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,