Friday, September 26, 2008

Adios, Oakland

Tomorrow we plan to leave Oakland, where we have been tied up for a few weeks, within sight of the very impressive shipping facilities pictured above. The Panamax (meaning ships that are too large to transit the Panama Canal, and mainly serving the trade between China and the US) port of Oakland is a tiny piece of the rich stew that is Oakland. While we have been tied up at the Jack London Square, we have enjoyed great farmer's markets, the odd mix that is Old Oakland, the ferry service to San Francisco, the haunting sound of Amtrak trains passing by just a block away, and impeccable marina facilities, including high speed internet. This last has been a mixed blessing, because we have been able to spend hours reading online and learning more than we ever knew we wanted to know about the financial markets in the US and worldwide.
But, still, we have to leave because we are in danger of loosing our sea legs. While moored here, we have rented cars, spent days at a time off the boat with treasured old friends, and soaked ourselves in the pleasures of city life. The particular combination of perfect California Indian Summer, great food and wine, and deep connections to people and places is like an opiate. We can tell we are straying from our purpose, which is to make progress toward the south. So adios to Oakland and our Bay Area connections.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Different Perspective

We sailed into San Francisco yesterday morning, passing the Marin headlands and then through the Golden Gate and under the bridge. It was a gray, overcast morning, and the tides and winds were mild and in our favor. Even so, it was exciting to pass through this rugged and much loved gateway.

Arriving from the sea provided a new perspective on places along the shores familiar to us from when we lived here thirty-five years ago. In fact, in thinking about it, we couldn’t figure out which element provided the greatest change in perception – the unlikely, low-angle, watery view that accompanies an approach by the sea, or the changes in the way we see things now that we are in our sixties as opposed to then, when we felt so very sophisticated at twenty five.
Leaving philosophy aside for the moment, we tied up the boat in Sausalito, went to the movies and ate sushi for dinner

Monday, September 08, 2008

Purple Haze

We were in Eureka for more than a week, and came to appreciate the special qualities of life in Humboldt County. It first struck us when we went to the farmer's market and discovered beautiful produce, much of it multicolored: kaleidoscopic carrots, multicolored cauliflower, poly chrome peppers. The Humboldt creamery is well known for its Purple Haze goat cheese.
There is definitely a thriving agricultural scene here and many small farming operations. We understood this better when we came upon an article in a recent New Yorker about California's medical marijuana law, which can make growing the weed legal under certain circumstances. This accounts for the half dozen thriving storefronts in Eureka advertising agricultural equipment and plant nutrients. There was a palpable aging hippie vibe, as if many people ended up here, a sort of Hotel California place.
For a few days, when the weather refused to change, we feared that we, too, would end up in Eureka forever, but the winds and waves finally diminished, and we are now anchored in Drakes Bay, just inside Point Reyes, and will head into San Francisco tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Humboldt Bay

We have been at the dock in Eureka for a week, exploring Humboldt Bay by kayak and on land. Humboldt Bay is the second largest bay on the California coast, and resembles San Francisco Bay in that it has northern and southern arms. Eureka is in the north arm, a mixture of industry, shallow mud flats, and sloughs and channels. Kayaking early in the morning, before the pesky wind develops, we have explored the nearby islands, and seen dozens of water birds. We took advantage of a rental car to get to the south slough, much of which is a wildlife preserve, and found more birds, and more varied wetlands and salt marshes.
We owe our stay in Eureka to a weather pattern of very high winds each day, and resulting high seas. Even the local fishermen are staying at the dock. We are secretly pleased that we have had this opportunity to explore.