Consumnes River Preserve: Birds and Sunsets – A Photographer’s Dream!

Located 30 miles south of the city of Sacramento (and just north of the San Joaquin County line), the Consumnes River Preserve is part of a vast network of waterways in the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta … and one of my favorite local venues for watching and photographing birds. Anything Is Possible Travel - Consumnes River Preserve Continue reading

Let’s Go to the San Diego Zoo!

My granddaughter was born in San Diego County, and although she has not lived there for 16 years, it was Jen’s wish to celebrate her 18th birthday in the city of her birth.  So the family gathered to spend a week together, and of course a trip to the San Diego Zoo was on the agenda! Anything Is Possible Travel - Let's Go to the San Diego Zoo! Continue reading

Fort Ord Dunes State Beach

Images by RJM

Entrance to the State Park

Carrieanna and I recently visited Fort Ord Dunes State Beach, where we enjoyed the accessible boardwalk and the view across the bay to Monterey.

Images by RJM

View of Monterey (and the steep streets leading to the Presidio) from Fort Ord Dunes State Park

This State Park was created in 2009, and encompasses 4 miles of coastline along the Monterey Bay, including the now-closed Fort Ord, a former U.S. Army post. Continue reading

MSQLP Field Trip to Point Lobos

The following is  guest post from our friend, Tammy Jennings, a Board Member of the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life Project (MSQLP), a gifted writer and wonderful photographer!

(She’s the pretty blonde on the left in the first photo; all other photos were taken by her.)

My first thought was…WOW!  My second thought was…thank you, thank you, thank you volunteers, Conservation Corps, and Pt. Lobos staff for making the handicap accessible trails!  I thought I’d never be able to experience the wonder and awe of Pt. Lobos again.  But now we all can!  I had an unforgettable time.  Continue reading

Come visit Point Lobos!

During my recent trip to the Monterey / Carmel (California) area, Carrieanna and I visited with the docents, volunteers and other enthusiastic members of the team at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos Docent coordinator, volunteers and enthusiastic supporters

They were excited to show us this newly-created slideshow about Easy Access Point Lobos, set to the tune of “Sail Into the Sun” by Gentlemen Hall.

Check it out: http://youtu.be/o5gkMiXeCSQ

(And if that doesn’t inspire you to plan a trip to Point Lobos, I don’t know what will!) Continue reading

Apple Pie, et cetera

Although autumnal weather has not yet arrived in Sacramento – it’s been in the upper 70s / low 80s this first week of November – it’s a Hess pre-holiday tradition to drive to Apple Hill and purchase a buttermilk apple pie for Thanksgiving. So Carrieanna and I headed for the hills on Monday.

Our first stop was Abel’s Apple Acres, a four generation family ranch which includes a bake shop, candy counter, apple pantry, gift store and picnic areas.

Continue reading

I Have Never, Ever Seen This View Before ….

Point Lobos State Reserve, Bird Island Trail

Those were Carrieanna’s words, as we reached the first bend of the Bird Island Trail at Point Lobos.

September 8th is a day of personal remembrance for Carrieanna and me, and we chose to spend the day at Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel, California. She had learned that there was a newly-opened accessible trail, and we wanted to check it out. Continue reading

California State Fair: FUN that Moves You!

Nothing says “State Fair” like the smell of hay and fresh manure …

Unless it’s the sound of carnies trying to entice you to take a ride …

Or the promise of deep-fried … anything!

And, of course, if you’re in Sacramento in July, and the temperature consistently hovers around 100 degrees, it must be time for the California State Fair!

(Lego Bear, built by fine artist Nathan Sawaya; 40,000 pieces, took 80 hours to construct. Previously displayed at the California State Fair in 2007)

I have lived in Sacramento since 1988, and have attended the State Fair nearly every year since moving here. It’s one of the highlights of my summer.

While many people go for the food or the rides, my favorite fair activities include visiting the Livestock Pavilion and Nursery,

admiring the quilts

and the Fine Arts,

(“Cupcakes” by Robyn Slakey)

watching hypnotist Suzy Haner and other shows at the Expo Center,

and visiting the Floriculture exhibit — which included some colorful and exotic birds this year!

When my children were younger, we would often team up with another single-parent family and attend the Fair together. The kids would head for the Magical Midway rides, the parents would visit the County Exhibits, the Shopper’s Expo, and the Wine Garden!

Similarly, Carrieanna and her parents would visit the Fair annually “from gates-open to gates-closed.” Their Fair experience was a little different from mine in that they included a day pass to the Raging Waters water park, taking time throughout the day to swim, enjoy the water features and cool off, and then returning to the Fair exhibits.

In recent years, however, Carrieanna has been unable to attend the State Fair.

Although the grounds are accessible

and have many convenient restrooms – often an important consideration for wheelchair users – the hot Sacramento weather keeps Carrieanna from attending, as heat exacerbates the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

Instead, she “visits” the Fair vicariously through my photos.

