Having had a post with a train in it, I was reminded that I had actually photographed some trains a while back and they had never made it on to the blog. It was actually a work related reason I was out there. I was waiting for the delivery of a pair of our locos (a delivery that was o late it was after the light had gone) but, since we often need imagery for proposals, I thought it would be good to get some new shots.
The location is up in Pinole. The trains are running along the shore of the bay so it provides a quite photogenic location. A number of Amtrak California trains came through. Since these trains are part of my work, I found myself checking out what was in each train and what condition it was in. I guess I have been doing this for too long! Anyway, here are some train pictures.
Being lucky is so cool. I don’t know how many excellent opportunities I have missed without realizing it (that’s the benefit of not realizing it), but I have been fortunate to stumble into some good stuff. We were driving down towards Hilo when we came to an overlook above a bay. We pulled over and walked up to the edge to see a great view down into a lovely looking bay. The waves were crashing in from the ocean and the place looked cool. We were so close to moving on after a few minutes.
Just before we turned to go, we saw a couple of people down on a headland in the bay. We weren’t in a hurry so we figured we would head down the trail and see what was there. The area was butted up against a botanic garden which we weren’t planning on visiting so we knew we wouldn’t go far. As we got to the bottom of the trail, we came to an entrance to the garden with a security guard sitting watch over who came through. Then we saw a small side track alongside the fence heading to the water. A short excursion brought us to a beach. The waves were crashing up on the shore by our feet and everything was covered over with a dense canopy of trees. A little climb took me out onto a spur of rock with the waves crashing either side. A rocky cliff face was on one side and the waves were striking it violently.
There was a small blowhole in the rock near where I stood. As the waves came in just right, the water would fire out of the hole. Other times nothing would happen or there would be a small gurgle. I talked to a couple of guys out there who obviously knew the place well. They pointed out how far out you could go without getting completely drenched by the waves. More importantly, it looked like the sort of place that you could get caught out by a wave easily. If you went into the water, I suspect it could have ended badly.
Forget that though. The place was gorgeous. When the guys left, we were the only ones there. The waves were pounding the shore, the scenery was stunning and you felt like you were the only person in the world who knew it was there. It was hard to break away. We stood there for ages. Sometimes the waves would come that bit further up the beach than normal and they would wash over my feet. No point in objecting. Just stand there and enjoy it. Of course, we had to leave eventually. Those visiting the botanic garden had a promontory a short distance away but they were really not in a good position to enjoy the experience because they were on one of the nicer parts. We met a couple coming down the trail as we left. They looked ready to turn back and had not seen where we had gone. We made sure to explain where they needed to go. I hope they liked it.
Take a walk from English Camp on San Juan Island and you are quickly down by the water. One of the trails leads to a lovely little bay called Grandma’s Cove. I don’t know who Grandma was or even whose grandma she was. Why the cove was hers is a mystery to me too. However, she obviously had pretty good taste because it is an idyllic spot. Almost no one was there when I visited. Unfortunately, a couple of guys were down on the beach and were interested in making art in the sand. This disrupted my vision of the shots a touch but, when you are somewhere so lovely, it is hard to be upset about anything for long.
San Francisco Bay is hugely popular with birds. One place that they like a lot is the area near to the airport. Birds and planes do not normally mix well but, despite the large numbers of each, they seem to coexist here okay. As the tide goes out, the mudflats that are exposed are a great feeding ground for the birds. They cover all sizes too.
At the top end of the size range are the pelicans. They like to feed in the shallows when the fish are relatively easy pickings. They do stay away from the runways so don’t seem to be a problem (although a pelican would certainly not be a good thing for an airliner). The smaller birds are less of a threat individually but they tend to flock in huge numbers.
I saw a bunch of them flying not too far from the 01 runways. Again, they stay over the mudflats so don’t present a problem. In the opposite direction, there were some rather large flocks circling over the water. While not as large as murmurations of starlings, they were some pretty big groups. They also would move in a similar way with the whole thing looking very fluid from a distance.
Head southeast from San Jose and the terrain heads sharply up. Mount Hamilton sits ahead of you and, if you want to take the 18 mile trip up the mountain, you will arrive at the Lick Observatory. Operated by the University of California, there are many different telescopes in use. Visitors are welcome to see two of the telescopes.
At one time, the top of the mountain was home to quite a community including a school for the children of the staff. However, as the observations are now able to be made and controlled remotely, there is no need for the science teams to live up on the mountain. They make trips up for initial testing of instruments when they can stay in dormitories. However, once things are up and running, they can head back down the mountain. Consequently, the residents are now the maintenance and engineering staff. This means there is a far smaller number of people up on the summit most of the time.
The view from the summit is very cool. We had a bit of haze in the air which limited things a little but the view down to San Jose and off to the Bay is impressive. It would have been nice to have been up there a day or so before when the skies were very clear. However, they also get some snow up there so it might have been a trickier drive up.
One evening on Coronado I wanted to get some shots of the San Diego skyline when it was illuminated. As I was walking along the water, a group of people came paddle boarding by in the dark. With the water calm and nothing much moving in the bay, it seemed like a pretty cool thing to be doing just gliding through at your own pace watching the city drift by. Hope that they had a good time!
There weren’t just sailing ships along the harbor front. A couple of submarines were also there. One was an old Russian sub while the other was far smaller but was a research submarine. The Russian sub is a Foxtrot class diesel-electric sub and it is moored a further out on a pier away from the shore. The USS Dolphin was a test and research sub for the US Navy and was involved in much deep diving research and test programs to support the fleet subs. She has a very simple hull shape compared to operational subs. She was only retired in the last ten years and was the longest serving sub in the Navy.
Alongside the clipper on the waterfront in San Diego is an even old sailing ship. This had the look more of a frigate from the times of Nelson. The shape of the hull is broad to provide a platform for the men and weapons and the gun ports on the side allowed the cannons to fire at any enemy. The boat looked exactly as you would expect for that vintage and, in keeping with the fashion of the day, an intricately carved figurehead was mounted on the bow.
Having grown up on the south coast of the UK, ships of this type were not unknown. HMS Victory was a ship I visited on a number of occasions and it was a big ship compared to this one but the lines are unmistakably similar. The idea of traveling around the world in something like this is fascinating (and terrifying) to me. Doing that and then getting shot at by some pretty unpleasant weaponry with access to minimal medical help if you got hurt is even more scary!
A long weekend away was on the cards so we decided to head down the coast to San Diego. Just over an hour on the plane and you are there so it is a pretty easy trip for us to do. San Diego is a city with a lot of things to offer so you won’t be surprised to see a bunch of different posts showing up in the coming days that are from there. Far too much to put into one or even a couple of posts.
One afternoon we had a bit of spare time between things we had planned so we took a walk along the waterfront. This is an area designed to appeal to tourists (which, after all, we were) and it has a number of attractions playing on San Diego’s nautical heritage. One that caught Nancy’s attention was an old clipper style of ship. These were the speed demons of their age moving goods around the globe (at a pace that would now be considered impossibly slow). They were big square riggers and it was the rigging that was what impressed Nancy. The complexity of the ropes is quite something. In order to hold the high loads using the ropes of the era, they are multipled up on a pulley type of arrangement to provide the strength required. From a distance they look impossibly complex and even up close, they are still something to see.