The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Final CA Wrap-Up – Marine Mammal Center Tour- Marin Headlands

The Marine Mammal Center in Marin County, CA, tucks itself into the hills which thrust up from the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Surrounded by the Marin Headlands section of the Golden Gate National Park it’s a must-see when visiting the hiking trails, hostel, lighthouse or Rodeo Beach.

Lucky for me, my former neighbor Joel works there.  He gave me a tour.

There, the staff rehabilitate and hopefully release (sometimes the animals are placed at zoos, sometimes they die) numerous other CA coastal critters including CA sea lions, porpoises, dolphins (though they have low success rates), sea otters, elephant seals, sea lions and harbor seals to name a few.  One well-publicized call to duty involved a whale and her calf (Delta and Dawn) stranded WAY up in Sacramento.  Badly wounded, the center assisted with their rescue.  Antibiotics were delivered via darts and they were  “herded” back to the ocean.

Looking from above, the pools spread out.  Also present are vets, students, a hospital center, classrooms, water treatment center with pumps, filters, all run by a complex computer program.  That’s Joel’s domain. He’s in charge of the infrastructure and maintenance of the place.  The statistics and info he gave me made my head spin, most of which I’ve forgotten.  It’s been a month.

Filtration tanks:


Joel tending to business:

Of note, oodles of volunteers make this place tick.  It’s the sort of thing I could see myself doing.




This little girl was very social.   Wriggling along with surprising agility along the edge of her pool, she called out to anyone who passed. Once this staff member entered she hopped into their arms, like a cat, showing (and receiving) affection.  She is not a candidate for release into the wild.  Found maternally separated, she suffered  from pneumonia.


An adult Male CA Sea Lion, he came from San Luis Obispo County.  Found malnourished, suffering from Leptospirosis (a bacterial kidney infection) and with tar on his shoulder, here he enjoys his heating pad.  He and his neighbor, Silent Night, put up quite the barking commotion in anticipation of feeding time.  (Note the tar on the shoulder to the right.)

Silent Knight:

His story’s one of grand success.  Found on a local beach, he suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head leaving him blind.  A full-grown male, he earned his name from his noble stance.  He’s now learning to be hand fed in preparation for (what I read to be) a possible transfer to the San Francisco zoo.    I’ve been told some fisherman detest the seals for swiping catch from the fishing nets.  I wonder, how could anyone harm an animal?  Read up on his success story.

Speaking of feeding, Joel took me through the kitchen.  I forget the numbers of pounds of fish they go through (dizzying numbers).  A volunteer was preparing feeds as I passed through.

Seward, AK  (a few hours from Anchorage, I believe) is home to the Alaska SeaLife Center with an aquarium and rescue/rehab center.  I’ve added that to the huge list of things to see up here.

After finishing up I hiked up to Battery Townsley. Built in 1938 it housed two 16 inch caliber guns which could fire 25 miles out into the ocean.  Being of  high-security, civilians knew it existed in their backyards but not where.  Imagine that!  When actually test-fired it reached further than 30 miles.  Now, just relics remain.  It makes for an interesting hike.

Looking north, so beautiful:

That ties up CA, folks.  Now, on to Alaska.  Today I’m prepping for a job interview.  After that I’ll start sifting through the hundreds of pics I took while moving up here.  It’s beautiful and certainly a change.  Looking forward to sharing!

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Steve in CA – Wrapping Up CA and Starting a New Alaskan Chapter (Part 3 of ?)

As a travel RN I get used to doing things on my own.  When friends visit I’m one happy girl.

Steve, from CO, came into San Francisco for a conference a couple of weeks before my departure.  He had two sight-seeing requests:

  1. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
  2. Go to Alcatraz


We stumbled upon the Palace of Fine Arts:



Built in 1915 for the (World’s Fair) Panama-Pacific Exposition, it was intended to be torn down afterwards (as almost all the other buildings were.) Thankfully, a  member of the Hearst family initiated its preservation.   My photos do not do justice to how pretty the structures are.  Built from simple, temporary materials of wood and plaster, by the 1950’s it was in complete decay.  It had served as a tennis court facility, a storage place for WW2 army equipment, a telephone book distribution site and a temporary Fire Dept. Headquarters.

In 1964 workers stripped it down to its steel framing and rebuilt it exactly as it was before in a seismologic-ally safe manner.  A theater and museum are there.  It’s a popular wedding location.  I can see why! A lagoon housing birds, numerous gardens and separation from busy roads make it an ideal place to sit (or walk) in peace.

Here, a better pic from Wikipedia:


File:Palace of Fine Arts SF CA.jpg



On to the list.

#1  – Accomplished – We walked across the GGB



Fort Baker, A place I loved to hang out at, sitting and watching boat traffic move under the GGB.



After a nice walk across, I checked the time  re: getting onto an Alcatraz tour.  The day before all trip times were wide open.  Man did I screw up!  Looking online, (yay for Smartphones) all tour times were booked through the end of the day.  No chance of going.  I was so disappointed in myself.  Steve didn’t’ hurdle me over the bridge railing in frustration, though.  :  )  ALWAYS book online in advance.


Down to Fisherman’s Wharf we went, to see if we could be on standby for the boat.  The vendor does not offer seats on a stand-by method. Even if a trip was purchased, and the person did not show, they would not sell you their seat.

Soooo…off to find some seafood for supper.

Ate crab and fed the seagulls french fries from the window.  (I’ll blame that on Steve. Once the staff laughed and informed us they did it all the time, my inner “Miss Manners” loosened up.)  I believe we gathered near 10 birds but were hoping for more.


Walked on the Wharf after supper.  Found the working sections (Pier 37’ish neighborhood) and came across some fellas unloading their boats of crab.  They were very friendly and shared info on what they were doing, how it works, etc.  I find this stuff fascinating.




Having friends around is such a treat!  Who’s coming to Alaska?

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Getting Skunked – The Boat-Ride of a Lifetime – Wrapping Up CA and Starting a New Alaskan Chapter (Part 2 of ?)

Fishing.  I’ve discovered I enjoy it.  I first went out with Joe and Bob in the San Pablo Bay (North Bay of SF.)

I squeezed one more trip out the last week in CA.  Water was more calm than the first time, the tide not as low, though.  As a result, we got skunked.  No unheard of sturgeon numbers this time.

Bob brought along his daughter Kellie.  Had a friendly (grrrr….) girls against guys competition going.

Joe caught a (?) striped bass:

He gave me a hard time for taking a phone call on the boat so I busted him doing the same and hiding:

Bob caught an English Sole, rare here I hear.  Look at those eyes and the yellow markings:

I caught a Flounder with no tail!  Showing no fresh teeth marks, it must have lost it as a youngster.  Consider how much more difficult swimming was for it.  Felt shameful taking it home and eating it.  (It swallowed the hook which sealed its fate.  It was a goner.)  Tasty, though!

Someone (Joe?) hooked this wee sturgeon and Kellie landed it giving her a run for her money.  What’s up with the banana?  Apparently, having a banana on your boat brings bad fishing luck. Not sure who the culprit was this time.  Kellie holds the evidence.

Kellie caught some seaweed (full of fish eggs) and some balloons.  She gets the eco-friendly  award!

Despite the lack of fish the weather was grand and the day still shone with a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge (water was calm enough and oh, what a treat that was!)

Passed a former lighthouse turned B&B.  Across the way an island covered in birds (and what birds do best) as well as some seals sits.  It was a charming spot. Would be fun to stay there.  (Light sleepers may need earplugs, though, due to the horn sounding.)

Passed Angel Island:

Went under the GGB, saw some Harbor Porpoise.

Viewed Point Bonita Lighthouse:

Back under:

Cool view of Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill from here:

Toured around the Wharf:

SCANDIA is the name of my hometown!



