Sunday, January 25, 2015

Another Hike on the Miller Trail above Martinez

Jamie and Jessica, Charlie and Teddy, and Barbara and Elijah came out here to see me today and to hike the Miller Trail, up on the hillsides just west of town.  We did the entire trail (round-trip 3.4 miles) and then came back to my place for some Crock-Pot chili (Jess and Barbara had done all the slicing and dicing the other day; I just unfroze it overnight and then tossed it into the pot this morning before they got here. . . .  Thanks, ladies!)

So here we are, all set to strike out Fal-Da-Re, Fal-Da-Rah (Charlie was in the stroller at the time):
Not far along, Jamie and Elijah noticed some caves up in hill alongside the trail and went to investigate.  I told them there were posted signs that Mountain Lions are in the area, but they ignored me and climbed thru a wire fence to discover. . .
Pepe LePew. Dead. And thank God, not spreading his joie de vivre around.  Maybe a Mountain Lion got him as he amorously pursued an outsized infatuation?

Anyway, continuing onward and upward. . . .  Charlie took a hiking stick:

I got them to pose with Mt. Diablo way off in the background (and asked Jimbo "Which one of the those two peaks is Mt. Diablo? To which he replied "Both.")

We stopped along the way to watch a Union Pacific freight train go by down below. . .
Viewed the Strait. . . .

Found an interesting yellow tree.  James said it is an acacia tree.
Elijah climbed it:

And a while later, we made it to the end of the trail, a not-so-impressive parking lot. . .

and we reversed direction.  And James soon after that found a live critter. . .

I thought this photo would turn out nice.  In reality it was really really nice, but with the sun glare it just isn't as nice as the real thing was:
Kinda made up for that one with this one:

Got back to my place at 4pm and had that chili dinner (yum!) and Jimbo, Barbara and Elijah went for a swim in my hot tub and pool after which we had some frozen yogurt and fruit.  All-in-all, a very nice day!

Realized after this hike that there's yet a third hiking trail in the area, that runs up to the top of the hills.  I'm saving that one for another time, tho.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

As Johnnie Muir would sing. . . "You Take the High Road, and I'll Take the Low Road. . ."

Went on a hike with a group last week, of the George Miller Trail along Carquinez Strait to the west of downtown Martinez.  Then, this morning, decided to stroll along the Waterfront Park at the base of the GMT.  So I've seen the Carquinez Strait from both above and "at ground level" now.  Here's what it looks like, from above, first. . .

And what it looks like from ground level, at the Waterfront Park. . .

The ridge of hills in the above photo is where the Miller Trail runs.  Here's a bas-relief map showing those hills as well as the lower Waterfront Park, marked where it says "You Are Here."

It was a great walk today.  Weather is beautiful and the scenery spectacular.  At the end, I returned to the Martinez railroad station and viewed the 911 Memorial that is there, noting that a couple of spots of graffiti that had been there a week or two ago has now been cleaned.  Kudos to City of Martinez for prompt clean-up!

Finally took a pic of the old steam locomotive across from the station. . . .

This place has a lot of "character"!

Friday, January 9, 2015

El Frank familia Va a Baja del Sur

It's been almost three weeks since we got back to the San Francisco Bay Area and I guess I'd better post the photos of our trip to southern Baja California - belatedly - now.  Had a great time, but my camera went kaput after only a short time, when the battery ran out and my battery re-charger that I'd bought back in New York (a cheapie) didn't work.  So most of the photos that are in this blog were "stolen" from a beautiful photo album that Jessica had made, which now has a place-of-honor on the coffee table here (alongside the book "N.C. Wyeth's Pilgrims" that Anne Gnagi sent me after she read one of my earlier blogs about Wyeth's Pilgrim murals in the old Metropolitan Life Insurance building in New York, where I once worked. Thanks again, Anne!).

Anyway, to explain just where we were, here's a map. We landed at and departed from the airport at Cabo San Jose, then drove to our beach house up the northeast side of Baja near the town of Los Barilles, a town that one of the travel guide books described as "what Cabo San Lucas was like 25 years ago."

We drove to La Paz, the capital city of Baja California del Sur, several times - when James and Jessica went on the Whale Watch and when we all (including Charlie and Teddy) got on the boat in La Paz harbor to watch Jamie and Jessica swim with the Whale Sharks (a separate excursion from the Whale Watch).  We also walked all over the city and explored the outdoor market there (big, going for block after block after block) and also went to Cabo Pulmo (number 2 on the map) one day while James & Jessica went scuba diving on the coral reef there.

