Our weather has finally become a bit more normal. For a while it got up to the 90’s, then down to the 50’s, and then hot again. Now it’s settled into warm, at times breezy. Since the weather finally cooperated, we set the Endurance’s life support systems to stand by for the crew and headed off to the Gardens at Heather Farm. As I had hoped, the roses were blooming madly. The last time we were there, the roses were just beginning to put out buds.
There are more pics, but now it’s time for the fur kids to shine.
Now for the rest of the Heather Farm pics. There aren’t a lot, but I put them in a slideshow to make it easier. There are non rose pics along with a couple of critters.
I wanted to post this last week, but power outages and other assorted things got in the way. We managed a return trip to the botanical garden at Tilden Regional Park. I’m really glad we got there when we did as we had lovely cool fog hugging the hilltops and everything was still very green. We’ve experienced a heatwave or two since then and the hills are already turning to their summer tan. It’s still beautiful, but I already miss the green color.
First though, it’s time for the pointy-eared people and the floppy-eared one to shine.
When we went off to the botanical garden, the hills were still bright green and we had a bit of fog.
The botanical garden preserves and exhibits the native plants of California. According the park website:
Notable among the many specimens that have been brought in from all corners of the state are representatives of nearly all the state’s conifers and oaks, and probably the most complete collections of California manzanitas to be found anywhere. There are also extensive collections of California native bunchgrasses, bulbs, aquatic plants, and representatives of about 300 taxa that are classified in the California Native Plant Society’s landmark study, “Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California.”
I must inject a quick note. After that trip, we found a beer that got our attention, so we tried it. It was made by a local brewery called Fort Point Beer Company. It was called “Manzanita”.
Anyhow, back to the botanical garden… There were plenty of things to see. We even saw a beautiful butterfly.
Yes everyone, we’re back. I was going to post last weekend until I remembered that we had to do our semi-annual move-out-move-back-in thing. At least the weather was nice. Lastech took last week off so that he could help and have a bit of extra time off to boot. After we were back in place, we took a day trip up Diablo to go cloud watching.
First it’s time for the fur kids to shine.
I never get tired of watching clouds. The rainy season is pretty much over, so I enjoy any clouds that appear. This week, the heat has arrived and the hills will start turning back to their summer tan. It’s also dry and windy and that will accelerate the process.
As you can see, the hills are still green. It won’t last long now.
The turkeys were out too. It’s fun to be driving along with the window open and suddenly hear a chorus of gobbling bursting out of the tall grasses. Turkey gobbles always make me smile.
Ok, we didn’t quite play in it, we did manage to hike in it. While there has been plenty of snow in the Sierra Mtns., the snow level rarely drops enough for it to cover the top of Mt. Diablo. Last weekend, it was cold enough. I was afraid it would be rained away Sunday night, but nope. It was still there on Monday, so off we went. We had a snow day. I know many of you live in snow country and are probably rolling your eyes. 🙂 This was the first time I touched snow since January of 2002.
I’ll post more but right now it’s time for the stars of the show. In light of the fact that this last week highlighted International Women’s Day and A Day Without a Woman, Miss Jenny gets to lead off the show.
Back to the snow day. We lit out before noon. It was a beautiful day. We were careful to dress for the cold though as we knew it would be cold and wet at the top.
The road to the top was closed to cars at the Diablo Valley view point, so we parked and hiked from there. We decided to take the hiking trail up instead of the road. Lots of people were there along with their kids. We decided that some people are just stupid. I mean really stupid. The temps were nice at the base of the mountain. However, it was cold and wet at the top. Idiots were wearing shorts and sandals. Oh well.
Out of view on the left side of that last photo, there was a microwave tower. It was mostly hidden in the clouds, but there was no doubt about where it was. Chunks of ice could be heard falling though the structure with very loud crashing noises. After taking the trail up, we decided to hike back down via the road. The upper part of the trail was very steep and icy and while we managed it without a fall, we didn’t feel that going down that way would be as lucky. All in all, it was a 4 mile round trip and I’m so glad we got to do it. I’ve included the rest of the pics in a slide show.
