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2022 July 10

Secret Walks: UCSC Farm

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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
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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.

Festival-Glen-stage

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.

Festival-Glen-stage-closeup

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.

view-from-music-plaza

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

deer-on-meadow

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.)

view-from-hill-by-University-House

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

photographing-flowering-tree

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

graduation-photo

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.

flying-IUD

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).

koi-pond

We visited the koi pond at Porter.

mural1

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

mural2

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 March 30

Secret Walks: Koi-to-koi

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:01
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On Saturday 27 March 2022, my wife and I took a long walk that visited two koi ponds: one on campus and one just off campus in the Pogonip.  The originally planned walk was 4.59 miles, but we had a few mistakes that increased it to 7.27 miles.  A koi-to-koi walk that started at the Rachel Carson bus stop, went without detours from the Porter koi pond to the Pogonip koi pond, then back to the Cowell/Stevenson bus stop would be about 2.6 miles.  Most of this walk was in the detours and walking home from the Pogonip.

revised-koi-to-koi-map

(Click map for high-resolution version) We started by taking the 19 bus to the Rachel Carson College stop, then went to Porter College to view the koi pond there. Then we walked across campus to Quarry Plaza, where we had lunch from a food truck, then over to Stevenson college (the red route on the map). We had planned to go across the parking lot to McLaughlin and to the trailhead to the Pogonip (yellow route), but my wife had left her hiking pole at Quarry Plaza, so we went back there (pink path), then over to the Chadwick Garden, with the intention of going through the garden and out the lower gate. Unfortunately the lower gate was padlocked, so we had to retrace our steps out of the garden (brown route). We walked on McLaughlin to get to the Pogonip, but I misjudged the distance on the map and went past the turnoff to the koi pond. Instead we continued all the way to Fern Trail, where I realized we’d made a mistake and got out my phone (cheating!) and went down Spring Trail (purple path) to the other end of the route to the koi pond (olive path). We walked up that path, while the original plan had been to walk down it. My wife did not like the idea of walking back down it, preferring the extra ⅔ mile of redoing the purple route. We then headed down Spring Trail to Kalkar Quarry (green route) and took an alternative route back from the quarry (blue route).

eye-lamp

This lamp post at Porter College has a rather creepy Big-Brother vibe.

koi-pond-fountain

The koi pond at Porter can be identified by this fountain, which circulates the water and keeps it aerated.

orange-koi

Here is one of the large koi in the pond.

two-koi

Two more of the koi.

fancy-fins

This one has particularly fancy fins.

three-koi

Although people are not supposed to feed the koi, the koi do come to investigate any visitors, and swim away again when no food is forthcoming.

ars-longa

Porter has a long tradition of student -painted murals. The current crop seem to be advertisements for Porter—less witty than some of the ones from decades ago. Perhaps the approval process for them has gotten more bureaucratic or committee-based?

porter-door

A door mural, again with the advertising theme.

waterfall-mural

A mural that seems a little more artist-directed and less “Porter ad”.

forget-me-not

Forget-me-nots were blooming in the woods.

unused-bike-parking

This covered bike parking at Kerr Halls has almost never been used—it does not help that you would have to manage a flight of stairs to get to it, and almost no one knows the parking is there.

inaccessible-bike-parking

When the path was redone, these bike parking posts at Kerr Hall were rendered unusable.

california-hedgenettle

I think that this nettle-like flower is a California hedge nettle (Stachys bullata).

wild-turkey

This wild turkey was unusual in being alone, rather than in a large flock.

violet

Violets were also blooming.

flannelbush

There is a fine flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum) next to the parking lot by the Bay Tree Bookstore (which has been officially renamed the Bay Tree Campus Store, as they no longer sell books). We ate our lunch under the flannel bush.

dogwood

At Cowell College the dogwood trees were blooming. I liked the shape of this particular blossom, though it is not the characteristic shape for dogwood blossoms.

rhododendron

The entrance to Stevenson College has this rhododendron in a ceramic pot—I think that it has outgrown the pot and needs to be repotted.

chadwick-garden

The Chadwick Garden is looking a bit weedy, though some beds have clearly been cleared and planted for spring crops.

