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2022 January 23

Secret Walks: East Harbor–Arana Gulch

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On Saturday 22 January 2022, my wife and I did the last of our walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover: the East Harbor–Arana Gulch loop.  We rotated the loop to start and end in Arana Gulch (the closest point for us).  Walking to Arana Gulch, we took Laurel and Broadway to Ocean View then moved over a block to Windsor to Harbor (2.9 miles).  The loop itself was 2.6 miles, and we walked back along Windham to Ocean View, took Soquel to downtown, and took our usual route home up Lincoln (3.2 miles).  So the total walk was 8.7 miles.

This walk was the first one using my new Panasonic Lumix ZS80 ultrazoom camera.  I carried it on a cross-body sling (OP/TECH USA 1601512), and I had the monopod that my son gave me, to steady the camera on telephoto shots. Eventually I put the monopod on the camera even when carrying it, because holding the camera with the stick was steadier than the usual grip.  I only extended the monopod to take telephoto pictures.

I played a lot with taking long telephoto shots, because that was something I could not do with the old camera or the phone. Most of them are not worth showing, but I’ll include a few anyway. The longest distance shot I took was of the Chaminade at 1.6 miles, but I also tried telephoto shots of water birds, sail boats, stand-up paddleboarders, … .  Framing the extreme telephoto shots was often difficult, as even the smallest hand tremor made me lose the subject.  The camera does have a button on the back for temporarily dezooming and rezooming, but using it was a bit tricky, as it required (for me) changing hand positions.

This sea otter painting on electric box (corner of Ocean and Broadway) is one I’ve always liked. My wife and I couldn’t help noticing that the electric box in front of the Art League had not been painted yet—this seems like a missed opportunity for the Art League.

This garden ornament was much easier to photograph with the telephoto lens.

As was this one facing it.

I rather like the unusual slightly domed top to the tower on this house.

In Arana Gulch the cows graze at this time of year, to keep the grass down and allow the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant to grow. The cows have ear tags with their names—these two are Megan and Lili.

I took a picture of the Chaminade resort from Arana Gulch, a distance of about 1.6 miles. Haze and perhaps a little motion blur from the camera limited the quality of the picture.

Here is where we joined the “official” walk. The instructions are a bit unclear about which path to take, but it is the lower, wider one that is relevant.

We saw some miner’s lettuce planted beside the harbor—my wife thinks that it might be a good thing for us to grow.

The colors of the kayaks made for a cheerful image.

This pipe seems to be part of the dredging infrastructure.

Live crabs were for sale directly from boats in several places in the harbor. The crab season is fairly short.

This duck appears to be a female common goldeneye. I had some difficulty keeping the duck in frame at the high zoom I was using—a focal length, equivalent to 944mm for a 35mm camera. There is a little blurring here, but I’m not sure if that is from the autofocus or motion blur.

This grebe was even further away—I used a focal length equivalent to 1319mm on 35mm. Its foot at the back is raised—a maneuver unique to grebes called “foot-shipping”. Supposedly they shake the water off and either leave the foot in the sun or tuck in under their wing to conserve heat.

The ripples and the grebe made a nice abstract image (the 35mm equivalent here was 1720mm).

Another crab sale—this one with a little more visible advertising.

We did not get very close to the Walton lighthouse, but the telephoto lens does a fair job of capturing it.

The sailboat was far enough away, and there was enough haze over the water, that this zoom that combines optical and digital zoom (2010mm equivalent) resulted in a rather impressionistic rendering of the sailboat. The optical zoom runs out at 720mm equivalent.

The standup paddleboard picture was also an attempt to see how much zoom I could use.

The recent Tongan volcano did cause a tsunami to flood the parking lot at the harbor.

Notices for entering and leaving the low-lying region immediately around the harbor are fairly clear.

The harbormaster has a nice lookout over the lower harbor.

These pigeons on the wires were there pretty much the whole time. Here I’ve used moderate zoom (equivalent of 160mm) to frame the picture.

Again, playing with the zoom let me see the birds much closer than my old camera (the equivalent of 1293mm here).

Looking back down the Mello steps gives a fair idea how steep they are.

This is a full wide-angle shot (the equivalent of 24mm) of Arana Creek from the bridge spanning it.

Here I’ve zoomed into just a little part of the previous image (883 mm equivalent, so a little bit of digital zoom past the 720mm optical zoom).

The shadows on the bridge show off the cut-metal panels.

This darkling beetle (family Tenebrionidae) was photographed in Arana Gulch, but I have no idea which of the 20,000 species it is.

On Windham we cam across a new Little Free Library—so new it did not have any books yet. (If we’d known we’d find an empty library, we would have brought some books with us to add.)

