Member since November, 2004 I like being outside.
By: clearlakemike, 6:49 PM GMT on December 16, 2005
It wasn't the caffeine that was making me shake but a little jitter from the earth about 25 minutes ago...3.4 earthquake centered near Hercules about 25 miles northeast of San Francisco on one of the faults, probably the Hayward fault.
My studio up on the third floor of my house swayed around a little and my computer and desk shook a little. So far no reports of any damamge or injuries. A 3.4 is a minor earthquake. Hopefully, that is all and it is not the precursor to the dreaded Big One on the Hayward Fault.
By: clearlakemike, 1:09 AM GMT on December 12, 2005
Scenic Byways - CA HWY 128
CA 128 is another drive in Northern California that I really enjoy cruising on. The scenic drive begins in the golden ranchlands above the Ukiah Valley to the east, winding through the coastal range, cattle ranches and California Live Oaks. Descending into the Anderson Valley, the drive goes through some of the state's most beautiful vineyard country and the rustic country town of Boonville. Boonville is home to the Mendocino County Fair and Rodeo, and some nice inns and restaurants.
After Boonville, heading west towards the coast, is the little town of Philo, home to picturesque vineyards and inviting tasting rooms. Time to stop, taste and take in the beautiful roses along the rows of vines growing up to the golden hills above. The road then winds down into the Navarro River valley along the river and graceful, shimmering leafy trees. On the coastal slope the highway enters a wonderful redwood forest and Navarro River Redwoods State Park. The highway winds its way under a canopy of old growth redwoods and through the red bark carpeted forest floor. I think this redwood forest is perhaps the most beautiful in Northern California.
128 ends at the coast near the coastal town of Albion. From here you can go south or north along the coast on Highway One, Shoreline Highway. To the south is the landmark Pt. Arena lighthouse. The north drive winds along the coastal canyons, pocket beaches, coastal lagoons, eucalyptus groves and coastal cypress trees. There are many charming Victorian cottages, inns, B&B's and restaurants hugging the cliffs along the Pacific Ocean and tucked away in the coastal forests. At the northern end of this stretch is the nineteenth century lumber port and village of Mendocino. A great place to spend the night (or more) at one of the carefully restored Victorian inns and B&B's. Mendocino sits out on a wild flower covered coastal bluff surrounded by panoramic views of the ocean, bay and redwood forests. The village is easily walkable from end to end; a great photo op and a relaxing day of good eating, sipping lattes, shopping and admiring the architecture and beautiful seaside gardens.
You can also start on CA 128 from the southern end where it meets Hwy 101 at Cloverdale. Going north from
San Francisco toward the northern coast, this part of 128 goes through some beautiful vineyard country, wineries and then north up through the Anderson Valley.
When I originally started writing this it was still late summer, early autumn. Now the drive, closer to winter, is still as nice. The golden summer hills are now a pale green after several autumn rain storms. The vineyards have been trimmed but the wineries are still open for tasting and decorated for the holidays. The "winter" rains have started off and on, but on the nice days in between the storms, the coast is often very mild and calm this time of year, and usually clear without the "summer" fog.
Mendocino is even more charming now that the beautiful shops, inns and restaurants are decorated and twinkling in the night with all the holiday lights. Great evening weather to sit by a roaring fire and have an elegant dinner at one of the fine restaurants. Some of the inns have fireplaces in the cozy lobbies and in the rooms to sit by and enjoy.
During December to early February, the California Gray Whales are migrating south. Beginning in February you begin seeing whales migrating back to Alaska with their newborn babies by their sides. Gray whales have returned from the brink of extinction. Protection came finally in 1946. Since that time, the population has grown to over 21,000--probably what it was before modern day whaling. As a result of this population recovery, gray whales were removed from the endangered species list in 1994.
Since gray whales migrate relatively close to shore, whale watching for them has become very popular. Many opportunities are available for viewing whales from coastal cliffs and headlands or whale watching boats. I have also gone airborne in a small low flying airplane and viewed them from the air, which I think, is the best and perhaps the most spectacular way to watch the whales. From the air the pods are clearly visible swimming just under the surface of the water and the sight is breathtaking, as is the plane ride at times as you zoom low over the water and fly by sea caves along the coast.
Updated: 4:01 PM GMT on December 17, 2005
By: clearlakemike, 6:57 PM GMT on December 02, 2005
This little guy needs help and the Mojave does too…
The Mohave Desert Ground Squirrel has become an endangered resident of the beautiful and unique ecosystem of the Mojave Desert. This ground squirrel is only found in the West Mojave Desert, where populations have continued to decline despite protections provided by the California Endangered Species Act.
The Mojave, a rain shadow desert of 25 million acres of fragile ecological resources, including habitat for the endangered desert tortoise, Mohave ground squirrel and over 20 other listed species, is also becoming vulnerable to the ever expanding juggernaut of southern California development and human habitation. "Development in the West Mojave Desert continues to destroy and fragment habitat for the ground squirrel, which will ultimately lead to its extinction" said Cynthia Wilkerson, California Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. "Most of the ground squirrel's remaining habitat is on federal lands, resulting in the need to enlist the protections of the federal Endangered Species Act."
I recently had the pleasure and excitement of touring the Joshua Tree National Park in southern California’s Mojave Desert and witnessed first hand the magic and beauty of this desert jewel. The Joshua Tree, named by Mormon pioneers for the biblical figure Joshua because the trees uplifted limbs reminded them of Joshua praying and pointing to the heavens, are exclusive to this desert’s landscape. There are also many other plants and animals that are unique to this part of the planet.
Actually, two desert ecosystems come together in the park. The Colorado Desert, at elevations lower than 3000 feet, meets the Mojave Desert above.
Unfortunately, the air quality in the park is becoming more polluted from the daytime heating of the smog that prevailing winds bring from the heavily populated areas to the west. However, the night air is still clear and dark enough to see the bands of the Milky Way on a moonless night.
The following links are very informative and offer a way to help and learn about the desert, and the endangered wildlife that is still trying to live there.
Updated: 7:50 PM GMT on December 02, 2005