One of AJ’s favorite spots is on the front porch of her home in Todos Santos. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
I know that every day AJ is with me is a gift. Today she turns 17.
She’s a different dog than she was even a year ago. Slower, sleeps more often, but is more affectionate. She uses stairs most of the time to get onto the bed. She usually needs a helping hand to get in and out of the Jeep. Mostly she walks behind me off or on leash, instead of running ahead out of sight.
I worry every time I have to leave her overnight. Before I do, I promise her that I will always come back. When I returned earlier this month from a few days in the United States, my pet sitter Pickle (that’s her surfer name) left me this note: “I have to tell you that this was a very special pet sit with AJ. From the minute I came in the gate, she was just so happy to see me. For the last 6 days, she stuck by my side … and kisses and putting her head into my chest when I was petting her. She broke my heart!!”
The times AJ wants to play with her monkey are few and far between. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
She seems to keep breaking my heart as well. Lately AJ has been climbing onto the bed where I’m reading or doing something on the computer. I put whatever it is aside after she places her paws or head on me. I pet her, talk to her, tell her how much I love her, what I’m thinking about our future, how I’ll always be there for her. We stay like that until she doesn’t want to be petted anymore. I won’t be able to get those moments back. Reading, writing, working, watching whatever – those things can wait.
I’ve never had a bond like this with a dog. I used to think Bailey, my black Lab who lived to 14, was the best dog. And she was awesome. But AJ has something I can’t quite describe. I’m sure it’s wrapped up in how I got her – which was when my friend Joy passed away in August 2012. AJ has also been with me through significant transitions in my life. It’s the first time a dog has been a friend, not just a pet or companion.
AJ on her mom’s lap. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
She is so much more mellow now that twice in the last two months we’ve stayed with friends who have cats. We both behaved. There was a time when I would say, “Get the kitty.” This would be on our walks. Off she would run, never successful in her pursuits, though. Now she can co-exist with felines indoors.
My heart aches when I think about the attack she survived last May and how much worse it could have been. We were both changed by it and not in good ways.
I’m not taking her on hikes in Baja anymore. Mostly because I don’t know how long any of them will be until they are over. We don’t walk in the neighborhood because of my lingering fear. Instead, we go to the beach. When it’s just us, we venture to the fresh water lagoon and back – about 1.5 miles round trip. She loves to drink and linger in the cool water. Other days we walk with Jill and her two pups. These are about 2 mile treks, with beach time always a component. The dogs are all friends, but not playmates. AJ is beyond that for the most part. On occasion she will playfully interact with another dog, but for that to happen I need to be secure and she needs to be in the mood.
While her vision is going, she stopped in her tracks the other day when a whale close to shore came out of the water. She didn’t bark like she used to at a bear; she just stared at the water. If only she could tell me what she was thinking.
I know she loves the climate of Baja so much better than the chill of Tahoe. She spends so much more time outside. She has the run of the yard, even when Airbnbers are staying below us. Often I find her on the front step; which necessitates guests walking around her. She can see what is going on on the street from there. The guests just mean more hands to pet her. Some even let her inside downstairs and give her human food. No wonder she stays downstairs.
Even though I bought birthday treats for her when I was in the U.S., today we’ll go get papas fritas – our favorite junk food. We’ll walk, we’ll talk and it will be all about her – just like what all birthdays should be.
The photography of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston are on display at Stanford University until Jan. 6, 2020. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Similar, yet different. This is one way to describe the photography of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
Each captures the landscape surrounding them in a way that draws the eye to examine every detail. The play of light, lines and natural beauty beckon one to admire what their lenses captured. As with all great photography, it goes beyond the equipment. It’s having an eye for the subject and the patience to capture the moment.
A sampling of their works is on display in the exhibit “West X Southwest” at the Cantor Center on the campus of Stanford University.
“This installation explores how Weston and Adams expressed content and navigated aesthetics during early and formative moments in their careers. It considers how the artists sharpened their modernists visions through a selection of images created in the place that biographer and curator Nancy Newhall (1908-1947) called each artist’s ‘Paris’,” Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, curator and director of the Curatorial Fellowship Program, wrote of this exhibit.
Adams is known for his work in Yosemite and the Southwest, while Weston explored Mexico.
Together, in 1934 they were founding members of Group f/64, a San Francisco Bay Area photography collective. They had met in the mid-1920s; then crossed paths at various times. It was Weston who introduced Adams to Death Valley, while it was Adams who showed Weston Yosemite and other parts of the Sierra.
