The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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The Things You Find on the Beach – And Plastic, Urgh! – Drakes Beach

I like this walk a lot.

I start at Drakes Beach,  hang a left and follow it to the mouth of Drake’s Estero.  It’s not far, maybe a mile and a half.  If there’s time I’ll poke up along the shore of the Estero.

Even on weekends, I ‘m almost guaranteed it all to myself.  Sometimes I like a walk with others, other times solo time’s necessary. This day was a solo day.

One thing I’m picking up on is the change of local beaches observed through the seasons.

Take this recent view.  It’s summer, it’s calm, no storms to wash off the sands. 

Compare it to this hike and these views from last December. The chunks of rocks sown below are in the far back of the above pic and barely visible above the sand.  Big storms in December 2012 scoured off loads of beach exposing rock formations one ranger told me he hadn’t seen in several years of service.

This feature below was completely covered up but exposed in December:

An observation of interest, I think and part of the fun of learning about my back yard.

Day started out clear with a light breeze.

Came across many jellyfish  of varying size. Lip Goo for scale:

Other treasures:

Seals on  Limantour Spit across the mouth of the Estero:

Set a spell, read, closed my eyes, woke to a change of weather.  Fog rolled in. Went from light and bright to moody, damp and chill so quickly.  I love that!

Time to play ended and headed back.  Gathered trash on the way back.  I can’t believe how much plastic litters our beaches.  Makes me sad (and mad) how much single-use plastic litters our world.  It doesn’t just go in a landfill.  Much winds up in our oceans which never decay, poisons and kills wildlife, litters our beaches.

I gathered until I could carry no more:

Please, consider ways to reduce your plastic consumption.

I found these statistics on Smithsonian:

“Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year or in landfills. If that’s not enough, almost 3 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year worldwide. Nearly 80 percent of all water bottles are not recycled and wind up in landfills.”

Try these simple steps:

  • Use no plastic shopping bags. Use re-usable shopping bags and produce bags.  Keep ’em in your purse or car. They can be purchased or sewn. 
  • Ban single-use water bottles from your life.  It can be done!  Keep reusables everywhere (work, home , car)
  • Buy foods in bulk form somewhere that lets you bring in a re-usable canister.
  • Skip plastic and look for glass or steel containers or paper.
  • Become educated on plastic wastes and its effect on our planet. Check out this piece on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and this article on the perils and cost of bottled water. It’s mind-expanding goodness.
  • Reusable coffee mugs. That toss away plastic lid will live on and on after it’s used once.
  • Look for veggies and fruits sold whole, not in plastic bags. Explore your local Farmers Market!

Once you start thinking about this, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to recognize ways to reduce your dependency on throw-away plastic.

I just learned how to make yogurt. I’ll never need a toss-away plastic yogurt tub, again.  It’s easy!  I’ll blog the recipe.

Think you can help?  Spread the word and share what you do to help reduce your plastic use. I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to lessen your plastic consumption?

Maybe someday there will be less trash on our beaches.

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Couple weeks ago my friend Amy came down from Sacramento for a surfing lesson in Bolinas.  The wicked heat wave plaguing the western US affected us here as well.  The Bay’s natural A/C was no match for the heat with days in the high nineties and moments over 100.  Farther inland (including SAC) roasted in the 100’s consistently.

Fortunately, tempered summer weather’s returned (70-80).

Amy (read about her hiking goals and outings),  my friend Michelle and I planned a picnic at Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Point Reyes National Seashore just a 40 or so minute drive from me.  I’ve developed a real taste for oysters, especially raw.  Here, you can buy ’em shucked or whole.  I’ve learned to shuck them myself, saving some dough and having fun while at it.

DBOC is a local  business at huge risk of closing down.  I whole-heartedly support their niche in the local economy and contribution to the health of Drake’s Estero. They have just as much a right to be there as the cows which have grazed the peninsula since the 1800’s.  Visit their website for more details.

L-R: Amy, Michelle and I


Oh what a spread we enjoyed!  Great picnic.

We snagged a picnic table right on the Estero. It was windy but we survived and enjoyed the sights, sounds and briny smells.

Because of the wind we picked a beach visit to Drakes Beach. Quite protected, one can usually find shelter from the strong winds which scour the outer coast of the peninsula (our original destination).  It was hot and calm.


