Friday, August 29, 2014

Angel Island bike camping, Aug 2014

August 2014

Angel Island is right in the middle of the SF Bay and is a great day out.  If you want to stay overnight you have to camp, so we did it with our bikes. 
Angel Island is the tallest island in the bay.

 Ferries leave from all sides of the bay and it is a popular tourist destination since the bike rental companies tell everyone to do it.
There are only a couple ferries a day so we ate at the Ferry Building, but then left from Pier 39.  Had to stop and see the sea lions first.

 Also, this topographical map of the bay is on the pier.

Bye-bye to SF

On the island we found our camp site

Had to take a fire road to get there so a mountain bike or hybrid is better than a road bike.  But the views were so worth it!

We then hiked to the top of the island where you get an amazing 360 view of the bay

We used the amazing JetBoil to make some adequate dinner and had a good nights sleep.  The island gets pretty cold at night with the constant wind off the bay, but we were on the more sheltered side and did great.

Standard morning fog layer

We could have taken the tram tour or even visited some of the historic building-it is the Ellis Island of the West-but instead we sat at the dock-side cafe and ate tacos and drank Sangria.  Good times!

This was the trip where the train up was filled with Giants fans going to a game and on the way back it was filled with Giants fans just getting out of a game.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Family cabin Aug 2014

August 2014

Family time at the cabin-starts with a great view!

The kiddie pool entertained pretty much everyone

Gotta love the nekid baby photos

Thanks for filling the pool!

We had to extract this nest from the ladder.

It's the right time of year for the wild peas to bloom.

 Gotta take a trip to the soda spring for mineral bubbly water

I've never noticed the interesting roof before...

Oh that lovely mineral/sulphurous/bubbly water.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Orchids and bromeliads, awesome plants on an Amazon Cruise

Amazon Cruise, June 2014

The most surprising find to me were the orchids.

I knew that orchids come from the jungle...but yeah, didn't expect we would actually see them. In the rainy season they are easier to spot. This one above was not too hard.

But would you have noticed this one

from back here?

which really you have to spot from back here!  Our crew were great-I am always so impressed with naturalists-they have to be able to spot the interesting thing in a sea of details. Then be able to point it out to the tourists (see the branch going left about half way up the tree?  Now look out at the end of the branch and up a little....)

huh, in there is the purple orchid.

Yup, that's a bird nest.  Complete with eggs! (yes, not a plant, but we saw it on the same trip with the orchids...)

This nut is a relative of brazil nuts, though these are not edible, but it is fun to pull out the parts like a puzzle and put back together. 

when the nut has fallen out.  These are one of the only trees that can handle being under water for months at a time so they are plentiful on the banks.

Bromeliads grow opportunistically in crevices of trees

They are so funky looking I just kept snapping photos

Crazy busy flowers

Did I mention it was the rainy season?

Our crew also found the giant water lilies that are famous here in the Amazon.  They are harder to find in the rainy season because the stem is anchored in the mud and only goes about 6 ft up.  The flowers start white, capture insects, turn pink, and die after 3 days

All the near ones are disintegrating while the good looking ones are in the back.  Here is a better picture from our previous cruise.

And don't forget the awesome bananas!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Going up stream in the rainy season, Amazon Cruise

Amazon Cruise, June 2014
During the World Cup trip we took an Amazon cruise. 
 This was our boat, the Iracema, named for an aunt of the family who owns/runs the cruises.  I booked through Rainforest Cruises, who I had used before and were excellent once again (quick response time, good understanding of what I was looking for and just overall helpful).  The cruise was run by Amazonia Expeditions, and was simply delightful.

These were the passengers and crew.  So nice to be in a small group-it feels more relaxed somehow. Mo Jr. is relaxing on the ground.  He was our main everything-waking us up before the sunrise, going out on the canoe trips to point out the wildlife and arranging everything we did.  He has a very good sense of humor and when we met Mo Sr. it became clear what that come from!  We could not have had a nicer group leading us around.

We got on in the late afternoon and had a lovely can see I forgot to grab the camera earlier...

Our first day trip was an overall intro the Amazon during the wet season.  It was strangely foggy so we didn't get a sunrise.  

I don't think I've ever been on the water in such fog.  You think it is my bad photography skills...but it was really like this!

It is thinner than what we get in the San Francisco area, but extra spooky.  The water is so calm the reflection is spooky too.

It lightened a little after breakfast

and we got into canoes to go up river.

It is hard to grasp, but because this is the wet season, we are paddling around at the TOP of the forest.
Imagine the 30-40 ft of tree that is underneath.

And not just in this one place, but all around.  And upstream and downstream.  For thousands of miles.  It's crazy how much water there is!

as you travel up stream

more of the forest reveals itself

until it feels more like a stream

where you are finally near 'the ground'.  Of course that is nuts since there is 'ground' at the bottom of the ocean.  But the Amazon river just goes up and down and there is no single ground level, it all depends and where and WHEN you are.

We parked the boats at a little waterfall and got out into the jungle!
The inches of leaf litter make the ground all spongy

 Now this feels like the jungle-no trails mean you have to meander through the thinner spots.

you wouldn't have to go far to get lost.

As long as you find your way back to the stream

Loved just standing at the top of the waterfall and looking around.