Yep, mother nature is wreaking havoc and a flood is a very real possibility. We’re fine where we are. However, many of the burn areas are subject to mudslides, and some major rivers are expected to overflow their banks. We may not flood here, but it’s likely elsewhere. In addition to flooding, the winds will be high so I’m sure there will be plenty of trees going down, and yes, we’re safe from those too. Pepi won’t like having to go outside to do her business in horizontal rain. Ugh!
I hope everyone had a great New Year. It was quiet here and Lastech had to work. Even so, it wasn’t too crazy even for him. There are far less fireworks to terrorize the fur kids here in Concord, which is nice. Pepi doesn’t get fearful either, thank goodness. She’ll snarl at trash bags and tree stumps, but fireworks are ok. Go figure.
Speaking of the pointy eared people and floppy eared one… We had a cold spell. It was down in the 30s, which isn’t bad considering the temps elsewhere. However, our little trailer wasn’t built for winter, so it gets cold. We have two oil-filled radiators and they are much loved.
Yes, the heaters are loved.
We’ve managed two trips to Mt. Diablo in the last few weeks. It was in the low 30s and rather nippy both times.
It was an interesting week. We wound up waiting on a guy to show up with a tow truck. The appointment was for the afternoon, but he never showed up. He finally showed up at noon the next day. That effectively killed most of our weekend (for us, it’s Monday and Tuesday). We made it to Tilden Regional Botanical Garden, but could only spend about an hour there. It was still worth it and we’ll go back. We’ll get to that later.
The kitties have been happier with the air conditioning off most of the time now and we might even get some rain later next week. The bird watching has been intense. Very intense. Today though, the neighbor has been outside working Tito and Titanescu have been on alert and Miss Jenny has been growling. Miss Pepi has been a good doggie. No barking or growling from her. That’s good because her volume level is set way too high. 🙂
This was a camera test. I liked it.
Onward to the Tilden Regional Botanical Garden. With the tow truck driver effectively shredding our weekend, we didn’t get to spend much time there. However, it’s not far away, so we’ll go back. The friends of the garden describe it best.
The Regional Parks Botanic Garden is a naturally beautiful and tranquil living museum of California native plants. Located within Tilden Park in the hills above Berkeley, California, this enchanting 10-acre garden is a sanctuary for many of the state’s rare and endangered plants and a place for visitors to wander among trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses from plant communities throughout the state.
It’s located in Tilden Park in the hills above Berkeley, which is WSW of Concord.
Happy Caturday everyone. The last week has gone from highs in the 80s to a high of 60. Of course, we decided to go hike when it was in the 80s. We went back to Briones and picked a trail that wasn’t strenuous. The dog wasn’t amused. Pepi was hot. She let us know she was hot. She flopped in the middle of the trail and looked at us with her tongue hanging out and with a look that said “Dammit! I’m HOT”. We were fine. Pepi wasn’t. We gave her plenty of water and headed back to the car after we were a mere half mile in. The hike wasn’t a total wash though, as you’ll see below.
The pointy eared people on the other hand, are contented. They’re happy to lay around in the trailer watching the birds, planes and neighbors go by.
As for that hike, we went to Briones. It’s a regional park that is located about 6 miles West of us. It was really warm, but not miserable. We chose a nice fairly level trail. It was beautiful. We did remember to watch for snakes as the weather was perfect for them and there has already been a rattlesnake bite at Lime Ridge where we like to walk Pepi. It pays to be careful. Here are a few pics that Lastech took.
Once we reached the area where Lastech took the panoramic shot, Pepi decided she was pooped. She flopped in the dirt with her tongue hanging out and didn’t want to get up. We gave her water.
We got her back up and headed back. We stopped in the shade a few times, to make sure she drank water.
Poor Pepi was so pooped that she never saw the snake. Lastech kept her out of range while I took pictures. This is why she is never off leash and why I keep her out of tall grass. When we got back to the car, she flopped in my lap and went to sleep.
Trivia bit: Adult California ground squirrels are resistant to rattlesnake venom.
