Open Mike Jamming With New Friends

Tonight we went out for dinner and music to Roy’s Towne Pub in Royston, about 4 miles from our house. The dinner was pakoras, chowder (for Jean), and a grilled salmon sandwich (for Paul). The music was provided by 14 different musicians, including myself.

The format is an open mike with 3 songs per performer. You have an option of playing alone or inviting others to join in on your songs. I didn’t know any of these folks, but figured what the heck? I invited two guitar players, a bass, a harmonica, and drums to join me. What fun!

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I led the group on Roseville Fair, Deep River Blues, and Good Morning Blues. We got some great guitar and harmonica instrumentals going!

One couple danced along with several of the musicians during the evening.

Three hours of music, fun, and food! We will return next Sunday!

Paul

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Woods and Wineries

There are several wonderful places to hike in the area. One of our favorites is Seal Bay Regional Nature Park. It is a gem of solitude with tall trees, birds everywhere, sun dappled trails, and especially quiet.

And, of course, after exercise one must do some wine tasting. Our first stop, Beaufort Vineyards, owned by James Cameron and his family. This small vineyard only produces about 3000 cases a year of 11 different wines. The only place to get it is on this coast of Vancouver Island.

After an interesting tasting and with two bottles in the car and we drove a few miles to 40 Knots Vineyard. More tasting and one more bottle in the car and then we came home.

Paul

Posted in Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Morning in Courtenay

This trail is a lovely piece of wilderness within the town.

About 200 yards from our front door we encounter Millard Creek. Salmon run here in the fall.

The sky begins to lighten at 4 AM. Here is a quick painting I did of the view from our living room at 5 AM. It is looking back at the mainland to the east.

The dark land is a spot that juts out across our bay. The mountains in the background are on the mainland 20 miles away.

Paul

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Morning Walks

Here are some photos from our morning walks along the Courtenay Millard Nature Trail and Riverway Heritage Walk. What a great way to greet the day!

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Armstrong Redwoods

Any time we visit Sonoma County we must make a trip to Armstrong Redwoods. This magical place of giant trees, eerie moss, rushing streams and endless tranquility is a small gem in the Russian River valley.

We were particularly interested in seeing these woods since forest fires in the past two years have threatened these ancient trees. We found the old trees faired better than the young ones, but even some of those survived the onslaught of flames.

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The Russian River was flooding, so were the streams in this park.

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However, the intimate still lifes in the mossy forest beckon us to stop for a while.

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Damp trails lead to secret places and invite your imagination to run wild.

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Back out on the Russian River road the flooding had overtaken vineyards. Grape vines were immersed in the muddy water.

Some have escaped so far.

Another treat in this area are the wonderful trees. Many different species provide a variety of shapes and winter skeletons.

And at the end of the day, a rainbow.

Ciao!

Paul

 

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Bodega Bay

One of our favorite stops on the California coast is Bodega Bay. Despite the rain and wind we had to visit.

The winter heather colors the hillsides.

There is abundant wildlife.

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And a variety of plant life, including a wonderful crooked tree. We have taken enough photos of this tree over the years to fill a thumb drive!

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Even on this blustery day young lovers found the site enchanting.

Jean decided that sitting in the car was the best place to do some drawing and painting.

More to come from our February trip.

Paul

Posted in Art, CA, Photography, Retirement, Travel | 2 Comments

Border Wall Blues

While in California we observed how many of the people serving us were of hispanic origin, most of whom spoke Spanish to each other. They contribute to the community and pay taxes through payroll deduction. What does the prospect of a border wall mean to them and their families? What does it mean to California business?

Driving down through northern California and then upon our return to Sonoma County we saw the effects of two years of devastating forest fires. Were these really caused by our failure to cut trees as our President implied? Could climate change be part of the cause? Are we listening to scientists? Will 2019 see more fires?

I was moved to write and record The Border Wall Blues.

Paul

Posted in CA, Indio, Music, Travel, Ukulele, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Escape From the Desert

On February 10th we escaped the California desert. We left in beautiful Indio sunshine. Palm trees swayed in the breeze with blue skies and mountains in the background.

Thirty miles later we left Palm Springs and the desert behind to go over the mountains to L.A. What happened?

Rain, wind, and eventually snow at El Tejon Pass made this an interesting day of driving. Even the California drivers slowed down for this weather. We passed four snow plows heading up the pass as they prepared for the coming storm. The pass was closed before we reached our motel that night. However, we got through safely to the central valley.

After a peaceful night in a Best Western motel we continued northward. The central valley is long and sometimes boring, but when the rains have brought life to the hills it provides endless views of rolling hills.

After traversing the hills and passing through Oakland we crossed the bridge into Sonoma County.

Time for a rest.

Paul

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Desert Regional Park and Indio Hills Badlands

Just behind our condos and the adjacent golf course we had spied a rough parking area and a sign the said trailhead. A bit of sleuthing and we discovered an area called Desert Regional Park and Indio Hills Badlands. The trail close to us was the East Indio Hills Trail.

To get a sense of the landscape you first must see the landscape on and around the golf course. Here is a pic of a foursome on a tee. This is target golf. The greens and grassy landing spots are watered . Hit it anywhere else and you are in the desert with the rattlesnakes.

We parked in the rutted parking area, crept over an embankment, crossed the irrigation canal on a golfers’ bridge, and found the trailhead. It led up into seemingly barren desert hills.

However, you might note the lupine blooming at Jean’s feet. They weren’t the only flowers in this desert.

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The canal was filled as well from recent rains.

When we return to Indio this is a place we want to visit again.

Paul

 

 

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Coachella Nature Preserve

Our next adventure took us to the Coachella Nature Preserve, a wonderful mix of desert and palm oases just a few miles from the cities. The McCallum Grove is the first oasis you encounter in the preserve. A spring bubbles up from the desert and feeds this lush forest of native fan palms. Boardwalks protect the sensitive area.

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After a brief walk through the oasis you are once again in the desert. Recent rains had washed out some of the desert trails, however it was possible to hike to Thousand Palms Oasis. We demured and instead took a desert trail back to the entrance. Here we found flowers blooming and lizards basking in the sun.

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One of the things I love about the desert are the wonderful abstract shapes and images that you see if you let yourself focus on the close ups.

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Ciao!

Paul

Posted in CA, Indio, Joshua Tree National Park, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized | 1 Comment