Photo a Week: Bridges

The gap between the life I’d envisioned
and this current reality is widening…
I need a bridge – not a short, low one,
but a large, expansive bridge to carry

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all my wishes, to facilitate movement
of passing ideals, allow for traffic flow.

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Or a bridge to slow me down, dialled in
to the sun’s rays, directing me toward
a new reality that encompasses change.

(For Nancy Merrill’s Photo of the Week challenge:  bridges. Featured image is from the west coast, top image is the Bay Bridge, San Fransisco, and the final bridge is the Sundial Bridge in Reading, CA.)

Lens-Artists: Big Can Be Beautiful

Beautiful are the large rock sculptures of Joshua Tree National Park.

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The large canyons in Arizona are also beautiful, although I’m too afraid of heights to get any closer than this.

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This snake bird, or anhinga is quite a remarkable, big bird.

big bubble

My granddaughter and I think big is best when it comes to bubbles.

(For Lens-Artists Challenge: Big Can Be Beautiful.)

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Fences

Fences? My first reaction was that I avoid fences in my photography, and now that we’ve moved into a neighbourhood without them, I will not be able to participate.  Then, I revisited old photographs, and what do you know?  Fences!

The featured image is a garden gate at the Butchart Botanical Gardens in Victoria, B.C. The sign says ‘Private’ which is a disappointment.  There is something so alluring about a garden gate.

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Further up the island is the Cathedral Grove.  The fences here are to keep visitors on the path and protect the wildlife.  I hardly noticed the rails as the eye is drawn upward.

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Eclectic fencing converts this parking lot into an intimate patio for pub-goers in Apache Junction, AZ.

While looking for fences, I came across this photograph, taken in Joshua Tree RV Park, California.  It even inspired a poem:

Fences

(Thank you to Leya for hosting this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Fences.)

 

Forlorn

This sweet bushtit landed on my path while I was visiting Redding, California this past spring.

After playing with the image, what emerged was a forlorn little fellow for whom I wrote this haiku.

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My heart goes out to all those in Redding, and elsewhere in the world where forest fires are ravaging lives.

(Submitted for Laura Bailey’s Manic Mondays 3 Way Prompt: forlorn.)

Redding, California

sundialReddingRedding is a mid-sized town with a population of 90,000.  Our camp is set atop a hillside, and the scenery is beautiful, with mountains as a backdrop and tall trees beginning to bud.  We have found spring.

I have not quite recuperated from our trip to San Francisco, so we decide not to venture very far, choosing to visit a mid-town attraction, Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum.  As it turns out, Turtle Bay is a three-hundred acre park with exhibits either side of the Sacramento river, connected by a sundial bridge.  It is immediately apparent that we will not be able to see it all in a day.

“We’ll take our time,” Ric reassures me, “and see what we can.”

aquariumReddingWe start with the museum which houses aquariums of local species, and offers a hands-on understanding of the geology of the area.  There is an exhibit explaining the inspiration for the bridge and the building process.  Another display offers artifacts and stories honouring the indigenous peoples of the area:  the Wintu.  There is an art exhibit, and interactive rooms for young ones. The only thing missing is our own grandchildren.

ruby-crownedkingletBeyond the museum doors is a boardwalk spanning across a wetland area, where we encounter this sweet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet as well as a nesting mallard and a couple of bright blue scrub jays.  There also seem to be an abundance of butterflies.

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As we enter the exploration area, we find a bush and blossoming tree that are teeming with iridescent wings.  As families rush past us to get to the play grounds, Ric and I are captivated by these beautiful creatures.

We bypass the play areas, noting how well done they are, and follow a cacophony of bird noises to the Parrot playground.

Parrotplayground“Please use the hand sanitizer before entering,” a young woman greets us. “Don’t touch the birds, or pick them up.  Let them come to you.”

We pass through two doors, and enter into the fray.  Bright coloured birds – actually lorikeets, we learn – perch overhead, waddle along the path before us, and fly about.  One alights on Ric’s shoulders and I snap a quick pic to send to the kids.

He doesn’t look too happy, a daughter messages back.   I’m just glad it’s him not me.  Those talons and beaks look sharp.

We don’t linger too long, although I have to admit that the birds are spectacular.

barnowlpeek.pngIn the wildlife exhibit there is a golden eagle, a red-tailed hawk, foxes,  a bobcat, a barn owl and others.  As magnificent as these creatures are, I feel guilty photographing them.  Having witnessed so much wildlife in its natural environment, throughout our journey, I am uncomfortable with seeing these creatures caged.  I suspect that we are not alone in our sentiments, as this is the least populated of the exhibits.

We decide just to walk through the tall pines and observe nature in the raw.

sweetnuthatchI spot a large woodpecker and when I raise my camera to capture its image, I notice a deer grazing just beyond.  In another spot, this busy nuthatch captures our attention.  We sit for a while and just enjoy the day.

We’ve walked a fair distance, and so decide to stop at the coffee shop and have drinks and a snack before proceeding further.

“It’s your call,” Ric says, indicating the bridge.

Across the bridge are the Botanical Gardens and Arboretum that I had been hoping to see.  I have to be honest.  My legs are not up to the task.

“Let’s just go for a drive.  I read about a lake nearby that might be interesting.”

Pacific Coast Encounter

Oceanshoreline.pngWe drive through San Francisco’s waterfront, noting the interesting architecture and impressed by the artsy feel of the place.  Like most big cities, San Francisco has its share of homelessness, and many officers on foot patrol can be seen talking to people in make shift tents, or others sleeping in cement flower boxes.  It is a reminder that all is not glitter, and I know from a friend whose daughter lives in San Francisco that the cost of living is extravagant.

