The Bay Trail at Sear’s Point with Michael – 21 November 2016

It all began not as a dark and stormy night but a bright and foggy morning as we found our way to the edge of San Pablo Bay in southern Sonoma County. Perhaps the freshest trail that we’ve hiked, it was dedicated in October of 2015 after extensive restoration by the Sonoma Land Trust. Opened to the public in 2016, it was exciting to see the new project’s beginnings next to a smaller, earlier one completed in 1996. We could observe them side by side both the fresh beginnings and the remarkable progress in these tidal wetlands after just 20 years back-to-nature. – How a diametrically opposite “solution” became popular in 1949 along with its fortunate eventual demise.

This 1990s project restored 289 acres and involved a variety of supporting organizations. “Congress blessed it with money and Vice President Al Gore came out for its dedication.” Looking ahead and projecting what the Bay will be like 100 years from now.

The day’s foggy beginnings were mysterious, softening edges and images – an opportunity to let your imagination romp and roam. Then all of a sudden color is all around us.
As we were looking at the fog dissipating with an entire field of whipping and whispering tendrils, Karen was recalling a poem by the Spanish poet which matched the scene beautifully. Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, (1836-1870) is considered the most read Spanish writer after Cervantes.écquer

“Los suspires son are y van al are” “Sighs are air and go to the air”

Los suspiros son aire y van al aire! Sighs are air and go to the air!
Las lågrimas son aqua y van al mar! Tears are water and go to the sea!
Dime, mujer, cuando el amor se olvida Tell me, woman, when love’s forgotten
¿Sabes tu adonde va? Do you know whither it goes?

Note the “no drones” clause.

Looking across the rich farmland toward Cougar Mountain to an area otherwise known as Sears Point or on its other side something completely different, Infineon Raceway.

Observing the earlier 1990s project we can see the richness and colors of the restored tidal marsh. Start with the video BRINGING BACK THE BAY. The PDFs are quite exhaustive and scholarly. I especially liked the “Kids’Species Accounts” providing some very accessible and interesting information about the California Clapper Rail, Salt Harvest Mouse and Soft Bird’s-Beak. Fun FLICKER photos with ids as well

The hillocks in the marsh are an important part of the restoration design and the water birds have discovered them with pleasure. One particular joy was seeing a Forster’s Tern hovering over the water looking for food. I had flashed on a white tailed kite id since that hovering quality was definitive for me. But others hover too (in addition to drones)!

We were talking about glorious mud previously but today we got to enjoy it in spades as we hiked out to the dike opening. We all gained at least 2 inches in height and our shoes when they weren’t being sucked down in the ooze were getting strangely heavy. Mudflats took on a whole new meaning.

Mud Season on the East Coast requires special considerations, maybe the first is staying by the fireplace.

Near the dike opening with fog receding across the bay.
Michael gave us a spirited review of tidal action so basic to these salt marshes.

Michael said this was wild mustard – it wasn’t quite up to “Wordsworth in the Tropics” but still a bit jungley and adding to the mud we were beginning to feel just a little that nature isn’t always warm and fuzzy.

Observed along the way were amaranth in bright red, raccoon tracks in the mud, pickle weed and in the last, looking for some dry areas along the way but it was hard to outfox the mud., Michael explores and dances with some fauna.

Picnic lunch is the next stop as we absorb the view without the fogginess and with a spring in our step.

Lunch on the quiet side

Lunch with conversation, were we in writing class we might write a short account of what is going on here.

After lunch we took a short stroll down the path atop the new much more graduated rise from water level which facilitates survival for marsh creatures when faced with rising water and storm surges. Perhaps sometime we can return and walk all the way down to Sears Point.

The view from our path looking toward Cougar Mountain now much more clearly defined in the noontime sunshine. Fortunately, Route 37 is just far enough away to minimize any sounds of traffic.

