Friday, December 28, 2007

Left coast - Petrified Forest

After Muir Woods, we ventured for one night in Davis. I happy to report that I did not have an emotional breakdown upon returning to the land of my graduate schooling. Downtown Davis pretty much remains the same. The campus has exploded with new much so that I can't remember what it used to look like in spots. I seem to have forgotten that the maximum speed in the town is like 30 mph and that people even on the highway there drive slow!

After Davis, we took the scenic road to Napa. It was curvier and windier than I had remembered, but it still was a pretty drive. Driving past some lakes and reservoirs, you could really tell how low the water is from the drought. We stopped at the Petrified Forest in Calistoga, which isn't really a forest but a few fallen petrified trees. The few trees were impressive and just attempting to pick up a small size log, you could feel the difference in weight. I bought a nice piece of petrified wood that's from somewhere in North America. Among the petrified trees, they identified some trees and shrubs as points of interest. One is manzanita, which has a beautiful red bark.
After our brief adventure in Calistoga, we headed to our hotel, which is almost brand new and just south of Napa. After multiple wrong turns, we finally made our way there. It doesn't help that it's located within a new office park and there are no signs at all. I didn't bother with the street name because I knew its general location and I figured there would be signs pointing the way. But it was a nice resort with a vineyard, spa and wine cellar in a "cave"...meaning an artificial cave. We indulged in some much needed spa treatments the next morning. I should have just spent the day least in the eucalyptus sauna or just chillaxing in the waiting room complete with tea and magazines. I now realize that my upper back and neck are just full of knots that may never go away. But after my short massage, my recent ailment in my left shoulder was feeling better. Our room rocked with double sinks, a separate toilet room with telephone of course, flat screen tv, and the best thing was that the drinks and wine in/above the mini bar were free. They refilled it the next day too. We eventually ventured back to Napa and went to V. Sattui and attempted to go to other vineyards but were stymied in one way or another. But we both really like V. Sattui so that was fine with me. Besides with all the goodies back at the hotel, why leave! I attempted to go the hotel vineyards but they had closed it...I guess from the rain.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Left coast - Muir Woods

I've been to Muir Woods at least four times now. It's a treat to come in via the Golden Gate bridge and then head right into curving hillside passes. There's a spot along the way that has a great view of San Fran. I guess this spot has really caught on considering there now was a hotdog truck parked there. What was new for me at Muir Woods was this sign. I didn't realize that Muir Woods had become a hotbed of first amendment activity that it needed it's own area.
California is in a period of drought and it was apparent here. By this time of year, the Woods should be a dewy and wet place. Not this time. More redwoods had fallen since my last trip, but in the right spot it was dark enough you thought it was past sunset.

I do enjoy seeing all the lichens, moss, and ferns sprouting all over the trees. I met up with some bear friends. Check out the one hiding in the corner.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Left coast - San Fran

I try to go back to Nor Cal ever other year just so my memory won't totally fade of my temporary home that I had during grad school. There's still a whole bunch of San Fran that I haven't explored, so this visit I decided to venture up to North Beach. It was about a 2 mile hike oneway mostly uphill from the downtown hotel but it was well worth it. I cruised through Chinatown and the hills weren't too bad until you got real close to the Coit Tower. It took about 2 hours for a round trip excursion complete with stops at City Lights Bookstore and various fun shops.
Even though eucalyptus trees is not truly a native Californian species, it sure is pretty.

Here's one of the views from the top of Coit Tower, which stands Telegraph Hill in San Fran. Of course, every single window is covered in glass so it's tough to get good photos. Plus it confuses the silly tourists as one unlucky girl found out when she bonked her nose hard into the glass. She thought there was no glass. That's the Golden Gate bridge in the distance and you get a vague sense of the topography of the city.

I didn't know that there were wild parrots that have returned to nature at Coit Tower. I believe the story is that a few pet parrots escaped and reproduced and now a flock is found around Telegraph Hill. They sure are noisy. My attempts to get a good shot of one was defeated by the angle of the sun and their reluctance to get close. But here's a glimpse at one at the end of the arrow.

