Mouth Closed

The Russian River’s mouth has been closed since September 11, more than 2 weeks now. Water is still being released from reservoirs upstream and something like 120 cubic feet of water has been flowing under Hacienda dam since then.

So the river, now lagoon has been rising. The water measures above 7′ at the Jenner visitor’s center.

For the past week I’ve been out there enjoying what amounts to a 9 mile long lake. In the next few days, I’ll share the best of the photos.

Here’s a view of the mouth taken several days ago from the overlook.


Quick Trip to Jenner: Russian River Lagoon

The mouth of the Russian River is closed, sealed shut by a sandbar. Waters in the lagoon have risen to about 6 feet at the visitors center launch area.

Most of the Harbor Seals have left. Only a few remain near the mouth. In their place are hundreds of migrating Brown Pelicans and Gulls.


Waves crashed against the rocks near the jetty. Some of the bigger waves shot grand plumes of spray into the air.

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Signs posted on the shores around Penny Island asked the public NOT to remove trash or debris from the shore.


As a retired educator I complied with the request stated on the sign.


This zori was a few feet from the sign. I left it there.

It was surprisingly hard to leave the trash where it was. Picking up trash in the river is sort of habit forming.

California Coastal Cleanup Day

September 17, 2016 marks California Coastal Cleanup day. Many citizens picked up trash this morning. The local air resources board declared today a “Spare the Air Day” so I helped clean up the beach nearest home—Doran Regional Park.


A crowd of approximately 50 were at the check-in station. I handed a volunteer my waiver form and ventured out to fill my bucket.

Ninety minutes later my green five-gallon bucket was almost full.


I wore the blue glove to pick up dicier pieces of trash (see below).

I hauled in a little more than 8 pounds of garbage. Most of it was everyday throw-aways: bits of styrofoam, cigarette butts, food wrappers, single-use cups, plastic beverage bottles, and tennis balls that the retriever did not retrieve.

Mixed in were things that suggested untold stories:

  • a good pair of children’s shoes
  • a used condom and its wrapper
  • broken prescription eyeglasses
  • a hand-rolled, and only half-smoked marijuana joint
  • a FULL can of Coors beer
  • a cremation certificate of dated August 4, 2016

Before driving home I took fifteen minutes to make a quick monochromatic watercolor sketch of the beach. (I’m learning to watercolor!)


It’s fun to participate these events. You’ll meet some interesting people and leave feeling good about your efforts to make the world a better place. For more information, visit California Coastal Cleanup.

(Picking up litter feels good each and every time you do it.)

Up Cheney Creek

Jim G and I paddled into the mouth of Bodega Harbor this morning.


We made our way along along the north side of the sand spit on which Doran Regional Park sits.

We spotted loons as we passed behind the Bodega Coast Guard Station.


Jim noticed something feeding of the smolts near the outflow of Cheney Creek—a Leopard Shark.


It swam beneath my kayak twice, lingering for a few seconds below me. Perhaps it was simply enjoying a moment out of the sun in the shadow of my boat.


We lingered with the shark for a few minutes before letting the last of the flood tide carry us up into Cheney Gulch.

The navigable part of the creek ends near the Highway One over crossing. We turned around when it was not possible to paddle further.


Jim had a little trouble paddling his canoe. The wind wanted pushed his canoe off course. Once he kneeled midships, the canoe was more manageable. He had no problem getting back to our cars.

Here is a map of our outing.

This was the first time I’ve paddled at Bodega Harbor in years. I think I’ll return before too much time goes by.

California’s Biggest Estuary

California’s biggest estuary is called the San Francisco Bay.

It truly is a bay—and a great harbor—so it makes sense to call it a bay. Indeed, the New Oxford American Dictionary identifies the San Francisco Bay as an exemplar in its definition of the term “bay.”

From an economic point of view, the San Francisco Bay provides a world-class harbor on a rugged, foggy Northern California coastline that otherwise has few natural harbors and nothing nearly as large and accommodating of commercial water-born transport.

