Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ahoooo Werewolves of San Juan Bautista

Waxing Gibbous Moon

This place goes wild around Halloween. There are the weekend Ghost Walks around all the old Mission-era buildings. Los Jardines de San Juan has a totally nuts Saturday night tequila-tasting fest with a Dia de Los Muertos theme. That comes right after an all-day party at El Teatro Campesino.

For less adventurous, but nonetheless game retirees, the Mission Farm Campground pulsed with aging corpses Saturday night in the barn. And tonight the kids get their turn at candy and gore at the Community Center, followed by a procession around town in costume. It's a strange combination of Druid witches, Mexican curanderos, and post-American capitalism. I am too old and anhedonic to participate fully, but I do enjoy absorbing the various spectacles from the safety of my trifocals and fuzzy hearing. I like to watch and report.

The annual potluck and costume contest at The Farm may have set a few records. The crowd was fairly small, but some of the get-ups were really funny, and there were more freaking excellent decorations than ever. Where do they get this stuff?

The barn is the perfect place for a shindig like this. It's spacious, essentially dark, it has a great sound system for classic Halloween rock, and it's so old that it feels haunted year- round anyway.

The details of the decorations really got to me. I wandered around with my Smartyphone taking pictures for an hour.

And then, of course, there were a few pretty funny costumes on display. It seems that beer and funny costumes go well together.

Tonight I will stroll into town and bear witness to the cuteness of parading children carrying out the costumed customs of their ancestors. Nobody knows what death is like, but one thing is for certain. It is a greatly invigorating to spend a fun night acknowledging it.

Peace, Love, and Pumpkins,

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Life's a Beach and I Like It

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Friday was the perfect day to chug over to Moss Landing State Beach and go for a walk. Sunny t-shirt and shorts weather, light traffic, and almost no other people on the beach combined for all systems go. So I went.

Path through the dunes to Moss Landing State Beach

It's only about a 25 minute drive to the beach under these conditions, but first I wanted to go to Aptos to check up on my friend Mike "Captain Chem" Carroll. A normally cautious, learned, and logical person, Mike decided to ascend a ladder one step at a time a few weeks ago to do some work for a local homeowner. That part was fine, quite noble, actually. The other part, the descent from the ladder, was a little problematic, quite sudden, and wholly unintentional. You could add accidental to the list.

Now, after the fall, the good Captain is recovering from a few cracked ribs, a fractured humerus, seven stitches in his chin, and that nagging feeling of dagnabbit, I know better than to stand on the top step and lose my balance like that. Really, it could have been much worse, but that is no consolation for the fact that now he can't go with Sultry Sue on their planned trip to Thailand to visit their son. He has temporarily been assigned a new trail name: The Captain of Calamity.

I ate breakfast with Mike before I went to the beach. Poor guy can't walk very far yet without considerable pain, but at least we had a little fun together hashing out the news and making fun of the powers that pretend to be.

Fairly good surf this day, but the water was a little murky.

Grey whales are migrating back south along the coast right now. I hoped to spot one spouting some spray in Monterey Bay as I pounded along the sand between the jetty and the mouth of the Pajaro River, but no dice. There were lots of pelicans flying in formation, though, and some sandpipers poking around at the edge of the surf, so everything was copacetic.

See the pelicans in formation?

A very cooperative sandpiper

Somewhere in there, I found time to park my hiney in the sand and stare toward Hawaii for several minutes, vegetating like driftman next to all the driftwood and kelp strands. It was simply and beautifully rejuvenating.

Driftwood on beach, duh

Either a desiccated piece of kelp or what's left of my brain, not sure.

Nice little wavecut terrace.

I do recommend the beach.

I strongly recommend it, to tell the truth.

Peace, Love, and Vitamin Sea,

Thursday, October 12, 2017

En Fuego

Waning Crescent Moon

A few hundred square miles of California are on fire right now and that really gets my goat. For the record, I prefer earthquakes to tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. A few minutes of bed shaking and window rattling I can stand. It's the violent storm surges, sudden roof shears, whistling airborne autos, and thermonuclear razed neighborhoods that I detest.

