National Heirloom Expo Part 1

Well, my expectations of more frequent posting has been thoroughly dashed with an active spring. I highly recommend you travel to Santa Rosa California for the annual Heirloom Expo at the fairgrounds September 11-13. This event is a must for any gardener or fan of organic and sustainable agriculture.

Lots of fun displays outside

Some old farm equipment

So many gourds


Love the warts



Do you see the cartoonish man smiling?

So many watermelons!

They have tastings all the time, so you can try the different varieties of tomatoes and melon

This giant gourd pile/sculpture was once a world record holder

They donate the tower at the end to local food banks and some of the attendees

There are displays of every variety imaginable of fruits and vegetables and grains, and even some unimaginable. Here are some of the tomatoes

These look really cool, and tasty

I have a thing for deeply lobed red and pink tomatoes

Doesn’t look very purple to me…

Even a kaleidoscope of cherry tomatoes

Peppers anyone? All are spicy here

Such a variety of color from one variety, although also not true to its name

There is a giant pumpkin contest

And a dahlia show, because these both hit their peak in late summer

Like a hundred different kinds

Some of my favorites

This reminds me of the color of my favorite hibiscus flower

A tartan variety

A very different form

So black, wow

Next half soon, didn’t want to give you 53 pics in one sitting.

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Donner Pass and Andesite Peak

While the hike up to Castle Peak is famous among hikers, I preferred the less-visited Andesite Peak to its south-west. A good summer time hike out of the worst of the heat, this was still a three mile trek at elevation.

Castle meadow is just a short jaunt up from the end of the road if you want a break or picnic while driving through

Heading up you see a lot of glacial remnants from when giant glaciers that dragged, lifted and dropped giant boulders in random places as they melted

Another glacial erratic

The mountain was pretty but dark due to the thunder clouds gathering

Should I be hiking up to a mountaintop in weather like this?

Onward, some bare hillsides

But others were covered in flowers, such as these asters


This was quite an odd flower

There were some sundew carnivorous plants near a bog

The nutrients are so poor here that they eat bugs by dissolving them using the tiny hairs and droplets on the leaf surfaces

Milkweed I think

But could be something else entirely

It was all over

Cute pink monkeyflower

Bright orange

Some yellow mules ears further uphill

Then I made it to the pass after a very steep trail segment where I got some pretty good shots

These are almost all looking south, east and west


Castle Peak getting brighter


Andesite Peak up ahead, mostly clear skies

I’m beat, but let’s go

Whew! Much higher up here, that is donner lake in the upper center

Andesite is made up of many other rocks and dust and ash from volcanic eruptions, so this area was appropriately nammed

Very cool rocks, almost like concrete

Looking back on the meadow we passed on the way up

And a final look at Castle Peak since I need to get down to avoid the lightning

But a few more pics from the top

Ah, the back side of Northstar ski resort

Please open this up in a separate window, the panorama is really spectacular, spanning the sierra crest from east to west

And finish it off with a sunset from the Sierra Valley the night before

I just stared and stared until this one faded away, it was breathtaking

Next time I will finally be using pictures saved on my new computer, and posting should be easier and slightly more frequent, thank you for hanging in there with me.   J

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About a year after it opened its new 5-story addition I headed out to see the new designs and expanded galleries.

The main entry way was entirely remodeled, if you ever went to the old one, this is quite the  contrast to the modern version it used to be

The sky light is still the same though, this was taken from the walkway you can see at the top of the last picture

The bathrooms on each floor were super futuristic with recessed lighting and bold, single color paint jobs. This floor was a dark teal, the yellow and red floors were vibrant

The staircases between floors were really trippy, they all had different lengths, angles and step sizes

And somehow were placed on top of each other without overlapping

This art installation is so big they had to bring them in during construction and build the building around them!

Super fun to play in

A classic Calder mobile from the old collection in a new, more appropriate display with lots of space

I think my favorite new feature was the living wall, a wall with pots and plants arranged in a quilt-like pattern

There must have been 40 varieties of different ferns and plants

These fuchsia were blooming nicely

The pretty views of the city kept getting obscured by rando art

Lots of people and lots of photography

The following shots were quite difficult to obtain, as they have no people in the shots despite there being several thousand here that day

I love these bold pieces with the sharp lines

Sometimes things were kinda random though

This was just a extra large, solid blue canvas, but I loved the tone. Unfortunately the camera and monitor do not adequately convey the intense level of blue this was

Also loved these, the artist took a film and identified the most prominent color in each frame and created these with the results


And now into really cerebral art. Why? Just why



Dirt on the floor with mirror

And of course rocks on the floor

At least it transitioned into more traditional art

The last area was my favorite, all about fonts. My favorite font is Helvetica, a font created in the 60’s for the NYC transit authority that has very clean lines that reduce the impact of my slight dyslexia

Familiar no? I use it wherever I can

And they had many famous posters from the 60’s concerts that are so iconic of that era

A final giant art piece near the lobby on your way out

See you next time

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A Foothill Fourth + Hot Springs

Apologies for the delay, I got a bit of writer’s block. A couple years ago I went into the foothills with my best friend to see fireworks and check out the state parks’ events.

We had a great time in Columbia State Historic Park, where they had all kinds of old-timey activities and historic structures.

They have cool rock formations left after they power-washed all the dirt away looking for gold, then built cabins

Pretty spartan inside though

Lots of cool ruins around from the old brick buildings

This is still a functioning saloon, with really good sas

Old wagons on display

And the blacksmith shop was up and running, with an old-timey character selling the iron wares

Lots of fun activities for the kids, such as the watermelon eating contests

And the greased pole climb? There was also an adult pole in the back, the prizes were some cash and was hilarious to watch

Candle dipping shop, I made a cool one with like 10 shades of dark blue

Can also do some panning

My favorite part of any visit here is going to the tea house, they have great food and a wide selection of teas available

So lovely

At night we headed down to Mokolumne Hill (Mo-call-uhm-nee), named after this high hill

It really dominates the area

A ton of people showed up to the high school football field to watch the fireworks get set off. It was a great show but camera’s do not capture them well unless you get special equipment

As a bonus, here is a side trip I took to Buckeye hot spring outside of Bridgeport, starting with this view of the eastern sierra

The springs come out of the ground with a very hot fury

And then heads down the hill in it’s mineral-lined channel

It then hits this overhang, created by mineral deposits and erosion from the nearby creek

Even this far down from the source, these drops are super hot

So people hang out underneath it in hot pools, or head over here a few feet to pools mixed with creek water

Primitive springs are unique and fun. Next time let’s take a tour of the vivid SF Museum of Modern Art.

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