Showing posts with label California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Visit to Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: A Photo Review

Up the Long Road to the Reagan Library at the Top

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
When we visited in June 2011, the library grounds were full of flowers. 


We visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, as part of our 47th Wedding Anniversary celebration.  The library is easy to access, since it's in a part of California that so far does not have the traffic problems of larger cities. You can find library hours and directions here. The driveway was long and curvy as it climbed to the library buildings at the top. This is what we saw when we got there.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review

The view below shows the other side of the entrance.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review

On the way up we passed this picnic area just before we got to the buildings. If you look toward the back of the photo below you will see part of the enormous parking lot. Parking is free, but some spaces require a long walk up to the building.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Picnic Area at Reagan Library


The Library Entrance through the Courtyard


This is the way to enter the courtyard that leads to the main entrance. You pass through the shadow into the light, where you see the fountain in the courtyard.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Through the Shadows and into the Bright Courtyard


Here is a better look at the fountain. You can pick up this view at Zazzle as a postcard, a puzzle, blank greeting card, magnet, or beverage coaster set.  I show it here as a puzzle. You can click the image if you want to purchase it or see the other products.

As you approach the door, this statue of Ronald Reagan himself greets you.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Ronald Reagan Statue


Once inside the door, you can pay for your admission and proceed to the exhibits. There is an order to it. I went accidentally the wrong way, so I didn't see the displays in the order I should have. But it was still a  wonderful walk through Reagan's life - personal, professional, and political. (Note: The docents were wonderfully helpful at getting me back to where I took the wrong turn.)

Ronald Reagan's Early Years


The library's archives reveal that Ronald Reagan grew up in a poor family. He just didn't realize it at the time. His father was a shoe salesman and the family didn't own a home. When young Ronald was 14 he got his first job - digging ditches. Later he worked as a lifeguard during the summers. He saved his money toward tuition to supplement his college scholarship for Eureka College.

Reagan was raised in Dixon, Illinois, and his mother was a devout Christian and a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.) His father was Catholic. Nelle Reagan was known in her church as a prayer warrior. She maintained her ties to the Dixon church even after she moved to California. Her Bible is on display at the Reagan Library, along with many family photos and other family possessions in the exhibit on Reagan's early life.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Nelle Reagan's Bible


The Air Force One Pavilion

I think the most impressive exhibit was the Air Force One Pavilion. I was overwhelmed by the spaciousness of it when I walked in. Whereas most of the exhibits were enclosed by walls on both sides as you walked the path between them, the Pavilion displaying all the means of presidential transport was wide open and multistoried. Its glass outside walls allowed one to survey the surrounding valley as far as the eye could see. As you look at the photos of Air Force and Marine One, and gauge their size, you realize just how big this pavilion is to house it all. The library makes some space in the Pavilion available for public events. 

Maine One

The photo below of Marine One shows you how large it is in comparison to the tables you see in the background that are often used at events. 

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Marine One


Below is a closer view of the front of the Marine One helicopter. 


Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Another View of Marine One


Air Force One

Those of us who have only taken to the air in commercial planes can easily be impressed when we board Air Force One and see what those fly on private or special government planes are treated to. Air Force One is a flying office, command center, and a place to entertain guests and the press corps. Library visitors not only tour Air Force One, but they can also get their pictures taken as they exit. One cannot take pictures aboard the plane legally without official permission. The exterior is impressive enough!

Here's the front of Air Force One

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Front of Air Force One


Below is the tail section of the jet that carried President Reagan and all who traveled with him. I took the photos from the second level of the Pavilion. At the back on the lower level you can see the mural depicting all the air transportation presidents have used. 

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Tail of Air Force One


I have included this official video  from the library to give you a better view of the Pavilion. It takes a video to do it justice, but you really can't take it all in unless you actually visit. Honestly, it is truly awesome. 



The Motorcade

The Pavilion also houses the land vehicles the President and those that protected him rode in.  You will find President Reagan's 1984 Cadillac limousine and a "follow-up" or "chase" vehicle -- a 1986 Chevrolet Suburban. That vehicle handles on-site communications and transport for the agents protecting the President. I had not realized that when the Presidents travel outside the country, these secure vehicles are transported by air to wherever the President will be .  Both vehicles are in the photo below. Please click to see a larger view.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Part of the Presidential Motorcade


I just had to add this photo with the limo's Gipper license plate. They sure keep the limousine shiny. It might as well be a mirror.