The Bay returns

Post Script:

We enjoyed a small segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail on this hike. The SFBT is a bold plan to ring the entire San Francisco Bay with an enormous, accessible trail for hiking and
bicycling. From the Wikipedia article account: “As of 2016, 350 miles (560 km) of trail have been completed. When finished, the Bay Trail will extend over 500 miles (805 km) to link the shoreline of nine counties, passing through 47 cities and crossing seven toll bridges. It is a project of the Association of Bay area Governments (ABAG).” In 1986, State Senator Bill Lockyer of Hayward came up with this idea to develop a pedestrian and bicycle path around the entire San Francisco Bay with shoreline access. Cf. history in the Wiki article

On an earlier hike we enjoyed another Bay Trail section at the old Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato where there is a similarly breached dike allowing the return of the Bay waters to their former foot print. Here’s a delightful account from the great BAY NATURE magazine by Ariel Rubissow Okamoto discovering this trail.

Spring Lake & Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa with Michael – 10/31/16

And what to our wondering eyes did appear but Michael with his sling at our trailhead last Monday morning. It was a happy rendezvous after the successful surgery for his shoulder injury.

We are about to follow a trail adjacent to Annadel State Park which my computer is intent on calling Annabel State Park. You can see from this map where we started at Parktrail Drive and where we are going We edged Annadel heading toward Spring Lake where we had lunch and the came around Lake Raphine in Howarth Park returning on our inbound trail. Annadel is a remarkably loved and frequented park in heart of Santa Rosa – or any other vital organ that might better describe its location. We’ve happily hiked here on a variety of trails in the past on Footloose Forays with Michael.

While he was introducing the hike, a flock of migrating Snow Geese flew very, very high overhead adding some primal excitement to the day.
Amid California Drought, Migrating Birds Enjoy Pop-Up Cuisine : NPR Food for the geese along their way in California’s Central Valley.

1. At the beginning of the trail we stopped a moment to observe the rocks where Michael returning from his regular run took the spill that resulted in his shoulder
injury. 2. Larry and I discover that we have the same haberdasher, L.L. Bean, from whence our smile – and not . . . Michael’s fall!

We stop above a spillway and Michael share’s some of the history of the adjoining Annadel State Park. “In 1871 Irish immigrant Samuel Hutchinson purchased nearly 3000 acres of the former Rancho Los Guilicos land grant.” His house was called “Annie’s Dell” or “Annie’s Dale” in honor of his oldest daughter. “Henry Bolle, owner of neighboring lands, established a winery in 1880 and named it Annadel. When the Santa Rosa and Carquinez Railway began rail service through Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa in 1888, they adopted the name Annadel for the train station near the Hutchinson home.” P. 191

The area was sold in the 1930s to a “flamboyant entrepreneur” named Joe Coney who bought the property from Annie and proceeded to have lavish hunting parties and invited local scouting groups to camp there under the oaks. “In 1953 he dammed Spring Creek to create Lake Ilsanjo, which he named after his wife and himself: Ilsa and Joe. Coney’s far-flung empire included steamship companies, gold mines and vast tracts in the Andes, but when his finances lagged in the 1960’s, Coney put the ranch up for sale. Annabel nearly became a vast subdivision, but State Parks – – with matching funds from local financiers – – was able to scape together the money to acquire most of Coney’s estate in 1969.” Primary in that financing for the purchase of Annadel lands was the remarkable, farsighted and generous Henry Trione.

Michael also mentioned that Lake Ralphine formed after an earthen dam was constructed in 1882 was built by Colonel Mark Lindsay McDonald was named after his wife. We’ve visited the substantial “summer house” he build for his family on historic McDonald Avenue in Santa Rosa. Here’s are some splendid links about him, his family, his mansion and his pivotal career in Santa Rosa. Col. McDonald was a trained engineer who was instrumental in many Santa Rosa improvements including the Santa Rosa Water Works Company, an early private utility as well as fruit packing yards, Santa Rosa’s first library and the first steam railroad in the area. an artful and fascinating account of the McDonald mansion and its occupants.

Michael continues the description a la Vimeo:

One of Michael’s friends and former neighbors on McDonald Avenue, Marielouise brought along her terrific, mellow poodle (?) thanks for your help, we keep up the pace on the fire road on a bit of a hill, passing along the edge of Annabel Park we see sign for one of its many trails – Rough Go, keeping up the pace and the conversation.

Michael tells us about “Hollywood” frogs and how they found their way to “Africa”: Extensive link on Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pacific Tree Frogs)

A bridge along our way dedicated in 1977 and a part of the Lions International mission to support the vision impaired.

Numerous dogs greeted us on these trails and their owners joined in the conversation. Michael describes the area in more detail.

A kayaker slides by on Lake Ralphine and Michael spots some swans across the way. Some details and swan songs too

He tells us how his son Hunter, our leader last week, got his name.

We were treated to quite a variety of passing pets as well as a greeting from a small size trail blazer.

Picnic under a Live Oak by Spring Lake while we enjoy spotting water birds and find the ground squirrels in quite abundance. The conversation went to movies and Michael said he really enjoyed “Elvis and Nixon” which he’d seen on the plane returning from one of his trips. Judy mentioned and recommended “Eight Days a Week -The Touring Years” (about the Beatles) as well.

After lunch some mallard ducks passed by along with these Canada Geese, Michael talked about the mallard’s aggressive mating behavior. Here’s a thorough explanation that I found helpful:

A sentinel ground squirrel makes sure that we continue on our way or was it just a fond farewell?

And in a lovely bit of serendipity, Michael finds his friend’s DMV license which she lost today on an earlier return. It was just lying in the grass by the path as we finished the hike. The universe was getting things back in balance.

Bear Valley with Hunter – 24 October 2016

Last Monday’s weather was restless with windy sprinkles and skittering clouds sending a message of what’s coming over the hills – a perfect day for a hike.
We take as our example Winslow Homer who used to love going out along the rocks of Prout’s Neck on the Maine coast especially on stormy days. His friends and family would urge him to come back in to home and hearth but his response was, “Come out here it’s perfectly grand!” Our hike down Bear Valley with Michael’s son Hunter was one of those exciting days you wouldn’t want to miss. Hunter was standing in for Michael who had shoulder surgery last Friday and needs recovery time. Some of us had met Hunter before and Michael has most recently shared the excitement and happiness of Hunter’s wedding last June. It was very cool to have him leading us on the trail.

As we walked down Bear Valley, a variety of sounds all about welcomed us from the flowing of Bear Creek next to the trail to the high sounds of wind blowing in the tops of the huge Douglas Firs by the hillsides of our walk. The song of their needles in the wind was curious because it sounded like pelting down rain but as we walked we were almost dry maybe experiencing some of that “sound and fury signifying nothing” or at least of no drenching rain. We have a fascination with rain here in California, it is such an event after a long dry summer that we’d like to not only run it up a flag pole, print banner headlines but also announce it with flashing lights on some grand marquee. Memories come back of rollicking thunder storms, getting wet to the bone – longing for a warm bath & some dry clothes and jumping into puddles on your way home from school. Glorious rain and yes, glorious mud. – A lovely, eclectic book about RAIN as the heroine, the hero in its many splendored forms – life giving and amazingly destructive. Describing Prout’s Neck, Maine and Winslow Homer’s studio Lovely tete-a tete between the inimitable Flanders and Swann singing the Hippopotamus Song and my origin of “glorious mud”. Rain sounds should you not have enough available.


Gathering up ourselves before the hike we get to meet with Hunter, today’s hike leader. Everyone has a different kind of pack, I think Viola gets the prize.

The Bear Valley Trail has green archways giving a sense of protection and calm – the sounds of Bear Creek along the trail provide some of the background music.

We’ve passed by Elk Clover on a number of our hikes on Mt. Tamalpais and at Pt. Reyes. “It is the only member of the ginseng family native to California and southwestern Oregon.” Here’s is some Aralia californica that we passed along the way. Not a clover but there could be actual elk browsing this plant in more remote sections of the park. One reference gave Gold Rush miners credit for the name. You’ll also recall miner’s lettuce.

We greet a passing equestrian returning to the visitor center. We’ve had a number of Pt. Reyes hikes with Michael and Jim in the Five Brooks area where there are stables and trail riders. There we’ve enjoyed meeting equestrians on a regular basis.

Pt. Reyes National Seashore used to be a center for Morgan horses which were an integral part of the National Park system in the west.

Arriving at Divide Meadow we reconnoiter and wonder when the rain will come down in earnest. The Bear Creek Trail continues down to the coast but this is the high point of the trail. The former trail destination was an overlook in the area of Arch Rock but a deadly rockslide in March 2015 brought about a trail closure.

