Golden Gate Park and Botanical Gardens

Spent the last few days with my preggy DIL and the original Angel Boy.

Today we went to Golden Gate Park and the Botanical Gardens.

It was a glorious blue sky day!

These might not be the best photos; I was rushed and didn’t have time to focus!
2015-11-07 14.11.412015-11-07 14.15.38 2015-11-07 14.18.12 2015-11-07 14.21.36 2015-11-07 14.21.49 2015-11-07 14.22.52 2015-11-07 14.23.12 2015-11-07 14.24.59 2015-11-07 14.39.45 2015-11-07 14.40.30 2015-11-07 14.41.48 2015-11-07 14.42.54 2015-11-07 14.43.21 2015-11-07 14.45.36 2015-11-07 14.48.28 2015-11-07 14.48.44 2015-11-07 14.50.14 2015-11-07 14.50.38 2015-11-07 14.51.07 2015-11-07 14.53.10 2015-11-07 14.54.16 2015-11-07 14.58.05 2015-11-07 14.58.49 2015-11-07 15.13.36 2015-11-07 15.13.54 2015-11-07 15.15.06

Reaching the Pinnacle with Tugboat Man and Fighting Off a Rogue Gang of Raccoons

Hee hee.

Pinnacles National Park, that is.

It’s been a busy summer.

Last week we camped and hiked at Pinnacles, south of San Fran, and made our way up to Angel Boy/DIL for a few days.

This weekend we’re off to Providence, Rhode Island to get all physical and dirty helping him prep his house to sell since he starts his tenure track professorship at University of Washington at the end of September.

So much to do in not much time!

Back to Pinnacles…which was one national park I had never before heard of until my son hiked there a while back.

Pinnacles, Muir Woods, and the Grand Canyon were all set aside as national monuments in the span of seven days in January 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt.

The night before we left, I got a concussion by doing something really stupid. I’m accident prone on the best of days, but this was stupid even for me. I was trying to show tugboat man that I could get in his truck without his help –being so short, it’s a big step UP to get in — but I failed to factor in the fact that he had parked on the street which means the door is at least a foot lower ‘cos of the curb. So I opened the door and proceeded to jump in, and promptly smacked my head HARD on the car. I mean HARD.

As in seeing stars hard.

As in smacking my teeth against my lip hard.

As in feeling a bit dazed and confused hard.

My pupils were round, equal, and reactive – and I didn’t fall asleep, but I had a lump, a horrible headache, and was sorta nauseous, so I figured it was a mild concussion and didn’t tell hub how bad it actually hurt cos he would have wanted me to go to the ER and get a CT scan and I wanted to go on the trip.

I’m a tough girl like that.

Pinnacles National Park is a United States National Park protecting a mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California, eighty miles southeast of San Jose.

People come to Pinnacles to hike, rock climb, watch and study wildlife, view wildflowers, and experience nature. Pinnacles offers solitude, challenge, and escape from the urban interface of both the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas.

Unlike many national parks, Pinnacles is most popular in the cooler months. During the spring, when the grasses are green and a variety of wildflowers can be seen along any trail, hiking is at its best. Fall and winter are also excellent times to visit.

During the summer, extreme temperatures can make hiking uncomfortable at best, and possibly dangerous for those who are unprepared. If you plan to visit Pinnacles from late May through early September, please check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.

We knew it was supposed to be HOT, but arriving in the afternoon, the heat of the day was already starting to abate and we got our campsite all set up before heading out to hike.

There was extreme fire danger; all campfires were outlawed, but we had a propane stove to cook dinner, so we were all set.

Our first hike was pretty easy, to Bear Gulch.

My head was pounding from what I felt was probably a traumatic brain injury but I persevered.

The cave is closed part of the year to protect bats raising their young, but was partially open and not to be missed. You need a flashlight cos parts of it are pitch black and kind of scary, but the steps are well maintained and there are handrails, too. Even if you’re claustrophobic, you should go – it’s that amazing.

Back at camp, we made dinner and discussed going to bed early. Without a campfire, there’s not much to do at night but sleep.

We had been warned about aggressive raccoons with cautions to secure all food and aggressively shout to deter them, but NOTHING could have prepared us for what happened as the sun set.

I was relaxing, nursing a cup of tea, swallowed another acetominephen (don’t take real aspirin if you even think you have a concussion or a brain bleed)  and watched hub clean up after dinner. The back of the truck was open and he was half inside the camper, securely packing up the food.