From an ecological point of view however, the San Francisco Bay might better be regarded as a vast estuarine system that includes the San Pablo Bay, the Suisun Bay, Richardson Bay, and the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta complex. Seen as an estuary, it is California’s biggest and most impressive place where fresh and salt water mix and mingle.

I like thinking about it as an estuary. As degraded as it is from an ecological perspective, it is still an important ecosystem in the lives of much of California’s wildlife. Its ecological importance to natural systems seems to me to be analogous to the the Bay Area’s current importance economically speaking today as the home to Silicon Valley and the birthplace of the tech revolution.

The Estuarian in me loves visiting San Francisco Bay. I feel happy just to be in the midst of the hustle and bustle of all the human and non-human activity there.

A very good way to see this estuary is to go paddling there, as I did with my nephew, John when we paddled on Richardson Bay from Sausalito not long ago.

If you don’t have a boat or are not inclined to paddle, there is another a great way to see this estuary/bay:

Ride a bike around it.

GGB on 8:24:16

Yesterday, to celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary, my wife and I rode our bikes on the Tiburon/San Francisco bicycle loop which, in my opinion, is among the best bicycle rides in the world. (We were married on Angel Island in 1974, taking a ferry from the same terminal.)

We got an early start yesterday. Our journey began in Tiburon. We rode the $10 one-way Tiburon Ferry Express to San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal.

Most of our fellow passengers were commuters on their way to work. They settled in on the lower decks, many nursing coffees, staying attentive to their phones and/or laptop computers. Captivated by the virtual world displayed on their screens, the commuters appeared to be oblivious to nature’s splendor outside.

Sarah and I opted for the outdoors. Despite a nippy and chilling wind, we left warmth of the cozy cabins crammed with commuters and climbed a stairway to the wind-swept top deck.

The ferry crossed Raccoon Strait and zoomed past Angel and Alcatraz Islands. We took in spectacular views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges and the San Francisco skyline. The scenery called to mind a Langston Hughes’ children’s poem that my daughter used to recite when she was in preschool:

“I went to San Francisco,

I saw the bridges high,

Spun across the water

Like cobwebs in the sky.”

Upon arriving at the Ferry Building, the Peet’s Coffee Shop there proved an irresistible invitation to warm up. Sipping lattés, we watched ferries land and depart at the San Francisco Bay Ferry Terminal.

The previous Sunday we had ridden this same ride in the opposite direction. Everywhere it had been CROWDED with tourists. Riding across the bridge on weekends can be dicey. Too many visitors crowd the sidewalks. To relieve weekend sidewalk congestion the Bridge District opens the west sidewalk to bicycle traffic Saturdays and Sundays, but it still can be very busy, especially in the afternoons.

Yesterday by contrast we enjoyed the early start on a weekday. The San Francisco waterfront was comparatively quiet early on a Wednesday morning. The ride across the bridge Wednesday morning was uncrowded and pleasant even with bicyclists and pedestrians sharing the east sidewalk.

We started across the bridge under a leaden sky. As if on cue, the sun broke through and melted the gray fog away revealing bright cyan skies.

Once across the bridge, we zoomed down Alexander Avenue into sunny Sausalito, stopping at Dunphy Park for a thermos of piping hot tea made at home. We also some victuals purchased from Molly Stone’s Market in Sausalito as we passed by.

Thus fortified, we continued to make our way around Richardson Bay back to our car in Tiburon.

We enjoyed a tasty lunch at Servino’s Italian Restaurant, sharing a quiet table for two overlooking the ferry landing.

Rivendell & Ferry

Bike & ferry at the end of the ride

You don’t need to own a bike to do this ride. There are many bike rental outfits that can rent you wheels and maps and apps to guide you on this ride. One of them, Blazing Saddles, made this video. It will give you a good idea of what this ride is like.


A map of our day: