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ANGEL ISLAND lies in San Francisco Bay separated from the mainland by Raccoon Strait, a 3/4 mile wide deep water channel. So how did the deer get here?  The Island was once connected to the mainland centuries ago so they might have walked or swam here.  However, it's more likely the military personnel imported more by boat so they could hunt them for sport until they abandoned the forts.  With no natural predators, the deer overpopulated the island and were threatened by starvation, so they're now controlled by trapping and removal to maintain a healthy herd.

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During visits to the island we often come across remnants of a small family (Papa, Momma, and Bambi) grazing in the woods and meadows, and they're pretty tame in the company of strangers.  Not a bad life for them, and lots of fun for us.

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Posted
AuthorRich Monroe
Fence Lizard

Fence Lizard

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE between a lizard and a newt?  How about a half mile?  That was the distance separating them during my last wilderness hike.  This Fence Lizard was watching me from a split rail fence at the Monte Bello Open Space entrance, and a little later I came upon this colorful California Newt swimming in the nearby Stevens Creek. While similar in appearance, one is a land dwelling reptile with rough scales, four toes and healthy lungs, while the other is a water loving knobby-skinned amphibian with webbed toes and additional set of gills.

California Newt

California Newt

Of course, there are other differences between the two but every child knows the obvious -- lizards are quick while newts are slow movers.  So if you can catch it, it's a newt!

Peek a Boo! 

Peek a Boo! 

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe
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IT'S RUSH HOUR and everyone's going to work.  A common daily occurrence in the metropolitan Bay Area.  So why not try something different?

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You could spend time meandering through a watery lagoon...

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Or take a long leisurely walk with a friend... 

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Enjoy distant vistas from a remote meadow trail...

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Sail through breezes under the foggy Golden Gate... 

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Or challenge a tall mountain peak under a warm sunny afternoon...

HEY!  That just described my last week in retirement!  Bay Area destinations are beautiful, diverse, and endless -- and I'm so greatful that I don't have to travel far to enjoy its pleasures. 

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe
Russian Ridge

Russian Ridge

BAY AREA SUMMERS are famous for the morning fog -- and with good timing hikers can enjoy that mystical transition from cloudy obscurity to the clear bright sunshine.  As the marine layer warms it dissipates and disappears while uncovering a fresh look at the skyline landscape.

Deer in the mist

Deer in the mist

Resident creatures modify habits as the lifting fog reveals more of the surroundings. Their reliance on sound and smell gives way to a visual detection of danger, so once again it's time to retreat into the thick brush and secluded forest for survival.

Ancient Oaks

Ancient Oaks

As our path winds through old stands of oak trees, we find morning sunlight streaming through massive branches casting long shadows on the ground.  It's a virtual dance of bright and darkness that masks all movement while providing necessary seclusion for its critters.

Black Mountain in the clouds

Black Mountain in the clouds

We soon emerge to a magical scene shrouded with the final remains of retreating clouds as the entire skyline ridge comes into view.  It's nature's way of entertaining us with a game of hide-and-seek.

Mindego trail

Mindego trail

Of course, there's always another vista to be discovered ahead as we follow the trail that contours around the mountain landscape.  Who knows what lies beyond the next bend?  One thing I know for certain... It's bound to be very, very cool!

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe

OUR WATER REPORT is encouraging.  The city tells us that we're saving enough to get through the year, and these monthly reports will keep us on track throughout the summer.

Palo Alto monthly report

Palo Alto monthly report

But who are those efficient neighbors?   They must be away on vacation or more frequently absent from their homes than we retired folks -- because we're being extremely frugal with our water habits now.  One thing is certain: a good number of Palo Altans have substituted drought resistant plants and drip irrigation for those water-consuming front lawns.  

Lawn substitute

Lawn substitute

Citywide efforts are paying off as we're now 18% below historic levels which is way ahead of the 10% state mandate.  Let's keep it up.  Considering that outdoor watering consumes most of our monthly allotment, that's the first and best place to make an adjustment.

News headline

News headline

Our water is supplied by the San Francisco PUC and collected in the Hetch-Hetchy reservoir in the Sierras.  We know that Mother Nature's annual water supply is finite, but we can make informed choices to muddle through this mess!

Brown is beautiful? 

Brown is beautiful? 

We can't be certain when the draught will end; there could be more seasons to come.   However, we can be smart about our situation and act accordingly.  By remaining efficient, not wasting resources, and recycling where practical -- we can keep our precious Golden State golden.

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe