Friday, August 19, 2016

Photos of Smoky Sunset during Chimney Fire

Where There's Fire, There's Smoke

Where there is smoke, it affects the view of the sky. In East Paso Robles this is  especially evident at sundown. I took this first photo from my porch tonight, thus the intrusion of the overhang. You can see how the smoke affects the color of the sky.

Photos of Smoky Sunset during Chimney Fire, Paso Robles, August 2016
Smoky Sunset from My Paso Robles Porch, © B. Radisavljevic 

The Chimney Fire started Saturday afternoon, and had burned almost 12,000 acres as of 7 AM this morning, when it was pronounced 33% contained.  Last night the air was so smoky we  had to shut the windows and use the air conditioning instead of outside air to cool the house. Even though we can see the smoke tonight, at least we can't smell it from where we are, so the windows are open again.

Photos of Smoky Sunset during Chimney Fire, Paso Robles, August 2016
Smoky Sunset in  Paso Robles during Chimney Fire, © B. Radisavljevic 

The Chimney Fire Spread Quickly

Forest fires get out of control quickly and can cover a lot of territory fast. This is especially true if it's hot and windy and there is much dry brush to feed the fire. Many get enough warning to prepare to evacuate and save their lives. They may not be able to save their homes.

My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes or had property damaged by this fire. Many of the California fires now burning were deliberately set. It makes me wonder why someone would want to hurt people this much and blacken our beautiful landscapes.

 KIKAR Emergency Escape Hood Oxygen Mask Respirator 60 Minutes Fire Smoke Toxic Filter
If you live in hot dry area that is often subject to fire, it's good to be prepared to evacuate. Have your most precious possessions in one place easy to grab and flee. Most people caught in fires are overcome with smoke inhalation that prevents them from escaping. Whether it's a house fire or forest fire that threatens your family, you can prevent some inhalation tragedies by having some of these masks on hand for family members. The book will help you be ready for any emergency or disaster.

Photos of Smoky Sunset during Chimney Fire, Paso Roble, August 2016
Smoky Sunset in  Paso Robles during Chimney Fire, © B. Radisavljevic 

For those of you outside of the Paso Robles area, this fire did not start in a chimney. It got its name because it is near Chimney Rock near Lake Nacimiento. The entire North San Luis Obispo County and Monterey County area are very dry and fire danger is high everywhere. I pray for the safety of the firefighters and all those in the path of the many fires burning in the West right now.

Photos of Smoky Sunset during Chimney Fire, Paso Robles, August 2016
Feel free to pin this image. It's just the right size. 

Are any fires burning near you  tonight? Can you smell the smoke?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads

Wild Goose Chase In Search of Big Sandy Wildlife Area

I spent a lot of time on San Miguel's back roads yesterday afternoon looking for Big Sandy Wildlife Area. It's not all that easy to find the entrance on a map. It was hard enough to find Indian Valley Road, from which the parking lot is supposed to be entered, if you can believe the web page for Big Sandy Wildlife Area.  I tried calling the phone number on that site, but it didn't work. I wasn't even sure  if  when I found it the area would be open for access, since nowhere online could I find any hours. (As you will see below, I did  finally find a working number, and also learned there are no set hours for access.)

This intersection is where I should have started looking very carefully. Sometimes it was hard to tell a ranch driveway from a road.   I did see one closed gate that could have been the entrance, but it didn't look quite right. Too bad they don't have a photo of the entrance on the web site. (See link to Google Map a few paragraphs under this)

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Intersection of Indian Valley and  Vineyard Canyon Roads, © B. Radisavljevic 

It's a shame I didn't have this map with me.

I had an interesting drive all the way to Bradley on Indian Valley Road, Hare Canyon, and Bradley Road, but I didn't find Big Sandy. I must have driven right by it without seeing it. I think I did see it, just not the entrance. There were signs for everything else, but not Big Sandy Wildlife Area -- unless the government hid them well. By the time I reached these signs at Hare Canyon, I knew I'd been on a wild goose chase and the goose got away -- this time.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Signs Near Intersection of Indian Valley and Hare Canyon Roads,  © B. Radisavljevic. If you have reached this, you are far past the parking lot for Big Sandy Wildlife Area.

I finally reached someone in Fresno today at  (831) 649-2870 who walked me through a map on Google earth over the phone. We kept enlarging the map until we found the parking lot -- at least on the map. This is a link to where the parking lot is and what it looks like. Wish I'd had it yesterday. I also learned there are some yellow signs all along the fence of the parking lot. 

I learned that this is hunting season there and that it would help to wear orange if I do back before it's over. They allow only shotguns and archery as weapons. Evidently the main game are quail and hogs. I only want to use my camera. Maybe I'll try again on the next moderately cool day.

What I  Saw While on My Wild Goose Chase

I found cattle and horses grazing on the many ranches I passed, but no geese. You can see how dry the hillsides are.

Here are some of the cattle.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Cattle at Ranch on Indian Valley Road, © B. Radisavljevic

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Steer at Ranch on Hare Canyon Road or Bradley Road, © B. Radisavljevic

These horses were gorgeous.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Horses on Indian Valley Road, © B. Radisavljevic

With all the animals to feed, there had to be hay, and I passed lots of it. 

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Hay Seen Along Indian Valley Rd., © B. Radisavljevic. Photo size ideal for Pinterest

Hare Canyon Road

As I wrote earlier, when I got to the signs at Hare Canyon Road, I knew I had gone too far north. I decided to head back to the 101 Freeway, so I turned  west on Hare Canyon. Right after I turned I saw this contrast between irrigated and land with no irrigation. I passed very few irrigated acres. 

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Irrigation on Hare Canyon Road, © B. Radisavljevic

As it turns out, I circled all around the Big Sandy Wildlife area without realizing it. Hare Canyon curves around it before connecting to Bradley Road in Bradley, which is where I eventually got back on the freeway.  It was not a smooth ride. At one point the road was so narrow  I almost went over the edge, and I was only at a moderate speed, probably about 40 mph. Fortunately there was no embankment to drop off, but it was still scary. 

Somewhere along Hare Canyon I passed some deer. I would have liked to have photographed them, but there was no good place to park.  Both Hare Canyon and Bradley roads were almost deserted. I didn't see any other car on them while I was there. I finally could see the bridges crossing the Salinas River in Bradley up ahead. 

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Railroad Bridge in Bradley Over Salinas River by Gate to National Guard Base,  © B. Radisavljevic 

The Salinas River was dry, so I decided to photograph the graffiti on the pillars under the bridge on Bradley Road. It was more interesting than the bridge view from the road.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
Graffiti under Bridge on Bradley Road,  © B. Radisavljevic 

I took one last photo near the bridge before I got back in my car and headed home. It had been a long afternoon. It was about ten degrees hotter in this area than it was back in Paso Robles. Every time I got out of the car to take a picture I almost could feel the moisture leaving my body. I was looking forward to sitting in my chair with a large glass of ice water.

Search for Big Sandy Wildlife Area through San Miguel's Back Roads
A Tree Near the Bridge in Bradley, © B. Radisavljevic 

Have you ever driven the back roads of San Miguel and Bradley? Have you ever been to the Big Sandy Wildlife Area? If so, did you find it easily?


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk

Sundown from a Parking Lot

Last night I drove to Food4Less in the early evening as the sun was about to set. It was a blinding sun. The idea was to go east, shop, and come out after it was down so I would not be blinded driving home. When I came out, the sky was pinkish-orange. Here's a photo. 

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk
Sunset from Food4Less Parking Lot, © B. Radisavljevic 

Another Sight in the Sky

As I stood by the edge of the parking lot near the road trying to decide if I should take another picture, a plane appeared in front of me, coming from the west. It was already past me before I  could get a shot. 

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk
Plane Over East Paso Robles at Dusk, © B. Radisavljevic 

I used a zoom to try to zero in on it, but it was moving so fast I'm not sure it helped very much. It was probably heading for the airport. 

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk
Plane Over East Paso Robles at Dusk, © B. Radisavljevic 

Finally it disappeared into the horizon. I got this shot just before it was completely out of sight. 

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk
Plane Over East Paso Robles Disappearing Over Horizon at Dusk, © B. Radisavljevic 

After the plane was gone, I  headed back toward my car in the lot.

The Trees

As I walked  toward my car, I gave thanks again  that I live here where I can see many large trees dressing up the parking lot. 

