The last several weeks have seen a lot of activity around both my local neighborhood and the Alameda/ San Francisco areas I visit regularly.
Weather has been mild hereabouts, and the Summer tourists and weekenders have melted away as schools got back underway.
A major sign of the changes was apparent when I recently left my house, turned the corner wandering just a few yards down to the bottom of 26th Avenue to then be greeted by a Hang-Glider drifting back and forth along the cliffs some 100 yards away.
The warm on-shore, <10 knot updraft off the Monterey Bay allowed the glider to lazily move a few hundred yards back and forth some 40 feet above the cliff-face. An easy, lazy day for the pilot and an incongruous view for my solitary self, standing directly below.
Just a few weeks before and 100 yards inland from here I had a 7-foot eucalyptus branch drop +40 feet squarely onto my head as I rode in the bike lane immediately beneath a canopy of trees.
This >2lb. cutting had remained from tree-work done earlier and chose to fall directly as I passed below. What are the odds, and what good luck! Just a knot on the head, scuff on the forehead and I was not even separated from my bike. 😊
Mid October surfing contests show up on weekends for High Schools and other participant events. Temporary canopies and Audio commentary is then set up along The Hook, which stretches along Pleasure Point from the Café down to 41st Avenue. Non-participant surfers still arrive and line up slightly away from the tournament action, either down toward the O’Neill cliff house or the opposite end of The Hook from the competitions.
Capitola recently held its massive annual fireworks display, run from off the end of the old pier. The event is always spectacular, lasts 20-30 mins and is hosted this time of year by local businesses as a Thank you to Residents for their vital ongoing support.
The show is well worth the visit. The Capitola Village is packed, and the East Cliff is lined by pedestrian-only traffic with heads thrown back admiring the creative display reflecting off the Monterey Bay waters and towering into the skies above the crowds. A true spectacular, just a short walk from home.
I ride a bike year-round and normally 5 days a week. Rides usually run about 12 miles/day, with some weeks a couple of 20-milers thrown in. Weekends I save for sailing out of Alameda on the San Francisco Bay, which is just as well as there is always more road traffic around Santa Cruz on both Saturday and Sunday.
And biking hereabouts has changed, even during the week.
Since the pandemic ended, more people ride. In the last 6 months things have evolved from sightings of e-Bikes being <1-in-5 to now being 90% electric. And those bikes fly around!
It seems folks who seldom rode have picked up electric versions. Bikes are new and custom, sporting racks, paniers, kiddy-seats and all sorts of adders, often towing or even pushing child and animal trailers. The varieties are endless, and it is uncommon to see any two alike.
Riders seem to peddle little and travel fast. >>20 mph speeds for Electrics seems common-place and users effortlessly cross the 5-10 mile stretch from East-to-West Santa Cruz in just a few 10’s of minutes.
I suppose increased accidents will soon inspire the introduction of consequential new regulations needed to accommodate this major trend. Strangely, cannot even recall when I last saw a new bike that was not electric and in truth this has all occurred in <12 months. 😉
As a warning: if you ride a manual bike for (say) just 10 miles hereabouts, you are going to need to avoid typically 3-5 risky (to yourself) actions by other travelers. Culprits are unobservant vehicle drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists, respectively. And the problem worsens greatly as your average speed increases. It seems speed somehow makes you far less visible to others; we develop a cloak of invisibility. 😉
By early September I had finished the planning for my 2023 trip to Alaska. It is a case of plan early or miss-out on the best Trips, Guides and Facilities for the next adventures. If you wonder what is available there, check out my last BLOG posted September 11th. In a related theme…
During late September, a friend from Alaska stopped by on his annual drive from his home in the Kenai Peninsula to his Summering setup in Arizona. It is a long drive with quick, regular business stops along the way; he is a great guest and welcome company who needed a break from massive daily driving schedules.
On his arrival I was treated with a delivery of bear-meat for my freezer, and we spent our brief available time running around touring my local area and haunts, ending up with evening drinks and music outside, seated by a firepit. There is so much to see and enjoy here, it was a treat for myself to have someone else appreciate what is offered locally.
Following this fun visit, we are now planning a joint Sailfish fishing trip to Southeast Florida next February / March.
Hopefully, we can make this recent stop-over a regular event. Maybe next year I will take the pilgrimage with him and provide some relief on the driving duties?
San Francisco Fleet Week occurred early October. This is truly a Family treat with ships to visit, the town bustling, street vendors everywhere along the waterfront and a unique and special aerial display on Saturday and Sunday.
The Airshow runs across the space between the Embarcadero Piers and Alcatraz. The viewing area is good from Fort Mason even down to the Ferry Building, but best North of Pier 39. Sights include a couple of jet display teams (the Blue Angels are a highlight), aerobatics and a host of one-off fly-bys from both major military and commercial aircraft.
Planes and flights come in from Golden Gate and Bay bridge directions, over Angel Island and even enter the performance area right overhead, from behind the City itself. The display has low, highspeed passes and endless acrobatics; a unique treat to watch and experience. Crowds can revel in the thrill of the event and enjoy a profound sense of pride. 😊
For myself, I have been fortunate to see this Show at least a half dozen times. Mostly from the water, where I usually motor a boat of half-a-dozen passengers about in a clockwise direction around the cordoned-off, low-fly area which runs several miles both East and West between Alcatraz and the Embarcadero. It is spectacular viewing for passengers, but when you are at the helm the heavy boat traffic often demands your complete attention elsewhere. 😉
If you have not seen this or similar displays, try to do so. And soon. I hear a City Supervisor in San Francisco is moving to ban the Blue Angels from their airspace. He is also extremely vocal in complaining about the attention outside press gives to such local issues. I wonder what his true agenda might really be. ☹
The area I live has many splendid features and opportunities. But much is changing. It is good to enjoy the numerous positives that remain available while we can. 😊
Let me now move on to summarize some of the more prominent News items occurring in the last weeks; specifically, those that have possible downstream ramifications of concern…
Over $3 Trillion has been wiped out in Retirement Accounts (401’s, IRA’s etc.) in 2022, alone. If you own such an account, you will currently have seen a >30% and perhaps as high as 40% drop in your accounts’ value. Most investors have now lost around 2.5 years of gains in the last year or so. This is a result of Market confidence in Government and consequential Outlook. Ouch.
Average folks are being abused by reported inflation running 8-9% (at 40-year highs) and constantly spiking gas prices. Retirees are additionally under the gun with Administration promises of Capital Gains Tax increases that will further establish the US as having the largest such Tax in the World.
With Fed Rate hikes already underway and more promised the Housing Market has come under pressure and the Dollar has grown abnormally strong, which severely hampers US Exports.
Dollar strength inevitably brings downward pressure on numerous smaller Currencies and Countries around the World which will consequentially economically decline further, with many not even being able to service their debt.
Fuel prices are exploding all over Europe because of the Ukraine proxy War. Europeans (esp. in places like Germany) cannot fire up Coal Plants fast enough before the colder months arrive. The UK is forecasting that over 70% of it’s restaurants are expected to fail this Winter because of energy costs. Hard to imagine the pain and pressure that will similarly fall on every household across Europe. ☹
As always, s***t rolls downhill.
The weaponization of Government in the US continues in many forms…
A Federal judge revealed that Biden ordered the raid on ex-president Trump while denying ALL current knowledge of the event. No surprise there. Blatant lies are commonplace.
