Amargosa River (China Ranch, Death Valley, Tecopa, Mojave Desert)

About 1/4 mile from China Ranch

I recently did a big road trip through the eastern edge of California. Travelling from south to north, I went from the Mojave Preserve, up to the Sonora Pass, just north of Yosemite.

One of my stops was at the “China Ranch Date Farm”  near the southeast corner of Death Valley. https://www.chinaranch.com/ I had heard and read about this desert oasis, including  from the DryCyclist http://deathvalley2007.drycyclist.com/china-ranch/ and from Calipidder! http://calipidder.com/wp/2009/12/china-ranch-date-farm-and-the-cabin/

After camping at Mid-Hills in the Mojave Preserve (http://www.nps.gov/moja/index.htm) and a reading of 99F degrees at 10:20AM in Baker, I blasted north in the car towards Tecopa and followed the signs to China Ranch.

The giant thermometer in Baker (99F at 10:30AM

The giant thermometer in Baker (99F at 10:20AM)

The road north out of  Baker

The road north out of
Baker

It was about 108F degrees when I got to China Ranch. Perfect for a stroll along the Amargosa River!

Heading down into China Ranch

Heading down into China Ranch

Follow the signs!

Follow the signs!

Remote and Air Conditioned!

Remote and Air Conditioned!

A quirky bit of their decor!

A quirky bit of their decor!

Dates, wrapped-up to protect them

Dates, wrapped-up to protect them

Enough about the Date Farm. Go, buy a shake or a loaf of date bread, talk to the nice people…back to my main point: The RIVER!

I strolled in the heat, just a bit downhill from China Ranch, and passed a few old signs of human habitation

Relics!

Relics!

…and then saw the huge green streak against the barren valley walls. There must be water here, at least occasionally!

The Amargosa River, looking downstream from China Ranch

The Amargosa River, looking downstream from China Ranch

A sign explaining it’s an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern”, as well as giving credit to the Nature Conservancy and China Ranch for their contributions.

Area of Critical Environmental Concern

Area of Critical Environmental Concern

…descending down into the mass of green, yields some human pathways and flowing water! I could hear it before I saw it.. (BTW, did I mention it was hot and two species of large biting flies were screaming “lunch!” and attacking me?  I slapped at least a dozen and had no lasting bite marks, but they did keep me alert and moving!)

Flowing water (look closely!)

Flowing water (look closely!)

I re-crossed the river at a different spot, looked around a bit, and headed back to safety. I enjoyed my visit! I had a shake, took a short hike, re-entered the building to cool off, and hit the road!

Later in the day I visited Ash Meadows, just across the border to the NE in Nevada. It too is a fascinating desert oasis, which I discovered is also a part of the Amargosa River system! http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ash_meadows/

Boardwalk from the Visitor's Center

Boardwalk from the Visitor’s Center

Railing on the boardwalk

Railing on the boardwalk “Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge”

A huge amount of water is gushing out of the ~2 foot gravel hole here. There is no visible “upstream” from this point, but a pleasant life-giving stream which starts here. (Yes, I did see some endangered Pupfish here, too. They look a bit like aquarium guppies and have survived thousands of years in these isolated desert oases.)

~2 foot gravel hole in the middle is gushing with ~2000 gallons/minute of water

~2 foot gravel hole in the middle is gushing with ~2000 gallons/minute of water

 

After Ash Meadows, I passed the turnoff to Saratoga Springs, and headed north to Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, where it was 115F degrees, and I kept on driving!

After returning home, I started studying a bit about the Amargosa River system. I found it fascinating enough that I decided to present more info!

The river is mostly underground, with a few exceptions of Ash Meadows, China Ranch area, and Saratoga Springs. The places I coincidentally visited or passed by on my trip!

In the picture below, the River starts in the high desert of Nevada and moves underground to the “Amargosa Desert” area near Ash Meadows, where some of it flows out of the ground. It then continues south to Tecopa and the China Ranch area. where it again becomes visible, at the “Amargosa Canyon”. From there, it loops north and expresses itself as Saratoga Springs, before heading further north and west, ending in the Badwater basin of Death Valley.