Perfect for a beach nap, reading and knitting. After a snooze I worked on my Starry Night Ananke Shawl.  It’s knit out of Becoming Art Cielo Fingering Yarn.  The colors glow!



A most enjoyable day.







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Windrush Farm – Fun at Mimi’s – A Celebration of Fleece

Mimi Luebbermann represents her sheep farm, called Windrush Farm, at the San Rafael, CA farmers market during non-summer months.  A frequent shopper there (I try for at least once a week) I dutifully stop by her booth and squoosh my hands through her roving and yarns. Her cheerful conversation always perks up my day.

In May Mimi held an open house at her farm.

Getting there was just part of the fun. I took back roads that day  (Hicks Valley Road, Wilson Hill Road into Chileno Valley) on the outskirts of Petaluma, CA.

Never tire of it out here:

Mimi raises sheep, goats, chickens, cows, alpacas, llamas and more.  Lots of love’s poured into her craft and profession, I can tell, from meandering though the farm. She hosts farm camps for children, a fantastic idea.

Let’s start with the sheep. I’m a sucker for lambs. There were one so wee it looked like they’d arrived the day before.


After a shearing demonstration (remember this one I shared with you?), Mimi gave a demo using two fleeces, both very different (the breeds elude me.)

This one had an undercoat and was very curly with a long fiber. She talked about weight, processing, crimp and such.  Felt great to get my hands on it and smell the lanolin.


The center courtyard housed several tables of fiber goodies from local spinners/dyers.  Brick oven pizza scents filled the air. A woman sat spinning, sharing her craft with kids and adults alike.


Mimi’s beautiful yarns were there. Some are undyed and the color of the fleece. Others are dyed using plant dyes.  I picked up a delightfully soft, indigo-dyed blue skein for a sweater for my niece Lillian.  I’d love to someday invest in a whole Fisherman’s sweater’s worth.




Inside the barn she had spinning wheels for sale (haven’t gone there), ?carders?, and other goodies to peruse.



I peeked at her gardens and chickens on the way out.  Such a quiet, green, beautiful setting.  Kinda makes me wish for a little hamlet.  She must work very hard to keep up everything.




I enjoyed sharing in the celebration of all things woolly, with others, that day.








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Point Bonita Part Deux – Now Reachable!

My last trip to the Point Bonita lighthouse stopped me in my tracks. Literally.  The access bridge, in desperate need of repairs, was closed.  Now, it’s open.  The tunnel that reaches the bridge has limited open hours:  Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Should you visit, the NPS has a brochure full of interesting facts and a map.


Remember her from a past post?  Such a pretty place.


The museum contained a knowledgeable docent, many old photos, artifacts and (I found fascinating) exhibits on the geology of the bay floor.  After plunking a donation into the collection box (there is no entry fee collected at this park but hey…our parks need help) I toured the  exhibits.


Here’s a map noting a few famous shipwrecks off the coast. There were many:



A drawing of the lamp. I find it striking.



A view north along the Marin Headlands Coast:




Peeking around the point (as far as the guard rail allows) at the Golden Gate.  Imagine navigating ships through this dangerous, rocky spot, full of wild currents, before modern navigational tools?  Point Bonita was the third lighthouse on the CA coast.  Such an important job!


Such a lucky gal I am to have backyard  access to such a beautiful place of historical significance.

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McClures Beach Goodness

Accessible from the parking lot for the Tomales Point Hike I shared with you, McClures beach is small but packs a punch.  Point Reyes National Seashore has over 80 miles of shoreline.

This one’s pretty easy to get to being a short down-hill walk (about half a mile each way, I believe.)

Being the day after a three-day stretch of work I was exhausted, needing decompression.


A field of mustard along Pierce Point Rd on the drive out.  A thin ribbon of road, it’s the best kind.


Sticky Monkey Flower on the trail down.  Butterflies dig it and the Miwok Native Americans used it as an antiseptic agent.


I parked my butt here on a blanket, removed my shoes, letting my senses reboot.




Turkey Vultures were flying in a figure eight type pattern directly overhead.  Made me a little uneasy I’ll admit.  Then I noted them landing beside the rock pile against the sandy cliff in the background.  Wings outspread and hopping about they must have been picking apart some sort of carcass.

Knowing they weren’t scouting out my beached figure I closed my eyes and napped. It was glorious.  Then I woke, ate lunch, read, knit, and repeated.

