Delaware River Estuary

While visiting my daughter and grandson, I got a chance to walk down to an estuary that is central to the history of the United States, the estuary that connects Philadelphia to the Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware River.

Looking north from the Philadelphia waterfront.  That’s the Ben Franklin Bridge connecting Philadelphia on the left (west) with Camden, New Jersey, to the right (east).

Paddle and Hike

Before heading back to the East Coast to see our kids and grandkid I paddled and hiked to maximize my time outdoors in beautiful fall weather here in Northern California.

Estuarian reader Loren Webster often visits Spring Lake when he visits the Santa Rosa area and writes about it on his blog. He reminds me that it is worth a paddling there.

This morning I saw Buffleheads Ducks for the first time this fall. They winter here. As always, they stay well away from me by flying away, swimming off, or simply by diving underwater. They are elusive birds. The best I can manage from my kayak are grainy photographs.

Similarly, Kingfishers keep a good distance away from human beings. My best photos of them are not too great.

Much less camera shy are Great Blue Herons,

and Canada Geese.

Clearly visible from the lake was this hillside scorched in wild fires last month.

After the paddle I took a five mile hike on nearby Taylor Mountain.

At the summit, I saw burned hillsides.

Tomorrow will be a day of busses, planes, and cars. I’m glad to have had a good helping of the California outdoors.

Petaluma River

On several recent solo paddles I have reflected on the pleasures of solo paddling. Being outdoors in natural settings can restore my sense of balance and perspective.

But I do not always prefer solo paddling. In fact, I often go out paddling or hiking with others, usually my wife. Today I went out with a couple of folks, Bill and Kathy, from the paddling group I sometimes join, the Petaluma Paddlers, an Internet meet-up group.

Appropriately, we went out on the Petaluma River from the Petaluma Marina upstream on a rising tide past the turning basin and as far north as we could easily go. We passed beneath the Smart Train bridge,

the concrete US 101 over crossing,

the Hunt and Behrens buildings,

some stately oaks,

until we reached the railroad bridge just south of the outlet mall.

Along the way we saw Western Grebes, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cormorants.



The New York Times recently ran an opinion piece on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of social engagement. Here is a link:

Happiness Is Other People

Mid Tomales Bay Tour Two

Serene memories of a kayak tour of Tomales Bay I took five days earlier have reverberated in my mind all week long.

By Saturday a compelling impulse to return became irresistible. The opportunity arose this morning—so I went.

Marconi Cove in fog

When I arrived the bay was smooth as glass. All was quiet. Fog limited visibility to about 1/8 mile.

I made my way up the eastern shore of the bay.

As I passed alongside a 29’ sailboat moored in the cove south of Marshall Boat Works, I came, unknowingly, within ten feet of large, probably male, sea lion who had been resting at the surface on the other side of the sailboat. He became aware of me before I knew of him. He startled, let out a surprised sea lion bark, and hurriedly dove underwater with a splash. Half a minute later he resurfaced and watched me as I paddled away.

I made my way along the eastern shore past the little hamlet of Marshall to Audubon Canyon Ranch before heading west into the fog to cross the bay.

For about ten minutes I could see nothing but fog. With no compass to point the way, I kept an eye out for Laird’s Landing on the National Seahore side of the bay. Soon it appeared. I veered over to Marshall Beach and stopped for a break.

Marshall Beach

As I enjoyed my tea on the beach I had a moment to consider: Paddling solo is so pleasant. The solo paddler can fully immerse in the natural world. No effort to engage socially with companions is required. The natural world is sufficient company. Pelicans, gulls, cormorants, loons, grebes, harbor seals, bat rays, and even startled sea lions are welcome companions on a Saturday morning like this.

After tea on Marshall Beach, I paddled a mile further north to Tomales Beach before turning around and going several miles south. The fog began to melt away.

With the sun, Saturday morning paddlers began to appear everywhere on the bay. I passed Tomales Bay State Park’s popular Heart’s Desire Beach and continued along just a bit further to Pebble Beach where I stopped once again to stretch my legs.

On weekdays Pebble Beach—accessible only by foot or boat—usually offers solitude, but even there midday Saturday can be busy. A group of hikers and two groups of kayakers were enjoying the beach with me.

Pebble Beach

I didn’t pack much of a lunch—just a can of kippered herring. Somehow canned fish seems appropriate food on a saltwater beach.

The fog had burned off completely by the time I finished the fillet. A pleasant northwesterly breeze sprang up, just enough to put some texture on the water. Sailboats, a reefed O’Day Daysailer and a Laser with Power Head Radial sail (new to me), appeared on the bay. Somehow sailboats make the bay prettier.

I had promised to be home by early afternoon, so it was time for me to venture back across the bay to Marconi Cove where my days adventure had begun.

A map of my journey:

Mid-Tomales Bay Tour

My wife had scheduled a full day of meetings today, so I loaded my kayak on the roof rack and headed out to Tomales Bay. The weather forecast called for warm sunshine and light winds, exactly what I found when I got out there. Rather than drive around the end of the bay to Chicken Ranch Beach in Inverness as planned, I put in at Marconi Cove, to save time driving out and back. Paddling across the bay would be easy enough today.

Leaving Marconi Cove

Conditions for paddling stayed perfect all day long. I paddled north towards Marshall, then across the bay at Marshall Boat Works. I stopped for lunch In Tomales Bay State Park on Pebble Beach, the beach south of Heart’s Desire Beach. It was so warm, I took refuge from the sun under the trees growing on the cliff behind the narrow beach.

Lunch Spot


After a leisurely lunch I paddled down the bay to just north of Inverness. I crossed the bay at Shell Beach where the bay narrows. I visited the quiet little lagoon sheltered by Tommasini Point.

There were other kayakers and canoeists out today as well as several sailboats. I saw the usual wildlife: ospreys, gulls, pelicans, harbor seals, cormorants, and a magnificent group of more than sixty geese flying south in a vee formation.

As I loaded my kayak back onto the car, a youthful couple stopped at Marconi Cove for a nude swim. Sorry, no photos of that!

Here is a map of today’s nearly eight mile journey.