Smoke from the Santa Rosa fires, about a hundred and twenty-five miles away as the condor flies, started to pour into the San Juan Valley over the Lomerias Muertas early this morning and by noon, it had begun to obscure the highest ridges in the Gabilan Range. The Santa Cruz television affiliates declared much of the air in the Central Coast area to be "unhealthy."

I decided this would be a good day to take some time off from the usual wandering around on foot that consumes most of my free time these days. I drove over to Hollister, sold some books, grocery shopped, and got a free flu shot at Walgreen's courtesy of Medicare Part B.

I read the Vaccine Information Sheet while I waited to get poked. The flu vaccine contains a "very small amount of a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal," said the info sheet. And now, so do I.

I asked the pharmacist about the relative dangers of thimerosal and he reassured me that "numerous" studies have been done and I would have a better chance of getting dive-bombed by a flying shark than I would have of contracting any of the approximately seven thousand rumored diseases and inflictions bandied about on the conspiracy interwebs. Funny guy. Numerous parts of me feel safe now.

This year has been so crazy for natural disasters and human catastrophes. There doesn't appear to be much that any one of us can do except roll with the jabs. And try not to breathe.

Peace, Love, and Pray for Rain,

Monday, October 9, 2017

Santa Barbara Getaway

Waning Gibbous Moon

I made a quick visit to Santa Barbara last week to see my brother and catch up with old friends. As Halloween approaches, the beaches and neighborhoods were already taking on a creatively spooky theme. On a walk to grab some grub from Pipeye's taco truck (by Big Brand tires on Milpas), this house on N. Alisos Street was pretty much in the swing of things.

By the way, the tacos at Pipeye's are outstanding - mouthwatering, tasty, and affordable. Pipeye's gets a major good citizenship award, too, for saving my friend Craig's jacket which he accidentally left at a curbside table. Two days later, Craig stopped by and retrieved it unscathed from the nice folks in the truck. Righteous.

The next day, after a brief visit and shopping spree with mi hermano and a fun lunch with JoJo the birthday girl, I hit the beach for a long walk in the afternoon sun. As usual, the Santa Barbara shoreline did not disappoint.

As many times as I have walked this same stretch of beach, I had never timed the tide just right to see this formation exposed so well. Love it!

Those steeply dipping beds arch to the west and connect above these layers in the heart of the fold. Earth never rests.

Even though the city streets were busy, the beach was surprisingly deserted. One guy decided to capitalize on the low tide to take his cruiser for a spin on the firm sand. Well played, cruiser dude.

I was a little confused by this sand sculpture. Is this supposed to be one of those Harry Potter games gone bad? Man, that is one serious splat. The long drop with a sudden stop. Gravity wins again.

The sparkling sun creatures were out in force, too, just east of the point. I become mesmerized by these twinkling sundancers whenever I see them. As the sun's angle gets lower in the sky with winter not far off, these natural light shows just get better and better. My favorite time to sit and be dazzled is right around Christmas.

Adios, Santa Barbara, I will always be back.

Peace, Love, and Vitamin Sea,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Saturday Afternoon on the de Anza Trail

Waxing Gibbous Moon

One of my favorite Saturday afternoon pastimes is to walk up the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail a ways and just sit there for a while. Less than a mile from the trail head from San Juan Bautista is a flat bench that overlooks the town and the San Juan Valley. It's a pretty good climb to get there, enough to make your heart beat fast and take away your breath - not a demanding workout, but a nice way to unwind. On the way, there are good views of the corrals below and so-called "Pagan Hill" above.

This particular Saturday. I stopped at the bench and stretched out to enjoy a lazy nap. The sunshine kept me warm and the mild ocean breeze rippled my tee-shirt as my heartbeat slowed and my breathing became shallow. Directly above me, I saw nothing but blue.

