Gas station without pumps

2022 August 7

Secret Walks: Corpse flower

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:12
Tags: , , , ,

I did not really do a walk in the “secret walks” series this week, but I did go for a stroll in the UCSC Arboretum on Tuesday 2 August 2022, because UCSC’s corpse flower had bloomed and was on display. I went with a friend, who parked at the Hay Barn and we walked up Ranch View Road, past the faculty housing—a road I’ve never walked before.

I rather like this old gate closing off the fire road.

I could not get very close to the corpse flower, as there were a lot of spectators, but it seemed to be a fine specimen. I was not close enough to smell the flower through my mask, but my friend said it had an unpleasant, but not very strong odor.

They had cut away part of the flower in order to either pollinate or access the pollen (I didn’t hear whether this was a male or female corpse flower).

After viewing the corpse flower, we strolled around the arboretum. Not much is in bloom this time of year, but the red-flowering gum was very attractive to the bees.

My friend was fond of the fan aloes, so I took a picture of them. I understand that they are now classified in a different genus: Kumara plicatilis, rather than Aloe plicatilis.

2022 July 31

Secret Walks: Moore Creek encore

This week was a bit of an odd one in the “secret walks” series.  On Thursday (28 July 2022), I did part of the Moore Creek Reserve walk with a friend, but took very few pictures:

We saw a fairly large lizard on a log, which I managed to get an OK picture of, though the lighting was not ideal.

One difference from the walk I did with my wife is that we walked up the east fork from the Terrace Loop Trail to the swing at the edge of the ravine, then back to the Terrace Loop. We also did not do the Prairie Loop Trail, because my friend was feeling a little tired. There were no cattle on the meadows at this time of year—but the cow patties were not completely dried out yet, so I suspect that they were only moved out in the past month.

We saw a few raptors high up (probably turkey vultures), but they were not photographable (by me anyway). All I got a photo of were these turkeys, who stayed conveniently on the ground (though I could not get very close to them, as they ran away as we approached).

On Friday, my wife and I walked downtown for dinner in Abbott Square (grilled cheese sandwiches from Central Coast Creamery) then over to Broadway Playhouse for the first public performance by WEST Performing Arts in a couple of years.  They were doing Puffs, a very funny play that satirizes Harry Potter.  Since Harry-Potter-based plays are a staple at WEST, this play was a good one to come back with.  The kids were all pretty good (though I had trouble with some of the quieter, higher-pitched voices, even with my hearing aids), and the play is quite funny.  My wife and I kept feeling like we ought to recognize the actors, even though our son’s last performance with WEST was in 2016, and even the youngest actors he performed with are now mostly out of college (some of them working as staff for WEST).  Several of the actors looked familiar, though none of the names in the program rang any bells.

On Sunday, my wife and I walked to the Colligan Theater to see Jewel Theatre’s final performance of Deathtrap, a very funny thriller-comedy.  We almost didn’t get in, though we had bought season tickets, because they had supposedly emailed a request for people to confirm their tickets. I checked when I got home, and I had no record in my email of any such request.  Luckily there had been a cancellation, so we were still able to get in (in seats as good as the ones we had reserved). The play was worth seeing, though it was clear that the set designer had had the most fun of anyone.

So I got in a moderate amount of walking this week, but not one very productive of photographs (it was still a bit weird going to a WEST play without taking a video or hundreds of photos, but I’m getting used to it now). I had taken about a hundred photos on July 16 of our son in a small role in Fortinbras produce by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, so I’m maintaining the tradition. I put a few of the photos I took on a web page for my son.

2022 July 10

Secret Walks: UCSC Farm

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:25
Tags: , , , ,

On 2022 July 3, my wife and I took a guided tour of the UCSC Farm, something we have not done for at least a decade—maybe closer to two decades.  The tour was moderately interesting, though more for the changes since we’d last been there than for the content of the talks.  We had 3 docents (1 scheduled, two others there to learn from her), but none of them knew much about what had been planted this year.  The farm discontinued the apprenticeship program during the pandemic and is relying more on UCSC students for farm labor, with the result that some of the more labor-intensive activities (like the long row of compost heaps) are no longer there.  I also did not see the pond with the solar fountain—I think it has been filled in.

On the way up Bay Drive, we saw a yellow monkeyflower in bloom.

The view across the field of Monterey Bay was fine, as the air was unusually clear.

In the opposite direction we could look across the fields to the tent cabins.

The tent cabins are new since the last time we visited (the apprentices used to sleep in much smaller, less permanent tents. I don’t know what the tent cabins are used for without the apprentices.

The row crops are a very mixed lot—the Farm tries to avoid any monocultures, to reduce problems with pests, as they use no herbicides or pesticides.