Whistleblowers have confirmed the FBI is creating a false narrative by classifying the January 6th Capital incursion as separate individual nationwide Domestic Terrorism instances, to be tried in every State possible while simultaneously moving agents off child sex abuse cases. Such priorities and caring. ☹
Pelosi is legally obliged to investigate the Administration for blatantly trying to manipulate the Saudis to delay reducing oil shipments and so momentarily aid US gas pump pricing ahead of November mid-term elections. It seems the Saudis have well-documented scruples about such action which would have produced large global economic downsides downstream.
Joe Biden has personally and publicly threatened dire consequences to the Saudi’s for outing him on this matter. Wow. He may have forgotten about the essential neutralization role the Saudis play in the Middle East, having Iran as neighbors and all.
Apparently, the Administration act of soliciting in-kind actions from Foreign Sources to aid a Partisan political goal is illegal. I am sure Speaker Nancy P will give this all the attention her party requires. Sigh. 😉
On the lighter side, the BBC is reporting Hunter Biden will be charged with Tax crimes. His personal laptop has been providing corruption insight to his activities (in Ukraine and China) for a few years already. It recently additionally turned up his Swalwell-like engagement and dalliance with a new Chinese spy. So far, no charges for Hunter for anything (while Dad holds the reins). 😉
I saw some Poll or other a couple of months back that had ~70% the US General Public agreeing that Biden is both corrupt AND had likely benefitted financially from his corruption. It was implied that voters simply DO NOT CARE this is the case. Wow.
On the local home front, San Francisco was reporting a 25% Office Vacancy rate at the end of September. Looks like Covid Impacts, Out-of-State moves and Neighborhood Toxicity (prices, crime and homelessness) are all in play.
And soon to arrive will be the November Elections. Over a dozen States are on the record with reported major voting fraud issues occurring during the 2020 elections. Yet no significant prosecution, anywhere. How odd. How can this be? Sigh. ☹
France outlawed Mail-In Voting in the 1970’s as being too readily subject to voter-fraud. They conducted their last recent election entirely with a hand-count. In recent weeks Germany announced a re-vote for ~6 million people in one District because of known Polling Machine irregularities.
The US has a storied history of serious Voter Fraud issues dating back >100 years. I have seen countless Polls overwhelmingly agreeing the US simply needs Voter ID laws to have safe(r) Election Polling.
Yet Voter ID is currently politically framed as Racist, so cannot be allowed. Go figure.
And I expect there will be rampant, approved mail-in requirements and voting misdeeds in many US States and Districts come November, regardless of the outcome. Why would anything be different? 😉
On the Global front we still have Leaders who need wars (that end well) to buoy up their numerous Domestic problems. Putin is in trouble and needs a soft landing and historically corrupt Zelenskyy is spoiling daily for bigger and better action.
Biden has his proxy war and is rattling his Sabre, threatening an imminent Nuclear Armageddon to his citizenry. Despite major depletion of US Weaponry (to Ukraine) and Strategic Oil Reserves (to China and hopefully, Domestically) he has still somewhat prepared, as his HHS has stockpiled nuclear warfare treatment Nplate drugs at $1.2k each. Sadly, for you and I these only have a shelf-life of 18 months and he only bought ~250k units. If he knows something we do not, we are in trouble. 😉
Lastly is Premier, Xi. He is right now entering a new phase of Government Control which brings him unprecedented and unchallenged powers. He is already leaning in to take territories from Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and others; even claims in the heavens (Mars and Moon colonization) are freely mentioned. China believes this now-open New Era is where they will fulfil their promised destiny and Xi is the accepted and anointed one.
NOTE: The New Era is defined as the next 30years, which is to include the successful realization of The Chinese Dream.
And all this comes when US overseas image is at a low. The UK’s Telegraph newspaper (THE major National publication) wrote an October piece referring to Biden’s weakness, endless failures and ways as being more than simple mental decline and senility, referring to him as also being historically evil. This from (a, THE?) major overseas ally and a FRIEND. Ouch.
So, what might actual ENEMIES think, say and be prepared to DO? Historically it is always the weak and inept who become inevitable active targets and victims. ☹
Well, so much for these reflections.
In all honesty they are (just some of the) things that cannot responsibly be simply, totally ignored. These are the troubling chickens in our lives that can come home to roost. Some are much more likely, serious and immediate than others.
We live in sad and dangerous times, both Locally, Nationally and around the Globe.
But nobody should dwell incessantly on such matters. It serves no purpose if no immediate action is required or yet relevant. So, time to move on, but still sleep with one eye open…
Do you track both the small AND large issues that might impinge upon your World? Should you?
It can be miserable to follow all such issues relentlessly but keeping an eye on REAL liabilities that can enter your lives is usually wise.
As for myself, I will now change my immediate focus and prepare for a trip out East to enjoy a Wedding in North Carolina with some Family friends. 😊
Here’s to wishing you similarly pleasant distractions!
It has been a busy month or so since my last posting and much has occurred.
I recently returned from a three-couple outing in Alaska. This offered an Alaskan introduction to four travelers and a third consecutive annual vacation visit for me.
Alaska changed throughout these COVID years. It has become a recently more favored escape and experience for those seeking simpler ways and contact with a larger outdoors.
Although I have travelled there for short visits in the past, my first significant holiday was in September of 2020, when the State was an early opener for vacation travel during the pandemic. And much has changed.
2020 saw small crowds and State entry burdened with new and imperfect (Covid-related) entry requirements. By 2021 the word was out, and crowds increased with residents needing to financially recover from pandemic-depleted recent times further compounded by lesser recent seasons of Salmon runs; it was busier and more expensive.
But this year (2022) the season ran with even greater attendance and enthusiastic tourism than the prior two years. The peak Summer season, running into September and quickly to Autumn was busier again. Indeed, my own bookings were necessarily made a full year earlier, immediately following my 2021 visit.
And it was well worthwhile. 😊
Alaska is about grand displays of nature, hikes, outdoor living, simpler more independent times, hunting and fishing.
So, let me describe our outings and experiences…
After separate flight arrivals in Anchorage, our three couples (two from NorCal and another from Sweden) picked up a pair of vehicles (SUV’s) and gathered at an overnight Airbnb on the local outskirts of the City.
We shopped for a few essentials that night before turning-in quite early. The next day we found a great local eatery before heading down to the Kenai peninsula.
The journey out to Fosters Alaska Cabins (outside of Soldotna and Kenai) provided great phot-ops for our new visitors during the 3-4 hr. drive-time South. Expansive views of gigantic, U-shaped canyons were all along the way, passing narrow-gauge railway, tributaries and glacial run-off rivers at almost every turn.
We stopped for an hour or so at a Wild-Life conservatory (AWCC) featuring Bears, Wolves, Musk Ox, Deer, Reindeer, Moose, Buffalo, Porcupines, Foxes and much more. The various herds generally contain a dozen or more animals; Elk were in rut with the males separated, again strutting about menacingly as I have witnessed in previous visits. (NOTE: The park is well outside of and South of Anchorage, passed Beluga Point).
After sampling drinks, reindeer hot-dogs and similar we got back on the road in our 2-vehicle convoy.
Following another communal stop for meal and souvenir viewing we ran the last hour down to Soldotna and proceeded to our destination camp.
Upon arrival we checked-in, unloaded luggage into a couple of cabins and then each had ourselves fitted with the waders and boots we would use for the duration of our stays.
Dinners in our camp are large, substantial smorgasbords where guests congregate to feed each night. Ladies first, sit where you please outdoors or upon under-marquis seating, with an eternally open bar. Our first night of this was a great introduction and orientation for our group.
Following or during the feed, details of the next day’s trips for each party were reviewed. The dinner and clarification of the pre-arranged upcoming outings is a nightly ritual.
Some evenings featured singing by local performers. Those remaining following dinner gather around or near the open propane firepit, sipping on drinks, often making song requests for an hour or two.
