Gas station without pumps

2021 November 27

Secret Walks: Neary Lagoon

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On Saturday 27 November, my wife and I  walked the Neary Lagoon loop from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover.  The walk in the book is 1.3 miles, but we rotated and reversed the walk to start at the California Ave entrance to Neary Lagoon and do the floating dock first, added a side trip to Laurel Creek by the Cypress Point Apartments (where lived when I first moved to Santa Cruz, 35 years ago),adding about 0.8 miles, and had 2.3 miles for getting to and from the start, making a total of 4.4 miles—one of our shortest walks so far.  The floating docks were open this time, even though the some of the signs saying they were closed have still not been taken down.

behind-the-piano

Before leaving on the walk, I saw this marvelous cobweb behind the piano—I’ll have to do a little cleaning!

ducks-in-settling-tank

The settling tank at the sewage-treatment plant is always popular with the mallard ducks.

mallards

Here are a male and female mallard in Neary Lagoon.

cormorant

We saw this bird on a rock just past the end of the Neary Lagoon Pier. We did not get too close, to avoid scaring it away. It appears to be a juvenile double-crested cormorant.

tule-and-tree

The tule removal this Fall in the lagoon has revealed a few trees that were previously completely hidden by the tule reeds.

mallards-on-tule

There is still enough tule left for the mallards to have comfortable resting places.

coots

There are quite a few American coots in Neary Lagoon, though not nearly as many as the mallard ducks.

leaning-bird-house

I’m not sure what species this bird house is intended for (maybe marsh wrens?). We saw two of the bird houses, but this one has a decided problem with tilt—perhaps it is copying San Francisco’s Millenium Tower?

tule-landscape

A landscape of tule and open water—it is rather surprising how well the city is hidden from Neary Lagoon.

trees-over-path

Much of the path is boardwalk—even when it is not floating on the Lagoon. I liked the way the trees grew over the path here.

When we got back to dry land, we did not immediately finish the loop, but took a side trip (recommended in the book) to walk along the lagoon on the sanctuary access path by Cypress Point Apartments. We also spent a little time looking for the apartment building I lived in 35 years ago (133 Felix Street). The paint job on the building has changed since then and looks a little more cheerful (though Shelter Lagoon Condominiums seem to have kept the same paint scheme for the 35 years).

lychee

I took another picture of the lychee on Neary Street. Most of the fruit seems to have fallen now, but there are still a few high up in the tree.

mallards-Laurel-Creek

The mallards like Laurel Creek where it is still narrow and fast flowing (when it has water, that is).

Laurel-Creek-landscape

Laurel Creek widens out and slows way down as it enters Neary Lagoon.

phoebe

We saw a black phoebe on a branch by Cypress Point Apartments and the Shelter Lagoon Condominiums. I could not get close enough to get a really clear shot.

When we got to the end of the path, we did not retrace the path through along the lagoon, but exited through the Shelter Lagoon parking lot, returning to Neary Lagoon Park and continuing the loop around the lagoon.

path-over-field

Here is the path across a field, along the northeast edge of the park.

Dream-Inn-from-sewage-plant

As we approach the sewage-treatment plant again at the end of the loop, we can look back and see the Dream Inn sticking up above the park.

tule-and-path

The path between sewage-treatment plant and the lagoon on the southwest side of the park has nice views of the tule marsh.

phoebe-flying

I managed to catch another black phoebe flying, showing off its white belly.

Spring-Hill-sign

We walked past Spring Hill School on the way home, to see the new signage. My wife and I agree that the “SCHOOL” lettering is much too light and won’t be visible from cars driving by. The California poppy is replacing the previous dolphin as the school’s symbol, and the school is being repainted in green and orange to match the colors.

succulent-flower

We saw this succulent in flower on Van Ness near California Avenue, but we had no idea what it is. Using Google image search, we have tentatively identified it as Calandrinia spectabilis (rock purslane), a common garden plant originally from Chile.

little-free-library-1

This Little Free Library on Van Ness Ave often has books my wife finds interesting.

little-free-library-2

This Little Free Library (on a different block of Van Ness Ave) matches the house nicely, but my wife does not find the book selection as useful.

crows

We often have crows on Van Ness, so I thought I’d round out the bird pictures with ones from outside the park.

We did not stop for lunch on this walk, though I suggested trying the sushi place at Mission and Van Ness (one of the few places along this stretch that has outdoor seating), but my wife had had a late breakfast and the walk was not really long enough to make us very hungry, so we just went home.

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