Lady-Banks-rose

There is a nice arbor covered with Lady Banks’ roses at the east end of the Chadwick Garden.

berry

This berry seems out of season—I would not expect the flowers for another month yet.

jasmine

The jasmine was blooming next to the road below the Chadwick Garden.

limekiln1

In the Pogonip, past where we had planned to turn, there is a very Romanic ruin of a limekiln. It is not a folly, though it is is maintained like one.

limekiln2

An adjacent limekiln.

red-columbine

I was a little surprised to see a red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) in the woods, as it is native to the northeast US and Canada, not to California.

steps-to-koi

These are the steps that we took from Spring Trail up (and up) to the koi pond—our original plan had been to come down that path from the pond.

painterly-koi

The koi in the Pogonip were hard to photograph, because there was a lot of sunlight on the surface and the water was not very clear. This impressionistic painterly shot was the best I could do.

exposed-roots

This tree seems to have a bit of a cave under its roots (too small for anything bigger than an opossum).

wire-fence

This wire fence along Spring Trail has an unusual mesh, but seems to be in good shape, so I doubt that it is very old.

blue-dicks

This flower at the end of a tall, smooth stem seems to be “blue dicks” (Dipterostemon capitatus). I don’t remember ever seeing it before.

bindweed

I thought these were morning glory, but (based on the leaf shape), I think my wife is right that these are the invasive bindweed.

lupine

This appears to be some sort of lupine.

field-of-poppies

There were fields of California poppies in bloom also.

california-poppy

I always have trouble getting closeups of California poppies, as my camera wants to overexpose the petals. This is the best I’ve managed so far (and it took some exposure correction in Photoshop Elements).

The alternative route back from Kalkar Quarry involved going through the opening in the fence off Limestone Lane into the UCSC faculty housing, then along that fence down to the Peace United Church of Christ property, and down a concrete drainage swale.  When we were there, there was a concert r rehearsal going on in the church, with what sounded like a brass ensemble—it made for a very dramatic soundtrack to our walking down the drainage swale.

2022 March 4

Secret Walks: Seven Bridges

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:29
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On Saturday 19 Feb 2022, my wife and I took another campus walk, walking up from our house past Westlake through Westlake Elementary School and faculty housing, up the Great Meadow, and then doing a loop walk created by the Baskin Engineering Walking Group that crosses seven pedestrian bridges. We had to modify the walk somewhat, as one of the bridges is closed for construction, but we added a roadway bridge, so we still ended up with seven bridges. We ended the walk at a bus stop, so that we did not have to walk down the hill, but we did have to wait 20 minutes for a bus, as the number 19 bus only runs once an hour on weekends. (Bus service to our neighborhood used to be good, but they moved a lot of the buses from Bay Drive to Western Drive.) This was a fairly short walk at 4.88 miles, though much of that was uphill.

Seven-bridges-map

Here is the map of our route, starting with the red, then the blue, then the yellow, and ending with the pink (after a bus ride down the hill). Click the image to get a higher-resolution image.

We saw a lot of birds on Westlake, the tiny pond that gives the neighborhood its name. I did not include all the different birds here (no pictures of coots, for example), but I tried to get the more rarely seen ones.

bee-on-rosemary

The bees were very busy on the rosemary.

common-merganser

This appears to be a male common merganser.

bufflehead

We haven’t often seen buffleheads in the past, but we’ve now seen them on a couple of our walks. The white quadrant on the back of the head is rather distinctive.

ring-necked-ducks

These are the first ring-necked ducks we’ve seen. We had to look them up when we got home, but we’re pretty sure of the identification, as the beaks are quite distinctive.

Canada-geese

Canada geese are common at the right time of year. I think that the birds behind them are hooded mergansers, but this is the best photo of them that I got, and it is not detailed enough to be sure of the identification.

pomeranian-duck

The mallards are the most common ducks around here, but I’ve never before seen a Pomeranian duck—a domestic breed that probably escaped from someone’s home.

little-free-library

Just below Westlake Elementary School, someone has set up a little free library of just children’s books at a height convenient for elementary-school students. Unfortunately, the selection was not very impressive (perhaps the good books go fast).

monarch-electrical-box

This monarch mural on an electrical box is right next to the entrance to Westlake School.

westlake-gate

The gate was open, so we had no hesitation about going into the school grounds on a Saturday—one might need permission of the school office if school were in session.

westlake-mosaic

There is a lot of artwork on the Westlake campus, both murals and mosaics.

westlake-stairs

The exit from school is these stairs at the northeast corner of the school grounds, behind their small amphitheater.

old-fence

After passing through faculty housing, we can see one of the old fences that has not yet completely decayed away.

powderhouse

The powderhouse (which was used for storing gunpowder kegs when the limestone quarries were functional) marks the beginning of the bike path across the Great Meadow. Pedestrians should stick to the gravel road here, as the bike path is too narrow in places for both pedestrians and bicyclists (and the downhill bicyclists coast at about 35mph).

prickly-pear

The fruit of the prickly pear made a great contrast with the blue sky.