Sure will miss fishing with these guys. Maybe I can convince them to come to Alaska?


Wrapping Up CA and Starting a New Alaskan Chapter (Part 1 of ?) – Bodega Bay With Amy

It’s been a heck of a month.  My lack of posts may have tipped you off to that.

Getting to AK’s been a goal of mine for years. Travel nursing a couple years ago yielded no jobs up here.  It went on the back burner.  Now, I’ve no job in hand but I went for it anyway. Gulp!  My nursing agency’s still working on it. (A local hospital moving at the speed of molasses does not help things.)  Should it not pan out in the next week I’ll hit the pavement (internet, these days?) and go for a regular staff job. The time to travel up here was right.  The ferry up was booked solid for a month out.  I took a chance and went for it.  Reminds me of my move to CO from MN 11 years ago.

Before I introduce you to AK I’d like to wrap up my last weeks in CA with photos and tales.  May have to split this into a few posts to keep you from going cross-eyed.

I also have loads of knitting projects to share.  Good thing I’m unemployed!  I can get all this shared.



My friend Amy and I had a girls’ knitting retreat. We drove to Bodega Bay, CA, about 1.5 hours from San Rafael, and rented a little vacation apartment.  I love that little town, the whole area.  If only Marin County weren’t so costly to live in.

We enjoyed loads of beach knitting and picnicking:

Hiked high above the mouth of the Russian River, through Redwoods:

Bopped around Point Reyes Station (shops, food, even spotted a “Yarn Bomber” who’d left their calling card.)

I found Streetcolors Blog.  All the wool used is hand spun and dyed.


From Wikipedia:  “…is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted cloth rather than paint or chalk. While yarn installations – called yarn bombs or yarnstorms – may last for years, they are considered non-permanent, and, unlike graffiti, can be easily removed if necessary. The practice is believed to have originated in the U.S. with Texas knitters trying to find a creative way to use their leftover and unfinished knitting projects, but it has since spread worldwide.

While other forms of graffiti may be expressivedecorativeterritorialsocio-political commentaryadvertising or vandalism, yarn bombing is almost exclusively about reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places.”

Drove along Tomales Bay. Wish I would have stopped at Nicks Cove for oysters and a beer, as a good friend recommended.  So many things on The List I did not get to.

Tomales Bay Oyster Farms:

Noted houses and other buildings completely reclaimed by the Ocean.  Several were yellow-taped off, awaiting their demise.  (Removal?  Falling into the water?)  I saw this further north up by Mendocino as well.

More CA adventure to come.

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This is China Camp State Park

China Camp State Park is in my back yard. I think it’s a lovely place and frequent it.  With access to hiking and mountain biking trails, a quiet road for the road bike, several fishing spots and a historic fishing/shrimping village (with interpretative center) there’s much to see and do there.  San Pablo Bay wraps around it.



In the 1880’s, nearly 500 Cantonese people lived there, catching and drying Grass Shrimp for export back to China.  (Incidently that’s what we fished with the other day.)  I found excellent info on the original vs restored buildings and fishing process at this WEBSITE.

Here’s a pic of the original village:

Now just a few buildings stand with MANY more trees:

I like the pier:

Once caught the shrimp were cooked and dried. Then, fisherman in special wooden clogs walked on piles to crack the shells. A winnowing machine, invented in China B.C. separated the shrimp by size and removed the shells. The Chinese recipients used the imported shrimp as fertilizer.

This drew to a close, though, as American demand for shrimp increased. Discriminatory legislature prohibited the export of shrimp, forbade traditional Chinese fishing techniques and restricted the size of the catch.  Thus, the population declined.

A man named Frank Quan, descendant of an original villager, is the sole occupant. He must’ve been the man changing the brine over olives, behind one of the houses, I said “Hello” to.  Once the tourists clear out for the day  I’ll bet it’s quiet down there with just the sound of the water.