I like this photo of a painted electric box because of the juxtaposition of a real palm leaf with the painted palm on the box.

Although we have finished all the walks in the book, we don’t plan to stop walking—we’ll just have to start making up our own routes. If locals have suggestions for us (preferably no more than 9 miles, including walking to and from our house), please let me know.

2021 December 23

Secret Walks: Metro Center-Ocean View

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On Saturday 11 December, my wife and I  walked the Metro Center-Ocean View walk from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. The walk is 3.7 miles, but we added 2.4 miles getting to and from the official walk, plus 0.1 mile for a side trip to the Buttery, for a total of 6.2 miles.


The gingko leaves seem to have a more synchronized fall than many of the trees here, covering the pavement with a colorful carpet.


The water level in the river was extremely low—a very stark contrast to a few days later, when water rose to flood the homeless encampment visible in the background. (Allowing the homeless encampment between the levees during rainy season never made any sense.)


The mallards enjoy the duck pond in San Lorenzo Park.


Cork oaks are not native to California, but they seem to do well here, and they have beautiful bark.


The mural on the Starbucks is new (but the whole building here is fairly new).


The mosaic on the Chase bank building is pointed out in the book, but it seems rather awkwardly composed to me.


The stained glass inside the bank is a little more interesting.


I was rather amused by this sign that seems to have replaced “CHILDREN AT PLAY” with “LIMITED SIGHT”. I guess they figured that car drivers no longer care if they run over children.


This flowering shrub (probably some species of leucadendron) makes a colorful splash.


This Little Free Library (on Branciforte Ave, if I remember right) was the first of three we saw.


Another fairly recent mural on Soquel.


Branciforte Plaza is now office, retail, and restaurant space, but it was originally built as a hospital. I’ve never been inside it.


The second Little Free Library is unusually placed on a driveway off of Ocean View.


This photo shows only a tiny portion of the model railroad on Ocean View, which fills the front yard (and presumably the back yard) of the house.


The third Little Free Library is by Ocean View Park, where we stopped to eat pastries from the Buttery. The bear claw was a little disappointing, but the marionberry puff was quite good. While in the park, I had to try out the long slides, which I remembered from 20 years ago. They have put ripples in the slide so that they are now quite slow—not the way I remember them.


We’d never previously visited the little park called Riverside Gardens. We did not see anyone else there either, despite the fine weather, so I guess it is not a very popular park. (The skate park about a block away was very busy, though.)


I did like this bicycle parking sculpture in Riverside Gardens, though it is not obviously a bike parking rack and needed a sign to let people know!


I’ve often seen these mosaic-covered stairs (the Barson Street stairs) from the top , but this is the first time I’ve walked up them.


We stopped downtown for a slice of pizza and visiting Bookshop Santa Cruz, so the sun was setting as we walked home.

I tried taking a number of pictures of birds on this walk, but none of them came out well.  I really have to get a new camera soon, as the cell phone doesn’t really do the job (despite being easy to carry).

2021 November 17

Secret Walks: Lighthouse-Whale Museum

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On Saturday 13 November, my wife and I did the Walton Lighthouse-Natural History Museum loop from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover.  The walk in the book is 3.4 miles, but we walked another 2.4 miles to get to the start and another 3 miles to get home, totaling 8.8 miles.


This small mosaic is embedded in a stucco garden wall of a private home.


This slightly larger mosaic is in the same garden wall.


This pathway connects the end of Harbor Drive to Frederick Street Park.


This couple on one of boat-launch ramps have just thrown a stick to their dog (not in the photo).


The path to the Walton lighthouse was popular with pedestrians, as we had very nice weather.


The “Coastal Access Pier” does not really provide access to anything but views, as there is no way down to the water from the pier.


The huge cleats on the “Coastal Access Pier” are purely decorative, as nothing ties up to the rather high deck of the pier.


The birds seem to like the floating pipe that is the outlet of the dredger.


Here is the dredger itself, though I don’t think it was operating on the weekend.


The Walton lighthouse is not an old one, but it is rather picturesque.


We love these “jetty jacks”, though we prefer to call them “caltrops”, after a medieval weapon of roughly the same shape.


The caltrops do a good job of breaking up the waves that would otherwise wash the jetty away.


The breaking waves were a bit hard to photographs, as the sun was behind them.


Mosaics seem to be popular in Santa Cruz—this one was added to the end of one of the caltrops


I have no idea what this plant growing on the beach is—I think we saw the same species at Natural Bridges State Beach also.


This seems to be another beach plant we couldn’t identify.


This plant, growing on the cliff by the stairs, looks a lot like dusty miller, but I don’t think it is.


The Walton lighthouse from the stairs, showing the jumble of caltrops around the jetty.


