Category Archives: Misc

B Bryan Preserve

Yuching was desperately in need of a vacation and had learned about the B Bryan Preserve in Point Arena, California from a friend and wanted to go. So we went! We dropped the dog off for the weekend (dogs are allowed at the preserve, but not anywhere near the animals, so we decided to give him a vacation from us ;)), grabbed a sandwich from the Davey Jones Deli in Sausalito (yum!) and hit the road for a long weekend.

First stop: a beach in Bodega Bay to eat the sandwich. We saw lots of sea gulls and they made us nervous:


The Red-Tailed Hawk did not make us nervous:


Upon our arrival at the preserve, we were shown our cottage. On the way to the cottage, we got our first look at some of the animals. It was quite surreal to be driving along and see zebras and giraffes on the other side of a fence (or, occasionally, not on the other side of any fence!)





The Land Rover used for tours of the preserve. They have tours twice a day and are well worth it if you are in the area. You definitely don’t have to stay at the preserve to go on a tour, but if you stay at the preserve, you get a bit more access.


There were no chickens when we were there. But if you are there at the right time of year, fresh eggs are available for guests.






The next morning, I woke up and went out to take some pictures of the animals while Yuching showered. One of the owners saw me and let me into the giraffe barn to feed the giraffes. You know how you read about how tall NBA players are, but it doesn’t really sink in how REALLY tall they are unless you are standing next to one? Same deal with giraffes. They are huge but very gentle.


Then we headed out for a day of exploring the Point Arena area. First stop: the lighthouse.





We went for the short hike to the gazebo and saw some sea lions looking for breakfast.


Then headed out for a nice hike along the coast.



I named this “Cobra Rock”. I have no idea what its actual name is.


Then we headed to Bowling Ball beach. When we arrived it was high tide, so we couldn’t see the rocks. We were booked for the evening tour of the preserve and had dinner plans that night (at the really good Uneda Eat restaurant in Point Arena (Yuching said she likes it better than Ad Hoc; I wouldn’t go that far)), so couldn’t dilly dally too long. Fortunately the tide was going out and Yuching is patient with me and let me wait for the tide to go out enough to get these shots.




On the tour of the preserve now. The tour takes about 1.5 hours and is definately worthwhile if you are in the area.

This is Elvis. He’s the standard kind of zebra you see at most zoos.


These are Grevy’s Zebras. You can tell them by their big, round ears. These guys were allowed to roam freely and we usually had to wait for them to get off the trail on the way to and from our cottage.



These are Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras. You can tell them because they aren’t Grevy’s zebras 😉


These are Sable antelope (and one of them needs to learn manners and chew with her mouth closed).



These are Kudu. They are very very shy. If you approach their area on foot, you might see them in the distance through the trees and bushes, but don’t count on it. Your best chance to see them is at feeding time during the tour.




This tour ends at the giraffe barn where you get to feed the giraffes. Definitely the highlight of the tour. You can feed them branches (hold tight, they are very strong) and apples. The barn is built so the humans can go up to the second floor and get eye level with the giraffes. I think they said these giraffes are up to 15 feet tall right now, but will probably grow to 18 feet or so.






The next day we walked around the preserve on our own until we met up with the morning tour. Here is Josephine and her daughter roaming between the enclosures.


And more antelope.



For the morning tour, they let the giraffes out of the barn and we fed them over a fence.



Here is one of the owners, Judy.



The giraffes are super rare. They showed a chart of rare and endangered species and they were like the second most rare (or something like that). They have 5 horns; can you count them all?




Giraffe kisses!



And lastly, here are a few shots of our cottage in the morning fog before our departure. Frank, the other owner, built the cottages himself using a lot of reclaimed wood, windows, staircases, etc. Very impressive. The boardwalk path that you see leads to our private hot tub!


Overlooking a pond.






The Salmon Are Here!

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen decent numbers of salmon in the local creeks. We got a couple of big storms come through and now the salmon are back with a vengeance! We went to Leo Cronin today and saw at least 10 salmon. Rumor had it that there were also some otters around, but we didn’t see hide nor hair of them. We also checked out the Inkwells; you can often see the salmon jumping there. But the water was too high and too fast from yesterday’s storm, so no salmon were to be seen there today. As a long-time Marin resident, it was really cool to see the salmon coming back.

Here is a link for more info if you want to go yourself: Viewing Coho Salmon.

UPDATE 12/28/12: I went back and also visited the Devil’s Gulch area today. I added more pictures and more descriptive text.

The sign that marks the parking area:
Leo Cronin Sign
Nice wide (and flat) trail:
Fish Viewing Trail
How many salmon do you see? Look close; where you see one, there is likely a second nearby:
Spawning Salmon
Spawning Salmon
Fighting for a mate!
Fighting For A Mate
This guy looks serious!
Fighting For A Mate
The female turns sideways and makes a “nest” (called a “redd”) in the sandy creek bed with her tail while the male watches:
Making a Nest
An example of what salmon must jump to get to their spawning site:
What the Salmon Must Jump
The salmon’s flesh turns white as it decomposes:
Mated Pair
A strong male may mate with more than one female, but females generally only mate with one male.
Mated Pair

Agility Fun Match

My lovely wife volunteers quite a bit at the local humane society. Today she helped out at their “Agility Fun Match”. It is a non-judged event designed to allow agility dog owners the chance to have fun and experience a trials-like atmosphere with their dogs. I went along to check it out, and of course I brought along my camera. The next thing I knew, I was the unofficial event photographer! I will be selling photos from the event to help raise money for future agility fun matches, so it’s win-win.

Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match

Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match
Agility Fun Match


The space shuttle Endeavour made it’s last flight today: a tour of California before heading to its permanent home in a museum. I was fortunate enough to be able to see it as it did a fly by of the Golden Gate Bridge. Endeavour was the last of the space shuttles to be retired. The end of an era. It was a beautiful day and Endeavour didn’t disappoint.

Golden Gate Bridge
Space Shuttle EndeavourEndeavour Framed by the Golden Gate Bridge
Endeavour in Back and White
Endeavour Profile
Endeavour Framed by the Golden Gate Bridge
Farewell Eneavour

AC45 Racing

The America’s Cup is in San Francisco! I grew up on a Laser and crewed on a J24 “back in the day”. I’m not the world’s biggest sailing fan by any stretch, but I dig it. So I went to watch on one of the race days.

The thing about watching the AC45 boats in person is this: they are insanely fast. I have seen one of the old Oracle America’s Cup boats. Although it was fast compared to other sailboats, it still looked and moved like a sailboat. No surprise there. These new catamarans look like sailboats, but they don’t move like sailboats. They fly. Seriously. It’s shocking. So I wanted to try to to give you a sense of the speed of these boats in my photos.

The boats moored before the race.

Moored Boats

Artemis hiking out and Swordfish buries its bow. Pretty common for the boats to bury the bow coming around the windward mark. We were hoping for a capsize, but the winds were too light and the skippers too skilled.

Hiking Out and Burying the Hull

Swordfish heeling over.

Swordfish heeling over.

I believe this is America. Good to see an old school wood and canvas boat.


Oracle finish 1-2 in the first fleet race.

Oracle Coutts and Spithill

Spithill going fast.

Spithill going fast.

Crew on Artemis working hard.

Crew on Artemis working hard.

Close racing.

Close racing.

Medical boat watches on.

Medical boat watches on.



2012 San Rafael Twilight Criterium

14th anniversary of the San Rafael Twilight Criterium! The highlight for me each year is the kids race. This year it included the kid wearing her number 13 upside-down just like the pros! The next Fabian Cancellara?

If it looks like some of the racers got really close to me, that’s because they did. A few inches (at most) at times. On two of the corners, there is nothing between you and them except your nerves to not move and their bike handling skills.

San Rafael Twilight
Mission San Rafael
Men's Race
Close Call Corner
Kids race Start
Lucky Number 13
Kid Racer
Kids Going For It!
Close Call Corner 2
Close Call Corner 3
Got Dehydration?
Pro Men's Race
Having Fun

The 5th of July!

What’s better than the 4th of July? The 5th of July! Why? It’s my niece’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Georgie!

Major present for this birthday? A new bike! Despite only 1 candle on her cake, she is actually 3. I made the cake for her; the only requirement for the cake: it had to be pink.

Whirly Pop
Georgie Got A Bike!
Happy Birthday Girl!
Having Fun On The Swing
More Swing Fun
Birthday Cake
Blowing Out The Candle

Icky and Roman

I went to the Sonoma-Marin Fair today. The highlight of the fair (well, maybe not the highlight, but the event that got the most media coverage) was the “World’s Ugliest Dog Competition”. 29 dogs were there trying to win the coveted title of “World’s Ugliest Dog”. In the end, this year’s winner was Mugly, the dog that won the United Kingdom’s “Ugliest Dog” contest.

There were tons of TV crews and two (or possibly three) teams making movies there. One team was from the UK and were making a documentary on the contest. Another was making a film that had scenes (including the climax) that took place at a fictionalized version of the show. We were in the audience for the filming and were asked to clap, cheer, etc. So maybe you will see us on the silver screen!

Here are two of my personal favorite dogs from the contest: “Icky” and “Roman”.

Icky and Roman

Venus Transits the Sun 2012

I don’t pretend to be an astronomical photographer or anything, but this was the second chance for a solar event in the past few weeks. Last time I took pictures of the solar eclipse. Today was Venus transiting the Sun. Today’s event was quite a bit more rare than the solar eclipse. Solar eclipses happen yearly (or so). The Venus transit of the Sun happens in pairs eight years apart. The last one was in 2004, but the next pair won’t be until 2117 and 2125. So this was the last time any of us will ever see this event.

If you saw my post on the solar eclipse, you will see that my shot was way overexposed and that I vowed to have a stack of neutral density filters next time. Well, instead, I just took the eclipse glasses that we had and put them over the lens to cut down the light to a manageable amount. Worked like a charm.

Venus Transits the Sun 2012


We started the day with the “Tour de Marin” (a 45 mile bike ride). We were pretty tired when we got home, but after a power nap, we rallied and went out to watch the eclipse. This was an annular solar eclipse, which means the sun and moon would be perfectly in line (depending on where you were on the Earth when it happened). We weren’t prefectly lined up, but pretty close.

Here are Yuching and Bailey getting ready. Note the cool “Eclipse Glasses”. We were at a local high school and several other people were there to watch the eclipse. When they saw our glasses, we became very popular; everyone wanted to check them out so everyone got a turn.

Bailey models eclipse glasses with Yuching
Bailey checking out the eclipse

The eclipse cast some weird shadows. Check out the eclipsed sun shape among the leave shadows. Some younger people who were borrowing our glasses were tripping out on the shadows and left to play in a drum circle while the eclipse was still going on. Nice.

Eclipse Shadows

Here’s the casualty of the day. I set my lens up on my tripod and once I got it set up, I took the camera off to take some other shots. I put the back cover on the lens and left the lens pointed at the sun. The sun was magnified by the lens and melted a path into the back lens cap! Doh!


Here’s the payoff: the eclipse. I shot this with a 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/40, 1/8000, ISO 50. Basically I set my camera up to allow as little light in as possible, but the sun was still too bright. Next time I’ll be ready with a bunch of neutral density filters.