After our arrival meal we headed back to our cabins for an earlyish night’s rest in preparation for our first outings.
And the first day did not disappoint.
As on most days we split into two groups. This day half of us (3 of our group) headed pre-dawn down to Homer Spit where we boarded a 40’ power boat for a day ocean fishing Halibut and Silver Salmon.
We pounded our way out for an hour or more on the Gulf of Alaska, ringed in the distance by five visible volcanos. There was a little rain, but four of the 6-person total passenger group sat inside, unconcerned about the risk of seasickness.
Most everyone aboard got their 2-fish Halibut limit (one OVER and one UNDER 32” in length) and their accompanying exhausting experience of the serious workout involved in hauling them up from the deep. Following this, we that cared fished for and caught a few Silvers for our 3-man group.
It was then time to forge our way back to Homer Harbor; the journey and fishing had left us all somewhat wet and definately chilled. The lady captain and male crew performed admirably, keeping everyone happy and having all the fish filleted by the time we tied up at dock.
The second part of our group had departed camp a few hours later (also to Homer) where they took the comfortable 49 North Boat Taxi to the State park for a subsequent hike. They had their fun and returned before the fishing group to the Homer Spit and made the traditional round of tourist trips to the famous Salty-Dawg Bar, wholesome restaurants and stores.
After stashing our catch in a cooler, we finally reconstituted our total group, then had a couple of drinks at the Dawg before heading back up the road to camp and the usual evening arrangements.
The next day, two of us set out early on a 50-minute float-plane fly-out to the Kustatan River for Silver Salmon fishing. It was a new adventure for my partner on the trip.
We checked-in, located our plane dockside, climbed aboard and flew out. It was great trip with fine photo-op views, always ensuring a fun adventure. There was just one problem: the landing area was heavily fogged-in.
Normally the plane drops its floats into a narrow river, with wingtips reaching out to the banks either side and swings its way along a short course to a preset stop consisting of manageable mud banks and a couple of wood duck-bords where passengers can clamber out. But not today.
The fog was heavy and persistent. It hung like a curtain some 400yards before the viable touchdown spot, flatly carpeting the entire region. Despite our making multiple passes to get in during 30 mins over the landing site, we were consistently met with an impenetrable wall that just would not move, so we were forced to repeatedly pull out of approaches.
Inevitably, after <2.0 hrs. we touched back down on the small lake from which we had departed earlier. Some 30mins later, subsequent flights verified that nothing would be getting into the Kustutan any time soon; thus, our fishing trip was cancelled.
So, we rushed the few miles back to camp to rejoin the rest of the group who had slept-in prior to leaving for a Sockeye Salmon introductory (“Flossing”) fishing trip. We reconfigured our arrangements so that the two younger couples went out together and my wife and I picked up a separate last-minute arrangement to go flossing later with a new local guide.
In summary, the team of four had a phenomenal time with the group limiting out their couple of dozen salmon. The two girls were novices and enjoyed major success; I do believe the more experienced men were even a little envious of their catches. The guide was excellent, put them in the right spot at the best time and taught them well. 😉
As for my wife and self, things were not so great. We arrived later in the water and the best spots and time was gone. I got a few Sockeyes yet needed to work extraordinarily hard for that catch. But it was fun and always is. 😊
The highlight of dinner that night were the tales of fishing success and new positive experiences that were had by all. So ended the second day at Foster’s Camp.
The next day was a group trip (3 couples, the six of us) down to Seward for a ferry ride. The journey to and from the Port is spectacular and often forgotten as a treat within itself.
We checked-in on-time after our 2-SUV journey down. The giant, 1-year-old ferry we boarded sparkled in its pristine white and blue colors, all immaculately wiped and spotless throughout its decks, café, seating and glass-windowed viewing areas.
After slipping dock lines and sliding out of Seward we were gone about six hours. Along the way we saw several whales, many seals, puffins, innumerable sets of rafting otters and an endless coastline with massive U-shaped Valleys truncating at the water’s edge.
And the highlight of the trip was a 1/2hr stay, in-close beneath a 0.5mile wide glacier that terminates its 10+ mile length into a spur off the Bay of Alaska. It is one of seven such edifices that originate from a massive, plateaued ice field that enjoys its own climate at about 1000 feet or so higher.
It is a spectacular sight and was an important photo-op for all aboard. Despite the chilled air the passengers posed relentlessly (as we did ourselves) for group shots and videos as large chunks of glacier growled and occasionally broke off, generating small tidal waves that dispersed into the ice flow below.
As much was filmed and photographed of this glacier as there was of the surfaced whales we had cautiously shadowed earlier, capturing their antics for 30 mins or more.
It was an enjoyable day out and we all returned weary and relaxed as we reentered Seward, then disembarked for a pre-arranged Dinner booking at a large local restaurant.
When we arrived back at camp there was a familiar pair of local singers still there, entertaining a small group (of <10 guests) around the firepit beneath the marquis. I listened for a while, confirmed the next-day arrangements and then retired early for the upcoming morning’s adventures.
The following day, three of us (myself, younger son and his significant other; they both in from Sweden) headed out at dawn for a float-plane trip up to Crescent Lake, >1 hr. flight-time away.
I arranged for the lady to take the co-pilot chair as my son and I took our seats in the main cabin with the other 6 or 7 passengers aboard. The flight out garnered some of the better happy-face and mountain landscape pics I would capture on the entire trip. And we landed on the starkly emerald-colored, isolated lake just as planned, beaching up behind another flight that had arrived minutes earlier.
There are only 6 guides allowed to work this lake and 3 were on the beach after we landed. We quickly split into 6 or 7-person groups, boarded our flat-bottom, motorized boats stationed near the landing area and dispersed about the lake.
Our day featured (almost) “Snagging” for Silvers and Humpies down in a corner of the Lake, shortly before it gently spilled into a sluggish downhill river. The fishing was productive for all; I picked up the 7 or so bright red humpies I mostly cared about while others targeted and captured the 3-fish limit Silvers they wanted. Our group had a few Silvers we brought back, too.
Most of the day fishing involved keeping tabs on a nearby group of 4 brown bears (an underwater swimming Mom and 3, 2-year-old Cubs) who constantly threatened to cross over towards us from 150 yards away. Fortunately, they harried the opposite bank of a dozen anglers and a couple of guides all the time and never became sufficiently interested in us. But again, they were so close we were easily able to watch, photograph and video all their mischief and antics.
Last year (2021) I had seen these same bears and as many as a dozen more. This trip there was just “Swimmer” and her 3 boisterous cubs.
After all the fish were had we took off by boat following these bears, taking pics and videos from close range but keeping safely behind them as they quickly progressed unimpeded by any fishing groups down the bank towards the plane landing area.
I managed to fish alone for Dolly Vardens (like Rainbow Trout) and picked up a dozen in the very place the bears were gamboling 3-4 mins before we beached. And this, as the guide filleted the fish, my son tried for more Silvers and the others in our small party looked on, drank and ate while watching for a surprise visit from bears. Finally, we piled back in the boat and moved on.
After a subsequent, quick (< 5minutes) stop required for me to pick up a 19” Lake trout (using newly harvested Salmon eggs) lingering beneath a floating filleting station, we rounded a couple of bends and beached again to await our incoming float-plane transport out.
There were soon perhaps 20 of us on the beach awaiting fly-outs. No bears arrived and a few of the anglers started fishing with snagging rigs while we waited. I must have seen ½ dozen more silvers caught and filleted during the 30 mins or so we stood about and chatted.
A couple of planes arrived. We all quickly helped load gear, bagged fish fillets and snack coolers then scrambled along the plane’s shore-side float, clambered up the fixed boarding ladder, dove into the cabin and fell into our window seats.
Within the hour we had taxied, taken off, run low out through the blustery, tree-spotted Valley, then crossed the large expanse of water to the mainland, while passing over a few solitary oilrigs in the brown silty waters ~2000 feet below.
We banked sharply into the Lake landing site and within an hour we were back in our own cabins at camp.
The second group (3 persons) of our party rose later that day and had gone on a guided and guarded short hiking tour through bear territory to Russian River Falls. They did not get along too well with their guide that day and thus had not enjoyed the fun and adventure anticipated.
Much as they wanted to ditch the guide, they realized that the other hikers they saw that day were well-armed (lots of bears are around) and so them wandering carelessly unarmed and w/o even bear-spray was perhaps very ill-advised. They did not immediately enjoy the trip, sights and experience as was hoped. It happens. ☹
Dinner that evening was quite a contrast. My Swedish guest saw her flight, fishing, bear viewing and boating as “one of the best and most memorable days of my life.” Great to have such a unique, wonderful experience while capturing so many pics and videos for memories.
The Hiking group even seemed to reflect that there were perhaps some special memories to their day, too.
And so, another day in Alaska passed into history and personal memory. 😊
The following day the Swedish couple in our group began their trip home to work responsibilities.
My eldest son and I took a 2-seater, side-by-side ATV trip into the Hills around 1 hr. drive South of Soldonta, towards Homer. We passed through an old Russian Village with a small, highly ornate church at its center, before taking off on our remote, guided trek.
The hills were strewn with brilliantly purple Fire Weed and we ran by deserted trapping cabins and the few remote ruins, all the time travelling on regulated State land. If I recall correctly, for some reason the Government owns >40% of all Alaskan Land. Such massive ownership is typical of many Western US States.
After driving outbound some ~90 mins on moderately tricky trails we reached a halfway point and turned back. Our ATV’s front LHS tire was already running low air pressure when we had set out, and by the time we were 5 miles short of reaching our SUV and trailer, that tire broke its seal, and we ran off-trail.
As no tools of any form were brought along by the guide we staged the vehicle slightly off-trail and returned in the guides (fortunately) 4-seater ATV to our vehicles just outside the Russian Village.
We settled with the guide, and he told us he would return later with tools and a spare wheel to recover the vehicle. It appears that as the weather was starting to turn (colder, wetter; with the Fire Weed dwindling, changing bloom) and the region is so remote, it was unlikely anyone would need to pass the abandoned ATV in the immediate future, certainly not for a day or two.
So, off we went North, back to camp and dinner, with another fine tale to tell. 😉
The following day our NorCal couple (my recently married eldest son and bride) packed up their SUV and headed up to Anchorage and their flight out. My wife and I took a break, just doing laundry and lunching out before the routine evening camp dinner.
The next day I fished alone with a familiar guide. We had planned to fish the Kasilof River, but the Silver runs were not yet really happening there. In fact, other than on fly outs or in the Gulf, they were pretty sparse with the major runs still yet to come in after the Sockeye flow gave way.
So, we fished the tail-out of the lake by the Lower Kenai. It was painfully slow progress and as you can only run a single rod when alone, it is impossible to quickly check out optional lures when pulling plugs. Some of the other six boats we saw that morning also only caught an occasional Silver, despite each being able to run at least four rods.
Eventually we hauled out and headed back down the Kenai River and I picked up a few Sockeyes flossing to add to the single Silver caught at the Lake. So, it was somewhat productive, and provided additional meat to add to the freezer. But it was a good day, and I spent more time with a familiar guide and friend.
The following day was my last fishing on this trip with another guide known to me and hailing from Oregon. Ryan had moved up with his whole family this year for the Summer guiding season in Alaska.
This time I was targeting my favorite, Rainbow Trout. It is all catch and release, but great sport.
The fish were spread out in pockets and so are not easy to find until the Silver Salmon runs are in full flow.
But Ryan found the fish and I had a big day. I took a spectacular 25” Rainbow, a couple of 24 inchers with about 45 total brought to the boat, mostly in the 19-22” range. I lost a 28-29” monster who was a little too smart for my skills; he made my 25” fish look like a tiddler and me feel like a complete novice. 😉
The day demanded a lot of judgement and realignment to the quite different trout nymphing techniques used in Alaskan waters. It took a few hours before my skills really began to set back in with subtle back-handed casting and drift-mending adaptations. In the end I was even able to pick up some nice Rainbows in hard-to-manage, low expectation areas. 😊
And then the fishing was done, and nothing was left but satisfied bragging rights, organizing fish shipments and arranging travel home.
There was about 130 lb. of fish shipped back. Mostly Sockeye, but a smattering of Silver Salmon and some decent Halibut. The freezer is again adequately filled after being only recently emptied of the few last 10’s of pounds of fillets which were still in prime condition from the similar 2021 haul.
But we did not get out Scot-Free.
A few days before we left my wife contracted Covid and it was a full three days later before I finally tested positive. This played havoc with our return. Fortunately, my case was VERY mild; no temperature issues at all and I was testing negative again within 72 hrs. Lucky me!
We both hit the PAXLOVID 5-day course treatment along with a recommended battery of supplements and vitamins. As my own case was so surprisingly short-lived, we were both simultaneously ready for travel and returned home.
Noted lessons learned and worth noting, re: HAVING COVID…
If a standard Covid Lateral Flow Test (CLFT) shows a PALE (Positive) line that takes a while to appear, your case is likely less profound and symptoms less debilitating. The Viral Load you carry is LOWER and most likely you are less infectious, supposedly “only to perhaps pass it on to a Spouse.”
HOWEVER, if you have a DARK RED (Positive) line that appears within a few minutes, the opposite is basically true, and you might even be classed as a “Super Spreader.”
Medical professionals have elsewhere offered these pointers. Your guess is as good as mine as to their efficacy. 😉
Now changing subject…
Since my last posting there a have been a couple of (shall we say), Phase II wedding celebrations to attend. Let me explain…
Inevitably many people still got married during the Pandemic which caused attendance at events to be somewhat to severely limited as folks were either reticent to travel or Covid restrictions remained profound and ominous in the vicinity of the event.
So, some couples choose to have belated, secondary events in more convenient locations and at a (sometimes) much later time. Both thwarted guests and newly married couples often favor a celebration redux. Hence, I attended a pair of such events in recent weeks…
In the first case it was the reception redux locally for friends and neighbors who did not attend my eldest son’s wedding in Kauai, last May. There were a few speeches, great food and a fine turn-out.
The second reception was a celebration of a friend’s eldest son’s marriage which occurred quite quietly during the very early depth of Covid restrictions (mid-2020). This event was a full-blown wedding / vow redux, and the couple now even had their new baby in attendance.
In both cases it was great to see the joy and closure that both events brought to guests and couples alike. People always have fun on such occasions, but it was precious to witness the obvious happiness and satisfaction on the faces of all those privileged to attend. 😊
Perhaps such Phase II events in convenient secondary locations will become increasingly commonplace and traditional? Certainly, the Pandemic has already affected many other aspects of life.
Then next of course there is the Local, World and Domestic News that has flooded in since my last BLOG.
Only the most noteworthy is worth mentioning. So let me begin with firstly a couple of simple Local observations…
Not greatly mentioned is the fact that the entire San Francisco Bay turned a vivid reddish brown for over a month. The effect began in early August and was only diminished and constrained to mostly the Alameda estuary by mid-September. It was recommended the fish caught were not eaten.
An algae bloom not seen for almost 20 years has again returned. The effect was initially quite alarming since the muddy redness deepened as the days warmed and it spread so extensively throughout the entire Bay.
