A Week in the Ventana Wilderness

Still recovering from an amazing week backpacking in the Ventana Wilderness east of Big Sur, and just finished recapping the adventure in a Medium piece, with plenty of photos. A week in the woods is spiritually different from five day hikes!

There’s also a separate Lightroom album with more photos that didn’t make it into the article here. Some of those are slowly trickling into a Flickr album here.

Experience of a lifetime, two years in a row!

The Lone Toilet

Found it! A few weeks ago I caught an episode of Bay Curious where they talked about “The Lone Toilet” — a mysterious outhouse hanging out all by its lonesome in the marshes off Sears Point. At the time the episode was recorded, the reason for the toilet’s existence was apparently a mystery to everyone. Who built it? When, and why?

I had a general idea of where it was, but nothing specific. Headed out to explore the marshes along Hwy 37, keeping an eye out, but couldn’t find it. Did find a bunch cool bridges and antennae, and mini-murmurations of Starlings, but had given up on the outhouse. Then, while taking a shot under a bridge, turned back to the car and spotted a structure off in the distance. There it was!

Trudging through, I eventually found a plank someone had left to help visitors cross a deep rivulet, and was able to make my way out here. Seemed to be about 100 years old or so, and surrounded by absolutely nothing else.

Last night, I googled it and found this article, saying the mystery has since been solved – built by an eccentric sailor name of Fresh Air Dick (because he liked to sleep out in the air on his boat), who made his living carving wooden duck decoys. At the time, there was a marsh town called Tubs Island around here, but its remains have long since sunk beneath the mud. The outhouse was built in the 1920s – why it still stands when everything else sunk, I do not know.

Images shot with FujiFilm X-T3. Follow me on Flickr!

One Year of Pandemic Photos

It’s been a hell of a year, everyone. The pandemic has affected everyone differently, but no one has been untouched by it. My personal therapy through the Quarantimes has been to explore the wonders of the Bay Area with a camera. 2020 was the year I finally made the switch from iPhone to proper cameras (for real this time). I put much of my spare time into learning about lenses, about the power and flexibility of the RAW format, and finally made the jump from Apple Photos to Lightroom. Also spent some of the time messing with editing apps like Snapseed, Tiny Planet, and RNI Aero. On the weekends, on hikes and bike rides, and on morning/evening dog walks, I explored every nook and cranny of this amazing place. I tried to make it a discipline to post one image to Flickr and Instagram in the morning before work, and another after work. Didn’t always succeed, but tried. Here are shots from Point Pinole, Albany Bulb, Berkeley Hills, Mare Island, Pt. Reyes, Guerneville, Alameda, Crab Cove, Tiburon, Morro Bay, and everywhere I landed. If you’re curious, yes, I’m very careful, always masked, almost always alone or well-distanced (I’m safe). Photography has been my therapy, my go-to, my geek-out, and a re-awakening of a long-dormant creative side. For better and for worse, here are some of the images I shot in the first year of the global pandemic. May all humans be vaccinated before we lose another soul. Can’t wait to see you all again.

I’ve gathered up most of the posted images from the first pandemic year in a Flickr album – a few samples embedded here.

Flickr Album Here

Industrial Brownhoist
Industrial Brownhoist at Mare Island
Forest service information station on the Pacific Crest Trail
Warming hut along the Pacific Crest Trail
Skimboarder at Crab Cove
Skimboarder at Crab Cove

Flickr Album Here

Richmond Shipyards / General Warehouse

One of the “buried treasures” of living in the SF Bay Area is discovering the strange remnants of WWII that still exist in remnant form. One of those I’ve been visiting lately is the Richmond Shipyards – an area spanning several acres of crumbling concrete piers and docs, old-school Mike Mulligan and the Steamshovel-era cranes, rusty tugboats, and the monolithic Art Deco / brutalist General Warehouse.

In their heyday, more warships were produced in these yards than anywhere else in America – as many as three per day (747 total). And the final stop before each ship set out to see was the General Warehouse – a four-story edifice full of ropes and stoves and beds and compasses and clocks and radar screens and everything else a ship needed to support a crew and carry out its mission.

Today, General Warehouse is still standing proud, though its sign has crumbled and there’s no getting inside (though one photographer did a few years ago). Anyway, a few shots from the yards one night last week. Amazing place.