The "Gipper" License Plate



The Berlin Wall


Perhaps some best remember Ronald Reagan for his appeal in a speech: "Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  As we know, the wall finally did come down. One of the displays that really hit me was the reconstruction of part of the Berlin Wall. Here is one view of it. The hole is there for children to crawl through to explore.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Berlin Wall Exhibit


Here's a genuine piece of the wall that is displayed outside of the buildings so you can see both sides.

This is the drab side that would have faced inside the wall.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Genuine Berlin Wall Fragment


This is the other side, facing outside, where people drew pictures and wrote messages. I believe this part is particularly beautiful.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
The More Artistic Side of the Berlin Wall Fragment


 I made of two different views of this Berlin Wall panel as postcards . They are for sale in my Zazzle store, Barb's California Card and Gift Gallery.



Here is Reagan's famous "Tear down this wall" speech.




Last Photos


These photos didn't fit under the headings above. One exhibit reflects Reagan's love for horses. I'm not sure if it depicts his favorite horse, El Alamein, or not. I read that El Alamein was buried on Reagan's Santa Barbara Ranch. On the wall around this exhibit there is a life-size photo of Reagan riding his horse. That is not visible in this photo.

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with Me: A Photo Review
Reagan loved his horses. 


A fitting image to complete this post is the final resting place of Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004. The lettering on the monument is too light to read in the photo, but this is what it says:

"I know in my heart that man is good
That what is right will always eventually triumph
And there is purpose and worth to each and every life"
The poster below and a postcard with the same image are in my Zazzle store.

 I hope you have enjoyed this mini-tour of the Ronald Reagan Library. If you ever get the chance, I hope you will go see it. Some of the exhibits I didn't have room to mention here are very moving. There is a video of the attempted assassination, and other videos reveal how much Nancy and the President loved each other. The final one left me in tears. I hadn't thought to bring tissues, but a docent was handing them out after I finished watching that video.

Many exhibits deal with Reagan's relationships with the leaders of other nations. You will also see a full-size replica of the Oval Office with Reagan's desk. You can even get your picture taken behind Reagan's podium with his seal. Do you recognize those who who are listening?



If you visit the Reagan Presidential Library, be sure to leave enough time to enjoy it all. You should be able to get through all the exhibits in three to four hours. If you are hungry, there are two dining options available -- a cafe and a pub. You don't need to pay admission to visit the cafe, but the pub doesn't have an outside entrance for the public. You will also probably want to leave some time to walk the grounds.

SEE ALL TRAVEL TIPS & DESTINATIONS REVIEWED

All photos and text are © B. Radisavljevic





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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Weeds of the West: A Field Guide Review

The Best Weed Field Guide for the West I've Seen


I just discovered the best field guide I've ever seen for identifying weeds here in California. I'll finally be able to properly name all those I find and photograph while out walking and on my own property. The book was sitting on the shelf at my local public library. At almost an inch and a half thick, Weeds of the West includes almost every weed I've seen in my area. It's published by the Western Society of Weed Science. Its seven authors all have advanced degrees and specialize in weeds. I'm reviewing the 5th Edition published in 1996, but there are later editions I haven't yet seen.

Weeds of the West: A Field Guide Review
Wild Cucumber with Grasses and Mustard, Photo © B. Radisavljevic


What I Love about This Reference Book


It's more like what's not to love? The picture quality is excellent. The arrangement of listings is logical. The descriptions provide all the information farmers, campers, gardeners, or hikers need to identify the weeds they encounter. Finally, the pages at the back make everything easier to find and understand.

The Photographs

Poison Hemlock

There are three photographs for each plant listed. Let's look first at the poison hemlock plant listed on pages 22-23 in the 5th edition of Weeds of the West. It's a weed found almost everywhere in San Luis Obispo County that's not cultivated. Each listing has three images like this.

Weeds of the West: A Field Guide Review. This book has all one needs to identify weeds growing in the Western United States.
My scan of pages 22-23 in the 5th edition of Weeds of the West (Western Society of Weed Science)
First we see the overview of the plant in bloom in its habitat. We can compare its height to the other weeds near it. The opposite page shows a close-up portion of the stem, covered with the purple spots that help one distinguish poison hemlock from similar looking plants. We also get a close-up of the leaf. It's a much more detailed look that one would get from the overview shot.

In Roadside Plants of California, Thomas Belzer has given poison hemlock a playing-card size color photo of the top of one flowering stem. It has a good shot of the flowers and a couple of leaves, but the descriptive paragraph doesn't even mention the purple spots. It does mention that Wild Celery is a near look-alike that is not poisonous. Weeds of the West does not mention that.

