Happy Birthday NPS!

Trees reflecting in the Merced River. Yosemite National Park.
Trees reflecting in the Merced River. Yosemite National Park.

I just want to say thank you to those that had the vision to create our National Park System; conservationist Stephen Mather, J. Horace McFarland and journalist Robert Sterling Yard, as well as those in Congress that voted the act into law, and President Woodrow Wilson who signed the bill on August 25, 1916. The bill created an agency “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” With the many challenges the future brings, let’s hope we can keep these natural wonders four generations to come.

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Book Review: The Oyster War

 

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I just finished reading The Oyster Wars by Summer Brennan. I was drawn to this book when my brother left it with me following a visit a few months ago. I’ve had some interest in this story for some time. The location where the Oyster farm was is one of my favorite locations to go kayaking. I have a brother who is himself an oyster farmer (not the one with the book), and having studied marine biology myself, I was quite interested in science behind the story.

This turns out to be quite a compelling story about the fate of the Drakes Bay Oyster company. And also an intriguing analysis of how various interests can play into commerce and environmental issues. The author provides some background, going back to the oyster pirates of 1897 and the days of Jack London.

To be honest, I have followed this issue only remotely while it was developing, aware of some of the issues, and hopeful that the oyster farm and the National Park service would find a way to live together in harmony, protecting the natural resources while permitting aquaculture to continue. After all, if you can have cattle on the land, why not ousters in the Estero? Nevertheless, Having read Summer’s book, I’m inclined to believe that the oyster farm had no future operating in a wilderness area.

If you have any interest in environmental issues, commerce and culture and how those forces might collide, I recommend this book.

The biggest lesson I learned from this book can be summed up in a quote Brennan provides from Tom Strickland:

“I think that the situation has been hijacked by interest groups with different agendas who have spun out narratives that have no relationship to the facts.”

This seems to apply to any number of issues we face.

 

Family Time!

With a father that’s now 95, I think my two brothers and our families are realizing that we need something more than visiting dad to keep us together. We recently got together on Whidbey Island where my brother Kurt and his wife Beth have a house.  A perfect setting for a reunion, with 28 acres to play in, including beach, woods, meadow, and hiking trails within a short distance. With a bountiful garden fresh seafood we had a lovely time. Dining on fresh crab caught in the harbor, oysters from Kurt’s oyster garden. We managed to get most of the kids, and Aunt Sue in on the festivities as well. Each of the brothers,  Arlen and Kurt and myself each have two kids and we managed to get all of them to join us, with the exception of two, my daughter and our foster sister Laurie, both of whom were not able to get time off of work. I think we tend to be an independent clan, we have varied interest, and it seems we’d rather go our own ways most of the time, so getting  the group of us together is a challenge, and I think the two years we spend in dialog and planning paid off. If you want to see a few more photos from our get-together click here.

Tour de Albany

Sometimes you don’t need to go far to see interesting events. Today we had a bicycle race in town, and not just in town, but happening right outside our front door. This was the 32nd Annual Berkeley Bicycle Club Criterium — Red Kite Omnium Event #12.  Since I’m normally photographing architecture which is static, for the most part, I thought it would be a challenge to see what I could do with the action. You can view additional photos here.

Log of the Shearwater July 21, 2016

This past Thursday, July 21, found me once again, taking the day off of work and joining several BASK friends for the “Thursday Lunch Paddle.” We launched from Nick’s Cove. When I arrived at 10:45 the weather was looking grey, chilly and windy. I opted to wear my dry suit for a little added protection. Once we were on the water though, the wind seemed to let up a bit, and paddling across the bay put us in more protected waters. We paddled past Hog Island over to White Gulch,  where paddling along some of the cliffs felt like we were in an exotic garden. Plenty of white pelicans and cormorants on Hog Island, and plenty of harbor seals in the water. From White Gulch we headed to Pelican Point where we landed for lunch, enjoying some fleeting sun light. The return paddle found us battling the wind back up the bay Hog Island, with the skies darkening a bit. Finally returning to our launch point.  You can view additional photos here and a track of our paddle here.

In Celebration of Independence

The eve of the Fourth of July found us at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, picnicking with friends and listening to the Oakland Symphony. Given the divisiveness of events recently it’s a pleasure to come together in celebration. And no shortage of emotion on my part when the orchestra started to play the national anthem and the thousands of people stood and sung “Oh Say Can you See…” in honor of this place in which we live.

Rather than brave the traffic and parking for the event, we put our bikes on the car and drove to a convenient location just off the San Francisco Bay Trail, a yet-to-be completed 500 mile walking and cycling trail around the bay which passes through 47 cities and nine counties.

The entertainment started with the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra playing some rousing music starting with Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein and ending with a selection of suites from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Quite an amazing group of talented young musicians. They are off to Cuba shortly.

Then the Oakland Symphony came on stage, opening with our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Where else can you hear a free concert with a full orchestra ? And as the orchestra played we watched the fire works barge chug by getting in position for the evening pyrotechnic display.

The evening ended with the orchestra playing Souza marches as the fireworks exploded in all manner of colors over the harbor. Not to go unnoticed where a couple of dozen kayakers on the water. Perhaps I’ll try that next year. You can see more photos of the evening event as well as photos from our local City of Albany 4th of July celebration here.

Log of the Shearwater July 2, 2016

Kayaking on Tomales Bay
Kayaking on Tomales Bay

With the tides looking good and Drakes Estero open following the spring seal pupping season we thought we’d go for a paddle. When we arrived though, there was a stiff breeze and fog, and it just looked like slogging into the weather was not going to be much fun, so we headed for Hearts Desire beach, which while only a few miles away is more protected. We had sun and blue sky when we launched our boats, and we paddled  South East along the Point Reyes Peninsula, stopping on a small beach to eat lunch. It’s always a pleasure to paddle along the rugged coast. You can view additional photos here, and you can view a track of our paddle here.

Red rocks and roots
Red rocks and roots Point Reyes