Photo Sphere

The Island Fox on Santa Cruz Island

Last weekend, Dave and Irene and Carol and I went to Santa Cruz Island to volunteer with the Friends of the Island Fox to help remove non-native, invasive plants from the island, specifically, the oyster plant. In addition to the super-fun weed picking experience, we got to see and experience and learn many new things. The day on the island exceeded our expectations, and as Huell Howser might say, it was amazing.

Update August 11, 2016: Island Fox Removed from Endangered Status!

Video: Meet the Tiny Foxes That Shouldn’t Be Alive – A decade ago the tiny island fox was on the brink of extinction. Now, thanks to a radical reordering of its California island ecosystem, the fox is coming off the Endangered Species List.

We landed at Scorpion Anchorage on the east end of Santa Cruz Island. The beach was wide and calm with crystal-clear water -- perfect for launching a kayak.
We landed at Scorpion Anchorage on the east end of Santa Cruz Island. The beach was wide and calm with crystal-clear water — perfect for launching a kayak.
Island Packers provided our transportation to and from the Island. They were awesome, even stopping each way so we could snap photos of humpback and gray whales, and countless dolphins.
Island Packers provided our transportation to and from the Island. They were awesome, even stopping each way so we could snap photos of humpback and gray whales, and countless dolphins.
The dock at Scorpion Harbor was damaged several years ago by large waves, so everyone was taken ashore on inflatable boats -- a somewhat cumbersome process.
The dock at Scorpion Harbor was damaged several years ago by large waves, so everyone was taken ashore on inflatable boats — a somewhat cumbersome process.
Carol poses for the obligatory photo-by-National-Park-sign photo.
Carol poses for the obligatory photo-by-National-Park-sign photo.
Walking up Scorpion Canyon, we encountered our first Island Fox resting under a tree, not far from the trail. The fox is about the size of a house cat, and was not overly-concerned with us humans.
Walking up Scorpion Canyon, we encountered our first Island Fox resting under a tree, not far from the trail. The fox is about the size of a house cat, the smallest North American canid, found only on the California Channel Islands. It was not concerned by our presence.
Santa Cruz has campgrounds providing water, a table and bear lockers - not to worry, there are no bears on the island. Charcoal and campfires are not allowed, and there is not trash service. You pack it in, you pack it out.
Santa Cruz has campgrounds providing water, a table and bear lockers — not to worry, there are no bears on the island. Charcoal and campfires are not allowed, and there is not trash service. You pack it in, you pack it out.
The windmill is part of the remaining infrastructure of the Scorpion Ranch -- an old sheep ranch until 1984. Today, the ranch's main building is a National Park Visitor Center.
The windmill is part of the remaining infrastructure of the Scorpion Ranch, an old sheep ranch until 1984. Today, the ranch’s main building is a National Park Visitor Center.
Near the top end of Scorpion Canyon, looking east.
Near the top end of Scorpion Canyon, looking east.

A photo sphere of the Friends of the Island Fox collecting the invasive oyster plant (Tragopogon porrifolius) along the Montañon Ridge Trail.

Looking east over non-native cypress trees to Anacapa Island - another island in the Channel Islands National Park.
Looking east over non-native cypress trees to Anacapa Island — another island in the Channel Islands National Park.
Legacy fence lines in various states of disrepair.
Legacy fence lines in various states of disrepair.
Little Scorpion Anchorage with Anacapa Island in the background.
Little Scorpion Anchorage with Anacapa Island in the background.
Kayakers take advantage of the island's clear waters and the many available sea caves. The island is home to one of the largest sea caves in the world.
Kayakers take advantage of the island’s clear waters and the many available sea caves. The island is home to one of the largest sea caves in the world.
Island Packers boats offshore at Scorpion Anchorage.
Island Packers boats offshore at Scorpion Anchorage.
Our last sighting of an Island Fox on the beach, just before boarding the boat for the return trip to Ventura.
Our last sighting of an Island Fox on the beach, just before boarding the boat for the return trip to Ventura.

COPS Racing at the NORRA Mexican 1000

With its roots from 1967, the 2016 edition of the NORRA Mexican 1000 Off Road Race ran 1374 miles down the Baja peninsula, starting in Ensenada with the checkered flag in San Jose del Cabo. The four-day event represents six eras of race cars, defined primarily by the technology available when originally introduced. Each era will be awarded an overall trophy.

One hundred twenty-four racers will begin their journey down the peninsula in Ensenada, advancing each day to the Bay of Los Angeles; then Loreto; then the capital city of Baja California Sur, La Paz, and finally the finish in San Jose del Cabo.

COPS Racing entered two Spec Trophy Trucks in the race: the E/S Motorsports #29 driven by Zak Langley, and the #250 Brenthel-built truck driven by John Langley — both trucks are in the Evolution Unlimited Class for contemporary race cars.

If you’d like to follow along, here’s a map of course, from top to bottom.

Contingency Row and Tech Inspection

Contingency Row gives race fans a down-and-dirty, close-up view of the racers and race cars in an almost a carnival-like atmosphere. The pre-race event is held the day before the race in front of the historic Riviera Convention Center and gives racers one last chance to solicit help from sponsors before the race. At the end of Contingency Row, race cars pass through Technical Inspection, to verify the race car is rules-compliant and safe to race.