Looking out on a portion of Divide Meadow where a country club/hunting club was located from the 1890s until the 1934 Depression. The first club was centered at the “Howard Cottage in Bear Valley as a hunting lodge and summer resort”. “In 1890, thirty-seven members of San Francisco’s exclusive Pacific Union Club formed an equally exclusive country club for which they leased 1000 acres in Bear Valley . . . and another 76,000 – odd acres as a hunting preserve.” Seems enormous.

This is a rare and wonderful account of Marin County in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. If you scroll down you can read about the climate of Pt. Reyes as “positively intoxicating . . . . There is champagne in the very atmosphere.” When scroll down and you come to “Point Reyes in Leisure” the description begins with folks getting off the North Pacific Coast Railroad at Tocaloma.

Divide Meadow is the high spot for this trail c. 360’ above sea level.

Lots of green in these familiar plants along our way clockwise in upper left with Coast Live Oak, California Bay, grasses with rain drops and California Hazelnut.

Back at the Visitor’s Center there is just time to take the Earthquake Trail Loop. This area of Olema Valley was thought to be the epicenter of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake but recent studies have found that it was just off the coast near Pacifica. Oh well, good spirits reign just prior to another kind of rain. – Well written and extensive with good photos & many links.

The rain begins, something that always takes getting used to. They used to call them slickers or dusters.’s_Oilskin_Duster

Looking up the stairs showing the displacement of the farmer’s fence by the 1906 Earthquake. Clear description of the 1906 Quake with excellent detail.

Looking down from the top of the steps

Lunch beneath a large sculpted California Bay tree

Maybe the work of a California Acorn Woodpecker or perhaps a Red-breasted Sapsucker, maybe both or others. Looks like a life’s work when you look up the trunk. Author, author. Or better recalling the Acorn Woodpecker communities, “Authors, Authors.”

A pair of ravens bid us hasta luego.

P.S. With thanks for the vision of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and many others:

Treasure Island with Michael – 10 October 2016

Coming by my other address lewiszuelow since my l.zuelow seems to be having some issues.


Thoughts of reading Treasure Island in Classic Comics while I was growing up came to the surface as we met at TI with Michael last Monday. With that title a mood is set for adventure, not only a search for buried treasure but also a mysterious and menacing cast of characters . . . most unlike our hiking group! Well, maybe, we’ll try for mysterious.

We who live in the North San Francisco Bay area recall that Robert Louis Stevenson spent the summer in 1880 on his honeymoon with his bride, Fanny Osborne, in the Napa Valley at an abandoned mining camp on Mt. Saint Helena. From this experience came his book “The Silverado Squatters”.

But I digress, Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay was constructed in 1936-37 for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition or World’s Fair.
It was made using quarried graywacke boulders as a surround atop Yerba Buena Shoals quarried from nearby Yerba Buena Island. The interior was then filled in by dredging up vast amounts of fill from San Francisco Bay. In a nice bit of irony, a lot of that fill came from the destructive hydraulic mining of the gold rush in the Sierra Nevada which was washed down to the bay by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Sadly this bay fill contained less treasure and more toxins from mining operations in the 19th Century containing Mercury, Arsenic and Asbestos. Fortunately and wonderfully District Court Judge Lorenzo Sawyer favoring the farmers of California banned hydraulic mining on January 7, 1884 declaring that it was ”a public and private nuisance”. Yet the legacy of this mining continues today.,_San_Francisco

Since our last hike here, the island has become an enormous construction zone with large tracts behind cyclone fencing showing cautionary signs for radiation. The U.S. Navy seized the island in 1942 which along with adjoining Yerba Buena Island became a command and communications center for the Pacific Fleet. The island was also used for repair and salvage operations including the fleet of ships exposed to atomic blasts in the Pacific after WW 2. The Navy held classes in radioactive warfare in the later 1940s when sailors were trained in cleaning radioactive contamination on a “mocked-up ship perhaps appropriately called the USS Pandemonium – no doubt just a bit of Navy humor.


Morning fog obscures the San Francisco skyline with the Bay Bridge and a huge cruise ship gaining definition for the day. The views from TI are splendid and walking around the island opens up new vistas in every direction. Like Angel Island and Alcatraz the perspective changes, you are afforded an angle on things that you may have never seen before. We thought we knew how things looked but the new view says “not so fast”.

