A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sea Urchin

This is looking down into a crate full of freshly caught sea urchin that had just been unload on the wharf in Santa Cruz. Looks very much like cholla cactus to me (see photo at right). The ovaries or roe of this sea creature is a delicacy where much of it is shipped to Japan and fetches a price of $450 a kilogram. Because of the high demand from the Japanese there is a sincere concern of overfishing of this animal. I think we should leave them alone and let the sea otters enjoy the delights sea urchin. Ever see pictures of sea otters floating in the ocean on their back eating sea urchin? Here...(picture not mine but taken off the internet)
This is who should eat sea urchin.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Phun Phriday

A few of the blogs I follow do this thing called Phun Phriday with their photos. I've never done one, but today will take my first step into the arena. I was inspired to try the following from another blog. I forget which, but thank you whoever you are.
This is the engine in my friend Lynn's 1948 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery. All the speed equiptment is correct for that time era, meaning the add-ons are what was availible in those years to soup-up an engine.

This is how the engine looked before I got to playing around having phun with photoshop tools.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Frog Pond Revisited

Okay, it is the middle of the week and everyone is in school or at work. A perfect time to go back to the pond, get a picture of a frog and not be disrupted in doing so. I hiked in, arrived at the pond and it was as quiet as a mausoleum. What gives? The last time the frogs were going nuts with their croaking. Either everyone was asleep or the frog orgy is over for the season. Maybe the park service lets the frogs out on weekends only, I don't know. I do know I was bummed.

So I had to settle on a turkey for the day.

Finally, I see a lot of this on the trails.
(some may want to skip this next part)
Notice the scat on the rock. Some type of animal goes to great effort marking his territory by going poop on top of rocks. It has the very same appearance as dog doo (dogs are not allowed in the park and I never see any) so naturally one would think coyote. But for a coyote to do his business on top of this boulder would require a great deal of balance and skill. Other possible suspects would be fox, raccoon, possum or skunk. I am no scatologist so I don't know, but I can tell you it is everywhere in this 5000 acre State Park. So as long as you don't go boulder hopping, you shouldn't have to worry too much about where you step.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One Very Old Bicycle

(This is not my bicycle nor my garage. Just another part of the visit with my friend.)

So you may wonder just how old this bicycle is. The rims are made of wood, that is how old it is. He didn't know much about the bicycle. The nameplate badge on the headpiece was not correct for the bicycle. I did some research and found out it is a Crown bicycle. The company was in LaPorte, Indiana, and this model dates to the late teens or early 20's.  I think the seat is a later type from the 1940's. Notice the metal tab on the side edge of the seat. This was to protect the seat when it was leaned against a wall or lying on the ground. Back in this time period, to purchase a bicycle cost comparably to one purchasing a motorcycle today. I thought the frame design alone was so elegant.

Also notice the boat motor in the upper right corner of the photo. It is of the Seagull brand. He had about four or five of these motors, only this one was mounted for display. The others were lying down near the boat motors on the previous post and he plans to mount them on the wall next to them. All of them were similar, just bare bones functionality of a motor for a boat. All of his motors dated back to the 1930's. He had a small cardboard box filled with spare parts for these motors. The box was labeled 'Seagull Shit'. Seemed appropriate. Seagull discontinued production in 1996.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Putt Putt Putt

(Whoa here! Commentors are thinking I collect outboard motors. No way!
The post below is an addition to yesterday's post about my visit with my friend Lynn.
Any further posts regarding odd articles collected and mentioning Lynn [he's my friend, not my wife]
are a result from our visit and the original post Dodge Duo)