red-tailed-hawk

I have had a difficult time photographing raptors—I can zoom in on them, but the autofocus doesn’t seem able to capture them. I think the problem is the focus, and not motion blur, as the exposure time was quite short (1/200 s at f/5.6). The picture is clear enough to identify this as a red-tailed hawk, but the photo leaves a lot to be desired aesthetically.

granary-tree

This “granary” tree has been used for decades now by acorn woodpeckers storing acorns in it. There does not seem to be much wood left around the holes they’ve drilled in it.

improved-bike-path

The bike path was improved during the pandemic to provide a separated pedestrian path alongside the uphill bike path. All the warning signs about “no motor vehicles” are needed—I’ve seen clueless drivers try to treat the bike path as a road.

corporation-yard

The campus has made quite a mess of dumpsters and dirt piles just above the Farm.

village-stairs

The uphill bike path overlooks the Village, a collection of manufactured homes that were originally used as temporary offices on other parts of campus 35 years ago. These stairs up from the Village were not part of the walk, but we should incorporate them into a “Village Loop” walk sometime.

california-poppies

California poppies are blooming at this time of year.

ground-squirrel

The ground squirrels often pose for their pictures, if you don’t get too close.

azalea

After we passed through McHenry Library, we saw this azalea in bloom at the front of the library.

viburnum

This viburnum was right next to the azalea.

bridge1

The first bridge on our route heads east from the front of McHenry Library.

bridge2

The second bridge is right after the first one and in line with it, headed east to Hahn Student Services.

bridge2-shadow

The sun was positioned well for a nice shadow from the second bridge.

redwood-sorrel

We saw redwood sorrel on this walk, as we have on other walks on campus.

wild-strawberry

We also saw this strawberry, which may be a wild strawberry or may have been naturalized from someone’s garden.

bridge3

The third bridge heads west from behind the Classroom Unit (between the Classroom Unit and the Quarry Amphitheater) over to the Earth and Planetary Sciences building (which used to be Earth and Marine Sciences, but I think all the marine scientists moved to the coastal campus).

extreme-vacuum

I can’t help wondering what is really behind this door on Earth and Planetary Sciences—it does not look all that well sealed.

bridge4

The fourth bridge heads northeast from the Interdisciplinary Sciences Building to the Cowell Health Center.

fremonts-deathcamas

In the woods here we saw a flower we did not recognize. Google Lens identifies it as Fremont’s deathcamas, which seems like a pretty good guess from the pictures I was able to find.

bridge5

We took this bridge on McLaughlin Drive as bridge number 5.

lime-kiln

Off the side of the bridge, you can see an old lime kiln with a redwood tree growing up through it.

cyclamen

Because the Kresge north bridge was closed for construction at Kresge, we walked through the grad student housing (Redwood Grove Apartments), where we saw this cyclamen peeking out from between some rocks.

bridge6

The bridge shared by Porter and Kresge was our bridge number 6.

bridge6-return

But we just returned back over the same bridge from Porter College, without visiting the art galleries or the koi pond. (I’ll have to plan another walk to take in the two koi ponds at Porter College and in the Pogonip.)

bridge7

The 7th and last bridge takes us over to Kerr Hall.

physics-carousel

Above Kerr Hall, just below Thimann Labs, is the physics carousel—a landmark on campus and still supposedly used by physics instructors.

library-path

The path from Thimann Lecture Hall to McHenry Library is quite pleasantly shaded.

lamppost-hinge

Along that path, I noticed for the first time that the lampposts have hinged bases—presumably for replacing the light bulbs without needing a ladder or cherrypicker.

knot

A branch that was blocking the path was removed many years ago, and this interesting scar has grown in its place.

blackberry

This appears to be a native wild blackberry, unlike many of the blackberries we see, which are naturalized descendants of commercial strains.

bus-stop

We ended the campus walk at the bookstore bus stop, part of which is a deck over the edge of a steep dropoff. Bus service is infrequent on weekends—the 19 running down Bay only runs once an hour and the 15 doesn’t run at all. We could have taken an 18 from a bus stop on the other side of the street, but it runs down Western Drive and along Mission, which is much less convenient for us. The new bus routes are good for students shopping on Mission, but have really reduced our bus service substantially.

2022 February 20

Secret Walks: Murals

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:30
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On Saturday 12 Feb 2022, my wife and I took a more urban walk, to see some of the “Sea Walls” murals that we had not seen yet. We based our route on the map from their website:

Sea-Walls-map

Click the map for a higher-resolution image. Copied from https://seawalls.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Sea_Walls_Santa_Cruz_Mural_Map_v3.pdf, which provides a higher-resolution printable image.