One of my favorite little loops goes past intertidal marsh and through beautiful oaks.

This particular day, I remember, the birds were causing a ruckus. Through a stretch of woods, a woodpecker was hard at work, revealing occasional glimpses of a red head.  Accompanying his percussion, were a whole slew of chirping and squawking birds.  I sat and listened for a long time, under the canopy. Peaceful and thrilling at the same time!

I think this is a California Bay Laurel. They smell good.

Headed there today.

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Northern Ca Part 7 of 7 – Spouts and Beacons

Let’s wrap up the week-long adventure to the tippy-top of CA.

I last left you on a secluded Lost Coast beach watching someone surf netting, a new site to me. Perhaps you as well?

But the icing on the cake of this trip was this:

At the mouth of the Klamath River a splendid detour off Hwy 101 exists,  Coastal Drive.  Seated above the water sits a relic of WW2.  Two cinder-block buildings, camouflaged to look like ranch buildings from above and the water, allowed watch over the ocean for threats.  Strange, eh?  But smart. They would be obscure.

There, I had my first whale siting.  Look closely in the photos and you’ll see the tail in one and a spout in another. Must’ve been a gray whale?

I’d been hoping all trip-long this would happen.  I begged the Water-Gods to show me whales. I even avoided crossing my fingers and toes at the same time to avoid bad luck.  ;  )

Fortunately I had the place to myself because the happy dance I did while gaping would’ve been embarrassing.  Here I noted a couple separate spouts.  A cow and a calf perhaps?  I REALLY could use a pair of binoculars.


Fast forward to the Mendocino Coast.  It’s just a few hours north of where I sit now.  Fantastically dramatic, it’s up there with Big Sur in rugged beauty.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, EST. 1909

This one involved a lovely jaunt out a wind-swept tall-grass field:

The Third Order Fresnel Lens, so intricate:

Along the jagged coast the lighthouse guards, I found cormorants defying gravity, roosting on rock walls:

Plants surviving the constant battering of waves.  I think Dr. Seuss designed them.  Anyone know what they are?

I wrapped up that trip with a stay at Bodega Bay. There I supped on BBQ oysters and beer.  A local clued me into a huge whale migration occurring off Bodega Head.  “I must’ve counted 20 spouts in 20 minutes!” She revealed.  I headed up the next AM and there they were, though not as numerous, the rain and fog obscuring a bit. I still managed to drink in my fill of amazement.  It was a grand conclusion to a hell of a road trip.

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Northern CA Part 6 of ? – Lost Coast – Surf Netting – 30 for breakfast, 50 for supper


At the bottom of the Lost Coast lies a narrow dirt road that weaves north through dense woods, clings to the eroding shelf above the coastline, and crosses a creek over a very cool, old wooden bridge.  (I love that sort of thing.)  The terminus was the most striking beach I’ve set foot on.  Myself included, those present I could count on one hand.

The tide prohibited much further exploration north:

Or south:

Tossed  many of these guys back in:

Struck up a conversation with two fellas, both from the Ukiah area, who were camped out and Surf Netting for smelt.  Brothers but not by “blood,” the one not fishing immediately pitied me for living in Santa Barbara (I found this funny.)  They seemed the rough and tough, grizzled, iconic Northern CA sportsman kind of fellas that abhor the big cities and would likely have a gun rack in their pickup windows if they could type of guys.

While we watched one fish, the other taught me some fascinating things about abalone diving and ocean diving rescue (which he does). It was an enjoyable A.M. of sitting on the beach in the fine mist and gabbing about the surroundings.  Moments where I connect to a local and learn through them are unique.

30 smelt make a good breakfast and 50 make a “satisfying supper.”  The quiet one fishing:

They kept an eye on the resident seals and gulls as a way of gauging the presence of fish in the surf.

There’s lingo for everything. Check out some Surf Netting lingo.

I think I’d like to try this as well as crabbing and getting on a commercial fishing boat.   I haven’t fished out here, yet.