It's real difficult to get a good photo of the hills of San Fran. But here's my attempt below Telegraph Hill. What you can't see is that the past couple blocks of sidewalks had stairs, not flat concrete.

In Washington Square Park, there's a church which I just randomly took a pic of. I think it's Church of Saint Peter and Paul, which is where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had their wedding blessed. They got married at town hall.

Next post will be of my adventures in Muir Woods.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Best assistant ever

I'm about to leave for a much needed retreat back to my former stomping grounds in sunny Nor Cal. It's always a treat to turn on the out of office assistant and type in those magical words of I'm on vacation. I can already hear the screams of No! I just hope this trip doesn't fly by like some of the others. So I will be away from my blog but I will be sure to post a long recap once I get back.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I fought the law and....

I'm about to head into the condo meeting to ask the Board why after 5 years they are forcing me to take down my birdfeeder. I really am not fond of confrontation, so it's the equivalent of going to the dentist and having some drilling done. I'm hoping they are reasonable people and we'll reach a compromise, but I'm not holding my breath. They can make the rules for the complex and that's the end of the story. We have elections, but no one ever runs so it's not worth a vote. I know I should run and start the revolution, but the next election is in 2 years and the term is 2 years long. Then I would just be one vote. I plan to be out of here in 5 years. I wanted to print out pics of the real problems around rotten wooden, light fixtures falling off the walls, etc. but of course after like 3 months of the printer telling me there is no toner, it finally really started running out. I have nice streaks across the page.

I was totally shot down at the meeting. There were 6 people. Three were old ladies that seemed sympathetic to my cause. One made a what? perplexed face when I told them the notice said it was a health and safety issue. She even had just bought a bird feeder for her own deck. But there was this one hateful biatch, who apparently hates all living creatures. She goes "Your feeder attracts squirrels." I go "It's squirrel-proof." She goes "Well it attracts other critters....I don't know...other critters." They wouldn't allow me to hang a post in the landscaping. That post would allow me to hang a birdfeeder that wouldn't harm the deck and the poop was fall into the landscaping. She said if they allowed then someone would want to put decorative frogs in the landscaping. So here's the general plan. Plus it might puncture the irrigation system...don't even get me started on that.

Continue with the secret bird feeders.
Buy buckets of bird seed and scatter on evil biatch's lawn to attract thousands of birds
Release all hostage live mice at her building
Summon all the bears of NJ to break into her house, trash it, and use it as there hibernation zone...ok I need to work on that one.

Ms. White, any ideas on how to harness nature? Anyone else, have some ideas?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Something to look forward to

I know its not even officially winter but it sure feels like it here. Below average temperatures, snow/sleet mix, scraping of the ice/snow off the car windshield, no sunlight, and the freezing wind = winter to me. I'm not talking about the good part of winter which is those snow days where you know it's ok to work from home under a quilt, with a cup of hot cocoa, and in front of the fireplace. Or the times where it's snowing but it's still relatively warm and not blizzard like. So here's the light at the end of the tunnel. Can you picture it? The first day of spring where no jacket is needed. Birds are chirping happily. Everything looks so green. The leaves are emerging.
The windows are wide open and all the fresh air coming in the house. Shh...Don't mention all that pollen. And the fawns!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Half a heart

This weekend has been full of little rodent action. I haven't been diligently checking my "have a heart" live traps in the basement because I wasn't catching anything. I had hoped that my ceiling patching was a success. But sure enough I checked yesterday and shockingly there was a dead mouse in a trap. Sad. It didn't smell so it must have been recent. I let the little mouse go in the landscaping and cleaned everything. There was a lot of presents left inside the trap and all around it. I refilled the trap with a cashew since I'm all out of Reese's PBC. This morning I checked the traps and sure enough there was a live mouse eating the cashew. It was snowing this morning so I grabbed my snow boots and was going to walk it to freedom. But I was worried it would just come back so I took it for a drive. I let it go by a pine tree and before I even had the chance to turn the camera on and fully open the trap, it shot out like a rocket. We played some hide and go seek around the tree, but it outsmarted me and disappeared. So there's no picture of my hostage.