The Sunset Western Garden Problem Solver's photos of  poison hemlock are so small they are almost useless. You get an overall idea of what one section of leaves and flowers looks like, but no view of the entire plant or its surroundings. You have to rely on the written description of the purple spots because the inset photo is only an oval of 1" x 1½."  It's a good book as far as it goes, but it's purpose is more to help gardeners identify the weeds so they can manage them.

The large full-page photo in Weeds of the West shows as much of an overview as possible, and if a plant is too tall for a photo to hold it all, you will see as much of it as possible for identifying its form. The two smaller photos on the opposite page under the description zero in on the two most important plant characteristics for identifying it. For poison hemlock you see the purple stem and a leaf. For western waterhemlock the smaller photos are a branch with leaves and a split distinctive root, its most poisonous part.

Matt Ritter in California Plants and Plants of San Luis Obispo County has photos with the same high quality, but the book lacks the overview shot. The book also has fewer plants included than Weeds of the West, since it's more specialized. See Review of California Plant Field Guides by Matt Ritter for a more thorough review of his field guides.

Jointed Goatgrass

When I work in my garden, it seems the weeds that bother me the most are the grassy weeds. So far I've had only the Ritter books and the Sunset Western Garden Problem Solver to help me identify these pests, and they haven't helped as much as I'd hoped. But Weeds of the West identifies at least twice as many of these grassy weeds as the other books. I'll admit it covers more than just California, and that may be part of the reason why.

My scan of pages 408-409 in the 5th edition of Weeds of the West (Western Society of Weed Science)
Look at the right page of the photo above. The top photo on that page shows the part of the plant where the leaf joins the stem -- something people like me might not even notice. (I do now.) This leaf juncture often provides key identifying information, but many books only show the grass blades or spikes and the flowering part of the plant (inflorescence) or seeds with or without a pod. I like that the photos in this book show a close-up of this juncture when important. The text also points it out so I know what I should look for.

The Arrangement of the Listings


Weeds of the West entries are arranged by plant families. Many other books are arranged by habitat. Both arrangements are useful, but I find the arrangement by family helps me see that plants I never would have suspected are related to each other. Since related plants don't always need the same growing conditions or share a habitat, having them together in a book section make the relationships more obvious. 

If you look at the tops of my scanned pages above, you will see the left page has the common name for the weed in boldface at the top. Under it is the scientific name in italics. On the page on the right we see the common name again followed by the plant family's scientific name. Under that is the common name for the plant family. I'm not surprised that poison hemlock is related to wild carrot and wild caraway. I am surprised that the bull thistle is related to the sunflower. I'm amazed at all the cousins the sunflower has.

Weeds of the West: A Field Guide Review
This photo I took in my yard features the wild cucumber (also called manroot.) Weeds of the West will help me  identify the wild grassy weeds that surround it. Photo © B. Radisavljevic


The Text Descriptions


The text that accompanies the photographs in Weeds of the West provides any other information it takes to identify the plant. It points out where to look for what in the photos. It tells you where the plant is native, its size, and its growth habit -- tall and erect  or prostrate and sprawling. Words describe the color and the odor of each plant part if it's a factor in identifying it..

Leaf descriptions include whether they are dull or shiny, how their edges look (smooth or sawtoothed), whether they are divided and if so how many times, how they are arranged on the stem (opposite or alternating), and anything special about how they are attached. Flowers and seeds are also thoroughly described.

The last paragraph explains where you are likely to find the plant (habitat.) It also mentions any other important  information you may need to know. Is the plant poisonous to humans or animals? If it's poisonous, does it resemble closely a plant that is safe?

Handy Helps in the Back of the Book


Many listings use terms laymen may not understand. So there is a Glossary at the beginning of the back matter. Next is an  easy-to-use "Key to the Families in Weeds of the West." It describes what the plant families have in common and what distinguishes them from one another. The final  aid to readers is an index that includes both common and scientific names.

Used editions of this book vary in price.

Should You Buy This Book?


If you live in the American West and garden or spend a lot of time outdoors where wild plants grow, I think you would find this book a helpful addition to your home library. I take a lot of photo walks in parks and I also garden. I like to be able to identify what I photograph, and most books don't supply the information I need. This book is more complete than any of the others I have seen or have on my shelf. The print is large enough for even me to read easily, and the publisher did not skimp on the photos.

