To recover from cold, dreary February, we headed out for warmer climes, to visit friends and family, and to take a Road Scholar trip to the Channel Islands.
NB: [click] means you can click the image for a larger, perhaps different, picture.

We enjoyed a day walk about Saguaro National Park, among tall cacti climbing up the mountains. If you wear sandals, make sure they have closed toe boxes! [click]

Our route took us by the Kit Peak National Observatory in the Quinlan Mountains.

After a night at the quirky Ray and Carols Motel, we walked along the shore of the Salton Sea. [click]

Our room at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach overlooked the Ventura Pier [click]

To begin a day of lectures, we went to the Channel Islands NP Visitor Center, where Marilyn examined a Giant Coreopsis. Backdrop: a torrey pine. [click]

Island Packers ferried us to Anacapa Island the next day. [click]

With every round trip to the Islands, we saw whales and dolphins. Here, Gray Whales spyhop and roll. [click]

Cabrillo Arch and the Anacapa Lighthouse came into view as we approached the island.

The walk up from the wharf--short and steep.

The Island top is covered with breeding colonies of Western Gulls; these two were trying to claim the same nesting area. Fortunately, they had not yet built nests, so we did not have to protect our heads from dive-bombings birds intent on driving us away from their homes, eggs, or young.

We hiked to the end of the desert island and slaked our thirst at Inspiration Point. [click]

Volunteers shined up the Fresnel Lens from the lighthouse.

Visitors had to stay at least 100 yards away from the lighthouse to protect their ears from its LOUD foghorn.

The Ranger's residence at Anacapa Island, which does not provide goods, services, accommodation or water!

As we waited on the wharf for our boat, this California Sea Lion pup bawled for its Mama. [click]

Kelp flies hitched a ride with us back to the mainland. They were amazingly numerous and pesky, but did not bite.

The next day featured a walking tour of Ventura, including the Post Office (with Gordon Grant murals), the Library where Erle Stanley Gardner gave birth to Perry Mason, and Ventura's most important attraction: Barrelhouse 101. [click]

Our Leader, Shiela (Counter-in-Chief, Nagger, and Herder), has her face on the Post Office Wall! ;-)

Luckily, the strong Santa Ana Winds abated overnight, so seas calmed enough for us to sail to Santa Cruz Island. A large flock of Brown Pelicans saw us off. [click]

Island Packers hires environmental stewards, who stop to pick up trash that endangers marine life. The worst: mylar balloons--they look like jellyfish to Leatherback Turtles. Net fragments are also harmful. [click]

A walk along the cliff-edged north side of the island took us to Potato Harbor, former home of Chumash People. We saw our first Island Fox sign! [click]

The endangered Island Fox population began to recover after reintroduction of Bald Eagles that drove off Golden Eagles (an Island Fox predator). [click]

Our last lecturer, Ken McAlpine described adventures from his book: Islands Apart. His lyrical, insightful prose describes his responses to our info-glut civilization and its pathologies.

Parting G-rated image: Gray Whales roil the surface while mating.
Our Road Scholar adventure finished, we bade a fond "fair forward" to new friends and drove to points north.

A night at the delightful O'Cairn's Inn in lovely Lompoc allowed us to dine with friends at the fabulous Flatbread.

We drove to Pacific Grove for fine dining at Favaloro's and a night at the Gosby House Inn.

On to Sacramento, to catch the California Zephyr over Donner Pass to Reno. We found a great Thai restaurant: Bankok @ 12

The Zephyr arrived late, due to a pedestrian fatality and subsequent Union Pacific track closure.

Snow still clung to the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains above Donner Lake. [click]

Downtown Reno is much more attractive at night, when the trash, misery and degradation are less visible.

Reno had a delightful Truckee Riverwalk rehabilitated from urban blight. It included in-channel diversions for white-water sports. [click] We found a fine Vietnamese Noodle restaurant: Pho 777.

The next day we took a van tour of North Tahoe, Carson City, and Virginia City with Adventures of Reno.

Virginia City is a blast--reminiscent of Creede, Colorado, with good brews and clever PI signs. [click]

After taking the Zephyr back, we walked about Old Sacramento and the Tower Bridge.

Marilyn examined a jewel: Virginia &Truckee RR Locomotive at the California State Railroad Museum. [click]

A Sacramento River Hornblower Cruise took us by the Delta King, now a hotel, and PTF-26. [click]

On the way to Yountville, we saw the Wine Train: tomorrow's ride. We also laughed at a sign at the head of a private drive to a palatial home: "NOT a Winery!"

Bistro Jeanty featured fine wines and superb food, enjoyed with our close friends, the Whitteds.

Our drive about the Sacramento Delta with the Whitteds included this small, cable-driven, ferry boat on the way to Locke. [click]

Locke seemed to be a popular biker destination.

Winery visits (Heritage Oak), tasting (Weibel Family) and cheeses (Cheese Central) completed our Lodi fix.

Back to Ron's Home Page (with links to other travelogues).
On to Yosemite and the coast.