Amargosa River (from Wikipedia)

Amargosa River (from Wikipedia)

Here’a a link to the BLM’s page, with another map type: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/barstow/amargosa.html

The river is mostly underground, except for the rare rainfalls when it becomes a surface drainage. The Ash Meadows signboards indicate that the water takes centuries to move underground through the system. The Nature Conservancy calls it “one of the world’s longest underground rivers”  http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/nevada/placesweprotect/amargosa-river-project.xml

That’s about it! I found it fascinating that such an “intermittent” river system existed in this harsh environment. I was happy to to have seen the Ash Meadows and China Ranch areas and hope to visit Saratoga Springs on my next visit (…which will not take place when it’s 115F degrees!)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Montebello Road, Black Mountain, and Stevens Canyon (Cupertino)

One of my favorite “quick but challenging” bicycle rides (MTB and road bike) is in nearby Cupertino, CA. It starts at the Stevens Creek Reservoir, near the quarry.

Park along the wood fence near the boat launch, outside of the paid area, if you want to save a few bucks. On weekdays watch for trucks for the first half mile, until you’re past the quarry.

Side trip to the dam

Gravel trucks, viewed from roadside parking

Gravel trucks, viewed from roadside parking

Stevens Creek Reservoir, near the quarry

Pass the quarry and turn right onto Montebello Road. Up you go! (It’s about 2000 vertical feet to the end of the pavement and a bit more if you’re doing the scenic MTB loop.)

Montebello begins (right turn)

Montebello begins (right turn)

After about a half mile you’ll see the Picchetti Winery on your left. It’s a nice little picnic area for the kiddies, with some peacocks roaming the ground, as well as hiking trails. (Tasting room details: http://www.picchetti.com/ The Picchetti Open Space Preserve has parking in the next driveway up the hill. Trail map and details: http://www.openspace.org/preserves/picchetti-ranch )

Pichetti Winery

Picchetti Winery

Keep climbing Montebello Road and you’ll see the reservoir in the distance and a bit of dust rising from the quarry (on weekdays when they’re working)

Reservoir and dust from the quarry

Reservoir and dust from the quarry

Keep grinding uphill, past the now-closed Montebello School (closed in 2009, after 100+ years, due to declining enrollment http://www.mercurynews.com/localnewsheadlines/ci_11889156?nclick_check=1). When you see the Ridge Winery http://www.ridgewine.com/ on your left, you’re getting to where climb starts to flatten out (…relatively speaking!)

Ridge Winery

Ridge Winery

In the home stretch, at least if you’re on a road bike, you’ll see a big vineyard coming up on your right:

Getting close and flattening out

Getting close and flattening out

Silicon Valley below!

Silicon Valley below!

Side note: All of Montebello Road is “No Parking”. There is a “workaround” if you want to hike or bike from near the top. Apply for a parking permit a few days in advance and you’ll be given the combination to this gate, where you may park. Easy and convenient! http://www.openspace.org/visit-a-preserve/permits

Waterwheel parking

Waterwheel parking

…and a little further is the end of the public road. If you’re on a road bike this is your turnaround point….and come back and do it 4 more times in the same day, like a local endurance athlete did! http://www.jilloutside.com/2015/04/cures-for-springtime-mehs.html

End of the public road

If you’re on a mountain bike and want a nice descent through the canyon, go around the gate and head up another 15 minutes, or so, until you see the second set of towers and the vague summit of Black Mountain:

Black Mountain summit

Black Mountain summit, with the Pacific Ocean under the fog layer

Close to the actual summit

Towers close to the actual summit

When you’re ready for the descent, continue on the gravel road, with the towers on your right, and bear left at any forks in the road. When it gets really steep, you’ll be on “Indian Creek Trail” and soon making a left onto the canyon trail, where it is more gradually graded.

See that canyon ahead?

If you have a GPS device and are curious, there is a seasonal pond, just a few steps off the right side of the trail at N 37 18.779  W 122 9.675. In the spring (non-drought years) this fills with water. I’ve seen a bunch of newts lounging around here in late March or April in previous years.

Seasonal newt pond

Seasonal newt pond (dry!)