Adams said, “(We) had both come to be sympathetic to each other’s work, though we were never on an identical wave length.”
This sentiment is obvious as one walks through the exhibit. What I learned is that in 1941 Adams was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Interior to photograph national parks, mostly in the Southwest.
Having been an admirer of Adam’s for years, it was his photographs that captured my attention the most. This exhibit includes his iconic “Moonrise” at Hernandez, New Mexico. Before reading the description for “Dune” I thought the photo was a winter scene of plants struggling to survive in the snow. Instead it is an image of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.
With the latest trend being printing on canvas, seeing an exhibit like this makes me wonder what the future of photography will bring. To me, this is real photography and a better representation of an artist’s craft.
Exhibit is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 11am-5pm; Thursday from 11am-8pm.
Exhibit ends Jan. 6, 2020.
Cantor Arts Center is at 328 Lomita Drive, Stanford.
Nearly three miles of paved trail are open for walkers, dogs and cyclists in Incline Village. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Breathtaking. That is one of many superlatives to describe the East Shore multi-use path that opened earlier this summer. The nearly 3-mile paved route goes from Tunnel Creek to Sand Harbor in Incline Village.
A few years ago, for a story I did for Lake Tahoe News, I had the opportunity to walk along part of what was the planned route. Even then I knew this was going to be something special. It’s so much more spectacular than anything I could have imagined.
“It is a trail that takes you someplace, but the journey is the destination,” Amy Berry, head of the Tahoe Fund, said during that excursion in 2014.
It takes a while to walk the trail because there are so many vistas to photograph. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Estimates during the planning stage were that 100,000 people would use this trail each year.
The East Shore of Lake Tahoe has some of the most dramatic scenery in the basin. This trail allows almost anyone to enjoy this slice of Tahoe that until now may have been off-limits to certain people. Before it meant seeing these views from a vehicle whizzing by on Highway 28, being on a mountain bike along the Flume Trail, dealing with the masses at Sand Harbor beach, or risking your life parking and darting across the highway to get to the water.
The pavement is 10-feet wide and built to ADA standards. There are a couple curvy and steep sections that had skateboarders using their foot as a brake, and some cyclists panting. Walking didn’t seem like any big deal.
Looking north with Highway 28 in the foreground. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Planners were able to keep 11 offshoots to the lake. This is the only place bikes are not allowed. With the lake being so high this summer, not all of those locations offer much sand to sprawl out on. Still, it’s nice to know these spots are there for those with dogs who would want to have a drink.
Major troublesome spots for dogs are the six steel-fiberglass bridges. The longest is 810 feet. This also happens to be the longest bridge in the basin. An Ohio company made the bridges. After dogs had their pads damaged from the hot surface, signs were posted warning people about the bridge temperature. At the long span and another bridge are wagons people may use to transport their canine. The Tahoe Transportation District, which oversaw the project, would not say if anything is going to be done to lessen the danger on the bridges.
Some of the bridges are so hot that local residents have left wagons to transport dogs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t go barefoot – on any surface – because of the heat, a four-legged family member shouldn’t be either. This includes asphalt and sand. At sunset the temperature wasn’t an issue.
TTD manager Carl Hasty would not say if the heat of the bridge should be a concern to cyclists’ rubber tires.
Bike racks are plentiful along the whole trail. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
A nice attribute to the route is the abundance of bike racks, as well as the couple stations to do minor repairs, including adding air to bike tires.
The total endeavor came with a hefty price tag – $40.5 million. This was a mixture of private and local-state-federal government dollars. About half went to the trail, underpass and parking, while the other half was for environmental and highway upgrades. Considering construction was right next to the lake, this meant more environmental concerns; then there is a tunnel where the path goes under Highway 28 taking people from the mountain side to the lake side; plus, there are a multitude of granite vista areas – ideal for sitting to take in the views. Parking spaces were also added. Eliminated is all the highway parking between the two points of the trail, with this being done mostly as a safety concern.
More than half of the trail is along Lake Tahoe. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Eventually it will cost to park at some locations. Tahoe Transportation District officials would not say what the fee will be or when it will be implemented. The payment portals are already in place.
For those who want to enter Sand Harbor State Park it costs $2 on foot (dogs are not allowed), while it is $10 to drive in.
