Sun Yat-sen

I head North looking for adventure. The first stop is Four Wheel Campers in Woodland. They greet me like family. I have some notoriety since my camper fell off the back of the truck in the high mountain desert. They immediately fix some small niggles on the camper and charge me not a penny. Good people.

Aaron has become a good friend. We both have big noses.

I then drive up to Colusa. There is a great wildlife reserve just outside town that I will wallow in. I spend the night in a riverside park in Colusa.

Colusa has known better days. The main transport route from San Francisco to the goldfields was the Sacramento River. Colusa marked the end of the usual navigable stretch. Sometimes you could get as far up as Red Bluff but Colusa was the deal. Big fortunes were made in transport. A Mr Lee from China did so. He was a great supporter of Sun Yet-sen, the Father of the Nation. Sun Yet-sen visited Lee in Colusa and his daughter lived there for many years. So there you go.

The weather is dreich at best and maybe even gruamach. Difficult for photography.

Beautiful Pintail.

I then move to the nearby Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve . Tens of thousands of Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese and White Fronted Geese spend the winter here. By the time I get there it is getting dark and after a quick tour around, I head off to Black Butte lake to spend the night.

Dinner in the camper. Beef sandwich from Subway, potato salad, guacamole, brie and an excellent bottle of Pinot Noir.

Back to Sacramento Reserve but still very gloomy.

Bald Eagle in the mist.
Dead Snow Goose with Raccoon and Turkey Vultures

I then head over to the coast, stopping at the Sacramento Valley Museum in Williams It is closed for the Winter but the ebullient Dixie is just leaving as I arrive. She volunteers to give me a tour anyway. It is such fun. She is super enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. She is the one who told me about Sun Yet-sen. One of the best things about being in a truck in obscure parts of the State is that, more often than not, there is no phone signal and accordingly no internet. I had completely forgotten about the UK election until Dixie demands an in depth analysis of the Tory landslide. I do not know what to say. Things ain’t what they used to be.

I drive on for hours through huge Sequoia forests in the pouring rain until I finally hit the coast and spend a cosy night in the parking lot of the general store in Elk. Off very early and what do I see just outside the tiny town? Elk.

Huge brute, grazing by the side of the road.

It is a beautiful day and I slowly make my way down the magnificent Pacific coastline.

More coastline
Truck with coastline

Point Reyes always delivers and this time it was coming onto a beach littered with Elephant Seals.

There are lots of them. The holes are made by Cookiecutter Sharks. Never heard of them before.
What shall I do now?
More Elk.

California is amazing! So much country, so much wildlife.

I drive back to San Francisco and enter over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Always a blast.

I never tire of the road.

My room, now with added graeco-roman statuary. So cosy
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What is Happiness?

Well, a major ingredient in the happiness recipe of my life in San Francisco, is a resident parking permit. With one, life is happiness and joy. Without one, life is misery and pain.

I live on Fell and across the road there is the Panhandle park. This gives a kilometer long stretch of parking space along the side of the park. Prize real estate! With a permit you can always find a place, more often than not, just across the road from the house.

Happy truck close to its masters’ house, which is obscured by trees. Security is very important to trucks.

The permit is yearly, running out on the 31st of December. The SFMTA sends a letter in November suggesting you renew, which is easily done online. I realize I have not received this letter. Panic! I have been blacklisted, I have been outsidered, I have been excluded, I have been refused.

I rip out my Senior bus pass and take the first bus down to Van Ness.

Help me!

I fully expect a couple of hours wait before I can plead my case but I am the only customer. I fill in a simple form. The guy gives me my permit. It takes 5 minutes.

The 21 bus rushes me back home, where I stick on the permit with trembling fingers.

Happiness and Joy for another year.

So important.

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Coastal Forest

James and I head north to the forests on the Pacific coast. We plunge in just south of Point Reyes. There is no path but James is an inveterate forest man after decades of mushroom hunting. It is raining.


The forest is beautiful; dripping wet, with a vast variety of trees, sequoia, spruce, buckeye, holm oak, laurel and many others that I do not recognize but James does.

A tree that has blown over.
What kind of tree is that? Notice moss everywhere.

The forest is unmanaged and we clamber over dead growth and follow deer tracks.

It is fall, I mean autumn.

We follow a little stream deeper and deeper into the forest. So wonderful, absolutely no sign of humanity, complete wilderness so close to the city.

Very damp

The only noise comes from the stream backed up by the hammering and squawking of woodpeckers.

Mulchy decay with mushrooms
Californian Salamander
Fresh deer scat.

We march in a couple of miles and then we march out again, like the Duke of York.

Fabulous walk, more exercise than I have done in the last 4 months in Okinawa. It is too hot and humid over there.

We then go to Tony’s Seafood Restaurant on the shore of Tomales Bay. We have a memorable meal.