Before I knew it the blue faded to black as I drifted into a dreamy blissful sleep. I didn't sleep long, maybe fifteen minutes at the most, but I awoke refreshed in the breezy silence. Where were the other hikers today, I wondered. Then I realized I didn't really care, it was a charmed blessing to have this spot to myself and the cute little trail sculptures.

On the way back, I saw the marine layer beginning to creep over the hills and I knew evening would be coming soon. The season is changing. Sunset comes earlier by the day.

I love the rhythms of nature - the lunar cycles, the seasons, my lazy Saturday hikes, the mellow afternoon sea breeze, and the rolling night time fog. I'm so lucky to have these peaceful moments.

Peace, Love, and Trail Time,

Monday, September 25, 2017

Palomino Nation

Waxing Crescent Moon

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After seven and a half months of road walking and eleven months of text wrangling, this dad gum transcontinental stroller tour is just about over. My book about last year's walk across the country is finished and officially for sale. I really want you to read it and if you like it, please tell your friends. On the other hand, if you read it and you think it stinks, humor me - do not tell a soul. It will be available on Amazon by October 1, 2017. Until then, you can get a copy (or copies) straight from the publisher by clicking here. Oh by the way, books make great gifts!

I tried harder on this book than I did on the last one, mostly because I had to - the hike itself was really hard. At three miles per hour, your senses pick up things you miss in a car, on a train, in the air, or even on a bike.

You become keenly aware, like it or not, of how much change has occurred, is occurring, and will keep occurring because of people's choices and habits. Some of it is beautiful (parks, trails, landscaping) and some of it is sad (battlefields, litter, runaway development).

You recognize natural long term Earth changes (beaches, estuaries, mountain building, glaciation, erosion, sedimentation, faulting, folding).

You feel and see, in fits and starts, remnants of indigenous and immigrant cultures.

You encounter modern people daily whose hearts are so big it blows you away.

And you are never far from the ghostly, greedy demons that threaten to destroy everything they can.

Probably I didn't reveal every bit of my soul in this book. But it is there lurking in the background. I know I am better for doing all of this.

Peace, Love, and History,

Friday, August 11, 2017

Truth to Power

Waning Gibbous Moon

I went to see An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power yesterday in Santa Cruz. Pretty ironic, huh. I drove fifty miles round trip to see a movie about man-made climate change and what we can do to stop it. Oops.

Overall, I liked the movie, even though it inconveniently undid my yoga and made me even more pissed off at my so-called government. I admire Al Gore for sticking to his guns on this issue publicly since 1992. That is starting to be a long time ago. He has not wavered in his passion to bring this message to the world and partially due to his efforts, renewable energy is definitely making a difference worldwide. Look at Iowa. They are kicking major booty with their wind farms. Yes, Iowa.

This sequel to An Inconvenient Truth (2006) updates the progressions and regressions in energy policy that have occurred in the last decade while continuing to sound the alarm. The movie begins with a Gore helicopter visit (oops again!) to a glacial field with a research scientist. It clearly shows the melting of the glaciers and the rapid runoff, producing a river of blue in the white expanse of ice. Gore casually tosses around the glaciology term moulin as though the audience would automatically know what that is. I will provide the definition here to save some of you the Google search.

Moulin: a vertical or nearly vertical shaft in a glacier, formed by surface water percolating through a crack in the ice.

All that water going down the shaft is going somewhere, and that somewhere is directly into the ocean. Due to our own ignorance and  greed, we are giving ourselves the moulin, if you get my drift.

Perhaps the most moving visual of the show, however, is not the melting glacier, but another visit Gore made, this one to Miami, Florida. A bunch of fat white guys, Gore included, are standing around in a street in Miami wearing rubber boots up to their knees. The rubber boots are needed to protect their skinny jeans from the foot-high water flooding the immediate vicinity in downtown Miami. 

Where is the water coming from? Three guesses and the first two don't count. Sea level rise is happening now, just as the scientists said it would. Where is that news on Trump-watch TV? It is hardly even mentioned. The rubber-booted engineers are talking about their overwhelmed pumping system as if it just needed a little tweak or two to beat back the Atlantic Freaking Ocean. 