We head further west to meet up with Pacifica highway along the coast, passing the iconic steep streets lined with tall, colourful houses.

The ocean comes into view and I am snapping pictures with both the Sony and the iPhone.  (Ric has put me in charge of capturing our trip as he is driving).  This is such a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world.

“Do you just want to keep going until we can’t anymore?”

Teashoppe.pngI do, but I am also waning.  I’ve been experiencing jaw pain for the past few days, and it is becoming unbearable.  I need to get home to some heat and an ibuprofen.

“Let’s just stick to the plan.”

“How about if we find a place at Half Moon Bay to have tea and coffee overlooking the ocean.  Then we’ll head back.”

It’s a plan.  We pass this darling little tea shop, but it doesn’t look open, so we keep going.  The highway weaves along, alternating between views of the Pacific and long curving passages through tall trees.  Half Moon Bay pops up faster than we had expected, and the first beach road we travel down offers nothing in terms of restaurants.TreesHwy1CA.png

Just past the turn off to Half Moon Bay – and the road home – Ric pulls down a road that appears to lead to a golf course.  Signs indicate that there is also food and lodging.  The road opens to an ocean view with large stately homes overlooking the water.  At the end is what looks like some sort of inn or fancy hotel, with a guard post at the entrance.

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“We’re just looking for a place to have a cup of tea overlooking the water,”  Ric tells the big, burly attendant.

“You’ll find that here,” the man responds.  “You’ll need this pass-key for the parking lot, and we ask that you refrain from taking photographs of any of the buildings,” he adds eyeing my camera.

We’re at the Ritz Carlton.  Since I can’t show you the building, nor the lounge where we had our $10 tea and coffee,  we’ll have to settle for the view.  The pristine lawns are actually part of a golf course.

RitzCarltonhalfmoon.pngI am so tired by now that my feet will not obey my brain, and as I stagger back to the parking lot, two large crows mock  me as I go.

“I know!” I caw back at them.  “It’s not a pretty sight.”

Seat heaters go back on and I recline my seat, telling Ric that I will now sleep.

“No more photos,” I warn.

We pull back out onto the highway and stop at the next set of lights.

“We’ll call today the San Francisco marathon,” I announce.  It’s the furthest I’ve gone in one day.  “And to think that at the beginning of all this, I doubted I’d be able to do anything.”

“You’re doing very well.  I think the turning point for you was the birds.”

bridgeSanMateo.jpgHe’s talking about Texas, and how we joined a birding group there.  It’s where I got my first camera, and learned to paint.

“For sure,” I agree. “It was definitely the birds.”  And just as the words leave my lips, I catch sight of something lunging towards me in my peripheral vision.  It’s a large, golden bird with a muscular neck and strong, fierce beak.

“Oh, oh, oh!”  I exclaim as the bird swoops down across the front of our car.  My awe is so great that I cannot find words.

“Wow!”  Ric, who has just started to drive forward, slams on the brakes.

Our close encounter with a golden eagle follows us all the way home.

Oh, and I do manage to capture a few more photos – of the San Mateo bridge and a farewell glimpse of San Francisco across the bay.
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San Francisco Love

BayBridgeSF.pngDue to the rain, we decide just to drive through San Francisco and then swing back along the coast and pass by Half Moon Bay before heading back to our camp.  Of course, neither of us has been here before, so we have no idea what to expect.

The city is spectacular.  We enter through highway 80 heading west, and both of us are rubbernecking.

“This is amazing!” Ric says pointing out photo ops in all directions.  I am busy snapping shots:  Alcatraz, skyscrapers, hillside homes, the water, the bridge.   “Google Fisherman’s Wharf.  Let’s stop there for lunch.”

FogHarborSF.pngI looked on-line the night before and thought Fog Harbor could be a good place for seafood, so enter it into the GPS.  By the time we cross the Bay Bridge, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining.  We are not far from our destination, mileage wise, but the app suggests it will take a half hour to get there.  No matter; there is a lot to see.

Fog Harbor is at Pier 39, right beside the Bay Aquarium and the Gold Line Ferry service.  It is nestled amongst shops and many other restaurants.  We find parking two blocks away which is advertised as $10/day, but when we pull in the attendant says it is $20 for trucks.

“Oh well,” says Ric.  “We’re here now.”

Pier39marinaSF.jpgThe restaurant is on the second floor of the pier buildings, and as we enter I can tell this is a good choice.  The hostess seats us right beside the window overlooking the marina – an excellent view of the bay.  I can see the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, and piles of dark-coloured masses lying on the furthest docks.

“What on earth is that?”  I ask our waitress.

“Sea lions!”

leanright.pngOut comes the camera.  No lack of poses here.

Unlike our lunch in L.A., this meal will cost over $100.  Ric has the clam chowder and a seafood platter and I have the sole, nicely prepared without butter, atop a bed of fingerling potatoes and spinach, cherry tomatoes, and capers.  Perfection.

After lunch we wander along the pier and get a closer look at the Sea Lions, whose antics are continually amusing, not to mention noisy.  Not sure if it’s their lackadaisical attitudes that are contagious, or perhaps that I’ve overextended my energy allotment, but my body begins to wilt and just barely makes it back to the truck.

hillsidehomesSF.png“Do you just want to go home?”

I am enamoured and want to see more.  “Let’s keep going,” I suggest.  I recline my seat and put the seat heater on.  “I’ll sleep if I have to.”

As if that is even possible in this iconic city.

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