The fog continues to lift as Michael gives some background to the foreground. He talked about early soundings of San Francisco Bay using ropes with knots every six feet and the painstaking process of measuring the Bay. Since the basis for TI was Yerba Buena Shoals, an area that was hazardous to navigation and only 27 feet below the surface, you can see the value of this effort. We began to ask questions about depth knots and speed knots and how they differed? Here’s a clear explanation:

Cormorants gather on an abandoned dock with a piece of the Golden Gate Bridge at middle right “growing” out of the Presidio and mid-photo is the Raccoon a US Coast Guard ship used to clean debris from the Bay. It docks at the Bay Model in Sausalito. On Monday its mission was to assist in raising a small yacht which had sunk in the Bay during Fleet Week due to overloading.
Regarding the cormorants, I think Michael said that the white by the head is a pattern of Pelagic Cormorant Immatures. Need to up my game of Cormorant couth:

We are walking along the Riprap Greywacke boulder border for Treasure Island. Mined from nearby Yerba Buena Island the Greywacke rock is a part of the Franciscan Complex on the west coast. Seeing Franciscan Assemblage, I envision a large group of monks gathering in Assisi.

The Avenue of the Palms was the esplanade of the 1939 San Francisco Exposition and now is the scene of heavy equipment reshaping the area for a projected new city with housing complexes, hotel and even the possibility of the George Lucas Museum. The museum which has challenges in finding the right location might resurrect some of the character of the 39/40 Exposition. As the voice over concludes he says of this Western World’s Fair, “Too soon it will be too late”.

Clockwise we have a Cat that likes the water – seems to be tamping down the sand, perhaps a radiation monitor with its own portable generator, a construction zone in San Francisco as well at the top of high rises, and that radiation sign we don’t see much of these days.–235499911.html

Armand oversees a picnic at the north end of TI, lunch with a view of Richmond to the north, east bay to the right and center and just a suggestion of Marin to the left. There was stalwart fisherman at the end of riprap who did some kind of boulder ballet to get to his private fishing spot on the bay.

A Pelagic Cormorant relaxes on a slippery slope – he’d just finished his wing extend, a to be identified plant near our lunch spot, fog lifting over the Tiburon Peninsula and (where does a speedboat leave off and a yacht begin?) a yacht leaving not quite a turkey tail in the breeze – in the background left is the tower of the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley hills. Did you know that the Claremont had a slide fire escape?

“Original airport terminal building, another of the early uses planned for Treasure Island. Pam Am’s famous Clipper would circle and land in the bay, and then taxi in to the adjacent Clipper Cove.” Boeing 314 documentary with some footage of Clipper Cove. Pan American Clippers taking off from Clipper Cove This is a fascinating aural account from a very special blog that sadly has gone into hiatus.

Clipper Cove last Monday with a view of the new eastern section of the Bay Bridge. Scott reminded us that it has a functioning but incomplete bikeway.

We walked around this still in tact part of Treasure Island, nearby were two huge hangers.

In anticipation of international commercial air service, Treasure Island was originally slated to become San Francisco’s second airport,

operated simultaneously with Mills Field (now San Francisco International Airport.

A 3/30/32 rendering (courtesy of Tim Tyler) depicted the proposed Golden Gate Union Air Terminal on the north end of the island,

with 2 intersecting runways & a row of hangars on the southern side of the airfield.

An undated (circa 1930s?) artist’s conception looking northwest at the planned Treasure Island Airport.

It showed the 2 seaplane hangars & terminal which would eventually be built on the south end,

along with a never-built series of 9 runways emanating from a central point on the north end of the island.


We walked out on a wide, long pier that was once used by the navy for larger ship landings and on Monday had two enormous tugboats used for moving ships around the bay and for fire suppression.

The tugs are contracted with Standard Oil in Richmond, California and also work around the bay. They are owned by Foss Maritime which was founded in 1889 by Thea Foss (1857-1927) and her husband Andrew Foss.
Note that the tug in this video does not have the fire suppression system (in orange at the rear of the tugs that we observed). Foss lists Seattle as home port and this video is taken in Elliot Bay, Seattle, Washington A friendly crew member came out and talked to us about the tug and what it does, he is one of four on duty all the time on the tug.