The NORRA 1000 has been described as a \"Gentleman's Race\" as evidenced by the relaxed, fun atmosphere of Contingency.
The NORRA 1000 has been described as a “Gentleman’s Race” as evidenced by the relaxed, fun atmosphere of Contingency.
John Langley will pilot the COPS Racing #250 in the Evolution Unlimited Era class. "Evolution Era" includes contemporary race cars and UTVs.
John Langley will pilot the COPS Racing #250 in the Evolution Unlimited Era class. “Evolution Era” includes contemporary race cars and UTVs.
Zak Langley will be driving the 2016 COPS Racing #29 E/S Motorsports Spec Trophy Truck in the contest, for Pro Unlimited for Evolution Era cars.
Zak Langley will be driving the 2016 COPS Racing #29  E/S Motorsports Spec Trophy Truck in the contest, for Pro Unlimited for Evolution Era cars.
Michael Power drove the #125 1991 Nissan T Mag, racing in the Historic Truck and Truggy class, which is defined as 20 years or older.
Michael Power drove the #125 1991 Nissan T Mag, racing in the Historic Truck and Truggy class, which is defined as 20 years or older.
Troy Herbst is the driver of the iconic Terrible Herbst Land Shark, the revolutionary 1994 Smittybuilt truggy.
Troy Herbst is the driver of the iconic Terrible Herbst Land Shark, the revolutionary 1994 Smittybuilt truggy (half truck, half buggy).
Jonathan Swift raced this 1975 Ford F-100 in the Pioneer 4x4 class.
Jonathan Swift raced this 1975 Ford F-100 in the Pioneer 4×4 class.
John Swift is driving the 1972 Olds Cutlass in the Pioneer Era class, for 1967 through 1975 cars. The car was festooned with a tequila version of the Tecate Girls.
John Swift is driving the 1972 Olds Cutlass in the Pioneer Era class, for 1967 through 1975 cars. The car was festooned with a tequila version of  The Tecate Girls.

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Day 1: Ensenada to Bahia de Los Angeles (456.70 miles)

COPS staged at 6 a.m for the 7 a.m. start of the 1374 mile race. After departing Ensenada, racers will log 456 miles before seeing the day’s finish in the Bay of Los Angeles on the east side of Baja.

John chats with the Brenthel brothers before the race.
John chats with the Brenthel brothers before the race.
Mark McMillian's Baja-winning #83 1979 Chenowth Class 2 car. When one of the COPS Crew Members walked past, Mark called him over and bragged, \"Hey, you guys don't have one of these.\" He pushed a button on his dash and a digital read-out said \"Beer me! Beer me!\"
Mark McMillian’s Baja-winning #83 1979 Chenowth Class 2 car. When one of the COPS Crew Members walked past, Mark called him over and bragged, “Hey, you guys don’t have one of these.” He pushed a button on his dash and a digital read-out said “Beer me! Beer me!”
Mike Howell will handle the right-hand seat duties with John Langley in the COPS #250.
Mike Howell will handle the right-hand seat duties with John Langley in the COPS #250.
The #29 COPS truck is off the line in Ensenada with its cross-hairs on Cabo.
The #29 COPS truck is off the line in Ensenada with its cross-hairs on Cabo.
Coco, from the world-famous Coco's Corner, is a race dignitary.
Coco, from the world-famous Coco’s Corner, is a race dignitary.
John leaves the dirt and enters Highway 1 outrunning a bus.
John leaves the dirt and enters Highway 1 outrunning a bus.
Our first gas stop at Santa Maria, around 125 miles into Day 1, and midway in our first Special Section. Due to timing, we had the time for a luxuriously-long gas stop where drivers could get out of the car and relax.
Our first gas stop at Santa Maria, around 125 miles into Day 1, and midway in our first Special Section. Due to timing, we had the time for a luxuriously-long gas stop where drivers could get out of the car and relax.
The second truck arrives in our pits - George prepares to fuel it.
The second truck arrives in our pits — George prepares to fuel it.
Zak schools Mike on some of the navigation equipment.
Zak schools Mike on some of the navigation equipment.
The co-driver navigates with a road book (aka tulip notes) augmenting the GPS - he has little time to look out the window.
The co-driver navigates with a road book (aka tulip notes) augmenting the GPS — he has little time to look out the window.
At our second fuel stop, Kory Halopoff repairs the #29's rear Fiberglas fender. Kory will drive the #250 for a leg of the race to give John a break.
At our second fuel stop, Kory Halopoff repairs the #29’s rear Fiberglas fender. Kory will drive the #250 for a leg of the race to give John a break.
Both COPS race trucks carry MaxTrax extraction ramps. Most racers view this new technology as cheap insurance against getting stuck.
Both COPS race trucks carry MaxTrax extraction ramps. Most racers view this new technology as cheap insurance against getting stuck.
The #250 waits out the clock on a Special Section, where timing is critical -- you do not want to arrive too early or too late.
The #250 waits out the clock on a Special Section, where timing is critical — you do not want to arrive too early or too late.
After a flawless day of racing for both trucks, we visit Pit City at the finish line in Bay of Los Angeles, where tacos and margaritas flowed freely, along with many race-related stories.
After a flawless day of racing for both trucks, we visit Pit City at the finish line in Bay of Los Angeles, where tacos and margaritas flowed freely, along with many race-related stories.