 There are bound to be a few mistakes in a book this large -- 630 pages. I don't have the scientific background to judge the facts, but the authors certainly have academic credentials that indicate they know these plants well. I did find one omission quite by chance. I wanted to see if Queen Anne's Lace was listed in the book, since I hadn't seen it with others in the parsley family. It was in the index, but the name of the plant on the page I was directed to only said  "Wild carrot" with Daucus carota L. under it. Nothing in the page for Wild carrot mentioned that Queen Anne's Lace was another common name for it. I had to find that out on the internet.

As soon as I can afford it I will probably buy this book. I'm interested in nature and especially in wild plants, so for me it would be worth it. I like the convenience of a handy reference book when I have a question.



Buyers should be aware that this is not exactly a field guide. It's too large and heavy to take hiking. It does, though, draw attention to parts of plants you should remember to photograph to identify at home later. I have never realized how important it is to observe how the leaves are attached to the stem, for example. If you have found other books for identifying wild plants too limited, I believe you will find this book is different. I believe it's worth buying for the presentation and completeness of the information.




As I was finishing this review I saw another book that may be even more complete. If you're interested in California weeds, you may also like Weeds of California and Other Western States (in two volumes.) I used the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon to check it out and it, too, looks like a book I'd like to own.

Weeds of the West: A Field Guide Review
Photo © B. Radisavljevic

More I've Written about Common California Weeds


Poison Hemlock: Lovely and Lethal: a photo essay with original photos from my property and my nature walks.

Milk Thistle and  Hemlock: The Prickly and the Poisonous: A Photo essay that shows both these common western weeds at all stages of growth so you can easily identify them.

Oak and Poison Oak in Photos: Can You Tell the Difference?: This will help you recognize poison oak  during all stages of growth and in any season. Our local police department asked to use parts of this to help train their search and rescue teams.

Weeds I Love to Hate: Photos of my worst weed enemies and why I hate them

Vetch Runs Wild: Short post from my gardening blog with many photos of vetch I took while hiking

The California  Weeds You Need to Pull Now! If you get them while they are young they won't cause as much trouble later.





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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Review of California Plant Field Guides by Matt Ritter

Who is Matt Ritter?


Matt Ritter is a biology professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, very near my home in Paso Robles, California. I'm very interested in the plants that grow in my area, the ones I see in the streets, in the parks, and in the yards of my neighbors. I like identifying them and photographing them. That's one reason I decided to take a guided tour of the trees in City Park at the art festival there a few years ago. Matt Ritter led that walk. I saw how knowledgeable he was.  Afterward I visited the native plant booth where his book, A Californian's Guide to the Trees Among Us, was for sale. I purchased it. I've never been sorry. I've owned the book since 2011 and I use it several times each month.

Review of California Plant Field Guides by Matt Ritter


Why I Like Dr. Ritter's Trees Among Us


I have many field guides for trees. So why did I buy yet another one? Dr. Ritter's book has gorgeous overview color photos of most of the trees. You see the tree's shape and usually a closeup of the bark, the leaves, and even the fruits or seed pods. Most tree pages have an inset that gives information about other trees that may be confused with the tree pictured. If a tree has many different species living in California, there may be an inset that helps you see the differences and identify the individual species.

Whereas my Peterson Field Guide to Western Trees has maps, color photos of trees and fruits, and detailed plant descriptions, it doesn't have the same kind of photos of entire trees. Trees Among Us shows photos of some of the large trees next to buildings so one can better see their actual size. The descriptions of the trees also are more interesting to those of us who are not botanists. In some cases we learn about the tree's history in California -- how it got here, how it's been used, or something else special about it. The introduction provides classification and other scientific information. If you live in California and love trees, you really need to get this book.

Review of California Plant Field Guides by Matt Ritter
A Catalpa Tree I Identified with Help from The Trees Among Us


California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora


Our Country Registrar has an office above the Atascadero Library, and my husband decided to fill out his early ballot in the library and then take it to the clerk. I had already turned my ballot in, so I checked the new books on the shelf. That's how I found Matt Ritter's California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora. I was quite excited and checked it out immediately to look it over. I fully intend to buy it when I have to return it.

This book describes the native flowers, trees, and shrubs one will be most likely to see when exploring California's forests, trails, and scenic routes. Habitats range from shrublands to beaches, desert, forest and everything in between. Plant entries are arranged by their habitat.  There are over 1000 color photos and photo collages (showing various parts of plants), along with maps showing the range of most pictured plants. You may see a field of wildflowers along with a close up shot of a single plant. As in Trees Among Us, there are stories and background information on the plants and their origins (if non-native) and their uses by native peoples. I did not find a lot of duplication between the trees in this book and the trees in California Plants. Trees Among Us concentrates more on urban and suburban trees than those that are uncultivated.

