around the cactus.)

So, I got out there and cut it back again today. Here's the before shot:

And here's the after shot:

The gloves I wore weren't as thick as I thought. My hands have needles in them. I've never liked cactus. I'm still surprised I didn't notice them and make their removal a condition of the sale.

I don't know how you prune the cacti. I just ripped off some of the pads from the prickly pear. They're unexpectedly heavy.

Off Moonstone Beach

It took me a year and a half, but I finally got up my courage to get the kayak out into the actual ocean.

I launched from the boat ramp in Cambria, which is somewhat protected from the heavy waves and so is easy to jump into the kayak from.

Just off shore are lovely kelp beds.

I did a quick circle of this rock that is just visible from shore.

But my kayak isn't built for the ocean (it's not a sit-on-top) so when the wind and waves picked up, I headed back into shore.