A bathing beauty. I enjoy watching vultures fly.


Remember my mentioning in THIS POST the Point Reyes Penn. being formed of granitic rocks capped in sedimentary rocks?  Here’s a great example of that.  As a cute aside, a little girl ran up, scampered to the top of this pile of granite and peered down at my sitting form below.  “This is dollar bill mountain,” She exclaimed. According to her folks she once found a dollar bill atop here and was searching for another.


Dusk nearing.  The other end of the beach has rocks one can pass over at low tides but they look really dangerous to me.



I haven’t figured out how to take decent dusk photos.



Headed back up in the dark. On the way home was treated to a full moon rising. Stopped at Nicasio Lake to watch its yellow path stretch across the black surface.


What a day.





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Winter Warmth – Rush Creek Preserve

It’s warm here in CA.

This morning I flew west from MN, napping and waking to WY mountains, the crumpled relief of NV and, most spectacularly a giant blue polka dot in the distance.  Mono Lake!

Cue the Sierras.

Today I flew over Yosemite.   Sure looks big from above despite the distance.  What a treat!  Can’t wait for a winter window to visit.

Approaching the Bay I reveled in anticipated warmth.  Though MN was a bizarre, balmy 30-40’s most of my time there the past few days hovered around 15.  Folks, I’ve gone all wimpy and just can’t tolerate that chill.  Windchill was brutal.

Made me think of the sunny and gold-painted hills in store.

Here, some light to warm your day:

Rush Creek Preserve, offers a convenient walk or bikeride.  A loop or out and back trails pass primo bird habitat, grassy hillsides and gracious oaks.  Go far enough and you pass a huge slough edged with thick woods.  Evening hikes often  reveal the calls of owls. Such a simple, calming sound.

If you’re reading this from somewhere chilly and need some warmth, imagine yourself here. It will help.

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Point Bonita – Isn’t She Lovely?

Imagine looking across the SF Bay mouth with no iconic red bridge spanning the shores.  Hard to imagine, eh?

Sleuthing on Google images, this photo, post 1906 SF earthquake, shows the city in a state of rebuild.  Note Alcatraz island in the lower right corner with no bridge to Marin in the left.

This post was born of curiosity from a jaunt down to Point Bonita Lighthouse.  A docent, standing at lighthouse bridge, shared much info and history.  Curious for more tidbits, at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center I viewed some old photos (photographing some for this post) and picked the brains of some park employees for more info.

A little online sleuthing furthered my edu-macation.


Point Bonita greets one on the left as you enter the bay.  See highlighted point below:

How did it come to be?

Hollers of “Gold!” filled the CA air in 1848.  In 1849 San Francisco, being the main port for gold seekers entering CA, boomed from 900 to 20,000 occupants.  All that boat traffic = numerous shipwrecks off the treacherous coast guarding the bay.

Point Bonita was the 3rd lighthouse built on the west coast.  Originally 300′ above the water, they found the fog too thick for the lighthouse’s beam of light to be effective.  It was located at its current, lower elevation quite close to the water.

A lovely drawing of the original lighthouse. Note, no GGB:

It amazes me to think of families growing up in these lighthouses.  I enjoy touring lighthouses.  Stepping into the keeper’s quarters reveals layers of lives.  Imagine, this was the backyard for some children:

Bonita Cove had a full on rescue operations set up.  Boat houses on the hillsides emptied their contents to the shore via long ramps. Many lives were risked by the sailors in those rescue boats.

Today, standing on the point, the GGB exists.  Marin Headlands/Golden Gate Nat’l Park protects the surrounding land offering up miles of trails, beaches, a hostel, the Marine Mammal Center, an Arts center and a great little visitor center.

And the lighthouse?  She is absolutely beautiful.

A suspension bridge links her sliver of rock foundation to the access tunnel.

Being long overdue for repairs, it is slated for complete replacement and closed to the public.  Quite a feat this will be as the bridge is anchored via a large spiral cable embedded in the bedrock.  The docent mentioned barges and helicopters as part of the process.

Another view into Point Bonita Cove, there are leftovers from the rescue stations.  Seals haul out onto the starfish crusted rocks below. It’s a great place to just stand and observe.

I love spending time here.  Now for that GGB – I’ve got some ideas for future posts on that iconic landmark.