The view from above

May 24, 2016

This week, the theme of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Looking Down on Things:

This week all you have to do it look down.  You can be looking down from anything from a cliff to a high rise building or even a plane.  Have fun with this challenge.

You can find quite a few ponds, in a wide variety of sizes, on Mississippi Bar near the American River Parkway. Most of these ponds are man-made — a result of the efforts to mitigate the environmental damage done over the years by gold dredging operations and gravel processing. Although many of the ponds connect, directly or otherwise, to Lake Natoma, some are self contained and rely on rainfall to fill up every winter.

August 18, 2016
October 18, 2016

For the past five years, the drought has left these ponds high and dry. But the 2016-2017 season has without a doubt seen higher than average rainfall totals; and the results are clear to see.

December 14, 2016

Whenever I’m hiking in the area, I’ve made it a habit to pause at the same vantage point and look down to check the water level in this particular pond on Mississippi Bar.

February 18, 2017

Memory Monday, Week 14

1936 Rolls Royce, Victoria, B.C.

We spent two very full days in Victoria, and I’m certain we still missed a lot of great sights there.  The Rolls Royce shown above was parked near the Royal London Wax Museum (which sadly, I just learned, was closed in September 2010); we didn’t pay to go inside, but I was entranced by the figure of a young Queen Victoria standing proudly in the lobby — so much so that my dad agreed to return the next day just to take a picture of her (his photo turned out a bit dark, so the image below is one that I took myself the following year). I also managed to snag a copy of the wax museum’s Souvenir Guide Book before we left.


Tourist buses wait curbside

Most of Friday was spent exploring the magnificent Provincial Museum. The highlight for me was the modern history floor — the 1920s were brought to life with cobbled streets and a variety of shops, including a blacksmith, a garage, and a telegraph office. There was also the Roxy Theater, running silent comedies. On other floors we learned about the native Indians, Captain Cook’s voyages, and the history of coal mining, complete with a Cornish water wheel.

Very near the Provincial Museum was the Parliament Building; we were treated to a 30-minute tour by a young man named Colin Stewart. We ventured into the lobby of the wonderfully impressive Empress Hotel only very briefly — as I wrote in my travel journal, “it was so fancy and beautiful, and we were in our camping gear.”

On Saturday we walked over to Ogden Point to visit the two Japanese sailing ships we had seen from the ferry, the Nippon Maru and the Kaiwo Maru. They were there to help celebrate the British Columbia Captain Cook Bicentennial.


Although we missed out on a chance to board the ships, we did meet one of the crew members — his name was Tadao Ikenobi, and he was a ship’s carpenter. He told us he was from outside Tokyo and had three children. He enjoyed listening to my dad practice his Japanese (from his time stationed in Japan during the early 1950s); before parting, we exchanged addresses, and our new Japanese friend told us he would expect a Christmas letter.


Our next stop on the trip was The Butchart Gardens, and I’ll share that with you next week!

The Adventure Continues… Things That Crawl in the Night

A week ago I took part in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge themed Crawling or Flying; so when I noticed that this episode of California’s Gold had to do with things that crawl, I couldn’t resist sharing it!

Join Huell and encounter the endangered kangaroo rat at Carrizo Plain Natural Area, considered the best example of the fragile ecosystem in the San Joaquin Valley; then experience first hand one of nature’s unique phenomenon: the grunion run, this one at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.

(Click on the linked image below to see the video.)

WPC: Against The Odds


The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge for the week of February 15, 2017.

This week, share a photo that says “against the odds.” Maybe it’s a photo of an unlikely occurrence. Maybe it’s the photo itself that goes against the odds — a shot you never thought you’d get. Maybe it’s a photo of something you’re not sure you’ll be able to do.

It may have been early November and the middle of rutting season, but even so the very last thing I expected to see that morning was a huge buck swimming across Lake Natoma and climbing out of the water onto the middle of the bike trail.


Clearly, he was just as surprised as the handful of us early morning trail walkers who stood gaping — and fumbling for our phones and cameras.  Sure, outdoor lovers will occasionally spot a deer or two inside the state park, but how many times do you see a minimum four-point buck trotting down the middle of the bike trail?


Moonlight Sonata


Last Saturday night I walked over to the bluffs that overlook Lake Natoma and the city of Folsom, and I waited for the full moon to rise.  I knew with my small hand-held camera I’d have trouble getting clear images.  I didn’t care — I had to at least try.


It was chilly, but I was alone in the dark and below me, the lights of the town and the Lake Natoma Crossing glowed with warmth.  I had arrived about 6:40 p.m. and tried to be patient. But I had almost convinced myself I was waiting in the wrong spot when I happened to glance up — and there it was, hanging like a big, fat pumpkin just above the foothills.


And then my camera batteries died, and all I had was my smart phone — so I used that.


No, they’re not the greatest pictures, but I’m glad I had dropped everything to venture out and was standing there, watching. The full moon on the water was magnificent.