Monday, November 12, 2018

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar

A Calendar that Shows Off Paso Robles Wine Country

It's been years since I created a Zazzle calendar to show off our Paso Robles and Templeton Gap wineries and vineyards. Finally, though, I've produced one for 2019. It includes shots of some of my favorite wine country scenes. I hope some are your favorites, too. In this post I'll show you the photos I've included with some information about each.

This may be just the gift for one of your friends this year. Those with gift shops can get lower prices on larger quantities for resale. Here's the cover. I took this shot looking out at the vineyard behind the Rotta Tasting Room in Templeton. It was taken in late March, 2014. Get your copy of the calendar here. 

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar - Cover

January: The Covered Bridge at Halter Ranch

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Halter Ranch Photo

I discovered this covered bridge in a roundabout way. In 2014 I was walking through Studios on the Park as I often do.  I happened into the studio of Carol Timson Ball. She wasn’t there herself, but Katherine Moldauer whose turn it was to man the studio, was able to answer questions.  As I looked at Carol’s paintings of local scenic places, I offhandedly said to Katherine, “That covered bridge isn’t in this county.” Katherine replied, “Yes it is.”


She answered, “At Halter Ranch.” She explained it was a winery at the end of a country road I happen to live near the other end of. I couldn’t believe I had a covered bridge just a few miles away and I didn’t know it.

We simply don’t have covered bridges in this part of the county. What for? There’s hardly ever any rain and our rivers are dry by late spring. Of course, Katherine didn’t explain that the bridge has only lived here since 2009. Naturally I decided it was time I see the bridge for myself, so the next day we visited Halter Ranch, where I took the picture you see above.

February: Zenaida Tasting Room

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Zenaida Photo

Although Zenaida has beautiful vineyards, I chose this photo because it also has gorgeous oak trees. It's hard to choose just one photo to represent a winery. See some other photos of the Zenaida vineyards here.

March: Maintenance in a Bethel Road Vineyard

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Spring Maintenance Photo

This vineyard has had more than one name in the past. It was once JanKris and later became known as Veris. Then Veris was sold and now, after a long time in transition, the vineyard appears to be part of Bethel Road Distillery. I've been watching for the transition and usually see a closed parking lot when I drive by and no evidence this is open except their Facebook page. Meanwhile, I miss the old Veris Tasting Room with its majestic oak tree in front and its lovely gardens and vineyards. There are still vineyards on the property. See what it used to be in my pictorial history of the Veris Cellars . It's my tribute to what was once one of the loveliest settings for a tasting room in this area. It looks kind of sad now.

April: Tooth and Nail Castle and Tasting Room

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Tooth and Nail Photo

Paso Robles Wine Country is constantly changing. The Tooth and Nail tasting room, pictured above, is another example of that.

 Previously it was Eagle Castle, another winery that closed. The castle was vacant for a couple of years. I live near the castle and watched Eagle Castle go up.  It was a bit like a museum and housed many antiques. The tasting room was lively on the occasions when I was there. I was sad when it closed. I saw it sit vacant for many months and then gradually transform into Tooth and Nail. The antiques are gone. Some say the Eagle Castle wine wasn't good enough and that's why it didn't survive. I don't drink wine, so I'm no judge of it. I know it won some awards. I loved the castle and that's why I wrote this pictorial history of the castle itself as I've watched it through the years.

May: Pomar Junction 

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Pomar Junction Photo

One thing that makes Pomar Junction is distinctive is its connection with the railroad. Part of the reason for its name is that the Merrill family who owns it have railroad engineers it its lineage. That's also part of the reason you will find an actual boxcar and caboose at the small "depot" beside the vineyard at Pomar Junction. The photo I used in the calendar is a cropped version of the photo above that focuses primarily on the railroad cars. See some of my other shots of these railroad cars at Pomar Junction here. 

June: Peachy Canyon Gazebo and Picnic Area

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Peachy Canyon Gazebo Photo

Whenever I seek a serene environment, I head for Peachy Canyon tasting room and its beautiful park like grounds in Templeton. I love the oak trees, a couple of which are towering over the gazebo in the picture. Sometimes I see squirrels playing in them. The gift shop inside the tasting room always has something new to see, and I enjoy finding and saying hello to the Maine Coon cats. I found this one near the red valerian near the parking lot.

