Category Archives: Excursions

Last day of winter, first day of spring

A good Saturday morning when the sun comes in the kitchen window and lights up the coffee in the kitchen corner.

Last day of winter, coffee

A good winter morning to wander around the tiny front garden. The green season is in full green and the roses smell sweet.

Last day of winter, rose

Last day of winter, borage and poppy

Last day of winter, red maple

The first day of Spring is a good Sunday to visit la playa fria.

First day of spring, sand and ocean

First day of spring, la playa fría

First day of spring, lagoon dunes

Rainy and gray outside, but the roses are still bright.

Spring bouquet

A good weekend, never enough time.



Filed under Excursions, Uncategorized

Light and Rain

Rain! Over the last month or so.  A few photos from here and there and then and when.

Rainbow in San Leandro at sunset. The horizon burned gold, and the rainbow was behind.

Arcoiris san leandro 3

Arcoiris san leandro 1

Rain-downed leaves in Oakland, a cut pile rug.

Cut pile leaves not so close

Sideways light with yellow trees in San Leandro.

Rain light yellow

Clouds and blue sky, Martin Luther King Jr Shoreline in Oakland.

Morning after rain over tidal creek

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Filed under Excursions, Oakland, On Color

Grass Valley Trail is a little different today

After a week of rain rain and so much rain (woohoo! and oh shit! all together), we have a dry weekend. Not sunny, not really, just a bit of blue and thin sun through the clouds. I woke up tired. The Kid woke up late and tired. But we dragged ourselves out, with Kid’s bike and my feet, and drove up the hill to our Grass Valley Trail.


Right. We saw a sign recently that they were bringing cattle back to the valley. Okay. New sign.

Yup cattle were here

We expect mud. After all, it’s been raining this week. But that’s not just mud. And those aren’t just bike tracks and dog tracks. Or horse tracks.

Found the cattle

Oh look! We see cows! And calves! That’s so neat! Gosh, they make a lot of noise. And it’s pretty funny to see a big black cow emerge from the bushes where I’m used to seeing jays and maybe somebody’s dog.

Damn it cattle on the trail

Uh oh. Cattle on the trail. What did that sign say?


They didn’t disperse. They didn’t move. I lived in Wisconsin on a farm, but I grew up with sheep and goats. Even as a kid, I was taller. How the hell do you move cows off the trail? They looked at us. And looked at us. And continued to not move.

Fine. It’s kind of a pain to deal with this muddy dug up cow pattied trail anyway. So we turn around and head back, defeated by the damn cattle.

Turn around and damn it cattle on the road back too

Cow nursing calf on the trail. Of course. At least there was enough room for us to go off trail and around.

Probably not just mud

We made it back to the car. No cows charged us. We warned all the people we met walking dogs that yes, there really are cattle here right now.

I’m pretty sure that’s not just mud on the bike.

It was a good little excursion, if unexpectedly interesting. I laughed most of the way.

Damn cattle. Cows. Whatever.

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Filed under Excursions, Oakland

End of November

Zoom Zoom Zoom the weeks whisk by. We had a lovely long weekend, including Thanksgiving and a birthday and family visiting. And the possibility of rain! In fact, the forecast was lots of rain!

So we went to the Marin Headlands Friday, ahead of the rain. The waves were large and the weather was mild. Warm. No wind. The long edge of cloud moved away before we left. We walked around the lagoon counting egrets (the Kid counted Audis, but not on the lagoon), and didn’t sit on the beach because we were hungry at the wrong time.

Black Friday beach
Black Friday lagoon

A little roadside geology.


It didn’t rain Saturday. Mostly gray sky. We were disappointed, but distracted by fun errands.

A view from Laurel Books now in downtown Oakland. (so big inside!)

Bookstore window
Oaks in the pavement. Somehow, they look healthy.
Oaks in plaza
Layers of buildings.
Not a parking ticket.
November Parking ticket

Then we went home and ate more enchiladas. And it rained Sunday morning.

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Filed under Excursions, Oakland

Message in a Bottle

I’m slowly reading Jean Sprackland’s Strands: A Year of Discovery on the Beach. I just finished the chapter SOS to the World, about two bottles she found with messages, the same message. And of course about messages in bottles in general and why and what happens and stories.

Why would anyone write this stuff? What kind of disturbed person keeps throwing messages into the sea? How can it be normal to send letters to people you don’t know? Eventually someone with a sense of irony writes, ‘Aren’t all blogs just nothing more than messages in a bottle?’

And suddenly, I need to write a blog post.