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk
Trees in Food4Less Parking Lot, Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic 

The trees closest to the  store were in bloom. It first I thought they were crape myrtles, but the leaves don't look quite right. I can't locate this tree in my field guide books. Perhaps it's a  hybrid that isn't shown.  Can you identify it? If so, please leave a comment below. Here is the overview.

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk
Flowering Tree in Food4Less Parking Lot, Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic 

Here is a closer look at the flowers. 

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk
Close-up of Flowers in Tree in Food4Less Parking Lot, Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic 

I leave you with one last photo of the plane that is correctly sized for Pinterest if you'd like to pin it. Please use the buttons below to share to other social media. 

Photos from a Paso Robles Parking Lot at Dusk

Have you seen anything beautiful or interesting in a parking lot lately?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Skylines: Templeton and Paso Robles

A City Skyline in a Country Town

My town of Templeton is not known for its skyline, but the August theme for  The City Daily Photo Bloggers is "Your City's Skyline." Sorry, friends, but this is about all the skyline Templeton has. The feed and grain store is the tallest building in town and dominates what skyline here is.

A Skyline for Templeton

Like many small towns in America, our commercial areas are spread out, not concentrated in one place. Instead of one big city we have several shopping centers that are closer to residential areas. In the Templeton photo above, you are seeing the few blocks of  commercial concentration on Main Street. This is the historic old town. At either end of this area will find occupied homes, and many of the commercial buildings used to be homes.

If Templeton has a skyline, you see it below. This was taken looking at the back view of Main Street, from across the river. From a distance, most buildings are swallowed by the trees and the Feed and Grain Store building.

The Paso Robles Skyline

Even in my other town, Paso Robles, just a few miles north of Templeton, the skyline is most likely to feature the tops of oak trees. The tallest buildings are about three stories high. What we consider downtown is concentrated around City Park. The public buildings are only a couple of blocks from the park. Spring Street is our main street that crosses town and is one of the streets that borders the park. Twelfth Street is another. You see the skyline looking out toward Twelfth Street  below.

Below you are looking toward the corner of 11th Street and Park Street.

Below is the skyline looking toward Spring Street from the Park.

As you can see, the oaks are taller than most buildings. The only way to get a true skyline photo is to get above the city, but the roads to the surrounding hills have no place to park anywhere near a clear view down.

Paso Robles has several different skylines, but most are in residential areas or smaller commercial areas. This is a medical complex at the east end of Spring Street. You can see the houses on the hill above -- and the trees.

The skyline below was taken from a frontage road  over the freeway that looks down at the newer part of town east of the Salinas River and the 101 Freeway. The Walmart Center is on the left. Between Walmart and the hill in the background sits the Kennedy Fitness Club. On the right is the tract where I live when I'm not in Templeton.

I like living in an area where you can hardly see the buildings for the trees, where surrounding hills and trees make it hard to photograph the skyline.

See real skyline photos from other City Daily Photo bloggers.

Does the city or town that you call home have a well defined skyline?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It's Black Widow Breeding Season

Late Spring to Autumn Is Black Widow Breeding Season

Black widow breeding season seems to bring black widows out of their hiding places. You are most likely to see them at dusk or after dark. They would prefer to avoid contact with you, just as you probably would like to avoid contact with them. This one showed up in my living room last week. I know she's a black widow without turning her over to see her red hour glass. After taking this picture I moved her to the innards of my vacuum cleaner.

I have heard what I hope is an old wives' tale about spiders being able to crawl   out of vacuum cleaners, so I taped  every exit over.

There actually were two spiders I saw within two feet of each other. When I first attempted to photograph this one, she hid before I could.  I had to wait until she came out of hiding again. By that time the other one was no longer to be seen and I haven't gone looking yet. I'm hoping he was a male and she ate him. I will be searching soon  enough to see if the spider is still where I think he or she might be. I will also be checking to see if any egg nest is around.

Close Black Widow Encounters of the Creepy Kind

I never like being surprised by a black widow. I happens, though, because you can't always predict where they will be. In our previous home we had a pantry in our sun room in which we stored extra kitchen items and a few tools I used in the house. I opened a sack of small nails one day, and the first thing I saw was a black widow inside, moving. Rational person that I am, I screamed and ran outside to drop the sack. 