Day 2: Bahia de Los Angeles to Loreto (437.60 miles)

Sunup at the Bay of LA. The first cars depart town at 7:30.
Sunup at the Bay of LA. The first cars depart town at 7:30.
The Terrible Herbst Land Shark leaves the line at Bay of LA. In one more day, the Shark would catch fire and burn to the ground.
The Terrible Herbst Land Shark leaves the line at Bay of LA. In one more day, the Shark would catch fire and burn to the ground.
John leaves the starting line at the direction of NORRA Director Mike Pearlman. It was Pearlman’s late father Ed, along with others, who established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November 1967.
John leaves the starting line at the direction of NORRA Director Mike Pearlman. It was Pearlman’s late father Ed, along with others, who established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November 1967.
A vado? Looks more like a tope to me! Ja ja - love that Baja humor!
A vado? Looks more like a tope to me! Ja ja – love that Baja humor!
The view of the Loreto Finish Line from the balcony of our room in the Mision Hotel. I was looking forward to a good night's sleep when I got the word: George and Manny had hit a horse in one of the Team's F-350 chase trucks. Luckily they were OK, but the Ford and the horse didn't fare so well. We drove north of Loreto about 10 miles to get them and bring them to the hotel.
The view of the Loreto Finish Line from the balcony of our room at the Mision Hotel. I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep when I got the word: George and Manny had hit a horse in one of the Team’s F-350 chase trucks. Luckily they were OK, but the Ford and the horse didn’t fare so well. We drove north of Loreto about 10 miles to get them and bring them to the hotel.
And then the other shoe dropped. Zak, in our #29 truck, had a blown motor and Steve and I were tasked to retrieve Zak, his co-driver, and the race truck. We were on the Sea of Cortez while Zak was on the Pacific side, near San Juanico, about 30 miles north of the closest pavement. We were looking at a very long night at best.
George and Manny's chase truck will sit this race out. On the trip north, we stopped to remove the generator/welder, tools, and spare race truck parts.
George and Manny’s chase truck will sit this race out. On the trip north, we stopped to remove the generator/welder, tools, and spare race truck parts.

Day 3: Loreto to La Paz (324.10 miles)

We have to assume the cars started OK in Loreto — the four of us, with broken race truck in tow head south to meet the race in progress. The sunrise was quite spectacular.

Steve and I spent a night to get to Zak, who was waiting patiently (and freezing) in his truck in front of the San Juanico police station. With Zak's truck on the trailer, we rejoined the race in progress on Wednesday. Tuesday-Wednesday would eventually be a 38 hour day for us.
Steve and I spent a night to get to Zak, who was waiting patiently (and freezing) in his truck in front of the San Juanico police station. With Zak’s truck on the trailer, we rejoined the race in progress on Tuesday. Monday-Tuesday would eventually be a 38-hour day for us.
Florian Oger tears it up with the Snortin' Nortin' 1971 Chevy Nova - a favorite of spectators.
Florian Oger tears it up with the Snortin’ Nortin’ 1971 Chevy Nova — a favorite of spectators.
Dennis swapped out the #250's air filter - he dropped the old filter on the ground and a little light brown silt came out.
Dennis swapped out the #250’s air filter — he dropped the old filter on the ground and a little light brown silt came out.
Racers in the distance, headed to La Paz.
Racers in the distance, headed to La Paz.
Chris Wilson and Glen Straightiff working for the finish in the Vintage Class 1966 Ford Bronco.
Chris Wilson and Glen Straightiff working for the finish in the Vintage Class 1966 Ford Bronco.

Day 4: La Paz to San Jose del Cabo (155.60 miles)

We swapped out one of the #250's tires before the last Special Section due to low air pressure.
We swapped out one of the #250’s tires before the last Special Section due to low air pressure.
John restarts the last Special Section toward the checkers in Cabo -- a mechanical problem is only miles ahead ...
John restarts the last Special Section toward the checkers in Cabo — a mechanical problem is only miles ahead …
John waits for his truck's wheel bearing to be swapped out. Including the time required to locate him, and mechanical repairs, his down-time was close to two hours. Even with the down-time, he would finish seventh in class.
John waits for his truck’s wheel bearing to be swapped out. Including the time required to locate him, and mechanical repairs, his down-time was close to two hours. Even with the down-time, he would finish seventh in class.
Dennis and Corey and Mike swap out the #250's wheel bearing with the broken #29's bearing.
Dennis and Corey and Mike swap out the #250’s wheel bearing with the broken #29’s bearing.
Dennis Crowley, COPS Racing Crew Chief, was an amazing force driving the team to the finish in Cabo. Always in a good mood, while dealing the constant chaos called racing.
Dennis Crowley, COPS Racing Crew Chief, was an amazing force driving the team to the finish in Cabo. Always in a good mood, while dealing the constant chaos called “racing.”
End-of-race dinner in San Jose del Cabo. Beginning the next day, we will drive to Carson, CA, 1200 miles to the north.
End-of-race dinner in San Jose del Cabo. Beginning the next day, we will drive to Carson, CA, 1200 miles to the north.
Playa Lugui -- as nice is it is, expect to see a resort and 18-hole golf course with loud, drunk Americans in the near future.
Playa Lugui — as nice is it is, expect to see a resort and 18-hole golf course with loud, drunk Americans in the near future.
Where the best margaritas in the world are made: the bar at the Oasis Hotel in Loreto.
Where the best margaritas in the world are made: the bar at the Oasis Hotel in Loreto.
Downtown Loreto, BCS, an über-cool Baja town.
Downtown Loreto, BCS, an über-cool Baja town.

A photo sphere of the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó  which was founded on October 25, 1697 — the first of the California Missions.

North on Highway 1 along the Sea of Cortez. Note the road shoulder width - extra challenging when towing a trailer.
North on Highway 1 along the Sea of Cortez. Note the road shoulder width – extra challenging when towing a trailer.
Playa En Bahia Concepcion Magico Lugar.
Playa En Bahia Concepcion Magico Lugar.
Dennis needed to make an important business stop at Armondo's at Playa Santispack which just so happens to serve a pretty good lunch.
Dennis needed to make an important business stop at Armondo’s at Playa Santispac which just so happens to serve a pretty good lunch.