So here we go ….

In The Farm area, the aisles are wide — but not shaded — and the plants are often huge!

This sunflower has some seeds missing — snacking birds, perhaps?

Visitors to the Farm were offered a refreshing slice of watermelon. Yum!

Next door is the Forest Center, with a cool path leading to an information center where visitors are offered a redwood seedling.

I was aware of many wheelchair users throughout the day. This woman, Sherry, lost her foot and parts of her fingers due to a disease. She told me that when she gets her prosthesis, she plans to do volunteer work to show amputees that life goes on. (I admire her spirit, and I wish her much success.)

I first noticed the Floriculture area and the Birds in Paradise exhibit from above. Naturally, I had to get a closer look at the birds, including these two colorful macaws!

Although I skipped the Shopper’s Expo, I did spend a few minutes in the Counties Exhibit and, in particular, enjoyed watching “Spirit,”

a bald eagle who lost part of her wing and, therefore, is unable to fly. Spirit is part of the “Wet ‘n’ Wild California” exhibit created by two state agencies (the Dept. of Water Resources and the Fish and Game Dept.) to educate the public about native animals and how water impacts their habitats.

I then headed over to the Exposition Center, where I especially enjoyed watching the grace and balance of The Stilt Circus

as well as the stroll down memory lane in Toytopia 2.0

Building with Lincoln Logs (fun for all ages!)

Cabbage Patch Doll, My Pretty Pony, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (“turtles on a half shell; turtle power!”)

And larger-than-life Transformers!

I enjoyed watching the dance and tumbling exhibition on Center Stage – especially since a friend’s daughter was one of the cartwheeling participants!

And then my tired feet informed me it was time to go home.

Another fun year at the California State Fair!

(“FUN That Moves You” is the Fair’s theme this year.)

Chips and Salsa – and More – for a Good Cause!

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Mexican food!

In fact, if I were on death row – Heaven forbid! – and had to choose my “last meal,” it would be nachos!

(My mother was born in Chuichupa, Chihuahua, Mexico; perhaps that’s why?!)

Anyhow, set a bowl of chips and salsa within my reach and it will soon become an empty bowl. So when Carrieanna told me of a fundraiser for MSQLP, to be held at Jose’s Mexican Bar and Grill in Monterey, I quickly said “Yes; I’ll be there!”

I am always happy to support the MS Quality of Life Project. MSQLP provides tangible services, like “sponsoring” — translation: “paying for” — swimming (a very helpful therapy for people with MS) at the Monterey Sports Center, as well as emotional and moral service, advocating for and educating individuals with Multiple Sclerosis,  with the goal that they enjoy a good quality of life.

Andrea Dowdall, MSW MEd and Board President, and her staff – most of whom are volunteers – work very hard to make life a little bit easier for the local MS population.* And they do it with grace, sincerity and big smiles!

On a more personal level, MSQLP has always been very supportive of Carrieanna, especially in recent years, in her schoolwork and the challenges she has met and conquered along the way.

And Carrieanna is a great support to MSQLP. She currently serves on the MSQLP Board of Directors and she is greatly appreciated!

Tammy Jennings, another MSQLP Board member, arranged for Jose’s  to donate 15% of all transactions from 3 until 11 p.m. on Monday, June 11th.

Jose’s is an easy walk and roll from Carrieanna’s house. For drivers, there’s a parking garage across the street, as well as plenty of metered parking.

We strolled in at 6:30 p.m., and the place was already packed with many MSQLP recipients and their families, as well as other diners.

After many friends greeted Carrieanna, we went out to the back patio to chat while waiting for a table to become available.

Overlooking the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, the patio was a lovely, quiet place to relax and enjoy the evening until the cooler weather, and a large empty table, nudged us inside.

As we were seated, the last of three musicians, Juan Sanchez, began playing his guitar and singing Spanish songs. His performance was great, and the crowd praised him frequently with their applause!

With margaritas and aqua fresca aloft, we toasted the success of this fundraiser.

Relaxing with chips, hot salsa and our beverages, we pondered the menu. There were so many tempting options; we finally decided on a vegetarian tostada (for me) and the taco and enchilada plate for Carrieanna.

The food was delicious, with ample portions. Of note: The refried beans are cooked with oil rather than lard. (Vegetarian-friendly AND tasty!)

The flan must have been delicious as well, because it was gone by the time we inquired at 8:00 p.m. Another time ….

We asked our waitress if Jose’s was always so busy on a Monday night, and she said “No.” The large crowd kept the staff very busy, but they were always pleasant and friendly.

During the evening many people asked if they could make a cash donation to MSQLP and, of course, that answer is a grateful “yes!”  In fact, you can donate online by going here and clicking on “Donate” button on the lower left-hand side of the page.

Thank you!

*MSQLP serves Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties.

(MSQLP also has an online newsletter. The May 2007 edition is all about travel; I’ll be referencing it in a future blog post.)