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Peachy Canyon Maine Coon Cat

July: Classic Cars at Sculpterra Winery on Independence Day

C2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Classic Cars at Sculpterra Photo on July 4

The Independence Day Party hosted by Dr. Warren Frankel at his Sculpterra Winery is our go to place on the afternoon of July 4. So far it's always been free and family friendly. Those who attend learn why we celebrate the day and meet many of our local elected officials who usually say a few words. The photo above that appears in the calendar is one of the many classic cars that some people show off at the party. Those who drive the classic cars seem to get the best parking places, closest to the action. I took this photo at the 2013 party. You can see my illustrated blog post on the 2014 party here. 

August: A Templeton Vineyard with Sunflowers in the Foreground

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Vineyard and Sunflowers Photo

I'm not sure who owns this vineyard. It may be one of the private ones, but I don't for sure. Those sunflowers caught my eye and I couldn't resist taking the photo. I believe I saw this scene on Las Tablas Road in Templeton.  For the calendar I cropped off the lower fence rail. I couldn't do much about the wires.

September: Harvest Time at Doce Robles

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Doce Robles at Harvest Time Photo

It's always hard to choose just one photo to represent Doce Robles. I probably take more pictures there than at any other vineyard because it's such a great place to photograph sunsets. It's also a safe place to park if you head west on Highway 46 West and the sun is in your eyes making you too blind to drive safely. If you visit Doce Robles, don't be surprised if German shepherds greet you before you get into the tasting room.

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Doce Robles German Shepherds

Niner: Heart Hill in Autumn

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Heart Hill in Autumn

Heart Hill is a natural heart shaped oak grove. Niner Estates planted vineyards around it. In autumn it becomes a spectacular sight when the leaves put on their autumn colors. There's no way I could leave a photo of Heart Hill in autumn out of this calendar!

November: Harvest Display at Turley in Templeton

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Turley Autumn Display Photo

Turley always has an attractive seasonal display near its entrance during the autumn holidays. These displays, like this one, usually feature colorful pumpkins and squashes.

December: Castoro Windmill in the Sunset

2019 Paso Robles and Templeton Wine Country Calendar: Castoro Windmill in Sunset Photo

December is the sunset of the old year, so I thought this was appropriate. Besides that, I love the way this windmill looks in the sunset. I cropped this photo a bit for the calendar page so it would fit the format.

More about the Calendar's Features

The back cover of the calendar contains a list of all photo locations in case you want to identify them. There wasn't room to write everything on the photos themselves. If you decide to customize the calendar with some of your own photos, don't forget to change the descriptions on that back cover.

You can choose between many different sizes and wire binding colors. I made mine white. Order your copy of the calendar here.

Some of these scenes are also featured on posters, postcards, and other products in my Zazzle California Wine Country Memories and Gifts store.  Here's a sample, with some variations:

It is easy to customize the options to get what you want on this calendar. I intended it to be only a twelve month calendar, so I have only included photos for twelve months. You can choose a one or two page layout and chose a different set of holidays to include than the default. Although some photos I have posted here have my name on them, that is not the case as the photos appear on the calendar itself.

Which calendar month photo did you like best?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Feline Friends

Friendship Takes More than One

The City Daily Photo theme this month is "friend." But it's hard to be a friend in isolation. I have chosen today to feature some of the cats I have seen befriending each other and my own best feline friend.

Peachy Canyon Tasting Room Feline Friends

Peaches and Herbie hang out at the Peachy Canyon Tasting Room on Bethel Road and Highway 46 West in Templeton. I often see them separately, but on this day in March I saw them together, helping each other as friends do. They are Maine Coon cats and I always look forward to seeing them when I visit.

This short video shows how they help each other and what good friends they are.

I have featured Peaches and Herbie in my Zazzle Store, as well as my now departed and much missed feline friend. I'll tell you about her next.

Sarah the Tuxedo Cat and her Sidekick Garfield

Sarah and Garfield belonged to my neighbors who live in a mobile home on the other side of our driveway, across from our house. They are two of the five cats my neighbors owned at the time. I like to make friends with neighbor cats on my property, and I set about  trying to woo Sarah. I followed her into the oddest places with my camera, speaking calmly to her and not getting too close at first.

First I tried to befriend her when I found her on her porch. When I approached her she was resting, but as she saw me she got up, prepared to run away. I snapped her before she could.

There was a refrigerator the neighbors had ready to haul away, and she jumped to the top of that. I followed with my camera.

She would not let me get too close.