A photo sphere taken at Microondas Tiburón — Bahía Concepción to the south and Mulegé to the north.

Passing thru one of the handful of military checkpoints along Highway 1 - homeward bound.
Passing thru one of the handful of military checkpoints along Highway 1 — homeward bound.

Extra-Credit:

  • 12 things we learned on the Mexico 1000 — As our internal organs recover, some thoughts from possibly the world’s greatest race.
  • First Baja 1000 – 27 Hours to La Paz — The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 31, 1967, and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. The course length that year was 849 miles (1,366 km) and ended in La Paz, Baja California Sur, with the overall winning time of 27 hours 38 minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels while driving a Meyers Manx buggy.

 

The World That The Children Made

“The World That The Children Made,” a mural by Brian Farrell, is located on the east wall of Plant Food and Wine,

October 27, 2015
October 27, 2015
October 27, 2015
October 27, 2015
October 30, 2015
October 30, 2015
November 12, 2015
November 12, 2015
November 12, 2015
November 12, 2015
December 1, 2015
December 1, 2015
December 15, 2015
December 15, 2015
January 11, 2016
January 11, 2016
January 11, 2016
January 11, 2016
January 15, 2016
January 15, 2016 Brian Farrell Art.

The Baja 1000, 5 Miles East of Bahía Blanco

Our mission at this SCORE Baja 1000 was very simple: go to Race Mile 435, and wait for the three COPS Racing cars to arrive. Our sole purpose was “extraction” – if any one of our cars get stuck in the miles-long silt beds, our job was to find them and get them moving again. Should extraction be necessary, there was a 100% chance it would be at night, in total darkness – more commonly known as “fun.”

COPS Racing was campaigning Trophy Truck #50, driven by Zak Langley; the Class 10 car was driven by Morgan Langley, and John Langley handled the driving duties of the brand-new Trophy Truck Spec. The 830 mile course started in Ensenada, with a loop south along the Pacific, east to the Sea of Cortez, then north to San Felipe, then west, back to the finish in Ensenada.

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Our first stop in Baja was at the Horsepower Ranch outside Ensenada with its Legends Party, where off-road legends, Rob MacCachran and Rufus Parnell “Parnelli” Jones, were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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The McMillins provided their contemporary race trucks for static display at Horesepower, plus Mark McMillin was showing his old Class 1 car. Speaking of Mark McMillin, the food at the Ranch was exceptional.

Inside the bar at the Horsepower Ranch:

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On Thursday we left Horsepower Ranch and headed toward the hotel at Cataviña via Highway 5 and San Felipe. This is the end of the pavement, about 25 kilometers south of Gonzaga Bay. New highway construction is continuing to the south and west, progressing toward Highway 1. The creeping black death slowly takes over Baja.
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The new highway alignment runs about 2km west of Coco’s Corner, spanning some large arroyos.
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On Friday morning, we left the hotel in Cataviña, and headed to our position on the course at RM435 – the commute took close to six hours.
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The road west of Highway 1 was scenic and fast. Leaving the highway, the desert was green and happy.
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The Cardon, Boogum Trees and cholla were plentiful on the way to the San José de la Piedra fish camp on the Pacific coast.
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Once at the coast, we drove south about 25 miles, past bay after spectacular bay with no people, no buildings, no nada.
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Good Lord, another beautiful bay.

A photo sphere taken at the south end of Bahía Córbin – what the locals call Cuchillo. Steve does an excellent Coco impersonation.

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One of the race leaders was 45x ridden by Francisco Arredondo of Guatemala.
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45x would finish the race, third in the Pro Motorcycle class, in 17 hours, 8 minutes.
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Raul Hernandez riding 14x KTM, finished sixth in the Pro Motorcycle class.
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The last rider before sunset. We only had nine hours to kill before our race cars arrive. The Trophy Truck and Class 10 were running strong, but the Trophy Truck Spec experienced mechanical problems around Race Mile 250 and couldn’t continue in the race. When the checkered flag dropped, the Trophy Truck finished 11th in class, and the Class 10 finished second in class.
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Saturday morning, heading back to civilization, we crossed El Islote dry lake – think: Bonneville Salt Flats (and all associated speed).

El Islote:

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Alfonsina’s in Gonzaga Bay was our Saturday night hotel. Friday was a long race day, and a shower and bed were greatly appreciated.
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Ahhhh … it’s time to relax at Gonzaga Bay – the end of a 1200 mile weekend.

Doing Time on The Rock, See?

With apologies to Edward G. Robinson.

Carol and I push off from Pier 33 in San Francisco for our first trip to Alcatraz Island. As it turned out, we used four modes of transportation that day: boat, car, train and airplane.
Carol and I push off from Pier 33 in San Francisco for our first visit to Alcatraz Island. As it turned out, we used four modes of transportation that day: boat, car, train and airplane.
Alcatraz is 1.5 miles into the San Francisco Bay first documented by Spanish explorers in 1775 who named the island "La Isla de los Alcatraces" (The Island of the Pelicans). It stands 135 feet out of the water and was a military garrison, then a military prison, then a federal penitentiary, and now part of the National Park System.
Alcatraz is 1.5 miles into the San Francisco Bay first documented by Spanish explorers in 1775 who named the island “La Isla de los Alcatraces” (The Island of the Pelicans). It stands 135 feet out of the water and was a military garrison, then a military prison, then a federal penitentiary, and now part of the National Park System.
A lingering sign from the 1969–71 Native American occupation.
A lingering sign from the 1969–71 Native American occupation.
Apparently, Alcatraz was the only federal penitentiary which provided hot showers for its inmates.
Apparently, Alcatraz was the only federal penitentiary which provided hot showers for its inmates. The theory was, with the warm water, inmates could not get acclimated to cold water, aiding their chance of escape. Inmates were limited to 10-minute showers. Al Capone famously practiced the banjo in the shower block.
Living conditions were not plush at the prison. Cells came with a bed, sink, toilet, seat and table. Ceilings were 7' tall.
Living conditions were not plush at the prison. Cells came with a bed, sink, toilet, seat and table and were 9′ deep, 5′ wide and 7′ tall. Alcatraz housed some 1,576 of America’s most ruthless criminals including Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Bumpy Johnson, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Mickey Cohen, Arthur R. “Doc” Barker, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis (who served 26 years – more time at Alcatraz than any other inmate).
Alcatraz had four cell blocks, A-D, each with three stories.
Alcatraz had four cell blocks, A-D, each with three stories.
The Golden Gate Bridge in fog.
The Golden Gate Bridge in fog.
The exercise yard outside the cell blocks.
The exercise yard outside the cell blocks.
The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse was built in 1852 and was the first lighthouse on the U.S. West Coast. The one that exists today was built in 1909 - it replaced the original which was fatally damaged in the 1906 earthquake.
The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse was built in 1852 and was the first lighthouse on the U.S. West Coast. The one that exists today was built in 1909 – it replaced the original which was fatally damaged in the 1906 earthquake.
The basement of Alcatraz contained some showers and a dungeon (solitary confinement) accessed from A-Block. The green stairway to the basement is on the ride side of the photo
The basement of Alcatraz contained some showers and a dungeon (solitary confinement) accessed from A-Block, and was only used for a few years. The green stairway to the basement is on the ride side of the photo.
The Fog Gods were generally cooperative, but every so often, they would tease us.
The Fog Gods were generally cooperative, but every so often, they would tease us.
San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood.
San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.
Building 64 were residential apartments, first used by the military, then by the prison.
Building 64 were residential apartments, first used by the military, then by the prison.
Of the many guard towers which existed on Alcatraz, this is the only one remaining.
Of the many guard towers that were on Alcatraz, this is the only one remaining.
As a bonus while visiting The Rock, we got to see part of the Fleet Week San Francisco air show including the Blue Angels.
As a bonus while visiting The Rock, we got to see part of the Fleet Week San Francisco air show including the Blue Angels.
More Fleet Week movement under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fleet Week movement under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Driving North in Baja After the Mil

The race is over, fun is through, and now’s the time to drive north to where it’s dark and cold.

But we first have to take a detour to Bahia Agua Verde – a popular and safe anchorage only a day’s sail north of La Paz. The road starts out paved, but then turns to dirt – OK for any high-clearance, two wheel drive vehicle. The road is steep and rocky in places, so the trip takes some time. For a reason, Agua Verde is popular among sailors, but not so much by drivers.

Near the top of the road to Bahia Agua Verde where it crosses a shallow dam over Arroyo Santa Cruz.
Near the top of the road to Bahia Agua Verde where it crosses a shallow dam over Arroyo Santa Cruz.
Looking southeast from the Agua Verde Road to Punta San Cosme.
Looking southeast from the Agua Verde Road to Punta San Cosme.
The water on the left is standing water, left by recent hurricane Odile.
The water on the left is standing water, left by recent hurricane Odile.
Looking north of Estero San Cosme along the Sea of Cortez. Taken from right about here.
Looking north of Estero San Cosme along the Sea of Cortez. Taken from right about here.
Not much happening at Bahia Agua Verde. Click to embiggen the panorama.

And yet another way to look at Agua Verde – with this photo sphere. Grab it and have a look around.

A quite friendly Agua Verde local. To show that we are sophisticated Americans, we moo'd at him.
A quite friendly Agua Verde local. To show that we are sophisticated Americans, we moo’d at him.
An early-morning vulture spreads its wings to serve as drying the wings, warming the body, or baking off bacteria.
An early-morning vulture spreads its wings to serve as drying the wings, warming the body, or baking off bacteria.
Driving along the Sea of Cortez - lush mangroves in the background.
Driving along the Sea of Cortez – lush mangroves in the background.

A photo sphere from Playa Requesón – grab this bad boy and have a look around.

And a photo sphere from the top of the mountain where the El Tiburón microwave lives. To the south, you can see down into Bahía Concepción, and to the norte, Mulegé. Look carefully to see Highway 1.

Mission San Ignacio at sunset.  I Photoshopped power lines out of the photo. Apparently Mexican law dictates placing telephone poles and wires in front of every historic mission.
Mission San Ignacio at sunset. I Photoshopped power lines out of the photo. Apparently Mexican law dictates placing telephone poles and wires in front of every historic mission.

Take a look around inside Misión San Ignacio Kadakaamán with this photo sphere.

The north/side door of the mission.
The north/side door of the mission.

The San Ignacio Mission, seen from this photo sphere across the zócalo.

I had some killer chicken tacos Sunday night at the San Ignacio zócalo.
I had some killer chicken tacos Sunday night at the San Ignacio zócalo.
Cardón cactus silhouetted in the Baja sunset, south of San Ignacio.
Cardón cactus silhouetted in the Baja sunset, south of San Ignacio.
Cardón cactus and Boojum Trees near Punta Prieta.
Cardón cactus and Boojum Trees near Punta Prieta.

Take a look at the cool desert near Punta Prieta, Cardón cactus and Boojum Trees.

The desert blanketed with yellow flowers.
The desert blanketed with yellow flowers.

The turn-off to Highway 5 from Highway 1 at Laguna Chapala.