Statuary in front of the Pan Am Air Terminal, to the left is Spirit of India, Female 1938, by Jacques Schnier (American, 1898-1988). this is one of twenty sculptures produced for the Court of Pacifica at the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition. Another sculpture by Schnier and you guessed it, Spirit of India, Male 1938. The building was designed to be an airline terminal, but World War 2 intervened and instead the entire island became US Navy base. This has a great video from that time (with those authoritative narrators) describing the Exposition.

The catamaran ferry from Vallejo steams by the cruise ship and then a tug makes its way past with the Transamerica Pyramid providing a visual.
Michael talked of the San Francisco Bar Pilots special role in SF Bay navigation. Then a sailboat passes Angel Island with Fort McDowell (East Garrison) in the background and the Vallejo Ferry outward bound to as one person called it Valley Joe.

Michael finds a bit of naval history along the trail, Inge looks across the bay at the lifting fog, Sue and friends maybe looking at terns diving in the water for sardines or was it anchovies and thanks to Paul for taking my picture as everyone else looks seaward.

I can hear the ukuleles now. But no, the fog has lifted and . . . we are still on Treasure Island looking over to Mt. Tamalpais, our Marin touchstone.

The Great Beach of Pt. Reyes with Michael – 26 September 2016

“For it’s a long, long time from May to December, But the days grow short when you reach September. . .” from “September Song” by
Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson. What happened to our long, sunny evenings – all of a sudden it seems dark at dinner?

I recall humming this chorus when I was a newsboy delivering the Schenectady Gazette in the late 1940s and having only a little idea of its bittersweet qualities. It sounded romantic and poignant and that was enough for me. Now I read that it came from 1938’s “Knickerbocker Holiday” and was about Peter Stuyvesant, 1647 governor of what was later New York and a portrayal of a “semi-fascist government in New Amsterdam”. Bing Crosby recorded it in 1943 and Frank Sinatra in 1946. I think I’m remembering and hearing Sinatra rather than Crosby in my memory. Later it was Sinatra for sure with “Autumn Leaves”, I recall hearing it while I was driving across the Berkshires on the border of Massachusetts and New York State in 1957. And just maybe having watched the great BBC TV show “From May to December” starring
Anton Rodgers, Eve Matheson and Lesley Dunlop in the 1990s may have helped to keep those memories fresh.


Every good hike needs to start at the Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station.

Just a half hour away is our destination at South Beach, a part of the Great Beach of Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Usually called Pt. Reyes Beach but sometimes called 10 Mile Beach most accounts now credit it with 11 miles. It is an enormous strand on the north side of the Pt. Reyes Peninsula and “Great Beach” does it justice.

Michael gave a brief description of our tidal patterns with visuals courtesy of the Great Beach’s tabula rasa. This is a really complete explanation and description including equations for amplitude, you can go deep or just have fun surfing its waves.

Bullwhip kelp, Nereocystis can be sculptured, played for music, jumped with, weaponized or eaten.
Sadly, it also needs help.
This seems to be a pattern in the southern hemisphere as well.

Variations on a theme:

Watching some Semipalmated plovers in the photo and thinking as well about the Western Snowy Plover’s breeding locations further east on this beach. The struggle to save the Western snowy plovers (North Beach, Kehoe Beach and Abbott’s Lagoon) is ongoing. really captivating video with lots of valuable insights – This link begins with a description of the work being done by Carolyn Campbell, a Snowy Plover Biological Technician. If you scroll down you will find an account of our own, Michael Ellis, Field Institute Instructor as well. – a short, lovely video of plovers in fight over the nearby Limantour Beach – those “Mesmerizing Murmurations” .
How Do Starling Flocks Create Those Mesmerizing Murmurations? | All About Birds

Talking to the group about invasion and displacement of native beach grasses by European beachgrass (Ammophilia arenaria) which, despite its romantic Latin name has been a devastating invader. In the photo the beachgrass is closest to the group and before that we have a native dwarf coyote brush in bloom. Sadly it is intermixed with ice plant, another invader, in red. While the focus of this link is the restoration of native dune grasses at Lanphere Dunes in Humboldt Bay, the story is very similar on Pt. Reyes Beach, in fact, the photos are almost interchangeable. discussing the impact of Ammophilia on Tidestrom’s Lupine Excellent summary!