About three weeks later I snapped her photo as she rested on top of the water softener inside its cabinet. Someone had left the door open. She was making me work hard in this relationship.

After close to a month of wooing, cat treats in hand, she finally allowed me to get close and pet her. Then she began to hang out on an old chair on my porch almost every day. She was always there to greet me when I came home in the evenings. She actually was probably waiting just as much for the cat treat she knew she'd get. Whichever, I always looked forward to seeing her there, until she was no longer there. I heard coyotes howling the night before I didn't see her anymore. It hurt my heart. Her owners left their cats out at night, except for their kitten. I never felt quite the same way about coming home after that.

Garfield soon caught on that Sarah got cat treats when she hung around my porch, so he began to show up, too. You can read more about my history with them and see some more photos of the two of them here. 

See my other feline friends from the past.

See how other City Daily Photo Bloggers have interpreted this theme.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Oak Street Decorates for Halloween

It Looks Like Halloween on Oak Street

It seems the residents like to decorate with ghosts and gravestones and some bits of blood-like substances. Here's one example.

Oak Street in Paso Robles Decorates for Halloween

Those on  the sidewalk get a hint of what they will find in this yard because it starts on the sidewalk. Of course, you have to look up before you look down. Little tricker or treaters better watch out. I'm wondering if they will also hear spooky music.

Oak Street in Paso Robles Decorates for Halloween

This yard is a bit tamer and exhibits a slightly friendlier looking cemetery. At least the jack o lanterns are smiling!

Oak Street Decorates for Halloween

Here's the friendliest house of all!

Oak Street Decorates for Halloween

Boo to all and Happy Halloween!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Discovery Trail Dangers

The Discovery Trail above the San Luis Obispo County Botanical Garden

I had a date with a fellow nature lover last Tuesday at the San Luis Obispo County Botanical Garden, which I'd not yet visited. I was eager to see local plants with labels so I could identify some I've been wondering about.  Unfortunately I was two weeks too early for our date. My calendar was wrong. Rather than waste the trip over the grade I decided to explore a bit on my own. I started with the Children's Garden.

 Discovery Trail Dangers
Gnome Depot in Children's Garden with Teepee on the Left,  © B. Radisavljevic

The Discovery Trail

As I came to the edge of the Children's Garden, I saw a sign pointing to the Discovery Trail, which invited me to a walking adventure that would last about 3/4 mile. It instructed me to be on the lookout for birds and other animals, unique plants, and ancient volcanoes. It was too misty near the ocean for me to see the "awesome views to Morro Bay," though I did see the famous smoke stacks. On my hike I did see some unique plants, but I was unaware of how many of them were poisonous.

 Discovery Trail Dangers
Beginning of Discovery Trail goes through the shade of the trees on the right, © B. Radisavljevic

The sign failed to warn me of all the dangers I might encounter on the trail before it was too late to turn back. Although the trail was level at the beginning, it started climbing when I was not far along. By the time I realized what might endanger me personally, it would have been just as dangerous for me to turn back as to complete the hike.

I'm 75 years old and was alone. I never should have attempted to do this trail without a companion and without any idea of what was ahead. Fortunately it wasn't a hot day, but I was out of shape for an uphill climb. I had also forgotten it was summer and snake season. My knowledge of poisonous plants near the trail was limited to identifying poison oak.

Dangers I Encountered on the Discovery Trail

The first bit of danger I encountered with no warning signs was this tree root in the trail that would have been easy to trip over. It was surrounded by dried leaves and other debris that helped hide it.

 Discovery Trail Dangers
Tree Root across the Discovery Trail, © B. Radisavljevic

Next was a warning sign telling me how to identify poison oak. I was already proficient at that.  I had already posted a visual ID guide online which my city police department asked permission to use on their training website for search and rescue teams. You can find it here: Oak and Poison Oak in Photos: Can You Tell the Difference?

 Discovery Trail Dangers
Poison Oak Warning Sign on Discovery Trail Surrounded by Poison Oak

The abundant poison oak was not only close to the trail, but all too often intruding onto the trail itself. A bare branch on the trail side actually brushed me as I walked past and hit my shorts. The trail is narrow, and there's not a lot of room to get out of the way of obstacles.

 Discovery Trail Dangers
Poison oak bare branches extending onto Discovery Trail, © B. Radisavljevic

Fortunately no oil transferred to my skin. The oil that causes the itchy rash is present even on dead parts of the plant and dead leaves are often mixed with the oak leaves from the trees above the creeping poison oak. This can transfer onto shoes. So it's a good idea to be careful when removing clothes and shoes that might have picked up the oil and to clean the shoes with strong soap and launder any affected clothing quickly. You don't want it on your skin.