And, yes, at some point you’ll leave Palo Alto and re-enter Cupertino! (FYI: There occasional reports of radar speed traps way out here in the woods, enforcing the 15mph limit for cyclists)

Does it really matter?

Does it really matter?

There is one creek crossing, which does become an uncrossable raging torrent after major storms. Today it was a pleasant trickle, about 4 inches deep.

Dangerous during a storm

Dangerous during a storm

Eventually you’ll get back to pavement and see a few rustic homes. Below is the intersection with (crazy steep) Redwood Gulch Road. There is roadside parking here for about 4 cars if you’re interested. No parking further up the canyon.

Redwood Gulch intersection

Redwood Gulch intersection

A few more miles of peaceful pavement follows the meandering Stevens Creek to where it empties into the reservoir near the quarry.

Following the creek to the reservoir

Following the creek to the reservoir

Small side trip: Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson were killed nearby in 2008 by a Sheriff’s Deputy who fell asleep at the wheel.  If you parked on the side of the reservoir, like I did, you passed the Ghost Bike on your left and the accident site on the embankment before that on your right. Both were accomplished athletes, with Kristy having won the Hawaii Ironman in her age 25-29 group and was expected to be on the US Olympic team. http://velonews.competitor.com/2008/03/news/cyclists-are-remembered-by-friends-and-teammates_73139

Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson, 2008

Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson, 2008

The actual spot,

The actual spot

That’s it! 20 miles and ~2600 feet of elevation. My Strava track, which can be downloaded in the “tools” section, where you see the wrench, is here: https://www.strava.com/activities/313781592

Enjoy this cycling loop, or come here as a hiker to (permit only) Waterwheel Parking, Picchetti Ranch, or Redwood Gulch

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Dowdy Ranch > Walsh Trail > Pacheco Camp (Henry Coe State Park)

IMG_4124

The lesser-known Dowdy Ranch entrance to Henry Coe State Park is open seasonally to cars on weekends starting in May. Four of us enjoyed a lengthy hike on the first open weekend of 2015. (Details and location of the park entrance: http://coepark.net/pineridgeassociation/planning-your-visit/visitor-centers-and-park-entrances/dowdy-ranch-visitor-center

After driving the 8 miles of well-graded gravel from Highway 152 (Pacheco Pass), we parked the cars and were soon walking past the summit of Burra-Burra Peak.

(You can also enter the park 24/7/365 by leaving your car down by Highway 152. The gravel road is always open to hikers and cyclists. It’s about 80 minutes uphill if you’re  a reasonably strong cyclist and ALOT of fun coming back down, despite the posted 15mph speed limit! http://alpharoaming.com/2013/02/24/orestimba-corral/

(History geeks will want to know that a Civil War-era copper mine was briefly attempted at Burra Burra Peak. It was named after the Burra Burra copper mine in Tennessee that became part of the Confederacy, necessitating the Union to look for an alternate source of copper.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burra_Burra_Mine_%28Tennessee%29 )

IMG_4127

Below is a view from the backside of Burra Burra Peak, on the Center Flats Road. The chaparral-covered ridge includes (a trail I can’t figure out on the map) and the far valley includes Kaiser-Aetna Road, north towards Orestimba Corral.

IMG_4133

After a bit, we turn right onto the Walsh Trail and start down, down, down… Few hikers come this way and even fewer bicycles.

IMG_4135

Finally at the bottom, we find the creek and the Tin Cabin:

IMG_4142

Complete with two broken bedframes and signs of rodents spending some time there (i.e. “hantavirus”).

IMG_4148

As we cross the creek, the first in our group spots a turtle (not very effectively) running for cover. Just below the dry rock, notice the smaller underwater “rock” that’s shaped like a turtle!

IMG_4154

..and crossing the meadow, with the cabin and creek behind us,  ready to climb out of the canyon:

IMG_4156

We reach Pacheco Ridge Road after a very steep climb (“steep” like Steer Ridge and the Mt Sizer “shortcut”, if you “know Coe”. My Strava track shows 500 feet of climbing in 0.4 miles = ~25% grade.)

Finally we get to “Coe normal” roads, versus the “Coe steep” Walsh Trail:

IMG_4170

From Pacheco Ridge Road we see the currently-dry Pacheco Falls area.