Around 1869 John McLaren is credited with the first introduction of European beach grass on the west coast when he used it to stabilize the sand dunes to create Golden Gate Park. It was a remarkable process turning what they thought of as “sand desert” into an amazing park for San Francisco.

And just a bit of information on “highway ice plant” in the invasive plant world. Best not to use the term Hottentot fig which is a pejorative.

and last but really first the Dwarf Coyote Brush’s poetic description from San Marcos Growers:
Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’ at San Marcos Growers

Lunch not in the Redwoods but on a Redwood log at our hike’s apogee with the surf surround sound. The plastic bag is being used to collect plastic debris we found along the beach. Michael’s visiting friend Viola picked up the bag from the beach and then picked up plastic debris we found along the way (with a little help from her friends) keeping out at least something more going into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Nice definition of gyre in the course of the article so now you know what Lewis Carroll was referring to in his spectacular Jabberwocky.

My very favorite YouTube:

Clockwise – a mussel shell seemingly fashioned in Italian marble, the fin of a Bottlenose Dolphin (you’ll recall Flipper) from a pod that swam by us sporting & playing the water (did I try to get them in mid-air, oh yes), bull kelp with driftwood collar or is a driftwood with a mike and Ammophilia arminaria, the villain in our story.
Michael said that the dolphins are from warmer southern California waters, recent arrivals with the ocean warming. Bill Keener who is a friend of Michaels said that poignantly, one of them died along Ocean Beach in San Francisco recently washing up on shore. Its mate stayed nearby in the water for a long time – keeping company with the one lost.

The return with the dogs front and back in center, the Dachshunds traveling together.

Taking a break on our Good Ship Lollypop

Adios to those waves until next time

Climbing Mt. Burdell with Michael – 12 September 2016

Come with us for tales of yesteryear or perhaps better, yesterweek and welcome – it’s fun to share. This time the descriptions and links are above the photos, in other editions they have been below. Do you have a preference – what works best for you? Let me know if you’d rather not receive these.
Best thoughts, Lew

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It is the time of Turkey Mullein and Tar Weed. We know for sure that Autumn is on its way and
even a bit early with these cool evenings
and a Harvest Moon.
Wakened by the clarion calls of Canada geese
v’d overhead in ever larger formations,
we sense they too have the restlessness of
a changing season.

The first hike of the fall is a time of renewal after a summer of exploring. Perhaps it was in the nearby with hikes in the San Francisco area and maybe beyond to Washington’s Lake Chelan, Vancouver or Newfoundland. Further afield Michael was leading a trip to Brazil’s Pantanal near the equator. Others in the group were far above the equator heading into arctic waters. We are definitely a group of travelers and that adventurous spirit continues as we head into the discoveries of Footloose Fall Hikes 2016.

Gathering at the San Andreas gate in good spirits, it’s a sol n sombra crowd.

Just up the hill we circle the wagons to share our summer adventures, just a “group of friends”. We also get to relate to some four footed hikers

Stopping at the top of the first rise to group-up at two path choices – a V in the trail, remembering Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” or perhaps the trail not taken. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost – Poetry Foundation

Every autumn we walk along different dry trails and are amazed by the robust qualities of these two plants coming into their own. Inge also added that turkey mullein is called doveweed and we speculated on that description. Why do you think? – This one done with a swell sense of humor, who would have thought a botanist could break out!

I recall talking with Judith Lowry one time and hearing her enthusiasm for tarweed (as well as the rest in the array of California natives). After this, I began to look & sniff again appreciating them spread out along the way, out in the fields and into the hills. Their distinctive tarry odor – she describes its “clean pungent aroma” is a definitive. She points out that they are not limited to autumn which is when we usually notice them.

The explication of turkey mullein is somehow clearer with the hands.
The Fascinating Science Behind ‘Talking’ With Your Hands | Huffington Post

Inge spotted this hawk in a California buckeye tree. She thought that it was perhaps a Northern Harrier but we wished for a scope to clarify the siting.
David Lukas writes in his BAY AREA BIRDS, “Flying mere feet above the ground, harriers patrol grasslands and marshes searching for voles, birds, reptiles and other small animals hidden in tall grasses, mostly relying on sounds to capture their prey with pinpoint accuracy. These hunting flights can be quite dramatic to watch as harriers systematically crisis-cross fields in grid-like patterns and zero in on their prey with acrobatic pull-ups, cart wheels, drop- pounces, and other fancy wingwork.” p. 70, Bay Area Birds.