Many of the local Ducks (mostly Mallards and Canadas), Herons (mostly Night Herons, some Great Blues and Egrets) and Cormorants temporarily quit affected surrounding marinas and headed for cleaner fishing grounds, only slowly returning as waters became clearer.
In Monterey Bay, the great Blue Herons nesting in the +80’ high Eucalyptus above the bridge running through the Santa Cruz boat harbor have already produced a new generation for 2022. The birds and their young still frequent the nests and caw loudly to all who will listen.
On the World front…
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom passed away, aged 96 years. The Country, Commonwealth and many around the World mourn as a new King dutifully awaits his Coronation. And the outpouring is staggering. Sadness of loss remains palpable, yet a new, continued and stable era is anticipated and quickly needed.
Reports from Ukrainian front-line soldiers suggest they lack basic weapons, ammunition, communications, transportation and manpower. As many $100B’s in weaponry and other forms have poured into the Country, one must wonder what is going on.
The day before Ukraine was invaded the President (Zelensky) was considered to the be the head of the most corrupt Government ever known. One day after the invasion he was being hailed as a modern-day Churchill.
The US is reportedly severely depleting their military reserves by channeling much advanced weaponry, ammunition and funds to the Ukraine. Similarly, many European Countries are contributing the same way. So, something smells bad, here. Things do not stack up.
On the COVID front there have been >10 Countries that I have personally seen officially reporting Government-recognized problematic findings from the impact of Vaccination. These include the likes of Germany, Denmark, Israel, the UK, Turkey, Japan and more.
Other than Media reports offering 11 dubious (non-Vax) explanations to now routine and numerous, so-called sudden adult deaths, there is no similar mention or reporting in the US at all and certainly nothing hinting at any problems whatsoever with vaccinations. No wonder there are conspiracy theorists running wild. 😉
The US Domestic front inevitably remains very bumpy…
FBI whistleblowers are coming out of the woodwork and uncovering the obvious current bias and politicization of the Bureau that we have already been increasingly witnessing for decades. They say heads will roll. Time will tell… sigh. ☹
The border crisis continues. In early September, the Administration acknowledged that around 2 million illegals had entered the country under Biden’s reign. Independent bodies are already on record stating that with known missed encounters and existing official recordings the number already greatly exceeds 5 million, with no end in sight. Someone cannot count.
Gas prices in California can now be found in the $5.50/ gal range. We are supposed to celebrate this progress down from >>$6.00 / gal. I recall quite recently when reaching $4.00 / gal was considered disastrous.
Most of the price reduction we are seeing is driven by a great fall in demand driving down pricing. Folks cannot afford gas prices and so are finding other ways to minimize their budget expenses by limiting personal consumption. Another inconvenient truth.
The situations we create and to which we are offered delusional or deliberately misleading insight are almost comical. So, let us not dwell on any more of such frustrating News and simply move on…
We are heading into Fall (Autumn) around the Northern hemisphere. The News channels and Media offer their own spins on the reality that they wish us to accept. And this remains our choice, at this point.
As you can see from above, I have personally experienced and fortunately enjoyed several happy, convenient diversions during the last six weeks. I recommend you similarly find a path for distractions.
And as for the News reported… keep questioning what is offered and try to look behind just some of the screens. 😊
Well, it is 100 days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine and News outlets seem to be switching their attentions elsewhere. And I will follow suit and move to happier events to begin.
In the past five weeks I was fortunate to travel up to Northern California and then out to Hawaii.
The trip North took in Shasta City and trout fishing on the McCloud river below the dam, followed by a couple of days drifting the Lower Sacramento around Redding and Red Bluff. This was shortly thereafter followed by a visit to an old stomping ground of mine to Kauai, Hawaii; this latter journey being prompted by the spectacular destination wedding of my eldest son to our (now) new daughter.
Let me just concentrate here solely upon the locations themselves and primarily provide insights for travelers to local destinations and activities.
So first came the early May drive North to Shasta.
The drive itself was warm enough but weather up there was still colder as my youngest son and I headed Northbound along the the I5 corridor, paying an arm-and-leg at fueling stops along the way.
Before reaching our destination, we passed Shasta Lake; it seemed even lower than during my prior visit late last year. At best guess the vivid orange banks were exposed >>50 feet below the vegetation line and several fingers of the basin were now completely emptied of all water.
The boat sheds had been moved with new ramps installed, enabling boaters to reach the shallow Lake, gain access or launch.
We continued North, then checked-into the Shasta Inn late afternoon as snow was beginning to fall. This was a troubling proposition given our fly-fishing plans for rainbow trout the following morning. ☹
We hit the Black Bear diner for comfort food and then retired to our cabin/ room, watching the picturesque snowfall through the window while laying on our beds enjoying fishing programs on the TV.
The next day was a pleasant surprise. Before we had left the snow had melted away around the SUV, so we dressed quickly and warmly for wading and headed up the higher elevation of the McCloud Dam to arrive before the sun could reach down to the river at the base of the gorge.
The water-level in the reservoir was at a low and barely reached the spillway gates. So, we each geared-up and went to our preferred and separate hunting grounds.
I hiked into the thundering dam outlet pool to then fish 100 yards further down, against the cliff-face beneath the spillways’ end. My son took off on higher ground along the blocked-off mile-long, rock-littered road toward Ash Camp to then clamber down towards the deep pools and swirling waters offered a mile downstream from where I was installed.
Oddly, the day was warm. I picked up a few strong, vividly patterned Rainbows and then climbed the rocks back onto the spillway itself and picked my way across its empty base. From there I descended back down and into the river, winding my way several hundred yards further to the sharp left bend below.
The day became warm. The sun shone, I shed much of my gear as I fished the bend, basking in the surprise warmth and sunlight while picking up three more fish.
We met up mid afternoon back at the SUV and then went our separate ways to finish the day. The deeper pools continued to be hard to exploit and my own attempts had yielded a little less than typical in the colder weather. But we were fishing and thoroughly enjoying our unexpectedly warm surrounds in the lush McCloud river gorge.
That evening we went in search of new places to eat and ended up back at the Black Bear. Like most places in CA, things close early and staff shortages abound following Covid closures and constraints. The diner attracted more than its share of locals and so we ate there again; good wholesome food and plenty of it.
There was no snow that evening when temperatures dropped. So, the following morning we donned our lessened gear for the warmer day and repeated the prior days action in largely the same places, fishing till early afternoon when we packed-up and wound our way down from the dam to the freeway which sped us within the hour to the much warmer climes of Redding.
The deep pools of the McCloud below the dam remain difficult to fish, a true enigma. The pockets are filled with trees and branches deposited over decades; tight-line nymph fishing is ideal, but the constant snags and associated reties make it a tedious (and expensive) proposition.
Nevertheless, by late afternoon we had checked-in at our Redding hotel and were off to my favorite eatery (Kahunas) for Mongolian BBQ and Sushi.
The next two days we drift fished the Lower Sacramento with my favorite guide Jason from River Pursuit out of Red Bluff. The river is historically low with minimal water release, and we first worked nearer the Redding area. The second day we fished further South by Red Bluff in the Canyon.
The waters are loaded with Sucker fish in places, but we snagged very few of these and the pair of us combined probably hooked into over two hundred rainbows during the two days. A couple of carp joined the ranks but most of the many trout ran 15”-19” with the majority on the larger side.
Both days we beached the boat for a lunch of hot-dogs, soda and to afford Jason a break from rowing. The fishing was spectacular; mostly we were regular nymphing but also caught on dries and tight lines.