IMG_4160

…and many scattered Mariposa Lillies prospering in the drought and poor soil

IMG_4178

The occasional shade and flatter stretches of road are welcome after the climbing we’ve done so far.

IMG_4183

Soon we see Pacheco Camp:

IMG_4189

Pacheco Camp is a maintained and padlocked building, with kitchen facilities, used for various official State Park activities. (I think…I’ve asked the question of who gets to use it and under what circumstances. I’ve never been able to get an answer of who has the keys and makes the decisions. If anyone knows, please let me know. If it’s a benefit of being a Coe volunteer in the backcountry, it may be a motivator. As a secret, it’s demotivating…)

Anyway…it’s an awesome place to visit regardless, including shade, picnic tables, pit toilets, and a reliable source of great water. The water is gravity-fed to a sink and a shower house(!) from way uphill at the Live Oak Spring. Kudos to park volunteer “Paul L” and others for their work in improving and maintaining the water sources in Coe.  http://coepark.net/pineridgeassociation/planning-your-visit/water-resources/water-conditions-springs

IMG_4190

Time to start the return trip, this time down the other side of the canyon, past the proper trail to Pacheco Falls:

IMG_4194

Here’s an older picture of Pacheco Falls, late April 2012, a few hours before sunset:

(Pacheco Falls, late April 2012)

A little further down Wagon Road we pass Wilson Tower, peeking above the trees, just to the right of center. The tower is for backcountry radio communications. There’s a great logbook near the tower, under some rocks. It was placed by geocachers, but is well known by cyclists too. Fun to read, but we didn’t stop this time:

IMG_4196

Finally we head down the Hersman Trail and soon see the buildings and picnic area at Dowdy Ranch in the distance.

IMG_4199

That’s it! About 16 miles and 3500 vertical feet. My Strava track missed the last few miles: https://www.strava.com/activities/297694932

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Jurassic Faces & Applejacks! Portola Valley > La Honda > Alpine Road Cycling Loop

IMG_4034

One of my favorite cycling loops is to park my car in Woodside or Portola Valley and do a nice counterclockwise loop over the Santa Cruz mountains! I park in either of two locations: the bottom of Windy Hill Open Space, or behind the newer location of Roberts Market in Portola Valley (Alpine Road at Portola Road). Roberts is a “mandatory” stop for an Arizona Iced tea (or a Boddington’s in a paper bag)  and one of their small pre-packaged scraps of exotic cheese when I’m done. (I’m getting ahead of myself!)

IMG_4114

A few miles of flat-to-downhill, heading NW, Portola Road takes you to the bottom of Old La Honda Road (“OLH”). OLH is quite well know by cyclists as a safe and scenic (and steep, but not “insanely steep”) route up to Skyline Blvd, as well as over the other side towards the town of La Honda.

OLH is also used as a measure of fitness in a local club’s ride classification system http://westernwheelersbicycleclub.memberlodge.com/page-1374754 (I used to be a “B” but have moved up to a “C”.) This is the beginning of OLH:

IMG_4025

Eventually you’ll climb up past some large and often interesting, homes through the redwood trees, to Skyline Blvd. Crossing over Skyline you’ll eventually break out of the redwoods down to some great coastal views as you descend. This picture actually includes the fogged-over coast in the background:

IMG_4044

It’s easy to miss the semi-famous Jurassic Faces, carved into the sandstone:

IMG_4046

Look for them on your left, as you descend past the lengthy sandstone cutaway next to the road. This photo is looking back uphill:

IMG_4048

…and this photo is that road cut from across the valley:

IMG_4050

Eventually the VERY quiet road merges with Highway 84, just before the red barn, which is now part of the (Permit only) La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve:http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_la_honda.asp

IMG_4052

Highway 84 is a major route to the coast, but it has a decent shoulder and I feel safe in the downhill direction.

Soon you’ll see the little town of La Honda. On your right will be the Fire Station, followed by a small plaza with the Post Office and Country Store. The store has great sandwiches, and you can take them across the street to Applejack’s Bar if you want!

