After the heavy rains that ended California’s five-year drought, our state’s wildflowers have made a comeback. Enjoying last year’s superbloom at Death Valley, we visited the Carrizo Plain National Monument, a premier place for California wildflowers. Shown above, coreopsis and fiddleheads bloom above Soda Lake, an alkaline lake ringed by salt. Reflected in Soda Lake, the Temblor Range is painted with swaths of wildflowers. I can see an impressionist painter splashing bold strokes of color on the canvas.
When rain falls, the water dissolves salts from the soil and usually flows to the ocean, already salty from past rain. Like Death Valley, Carrizo Plain has no outlet for rainwater, so water collects in the lowest spots and evaporates, leaving behind salts. Invasive plants struggle with this salty environment, while native plants that evolved here flourish without invasive competition. Consequently, Carrizo Plain has vast fields of California native plants and their spring blooms.
Continue reading Wildflowers of Carrizo Plain
Like Amsterdam, Saint Petersburg has rings of canals and rivers to help drain the land. English-speaking tours stopped for the year on September 30, our first day in Saint Petersburg, so we took that boat cruise. The weather was cold, and leaves were turning yellow.
Continue reading Boat Tour of Saint Petersburg
What could you promise an emperor of China that he doesn’t already have? From the Han Tomb Treasures exhibit at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, we learned the answer — immortality.
Continue reading Jade and Immortality
On Hawaii’s Big Island, we searched for honu (the Hawaiian name for the green sea turtle) and stars. The Big Island has high mountains, and I wanted to photograph the Milky Way from there.
Shown above, a father and son fish at Kiholo Bay, where we looked for honu. We asked a Hilo family camping at the beach, but they hadn’t seen any either. Days later, they emailed us that their auntie saw honu when walking the other way from the parking lot.
Continue reading ISO Honu and Stars
We ate our way through Hawaii’s Big Island, feasting on local specialties. The Big Island is big enough so you don’t want to backtrack much, so we planned our drives for both sights and food.
After landing in Hilo, we drove downtown for poke and papayas. We bought this ahi poke bowl from Suisan Fish Market and ate it next door. Pieces of raw tuna with seaweed and green onions on rice, it was excellent. Leaving Hilo, we stopped again to pick up another bowl for dinner near Volcano.
Continue reading Big Island Food
Saint Petersburg‘s Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood impressed us — we had not seen such an ornate, fanciful church. The church was built as a memorial on the site where the Russian tsar was assassinated in 1881. From wikipedia, “On March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1), as Tsar Alexander’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar.”
Continue reading Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
This week we took a road trip to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Golden Gate is the gap in the mountains were the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The Bridge spans the gap between San Francisco and Marin County. With clear skies and a high of 61 degrees F, it was a beautiful day for bicycling and hiking.
Continue reading Golden Gate Bridge in November