There were few other boats to be seen; the solitude, warm days and focus of the fishing were constantly refreshing. The views were green, lush and impressive, but our attention was constantly and heavily drawn to the waters and the bite.
This trip I realized more about the subtleties of fighting fish that jump (Trout, Salmon, Bass etc.) with barbless versus barbed or treble hooks whether using dry flies, nymphs or lures. There is always something to learn and such massive experiences quickly speed the process. 😊
Eventually this fishing outing was sadly complete. So, we quietly and reluctantly drove ourselves the five hours home to Santa Cruz, CA.
What a great outing.
The next few days were hectic as clothes, shoes and goods were picked up and packed for the wedding-centered trip to Kauai.
So, as a fun break to the preparations we first made a two-man trip down to Moss Landing and Phil’s Fish Market. What a great recent local find this has proven for our family. Excellent food, friendly, lively atmosphere and sensible prices in a now Covid-free setting. Hard to beat outstanding Cioppino, inexpensive quality wines and beer for an afternoon outing.
All this is secreted in a picturesque working harbor on the Monterey Bay and situated just 30 mins drive South of our house. 😊
And then on to Kauai. I was last on that particular Island some forty years ago. I recalled the exquisite quiet, deep red earth, rough roads and the golden bay sands laid out before the Kauai Surf Hotel.
Of course, all is now much changed. The Hotel has long-since fallen in two major hurricanes, the population has grown, and more tourists now visit. Everything moves on, as it must, but Kauai remains favorite over my (also ageing) recollections of other subsequent visits to Oahu, Hawaii and Maui.
The flight over was on-time and the approach built with excitement as passengers pressed to the windows for views of the Island as we descended towards its shores. There were smiles everywhere as new visitors marched from the plane through the airport while bathing in the welcoming warm air.
We bustled swiftly through the open-air Baggage Claim, fought for our rental cars at Dollar and headed quickly for late-night shopping essentials at Safeway on the way to our apartment.
And at Safeway, we met the chickens. And we met the cockerels. And everyone was enchanted as photos were had. 😊
Googling commenced as the shopping went on. Chickens are everywhere, especially on Kauai. The politicians in Honolulu have plans to sterilize and diminish the population, but to be honest, I like ‘em. They show up everywhere and seem charming to me, even when they opportunistically wander into open-sided restaurants in search of scraps. 😉
We had a ground-floor apartment to the North in Princeville overlooking the ocean, about 45mins up the East coast from the Lihue Airport. It stood 100 yards off a golf-course and 20 yards from a steep drop to a narrow bay. All of Princeville is apartments and houses centered around a lush golf course (Links) that partially sits upon cliff tops.
The lawns that run to the cliff edges were intermittently populated with the endangered indigenous Nene Geese and mostly-white, stork-like Cattle Egrets which were brought in during the 1950’s to control the insects around local herds.
We had a beautiful place to stay and many more to visit.
The local store was (Foodland) five minutes away in an extensive open-air Mall area, which supplied most our needs, including great Sushi, Pokes, Vegetables, Local Coffee and all that a Safeway has to offer, plus beach-related supplies and sundries.
Eating-in is convenient and there are many great options. This is helpful as often the restaurants can prove a little pricey and are limited (coming out of Covid) by opening hours, demand and staff shortages. And naturally, prices for most goods are generally above mainland offerings as one would expect on an island.
Goods are flown or container-shipped into the larger Island ports then often transported less expensively by barge to smaller Islands with shallow-draft harbors, like Lihue on Kauai.
Then there are the outings we tried…
First up was a fishing trip on a forty-foot powered catamaran out of the small boat commercial harbor just South of the Lihue Airport. Well, our party of two were out on the water Northeast of the airport by 0600 with a skipper at the wheel and a single crewman setting all the rigs.
A trip like this is not for the feint-of-stomach on such exposed waters. It was not particularly rough for early May but was a vigorous trip on the windward side of the Island. I sail, so no problem. It IS however a problem for most of those less familiar with ocean waves and swells, with or without some of the many sea-sickness aids available today.
As for the fishing… we had at least six lines out for the two of us. After about an hour we heard, “Fish on. It’s a Marlin. She’s takin’ a lot of line.” And before the rod could be handed to me in the fighting chair, “She’s off.”
We trolled around with half-a-dozen other vessels by a buoy set up about 90 mins out to attract fish, while following clues from Goony, Shearwater and occasional Albatross activity, before eventually heading further North another hour looking for bites. I got to eat my fill and drink a little beer, but that was IT for the fishing.
We were back in and tied up by 1.00pm and headed home to the apartment after a stop-off for a couple of beers in a Mexican restaurant where we were charmingly entertained by a few chickens wandering in and out, looking for scraps.
Next up we tried Bike Rentals out of Kapa ‘a, 30 mins South of Princeville. There is a paved, flattish, 10-mile ride out, all along the coast. Nice journey. We favor NON eBikes, so the outing is inexpensive and not too demanding. It is clear where the trail ends (it just does, with rocks barring the way) and there are plenty of outlook stops to rest or picknick. A recommended trip for all ages with a million photo-ops along the way. 😊
We even stopped off in Jimmy’s in Kapa ‘a, just off the Bike trail for a beer and Pina Colada before we returned the bikes. Friendly staff, hot food and welcoming atmosphere if you are inclined.
A couple in our group rented snorkels and fins in Hanalei for nominal fees (<$10.00 each per day) and had an exciting time viewing turtles at Anini Beach just a mile or so from our apartment. Quite private and great fun for all. The swimming is NOT demanding but weaker swimmers and children really should rent lifejackets and wear them. Remember: stay 10 feet away from the turtles and no touching these >2’ wide, ambling behemoths.
Needless to say, the water is clear, the skies brilliant blue with the air warm and enticing. What is not to like? What is better than a restful, post-swim lunch and nap upon a quiet beach?
And what would a trip to Hawaii be without the hikes? There are countless to choose from with trails running back into an interior of lush green tropical forests, canyons, towering volcanic peaks, streams, rivers and waterfalls. Truly a paradise to explore and enjoy.
Both locals, tourists and travelers will quickly suggest and offer their favorite spots to explore.
Then there was the dining out. There are sandwich, drinks, restaurants and food shacks scattered around all the populated areas. Inexpensive breakfasts and snacks can easily be found. There’s always visitors and friendly locals with whom to chat and share a tale. And on the Island the smaller shops, stores and shacks are commonly brightly colored and cared-for.
Everything runs on Island Time. Rushing to get things done is not a priority. A common sign hung on business doors is “Open till Closed.” And they mean it. If things are already booked-up, folks just close and leave. If staff is short (as it often is, following recent Covid re-openings) or unavailable, restaurants and shops close early or just do not open. By mid-May it was common to see restaurants stop serving by 8.30pm and empty by 9.30pm… even on Saturday and Sunday.
Kauai is now quite different from my long-ago visit in the early 1980’s. Back then there were many rough, red-dirt roads. The ONLY traffic light on the island was in a sugar-cane planation to manage trucking operations. You could only reach Hanalei by Gondola and the road out there was referred to as a donkey-track, by the locals.
The locals like to talk about those times. They enthusiastically recall them from their youth and wanted to hear my own stories from back then. I spoke with a few who truly lit up as they shared their own recollections and listened to what I could tell.
It is simply different now. The main road almost rings the Island, running from NNW, across the North shore, down the East coast, along the Southern Shore and up the West coast falling short at the rugged and impressive Northwestern Na Pali coastline.
The Island looks like a slightly squashed donut on a map… as the crow flies it is about 30 miles from the most Northerly to most Southern point and maybe 35 miles from East to West. The main road basically circles the outer edges of Kauai so the journey from the most Southern to Northern point is about 45 miles by vehicle.