While the bi-state Tahoe Transportation District was the lead agency to make the path a reality, it will be the Nevada Division of State Parks which maintains it. It took three years to build it.
Views along the trail are mesmerizing. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
This is the second section of the greater 33-mile Stateline-to-Stateline trail. One day it will cover the entire Nevada side of the lake, thus the reference to the state lines. The end/starting points will be Stateline and Crystal Bay. The first section was completed it 2013 with 2.2 miles that go from Rabe Meadow in Stateline to Round Hill Pines Beach.
Cyclists enjoy the scenery at one of the many granite rest stops. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
The third phase is already being planned, with the comment period on the U.S. Forest Service’s draft environmental assessment document having ended Aug. 11. The documents are available online. This next section will be eight miles from Sand Harbor to Spooner Summit.
As with all the sections, it’s not just a multi-use path that is being laid down. A major goal is to eliminate parking on the narrow Highway 28 and to create parking areas that are safer. Improvements to utilities, a focus on erosion, and reducing sediment from reaching Lake Tahoe are all goals of the project.
Isla Espíritu Santo off the coast of La Paz is a full day of outdoor splendor. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Belly rubs. Who knew a sea lion would love one?
The baby swam around me, then stopped underwater as I stroked her stomach. It was just like petting my dog, AJ, where she can be so submissive. I had no idea how playful these wild creatures could be, or how soft they would feel.
Swimming with sea lions was one of the highlights on this particular excursion to Isla Espíritu Santo off the coast of La Paz.
In addition to being a national park, in 1995 UNESCO declared it a world heritage site and biosphere reserve. Espíritu is 15½ miles long and nearly 5 miles wide. The highest point is about 1,968 feet. It is the 12th largest island in Mexico, at more than 31 square miles. There are more than 1,000 islands just in the Sea of Cortez.
A blue-footed booby on Seagull Island. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Hector, our guide with Alonso Tours, and captain Polo, were wonderful with the information they provided and skill in navigating the waters in what was a rather small panga. It was perfect for the seven tourists who hailed from Baja, Europe and the United States.
The tour is actually of three islands which make up the national park. Isla Partida is where we stopped for lunch on the beach in Ensenada Grande Bay. Just north of it at the top of the trio is Los Islotes where the sea lions were.
Even before we reached the main island, which takes about an hour to get to by crossing the San Lorenzo Channel, we cruised by Seagull Island. We were treated to the rare sighting of a blue-footed booby. Baja is a gathering place for birds from North and South America, making it a paradise for birders.
The land and water are beautiful in their own right. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Thirty-eight endemic species call Espíritu home, with 500 animals on land or water residing in the area.
The heads of a few green sea turtles seemed to bob in the water as they came up for air. Dolphins and a couple manta rays did their dances.
As we snorkeled past the sea lions, it became an underwater party with all the fish – puffers, parrot fish, trumpet fish, golden jack, balloon fish, sergeant major and more. We swam through a narrow rock passageway that led to a lovely coral reef. Here sea urchins, starfish and other creatures were nestled into the coral.
These sea lions reside here year-round. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Without a wet suit, being in the water for about 30 minutes was plenty.
We had another opportunity to swim and snorkel at our lunch stop; glad we chose to do so.
Unfortunately, we were not permitted to explore on land beyond the beach; this was a protected area. A hiking trip might have to be the next trip.
Captain Polo guides the panga through the arch. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Espíritu is mostly volcanic rock and sandstone. It’s an interesting blend with the volcanic rock appearing to be prehistoric and the yellow-red sandstone looking almost delicate to the touch. A few cacti are growing out of the rocks. Other vegetation seems to be minimal, at least from our vantage points.
Most of the trip is on the boat – which is wonderful in itself for sightseeing, then swimming with the sea lions, and the lunch stop.
Hector, the guide, brings lunch supplies from the panga. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
The only negative was witnessing a worker from another boat rinsing off the lunch plates in the otherwise pristine waters. This happened with an occupied park police vessel two boats down. Back on our boat, I mentioned this to Hector, our guide, and he said everything on the plate would be natural, citing the ceviche in particular. I called him out on this, saying that isn’t what fish eat. He said in recent years there have been a lot of improvements when it comes to being ecologically mindful, like not having individual water bottles for patrons. He concluded that things like dish washing in these protected waters is the difference between how a First and Third World Country treats national parks.
Going to Espíritu requires doing so with a guide or purchasing a permit. Kayaking and hiking are also available, with multi-day excursions an option.