They have a few covered rows—I think these covers are to keep the birds off, more than they are for light or temperature control.

The Farm grows a lot of flowers and herbs—some in rows and some in more decorative beds.

I don’t know whether the row of amaranth is grown for the grain or for the flower, but given how little there is I suspect it is just for cut flowers.

Here are some beds labeled with loose categories of herbs.

The lavender was really attracting the bees, but I had a hard time getting them in focus—the autofocus of the camera was too easily captured by the flowers.

This orange flower appears to be some sort of globemallow, but I’ve no idea which species.

I don’t know whether the Farm harvests anything from the aloe plant, or if it is just decorative.

This flower was very popular with the hummingbirds (who are even harder to photograph than bees). It seems to be some sort of cape fuchsia (genus Phygelius).

The Life Lab at the Farm has some pet chickens—fancy breeds rather than ones raised for eggs or meat.

These cedar cones made a bold display on the tree.

I still have one walk that I took a lot of photos on that I have not posted to the blog—a visit to the UCSC Arboretum on June 5 with my wife and my sister. The hard part there is selecting just a few photos.

2022 June 25

Secret Walks: Campus walk

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:33
Tags: , , , , ,

On 2022 June 4, my sister and I went for a short walk on the UCSC campus. She drove us up, and we parked in the parking structure.  I showed her my office, then we walked down past the physics carousel and Kerr Hall to the Performing Arts area.


I was distressed to see that the Festival Glen stage has been damaged by a tree falling over, and that UCSC has done nothing to fix it yet.


Here is a closer view of the damage. I was always a bit bothered that UCSC denied Santa Cruz Shakespeare the use of the Festival Glen, claiming that they needed it for their own programs, and then did nothing with the stage—they seem to have been leaving it to rot.


We went past the music building to enjoy the from the balcony.


And we did see deer. I’ve always thought that the herd on campus were California mule deer, but the solid dark tail suggests that they are Columbian black-tailed deer instead. (The two are subspecies of the same species Odocoileus hemionus californicus and Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, and can interbreed for intermediate forms.)


We also got a nice view from the top of the hill overlooking the bike path.


We went past the Rachel Carson apartments, where my sister tried to get a photo of the flowering tree.


The sculpture at Porter (variously known as the Squiggle, the Dragon’s Rest, and the Flying IUD) was in heavy use by students taking graduation photos.


I did get one photo of my sister with the Flying IUD and no one in graduation robes (between two groups of students taking photos).


We visited the koi pond at Porter.


And we took some photos of outdoor artwork (my sister took many more than me, as I had several from previous walks).


Another very Porter mural.

This walk was a very short one—I was just showing her a few highlights of campus in a very restricted time frame. After visiting Porter, we walked up past the Redwood Grove Apartments to the car and headed home for dinner.

2022 June 23

Secret Walks: goat walk

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:47
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been lax in publishing my walks lately, as my sister visited for about a week, then my wife and I went up to Richmond to help our son settle into his new house.  I helped him remove a rotten pergola and put up curtain rods, while my wife cleared a lot of weeds from the small yard.  I’ve got photos from three walks that I’ve not written up yet, but I’m not going to do them in chronological order.

The “goat walk” that my wife and I took on 16 June 2022, was just the Neary Lagoon loop from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover, but there were goats clearing the weeds on the east side of the park, making our excuse for doing this short walk. 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.  Even starting and ending our walk at our house only made the walk 3.1 miles—one of our shortest.


The tule reeds looked particularly fine with a clear sky behind them.


I took a couple of pictures of wood ducks in eclipse plumage, but they were a bit distant, and I’m still having some trouble with focus or motion blur at high zoom.


Another wood duck.


I have several pictures of the goats, but I won’t bother with captions for most of them—as about all I have to say is “goats!”



Here is a before-and-after picture with an electric fence dividing where the goats are eating from a patch that they have not been allowed to graze yet.


This handle, which I believe controls a check gate for managing the height of the lagoon. It does not seem to have been changed in a while, as the tule is growing up through the handle.


This tree does not look very healthy, but it makes a rather surreal picture.


The open water at Neary Lagoon shows the effectiveness of last year’s tule clearance.


This church spire can be seen in the previous photo, about ⅓ of the way from the right-hand edge. Some of the church buildings are rented to the private school my wife works for, though the school is not otherwise affiliated with the church.


The tule seeds are make a nice contrast to the green reeds.


I believe that this is cow parsley (which is edible) and not hemlock (which is poisonous), but I’m not about to taste it to find out.


The redbud pods are very colorful at this time of year. I believe that this is western redbud (Cercis occidentalis).


In the pollinator garden by the sewage treatment plant is this plant, which seems to be red-flowered buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens).

Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: