California: A Side Most Tourists Never See

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Stop monkeying around and have a look at some of the things we’ve seen in California, a side of the state most tourists don’t often see. So put on your hiking shoes and follow me. Yes, you have to get out of the car and walk, but you’ll be glad you did.

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The narrowest point of the Carquinez Straight.

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The Oak Ridge Boys performing in Santa Rosa.

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Yes, those are very large windmills. Interestingly, the landowner(s) receive $5,000 per year, per windmill, as rent for allowing the towers on the property. There are are 350 windmills in this location. You do the math.

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Bodega Bay.

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Note: To the well-intentioned writer. When the scene calls for a shirtless man, well, it’s spelled bare, not bear. Big difference.

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The Golden Gate Bridge, from below.

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The end …

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Have You Seen This? I Have …

Life passes much too quickly, so why not stop for a moment and see what it has to offer? Take a drive out into the country, park the car, get out, and take a few steps in any direction and you just might see something like the places I’ve posted here. Besides, it sure beats enduring the wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth seen on social media these days. And yes, this is indeed a wonderful and beautiful country, as you shall see below …

Twin Falls, Wa. (above and below). Top photo was also taken in Washington state.

Salt marsh near Savannah, Ga.

Grand Canyon, above and below.

Cow, Savannah, Ga.

San Juan Islands, Washington.

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South of the Border, N.C/South Carolina line on I95.

San Juan Islands

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Tybee Island, Ga.

San Juan Islands.

Looking out from the Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Savannah, Ga.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

Near Mt. St. Helens.

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Oatland Island, Ga.

Mukilteo Lighthouse, Washington.

Fish Art Studio, Ga.

Marsh, Wilmington Island, Ga.

Castle Hill, Ipswich Massachusetts.

California coastline along Hwy 1 (Pacific Coast Highway).

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Near Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Ca.

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One of the pools at Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Ca.

Mt. St. Helens.

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Boston, Ma.

Woman feeding gulls – Salem, Ma.

Tobacco, near Ellisboro, N.C.

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Near Mt. St. Helens.

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Mt. St. Helens – five miles away.

Neighborhood in Bothel, Washington.

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Tybee Island, Ga. – January 1st Polar Plunge and Guiness Book of World Records attempt at setting record for largest gathering of people wearing swim caps. Yes, we set the record (this was a few years ago), and Denene and I were part of the historic moment!

Salem, Ma.

Salem, Ma.

Ocean City, Md. one day after the 2008 Bouchercon in Baltimore.

California coastline near Big Sur.

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Savannah, Ga. Police Department.

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The coast of Ga.

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The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist – Savannah, Ga. (above and below).

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Half Moon Bay, Ca.

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From the deck of a Mighty Midget (the Nakha, formerly the LCS(L) 102), Mare Island, Ca.

From the website of the National Association of USS LCS(L) 102:

“LCS(L)s were usually involved in the first assault on the beach.  Attacking the beach in a line, they made two runs, firing rocket barrages at 1000, 800, and 500 yards.  After the third rocket barrage, they turned broadside to the beach and fired on targets of opportunity before heading seaward for the next run.  On the third run, they were followed by the landing craft.  As they approached the shore, they slowed to allow the troop-laden boats to pass by and deposit their men on the beaches.  The LCS(L)s then continued to fire over the heads of the troops and remained inshore, firing on targets as they became available.  On some occasions, they took Marine artillery spotters on board for assistance in locating enemy targets on shore.  They were active in the campaigns for the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Borneo.”

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Georgia Reflections … and an alligator

Savannah, Georgia is an amazing place that’s rich in history, for sure. But “days long ago” is not the focus of this road trip. Instead, I wanted to invite you on a brief journey to see places and things that are not typically accessible to Savannah tourists.