IMG_4055

IMG_4064

Applejack’s was actually a 19th century blacksmith shop, with some sections of their wood floor being VERY old, or maybe “original”. Their weekday hours are a bit inconsistent and they don’t have a website. Quaint little place! http://www.yelp.com/biz/apple-jacks-la-honda-2

IMG_4065

Between Applejacks and the Country Store is the town’s only crosswalk. If you go uphill to the left, you can explore a maze of homes and cottages where most of the residents live.

Continuing down Highway 84, turn left after about a mile onto Pescadero Road. This is also a major route the coast and to (guess where?) “Pescadero!”.

(If you’re interested in going a bit “Further” [sic][“Are you on the bus?”] and looking for an “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”, continue down past the Pescadero Road turnoff. I’ve been told that Ken Kesey’s old place is on the left at 7940 La Honda Road)

IMG_4071

Tourists and stronger cyclists usually stay on Pescadero Road to the coast. My usual route is to bear left after about another mile onto the beginning of Alpine Road. (The “bicycles not advised” sign has been there since they “gravelled” the road last year. It’s perfectly fine now!)

IMG_4080

Quiet, peaceful redwood forest, with a creek burbling near the road.

IMG_4086

…and views of Mindego Hill from the downhill side. Mindego Hill is a landmark hill, recently added to Russian Ridge Open Space, but not yet open http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_russian_ridge.asp

IMG_4093

…and eventually an intersection to a “back entrance” to Pescadero Creek County Park (“Camp Pomponio Road” from the northeast on the map: https://parks.smcgov.org/sites/parks.smcgov.org/files/Map_from_PescaderoBrochureDec2014.pdf ):

IMG_4095

…and later on an intersection for the main entrance to Portola Redwoods State Park http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/539/files/PortolaRedwoodsSP_Web2014.pdf

IMG_4099

..and a view due east to Long Ridge OSP, just below Skyline. It’s the headwaters of Peters Creek, marked “Devils Canyon” on old USGS topo maps. (“Thank you” to my frequent hiking companion, Michael B, for identifying those cliffs!)

IMG_4098

From here, you’ll continue your uphill “grind” for another ~900 vertical feet until you reach a new parking lot on Alpine Road. There are pit toilets here, but no water. Fear not, though, because you’re less than 200 vertical feet from the top!

IMG_4107

From here, you can cross over Skyline Blvd and take (somewhat busy) Page Mill Road down. The better way (IMHO), which takes me back closer to the car, is to turn left off of Page Mill onto the now-closed Alpine Road (red diamond below). It’s open to bicycles and hikers, though it’s not paved. On my skinny tire bike, there are a few short sections that I have to walk down, and I take the gravelly turns slowly.

IMG_4108

I find it much more enjoyable than busy Page Mill. Soon enough it re-joins pavement and takes you directly back to Robert’s market in Portola Valley with almost no pedaling!

IMG_4112

That’s it! have fun! (About 30 miles and 4000 feet of climbing. Here’s the Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/296272735 )

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The Land of Medicine Buddha” & Nisene Marks State Park (Santa Cruz / Soquel)

IMG_3702There’s an interesting place, uphill from Soquel, CA, bordering the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. It’s the “Land of Medicine Buddha“! They welcome quiet and respectful visitors to wander their interesting property. You can also use it for a “secret backdoor” into Nisene Marks State Park.

They’re a Tibetan Buddhist retreat and educational center. Their website explains it better than I will attempt to do: http://dharma.landofmedicinebuddha.org/

Set your GPS for “5800 Prescott Rd, Soquel, CA” and you’ll eventually get to a small bridge and this small sign:

IMG_3681

I highly recommend parking just before the bridge, where there is room for about 6 cars. If that’s full, there’s scattered roadside parking a few hundred feet back. (There isn’t really any reason to take your car into the property. The signs and navigation are a bit tricky and I’m encouraging visitors to keep the impact low and arrive on foot!)

IMG_3692

IMG_3684

Wander around the main buildings a bit and “explore”.

IMG_3687

Turn the Prayer Wheel for peace and happiness, in the properly marked direction, of course!