 Discovery Trail Dangers
Red poison oak and coyote brush by edge of Discovery Trail, © B. Radisavljevic

If your skin does come in contact with poison oak, this may help if you use it as soon as possible.

Steep Trail and Wild Fennel

After I had walked for a few minutes past the concentrations of poison oak under the trees, the trail started to climb rather steeply.

 Discovery Trail Dangers

There are two dangers in the photo above that may not be obvious. You can see places where the narrow trail is almost covered with the slippery straw-like dried grasses. In addition to that there are small loose rocks you may not see as clearly. Both are easy to slide on. That's dangerous on this sort of slope. It was difficult to get sure footing. I began to envy mountain goats here.

When I published this post, I believed those pretty yellow-top plants you see on the side of the trail were wild parsnip -- an invasive plant that can make you as miserable as poison oak. Wild parsnip has a toxic sap in the stem. If that sap gets on your skin, it will make it extremely sun sensitive -- so sensitive that some people have gotten second and third degree burns from it. Check this illustrated article to see what it can do to you. It also has information about a look-alike plant called Golden Alexander.

I have since found out from a volunteer at the botanical garden that the plant is wild fennel instead. That makes me feel better about this trail. The flowers are very similar to the wild parsley, but the leaves of the fennel are much frillier. They just don't show much in these photos. I think the leaves get smaller when the plant flowers and the stalks shoot up.

 Discovery Trail Dangers
Closeup View of Wild Fennel, © B. Radisavljevic
 Discovery Trail Dangers
Wild Fennel on Hillside, © B. Radisavljevic

The only other plant I know of that only slightly resembles this is common dill -- the kind they make pickles out of. It has similar yellow tops, but its leaves are much more fern-like. If in doubt about any plant with a yellow umbrella-shaped flower head, stay away from it or you may be very sorry later that you didn't.

Over all, I would not wanted to have missed this view from a high point on the trail. I wish there had been a bench to rest on before I got to the highest point on the trail. Those my age might appreciate it. At least I did not encounter any snakes -- especially rattlesnakes. I would not want to hike this trail in the rain because of its hazards, but in dry weather it offers lovely views. Just don't go by yourself as I did. I would not go alone again. You might want to pick up one of these trail guides so you can plan better than I did, though this trail is not mentioned in the Falcon Guide published in 2011 that I own. The Eagle Rock Trail above it is listed. There was no mention of the poisonous plants.

 Discovery Trail Dangers: Hiking above the San Luis Obispo County Botanical Gardens at El Chorro Regional Park and Campground

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Little Free Library in the Botanical Garden

Free Books at the San Luis Obispo County Botanical Garden

As I was exploring the botanical garden this week, I discovered a selection of books one can borrow in a Little Free Library some thoughtful person or group had put there. The way it works is that you can take a book out and later return a book of your choice. Here are some of the books I saw there.

Little Free Library in the Botanical Garden
Little Free Library in San Luis Obispo County Botanical Garden

Reading in the Shade

I didn't get to the botanical garden until after I had hiked the Discovery Trail above the gardens, so I was very tired when I discovered the library. I returned my camera to the car and got provisions before heading to the restroom right beside the parking lot to clean up. I had retrieved my Kindle, a purse-size water bottle, and a packet of delicious BelVita cookie biscuits for energy. I was anxious to return to the shady section of benches I had passed on my way to the car. I had been hiking over an hour in the sun, so I sat and read as I rested and fed my body.

Little Free Library in the Botanical Garden
Shady Reading Area in Botanical Garden in San Luis Obispo

The Little Free Library

I had heard of and seen Little Free Libraries in public places and in front of homes, but I had no idea there was one in the botanical garden in San Luis Obispo. If you're not familiar with them, this short video will explain.

You can start your own Little Free Library and the above video tells you how.
You will also find lots of information on the Little Free Library Website.

Had I known about the Little Free Library, I would not have needed my Kindle with me. I could have borrowed a book. As you can see, the day I took the photos there were many gardening books inside.

Do you have a Little Free Library near you? If not, why not get a group together and start one to help support literacy in your neighborhood or in your own front yard.

Little Free Library in the Botanical Garden in San Luis Obispo

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