Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Point Reyes August 2020

Most of these are from Woodward Valley Trail, a heretofore unknown gem and new favorite in PRNP.

Above, "sand" at Schoolhouse Beach.

These are crocosmia (montbretia), southern Africn invasives that mak you think you got lost and are now in Hawaii.

Fog was striking as I descended Woodward Valley Trail.  Glimpses of Sculptured Beach through the gaps in the cliff.

Above:  Tamatoa not looking so good these days.

Below, blackberries starting to ripen.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Bear Scat? Point Reyes, Upper Meadow Trail, 9 August 2020

There have been bear sightings around Point Reyes before - the most recently reported 2 years ago. There are bears just north in Sonoma and they even wander out into the flat parts of Yolo County occasionally, so this would not be all that surprising.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Pennsylvania State Flag, Redesigned Along California Lines

Old Phil never looked so good:

California's real flag for comparison:

Credit to the originator on reddit, user eccekevin, who did one for all 49 other states. I made this obvious improvement to his original PA design. Though it pains me to admit it, the coolest state flags are Arizona and Maryland, though California is a close third.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Willow Creek Preserve, Pacific Union College Forest, and Sept 27-69 - 6:30. by knife

First, and let me be very clear about this, Han Bul is a better restaurant than Soban. If you disagree then I guess you don't really understand authentic Korean food. This means you SS. ZING, HEY-O! (rimshot) (In all seriousness everyone, it's not yet safe to sit in a restaurant - but do support them. Consider getting takeout, or getting a gift card that you redeem later.)

First I stumbled on Willow Creek Preserve by noticing some trails marked on Google Maps that were outside of the (also awesome) Pomo Canyon. I noticed cars parked in a trailhead-like way along Coleman Valley Road and I KNEW you guys were holding out on me, and sure enough I found it.

I'm always struck by the convergent evolution of sorrel and clover, at least in terms of gross anatomy. The former is in the buckwheat family, the latter in the pea family. Per Timetree, their most recent common ancestor was likely 117 million years ago. (For comparison, humans and whales diverged only 96 million years ago.) Sorrel does not fix nitrogen like clover (I assumed there was a symbiosis) but does have a nifty rapid (fast enough to see it move) closure response to direct sunlight, which it's not used to, growing in redwood forests as it does. It's obvious enough why sharks, whales and mosasaurs would evolve convergently, but redwood sorrel is found in the deep shade of redwood forests and clovers in open fields, so this remains a mystery for some keen-minded botanist to solve.

Then I had a little of the ol' patello-femoral recently from a minor acute injury going up stupid Collier Springs Trail in Marin County Watershed land, but still major enough that I don't want to exacerbate it. Was thinking of going up to Wright Peak at Clear Lake, but considering the trail is described as steep and loose, exactly the kind of terrain that caused the injury in the first place, I decided to check out Las Posadas State Forest. Well that's closed. BUT immediately adjacent, I stumbled across the quite-awesome Pacific Union College Forest, popular with bikers, through which the Bay Ridge Trail runs. Even on a holiday weekend-Friday it was still fairly light. It's amazing that I'd never even heard of this place a 45-minute drive from home and it's pretty sweet.

It's interesting to see how each valley over gets progressively drier (Santa Rosa plain, then Sonoma, then Napa, then Pope/Berryessa.) The redwoods and Douglas first more or less stop on the west side of Napa, the east side of Napa looks drier than the west, and once you've over that (into Pope and Berryessa Valley) it's mostly chaparral and a few ponderosa pines and much of it, especially the Blue Ridge on the east side (i.e., the last ridge before the Central Valley) the often eroded-looking dry sandy scrub could pass for SoCal.

After that I gave into my morbid side and found the island (above) where one of the Zodiac Killer's attacks happened. After the dry Mediterranean summer, peninsulas emerge connecting these islands to the shore, as was the case in September of 1969. To take away the fun of figuring it out on your own - it's on the west side of the lake, at the south end of the Oak Shores Day Use Area, near the Lake Berryessa Field Office; nearest mile marker 6.75 along Berryessa-Knoxville Road. It turns out the victims were PUC students as well (I'd never heard of PUC until I ran in their forest mere hours before.) Helpfully, the killer called the sheriff's office that night though boaters had already heard the victims' cries for help (they did not immediately perish) and to further clarify, the killer wrote in marker on the couple's car door "Vallejo 12-20-68, 7-4-69, Sept 27-69 - 6:30. by knife". I've visited the first two locations as well and barely remember what they look like - this one leaves much more of an impression.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Lizard Blood Kills Lyme Disease Bacteria

At least two lizards in California have a protein in their blood that kills borrelia, which has slowed (but not stopped) its spread. When I left PA in the late 90s, I felt like I was escaping Lyme disease - one group of trail runners I knew estimates the prevalence of Lyme in its ranks at 70% - but by the mid-teens I had already started seeing cases of Bell's palsy caused by Lyme - it's here. But still not as bad.

From microbenotes.com. Note that the classic target lesion occurs in only about 50% of cases, meaning that just because you never saw a target lesion, doesn't mean it's not Lyme.

No word on whether therapeutics are being based off this protein but it seems like an obvious move.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Links, Photos and Miscellany For Your Pandemic Summer

  1. On Facebook, the Mountain Lions of Pennsylvania Info Library. I don't think there is good evidence that there are mountain lions back in PA - yet. But PA is such prime mountain lion country that it's just a matter of time - they're back in Kentucky and Connecticut and recently there have been some more convincing observations in Upstate New York. My offer for a bet stands - if you do NOT think there will be mountain lions documented in PA by the end of 2025, contact me and let's make a bet with money in escrow and everything.

    (If you think there IS evidence, PLEASE comment below with source. Everyone has an uncle with pictures or a hide of one they shot, then when I ask for the evidence, they disappear back into the internet.)

  2. On average, the Earth's trees getting shorter and younger. The smaller a tree, the less carbon it can hold.

  3. I can't believe we've fallen so far as a country that I have to say this. Martinis are made from gin. Asking someone who orders a martini if they want gin or vodka, is like asking someone who orders a steak if they want it to be from a cow or a chicken. And now my beloved Taco Bell is breaking my heart, as the Pacifica location (which offers alcoholic drinks) offers vodka "margaritas".

  4. Random Sonoma County countryside, the Moon and Venus over Sonoma, jalapenos which when they are done will destroy the universe*, and sharp tail snakes I keep finding in my backyard.

    *I had the jalapeno seeds cursed by a shaman, soaked in VX gas, and for good measure dipped them into the accelerator at CERN to suck up some good ol' Higgs bosons, hence collapsing the metastable vacuum and the aforementioned universe-destroying.

  5. Salt Point State Park: do you know that there are scum bags who steal hundreds of dudleya plants at one go from these places? If you see them, let them know you're watching, and follow them to their car (often don't look like outdoor types and not enjoying their hike, carrying plastic bags, taking pictures of the plants.)

  6. Annadel State Park

  7. Austin Creek State Park. Run cut short because it was damn hot that day.