Peregrine falcons and California condors took advantage of the cooling afternoon breezes to circle high above the treeline.

This is when a gang of six to eight raccoons ran under the truck and started to jump in right where hub was!

I simultaneously screamed at him to shut the tailgate and grabbed my hiking sticks, proceeding to smack them together and yell, “get out of here!” as loud as I good, which is pretty loud and they deffo got the message.

The gang ran off into the bushes for a minute, regrouped, and returned.

This went on for what seemed like forever.

These raccoons were on a rampage.

Then the raccoons split off into two groups; a couple of them were the decoys that tried to lure me away while the others aimed for hub and the food.

Hub continued to put things away and I banged the sticks together and ran interference; blocking their access to our vehicle — on their final attack, three of the little hooligans hopped on the picnic table and were figuring out a way to run off with our propane stove.

I was so involved in defending our food that I wasn’t able to take any photos of the invasion.

But I took lots of pics of deer. Deer were everywhere, casually walking by our campsite; moms with fawns, family groups…it was beautiful.

We were awakened a couple of times during the night by coyotes singing, howling, and yipping so close it seemed they were right outside our tent.

We felt they were communicating approval of the way we handled the raccoon “situation” and our efforts to foil their looting.

The next morning we woke up early to beat the heat and hike before it got too hot.

Condor Gulch Trail is only about three miles round trip to the Overlook, but with a moderately steep 1,100 foot elevation. We ate lunch at the overlook, and it was a truly spectacular view.

This trail offers spectacular views of the High Peaks, whether you hike just a few minutes or the entire trail.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Exploring Carlsbad, Part Two: Wildlife vs Development

When we first moved here in 1985, our street was a dead end (literally).

My son and I would walk our dogs to where the pavement ended and there we abruptly entered a wonderland of nature: along narrow paths with overhanging vegetation;  sage, coyote bush, sumac — and wildlife; coyotes, bobcats, deer– even a mountain lion was spotted now and again.

In other words…heaven.

It was a sad day when the bulldozers appeared and in a matter of minutes completely raped the hills, scraping the native flora down to bare earth, uprooting mature trees, and displacing dozens, if not hundreds, of animals.

It’s unrecognizable now–if you hadn’t lived here as long as we have, you’d never know the rich beauty that once existed.

It’s regretful that the city leaders didn’t and don’t seem to care about respecting, protecting, and preserving native flora and fauna.

Instead of conserving and sustaining our unique beauty, they’ve allowed Carlsbad to become an Orange County clone — heavy on the ubiquitous business parks and subdivisions totally disconnected to the land.

They’ve mostly destroyed the unique personality and beauty of our little coastal town.

In my opinion.

Historically, Carlsbad/Agua Hedionda Lagoon was the former home to two Native American groups, the Luiseños and the Diegueños or Kumeyaay.

Did you know that Agua Hedionda means “stinking waters”?

(It does and it does.)

Although the Spaniards (and other settlers) decimated the Native American connection to this area, over the years I’ve heard about nearby sacred burial grounds that might still be intact, and that’s a good thing.

In spite of the destruction of habitat, there are still a few surviving animals attempting to coexist.

In the evening, we hear the song of the coyote, not as often as we used to, but it makes us happy. Check out this audio. So close!

I’ve seen fresh bobcat tracks, too, but no actual visual sighting.

On a recent walk, I stepped out of my front door, walked across the street, and was immediately greeted by this amazing sight, a Great Blue Heron nearly as tall as me.
GreatBlueHeron1 greatblueheron2 After I snapped a dozen photos, I continued walking, and spotted a White Egret.egret2015It was a day for wildlife; these are not good pics for some reason, but a couple of different rabbits made an appearance.

On a front lawn.
aprilwalk5 Overlooking Agua Hedionda. aprilwalk4

I believe this is a Cooper’s Hawk; don’t think it’s a Red Tailed Hawk.CooperHawk1If I ruled the world (or at least my little part of it), I’d make sure that any planned development would respect all wildlife and make appropriate plans to not only preserve habitat, but encourage MORE animals to coexist with us.

Especially predators. We need predators. We need coyotes and bobcats and mountain lions and hawks and falcons for balance. Without them, we’re inundated with their food source; rabbits, rats, and squirrels.

Can’t we all just get along?

Read Exploring Carlsbad, Part One: Signs