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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 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.

mosaic-1

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

mosaic-2

This slightly larger mosaic is in the same garden wall.

walkway

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

harbor

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

path-to-lighthouse

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

pier-and-masts

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.

cleat

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

birds-on-pipe

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

dredger

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

lighthouse

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

caltrops

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

caltrops-wave

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

caltrops-wave-2

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

mosaic-on-caltrop

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

unknown-beach-plant-1

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.

unknown-beach-plant-2

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

not-dusty-miller

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

lighthouse-from-stairs

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

cliff-restoration

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.

stone-chimney

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.

whale-sculpture

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.

museum-window

This artwork replaces one of the windows of the museum.

museum-entrance

The main entrance of the museum.

little-free-library-orange

I think that this Little Free Library is on Seabright.

not-the-beach

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.

fence-cutouts

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

dredger-pipes

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.

boats-in-harbor

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.

fancy-fence

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.

little-free-library-wallpaper

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.

sidewalk-patch

Creative sidewalk patching.

little-free-library-teal

This one is on Windsor and Branciforte.

little-free-library-west

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

new-foundation

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?

turtle-mosaic

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).

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