IMG_3690

IMG_3693 IMG_3695

IMG_3698

There are a some signs, as well as a few roughly-drawn photocopied trail maps available. If you have an electronic toy that can download “real” maps, like Open Street Maps, it will be much more helpful…particularly if you want to wander further into the State Park.

IMG_3709

Poison Oak? Why yes! It does seem to be thriving during this severe drought. Too bad it isn’t a cash crop, like almonds or rice, that can be sold to other states and countries…

IMG_3714

A sign from a circular trail in the upper LMB property:

IMG_3722

…and one more shot: a typical trail in the Forest of Nisene Marks: old redwood stumps and newer second growth redwoods.IMG_3724

Getting there: Waze on my iPhone easily brought me the few miles uphill from Soquel, CA. Drive slowly, as the roads are a tight squeeze if someone is coming the other way.

Here is a map of the Forest of Nisene Marks (last page) http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/666/files/TheForestNiseneMarksWebBroch2012.pdf The land of Medicine Buddha is located just above the “Legend” on that map. To see the minor trails, connecting between the Nisene’s West Ridge trail and the Land of Medicine Buddha, please see, starting at the lower-center, near where it says “Yurt Village”: http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=15/37.0256/-121.9273

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Silicon Valley’s “Computer History Museum”

A little different than my usual outdoor adventure blog post, but it’s fascinating to ***me*** and it’s ***my*** blog, so there! If you’re a techie who likes history, or an aging techie who isn’t sure if seeing familiar old hardware  preserved under glass is a good thing, then read on…

Right at the SE corner of Highway 101 and Shoreline Blvd, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is the “Computer History Museum” http://www.computerhistory.org/ (Ironically, it’s located in a former Sun Microsystems or Silicon Graphics building, which is a bit of “history” itself!)

IMG_3664

Once you pay your fee to enter, look to your left before you enter the main exhibit area. You’ll see the “PDP-1 Lab” and the “IBM 1401″ Lab. Both were very “significant computing platforms” in their day, and may bring back memories of “real computers” if you’re old enough: round CRT screens, tape drives, noisy printers, punch card readers…

Here is the PDP-1 lab, circa 1959. Note the round CRT screen and the “electric typewriter” style printer:

IMG_3597

IMG_3598

Next door is the IBM 1401 room. This is what an Old School mainframe is to me, including the raised floor for wiring and cooling.

IMG_3602

IMG_3600

Moving on to the main exhibits, you’ll start with antique computing devices. (Not to be confused with “computers”, which was originally a term coined in the 1940’s for the women (predominantly) who operated the computing machinery of the day!)

IMG_3610

Some older “stuff”, including mid- to late-1970’s HP and TI calculators with newfangled LED displays, including the classic HP-41.

IMG_3611

Below is a piece of the ENIAC (Electronic Numeric Integrator and Calculator), designed to calculate ballistics tables for the Army (trajectories and targeting tables for various munitions and operating conditions)

IMG_3616

Ah yes! What “classic” computer doesn’t have a tape drive, with a Jetsons-era name on it like “Univac”?

IMG_3619

…and for those knowledgeable about WW2. here is a real “game changer” Norden Bomb Sight, suspended inside a simulated nose of an American WW2 bomber.

IMG_3624

The world’s first “disk drive”, the “Ramac 350″. It’s about the size of a washing machine and could store the equivalent of 62,000 punch cards (5 million characters!)

IMG_3627

…and below is 128K bits of LSI Bipolar memory from Fairchild, conveniently packaged in a metal can a little bigger than a loaf of bread. (My iPhone stores over a million times as much information…much of it useless!!)

IMG_3628

..and a Cray-1. Note the racks are in a circular pattern so that the longest wire is less than 3 feet. This was key to making the Cray the fastest in the world by reducing signalling delays in the wires. (I have nothing to say about the white trim on Seymour Cray’s suit)IMG_3631

Below is a tribute to the old Wagon Wheel Bar in Mountain View. where many historical conversations and business plans were drawn-up. It was torn-down in the early-90’s.IMG_3639

ROBOTS! Is that Rosie, from the Jetsons?