They say Mount Diablo got its name from a WTF moment in local lore, dating back from the early 19th century. In 1805, a small contingent of Spanish troops encircled a group of Native Americans, who managed to disappear without a trace using their evidently superior knowledge of the land. It’s only natural that the people who brought us the Inquisition decided the Devil was at play, and so they named the place Monte del Diablo, which some translate as Thicket of the Devil. Later, monte was mistakenly translated as mount and thus the mountain gained its current name.
As the crow flies, we now live about five miles or so from Mount Diablo, which makes it a semi-regular destination for us. On weekdays, when most folks are at work, the drive to the top is fairly relaxed and fun. I say fairly relaxed because you still have to pay close attention to other traffic, bicyclists in particular, especially near blind curves. As well, along some stretches, the road drops off abruptly, which causes fearful drivers to wander across the median dangerously.
The fun comes from spotting wildlife and the play of light on distant hills, which offers quite a spectacle on overcast and stormy days. On the drive to the top, there are many spots where to pull over and take in the sights, some with tables, benches and grills, even. From there, it is easy to see how much concealment the terrain offers wildlife or the unfortunate injured hiker at times. As close to “civilization” as Mount Diablo is, and as unimposing its elevation may appear at 3849 feet, the park’s 20.000 acres is deceptively smooth and tranquil. But just as Mount Tamalpais and its potentially treacherous Cascade Falls trail has risks, so does Diablo. And this is due in large part to both traffic and complacency.
Some of the photos in this blog post were taken as a storm system was moving through the area, giving you a sense of the textures the park offers and why it has become one of our favorites. It never fails to remind me of “Picnic at Hanging Rock”…
We missed Caturday again. Life gets strange. We’re making up for it this time, with kitties, dog, sunset AND a beautiful bird. Aside from still adjusting to graveyard shifts, we’re prepping for a short move. For whatever reason, to be designated as an RV park (as opposed to a trailer park), no one can stay beyond 6 mos. without moving out for a day (two nights). It’s a bit of a PITA, but our little abode will be towed out to the street behind the park for that time, after which we’ll return for another 6 mos. It’s worth it.
I can’t believe that it’s been almost 6 mos. already. We haven’t killed each other living in such a small space. In fact, we’re adapting well. I’m still getting rid of stuff. I avoid buying anything new (other than food stuffs) without seriously thinking about it first. I’ve done odd things like dump my two pyrex measuring cups and replace them with a plastic 2-cup measuring cup. Enough little things like that and it really lightens the load. I think the only glass or ceramic items we have left are our coffee cups, the Melitta coffee pot, and the cat food dishes. We no longer buy in bulk, except for the canned cat food. Both of us are still MUCH happier than we were before.
The kitties are happier too. In spite of adding a dog to the mix, they have adapted and learned to relax a lot more than before. Even though trailer walls are anything but soundproof, it’s much more quiet here. They like that. Speaking of kitties, here they are. Miss Jenny’s pics are a short series. They aren’t perfect photos, but we thought they were funny.
After sleeping and listening to some rain off and on, we went off to watch the sunset last night.
While watching the sunset, we saw a pair of birds hunting. They were not as large as the hawks I’m used to watching and their color was different. However, they are incredibly beautiful and manage a very graceful hover before diving on their prey. I didn’t know what they were so I asked some friends on FB and was told that they were White-tailed Kites.
I went off to find a vid that would show the beautiful hovering and found two videos by a local documentary maker named Alex Burke. Both were filmed in the East Bay hills and are a joy to watch. Both vids end with the Kite eating its kill, so if that bothers you just avoid the very end. 🙂
I’ve posted a couple of photos from the Lime Ridge Open Space, but they didn’t really show enough. Here are a few more photos to give a better scale. This ridge runs from the base of Mt. Diablo (about 5 miles away) to less than a mile from our place. As close as it is, we don’t walk there as there’s no rail crossing nearby. As a result, we drive to the parking lot about two miles away. The trails are used by runners and dog walkers as well as anyone wanting a bit of fresh air. In the summer and fall, the grass is brown and there are cracks in the ground here and there. Given the drought, it’s worse than usual. I’m hoping I’ll have some pretty green pics come spring. 🙂
That hike covered a bit over two miles. It’s good for the dog and even better for me. I’m finally losing some weight and in the right way. 🙂