Review of California Plant Field Guides by Matt Ritter
California Plants has a lot to say about this wild mustard.


 At the back of the book there's a section featuring non-native plants. It includes many of the weeds I've found in my garden. You will also find a glossary, bibliography, list of online resources and botanical gardens, a tree identification flowchart, a wildflower identification color chart, and an index.

Although I have other wildflower books, The Audubon guides cover too much territory, have smaller photos, and separate photos from their descriptions. The Peterson Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers is arranged by color, form and detail. Most of its drawings are not in color but black and white. There aren't any photos. And there aren't any trees or shrubs. Dr. Ritter's book has everything -- not just flowers.

Plants of San Luis Obispo: Their Lives and Stories


This is similar to California Plants but limits itself to 206 plants found in and near San Luis Obispo. Like Ritter's other books, it has full-color photos, but no range maps. I have compared the entries for some of the plants that appear in both books, and they are not identical. Others I have compared are identical but an identical photo may be of better quality in one book or the other. In some cases the photos are different. If you have to choose, I'd go with California Plants, since it's more complete.




My Recommendation 


These books are all wonderful additions to any California nature lover or gardener's library. I'm a nature and gardening blogger and find them the most useful books I have for identifying what I see when I go on photo walks. These books are beside me when I start trying to figure out the names of the plants I've seen and photographed. These books would be welcomed as gifts by California hikers, campers, nature photographers, and gardeners who like understanding what they see.

You may also be interested in my review of Nature's Everyday Mysteries. See all Book reviews on this site here.

Review of California Plant Field Guides by Matt Ritter
I identified this redwood by using The Trees Among Us




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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review

Watching the Salinas River Go By


The Salinas River was not part of my life until 1995, when my mother moved to a part of Paso Robles California only three blocks from river access. It was the first time I had lived near a real river. I grew up in Los Angeles County, and the only rivers I saw were mostly empty cement waterways that only filled after heavy rains. When we lived near Seattle for four months I was delighted to see some real rivers. I had always wanted to live near one, and now I live in Mom's house where the Salinas River is a short walk away. I love to watch it.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
An Ideal Place to Sit and Watch the Salinas River in Paso Robles, taken with Nikon Coolpix S9300

Getting to Know and Photograph the River


Once I had such easy access to the Salinas River, I began to study it and observe and photograph it on a regular basis. The Salinas is a subterranean river. That means I don't see it most of the year because it's flowing underground. If we get heavy rains, it becomes visible again for a few weeks and then disappears from sight. I try to make the most of the weeks when I'm able to photograph the flowing river. I have put many of my Salinas River photographs on puzzles, greeting cards, posters, postcards, and other print-on-demand products at Zazzle. You can see most of those products here. Among them are a poster and greeting card of the bench photo above.

I just made a new poster of my favorite river shot. The river always makes me feel peaceful as it flows by me. So I added a bit of text that reminds me of one of my favorite hymns: "Like a River Glorious"

Here is my new poster. For ordering information, please click the photo. If you'd prefer to have the poster without the words or if you want to change the words, it's easy to do once you click through to Zazzle and click to customize.



You can listen to the hymn here. Sample the many digital professional recordings of the hymn on Amazon.




The Day the Salinas River Came to Me


One January day I had been walking in the dry riverbed after some recent rains, hoping the river was visible again. I didn't see much more than a few puddles. I was walking away with my camera to return to the riverbank when suddenly the river first trickled and then rushed toward me. I was able to capture it on video. I also got some still shots. You can see the video and the photographs I was able to capture that day and also learn more about the river in this article: The Salinas River: Now You See It. Some of my products also feature photos you will see on that page.

What I Like about Photographing the Salinas River


Access to the river from Larry Moore Park is easy. It's also easy to find a parking place beside or very near this neighborhood park. I get some interesting sunset shots over the river if I walk the river trail at dusk. Here are a couple of them.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS



Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

I can also find a wide variety of native plants, weeds, and trees to photograph beside or even in the river. I also see a lot of driftwood. I especially like this shot of a log in the river.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with Nikon Coolpix S8200


The sand on the bank also provides some interesting shots. In the photo below, you see footprints leading down to the river.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS


Sometimes one may see some unexpected wildlife. Birds are common, but hard for me to shoot. Rabbits, though,  appear quite often at dusk. I almost didn't see this one. Do you see it?