Looking north toward Gonzaga Bay on the newly graded right-of-way. Soon, this will be covered in an oily black substance.
Looking north toward Gonzaga Bay on the newly graded Highway 5 right-of-way. Soon, this clean dirt will be covered in an oily black substance.
A stop at Alfonsina's for tacos pescado. And maybe just one beer.
A stop at Alfonsina’s for tacos pescado. And maybe just one beer.

A photo sphere from the roof of Alfonsina’s – we wish we were there now.

Baja 1000: COPS Prerun and Race

For the purpose of the Baja 1000 Off Road Race, COPS Racing divided the peninsula into thirds, to best manage crew and logistics. Our section of the course was the lower third, between Loreto and the finish at La Paz. During the race, our job was to hang out close to some nasty silt beds near Race Mile 1190, and wait for the Class 10 car. Should he encounter stuckage problems, we were there to help unstuck.

Sunday morning off-loading the prerunner, Oprah, in Cuidad Insurgentes. Morgan and John practiced different sections on the way south to La Paz. On Race Day, Morgan would drive the Class 1 and John would drive the Class 10.
Sunday morning off-loading the prerunner, Oprah, in Cuidad Insurgentes. Morgan and John practiced their different sections of the race course in the southern third of Baja. On Race Day, Morgan would drive the Class 1 and John would drive the Class 10.
The COPS prerunner was built by Racer Engineering, sporting a race Corvette motor and three feet of suspension travel. It has two front seats and one back seat - perfect for optimum course reconnaissance.
The COPS prerunner was built by Racer Engineering, sporting a race Corvette motor and three feet of suspension travel. It has two front seats and one back seat – perfect for optimum course reconnaissance.
John Langley, Team Owner, discusses the day's logistics with Morgan and Bill.
John Langley, COPS Team Owner, discusses the day’s logistics with Morgan and Bill.
Dennis and Ron gas up Oprah at the soon-to-be BFGoodrich Pits near Santa Rita.
Dennis and Ron gas up Oprah at the soon-to-be BFGoodrich Pits near Santa Rita.

Waiting for Oprah at the soon-to-be BFGoodrich Pits near Santa Rita.

Morgan and Bill practicing their portion of race course near Punta Conejo. On race day, they'll be piloting the Class 1 car.
Morgan and Bill practicing their portion of race course near Punta Conejo. On race day, they’ll be piloting the Class 1 car.

A Photo Sphere from Punta Conejo and the light house – click and drag to look around.

Bill and Morgan describe some minor mechanical issues to Dennis, the team's "Chaseman."
Bill and Morgan describe some minor mechanical issues to Dennis, the team’s “Chaseman.”
Navigating a race course access road.
Navigating a race course access road.
We get distracted by a giant bug on the windshield.
We get distracted by a giant bug on the windshield.

If you’re keeping score, here’s our route as chase guys: SoCal → Loreto → Cuidad Insurgentes → Punta Conejo → La Paz → Cuidad Insurgentes → Santa Rita → Punta Conejo → La Paz → Cuidad Constitución → La Paz → Punta Conejo → RM1190 → Punta Conejo → RM1180 → Loreto → SoCal. All that equals 3354.06 miles with an average speed of 46.43 mph, and almost 72 hours of moving time.

Oprah charges into the silt beds at Santa Rita.
Oprah charges into the silt beds at Santa Rita.

A Photo Sphere of the Hyatt Place La Paz lobby – click and drag to look around. That’s Ron standing by the front desk.

Stewart gasses up Oprah, while Morgan climbs out.
Stewart gasses up Oprah, while Morgan climbs out.
Prerunning is over for the day - running back to the highway on the Punta Conejo road.
Prerunning is over for the day – running back to the highway on the Punta Conejo road.

A Photo Sphere while waiting for Oprah – click and drag to look around.

Symbolic sunset photo, transitioning from prerunning to race day.
Symbolic sunset photo, transitioning from prerunning to race day.
Steve and I had to drive into our camp site near the silt beds, the day before the race which would keep us from driving on a live race course. We had to drive around 15 miles on a dirt road to Punta Conejo, then another 15 miles north along the Pacific, on the beach. We were very remote.
Steve and I had to drive into our camp site near the silt beds, the day before the race which would keep us from driving on a live race course. We had to drive around 15 miles on a dirt road to Punta Conejo, then another 15 miles north along the Pacific, on the beach. We were very remote.

A Photo Sphere of our camp site on the Pacific Coast – click and drag to look around.

The night before the race got to us, we enjoyed a campfire on the beach and some Tecate beers. As it turns out, really big moths like Tecate beer too.
The night before the race got to us, we enjoyed a campfire on the beach and some Tecate beers. As it turns out, really big moths like Tecate beer too.

The race started in Ensenada Thursday morning, but didn’t reach us, 1100+ miles down-course, until early Friday morning. The COPS Trophy Truck passed us Friday afternoon running strong, finishing 8th in Class. We ultimately got word the Class 1 went into a ditch halfway down Baja and ripped out the car’s front end, rendering a DNF. And the brand-new Class 10 Jimco was running strong toward us.

