There have been a few weekends since my last BLOG published mid-June.
A lot has happened around the World, much of it miserable, so I have actively tried to focus my energies and personal time on happier events.
Let me share (in no particular order) some snapshots of experiences and sights enjoyed over this recent month or so…
I have been binge-watching evening TV for many weeks now, having found a treasure trove of Seasons from a comedic Panel-Game; it is called, Would I Lie To You and can be found on Prime TV (in Britbox area) and YouTube.
The series really found its feet in Season Three and has since run though Season 15. It is a GREAT watch and really lends itself to binging. The show will put a smile on anyone’s face; ad-libs and rants will draw tears of laughter. If you need or just want to laugh, this is for you. 😊
A local Market (Los Pericos) off Portola in Santa Cruz has become my go to haunt for a Numero Uno Breakfast Burrito. I always show up late in the day and beg for my eggy breakfast-menu treat which they have so far routinely obliged. The significant downside is that my diet only permits one or two of these a week. 😉
I have upped my daily (weekday) bike rides over the last month and am averaging >20 miles a day. No idea why I did this, but here we are. As I get a picturesque ride from my house along East Cliff Drive down into Capitola (CA) village, back along Portola and into the Santa Cruz harbor, then up to and around the estuary, back along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk onto the Pier, there is much to see and enjoy.
And the season for Holidaymakers attending the seafront beaches, rides and Fair is in full bloom.
There is also plenty of other entertainment along the way…
A couple of dozen nests are producing noisy young in the towering eucalyptus trees alongside the upper Santa Cruz Harbor, just 100 yards beyond the trafficked bridge that cuts over the inlet. There are giant squawking Great Blue Herons, large Great white Egrets and even a few Cormorants resident in the massive nests planted in the highest boughs.
The recent warmer Summer days have produced higher rolling swells that come crashing down onto the beaches hereabouts, extending from the fully filled Moran (overflow) Lake right along to the Boardwalk frontages; all this noise, despite the lack of significant winds driving events.
And local residents can open their windows to allow the boom of waves to carry their crashes indoors throughout the day with sound levels gently moderated by constantly changing tides.
The large man-made stone breakwater that protects the Santa Cruz Harbor and carries its sturdy white lighthouse has seen early evening swells staging occasional 40’ high spray being thrown up in quick progressions over 200 yards of its length, while concurrent 4–5-foot waves break into the boating entrance.
A few nights ago, several of the half-a-dozen young Holidaymakers cheekily braving one onslaught were summarily knocked down by the spray’s force and then quickly scrambled away towards the protection of the land.
During this same time, I looked out NW to Steamers surfing runs a mile or so across the Bay and could see massive swells surging down the cliffs in crested waves with the most intrepid local surfers aboard. Quite a display of power and human determination.
As I write the local Luckys grocery store on 41st has employees back in masks with several workers out on their 2nd and/or 3rd doses of COVID. There is nobody very sick it seems, but company protocols keep them home, often personally doubting any VAX efficacy.
Like many others, I expect a surge of notices for COVID masking requirements to arrive by October in time to secure Mail-In Voting for the November Mid-Term Elections. Sigh. ☹
I watched the July 4th celebrations from the cockpit of a boat docked in Alameda, looking across to Oakland, barely 1 mile South of Jack London square. There was a (I assume legal) firework display some +4 miles away at the Oakland Coliseum; quite impressive and obviously well-orchestrated.
There were many other unauthorized (and illegal in CA) firework displays in play from a mile or so North, mostly near to and along the shoreline of Oakland right down to the Stadium show. I counted > 15 distinct active venues colorfully lighting up the evening skies.
Perhaps most impressive and prolific was a setup directly across the estuary some 400 yards away from me, almost opposite Marina Village docks. It began around 9.30pm and was still firing off at 1.30 am the next day. The venue lay in a construction site and was left to run unabated for many hours.
Two weeks later I was taking out a sailboat and ran into a female Mallard leading her brood of 10 very tiny, fluffy chicks across the estuary directly towards that very same sterile site. They were formed up in a precise, determined column. So, I halted the boat to let them pass. That was a long paddle for such small, flightless ducklings; I still wonder what attracted them across the way?
Every weekend I go sailing on the San Francisco Bay, out of Alameda. This causes me to regularly pass by the Oakland docks. In later July, the obvious routine back-ups of container deliveries stranded on the waterfront suddenly and dramatically worsened. Now there are acres and acres of 5 and 6 high stacked containers languishing unattended.
Blatant supply-chain issues that have run all this last year have radically deteriorated even further. The issue is the Government imposed Contractor benefits requirements that have spilled beyond upsetting Lyft and Uber drivers to now directly impacting the legal operation of Truckers, >90% of which in CA are subject to the very same restrictions. And we thought it could not get worse. Sigh.