I probably could have skipped the screaming and panic and just calmly carried the sack out, opened it, and let the spider escape. She probably would not have attacked me unless she had an egg nest she was guarding. The black widow is not aggressive unless guarding her eggs. Normally she will retreat if you let her, rather than attacking you. The video below will illustrate that. 

I will add that the person who made this video says you probably shouldn't try this yourself unless you are  experienced at handling spiders. I would prefer not to become experienced at this. You will notice that you don't see the underside of the spider until the very end. I don't have to see it anymore to know if it's a black widow. The shiny black color and the long creepy legs usually tip me off.

Be Careful When Working Near Black Widow Hideouts

This morning we found a black widow spider on the outside of the garage door. (It's pictured in the photo at the very end of this post.)That surprised me because I rarely see a black widow in an exposed position in the sunlight. My first impression was that she might be ready to die. She was near some sacks of thorn heads my husband was waiting to put in the trash. They wouldn't fit for the pickup, so we had to leave until after the cans were emptied. Someone had opened them to look through them. Perhaps the spider had been inside one of them. I didn't want her that close.  I was afraid she might crawl under the  garage door and get inside, so I brought her down with a broom and stepped on her. I was surprised she did not try to scuttle away, since these spiders can be very fast.

Black widows hang out in dark places. That includes wood piles, storage boxes, and under large appliances and heavy furniture. Those that live under the heavy things you can't move probably won't hurt you. They only come out at night to hunt insects you don't want there anyway. Just don't go around the house barefoot at night. Don't put on shoes from your closet without looking  -- especially if they are shoes you haven't worn lately.

If you decide to dust a large bookcase or grab a book from a shelf you haven't touched lately, have a vacuum cleaner within easy reach. I know we've had them in our bookcases.

Use caution when entering storage sheds and other outbuildings -- especially if you haven't  entered them in a few weeks or months. Be careful if you see uneven web designs. I just read that the black widow's web is so strong it can even catch a mouse. No wonder it's so creepy when you touch it.

Protect Yourself from Black Widows and Other Poisonous Spiders

To protect yourself from the black widow and other poisonous spiders, you need to be able to identify them and know where they like to lurk. The books below can help with that. I use the Audubon Society Field Guide as my main reference for  identifying spiders and insects. It has a photo of not only the adult black widow we see most often, but also the immature form, which looks quite different. It does not picture the brown widow, not quite as dangerous, but still poisonous.

If you find a poisonous spider in a place where it it hard to capture or kill by hand or foot or vacuum cleaner, you might want to have some of the Terro Spider Killer on hand so you can act quickly. I had to use spray when black widows had decided to hang out over my sliding glass door (on the outside). It was the main   entrance to our home.

If you are cleaning out the garage or any storage place or outdoor place where a black widow might be hiding, wear a pair of heavy gloves such as those below. (They are also good when you prune roses.) You never know who may be hiding in the next box you open or piece of firewood you pick up.

The children's book on black widows pictured below is part of an informative series I used to sell in my online store. Children should also inform themselves about black widows so that they will know to avoid them. Trust me. You don't want a black widow to bite an inquisitive child. On one of my trips to the ER I saw a friend with her son who had just been bitten, in the waiting room. He didn't look very good, but the treatment got him back to normal. If a black widow should bite you, apply ice immediately to ease pain and get immediate medical help.

Have you or anyone you know ever been bitten by a poisonous spider? Do you know which ones live in your area so you will not get too close to them? 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Kennedy Club Fitness is a Great Smart Day Retreat

Kennedy Club Fitness is a Cool Place!

On a Smart Day, when you want to stay cool away from home, Kennedy Club Fitness is a cool place for members to beat the heat. Not only is the temperature inside kept cool enough for people to be able to work out in  comfort, but all the clubs have beautiful swimming pools like this one at the Atascadero club. 

Kennedy Club Fitness is a Great Smart Day Retreat
Kennedy Club Pool, Atascadero, © B. Radisavljevic 

When you join Kennedy Club, you have access to all four clubs: Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, and Arroyo Grande. The first three locations have a 50-meter outdoor pool complex of the quality of the one pictured above. The lap pool in Arroyo Grande is only 25 yards. My husband swims regularly at the Atascadero Club pool and loves it. When he swims there, he not only cools off, but also saves water at home by taking most of his showers there.