One of the lead Trophy Trucks past our location was Clyde Stacy from Bristol, VA - he would finish 7th in Class.
One of the lead Trophy Trucks past our location was Clyde Stacy from Bristol, VA – he finished 7th in Class.
Justin Davis was  the Class 1 leader in his Rigid Industries Jimco, finishing first in Class in around 24-1/2 hours.
Justin Davis was the Class 1 leader in his Rigid Industries Jimco, finishing first in Class in around 24-1/2 hours.
Late afternoon sun shows off the sandy whoops in the course.
Late afternoon sun shows off the sandy whoops on the course.
Late on Friday evening the new Jimco Class 10 made it to around RM1180 and the clutch failed. Actually, the clutch had been slowly failing for the prior 100 miles, but without a spare, the car was stopped, pressure plates were scuffed up and reassembled. The car made it a final 30 miles before the clutch gasped its final breath of life. We found the car after sunrise Saturday morning and towed it 20 miles to the highway with a bigger truck and trailer. When the dust settled, our race day was 36 hours.
Late on Friday evening the new Jimco Class 10 made it to around RM1180 and the clutch failed. Actually, the clutch had been slowly failing for the prior 100 miles, but without a spare, the car was stopped, pressure plates were scuffed up and reassembled. The car made it a final 30 miles before the clutch gasped its final breath of life. We found the car after sunrise Saturday morning and towed it 20 miles to the highway with a bigger truck and trailer. When the dust settled, our race day was 36 hours.

Mexico Highways 5 and 1 to Loreto

We had two days to get to Loreto, two-thirds of the way down the Baja Peninsula. Steve and I manned COPS Racing Chase 3 to help with prerunning the course (practicing), and as support crew during the Baja 1000 Off Road Race – we worked the lower third of the course between Loreto and La Paz. This year’s race was a peninsula run, starting in Ensenada and finishing in La Paz, with 1275 miles in between.

COPS entered three cars in the 1000: the #50 Trophy Truck driven by Zak Langley; the Class 1 car driven by Morgan Langley; and the brand new Jimco Class 10 driven by John Langley, Team Owner. Along with us, 70 other people helped the COPS Racing effort along the length of Baja.

After spending the night in San Felipe, our first stop was for ice and supplies at Playa Grande in Gonzaga Bay, Baja. Today's drive, from San Felipe to Mulegé, would be 680 km.
After spending the night in San Felipe, our first stop was for ice and supplies at Playa Grande in Gonzaga Bay. Today’s drive, from San Felipe to Mulegé, would be 680 km.
New pavement continues to km 154, about six miles south of Gonzaga, making the trip from San Felipe fast and easy. The black death is slowly creeping south and west, ultimately connecting to Highway 1 at Laguna Chapala. But today, we were fortunate enough to experience 25 miles of dirt (subject to change).
New pavement continues to km 154, about six miles south of Gonzaga, making the trip from San Felipe fast and easy. The black death is slowly creeping south and west, ultimately connecting to Highway 1 at Laguna Chapala. But today, we were fortunate enough to experience 25 miles of dirt (subject to change).
The 300-meter bridge construction over Arroyo Santa Maria. Traffic was detoured to one side of the new road, then the other. And then back again.
The 300-meter bridge construction over Arroyo Santa Maria. Traffic was detoured to one side of the new road, then the other. And then back again.
Steve and I stopped at Coco's Corner to say hello to Jorge and give him some stuff we'd brought. In exactly a week, the Baja 1000 would be invading Coco's, 400 miles from the start in Ensenada.
Steve and I stopped at Coco’s Corner to say hello to Jorge and give him some stuff we’d brought. In exactly a week, the Baja 1000 would be invading Coco’s, 400 miles from the start in Ensenada.

A Photo Sphere from Coco’s – click and drag to look around.

A Photo Sphere from San Ignacio – click and drag to look around.

A Photo Sphere from a side street in San Ignacio – click and drag to look around.

The Mulegé light house.
The Mulegé light house.
The Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé was founded in 1705 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Manuel de Basaldúa. Construction of a stone church was begun in 1766. In 1768,  the Franciscans took over responsibility for colonial Baja California from the Jesuits, however, by 1770, the mission was virtually deserted. The Dominicans, who succeeded the Franciscans in Baja in 1773, began rebuilding, but the population remained less than 100.
The Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé was founded in 1705 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Manuel de Basaldúa. Construction of a stone church was begun in 1766. In 1768, the Franciscans took over responsibility for colonial Baja California from the Jesuits, however, by 1770, the mission was virtually deserted. The Dominicans, who succeeded the Franciscans in Baja in 1773, began rebuilding, but the population remained less than 100.
The mission ceased to function in 1828. The present church buildings have been extensively restored.
The mission ceased to function in 1828. The present church buildings have been extensively restored.

A Photo Sphere from inside the church (complete with cowering church-goer) – click and drag to look around.

The Río Mulegé is one of only two "real" rivers in Baja California Sur. The river saw lots of recent action from hurricane Odile.
The Río Mulegé is one of only two “real” rivers in Baja California Sur. The river saw lots of recent action from hurricane Odile.

A Photo Sphere of the Río Mulegé – click and drag to look around.

Driving down Highway 1, the first view of Bahía Concepción is of campers occupying Playa Santispac on the bay's north end.
Driving down Highway 1, the first view of Bahía Concepción is of campers occupying Playa Santispac on the bay’s north end.

A Photo Sphere of Playa Buenaventura – click and drag to look around.

Standing rain water in front of Bertha's Restaurant and Bar at Playa Burro.
Standing rain water in front of Bertha’s Restaurant and Bar at Playa Burro.
Even though it's tempting, please do not feed Cheetos to the swamp monster. It's a lot like bears in our National Forests.
Even though it’s tempting, please do not feed Cheetos to the swamp monster. It’s a lot like bears in our National Forests.
Colorful Bahia Coyote - offshore is Coyote Island.
Colorful Bahia Coyote – offshore is Coyote Island.
Due to recent hurricanes, Baja was green and blooming. And as a result, the place was buggy - we mowed down butterflies on the highway by the millions. By the time we returned to SoCal, the front of the truck was covered in a  1" thick crust of butterfly carcasses.
Due to recent hurricanes, Baja was green and blooming. And as a result, the place was buggy – we mowed down butterflies on the highway by the millions. By the time we returned to SoCal, the front of the truck was covered in a 1″ thick crust of butterfly carcasses.
During our drive down Baja, Steve and I took a break on the beach at Ligui. Isla Danzante mostly hides the much larger Isla del Carmen behind.
During our drive down Baja, Steve and I took a break on the beach at Ligui. Isla Danzante mostly hides the much larger Isla del Carmen behind.