There are commonly traffic lights, now. They even often have 15-minute traffic delays between Kapa ‘a and Lihue, which locals and GPS systems steer around using the few inland roads.
And with these changes comes opportunity and business. Tourists, visitors and an increased population. Yet when I spoke with locals, they often seemed sad at what was lost, more than enthusiastic about what was gained.
I have since heard that locals are now aggressively attacking local officials complaining of the high tourist activity and associated traffic access into quieter towns like Hanalei. Residents in many ways enjoyed the peace and seclusion that was afforded during two years of Covid-related quiet.
Then there is Hanalei itself, just 15 mins West of Princeville where we stayed. It is entered down a steep (recently repaired from a major collapse) road, passing over a one-way bridge that runs alongside a meandering river which rambles to the nearby coast.
I ate out in Hanalei several times. The main street sports a few hundred yards of restaurants, colorful, busy shops, a church or two and a public school that enchants the gaze of bustling tourists. Architecture is picturesque and almost colonial in appearance.
One evening we ate as a group of four at the Dolphin Restaurant, opposite the Postcard restaurant and nearby a large Kayak-renting center. What an interesting and lively place to eat. One of our party wanted to try Sushi, so we hit that adventure and accompanying wine offerings hard. What a great meal.
The place was pricey, hard to get into and the staff were effective, polite but overworked, understaffed and a little stressed. In all honesty their business was most likely relatively quiet a month earlier, but the post-Covid ramp-up hit them hard. They ARE one of the best places to eat yet they too stop serving by 9’ish each night. But it WAS a great night out and I can highly recommend the Dolphin. 😊
On another afternoon we (as a wedding party) rented a large beamy powered catamaran sailboat out of Port Allen to run in the lee of the Island for a four-hour trip up to the Na Pali Highlands, returning outside the harbor for sunset views and phot-ops.
After my previous offshore experiences that week I was suspicious of how well the forty or so folks on this boat would fare, even though we were protected from larger waves after rounding up the more heavily sheltered West Coast.
In all honesty most people fared well. Just maybe half dozen folks later commented on being a little queasy and only a couple suffered greatly. The crew managed their guests well, by metering drinks early-on and serving the excellent, on-board-prepared steak dinner late in the trip.
The Na Pali coastline is huge and precipitous with waterfall outlets etched into then light brown cliffs, a unique sight, well worth the journey. We encountered spinner dolphins along the way, viewed the forbidden Hawaiian Island to our West and ran at around 20 knots Northbound and the same again on the softer return journey with the kinder, rolling following sea.
And we were back for sunset, where the colors in the sky proved particularly spectacular as the spinner dolphins returned and put on a brief closing show to entertain us all.
A final outing was made by me with an old family relative; it was a geezer trip. We had searched all day, finding only sold-out and absent kayaking renter facilities, until we took a chance and ran back North to Hanalei, nearby the aforementioned Dolphin restaurant. Et Voila!
We booked a couple of single kayaks in intermittent rain, and I was soon thereafter off on my first ever Kayaking run, up-river. I clumsily zig-zagged my way between tropical riverbanks for an hour or so, enjoying the occasional downpours that conveniently cooled-off my overworked, unskilled efforts.
By the time we turned back downstream I would mostly steer in a straight line and used far less energy as a result. I could also competently pass other canoes without fear of my colliding with them. 😊
It was great fun and something I will likely repeat back here in the safety my local Santa Cruz harbor, for learning purposes. Although I thought my arms would explode because of my unskilled thrashing, they did not, and the next day did fortunately NOT bring any of the expected aches and pains, either. 😉
As I neither flipped the kayak nor crashed into the bank (or anyone else) I can safely recommend that anyone can try this. It is a fun, healthy activity for all the family. But everyone needs to wear a lifejacket when participating.
Our final day on Kauai featured a run up the famed Waimea Canyon ahead of a late-day flight out. This is a journey I have made before, but we struck out this time.
The Canyon provides massive wide views of the lush surrounding cliffs and a river nestled down deep in its gorge.
After lunch in the bustling bay-side Waimea town, we headed uphill and inland to enter the side of the canyon on the West. There are spectacular walks and serious hiking trails penetrating high into the Waimea Valley Park and Canyon on both sides.
As we entered, our first stop (at 1200’) displayed the yawning Canyon entrance to our right and the open flats running to the coast and open deep blue Pacific on our left. Quite a phot-op. Unfortunately, on this day we subsequently ran into mists above this height and saw little more but cloud all the way to the top.
The Waimea Canyon and Park are a must see for visitors to the Island; just be aware of the cloud-cover on your chosen day. 😉
Finally, after visiting friends in their local beach-side vacation rental in Poipu we dashed back to the nearby Lihue Airport, dropped off our Dollar SUV rental, rushed to check in for the flight and then just caught last drink orders (by 9.00pm).
The flight left on time and by 0600 the next day we were deposited as a somewhat saddened and disheveled group into the SFO terminal.
But it was a great trip. We will certainly visit Kauai again. 😊
I have generally and deliberately not mentioned the Wedding I was attending on Kauai and all the directly associated Ceremonies, Blessings, formalities, emotions, treats and special surprises that accompanied these very precious and memorable events. This would require a mighty book in and of itself. 😊
Suffice it to say that the Wedding and Reception were held privately in the Botanical Gardens which are a twenty-minute drive South of Princeville on the East Coast of Kauai. The location is prized for destination Wedding Events and provided an idyllic surround and setting for the beginning of my son and his new wife’s life together; they present as a very fine couple. 😊
The recent return to our Santa Cruz (CA) home has yielded a couple of pleasant surprises. Weather has been warm and welcoming with the Summer Holiday crowds still not yet arrived en masse.
There have been a few local visitors…
The occasional Humpback can be seen from the Northern shores of Monterey Bay, nestled beyond the kelp-line between Capitola Village and towards the crumbling Cement ship at Seacliff, just a little Southeast of where juvenile Great Whites typically congregate. The Whales’ presence is given away by occasional spouts and birds massing to grab spare fish thrown off from expansive feeding activities.
And as I write the Sooty Shearwaters have made a seasonal return in their hundreds of thousands. These birds dive tens of feet beneath the ocean swells, grabbing from the massive shoals of smaller fish. They travel the world from Australasia in a figure-eight pattern on the wing and ocean for 8-9 months a year, only coming ashore for three months or so to breed.
While here they run East-West along the Northern shore of the Monterey Bay. Their narrow flight path is just beyond the kelp, running from towards the tip of the Santa Cruz Pier, passing Pleasure Point and as far East as Capitola. They fly in a tight band some 50-100 yards wide, miles long, just a few tens of feet above the waves, constantly searching first East then returning West. And the cyclic procession is endless.
If you board a boat that sails through the flock, you are entertained and bombarded by excited, noisy chatter and seemingly frantic activity; Shearwaters are wholly unconcerned by vessels either drifting or charging through their flight path.
And as they busily proceed East and West with the sun beginning to set, constant evening flights of resident Pelicans pass Westerly overhead, lazily heading in drafting formations towards their favorite nightly roosts.
Strangely, locals strolling the beaches and cliffs often do not seem to even notice this mass of life surging out to sea just a few hundred yards offshore. The countless Pelicans and other seabirds overhead pass largely unseen, too. There is so much all about us that proceeds largely unaccounted.
And now I should fall to responsibly recording some of the more notable News Events occurring since my last BLOG. There is quite a list…
Iran has dismantled twenty-seven UN monitoring cameras ensuring there will be no tracking of their Uranium Enrichment activity nor even the current location of their centrifuges. They claim the UN has no right to monitor and scolded the US for their concern and comments. This should end Iran’s hope for a revitalized Nuclear deal with the (US and) World, but with blundering-Biden policies, who knows?