So please join Denene and me as we pull to the side of Hwy 204 a few miles west of Savannah. This is the spot where we’ll unload our kayaks and then tote them through a dense stand of saw palmettos and Spanish Moss-draped live oaks and swamp black gum trees. Never mind the armadillos and wild hogs scurrying to avoid us, and pay no attention to the swarming mosquitos and relentless attacks from the invisible gnats—noseeums—feasting on your skin, because what’s waiting for us on the other side is absolutely stunning.

Yes, right there. I know, the river is extremely still. Yes, it is quiet. It’s always peaceful. Actually, I’ve never seen another human back here. Just water birds, an occasional fish leaping to catch a bug, and an alligator or two sunning themselves on the banks.

So slide your kayak into the water and follow us for a peek at some breathtaking afternoon reflections. Oh, it’s best that you keep your hands and feet out of the water. You’ll see why in a moment.

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Forget The Cold and Snow, Let’s Go Sand Sculpting!

I know many of you are currently digging out from the results of a major snowstorm. So, instead of shivering and blowing your noses, why not go to beach hopping! And here’s a great place to start.

Each year, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire hosts a sand sculpting championship that attracts master sand artists from all the world. Over 300 tons of special sand is trucked to the beach for the event. Each contestant is given ten tons of sand and just twenty-one hours to complete their masterpieces. Denene and I were on hand to witness this spectacular display of talent.

Forrest Gump by Merideth Corson took the fourth place honors.

Michele Lepire’s Tropical Paradise placed third in the overall contest, but took home the most prize money, winning both the People’s Choice award and the Sculptor’s Choice award.

Salvador Dali Lama by Fred Mallet won the fifth place honors.

Steve Topazio of Rhode Island created this angry sun blowing down a sand castle.

Tim Russert remembered in sand.

Morning Bath by Carl Jara took the second place spot.

The winner of the 2008 Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting contest was titled Japanese Garden by Karen Fralich of Ontario, Canada.

Karen adds a few finishing touches to her masterpiece.

Denene and I truly understand what it’s like to look outside and see nothing but snowy whiteness, while sitting inside with no electricity, no water, and even worse, no internet. Here are some photos that explain why we decided to return to California to live, where, by the way, it’s currently 60 degrees. However, it is raining and has been for several days, off and on, and the skies have been a lovely shade of Seattle-gray for a couple of weeks now.

Anyway, here are photos from a few of our old neighborhoods, starting with our house in North Carolina.

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Next up is a shot of the salt marsh at Plum Island, Ma., near our weekend place where we enjoyed kayaking in the Merrimack River.

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Our Seattle home.

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Our Boston neighborhood.

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Finally, a brisk winter day in our California neck(s) of the woods…

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Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?

Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?

Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?

Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

I wonder if you’re lonesome tonight

You know someone said that the worlds a stage

And each must play a part.

Now the stage is bare and I’m standing there

With emptiness all around

And if you wont come back to me

Then make them bring the curtain down.

Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?

Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

*Are You Lonesome Tonight lyrics ~ Elvis Presley


 

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Flowers Not in the Attic

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Our backyard is home to quite a few birds—ringneck doves, mourning doves, finches, jays, numerous hummingbirds, a mocking bird, robins, a covey of quail (14 of them to be exact), a murder of crows, and sometimes turkeys and ducks.

We feed the smaller of the winged critters and as a result we reap the benefit of bird-watching without having to leave the property. But with so many of our feathered friends frolicking around comes danger…a feral cat of gargantuan size. Therefore I spend some time watching for the beast and subsequently chasing it away when it slinks into the yard.

When I’m not available Investigator G. Nome goes on high alert to handle the cat patrol for me, and he’s able to go places where my size simply will not allow. Anyway, I tagged along with him yesterday while he made his rounds. This is what I saw as we walked his beat.

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And, after a long, grueling day of patrol while contemplating life’s worries, struggles, violence, and hatred, sometimes you’ve just got to take time to…well, you know.

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Because tomorrow’s another day that’s worth facing. Besides, how would the birds survive without us to care for them? So on we go…

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