Two Weekends in the Eastern Sierras

Two back-to-back weekends in the Eastern Sierras, with base camp at Mammoth Lakes.

The purpose of the first weekend was to attend the 2014 Kamikaze Mountain Bike Games, which were fast and fun and furious. The second weekend included riding Lower Rock Creek, Rock Creek Lake, Tom’s Place, and Saddlebag Lake; in Yosemite we hiked Mays Lake and Tuolumne Meadows on the east side of the Park.

Men's Pro Downhill at a <a title="Google Maps" href="http://goo.gl/maps/L91Lq" target="_blank">nasty rock garden</a> just below the top of Chair 16. As always, the photos don't do justice to the speed or steepness of the trail, or the skill of the rider. The guy with the megaphone on the left was very, very "enthusiastic," if you catch our drift.
Men’s Pro Downhill at a nasty rock garden just below the top of Chair 16. As always, the photos don’t do justice to the speed or steepness of the trail, or the skill of the rider. The guy with the megaphone on the left was very, very “enthusiastic,” if you catch our drift. And while we’re at it, more cow bell!

Dual downhill slalom at the Canyon Lodge at Mammoth Mountain. Grab and drag the photosphere to look around! Oh my Gawd, the guy with the red shirt doesn’t have any legs!

A photo sphere from the roof of the Canyon Lodge.

The Village in Mammoth Lakes was a ghost town after the mountain bikers left, and before the snow and skiers arrive. Many workers in town take advantage of the down-time to flee the town.
The Village in Mammoth Lakes was a ghost town after the mountain bikers left, and before the snow and skiers arrive. Many workers in town take advantage of the down-time to flee town.
Autumn aspen colors at Rock Creek Lake.
Autumn aspen colors at Rock Creek Lake.

A photo sphere of autumn color from above Rock Creek Lake. Take a look around.

Rock Creek Lake from above; Wheeler Ridge in the background.
Rock Creek Lake from above; Wheeler Ridge in the background.
Changing aspens along Warren Fork on the Tioga Pass Road, on the eastern side of Yosemite. This day was "get into National Parks for FREE!" day, where The Man lets us stick it to him.
Changing aspens along Warren Fork on the Tioga Pass Road, on the eastern side of Yosemite (the Park, not the OS). This day was “get into National Parks for FREE!” day, where The Man lets us stick it to him.
Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows.
Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows.

Carol stands in the middle of a low-flow Tuolumne River in Yosemite.

Nine thousand foot elevation May Lake in Yosemite.
May Lake in Yosemite, around 9,200′ elevation.
While we were hiking around May Lake, a 2' thick layer of fog formed over one end of the lake, reminiscent of The Crawling Eye.
While we were hiking around May Lake, a 2′ thick layer of fog formed over one end of the lake, reminiscent of The Crawling Eye.
Snow arrives in the high country, delighting and amazing people from SoCal who never see the stuff.
Snow arrives in the high country, delighting and amazing people from SoCal who never see the stuff.
Dave McCoy's hard work gets dusted.
Dave McCoy’s hard work gets dusted.
The parking lot at Red's Lake.
The parking lot at Red’s Lake.
A very low water level at Horseshoe Lake - normally, the water would be just behind Carol.
A very low water level at Horseshoe Lake – normally, the water would be just behind Carol.
I'm here to report that the CO2 tree-kill area along the north shore of Horseshoe Lake is still dead. Soil gas in the tree-kill areas is composed of 20 to 90 percent CO2; there is less than 1 percent CO2 in soils outside tree-kill areas.
I’m here to report that the CO2 tree-kill area along the north shore of Horseshoe Lake is still dead. Soil gas in the tree-kill areas is composed of 20 to 90 percent CO2; there is less than 1 percent CO2 in soils outside tree-kill areas.
 11,561' Mt. Aggie right of center.
11,561′ Mt. Aggie right of center.

Photo Spheres from East and West of 395

Ten photo spheres from around the Owens Valley – treat them as if you were using Google Street View. Click and hold and drag the mouse to look around, up and down. Go advanced and zoom in and out. Or go big with full-screen mode.

Camping in the Alabama Hills, Owens Valley.

The Cerro Gordo Ghost Town, American Hotel – 700 mines in the Cerro Gordo district searched for silver, lead and zinc ore – rough business considering the remote location. The mines were located at 8,000′ in the Inyo Mountains on the west side of Death Valley National Park.

Cocktail Rock in the Alabama Hills – Overlooking the Alabama Hills with Mt. Whitney in the background. From left to right, that’s Barbara, Carol, Rick, Ron, Matt, Morgan (hiding behind Matt), and Sandy.

The Salt Tram – The Salt Tram at the top of the Inyo Mountains. The tram was built around 100 years ago to transport salt from the Saline Valley, over the mountains, and down to Owens Lake for distribution.

Horseshoe Meadows Road – Carol, Rick and I stopped to take in the view of Owens Valley. Below us are the switchbacks we used to climb the hill.

Hiking the Trail Pass Trail – That’s Ron and Carol and Barbara on the Trail Pass Trail.