Archive for June, 2016

Plano

June 26, 2016

Sunday, 26 June 20

Flew to Plano today for a week of Ericsson activities. I haven’t been here for a long time. Trip was fine, which means there’s nothing really worth mentioning. Nice chat with my Uber driver on the way from the airport.

Staying at the Aloft hotel here, nice people, okay hotel. Surrounded by cornfields. Dropped off my things, went out to see what there is to see. Well, first, walking is not the way to get around here; few sidewalks, lights not intended for pedestrians, and the like. Sunday was okay, but weekday traffic could make this problematic.

Nearby is Legacy town center, so that’s where I went. Trees, bricks, sidewalks: this isn’t so bad, even if it is 98 degrees.

IMG_1025

First scenic attraction was a little park and pond, good place to kick back if that’s what you want.

IMG_1027

The shopping area is only a few blocks, but nice enough. Restaurants, pubs, a few other ventures that think they can survive competition with Amazon.

IMG_1029

IMG_1032

Crossed Legacy drive, where I found an old bury patch, not open to the public, but accessible to cameras through the wrought-iron fence.

IMG_1039

IMG_1042

Just along the road outside the cemetery was a herd of Texas longhorns!

IMG_1034

With a cowpuncher herding them along.

IMG_1037

IMG_1035

Not far away, one of the longhorns had stopped to munch on the greenery.

IMG_1047

IMG_1049

And had another cowboy with a different opinion.

IMG_1054

The sprinklers came on, in the median strip. Nice to see water being readily available.

Well, it was late enough that I didn’t feel guilty about having a brew (not that I would have …). The Ginger Man pub advertised something like 70 brews on tap and even more in bottles. My kind of place. Found a bench in the shade and enjoyed one I had never heard of: Julius Echter Dunkelweizen, aus Wuerzburg. Pretty good.Suitably mellowed, I wandered over to Kenny’s Smoke House for pulled pork with spicy barbeque sauce.

Spoiled again!

Advertisements

ARMS at Rancho

June 19, 2016

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Got an early start at Rancho San Antonio, working on the purple star thistle area that I’ve been visiting since December. Found more, but there is less and less as time goes on.

At 8, met Tom and Ellen, and we three piled in a Midpen truck for a day of work on stinkwort (smells like camphor), bull thistle and poison hemlock.

IMG_0917

We started by finding the Fremont’s bush mallow along Chamise trail, the only one on Midpen property. It had been mowed to the ground a year ago during brush clearing, and we wanted to help prevent the same from happening again this year. So we captured GPS coordinates, cleared the area around it by hand, and put up a number of red flags marked Do Not Brush! Ellen will notify the crew to avoid it.

IMG_0911

Pretty flowers!

IMG_0913

On the way back later, we found a second bush mallow, which Tom had seen a couple years ago and which had then disappeared (under the wrath of the mower). So we also got its GPS coordinates, cleared the area around it, and marked it with flags.

IMG_0935

Our first target was an area of old quarry tailings, with a flat that could have been a house site, and evidence of one or two old roads. Such open spaces, especially where water can form small ponds, are attractive to stinkwort, and indeed we found enough to be worth taking out.

Above and below, a form of buckwheat called wickerstem. There are a lot of wildflowers around, very pretty, but so small, most of them, that they’re easy to miss.

IMG_0932

IMG_0953

Here’s another, above and below, this one skunkweed. Guess what it smells like.

IMG_0947

IMG_0959

IMG_0966

And this one, above and below, is Davy’s centaury.

IMG_0968

These, and more, identified by Tom, who IMO knows damn near everything about the botany of the region.

In Rogue Valley, we parked the truck at successive locations and worked our way along, dealing with bull thistle and poison hemlock. Tom gets nauseated by the smell of poison hemlock, so he peeled off to work on yellow star thistle instead. As for me, I hadn’t worked on hemlock before, so it was an experiment. Seems to have turned out better for me than it did for Socrates.

(BTW: ARMS means advanced resource management steward, an important-sounding title granted to us volunteers who go around pulling weeds. I probably shouldn’t go through a TSA checkpoint wearing a tee-shirt that says I’m ARMed.)

Sunday, 19 June

Did a trail patrol at El Corte de Madera Creek open space preserve. Sunny day, lots of people out, mountain bikies mostly behaving themselves, which makes me happy because there are a lot of gnarly, steep, blind, single-track curves.

IMG_0985

Redwoods and creeks are pretty much impossible to photograph. This does not even begin to do justice to the view of ECDM creek from the Virginia Mill bridge.

Good days to be outdoors

June 12, 2016

Sunday, 12 July 2016

When she has no formal projects planned, volunteer coordinator Ellen is available for ad hoc projects. We met on Saturday to work on broom along Razorback Ridge trail at Windy Hill. Pleasant day, and we made a dent, but there is so much that it was only a dent. It will need to be sprayed next season.