First photo in my coffee table book was actually taken near the middle or end of our trip, at a restaurant in La Paz. It was at the start of "Fiesta Marathon". . . . which runs from December 12th's Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, thru Christmas and New Year's until Three Kings' Day. I think the skeleton was a leftover from November 1st's Dia de los Muertos that they just dressed in a Santa Claus outfit. . .

Getting all of our luggage, the two playpens ("Pack and Plays"), the two baby car seats with 'anchors,' the double stroller and other stuff onto the plane and then transferring it to and from our cars was a project, but well worth it. . . .

Yes, I am Baba. And nearly all of this stuff, 'cept the boys and their carseats, went into the backseat, trunk and even the passenger seat of the car that I drove!  We could have used a pack-horse or at least a burro.  And there were plenty of burros to choose from, but not on the Rent-A-Car lot. . . .  These fellas were grazing outside our beach house one morning:

And plenty of their pals, and cows, roamed near the highway and right up close to our beach house:

We blocked off the stairs of the patio with some extra chairs, as you can see. . . .  but Charlie got plenty of experience climbing up and down the stairs.  No stairs in J&J's home so this was a challenge for Charlie, and he learned the words "stairs" and "up" and "down" when he did get onto them.

Down those steps in that last photo was our very own beach. . . .

We were up at the crack of dawn a few mornings. . .  This is one panoramic shot that Jess took (I couldn't fit the whole thing in here, so had to split it in two).  I think the fellow fishing is Steve, our neighbor.

The boys and I enjoyed ourselves.  After only a few days, James and Jessica got some baby sitting help for me, a nice local young lady named Viviana Segura, who all three of us are now Facebook friends with.  Vivian and I had fun playing with the boys, watching "BabyTV" - a few stations that are not available in the U.S.A., but the term "BabyTV" stuck with Charlie even when we got back home - and communicating (neither of us knew much more than a smattering of  the others' language, so I looked things up once in awhile in a dictionary and did a lot of pointing at things!).

Jess caught up on her reading.  I found two very interesting Joseph Wambaugh novels on the bookshelf in my room and read them both.  I used to be hooked on Wambaugh's Los Angeles police-story novels and got re-introduced with Hollywood Hills and Hollywood Station from our host's bookshelf.  Still great stuff.

Near the end of our trip we went to Cabo Pulmo, where there's a Dive Center and - they claim - one of the largest live coral reefs in the western hemisphere. Jess and Jimbo spent a few hours exploring the reef while Vivian, the boys and I explored the resort there and then had a long, slow lunch.  The boys did get a bit restless while we all ate and then waited at the outdoor restaurant for J&J to come back ashore and regale us with what they'd seen.

Jimbo was really in his element. . . .

On one of the trips to La Paz I went along and the boys and I stayed aboard the boat while Jess y James dove in and swam with the Whale Sharks.  It was a small boat and these huge fish were all over the place in front, back and alongside the boat while James and Jess swam fearlessly with them.

It was on that boat trip that Charlie "took the wheel" for awhile. . .

On another day, J&J went back to La Paz for the Whale Watching boat.  They brought back dozens of photos of the huge Humpbacks. This photo was the best from that trip. . .

I thought this photo was too good to be true, but Jess swears it was she who took it, among a dozen to two dozen less spectacular ones.

The animal life in Baja is spectacular.  Charlie was impressed by the more domesticated animals as well as by the wild cows, burros and whale sharks he saw:

And here he is "hamming it up" at the restaurant in Cabo San Jose while we waited for our flight home. . . .

Oh yeah, then I bought this souvenir at the flea market in Los Barilles one morning.  A good find for a retired New York DMV Rep?  Ya think?

It was a great time.  Went all too fast. Got back to J&J's in Alameda on Saturday, December 20th and moved my furniture and - with a lot of help from Jimbo and his pals Oscar and Mauricio - all my other remaining worldly possessions into my new place in Martinez on the 23rd.  I stayed at J&J's place till Christmas night, when I pried myself away and back into my own bed for the first time in over a month that night.  Christmas was almost anticlimactic - but not quite. . . .  Watching Charlie play with his new toys was a blast; he took his time about opening and playing with each gift, getting so transfixed on "the toy of the moment" that he had to be prodded to go on to other toys.  Ah well, like the old saying goes, "Carpe Toy-em!"