Eat here
Oysters straight from the bay, washed down with locally brewed beer.
Clam Linguine
Seafood stew

Full of fresh air and fresh seafood, we rumble the truck through the mist and rain back to San Francisco. Great day!

Big coyote loping over land devastated by the recent fires.

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Rainforest Connection

Topher White is an old friend, we worked together at Stanford, ITER and OIST. He is an amazingly smart and creative guy. He started up Rainforest Connection (RWC). Check the web site: Donate lots of money. I was lightly involved at the early stages.

Minutes after I landed in San Francisco, he calls me. Can I come and be interviewed for a Netflix documentary early tomorrow morning? I show up at his garage workshop. It is crammed with film crew folks.

Cram my garage

Topher talks and I nod my head.

I am sticking my stomach out on purpose for comic effect.

Topher then asks if I can come down to a studio in the Mission that evening to do an interview for Huawei, who are a big sponsor for RWC.

VP of Public Affairs from Huawei, tough job at the moment, tells Topher what to say.
For some reason, they put me up against a wall to shoot me.

Anyway, both crews, one from Boston, one from LA, were amazingly professional and I imagine, amazingly expensive. We had a lot of fun.

They are holding me up.

Back in the USA!

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Urn Burial

Since my Mother died, my friend Kiyuna san has been asking for photos of her.

Sister Rosy recently sent me some good ones. JPGs you can upload to a web site, go to any Combini at any time of the day or night and print them on photographic paper. Amazing.

Anyway I give him the photos on Saturday and today he comes by as I am settling the boat in for the winter and presents me with a beautifully wrapped package.

He has made a shrine graphic in honor of my dear departed Mummy.

He is a good friend.

He believes fervently in reincarnation and tells me that I must not be sad as my mother has already been reborn and is starting on another remarkable life.

He explained all the significance of the imagery but I have forgotten most of what he said as I was tearful. The bluebird represents her soul flying towards a kanji that is very beautiful, according to Kiyuna san. He could not explain what it means. The bluebird’s wing touching Mother’s face also has meaning.

So, I leave Okinawa for several months on Wednesday morning. I put on all covers, sling fenders, check mooring lines and generally tidy up. She is in good shape and I have no worries about leaving her. Also Kiyuna san will keep his eyes on her. ” I have more eyes than teeth.” he asserts.

Snugged down for the winter. Sayonara boat. Thanks for all the fun.
Christmas has come to Ginowan.
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Best Dressed Norfolk Gypsy in Asia.

Mitsuda sensei has finished my sail cover! Although not as essential as the cockpit cover, it is an important piece of kit as uncovered sails, exposed to the ferocity of the Okinawan sun, soon wither and die.

So well made.

The hallmark of Mitsuda san’s work is very high quality materials and meticulous attention to detail.

Beautiful, er English, clasps hold the sail cover together.

He is determined that the minimum number of photons strike my sail and so has designed elaborate flaps that protect the area around the topping lift. These are held in place with Velcro, which in Japanese is Magic Tapeu.

Wonderful zip up mast surround.
Typhoon buster

I have an immense sense of security now that my boat is so well covered, like having lots of firewood stacked as winter approaches.

Anyway, I go down to the Toya fishing harbor very early on Sunday to buy a fat fish. This I intend to fry up on the boat as part of a picnic. Oh no! there are lots of Octupi that have just been caught. Who can resist fresh Octupus. Not me.

It is nearly as tall as he is!
Big Octopi!

The idea is meet up with Mitsuda sensei, give him crazy amounts of money for the covers, go for a short sail and have a picnic, which now includes fresh octopus rather than fat fish.

Okubo san and Mitsuda sensei discuss finer points of sail covers.

We go sailing. It is a beautiful afternoon, with enough wind and calm seas. It is the last week of November but I am still in shorts and Tshirt. It must be 25 degrees.

Captain Okubo.

We spend far too much time out on the water and it is 4:00 before we start the picnic. I suddenly lose my resolve to cook up a 5 kilo octopus on my boat stove, magnificent though she be.

I do not drink it.

No worries. We have plenty of food.

Tomomi san prepares aesthetically beautiful picnic, sans octopus
Lunch at 5:00

So, suddenly it is getting dark. Okubo san and I rouse ourselves from, post too much food, languor, we re-furl the sail and rig the cockpit cover and the sail cover. She does more work than me.

Ah, Okinawa in the twilight of the year

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Lumps of Wood

At 9:00 this morning, my doorbell rings. I open the door to find a grinning gentleman of about 60 standing there. We exchange ohayo gozaimasu and he then hands me a beautifully wrapped gift.


Luckily I did not refuse, thinking it was a scam, but accepted as gracefully as I could with lots of dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu and aregato gozaimasu, as I realized he must be a new neighbor and was giving the gift as part of introducing himself.

He lives in 301. How sweet.

Inside the wrapping.

Inside the beautiful box are two cakes fashioned to look like slices through a tree trunk.

I like Japan.
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