We decided to skip murals 1 and 2 on the Westside and 18 and 19 that aren’t in the city at all, and concentrate on getting to 16 and 17 on the Eastside.  It turned out to be about 2.8 miles there (going out Water Street with a detour to see the mural at Lenz Arts, and 3.2 miles back (with a detour to Bookshop Santa Cruz and to photograph mural 10, which is usually blocked by a parked bus).  I only took photos of about 8 of the Sea Walls murals, as I’d visited and taken pictures of most of the downtown ones already (see, for example, Secret Walks: Downtown and Secret Walks: Branciforte-Delaveaga). I did take photos of some of the other murals along the way—Santa Cruz has quite a few murals now, and there does not seem to be a comprehensive map or photo guide to them all.

The map on the Sea Walls site does seem to have one error—murals 16 and 17 are not at 1827 Soquel, but next door at 1913 Soquel (which is still part of Community Printers).

bee-on-radish

On the way down Water Street, we saw (and heard) a lot of bees on the wild radish, so I had to stop to try to get some pictures—this is probably the best of the photos.

Crayola-electrical-box

The electrical boxes in front of Lenz Arts are appropriately painted.

Lenz-mural

The mural on the side of Lenz Arts, Protect Our Oceans, by Jimbo Phillips, is boldy colored, though the photo with the mural in the shade doesn’t quite do it justice.

Lenz-mural-detail

Here is detail from the mural on Lenz Arts.

dragon-mural

This dragon mural is on a new gallery at 124 Front—unfortunately, I did not memorize the name of the gallery, and Google Maps does not have it labeled yet (nor could I find it with various searches).

buy-art

The front of the gallery is covered with not-very-sublimal messages to “Buy Art”.

art-car-tattoo

This mural is on the side of Hot Rod Alley Tattoo.

electrical-box-bees

The bees on this electrical box point to the otherwise well-hidden pedestrian-crossing button.

electrical-box-market

This electrical box looks more appropriate for the farmers’ market than for Water Street.

electrical-box-side

Another nicely painted electrical box.

electrical-box-lighthouse

The front of the electrical box shows the lighthouse that holds the surfing museum. The artist is the same as the one who did the Lenz Arts mural.

Chavez-mural

Barrios Unidos has a mural of Cesar Chavez, a natural association for them.

protect-what-you-love-alley

Hannah Eddy’s “Protect What You Love” is a little hard to view from the narrow alley it is on.

protect-what-you-love-containers

You can get a better view of the top half from the parking lot next door.

guardian-of-the-galaxy

The Guardian of the Galaxy mural is a little hard to see behind the parking line. Both this mural and the previous one are on 1913 Soquel Ave. (not 1827 Soquel as the map claims).

staff-of-life

The Staff of Life grocery store has a rather bucolic scene that does not really represent local agriculture.

electrical-box-strawberries

The electrical box by Staff of Life has an appropriate theme.

skateworks-1

Bill’s Wheels Skateshop has several murals surrounding their parking lot.

skateworks-2

The back part of the mural on the side of the building.

skateworks-3

The back of Bill’s Wheels.

skateworks-4

Across the parking lot at the back.

skateworks-5

Across the parking lot at the front.

alley-1

The pedestrian alley next to Midtown Surf Shop and Coffee has three murals. This one is at the front.

alley-2

The second mural on the alley.

alley-3

The third mural on the alley—I had to paste this one together from two photos, as the alley is too narrow to get the whole thing in one shot, even with the widest angle the camera permits.

clay-creations

Across the street, Clay Creation has an appropriate mural on their pedestrian alley also.

dental-sculpture

Though they have clearly been here for a long time, I’d never previously noticed the sculptures outside this dental office.

as-above-so-below

As Above–So Below is on the side of York Framing.

plastic-free

From the Mountains to the Sea, Keep Our Waters Plastic Free is on the back of York Framing.

bottlebrush

The bottlebrush bushes are blooming this time of year.

I-beams-in-river

I had never noticed these I-beams in the river by the Soquel Avenue bridge before—the water level was quite low, so they may usually be submerged.

sediment-patterns

The sediment on the river bottom made some interesting patterns.

beyond-boundaries

I’ve not previously been able to get a photo of this mural “Beyond Boundaries” before, as there is almost always a long, articulated bus parked in front of it. (I only had about two minutes from when I took this picture until a bus parked there.)

My “Secret Walks” blog posts have been running about a week behind, because it takes me so long to select photos from the far-too-many that I take, and then prepare them for the blog. I always crop and downsample, so that the images are appropriately sized for viewing on a laptop, and I also adjust the lighting and (usually) do a little sharpening. The new camera seems to wash out the colors a bit on the autoexposure (slight overexposure), so I’m fixing that in Photoshop Elements, but I’d like to figure how to set up the camera to get better exposure in the first place. I’ll try to work on yesterday’s walk earlier this week, to try to catch up.

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