Kennedy Club Fitness Is a True Club

For those who want to get to know other members, there are plenty of activities to facilitate that. Today as I type this, the Annual Open House where there are some very good membership deals, is happening. You get to look around, use the facilities, and get great deals on membership. Year round there are classes and other special activities members can enjoy. By the time you read this, today's Open House will be over, but the Open House usually occurs on the third Saturday of July each year.

As a club member  trying to beat the heat on a Smart Day, Kennedy provides all you need. First, it provides many ways to exercise inside or outside. Many people do take advantages of those beautiful swimming pools. I mostly use the exercise bikes and the treadmills, since I don't like swimming. You will find exercise equipment to meet any fitness goal.

Kennedy Club Fitness is a Great Smart Day Retreat
Kennedy Club Equipment, Paso Robles © B. Radisavljevic 

When you get tired of exercise, you can purchase a healthy snack or drink near the lounge.  On Smart Days I like to go to the lounge after I work out. I normally read until I can start using electricity at normal rates again at home. The chairs are more  comfortable that at the library, the air is cooler, and food is available if I'm hungry. If I don't want to read, I can watch television and read the captions, since the sound is off. Ping pong tables are available in the lounge if you have someone to play with.

I primarily use the Paso Robles Club, since it's right around the corner from me and I don't like to leave the area. My husband has been a member of the Atascadero Club for at least twenty years, and since he has made a lot of friends there, he continues to go there. He makes full use of the social aspects of the clubs, including classes.

What You Need to Take to Kennedy for Convenience

If you plan to spend much time working out, you will probably want to use a locker, and that means you need a good lock. A gym bag  and personal water bottle are also very convenient. Kennedy has water fountains, but you won't want to get off your equipment to make use of them. 

 Best Sports Water Bottle - 32oz Large - Fast Flow, Flip Top Leak Proof Lid w/ One Click Open - Non-Toxic BPA Free & Eco-Friendly Tritan Co-Polyester Plastic (GRAY) Padlock - 4 Digit Combination Lock for School, Employee, Gym & Sports Locker, Case, Toolbox, Fence, Hasp, Cabinet & Storage - Easy to Set Your Own Combo - Metal & Plated Steel - Weather Proof - Color Green Water Infuser Bottle Leak Proof Flip-top Sport Water Bottle BPA-Free Tritan 25 Oz (Green) Polar Bottle Insulated Water Bottle (20-Ounce, Red) Adidas Squad III Duffel Bag, Grey Heather/Deepest Space/Solar Mint/Solar Pink, OneSize Womens Sport Drawstring Gym Bag perfect for Workouts, Yoga, or Running. Turquoise Everest Gym Bag with Wet Pocket, Royal Blue, One Size Master Lock 1561DAST Combination Dial Padlock, With Aluminum Cover, 1-7/8-Inch Wide, Assorted Colors

Here's Where Kennedy Club Fits into My Smart Day Planning

Depending on how hot is in the house, I might stay in the house and read my Kindle until the heat chases me out. Yesterday I was able to stay in the house all day. The day before it was much hotter and I left at 2:25. I stopped at DMV on an errand. Then I stopped for a burger at J's. About 4 I left for Kennedy Adventure in Paso Robles.

Once at Kennedy, I headed for the exercise bike. I finished on the bike about 4:45. I have a bad knee and that's about all I can do to work out. Then I went to the lounge to read. I got very interested in the book, so I stayed to read until 6:50. I had planned to leave earlier and shop on the way home, but I decided the shopping could wait. I went home to finish the book, instead.

I usually find there is some errand I can do before I go to Kennedy. If I have to shop I  do it after I leave, since I don't want the food to sit in the car. By the time I get home, I've done my errands and  had my  workout. That leaves me free of errands if I have a day to work at home the next day.

Next Time You Have a Smart Day, Add Kennedy Fitness to Your Plans

You  will return home cooler and healthier. If you missed the Open House Today, Kennedy continues to have good deals on membership often. Follow Kennedy on Facebook to stay informed of the latest promotions and good deals. I write this as a happy member. This is not a sponsored post and the Kennedy Club doesn't pay me anything if you decide to join.

Kennedy Club Fitness is a Great Smart Day Retreat