Adding salt to the wound North Korea (while managing a major domestic Covid outbreak) has announced it will be joining the China and Russian Block with Nuke testing.
China has now eased the massive personnel Covid lockdowns in Beijing and Shanghai and is finally experiencing some encouraging growth after previously disappointing results, which were further hampered by decreased World demand.
Most fiscal growth in China is stimulated by massive local Government funding fueled by regional Land-Sales (which provides >50% of all local Gov. revenues) and business-friendly policies. However, Land-Sales will ultimately prove finite and the central CCP has now seized the collection of all these land-revenues and is meting the monies back as it deems fit into the local regions. This chokehold is feared capable of subduing successes the previous approach had made to local economic recoveries.
The US has well-publicized and massive Inflation, Supply-Chain and other Fiscal problems now broadly accepted as being the result of bad Administration Policies. The bigger problem is that if the US has economic woes the rest of the World suffers similarly and sometimes even more-so, as a result.
Basically, the US recognized foolishness and disarray is victimizing more than US citizens. At this point the argument can be made that Domestic Biden insanities are bringing harm across the entire World.
Those dependent upon Market funds (401k’s, IRA’s, Investments and other financial Instruments etc.) to finance their lives are experiencing typically 25-30% losses in value over <18months of the new Presidency. Those without such investments are looking into the teeth of massive cost-of-living increases with even less protection. ☹
The US uses the “Basket of Goods” method of measuring inflation. This highly questionable scheme was adopted by Bill Clinton, copying the same method used by the British. It has enabled inflation to be regularly CLAIMED as ~3.5% for decades within the US.
The big issue is that this method ignores major economic factors such as cost of housing, gas etc. altogether, and is manipulated by removing from consideration any items that experience large price increases. Yup, the number is basically cooked. So, if this massaged and manipulated number has currently ramped-up to reportedly >8.5%, you can image what an honest view might look like. ☹
My own crude assessments suggest that real inflation is clearly running >20%, but probably <30%, for just the last year, alone. If you are not scared by this, you should be as there is nothing in the works to check this ramp-up of inflation, nor the confidence-stimulated free-fall underway in the Financial Markets.
Amazingly the Administration recently opined their concern that associated continued Low Polling might cause parallels being drawn between Biden and Carter. Honestly, with the articles, numerous Polls and (even) declining Democrat Leadership support it is staggering there is no realization that this particular horse has LONG-since left the barn. 😉
Then there is the tragedy of Gun Control shenanigans.
Without arguing one way or the other just let me offer that most guns and weapons have been made in largely the same way for around ONE HUNDRED YEARS. In the past guns had LESS not MORE controls on their access than now. Something changed and it was not the guns. Logically we would be wiser to understand and chase the root causes rather than just the guns themselves…
Around 60% of all gun-related deaths are historically suicides. If we are looking for a substantial impact upon gun-related deaths, we might want to at least CONSIDER Mental health issues; they are front and center in total death-count and in the specifics of most all Mass Killings.
Also, there is a great irony in that it is mostly Politicians and Parties that ultimately publicly debate, publicize and fight about Gun Control. Let me explain…
Citizens seek their Second Amendment rights to be upheld so they may Hunt, Defend Themselves, Family, their Property and so on. But almost every gun owner with whom I have ever spoken holds one thing in common, and that is their great distrust and lack of faith in Government. They often believe self-protection is required from their own Political Leaders who cannot ultimately be trusted.
Naturally in all discussions and debates on this subject, such leaders NEVER state this fundamental point. Why would they? And right there is both the sad irony, and an inevitability. 😉
The Southern Border Illegal Immigration crisis continues, but the DHS has a new shipping plan to disperse such immigrants. It is sarcastically called the Abbott Plan. Since border facilities are filled to overcapacity, the DHS has begun shipping excess people to cooperative LA from whence they are quickly released on their own dime to move on, untracked and certainly unlikely to show for further processing.
When LA overflows the intention is to then start using Albuquerque facilities, followed by Dallas then Houston and wherever else then becomes necessary.
The Head of DHS (Mayorkas) was just recently before Congress where he asserted on questioning that maybe as many as 1.6-1.7 million illegals have been processed through on Biden’s watch. During April alone ~235, 000 entered the US. Like many I have regularly seen these numbers, month after month. I would say a realistic number is >> 2,000,000 but less than 3,000,000 would be more accurate.
And these are the numbers of JUST the people found and processed. The real number with Open Border Polices could be staggering. The COST and social impacts that continue to be understood will be staggering.
Nancy Pelosi made nearly $100 million between 2008 and 2018. The average senator made around +$150k/ year during this period ($174k in 2021). Technically there is nothing to be seen here, since trading on Insider Information (the Speaker, bringing or NOT bringing issues to the floor of Congress) is not officially illegal. But trading on Political position (Hunter and Joe, take note) is just not kosher and needs investigation and updated Laws.
The Administration is being sued by a group of Medical Doctors for hiding and making unavailable known-good COVID cures and treatments. This is especially troubling as Government-driven Lockdowns during the pandemic are now proven to have caused many unnecessary deaths per a series of related articles and studies appearing around the World. These facts are IN.
The New Zealand Labor Government is officially now taxing Cow and Sheep farts in the name of Climate Change. This was DONE, despite NZ being 90th in carbon emissions and this consequently having zero Global impact. It does, however, punish and discourage their farmers and meat industry while driving up food prices (and Government revenues).
Early June Polling surprisingly shows that support for abortions is falling…
The likely leftist SCOTUS leaker may have seriously misjudged the mood in the US. The potential overturn of Roe V. Wade only returns powers of decision to what is (per Ginsberg and many other legal authorities) a more correct legal basis, ie. to within individual States.
Although Polling is around 50-50 (a surprise in itself) for the overturn, the pro-abortion polling apparently craters after the first Trimester. Another surprise. It seems this leak may NOT provide the Voting support bonanza that Leftists had hoped.
Whistleblowers confirm that the FBI is purging Conservatives; hardly a surprise in the wake of left-biased actions taken in the last decade. This is not the bureau once loved and trusted. But was it EVER really trusted, given positions and actions taken even as far back as HOOVER?
The word is that there are now “thousands of FBI whistleblowers coming forward” denouncing the actions of senior officials they who they say have been acting alone. Time will tell. Post mid-term election results might well facilitate the threatened ground-up shake-out at the Agency (or, NOT?).
Early leaks of the CA Study due later this year regarding Reparations suggest this will indeed go forward. The on-going recent outflux of wealthy Californians will likely continue as many will resent being tapped for funding in a FREE State (no slavery ever there), where neither they nor their families ever owned slaves nor facilitated that industry.
California wants to lead the way on Reparations. I suspect it will go forward and anger the very many in their population who never even migrated to the State nor indeed the US until well-after Slavery was banned Nationally. But that is CA. 😉
And I must close with something about Joe Biden again being Number 1. It seems he is well on-track to most certainly easily beating the most embarrassing Presidential Record Ever: Let’s Go, Vacation Joe!
Well, those are some of the News snippets worth leaving on record.
As for myself I am glad for my recent vacations and breaks, but after keeping up on current events, am already waiting for more. 😉
Again, during these troubled times I recommend to you and yours that you prepare for and enjoy the upcoming Summer Holidays. It is just too wearing to stay abreast of the News without taking a break.
So, find ways to put the media onslaught behind you from time-to-time to enjoy the positive relationships and experiences that present themselves in your life.