California, Part 1

Leigh was going out to San Jose for an event with the non-profit she chairs (, so we thought we’d take advantage of the opportunity. I would go out shooting (with the camera, people!) while she was working, then we’d go to a couple of National Parks. It was a great plan – and it worked beautifully! 🙂

We flew into SJC on Friday, hit a store or two to pick up a few supplies, and checked in at our hotel. After I dropped Leigh at the event site, I ran back up to a nearby reservoir where we had noticed an unusual sailing vessel!

This is a “puddle duck racer” ( built by David Spencer. Who is in it, if you look closely! It’s a type of racing boat (and boat racing) that allows for a lot of individuality.

The next day, I drove over the mountains down to Santa Cruz. They have a couple of lighthouses I wanted to see along with some beaches I wanted to check out. The weather was clear and sunny so I put on my sunscreen and hit the beach!

First I went to scout the two lighthouses. The midday sun was looking pretty stark, so I decided I needed to be around the Walton Lighthouse, on the breakwater, at sunset. The other lighthouse is now a surfing museum, which I did not enter – this was definitely not a museum day. So I watched the surfers, then went up the coast a bit.

My next stop was Natural Bridges State Park, a park that is home to a multitude of Monarch butterflies…at the right time of year. This is not the right time of year. I did hike the butterfly trail, just to see what I could see, and it was a pleasant walk through the woods.

Natural Bridges State Park

I went down to the beach to see if there were any natural bridges there.

Sure enough!

After that, I went up to Four-Mile Beach. This is, oh, about a mile past Three-Mile Beach. A little less really, but who’s counting? This was an adventure, because the National Weather Service had just issued a wind advisory. It seemed like it was blowing 40 miles an hour out there – my pockets were literally filling with sand! And by literally, I mean “literally.” not the way some people use the word these days. I dumped quite a load of sand out of my clothing after I got off the beach (shortly after I decided that the wind was sandblasting the coatings off of my lenses). But I did get a little wave action!

Then up the coast to Shark Fin Cove.

Aptly named, I thought.

Evening was approaching so I grabbed a bite (probably a protein bar) and headed back for Twin Lakes State Beach, from which I expected a good view of the Walton Light House (a youngster among lighthouses, built in 2001, dedicated in 2002 to Merchant Marine Derek Walton).

Clouds were moving in from the west, so it wasn’t one of those spectacular golden west-coast sunsets, but I rather enjoyed the subdued lighting and the muted color. See if you agree:

Let me know what y’all think!

After that I dragged my worn-out tail back to San Jose, picked up my wife, and went back to the hotel to sleep! We were going hiking the next day with my nephew and his wife up in (well, near) Oakland…

We got up early and ran up to Oakland. After a delightful brunch, they took us up to a place called the Albany Bulb, a park built on a landfill at the edge of San Francisco Bay. In Albany, just north of Berkeley. There’s still a lot of visible construction/destruction debris along with art that’s been created from various things around the place:

I liked the sailing ship aimed at the Golden Gate, my companions liked the…animal you see in the other shot. The one that’s not my wife on the swing!

After that we went to Wildcat Canyon in Richmond, a little farther north. Part of it was on paved trails, then we left that and went up some pretty hefty hills. Past some pretty hefty cows. Some of the views were delightful. It was a great hike, for being so close to the city.

Afterwords we went for some nice Thai, then Leigh and I drove down to Merced. We spent the night there and caught the morning Yarts bus up to Yosemite. And that will be part 2, in a few days.

4 thoughts on “California, Part 1

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