Barnacles & Troglodytes, China Camp with Michael – 11 June 2012

It was great to have Michael back from Bhutan & Tennessee for the finale hike of Spring Footloose Forays 2012. The beach was not perhaps the most beautiful we’ve enjoyed and I wondered what Michael could say about a small, rocky and a bit forlorn view of San Pablo Bay. Not to worry, he was off and running for over half an hour with amazing information and insights at break neck speed. He gave us some historic context mentioning that Frank Quan, grandson of one of the earlier inhabitants Quan Hock Quock, still lives at China Camp. It was a successful fishing village from the 1880’s known especially for grass-shrimp. Tragically, this all went into decline with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Reconnoitering in the parking lot. We all feel safer because Chris has brought his Cougar Stick.

The beach in question. Note a new “stick by Chris” with Karen who used it on a recent quest.

Michael is talking about pretzels and their exotic history. The crossed arms reminiscent of the pretzel shape may variously represent children learning their prayers, or the trinity or perhaps some reference to sacrificial victims. Inge and her friend Pen look on listening to his explanation. They joined us on their way to a Russian River Canoe trip.

Green Algae enrobes the rocks in a bold, Christo-like gesture.

Michael points out hundreds of small barnacles (Was it Oatmeal?) in this intertidal zone. He mentioned that the barnacles like living together in communities like this whether on rocks or whales. They attach to the rock with a special adhesive that is a subject of interest to dental science. Two other feathery appendages beat rhythmically drawing in food. Most barnacles are hermaphrodites. They cannot leave their shells to mate. To facilitate reproduction between isolated individuals they have developed extraordinarily long penises.

I kept remembering Capt. Haddock in Tin Tin who would say, “Billions of bilious blue barnacles.”

Michael found some hermit crabs in a couple of deft dives, one male and then one female here with her eggs in view.

What was this idea? It seems quite profound.

Up on the Shoreline Trail Michael is talking about the unique qualities of the Sticky Monkey Flower.

Monkey Flowers exhibit rapid movement which is a rarity in the plant world. If you lightly touch the two-parted stigma, it quickly closes up assuming that a bee or humming bird has deposited pollen from another flower while gathering nectar. When the plant senses an absence of pollen, the stigma will reopen until pollen is finally deposited.

View across San Pablo Bay and Rat Rock Island (?) from the Shoreline Trail. Giant tanker on the horizon. Imagine the sturgeon out there in the water.

Michael spied a pair of Winter Wrens (Troglodytes hiemalis) in feeding formation for their young in this neat burrow beneath an oak branch. One seems to be either peeking out or about to fly. Capt. Haddock was always talking troglodytes too but of a different kind. The hike was so tintinesque.

Janet gives directions to her home at Chapel Cove. It was wonderful to see Maureen at the pot-luck looking so spirited and with her sense of humor flying. We are proud of her, she is indeed a fighter. A big bon voyage for her trip to Africa. Great also to have Lisa back, we have missed her too. Glad that Armando could join us as he did last year. I missed hearing him talk chickens with Louise. Many thanks to Janet and Navi for their wonderful hospitality. Great spread of food, even home made ice cream on the patio a la Scott. We always seem to be so pot-lucky. Have some swell summers, Lew

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