IMG_3643

Here’s “PONG!”, the first coin-operated video game. Designed and assembled in Silicon Valley in 1972 by Atari. It was paired with an off-the-shelf TV and placed in a cabinet. It was a huge hit at Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, where the first one was placed. (That building is now “Rooster T. Feathers”, on El Camino Real)

IMG_3649

Here’s a VERY valuable Apple 1, with Woz’s autograph in the center of the upper wood cabinet.IMG_3651

Now, here we get to my own first computer, the Commodore VIC-20 (top-left). Wow, was that cassette tape drive a frustrating device! They also have MITS Altair, Atari, Sinclair, Radio Shack, and many other early computers that were marketed directly to home users

IMG_3655

That’s it! Next time you’re in Mountain View take a look!  (Do you wonder how Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft will be represented in museums a few decades down the road? Hardware is entirely different…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Byrne-Milliron Preserve & Corralitos Sausage Co.

I recently found out about the “Byrne-Milliron Preserve”, just outside Corralitos. How could I not have known about this great place? It’s 402 acres under the ownership and care of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/category/byrne-milliron-forest/ (I found out about it via some local Geocachers http://www.geocaching.com/ when the property received it’s first caches.)

It’s a very cool place, and very dog-friendly.  Located less than 4 miles from Corralitos, when you reach the parking lot you’ll start to notice the whimsical nature of this forest.

IMG_2667Oh yeah, getting there! Go to the center of Corralitos and drive 2.7 miles on Browns Valley Road, heading east for a few blocks, then the road turns to the left (north). Look for a small sign on the left for #809 and “Roses of Yesterday & Today” and follow the paved driveway for another mile. There are no huge signs that say “Turn here for an awesome unknown preserve!”

The turnoff:IMG_2708Grab a trail map near the parking lot, or print one at home http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/lands/ByrneTrailMap_CP2.pdf. I used “Open Street Maps” on my iPhone and it worked great.

At each of several high vista points you’ll see collections of trinkets, mementos, and logbooks to write a few thoughts. This is not a “sanitized” park like you’re used to!

IMG_2673

This is “AJ’s Point of View” on the official map http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/lands/ByrneTrailMap_CP2.pdf

Bring a book, bring a camera, bring lunch…(and bring water! there’s only a Porta-potty in the parking lot)

IMG_2674The mailbox contains binoculars, and some logbooks to read and contribute to. The water is probably best left for the dogs, out of caution. (Did I mention there are water bowls for dogs “everywhere”?)

IMG_2676Until 2 months ago the caretaker was Jeff Helmer, who recently passed-away. He sounds like a great guy (not just because he had three times as many Studebakers as I do!) http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/in-memory-of-jeff-helmer/    http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/jeff-helmer/

We found Jeff’s business card in one of the trailside treasure troves.

IMG_2681A typical redwood forest scene in the lower areas of the preserve

IMG_2686And a turnoff with yet another dog bowl.

IMG_2687A few steep parts, with a rope to steady yourself.

IMG_2689…and a second major overlook area. “Eagle in Tree Vista” on the map

IMG_2698

…and the Porcupine Hollow turnoff to the “Cathedral Rest Spot”

IMG_2701

IMG_2704

Not quite as wide and groomed as most parks, but you’re not likely to get lost!

IMG_2706

It was a GREAT FIND! It’s only 402 acres, but it feels much bigger. There’s some steep climbs and quite a few trails to be explored. There were 10 cars in the parking lot when we returned at 1:00PM. I think we saw most of those groups at one point. More than half of them had happy off-leash dogs. (Bring your dog if you have one!) Take your time and enjoy the Byrne-Milliron Forest!

…and consider a visit to to Corralitos Market and Sausage Company on the way back.

A cute little country market, with a famous meat counter at the back:

IMG_2709

House-made sausages, sandwiches, and treats for your canine companion.

IMG_2711

IMG_2712

IMG_2714

I ordered a hot sausage sandwich, with a bit of sauerkraut and horseradish, plus a giant pickle. Walk across the street to the “town square” and have a little picnic.

IMG_2715

(A WW1 memorial next to the picnic tables. Donald Leon Rose, died in France in 1918)

IMG_2659

IMG_2658

…and a map of the town…

IMG_2663

That’s it! Enjoy the drive and exploring Byrne-Milliron and Corralitos

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment