Tuesday, July 25, 2017


The only thing these photos have in common is that they are addenda to several narratives about recent trips that I left unfinished in last week's blog posts.  The first two relate to our trip to the Mendocino coast, Fort Bragg specifically.  I call the above photo Plato cuadrado.  But, it's bedtime.  Hasta manana.
7/26 - I'm back, and will try to make sense of this collection.
First, our recent visit to Fort Bragg which definitely included nostalgic impulses.  We wanted to visit the Headlands Coffee House on a Friday night when there always used to be live music and the usually great pastries, pizza, coffees, teas, and great service.  It worked out fine, and as a bonus we ran into an old friend from Ukaih whom we hadn't seen in over 15 years!  Second, we wanted to get up early and beat the crowd to have breakfast at Egghead's, a place with a Wizard of Oz theme, and a painted "yellow brick road" leading to the outdoor bathroom.  The walls were covered with photos from the movie and book.  We expected to hear Judy Garland singing as we ordered, and that our omelettes would arrive with heaps of home-fried potatoes all arranged on a large, oval-shaped, ceramic plate.
Well, there was no crowd waiting.  We were greeted by a friendly Mexican gentleman and escorted to our table to the sounds of Mariachi music that transported us to our experiences many years ago visiting Tecate and Tiajuana.  We loved those visits and enjoy greatly what we know of Mexican history and culture and the Spanish language.  However, when our meal arrived on square, styrofoam plates (above photo), and all the music, personnel, and much of the menu were no longer Oz-themed, it was quite disconcerting.  We may go back, because it was good, but first we'll need to adjust our expectations.
Now, for the natural history link.  The Tabasco bottles on each table brought back great memories.  When I was a zoology major at Tulane, I took many field trips to Avery Island in Louisiana where Tabasco sauces are made.  The "island" is a salt dome rising like a small mountain from a vast expanse of tidal marsh.  The island includes a wildlife refuge.  When I was in college, the Tabasco plant was run by a grandson of the founder, E. I. McIlhenny who happened to be a zoology graduate of Tulane.  Thanks to him, we were granted permission to do certain biological field studies in and around the refuge.  During those visits we learned a lot of history of the place, including the story of the original McIlhenny introducing the Nutria, a very large, water-loving rodent, to the area with the European market for furs in mind.  That experiment turned out badly.  Among many other problems, the Nutria multiplied very rapidly and almost eliminated the native Muskrat and brought many other environmental problems that remain to this day. But, my zoology field experience there was wonderful, and the association of Tabasco with pleasure is probably permanent.
The next three photos were taken on my Brady's Camp adventure over a week ago.  There might still be a few more in my archive from that trip that I'll post later.  The first is a great view of Quincy from the road that hovers around 7,000' from Argentine Peak to Solomon's Saddle and side roads up Grizzly Peak.  Views of placesI've lived from mountain tops or airplanes (although I now avoid airplanes) always remind me of how small we humans are in the scheme of things and how our power to ruin things gets out of hand so easily.
At the Quincy elevation, we have Douglas's Spiraea growing alongside the major streams such as Spanish Creek as it flows by Oakland Camp.  Below is a patch of Mountain Spiraea growing around a little spring in the vicinity if Solomon's Saddle.  We have several bushes of Mountain Spiraea growing in our front yard.  It seems pretty hardy, even during these drought years.
Somewhere along the route I took, possibly at a lower elevation on Squirrel Creek Road, I found a patch of Scarlet Gilia (below) that always stands out when everything around it is green, brown, and dusty.
Last, a photo I took at the magazine rack in Safeway.  My emotional reaction to this cluster of magazines was nausea.  I had been reading Professor Steven Pinker's thoughts from his book "The Better Angels of our Nature," in which he makes the claim that the human species (that's us!) is less violent than ever.  Now the book did come out before Trump was elected, so things could change.
So, this photo and brief comment opens a can of worms.  Maybe even a Twitter storm.  I wonder if it could also launch a calm discussion of issues around guns, hunting, safety and violence.

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