The sequel has less science 'splaining and more specific and moving visual examples of the results of climate change than the original movie. It has a little fewer Al-giving-the-slide-show segments and more world-leaders-negotiating-solutions segments. It emphasizes the international efforts to address the issues and exposes the United States' recent feckless, irresponsible lack of leadership as folly and stupidity. It is very heavy on the Al quotient, though, perhaps too heavy. He says he isn't running for office, but he is definitely reminding everyone that we royally screwed the pooch by letting the damn Supreme Court take away his Presidency. It is hard to argue with that, as history has shown.

The climate truth is very inconvenient for all of us. The weather patterns are going to get more violent. The fire seasons are going to get worse. Droughts and famines are going to produce humanitarian crises like never before. We are going to have to science the shit out of this right here on Planet Earth. Get cracking.

Peace, Love, and Geologic Dictionaries,

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Crazy Horse

Waning Gibbous Moon

I will read anything by Larry McMurtry. In fact, I thought that I had read everything he has published until I ran into Crazy Horse: A Life (1999). It was tucked back on a shelf in the American Indian research section of the San Benito County Free Library and I grabbed it as soon as I saw it.

This is a short Penguin book written in McMurtry's factual, but richly descriptive style. He takes you into this biography only as far as he can go without making stuff up. The brief  life story of Crazy Horse, most of which is just plain unknown, is terse and brutally realistic in that McMurtry refuses to dramatize or glorify beyond what can be claimed as true. And, as he repeatedly reminds the reader, it ain't that much. You want to know more, but Crazy Horse just didn't give it up. A lot of this book is dedicated to debunking previous accounts as fairy tales.

Crazy Horse only lived about thirty-five years. Much of what we know about him stems from a vision he had after fasting for a couple of days. He saw a horseman floating above ground. He was told not to decorate himself or to keep anything for himself. In battle, he was to wear a small stone behind his ear and a single feather at most atop his head. He would die when people he knew were holding his arms back in a fight.

He kept to himself almost all the time, but was known, in keeping with his vision, as a man of great charity to those he stayed with on the occasions when he was in camp. He was quite taken with a woman of his tribe (Oglala), but she married another man, someone much more of a homebody. Crazy Horse eventually took a wife who bore his children, but continued his roaming, singular mystic life most of the time.

His early death was as predicted. Always reluctant to compromise or concede to the white man, he was persuaded to come to Fort Robinson in northwest Nebraska for talks. Held back by Little Big Man (the real Little Big Man, not the fictional character), he was pierced through the kidneys with a bayonet by William Gentle and died. His reputation as a giving person who was fiercely independent and strongly opposed to surrendering to United States forces earned Crazy Horse a special place in the history of the Oglala Sioux. In memoriam, his likeness is in the process of being carved into stone in the Black Hills of South Dakota by the Ziolkowski family.

Peace, Love, and Independence,

Monday, July 3, 2017

Big Blend Radio

Waxing Gibbous Moon

I did another interview last Friday on Big Blend Radio with my sound wave friends Lisa and Nancy from Tucson AZ. The topic was Community Parks and Trails and, as usual, I rambled on and on in my dust-choked old man voice about whatever came to mind. It was fun for me, but most likely it's rather long for most people's busy schedules. You can try it out for yourself by clicking on Big Blend. Just bear in mind it lasts over an hour.


Plans are shaping up for a slam bang Fourth of July gala potluck in the Big Barn here at Mission Farm RV Park. Victor the Grill Master will be charring chicken, pork ribs, and tri-tip. Everybody else is fixing side dishes and icing down their favorite beverages in anticipation of a wild west hoedown.

Fire danger is too high for fireworks, but nobody I know cares about making a lot of noise anyway. Disturbing the peace is not big on the senior citizen bucket list in these parts.

I hope you have a safe and pleasant holiday. Stay vigilant and live free.

Peace, Love, and Ribs,