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Rabbit Blending with River Sand, taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

After the winter rains, the riverbank can come alive with color, as in the shot below. I was looking down from the trail when I took this photo.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

No matter when I visit the river, whether it's flowing or dry, there is always something new to discover and photograph. My shots aren't as professional as my friend Mary Beth Granger's who gives us some tips in Challenge Yourself to Take Better Photographs, but I have fun.

My Photography Equipment


Photography is my hobby, and I get along fine with a point and shoot camera. My favorite was a Nikon Coolpix that fit in my purse or pocket, but somehow I lost it when I went out one day with friends and we made a number of stops.

Some of these photos were  taken with my Canon PowerShot, another point and shoot. It has a longer zoom than the Nikon did. The zoom helped me capture that almost hidden rabbit above. The Canon won't fit in my pocket, but I got a nifty case for it that will also hold my cell phone and extra battery packs and San Disks. Nothing is worse than finding out that your battery is dead just as you find the perfect shot you'd been searching for.

The case below is the one I chose to go with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. It's light and the strap is so comfortable that I don't mind having to carry the larger camera. When I still  had my Nikon, I could even fit it in the slot next to my Canon, though I think it was really meant for a lens. Now the PowerShot and the case go with me everywhere because every time I leave them home I find a shot I wanted to take and couldn't.

Did You Enjoy this Brief Look at the Salinas River?

If you would like to photograph the Salinas River from Larry Moore Park, here's a map to help you find it. My directions are from the Paso Robles Walmart parking lot. You can drive to the park from the southeast exit and park along Riverbank Lane. Or you can park just west of J. C. Penny, that white building on the map closest to the river. That diagonal path you see next to Penny's leads to a park entrance. When you reach that entrance, go straight toward the river. You can't miss it. 




I'll leave you with one last photo with a bit of wildlife. I couldn't get close enough, even with my zoom, to bring the ducks closer, but occasionally they do get to the river. This shot was taken with my Coolpix S8200 and it didn't have as long a zoom as my Canon,  which I did not yet own back in 2013 when this was taken. I didn't want to crop the photo to make the ducks show up better because it would diminish the view of the river.

Ducks Swimming in Salinas River





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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Murder in Wine Country: A Review of Deadly Vintage by William Relling Jr.


I live in wine country and I love to read mysteries. This mystery takes place in the Santa Ynez wine country that I often drive through on the way to Santa Barbara. So, of course, I had to read it.


Why I Chose to Read This Book


Vineyards, ©B. Radisavljevic
I love reading mysteries, and I love living in wine country, surrounded by vineyards. I even had the opportunity to observe my neighbor's wine making process after harvest. So when I was searching the mystery section at the library for a new book to read, Deadly Vintage by William Relling Jr. immediately caught my eye. As I scanned the dust jacket, I became even more interested. When I actually read the book, all I had learned about the wine industry brought the book to life for me. I'd seen the machines that process the grapes in action (as you will if you follow the link above.) I am personally acquainted with the owners of many local vineyards.



Los Angeles Freeway Traffic, © B. Radisavljevic

Before reading Deadly Vintage, I had just returned from a trip through the Santa Ynez valley, so I was able to visualize all the places mentioned, including those in Southern California, where I was raised and spent a good part of my life. I have driven the same Los Angeles and Orange County freeways and experienced the traffic exactly as Relling, who lived in Los Angeles when writing the book, described it.

A Review of Deadly Vintage



This book is set in the Santa Ynez Valley in the fictional town of San Tomas. If you click that link, it will bring up a map that will show you  the scenery Jack saw during his investigation. The protagonist, Jack Donne, a former Treasury agent, is now a vintner. He works with his father, Raymond Donne, referred to as Dad in this first person narrative, who had been an architect in nearby Santa Barbara, before retiring to make wine. They have one full-time employee, Jesus Fonseca, who was born in Mexico. The other important family member is Uncle Gerry Donne, Dad's brother, a financial lawyer in Santa Barbara who handles the Donne Vineyards account, besides being a partner in the business.

The action begins when Ozzie Cole the son of another wealthy winery owner, Perry Cole, now retired, barges in on Jack unexpectedly and implores him to investigate the possibility that someone is counterfeiting his expensive wine and selling it in Southern California. Jack does not want to get involved. He has never liked Ozzie, though he respects him as a wine maker. Ozzie's two brothers, June (short for Junior) and Grant, are working together and competing with Ozzie, who has his own operation and produces expensive boutique wines. June and Grant make cheaper wines.

Uncle Gerry finally convinces Jack to work for Ozzie by sharing with Jack a possible connection between the person selling the counterfeit wine and a mobster who is well-known to all of them. A couple of days later, Perry Cole, who is living in a nursing home and is assisted by his long-time servant, Zeke Carlin, an ex-boxer, is murdered on Carlin's day off.

Ozzie is arrested for the murder, since Brad Fitch, the Lieutenant investigating the case, thought Ozzie had the knowledge, opportunity, and motive to kill his father, the motive being money. The Perry family lawyer, Daniel Wikert had let it slip to police that Ozzie stood to inherit almost all of Perry's sizable estate. Ozzie had also been trained as a medic in the National Guard, giving him the knowledge it took to kill Perry in the way he had died. Jack had also witnessed Perry leaving his father, still arguing loudly, the night before Perry was murdered.

Jack doesn't like Ozzie much, but he doesn't believe he killed his father. Jack smells a rat in Wikert, and also learns that the sleazy lawyer has connections with the underworld. Jack continues his investigation to not only uncover the counterfeiting operation, but also to find the real murderer.

The characters in this book are developed just enough to make me care about them. The plot moves in such a way that I'm not really surprised by the outcome, since the author dropped just enough clues to enable me to think with him. In fact, I was pretty sure who had killed Perry before Jack seemed to catch on. I don't like it when I've been trying to think with a detective or investigator and then at the end all kinds of new elements appear that change everything that seemed to follow logically before. I'm looking forward to reading the next and only other book in this series. There won't be any more, because the author committed suicide in 2004 when he was only 49.

I have linked to both formats of the book below, should you want to read it.



Understanding How Wine Is Processed


Croad Vineyard owner Martin Croad invited me to tour his winery during harvest day in 2011. He showed me all the machines used to process the wine, and I have included them, along with his explanation of what they do and a demonstration of each. Watching this video will help you to understand the plot of Deadly Vintage better, since the process of wine making, and the machines used, are important in the plot.



Recommendation 

I recommend this book to mystery loving wine aficionados or anyone who enjoys thinking along with investigators to solve murder mysteries. The book is even more fun if you are familiar with the Southern California area and can visualize where the action is happening.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Let Your iPad Mini Case Reflect Your Love for the California Central Coast

A Review of Zazzle's iPad Mini Cases

The Savvy Style Case



Let Your iPad Mini Case Reflect Your Love for the California Central Coast

 

When you have invested in something as important as an iPad Mini, you will want it to be well-protected from the daily wear and tear of use and being transported wherever you go. I know that my electronic items get a lot of wear and tear just from being in my purse or waist pack. It's easy for your iPad Mini to be rubbed or scratched without protection.

You can defend your iPad Mini with a lightweight hard shell made of plastic. You can choose between a matte or a glossy finish for most designs. You can clip the case right to the back of the iPad Mini to protect it. These cases sold on Zazzle were specifically designed just for the iPad Mini, so you can be assured of a proper fit. You will also be able to reach all your ports and controls when your cover is shielding your iPad.

 If you have a Smart Cover, this will be compatible with it. If you don't have a smart cover and want even more protection, an automatic sleep and wake-up feature,  and a built-in stand to fit any iPad Mini position, you might want to check out one of these Smart Covers from Amazon. The black one is shown below, but it also comes in other colors closer to the Zazzle design you choose. And you might think about a screen protector, too. Although the Smart Covers offer a lot of protection and extra features, the selection of designs pales in comparison with what Zazzle has.

Zazzle also has the Powis Hardcover Cases

These cases were designed to fit either the iPad Mini or the iPad Mini with Retina and are made by Powis Park in Berkeley, California. The case's  rubberized non-slip edge makes it easy to use in landscape view position. Its hard cover is made with premium book cloth, and the designs you choose are printed on recycled hardboard which is laminated on both front and back. When you are using your iPad Mini, the case is free-standing. When you are not using it, the custom design you have selected or chosen will show. You still can choose a glossary or matte finish. 

 Your case from Zazzle can be anything you want it to be. You can even design one with your own photo. For best results it should should measure 5.85" x 8.45" and allow for 1/3" bleed space on the edges. That is what would be outside the safe area in design view when you are customizing. Of course, it's easier to just pick one of the already designed cases below to show your love of your Central Coast beach or area. 

Let's Begin Our iPad Mini Tour of the Central Coast Beaches


 San Simeon and the North Coast Of San Luis Obispo

 San Simeon is famous as the location of Hearst Castle, that spectacular retreat build by William Randolph Hearst for his family and friends.


San Simeon also has a fantastic state beach with a long pier and lots of recreation opportunities. I took the photos for these cases there. Both types are displayed here.





About 14 miles north of San Simeon State Beach is Piedras Blanco, which is well known for it's lighthouse and as a place to watch the elephant seals who return to its beaches to breed each winter. Here are some of the iPad cases with scenes from these beaches along the north coast. If you love rugged beaches or elephant seals, you might consider using them to decorate and protect your iPad.


In middle scene in first row above, the elephant seals are off in the distance and the emphasis is on the shore. Way in the background you can see the Piedras Blancos lighthouse. I could not get very close to it on the day I was there because it is only accessible to the public on interpretative tours at scheduled times. I hope to go back and take the tour sometime. If you look carefully, you can also see the lighthouse way back in the distance in the last scene above. This was taken earlier in the day than the other picture.

 As you can see, this can be a romantic place. I actually took the middle picture above on the evening of Valentine's Day, which I was celebrating here with my husband. This couple is enjoying the sunset together, perhaps after they've spent some time observing the elephant seals which are barely visible in the darkness behind them. This might be a great gift for one lover to give another. It also might work as an engagement present.

 Farther south are the beaches on the Cambria coast. Cambria is wonderful walking beach for those who like a bit of rugged coastline with rocks to climb and tide pools. You'll find seaweed and driftwood on the beach, and maybe some shells and interesting small stones. Here are some iPad Mini cases with scenes of the Cambria Coast and Moonstone Beach, one of our favorite get-aways.



 South San Luis Obispo County Coast: Cayucos


The first beach town south of the North Coast is Cayucos. It's a small town and I've only been to the beach there once, but I explored it for several hours in the late afternoon. The waves there make it popular with surfers.

 I loved all the interesting seaweed that came ashore. You can see Cayucos for yourself and enjoy all the sights and sounds in my photo / video tour of it I put together during the day I spent there. See the waves come in and watch the children play on the beach and the sea gulls explore the beach near them. Walk the pier with us, too.

These are some of the iPad Mini cases that capture the flavor of Cayucos. 


South County Beach Cities: Morro Bay


Each part of the coastline has is own unique character. Morro Bay is easy to recognize by its identifying landmarks -- Morro Rock and the smokestacks from a now inactive power plant. Its Embarcadero is lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. You will also see the fishing boats docked and moving around in the bay. Here are some iPad Mini scenes from Morro Bay.

 Morro Bay Fishing Boats and Smokestacks Case For The iPad Mini
Each part of the coastline has is own unique character. Morro Bay is easy to recognize by its identifying landmarks -- Morro Rock and the smokestacks from a now inactive power plant. Its Embarcadero is lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. You will also see the fishing boats docked and moving around in the bay. Here are some iPad Mini scenes from Morro Bay.

Moving South, We Next Reach Avila Beach, Including Port San Luis



At first I reached the smaller, more intimate part of Avila Beach that is loved by students at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Rather than being one big beach, it's a series of smaller coves. There is also an RV campground between the road and the beach, and I believe I also saw some tents there. 

Farther along on San Luis Bay Drive you will find Harford Pier -- a long pier with restaurants and a fish market at the end and an observation deck for looking out at the ocean below. The sea gulls are everywhere to entertain you, and occasionally you will even get to see a seal fishing or begging. You will also see people boating, fishing, and kayaking in the bay. It's a great place for nature photography. Here are some of the iPad skins I designed from my Avila Beach photos.

Pismo Beach


 Here are the iPad mini cases designed from the photos I took at Pismo Beach. This was my first visit to Pismo Beach, and I wasn't able to spend as much time there on this visit as I wanted to. First we parked where there was beach access at the end of a residential block. I took a very long stairway down to the beach. There were cliffs filled with colorful ice plant as I walked down, and I took a few pictures from that part of the beach.

 We moved on to a parking lot where there appeared to also be RV parking. I strolled along the boardwalk parallel to the beach as far as the pier. Since I've not been able to get to Pismo Beach during the migration of the Monarch butterflies, I have used a case designed by someone else who did get there.



I hope you've enjoyed our trip down the San Luis Obispo County coast as we stopped at each beach. I hope that you also found just the right iPad Mini Case to help you stay close to your favorite beach as you work. Please share this post if you think someone else might be interested these Central Coast photo iPad Mini Cases.

Let Your iPad Mini Case Reflect Your Love for the California Central Coast




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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