The tree we know, some its distinctive fruit is still hanging on after its typical early leaf drop.

A juvenile Pacific gopher snake that we spied crossing the trail. Some thought about a young yellow bellied racer but that tale is much longer as Michael wrote in his email. This one seemed comfortable after it warmed up in Michael’s hand.

Into the horizon

Dry pond on Mt. Burdell, it’s summer time and the living is grassy. Michael talks about the female frogs sleeping below the grasses (the life below) and asks us to listen to their songs.

A fog bank hangs in on the coastal hills:

Framed with some Buckeye fruit we’re settling down for lunch in the high grass. We were treated to a wonderful flock of ravens soaring on the breezes. All at once a red tailed hawk dove down almost snagging one of them – high drama in the meantime.
Perhaps the hawk regretted his boldness.

Heading back down we’re able to pick up on some of the views we missed. Here is one of the rock quarry atop Mt. Burdell. From the California Journal of Mines and Geology you can scroll down to, “Mt. Burdell was the source of hundreds of thousands of hand shaped andesite paving blocks. Since paving blocks were often used for ballast on sailing ships, when next you admire a cobblestone street in Europe, check to see if there is a country origin stamp crediting Novato as the source of the materials.” Cf. this article ‎

And a view of the former Fireman’s Fund Insurance complex and our transportation backbone, Highway 101 at the Atherton/San Marin overcrossing, with surprisingly few cars at this time of day.

On the downslope making our way through some scree and gaining momentum

Back at the San Andreas Gate, “The beginning is the end is the beginning” (Thanks to Smashing Pumpkins.)

Billy Collins has a great poem, “Aristotle”, about beginnings, middles and ends from his collection PICNIC, LIGHTNING, 1998 University of Pittsburg Press.

Footloose Spring 2016 – Finale Potluck at Michael’s Casa – 6/13/16

Hi Everyone,

Many thanks for your warm welcome back which Pat and I much cherished and appreciated. It was amazing to be back on the inside looking out rather than the other way round. Your kindness and caring from Michael through the group of our Footloose friends was felt throughout my recovery time like a helping hand up through a rough place on the trail. It’s been like a protracted trip with lots of holds and downtime at the airport.

Last Monday’s hike/walk to Luther Burbank’s Home and Garden along with the delicious potluck with so many tasty choices was great finale. I know you’re always supposed to “leave them hungry” so they come back but we all left full and happy especially with the fresh peach ice cream dessert ala Scott and Barbara Now we really want to come back! Lew & Pat

Here’s a short Vimeo slide show remembering some of these moments we all enjoyed. The music called “Jersey Bounce” is by the Warren Greig Trio.


We’re gathering in Michael’s expansive, new backyard complete with snooker table and frisky cacti. His great new house on Slater Avenue is in a Santa Rosa Historic District full of unique homes safely before the ranch style – from the 19th and early 20th century. We walked by the nearby Cherry Street Historic district on our hike to Luther Burbank Gardens:


One of the Dol hareubang volcanic rock statues from Jeju Island on the southern tip of Korea where Santa Rosa’s sister city of Bukjeju is located.
The carved basalt figures were a gift to Santa Rosa in 2003. The “Stone Grandfathers” are 8 feet tall and specialize in protection from danger and by rubbing their noses, fertility.


Just down from the Dol hareubang statues is the Luther Burbank House, greenhouse and garden. Arriving in Santa Rosa, California in 1875,Burbank was an early enthusiast: “I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the chosen spot of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned.”


A stop at Porto Bello Hats (or maybe “Persona Nueva Hats”) on the way back was just perfect. Most of us wear practical hats on the hikes but hats can be so much more. When you look at pictures of folks in the early 20th Century there is hardly a bare head to be seen. Here is a scene from the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1905.
From the stand point of men’s hats, Robert Krulwich wrote an intriguing article for NPR:

Memories of Dr. Seuss’s doffed tributes in “The Cat in the Hat” and “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins”


Michael avec des chapeaux –


A Porch with a View