IMG_0737

I talk a lot about broom. Here’s a broom in bloom. This one is Spanish broom, rather than the more common French, and far more difficult to uproot. This one is above Horseshoe lake, a reminder to someone with a big weed wrench some day. Or maybe a pickaxe.

I was on the trail by 7 Sunday morning, up through Los Trancos, Montebello, Coal Creek, Russian Ridge and Skyline Ridge preserves. Pleasantly cool in the breeze, nice day. I should have gone to Mindego summit, but I wasn’t sure how much I had committed myself to, so I skipped it today. Next time: it turned out to be less than 16 miles, even with several little extra side excursions.

One of the side excursions was around Fir Knoll at Skyline Ridge. This is a trail that adds an extra 0.6 miles with no utilitarian purpose whatever; its only justification for existence is that it runs through a very pretty forest. Well, what more could we ask!

IMG_0700

And Ellen told me yesterday that there were still wildflowers on the walk around Horseshoe Lake. There are still wildflowers everywhere, but that’s a route I rarely take, so it was a good opportunity.

IMG_0708

I don’t think I had previously noticed the wild columbine turning up their sex organs for all to enjoy!

IMG_0714

IMG_0722

Flowers are to enjoy, right? Small animals in just about every one, enjoying.

IMG_0727

Well, maybe not this one. It’s about a sixteenth of an inch across.

IMG_0736

IMG_0891

IMG_0900

IMG_0902

To those who know better: yes, some of these pictures came from later, but I put them in pictorial order here.

IMG_0774

The eye spots on the dragonfly make it look as if it has a real face.

IMG_0699

And I presume the presence of the nymph is purely coincidental, nothing to do with the adult’s presence. I continue to boggle at the fact that the leading edges of their wings are open.

IMG_0778

IMG_0792

Ellen said there was larkspur on the Horseshoe lake circuit, one of the reasons I wanted to do it. Maybe what she said, or what she meant, was: there is even a light smattering of larkspur. Certainly nothing like a rich growth.

IMG_0820

I never noticed these little guys before. Tom tells me it’s Fitches spikeweed, and pretty unusual around here.

IMG_0822

I like its compound flowers.

IMG_0755

Well, I mentioned earlier that every flower has its small animals, not all of which are vegetarian. The Mariposa lilies are especially rich in photo ops. Above, we see a spider that has caught a little bee of some sort, while meanwhile, lunch goes on across the way. (Side comment: I think there are far more Mariposa lilies this year than usual, especially in comparison with California poppies.)

IMG_0881

Here’s a hungry spider, and below a good-sized carnivorous insect.

IMG_0751

IMG_0856

Saving the best for last, I was delighted with this picture. No sooner do you start eating lunch than you find that you are lunch!

Getting on toward summer

June 5, 2016

Saturday 4 June 2016

Supposed to be a hot day, so I decided to hike Purisima, possibly the coolest of the preserves. Parked halfway up Kings Mountain road, hiked down through Huddart Park, back up through Phleger Estate to the Kings Mountain volunteer fire station, where I refilled the water bottle. Then along Skyline to the North Ridge entrance.

As well as a garter snake (no photo), interesting and unusual sights included a slime mold on a stump.

IMG_0671

IMG_0665

IMG_0668

Looks like scrambled eggs, doesn’t it!

Not far down the Purisima North Ridge trail, I met Michael, who was a bit unsure what he wanted to do here today, if anything. Turned out he was from Fort Collins, Colorado, taking a day’s break from a week of work, staying at a B&B in Half Moon Bay. We walked and talked for a while; I confirmed his identification of poison oak — probably the single most important thing to do! — and we talked about grades, redwoods and Douglas fir, Audobon birds, and any number of things. Fortunate enough to find another garter snake to show Michael.

Hot enough day that I kept it to 17 miles, 3000 vertical feet — industrial grade, not a killer hike.

Sunday, 5 June

Coming down Kings Mountain Road yesterday, I passed workers out painting brightly coloured arrows on the road, and was reminded that the first Sunday in June is always the date for the Sequoia Century.

I don’t want to add congestion to the roads today, so I decided to visit Pulgas Ridge open space preserve, well away from the century routes, close and convenient, and a place I almost never go. Probably worth a circuit to have a look for bull thistle.

Got there during the coolth of the morning; the sun and heat didn’t really break through until I reached more or less the high point of the outer loop trail, so it worked out well. Short hike, but pleasant.

IMG_0676

And the special feature of today’s hike was seeing the lawn mowers in action. My favourite thing!

IMG_0673

IMG_0679

They eat pretty much anything and everything. It’s only a shame they can’t be turned loose on more of the preserves.