A view of the cliff from the stairs. Note the pink flags at the bottom right, marking where native plants have been added to try to stabilize the cliff. You can also see at the top where there used to be a walkway that is now just an asphalt overhang.


My wife and I admire this stone chimney. The house looks like it should be a hexagon, but it is just a half hexagon on the end of a rectangular house.


This life-size whale sculpture in front of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History leads some locals to refer to it as the “whale museum”, though it does not have that much about whales.


This artwork replaces one of the windows of the museum.


The main entrance of the museum.


I think that this Little Free Library is on Seabright.


This sign on Seabright accurately points away from the beach.

About 3/4 of the way through the walk, we stopped for lunch at Java Junction—one of several places to eat near Murray and Seabright.  We had thought to Betty’s Burgers, but the line was too long, and we thought of Seabright Social (which used to be Seabright Brewery), but neither of us wanted beer.  I was a little disturbed that none of the staff at Java Junction were wearing masks—COVID rates in the county are low, but they are nudging back up due to carelessness like that.

My wife and I are planning to replace our Wednesday night dinners out with Saturday lunches out—it is getting too dark and chilly for eating outdoors and walking home at night to be much fun.  We may switch back in March, when Daylight Savings Time returns.  If COVID rates drop a lot at the students at my wife’s elementary school all get vaccinated, we might start eating indoors at restaurants again.


The playful cutouts in this fence overlook Murray, which is rather busy here.


The dredger pipes that aren’t currently attached to the dredger are laid out beside the harbor. Based on the vegetation, some of them have been here for a while. We were somewhat surprised to see that there were several different diameters of the pipe, though that is not evident in this photo.


The boats in the harbor always look picturesque, though they now represent a lot of surplus money, as there are almost no working boats any more.


I rather like the elegance of this fence, which is almost certainly custom made. The vertical bars seem to be copper tubing for plumbing and the horizontal bars are simple cuts. I think that the panel consists of 12 copper tubes, not 3, with holes drilled about ⅓ of the way through the wood to hold the tubes.


Another Little Free Library. I think this one was on Windsor near Frederick.

Coming back, we walked along Windsor instead of Broadway from Frederick Street to Ocean View.  The street is much quieter and more pleasant. I think it is probably worth detouring a block when bicycling or walking across town—I don’t know why I’ve never taken Windsor before.


Creative sidewalk patching.


This one is on Windsor and Branciforte.


This one is on Roosevelt Terrace, overlooking the Broadway Playhouse where my son had so many acting classes.


I’m always rather fascinated by the way that old houses get jacked up (by Fresno House Movers) to build a foundation under the house. I wonder how they drill the holes in the sill plate to line up with the bolts cast into the new concrete foundation. Is it careful measurement or eyeball estimates? Do they drill the holes extra large and then use large washers? Or do they put in a new sill plate and the lower the house onto it?


This turtle mosaic is the first one you come to on the Laurel Street bridge coming from the east. Each of the uprights has a mosaic but the sidewalk is too narrow on the bridge to get far enough away for good pictures of most of them.

On Sunday, I got a little more exercise by bicycling up to my office to fetch the purple beans that I had bought at the farmstand on Friday, but left in the refrigerator in the grad-student office by mistake.  Monday and Tuesday, I mowed the lawn (front yard on Monday, back yard on Tuesday).

2021 November 7

Secret Walks: Pogonip

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On Saturday 30 October, my wife and I chose to do a longer walk, as we had done a short one the previous week.  We chose the Downtown-Pogonip loop from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover, but we  rotated the walk to start at the closest point to us (King and Storey).  The walk in the book is 6.3 miles, and our getting to and from it added 1.2 miles making a total of 7.5 miles.


This burl at the base of a redwood tree often has interesting things in it—here we seem to have a Halloween shrine.


There was only one little free library on this walk, and it did not have much in it.


I guess the wait in line from August 16 was a little too long for one of the Parks and Recreation classes.


The bark of the kapok tree in front of City Hall is quite impressive.


Here is a view of the public library across the courtyard from City Hall. The library will probably get torn down in a few years, when a new library gets built. (There is some controversy over the new library, as it is more parking garage than library, and there is environmental opposition to yet another parking garage.)


Here is the smaller courtyard inside City Hall. We don’t often get to see the fountain running, because of the drought.


One of the arcades at City Hall.


This is supposedly a bunya-bunya tree—I don’t know enough about Australian trees to verify that and I’ve never seen the huge cones from it that bunya-bunya trees supposedly produce.


I’ve always liked the way that redwood-tree burls encroach on sidewalks (like here on Chestnut Street), though it does require a wide sidewalk to still allow foot traffic and wheelchairs.


The spire and finial on this building are always somewhat surprising—the whole building is a weird mixture of styles, but much of it is hard to photograph, because of sidewalk trees.


I believe that this is a monkey-puzzle tree—in the same genus as the bunya-bunya, but from South America (Chile) rather than Australia.


This conifer (pine?) has rather decorative bare branches—I don’t know whether that is normal or a result of the stress of the current drought.


This building is supposedly the oldest frame house in Santa Cruz, built around 1850. (The nearby Neary-Rodriguez Abode is the oldest building, built around 1810.)


This grand entrance to what used to be the Holy Cross School now leads to parish administration offices. The school is in a much uglier building on the other side of Mission Plaza.


These silhouettes are just a small sample of the public art at the Tannery Art Complex—a live-work complex for artists.


This sculpture/mural is one of the most unusual of the new crop of ocean-themed murals around town.


The octopus sculpture on the bench is particularly fine.


The other side of the octopus scuplture.


After going through the Tannery Arts Complex, the route goes up Golf Club Drive, which leads rather abruptly from the urban feel of the bus maintenance yards to a very rural feel, with the transition about at this old railroad bridge (which the Roaring Camp tourist railroad still traverses).


Here is a view of the Tannery buildings from the Pogonip, zoomed in a bit so that buildings are recognizable. The day was very hazy—this photo has already had Photoshop’s haze removal done to it!


These seem to be cotoneaster berries (rather than toyon or pyracantha), based on the smooth-edged leaves and the lack of thorns.


More berries from the same plant.


Here is a view down from the derelict Pogonip Clubhouse.


I liked the color and texture contrasts of these branches.


More nice color contrasts.


View across what used to be the polo fields.


Paths through the redwoods always seem so inviting.


Someone has been busy building this stone spiral.


These shelf mushrooms are each about 25cm across.


I like this sculpture, which seems very in keeping with the modern house behind it.

2021 October 17

Secret Walks: Branciforte-Delaveaga

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On Saturday 16 October, my wife and I were feeling a little guilty about the short walk the week before, so we did one of the longer walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover—the Branciforte-Delaveagea loop.  The loop itself is 5.4 miles, but we added 1.7 miles at each end, for a total of 8.8 miles.

[24 October 2021: I forgot to say last week that we did have one suggestion for an improvement to the loop—rather than walking down La Fonda after crossing and walking along Soquel, it would be better to take the sidewalk in front of the Santa Cruz Adult School, and walk down Park Way.]

We had lunch near the end of the walk on the back patio of the Crêpe Place.  It was quite pleasant there in the shade next to the fountain, and we were there late enough in the afternoon (around 3 p.m.) that there were few others dining.


This is one of the new ocean-themed murals around town—it seems rather crudely drawn compared to most.


We rather liked the way this stump of a palm tree had been decorated for Halloween.


We’ve always admired this blue and cream house on N. Branciforte Ave. If I remember from the historic plaque correctly (it’s been a couple of years since I looked), it was originally the home of a dentist.


This little free library on N. Branciforte is very nicely painted.


Nicely painted on both sides.


We don’t see many pomegranate trees around town—I’m not sure it gets warm enough for them to ripen properly.


This little free library is on Goss.


The pillars at the west end of Old Vineyard Trail used to be part of the main entrance to Delaveaga Park, back when there was a streetcar that went there.


There was once a zoo in the park also—I believe that this concrete foundation was part of the zoo.


I have no idea what this weird shed is, nor why it has steps down to the retaining wall.


The radio tower is a distinctive landmark. It is probably for the 911 services that are in Delaveaga Park, just above the Audrey Stanley Grove stage for Santa Cruz Shakespeare.


There is a nice stand of prickly pears in one place just beside the Old Vineyard Trail. They make a nice change from the eucalyptus, pine, and coast live oak.


Here the trail opens up to a flat field covered with both coast live oak and European cork oaks.


Yet another little free library—this one on Prospect Heights.


This green and yellow house has a very European style with very Californian landscaping.


I like the roofline and the wind vane on the top of Gault School (picture taken from the back of the playground).


The main door for Gault School is an impressive entrance.


The auditorium door is also fine. They don’t seem to make schools like this in California any more—all the more recent ones are really rather ugly.


Another new mural—this one on the side of Harts Fabric, right next to the Roller Palladium (which still has roller-skating parties, after being in business for 70 years).


Another new mural on Soquel Ave.


Many of the murals are tucked away in pedestrian alleys—you really can’t see them from cars.


I’ve always liked the mosaics on the Soquel Ave bridge, made by local middle-school students, but they are often hard to photograph.

After the walk, I shaped my focaccia dough (I’d used basically the same recipe as Sourdough focaccia 2, but with only bread flour) and took a 2-hour nap.  After the nap, I baked the focaccia and my wife made a small frittata and a lovely butternut-squash soup to complete our dinner.

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