Fortunately, when the docks are passed, sailing begins then the views and experiences on the Bay are as pleasant, distracting and fulfilling as ever. The fogs still roll in through the Golden gate, wind blows down the slot over Alcatraz and the Hills South of the City are washed over by low cloud approaching from the ocean as later afternoon arrives. And in the Summer, skies overhead often remain generally cloudless, with the offshore views of the City allowing it to appear as untroubled as in previous years.
I made another recent ferry trip with a group of friends from Alameda to the Ferry building on the San Francisco Embarcadero. The crowds are somewhat returned, and ferry schedules are similar to pre-COVID times.
The outing remains the same once the Ferry is docked and passengers disembarked. A quick wander through the weekend Outdoor Market stalls by the Terminals, a visit to the (most still remain and are now open for business) indoor stores, meandering through the unmasked crowds. Then along the front up to Pier 39.
The numerous Taxis and bicycle-powered rickshaws are back. People are generally quite mellow in the Summer warmth, milling along the waterfront where clusters of Vendors are set up with carts offering bacon-wrapped hot-dogs or even some surprisingly available alcoholic mixed drinks. It is relaxed.
Some half-dozen well-known restaurants are closed and gone, victims of COVID closures and lost business. A few other stores have closed too, remaining shuttered here and there, but the atmosphere remains lively, and the Wharf area appears largely separate from the plague of Homelessness and Crime centered in the Downtown Center of the City.
The usual walking journey continues passed the Boudin Bakery through the busier parts of Fisherman’s Wharf and up to the Buena Vista on Ghirardelli Square for Irish Coffees and the inevitable light-hearted banter with the bartenders mass-producing their tasty whisky-based hot drinks.
It is a great outing. A low-cost Ferry Trip adventure from Alameda, no parking fees nor hassle with San Francisco’s City traffic and social woes.
Finally, the journey ended with a hurried Uber ride required to make the Ferry Departure times and enjoy the speedy powered catamaran ride back to the Island and waiting (Freely) parked cars. It is a great day out. 😊
And now, back in Santa Cruz the Summer party evenings are well underway. The Harbor features a roped-off-beach musical event each Thursday, hosted by the Crow’s Nest restaurant, and Capitola Village presents a band every Wednesday at their beach-front Bandstand. Both are very friendly civilized events with eating, drinking and dancing activity enjoyed by locals and visiting holidaymakers alike.
As for myself I just got my second, Cancer All-Clear confirmation, following surgery just last September. The check-up regimen includes alternating 6-monthly scans of lower abdomen and then chest, looking for signs of return. This basic routine protocol is similar for many, should they remain fortunate.
If you are lucky then your concerns of recurrence only return as the next tests are done and only escalate as you await the results, several days later. Good outcomes feature a few happy days, hopefully followed by a quickly fading memory of liabilities as the next six months roll by, despite the very real ever-presence of a Damoclesian sword.
Half the people reading this will have cancer in at least one form; likely ALL will have it intrude upon their lives in some way, visited upon loved-ones, colleagues, acquaintances or some such. For all of you I wish the best outcomes and unburdened awareness. 😊
Returning to another stellar and happy fact (providing your finances are US-based) …
By mid-July, the Euro was on a par with the US Dollar for the first time in 20 years. I.e., 1 EU ~ 1 USD. Great if you want to travel in Europe. It is even worth buying Euros proactively if you have some European travel planned in the not-too-distant future. However, not so good coming the other way, of course. 😉
For myself, I have a trip planned to Alaska from the start of August. I visited there a couple of times more than 10 years ago, but this will now be my third consecutive year on a primarily fishing trip.
I first went fishing to Alaska as soon as COVID permitted, two years ago. But this time the whole immediate family will go together. It should be fun. 😊
If you ever get the chance to visit, go! I hear the Alaskan cruises are great, but ocean travelers tell me they always wished they had been land-based for the duration; this is my recommendation, too. For myself, although having previously visited the spectacular Denali region, I have kept my more recent fishing, travelling and day-trip adventures South of Anchorage around the Kenai River and Peninsula.
Well, that completes my review of primarily Happy Stuff. 😉
At this point I normally review the last month or so’s list of World, US, Local News, Events and bona-fide Warnings. Indeed, I am sitting with a pile of diligently compiled and trustworthy clippings and notes by my side, as I write. These latest records are particularly miserable. BUT DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH as I intend to PASS on the review, this time. 😊
I am sure most people feel much the same way as I do about current events. Like many, I am tired from the inundation of blatant, self-serving lies, corrupt and insane actions, regardless of their origins.
And with that, I close the book on the last several weeks of disappointing News and Events. 😊
As for my closing message…
Do you ever truly get a break from the incoming storm of miserable News?
Does your family ever enjoy the opportunity to celebrate each other and tune-out negative surroundings?
With Summer Holidays upon us, it is a good time to do just that. So, make time for a true break from the misery and dial-in some positives. Now is as good a time as any to savor life and enjoy your blessings. So, make it happen.
Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.