Dry blue jelly
Walking along, not really looking, I thought this was a used condom. But there was another, and another, and then several all together. Seemed like an unusual quantity of used condoms on the beach. And they were blue. With sails,
Another sry blue jelly
Seaweed air sac
Messages everywhere.
Harrington (Carrington?) at Foothill
19th Ave at International

Jean Sprackland writes lovely and powerful (sneaky powerful) poetry. Of her poetry books, I have Tilt and Sleeping Keys. Maybe because I’ve spent more time with Sleeping Keys, I keep returning to it. It Occurs to my Mother that She Might Be Dead. In. Last Resort. The Birds of the Air. Taking Down the Scaffolding. Supra-Ventricular Tachycardia. (Looking for that one poem, turn a page and “oh, that one too!” and turn another page and “and this one!”) I want to share them all with you (wherever this message washes up). Look for the book.

The end of In:

She hadn’t reckoned on resistance. Happiness, then,

is not some delicate gift, but a locked and stubborn thing

you have to break open. Now for a sleepless night

of rain and wind before the making good.

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Filed under Excursions, Oakland, Poems, Reading

Grass Valley Trail, winter through spring might as well be summer…

I love this little trail. We get to it from Anthony Chabot Regional Park Bort Meadow parking on Redwood Road, the back way between Oakland and Castro Valley. It’s less than ten miles from our house, and a small driving adventure (whee curves oh shit bikes).

We live in a climate of wet and dry seasons, but lately it’s more like dry and drier seasons. This last winter was glorious. So many beautiful weekends to get out and about, our faces showing a little too much sun.

Grass Valley Trail in winter

But the hills should be green in January.

Winter hill Grass Valley Trail

When the plum trees started blooming, the green was a little stronger under last year’s grass.

Grass Valley Trail early plum flowers

And today? The grass is green and tall.

Tall grass on Grass Valley Trail 5-11-14

Tall enough to hide mountain lions and snakes and ground squirrels and clattering wings and allergens…

Trail in tall grass, Grass Valley Trail 5-11-14

We turned around after only a few minutes today. One kid had a suddenly streaming nose and itchy eyes, but not until after he mentioned snakes. At the reminder of snakes, the other kid went back to the gate and lurked a while, under the Mountain Lion warning sign. But that was okay, because we already had a discussion about mountain lions and safety with the youngest of the three on the way out. Don’t tell the kids, but the real reason we left so quickly? I was too hot.

Besides, we were ready for hamburgers from Sparky’s on the way back down the hill.

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Filed under Excursions, Oakland

Bear Valley Trail, Pt Reyes

I had a weekend without family last summer, so I treated myself to a much longer hike than usual.  I argued with myself all the way from Oakland to West Marin, even called Mom to distract me from my attempts to justify not going.  Silly brain.

I started from Bear Valley Visitor Center.  Over the years, I’ve walked several times up to Divide Meadow and back, memorably once carrying a sleeping three-year-old slung on my back all the way down to the car. This time, I wanted to walk all the way out and back, but I didn’t know how long it would take or if I could manage. Usually, I’m limited by a whining child or everybody’s schedules (who’s playing futbol today when).

I started in the sun and found the fog at Divide Meadow.

Fog divide over divide meadow, bear valley trail

The log benches in the meadow are a good place to eat lunch and spin. (I have a rule. If I want a photo of my spinning in a lovely place, I need to actually spin and not just take the photo.)

Silk spinning, divide meadow, bear valley trail

And then I walked

Creek, bear valley trail

and walked

Pines, bear valley trail

until I suddenly found the ocean, tilting horizon and Pt Reyes lighthouse and all. Arch Rock is the end of the trail.

Pt Reyes from Arch Rock, bear valley trail

I watched a seagull watch all the people. (It was not as lonely as the photos imply.)

Seagull, Arch Rock, bear valley trail

Of course I spun more silk.

Silk spinning, Arch Rock, bear valley trail

And then I walked back up and over the hill.

Dark Bay and Light Aspen, bear valley trail

About thirteen miles round trip, I was back in the meadow at the Bear Valley trailhead.

Meadow at Bear Valley trailhead

My feet were tired and sore, but no blisters. A beautiful walk, through different woods and grasses and coastal scrub and Suddenly Ocean.

Here I am, a couple months later, and I can’t do even a short hike until this mysteriously injured toe rests enough to heal and my knees are in better shape. I’m not sure these photos are a consolation or a terrible temptation.

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Filed under Excursions, Spinning