Beyond the Valley of the Super Bloom

April 9, 2019

Where once there were full moons, high tides and wildflower seasons, there are now “Super Moons,” “King Tides,” and “Super Blooms.”

If you miss this month’s once in a century Super Blue Blood Double Wolf Moon, don’t worry. You may rest assured that the once in a millennium Ultra Eye of Sauron Apocalypse Moon coming next month will more than make up for it.
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Big Sur Highway Management Plan Identifies Congestion Relief Projects

April 1, 2019

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Bixby Bridge

The California Highway Department has finally released its long-awaited management plan for Highway One in Big Sur.

Key issues identified by state planners include increasing levels of traffic brought on by relentless promotion of the area as a vacation destination and the social media-induced tendency of visitors to gather in large numbers at a few highly congested and overused attractions.
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Despite Flood Warnings, Local Rivers Peak Short of Levels they Reached Last Month

February 14, 2019

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The ocean held the rising Carmel River at bay for awhile this morning, raising the lagoon to “action level,” but the river eventually prevailed and lagoon levels dropped.

When the Carmel and Big Sur Rivers flirted with flood stage last month, it passed largely without notice. They had not been projected to rise that high and so flood alerts weren’t issued.
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Much Needed Rain

January 18, 2019

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On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, wind gusting to over 50 mph brought down trees and knocked out power – especially on the Monterey Peninsula’s south-facing slopes.
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Cal-Am is the Monterey Peninsula’s Abusive Boyfriend

October 23, 2018

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It’s not news that Cal-Am will do anything, say anything and spend pretty much any amount to dissuade Monterey Peninsula ratepayers from studying the feasibility of taking over the water system. They made that clear four years ago when they spent about $2.4 million to defeat Measure O.

Oddly, the intensity of Cal-Am’s opposition may be the best reason to believe a public buy-out will be feasible. After all, if it was really as impractical as they say, why would they be so desperate to block any serious study?

In any event, a no-holds-barred, no-expense-spared approach to defeating Measure J was always to be expected from Cal-Am. Yet the blizzard of delirious anti-Measure J flyers Cal-Am’s political consultants are currently fire-hosing into our mailboxes still manages to amaze. It’s as much a show of force as it is an effort to persuade. By now there’s probably a clear-cut somewhere with a plaque honoring Cal-Am’s dedication to preserving jobs in the Forest Products industry.

But what, exactly, is the message Cal-Am is spending so much to promote?

Sifting through the pile, we find glowing descriptions of Cal-Am’s love for the Monterey Peninsula and commitment to its prosperity side by side with deranged threats to go out of their way to financially destroy this same beloved community should its voters not do whatever Cal-Am tells them to. The more you read, the clearer and more familiar the message becomes. It’s something along the lines of, “we love you more than anyone else ever will and want to stay with you forever, but if you even think about breaking up with us we’ll bankrupt you and grind you in the dirt and it will be all your fault for making us do it.”

Now there’s certainly no reason why a private water company couldn’t try to persuade their customers to stay with them by providing high quality service and reasonable prices and, if their customers still wanted to go their own way, there’s certainly no reason they couldn’t simply negotiate a reasonable price and let them go.

Behaving like an abusive boyfriend is a choice and, in this case anyway, apparently a matter of corporate policy.

Ending an abusive relationship is dangerous, and Cal-Am is clearly serious about making a breakup as painful as possible, but staying in an abusive relationship is usually worse.

Are the voters now ready to stand up to Cal-Am? We’ll find out on November 6.


Agaricus Augustus Alert!

August 31, 2018

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Prince of the City: Agaricus augustus fruiting, uncharacteristically, on a lawn. They are usually found in more natural settings. Eating mushrooms, or anything else, growing in city parks where there is no telling what gets sprayed, is not recommended.

One of the great things about the Central California coast is that it’s the home of Agaricus augustus (aka The Prince), one of the most delectable mushrooms on the planet.

Unlike most of our other choice edibles, which tend to fruit during the rainy season, A. augustus is most often triggered by wet summer fog. A nice payoff for enduring a cold, clammy August.

And fruiting they most certainly are. Even on lawns!

A. augustus often occurs in places where a layer of dirt has been deposited on top of a thick layer of leaves or other vegetation, either naturally, by flood or landslide, or by human activity, such as road or trail construction.

They go bad quickly, so check your patches right away!

As always: this post is not a guide to mushroom identification. As with any mushroom, unless you are very familiar with the characteristics of A. augustus and with the characteristics of the poisonous mushrooms it most closely resembles, you have no business picking it for the table.


Year of Fire

July 31, 2018

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Smokey Sunrise near Redding California

Only nine months ago, winds gusting to 60mph blew the Tubbs Fire across miles of Napa, Lake and Sonoma Counties. The fire effortlessly crossed a well-maintained 100-foot wide firebreak to enter and decimate the upscale Fountaingrove neighborhood, then drove deep into the City of Santa Rosa – eventually destroying about 5% of the housing stock in a city with a population of over 175,000. 22 people were killed and nearly 6,000 structures were destroyed. Santa Rosa alone suffered more than a billion dollars in damage. It was the most destructive, and third deadliest, fire in California history.

At the same time, the nearby Nuns, Atlas, and Redwood Valley fires each ranked, on their own, among the top-twenty most destructive fires in state history. Collectively, these four fires burned over 8,000 structures and killed 40 people.

Just two months later, strong winds blew the Thomas Fire across portions of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties at a rate of advance that sometimes reached an acre per second. The 282,000 acres that eventually burned made it the largest fire in modern state history. Two people were killed and the 1,063 structures destroyed made it the 8thmost destructive fire in state history – the third fire to make the top ten list in a three month period. Damages amounted to more than 2 billion dollars.

This week, fires in Northern California have already burned close to 200,000 acres. The Carr Fire, without aid of significant wind, developed a rotating column that generated what amounted to a fire tornado in suburbs of the City of Redding – a terrifying sight that resulted in an astonishing level of destruction. So far, 1,236 structures, including nearly 900 homes have been confirmed destroyed and 6 bodies, including the bodies of two firefighters, have been recovered. Additional people remain missing. The Carr Fire will rank as at least the 7thmost destructive fire in California history – the 6thfire to rank in the top 20 in the past 10 months.

This is the price we are paying right now, today, for inaction on climate change. The bill will only grow steeper in the days, months and years ahead.