Monday, October 23, 2023

My Adventures in Boston

     At age 78 and with a spouse with advanced dementia, it is natural that I might worry if my own cognitive abilities are declining.  When I was invited to attend a wedding in a Boston suburb I decided that this would be a good test, both of my problem solving abilities and whether or not I wanted to travel on my own.

    I spent considerable time planning, I chose a hotel adjacent to the end of a "T" line that ran into Boston but wasn't far from the wedding venue. It went well, I learned to use the T and negotiate routes that required using several trains.  I learned to use the Lyft app and got a ride to the wedding venue.

     On Saturday, Oct 21 I used three trains to get me to the Amtrak station for my planned train trip across the country.  I settled into my compartment and the train started to pull out of the station.  Then it backed back into the station.  An announcement said anyone going beyond Albany, NY needed to get off the train. I was certainly going beyond Albany as were many other passengers. It seems that a mudslide had damaged the track, not the track we would pass over but the track on which the New York train, and with which ours would merge needed to travel. For some logistical reason that was not made clear it meant that our train could not proceed beyond Albany.

    What to do?  I looked at flights for that day but it was getting late and I was not at the airport.  I decided to get a room at an airport hotel.  It was raining and the nearest Lyft was 15 min away so I decided to take a cab.  He must have been the most clueless cab driver in all of Boston. I told him what hotel I needed to get to, he had no idea whereto go.  He needed the address.  So I put the name of the hotel into the app on my phone and got him the address (he couldn't do this himself?).  When we got to the airport complex he drove right by the sign that pointed the way to my hotel and started to go around in circles.  Finally I pulled up google maps on my phone and guided him to the hotel.  Once settled I booked a flight home.

    I'm reassured that the old girl still has it.  I used the Delta app, the Amtrak app and the Lyft app, found my way around Boston and did some problem solving.  I'm still not sure how I feel about traveling on my own, I do miss my companion of 57 years but now I feel confident that I can do it  if I want to, at least for now.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Ranger Duckie at Point Reyes part 2


Point Reyes National Seashore is a good place to view how man influences nature and how nature influences man.  Here I am viewing an introduced plant, ice plant that had a significant and negative influence on the coastal dunes.

An exhibit at North Beach explains how the invasive ice plant and European beach grass are displacing the native plants and keeping the normally shifting dunes stable.  Stable dunes may sound like a good idea but I think we need places where we can see nature at work.

Here you can see piles of ice plant that have been pulled up while some of the native plants are reestablishing themselves.
Beach Primrose

 Seaside Daisy

Near the visitor center we can see how nature can have catastrophic effects on man.  The 1906 San Francisco earthquake ran right through Point Reyes.

The offset of this fence shows how far the earth moved.

 The line of posts on the hill above the fence demarks the San Andreas Fault.

The fault runs through Tomales Bay, in front of the lodge where were staying.  I wonder what it would be like to be there when the earth moves again.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

 Mom took me to point Reyes National Seashore.  This is a place filled with both human and natural history and lots of great places to hike.

Our first hike was the estero trail.  The first section goes through a grassland where we saw a variety of wildflowers.  Here I am checking out some blue eyed grass and coast lotus.

Douglas iris was common almost everywhere we went.

Sun cups.

The trail leaves the grassland and winds through an abandoned Christmas tree farm. 

When we reached the estero the tide was out and Mom liked the texture in the sediment as the retreating water left braided rivulets behind.

In this area we saw a variety of shrubs like this ceanothus, 

and this plant that Mom was unable to identify.

Finally we reached a place where we could see the open water of Drakes Bay and we turned around and retraced our steps.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Ranger Duckie goes to Death Valley part 3

 The next day began with a trip to Zabriskie Point

The view here is amazing, across the badlands and Death Valley to the Panamint range.

Mom hiked down into the the badlands

She saw few people on this quiet and other worldly trail.  There is a unique beauty in this rugged landscape, one sees the very bones of the earth.

In the afternoon we hiked up Golden Canyon

There had once been a road up the canyon and you can still see remnants of it here on the right.

Looking up a side canyon we saw more of the spectacular colors as we saw on Artists Drive.

Farther up the trail we get a good view of  the red cathedral formation

 Instead of going up to red cathedral we could have taken the trail up around Manly Beacon here and up to Zabriskie point.  Maybe another time.

We left Golden Canyon and the next day left Death Valley a day earlier than planned. Another strong winter storm was forecast and there was concern that the way home would be snowy and icy. 

Ranger Duckie goes to Death Valley part 2

After our visit to Badwater we took the Artists drive.  

The amazing colors here sent Mom to a geology book which said the formation owed its color to the presence of iron

Our next stop was Harmony Borax Works

The borax works only operated from 1884 to 1888 and produced 3 tons of borax daily except during the heat of summer.

Getting the borax out of the valley was no easy feat in those days and required the effort of teams of 20 mules hence the phrase "20 mule team borax"  Glad to see that much of the weight they pulled was water.

One of the reasons Mom wanted to visit here was that she was hoping to photograph star trails and this was said to be a great spot for night photography.  When we arrived at night we encountered two problems.  There were clouds to the north and a ranger was giving a star talk.  We enjoyed the talk but gave up on the photography.  Next time.

Mom has found that you can get decent star trails even in suburban Lincoln.

  We don't know what the artifact on the right is, perhaps a homemade rocked?  The trail fades as it rises so it went up rather than down like a meteor.
  We will continue to seek out dark skies.  The family is considering a trip to Zion in the fall, we'll see what happens.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Ranger Duckie goes to Death Valley: part 1

 Hi! I'm Ranger Duckie.  I'm kind of like a Junior Ranger except I'm a rubber duck.  Mom got me several years ago in Yosemite but she never took me traveling.  Recently she decided I would be good company and, besides, I am very photogenic and like all good rangers I'm adventurous.

It's a long drive from our home in Lincoln, CA and we drove through some much colder territory.  We stopped at the Mono Lake Overlook and looked over a very white scene.  Brr!

Our first stop was at the mesquite sand dunes.

 Later that day we went down to Bad Water.

Everywhere I looked, salt and the geologist say it is one to six feet thick.  That's a lot of salt!  The weather was pleasant, in the 60's when we were there but it can get up to 130 in the summer!  I might melt!

Well, that's it for now, next time Harmony Borax works, the badlands and Golden Canyon.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Emerald California

A wet winter has gowned California in emerald sprinkled with gems of many colors.  Before it could return to its "Golden State" of brown grasses we headed over to the coast and Point Reyes National Seashore.

Told that the Chimney Rock trail was a good place to see wildflowers, that was where we headed.  It didn't disappoint.

Blue gems were the Lupine, Douglas Iris and Blue eyed grass.

Among the yellows were, of course, plenty of California Poppies along with Mule Ears and Yellow Bush Lupine.

To represent the pinks we saw Checkerbloom, Cow Clover and Beach Morning Glory.

I mustn't forget the Indian Paintbrush.

This is a sampling of what we saw on one of several walks we took.  I'll show you more of Point Reyes in another post.

You can find other views of our wonderful world at .
Our World Tuesday