Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Of bikes, banks, birds, bucks…

3 November 2019

I thought I might diverge a bit from my usual weekly write-up to mention a little more about the experience of riding from Folsom to Sacramento.

I don’t have any really good photos showing what Folsom is like, but here’s one from the summer showing some geese walking around on the lawn and sidewalk next to a corporate building and a transit station parking lot.

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It is a car-dominated, corporate-dominated suburban area. This is a newer part of town, so it has bike paths and lots of greenery and these random appearances of wildlife. I think a lot of suburbs have these things.

Some attack suburban life as “unsustainable,” but with a combination of lots of local employment plus a big city nearby, many people would much prefer to live in a place like Folsom if they can afford to. With the help of cars, a large grocery store like Winco is very viable here. There is plenty of room for parking, and the store is constantly busy, but especially on Saturday morning. The store is full of parents and kids, plus some older and younger couples, and a few singles like me.

I usually finish my shopping between 11AM and noon, then start back with my load of groceries, a big sun hat, and (in the summer) a dab of sunscreen on the top of each hand – the most exposed body parts (I wear long sleeves and pants when I go on such trips).

I got the bicycle I use in Pullman. It is a very well-built machine, but longer than most bikes. The frame has been extended about seven inches to allow for a lower center of gravity and more leg extension to the pedals. This is very helpful for urban biking where there is a lot of stopping for people and traffic. Most others on the trail ride racing bikes. A few older people ride motor-assisted touring bikes. I also see unusual bicycles on this trail. There is an occasional tandem bike, recumbent bikes, and a few “stepper” bikes.

Folsom is roughly 20 miles east of Sacramento. To its immediate north is a “lake” which is a reservoir formed by a rather large dam. Below that is a smaller “lake” formed by a smaller dam located at a fish hatchery. An aquatic park connected to Sac State University is located on this lower lake, and they host various boat races and similar events there. It is by this lake, across from the “Iron Point” light rail station, that I enter the Parkway and start my ride back to Sacramento.

Here are some people doing a photo shoot in that section of the park. It is right next to Folsom Boulevard, so very accessible.

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This is where most of the tarweed grows, as described in earlier posts.

Below the fish hatchery is a stretch of river used a lot for fishing and leisurely boating. The river is broad, shallow and slow-moving below the hatchery all the way to where it meets the Sacramento River. About 150 years ago, this section of the river was heavily dug up using various mining methods to remove gold from river sediments. Very large piles of river rocks adorn the banks of the river in this area, particularly on the south side where the bike path is. Here is a major example:

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On this part of the river, the other (north) side of the river is steeper and more hilly, so most of the rock from the dredges ended up on the south side.

As this environmental interference is now over 100 years past, many of these areas are regrown, particularly along the river banks. Here is a typical view of the river not far downstream from the hatchery.

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The bike path tends to skirt along the river bank where there are lots of trees, while passing open fields on the other side. At some points the road and houses are quite close to the path, and at other points they are more distant.

There are a few sections of dense woods (which I love – reminds me of Michigan) but in most places the land shows signs that at one time in the past it was cleared by the miners for their work. I have shown this photo before, but I’ll show it here again to convey some of the beauty that a real forest provides.

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The ride home is for the most part a pleasure. But it does take me about three hours, and I usually experience some discomfort on the rump before the ride is over.

On the way I normally stop at one of the parks for a snack. It was not far from my stop this week that I spied these two birds down at the river. With bare eyes I could not tell that the vulture had a fish, but it was obviously feeding on something. The gull seems to be waiting with a sort of pretended attitude of disinterest, hoping – I suppose – that the vulture will leave some scraps behind that it may take advantage of.

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It is not common to come across such a poignant little vignette as the one above, but this area is home to wildlife, and they will sometimes appear close to the bike path, as I have noted many times concerning the deer. This week I got my first sighting of an older buck. I didn’t know there were any buck this old (two or three years judging by antler points) living in this area. I didn’t see any does in the vicinity.

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At Sac State I leave the river and head into town. The roadways in that area are a bit tangled, as a railway runs through it at a diagonal, which breaks up the usual orderly grid of streets.

I usually go into town using M and L streets. These are residential streets until I get close to downtown, so there’s less car traffic on them. On this route I go through the “40s” which is a very posh, upscale old suburban neighborhood. It stays residential until I get to the I-80 freeway which goes right through town between 29th and 30th.

The fact that the I-80 and the I-5 cross in Sacramento makes this spot a major transport crossroads. This fact has been emphasized several times by the drug enforcement officers who come to our church to brief us on the current scene regarding illicit trafficking, and particularly marijuana. It means there is a criminal interest in this location that would be absent if those freeways crossed somewhere else.

In any case, after the freeway comes the hospital (Sutter) along with the fort (Sutter) and then I get into a mix of older houses, apartment buildings, and cute shops that emphasize coffee, food, and drinking. L Street comes into downtown right between the Capitol Mall (a quite nice park) and the Convention Center (currently being renovated).  Then I switch over to K Street which runs right into the new DOCO, and I am home.

I might mention that the ice rink just opened this Friday and I had a nice opening day skate for just two bucks!

I will end with this shot of what was on the ground back in the park at the place where I saw the deer. It is not yet freezing at night here (and actually does not do so that often), and so many of the late-blooming plants just continue to go about their business. Sometimes when I walk down the city streets and see all that brick or concrete I wish the sidewalks could look like this instead.

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Equinox

22 September 2019

A few days ago we had our first rain in at least six months. I was wondering if any of the plants in the American River Parkway would respond to this. Of course, we are also just a day or two away from the fall equinox, the official beginning of autumn, and the plants could be responding to that, too.

But I really only saw one big change along the trail, and that was a renewed flowering of the mysterious yellow asters that I haven’t yet identified. While the tarweed that was so visible in a Folsom field has decided to stop flowering, these other yellow flowers decided the opposite.

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The other yellow flowers that I mentioned in a previous post are also blooming more strongly now. I think this may also be triggered by soil moisture.

This is also a time when flocking behavior and migration starts to occur for some birds. This was very evident on the river, with large groups of gulls appearing. I hardly ever see gulls on the river during the summer.

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Some of the larger aquatic birds will also begin to move around more this time of year. This egret is stopping at a man-made water control pond in Folsom. I hardly ever see egrets at this pond.

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The “ARP deer” were camped out at their usual place along the trail. For some reason, though, most of them were lying down – almost hiding – in the dry grass.

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The parties associated with the end of summer – and of the summer school break – are mostly at an end. But I missed including this shot in my last post, and I wanted to mention it because I had never seen something like this before. It was part of a party at Hagan Park last week.

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A child (or even an adult, I suppose) can climb into this clear inflated sphere through one of two ports and then walk or crawl around inside it. I found the somewhat bizarre structure of the object most intriguing.

On my way back home, I usually stop at this little mini-park in midtown to get a drink from the water fountain (the one in the foreground, not the cute one).

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And in the same neighborhood – a quite posh part of town – I happened upon this restored vintage car. This appears to be a 1937 Cadillac.

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The equinox symbolizes a momentary balance that our universe oscillates around. May your balance move towards perfection and your oscillations be interesting and instructive.