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, but 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.