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Keeping the Edge – Night Paddleboarding with Jeff Denholm

I'm at Verve Coffee on 41st Street in Santa Cruz, very cool place. Serious barista-meisters, crema perfecta, good wi-fi. A big tan guy came in a few minutes ago, broad shoulders, deep chest, and missing an arm. He sat with a friend next to me and he started talking about paddling. Pretty soon we're talking. He has a 16' custom Joe bark board, I have a 12 footer…Turns out he's sponsored by Patagonia, among others. He competes in paddle races and surfs. Man, what an inspiration! He just left. I looked him up and read this:

"I began paddleboarding in order to keep the edge. Having only one arm I am forced to stay as sharp as a tack in order to simply catch the waves I seek to ride. Growing up in Maine where the sun sets early in winter, our prime wave season, I was forced to embrace the night in my mission to stay fit, to ride waves. Through necessity I was awakened to another level of joy from the paddling experience.…"

Trip down coast to Santa Cruz

Got up at 4:30 yesterday AM and drove down Hwy 1 along the coast to Santa Cruz  to see grandson Maceo and his parents and some old surfing friends. Was deeply foggy and actually raining in Pacifica. I love this drive, been doing it since I was 18, mothership (San Francisco) to beach fun (Santa Cruz). Artichoke, brussels sprouts, strawberry fields alongside the ocean. Down Swift St., past Haut's shop, West Cliff Drive to Steamer Lane. (Don't get me started on the old days (50s) in Santa Cruz…sniffle, sniffle…)

A few photos: Swanton Berry Farm, I highly recommend stopping there. Union workers, organic strawberries (and shortcake), good coffee, vintage photos of the area 100 years ago. Totally good place.
A little further south, I spotted this hidden road down to beach. Mental note to go down it on a future trip, maybe taking surf matt and fins…

Farm buildings: it must be the 3rd or 4th time I've shot pics of this little barn that looks like it's floating. Farmer's architectural zinger. This time I shot other buildings as well. 

Fresh salmon and road-kill venison ribs

The salmon are back, not like in the past, but it's an encouraging sign for this magical species. Billy brought us a slab, this is half of it.  We had it with broccoli from the garden (hey, broccoli is entirely different when it's hours, rather than days, old), Lundberg Sacramento Valley short grain brown rice, such a meal. When we have something so simple and so delicious I think the foodies are missing the point. Fresh pure organic food doesn't need sauces and chefly acrobatics. The flavors are there. Add a good red California wine (Chasing Lions, as of this week) and umph!

And in the pan are baby (road-kill) venison ribs marinating in a little olive oil, soy sauce, fresh ginger and garlic, a few dashes of Vietnamese hot sauce. A message to you brothers and sisters, you who are into wild flavors in meat: you know you can't buy anything like the meat of a wild animal. If you get an animal recently hit by a car, it's win-win-win: meat-skin-skeleton. It has all kinds of flavors you don't get from domestic human-fed animals. I mean, people who eat hot dogs re going, about my road-kill meals: Eeeeuw! Well, Eeeeuw back. Matter of perspective fer shure. Jeez, did I just get into a sermon here?

"…so much beauty in the world…"

For some reason, whenever I see something in the natural world that just knocks me out, I think of Ricky, the kid in American Beauty with the video camera, who said:

"…when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude…"

I know I've posted this before, but darnnit it's good.

I just walk up to this flower and look what it's doing.

The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread

Article in NY Times Opinion section from Amsterdam, by Russell Shorto, 31 July 2011, Photo by Robin Utrecht/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Sent us by Maeve Burke:

"AS an American who has been living here for several years, I am struck, every time I go home, by the way American cities remain manacled to the car. While Europe is dealing with congestion and greenhouse gas buildup by turning urban centers into pedestrian zones and finding innovative ways to combine driving with public transportation, many American cities are carving out more parking spaces. It’s all the more bewildering because America’s collapsing infrastructure would seem to cry out for new solutions.…"

Sailboat from New Zealand in our bay

Someone told me that it just arrived, is 60'long,  and will now sail on into San Francisco.

A few days last week…

After being thwarted in our canyon descent, Tomas and I drove into the hills to an isolated dammed-up pond. A week before I'd made a path through the cattails to the water. (I waded out and when it got too deep, just lay on the cattails and they bent over to make a path.) We went swimming, it was very beautiful, pond ringed by cattails, swallows dipping to nab water-skimming insects… At left, I'm coming back in; that's my bald head a little above the middle, pulling myself along. I felt like a muskrat.

Gathered nori fresh off rocks at low tide. Washed it, dried it, now to roast it. Can't believe I haven't done this before. Essence of the sea, you know it's good for you.

Two photos from the beach, below the turkey buzzard posing artistically, such a choice of perch, such style! When still, these guys aren't handsome devils like the hawks, but when airborne, they're magnificent, floating on air currents, tuning direction by adjusting wing ailerons, soaring, floating…A few years ago I had a series of dreams where I was flying. I wasn't just up in the air, I had to take off. I'd run along, flapping my arms and pretty soon I'd be airborne. It really felt, well…real. Still gives me a thrill to remember how it felt to fly.

Below a dead pelican. Another magnificent bird. Surfers all have watched them skimming waves, seemingly never flapping wings, just gliding along on the wave updraft, in group formation. I'm gonna leave this on the (remote) beach for another few months, so all the flesh is gone, and I'll take the head and bleach it out for my collection of bird and mammal skulls.

Two garden pics last week

Unsuccessful canyon descent

I talked one of my adventurer friends, Tomas, into exploring a coastal canyon with me last week, said canyon with a full creek, descending to the ocean and having, at one point a 200' steep drop and waterfall to the creek bed below. Tomas is a rock climber and brought his climbing rope. We walked down the fern-filled deep canyon until we got to the cliff. I showed him where I wanted to tie the rope (to a metal post on an old concrete dam) and he said, "No way!" Everything was wrong. You need 3 points of attachment, he said, plus if we tied up to the dam, line-of-sight gravity would not allow a smooth descent down the side (to the left in below photo), but would rather pull the climber back over into the waterfall, and who knows what would happen then. It's not the first time in my life I've been saved by friends from doing something dumb.

Cave house in Canary Islands

Hello Lloyd,

For my vacation I was at the island of La Palma (Canary Island).
Somewhere in the north west, near the ocean, there were lots of small caves there.
Several were used as storage place. The rock is soft, and most of them are additionally excavated.
I also saw this one. It looks like a small home.
The door and windows were shut, so I could not look inside.

Looking forward to your new book,

Greetings, Klaas Verzijl.
Date: Sun, 31 Jul 2011 17:53:40 -0700

Little girl and Home Work

Just ran across this photo out in the web-o-spehere. The caption reads: "And the latest addition to my book collection is my fav Lloyd Kahn and his book “Home Work”. It is another very inspiring book!"

About the blog: "Hello my name is Leanne and I’m a part time stay at home mom of my two sweet daughters, Chloe and Caitin,  and we just so happen to live on beautiful Vancouver Island!  My hardworking husband’s name is Brian and we’ve been together for half of our lives; he’s not so crazy about the blogging thing.  We have an extreme love for nature and relish being in the outdoors.  We enjoy gardening and pretending that our backyard is a little farm, baking vegan goodies for my daughter who has many food allergies, and crafting and spending countless hours at the kitchen table doing things.…"