Okay, I am a sucker for old outboard motors. I don't have a boat, I don't fish, I don't do anything related to an outboard motor. I just think they look cool.
Here is the story behind this one. The original owner bought it brand new back in the early '50's. The first time he took it out, his son dropped the motor and put a dent in the casing right above the 'OH' of Johnson. I think we can imagine what the mood for the day was right after that. Years later the owner passed away and the son inherited the motor. One day Lynn was visiting the son when he was asked "You like old boat motors?" He did and the son said, "Follow me." Pointing at the old Johnson propped up in the corner of the garage he said "You interested in that?" Lynn said sure and asked him what he wanted for it. "Just take it! It's yours! I'm tired of looking at it and being reminded of the first day we took it out!" It was then the story was revealed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dodge Duo

Last week I went to visit a dear friend of mine. His home is a virtual museum of collectible pre-1950 items. Whereas most "collectors" come across as hoarders with stuff stacked and strewn everywhere, Lynn is the complete opposite. Everything is nicely displayed, clean and would stand side by side with most museums. Although most of the items are car orientated, his interests go a bit beyond including radios, toys, sewing machines just to name a few. My last visit there I was so overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of items my head was spinning when I left.  He is getting up in years and is in the process of thinning out the collection.

The truck on the left is a 1939 and I believe the other is 1938. I could be wrong but I know late 30's. The one on the right the bed of the truck was pretty well rusted out. His wife wanted to make a flower garden in it. A clever idea but I don't think there was a mutual agreement on that. Yet to front the display with a series of old Chevy bell housings looked pretty cool. He's having titles drawn up on each and will sell them both.
More to come.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Last of the Art

I think I'll wind up the images from the art garden today,
and get back to the regulary scheduled programming.
I like rust art a lot. I wondered what the leaves were made of as they were not rusty.
These were pretty cool. Made me think of Dr. Seuss.
Finally there were some metal sculptures which the swirling patterns on the metal captured my interest more than the piece as a whole.


Thank you to all who toured the art garden with me and made comments all week long.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Frog Pond

The other day while on a hike I discovered something new. Well really, I heard it before I saw it. It was a shallow pond lying in the basin of a small meadow. The pond was simply alive with frogs croaking their little hearts out. I approached the water slowly and quietly as to not cause the frogs to go silent. The majority were in the center of the pond hidden among the tules and cattails, yet I could tell there were many close by along the edge of the growth within a few feet of me. I looked long and hard for just one of the little buggers but could not locate a single frog. I had no idea what size or color they were so as to find one in my viewfinder more easily. I eased around the edges of the pond and although they kept chirping away, they remained hidden or were very well camouflaged. After about a half an hour of this frustration, I walked on down the trail disappointed. But I couldn't get out of my mind having a least one frog picture and was soon back by the pond. I logged in another 15 minutes of frog stalking when a group of people came down the trail into the meadow from the other side. They were talking loudly, stomping around (by now the frogs had become silent) with one of them wading around in the water searching for whatever she could find. So much for getting a frog picture. I left them to their foolishness, climbed up the hilly trail and took this shot.
I'll go back to the frog pond during the week sometime when everyone is at work and school, and I will get that frog picture.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vacant Bird Houses

I said yesterday's art piece was my favorite but maybe this one was. I liked the variety of colors.
Okay, both were my favorites.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Peaceful Place

This was my favorite piece in the entire garden. I walked by a doorway size opening and said "whoa".  Therein was an open space with the six white trees (birch?) set in a square area sided by white mesh screen partitions on three sides with the blue backdrop to the rear. It must of looked really sharp when new and the gravel was snow white and pristine. I only just noticed the three balls while doing this post. Whatever the artist's intent was with this, it worked for me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today is...

...a beautiful day.

Some scenes near home taken in the past hour.
 This is why at times I feel it difficult to leave for a road trip.
I apologize in advance to those of you who are dealing with snow.
A slightly different view of the first image.
 Hard to imagine wildflowers in January but it does happen here. They are mustard which is commonly planted within the vineyard rows.

Body Sculptures

Not really sure what the artists had in mind with these but that's normally how it is with conceptual art.
At least for me.
I did have funny captions in mind for each but didn't think it would be nice making fun of other people's efforts.
I'll just stick to making fun of my own.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dead Tree Art

The write-up said this was a dead tree on the property and the artist had an idea for it - covering it with balls intended for Christmas decorations. I don't recall ever seeing Christmas decorations the size and shape of ping pong balls in a pale Robin's egg blue before.
There are Christmas lights intertwined so again,like the picket fence, at night it must look very attractive.
More art pieces to come.

Blue Orbs

This would have been better had not the trees been in the shot. Yet I wanted to get the sunlight shining through one of the pieces and with either one, at any angle and keeping the sun behind, the tree was always there.
Here is the same imaged cropped down and with the tree removed. I trying to learn how to re-work photos with photoshop programs.
Taking it a step further and I think I best stop messing around with it and move on.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Twisted Picket


I just couldn't really get the full sweeping effect of the fence in a single shot. Standing at the corner lost the feel of it being a fence. If I had a higher vantage point at the corner that would be ideal. It wrapped around the corner continuing on back into a standard upright picket fence. There were light bulbs along the edge which must provide a pretty dramatic image at night.

Would I want a fence like this in my yard? You betcha. Would it keep dogs and kids inside (or out depending on your desires), not hardly. Pretty cool concept anyway.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stop and Sit

Today looked to be another dreary overcast day so I got in the car to search for some sunshine. My plan was to head for the upper portion of the San Francisco Bay. There lies some shallow wetlands and perhaps I could get in some more practice with the 400mm lens on some birds or whoever was there that would cooperate. I never made it. I passed by a winery that was full of interesting garden art and it was there I spent several hours. So check back each day to see just some of the interesting art pieces that I discovered.

Monday, January 10, 2011

25 Degrees!

That is what the temperature was this morning. Fortunately it is suppose to start raining again for a week straight (I never thought I'd be writing those words) which means warmer weather usually...well, I guess it could snow. Egads!
What ever happened to global warming?

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Battle Continues

Ash-Throated Flycatcher

I went for a hike in a different park thinking different animals and birds were to be found. Not so, as other than the usual chattering Acorn Woodpeckers this Flycatcher was the only other resident to be found. Everyone's left for the winter. I think I'll stick to my Annadel Park for close-by-home places to stalk wildlife. This picture isn't the greatest but it is all I have for my efforts. Things will get better...I hope.

But the battle between my camera and I continues. I've been working with a 400mm lens lately trying to get the hang of it now, rather than later when I have that prize-winning photo opportunity in front of me. I was well into my hike when I raised the camera for that first shot and nothing clicked. Looking at the screen on top an error code was flashing at me. I didn't know what eFF mean't. I fiddled with the camera and lens for the longest time before I finally gave up and called home for help. I had to get my wife to look it up in the owner's manual. Turned out the aperture ring had to be set at its smallest setting of f22 for things to work! Grrrrr....

I wasn't going to write about this as I do have a wee bit of pride in me, but I've had 48 hours now to get over the humiliation. Stay tuned for further misadventures of Me and My Camera. I could create a whole other blog on that subject.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Turkey Shoot

Yesterday the skies cleared of rain clouds for the first time in I don't know how many days. To celebrate this glorious event I went for a hike. One of the objectives was to try a different approach in lugging camera equipment along for miles on rough, muddy, rocky and steep trails without any mishaps or making the trek more difficult with the added gear. That part worked out great. Now I need to concentrate on remembering to check camera settings. Awhile back I had the white balance set wrong, this time it was the ISO setting. This gave me about 80 some odd pictures of no value. Good grief, will I ever learn? I am about ready to glue a note onto the back of the camera in big bold red letters: "Hey stupid,check your settings!"
So the pictures of the turkey vultures in flight, the coots and grebe on the lake and the coyotes in the field are all of poor quality. But I had a good time anyway and at least these of the turkeys are not too bad. I like the colors the sun brought out in their feathers.
Did you hear that?

This is when the coyote began to howl. I've heard coyotes many times but this one was eerie; just plain unnerving and scary sounding. It as if he or she was in pain, caught in a trap. I was cutting cross country through a large meadow when I spotted the first coyote. He was about three or four hundred yards away and wanted no part of me trotting away stopping frequently to check on my whereabouts. What I wasn't aware of while taking dozens of photos was that there was another coyote off to my right only a hundred yards from me.
Coyote number one...
...and number two.

Anyway, it was a grand day and I had a good time and fun hike under clear blue skies in spite of my inability to become friends with my camera. I'll try again soon.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Eve's Dinner

The day sort of creeps up on us and is soon here without having made any plans. When my wife asks if I have any ideas I suggest we go downtown, walk around with the people and just "wing it" with no reservations. I enjoy doing things with no real plan allowing fate to dictate the sequence of events. Having no other recourse but to stay home and eat left-overs from Christmas, she's all for it. As we drive around, the streets and sidewalks are pretty void of any activity. Doing a slow drive-by of the restaurants reveals a lot of empty tables. I think this just another sign of the struggling economy. My wife suggests that people are staying home rather than going out. Around the block we drive and on a back street there stands a Japanese restaurant. "Hey, we've never had Japanese food before, want to try it?" She's for it.

Inside there are no other customers. We have the place to ourselves. We place our orders - seafood tempura for me, lemon chicken tempura for her and the waiter asks about drinks. My wife selects a glass of Merlot from their wine list and I stick to the tea. The waiter leaves, I begin looking around and notice on the wine list several Japanese beers. Always one to try foreign brews, when the waiter returns with her wine I ask for a beer. She sips her wine and makes a face...not good. "I should have known being in a Japanese restaurant." I look at the list to see which winery it came from. "Scout. Ever hear of that one?" We live in the wine country but this is new to us. I tell her it was from some boy scouts earning their merit badge in wine making. My beer arrives and he pours half of it into a mug. People, don't pour my beer! There's an art to it. I let it rest. I pour the remainder in and hoist my glass to a new year stopping short of a drink. There, on the opposite rim, is a set of lip marks staring at me! I look closely and a matching set resides where I just about placed my lips. I am inspecting the mug looking for just one clear unfouled piece of glass when the waiter returns with our appetizer. "Um, I am having a issue with this glass" I mention. I don't even have to point out the offending areas as he readily sees them. Apologizing, he says he'll go get another. My wife says he'll probably drink it. He returns with another bottle and mug and I quickly stop him short of pouring saying I'll do it myself. This mug looks clean yet I remark to my wife, he probably wiped it with his apron. With that thought in my head, I drink the beer from the bottle.

We hear from the other side of the partition some people enter the restaurant. "Good evening. We have reservations for five." Lady, I don't think reservations are necessary here. They have the whole place to decide where the five of them will sit. I now realize that I forgot my camera to document the evening with. But I do have my new cellphone with camera and press it into action. (I know now it's limitations as none of the evening low-light photos came out very well.) Our food arrives and like the tea and appetizer, it is lukewarm. Maybe that is how the Japanese eat their food. What do we know? My wife's lemon chicken she says is quite good. I think it is the strong flavored lemon sauce you dip it in that is its saving grace. My seafood tempura is okay but sort of bland. Maybe this is another Japanese trait. Their not into flavor that much.

We finish our meals, leave the party of five to their fate and step outside in the cold crisp air. It feels invigorating but ohhhh, there is a desperate need to walk off this meal. We walk past the neighboring Thai restaurant noticing quite a few tables occupied. "Gee, maybe we should have eaten here". I notice the cloth table covers. I tell her I don't think that would have been a good idea. Having knocked over my bottle of beer as I did,  it would have been a bit more of a mess to enjoy our dinner by. Our walk reveals a couple Italian restaurants we had overlooked while driving, and we try our best from saying "we should of, could of". Still, most all of the places have vacant tables except for a tiny little bistro tucked off into an alleyway, and two other high-end hoity-toity places which are packed. We drive home to recover, neither of us making it to midnight.

Next year there will be plans made.