When I lived inn Kentfield in Marin for work purposes I frequently went over the Richmond Bridge to Berkeley. In Berkeley there was a hardware store that had buckets of pink plastic flamingos in the window and outside. I wanted to plant a hundred or so in the garden. She who must be obeyed naysayed the idea. Well, I still like flamingos and think this pic which I garnered from Lynn Catlett’s Facebook page, “You know if you are from Mendocino if ……….” is absolutely amazing:

Flamingos en masse

Flamingos en masse

Alas, I have no idea who took the pic or where it was taken.

Earthquakes felt along the Mendocino Coast

Two Saturdays ago I was sitting at my desk when my chair moved, my fob watch swung on its’ chain and a picture on the wall gyrated. Earthquake!! I looked up the USGS site and found that it was a 5,6 quake centred near Fortuna which is to the north of us who live in Fort Bragg.  It was a magnitude 5.6 earthquake and was reported at 8:53 p.m. on California’s North Coast. The quake was felt to the north in Eureka and also to the south. There were no reports of damage or injuries and there was no tsunami. The map below shows just how much seismic activity there is in the Fortuna area.

Earthquake activity ariund Fortuna

Earthquake activity around Fortuna

And this map shows just how much seismic activity there is in Northern California on an ongoing basis:

Eathquake Activity in Northern California and Nevada

Eathquake Activity in Northern California and Nevada

Me being an auditor sat there wondering just how much, how bad, how many big ones there have been along the Mendocino Coast. I remembered that Thad Van Buren’s book, “Belonging to Places” had a table in it showing earthquake events over a long period of time:

Earthquake Events

Earthquake Events

We are on the coast so my next question was, “And Tsunamis?” Again Thad Van Buren came to the rescue with this table:

Tsunami Events Table

Tsunami Events Table

Having absorbed that I DEFINITELY decided that I was better off here vs the East Coast – Hurricanes, or middle America – Tornadoes.


Sharks along the Mendocino Coast

I was sitting on a bench outside our layout here in Fort Bragg sipping a cup of java when a lady approached. She asked me if I lived here. “Yes,” I replied. She explained that her young son was seeing the sea for the first time (they lived in Indiana) and he had some questions. Would I mind talking to him. “No prob.”

Micheal was about 5 and his sister about 7. I assumed (how wrong can you be) that the questions would be about trains and/or model trains. Micheal and his sister wanted to know about sharks!!!!!!! Q1 – had I ever been bitten by a shark? “er, no.” Q2 – had I ever seen a shark? “Yes, but only in the Monterey Aquarium.” Q3 – were there sharks off the beach in Fort Bragg? “Yes.” Q4 – did I know anyone who had been killed by a shark. Q4 turned out to be a two part question – had anyone been killed by a shark along the Mendocino Coast and did I know anyone who had been bitten by a shark. The second part was easy – I don’t know anyone who has been bitten by a shark. As for the first part I told him I would write a blog that he, his sister and mom could read with what I could find out.

After checking around for quite a bit I found this shortish article,  “20 Things You Didn’t Know About Sharks” by Gemma Tarlach.

  1. SHAAARK! Did you just get a mental image of a gaping mouth and pointy teeth? Think again.There are roughly 500 known species of shark and they vary in size, shape, environment and diet.

    Types of Shark

    Types of Shark

  2. Living shark species range from a few that could fit in your hand, such as the dwarf lantern shark, to a few you could fit inside, including the whale shark, which grows up to 40 feet long.
  3. Angelsharks are nearly flat,like the rays and skates to which sharks are closely related, while sawsharks have a toothy snout that can be almost as long as their cylindrical bodies.
  4. Sharks ply the waters of every ocean, from shallow,brackish estuaries to depths of nearly 10,000 feet.
  5. Deep-sea dwelling Mitsukurina owstoni, the goblin shark, is the oldest living species among lamniform sharks, which go back about 125 million years and today include great whites, threshers and makos.
  6. The first sharks evolved 400 million to 455 million years ago, but sharks’ flexible cartilage skeletons are rarely preserved, so the earliest species left little behind in the fossil record.
  7. Fossilized denticles, tiny tooth-shaped scales that once covered their skin,are the oldest evidence we have for sharks though researchers disagree on whether denticles alone are enough classify a species as a shark.
  8. A few things make a shark truly sharky: All sharks have jawbones and multiple gill openings, and, unlike the vast majority of other fish species, have a skeleton of cartilage rather than bone.

    Parts of a shark

    Parts of a shark

  9. And while bony fish have an air-filled swim bladder to control buoyancy, sharks don’t. They use their large, oily livers as a kind of internal flotation device.
  10. Many shark species are like most fish, coldblooded, but some are warm blooded, including the great white shark.
  11. Having a core body temperature that’s warmer than the water gives these animals all kinds of speed: they grow faster, swim faster and hunt more efficiently. The trade-off is that they need to eat up to 10 times more than a similarly sized cold blooded cousin.
  12. You might assume a shark get-together turns into a feeding frenzy when food is around. But apparently it’s more of a dinner party. Researchers who observed great white sharks scavenge a whale carcass off the coast of South Africa found that multiple animals fed beside each other at the same time, displaying relaxed behavior such as a belly-up posture and a lack of ocular rotation.
  13. Ocular rotation is, well, let’s let Jaws’ obsessive shark hunter Quint explain it: “The thing about a shark, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye … he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white.”
  14. Quint got it half right. Only some species of shark, including the great white, use ocular rotation to protect their eyes. Other species guard their vision with a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane.

    Blacktip shark

    Blacktip shark

  15. The movie Jaws portrayed sharks as villains, and some etymologists believe the word shark may derive from earlier German and Dutch words for shifty characters. We can still see the connection in today’s loan sharks and card sharks.
  16. Other researchers believe the word comes from Xoc (pronounced “shoke”) in Yucatec, a Maya language. According to this theory, English sailors visiting Caribbean waters in the 16th century picked up the local word for the “great fish.”
  17. And talk about great: At more than 50 feet long, Carcharocles megalodon was the largest shark that ever lived before it went extinct about 2.6 million years ago.
  18. Yet even C. megalodon was little once well, relatively speaking. In 2010, paleontologists announced they’d found a 10 million-year-old megalodon nursery on the coast of Panama with newborns measuring more than 6 feet long.
  19. While we’re talking big fish tales, you may have heard sharks don’t get cancer. That’s a load of rotten mackerel. Sharks do get cancer and we’ve known that since at least 1908, when a malignant tumor was found in a blue shark.
  20. Humans perceive sharks as a threat, but the opposite is true. Up to 100 million sharks are killed each year by finning: Fishermen cut off a shark’s dorsal fin to sell as a delicacy and dump the wounded animal back into the ocean to die. The practice imperils not only sharks, but entire food chains, which are disrupted as the animals’ numbers dwindle.

How’s them apples!!!!

Shark attack table

Shark attack table

Have there been any fatal shark attacks  along the Mendocino coast. As best as I can find out there has been one –  Randy Fry.

This is part of a report of Randy Fry’s death in the Press Democrat

FORT BRAGG – The Coast Guard on Monday recovered the headless body of a nationally known sport fishing advocate who was killed Sunday by a great white shark while diving for abalone off the Mendocino Coast. Randall “Randy” Fry’s death is only the 10th fatality ever recorded along the West Coast from an encounter with the white shark, the ocean’s deadliest predator. It is the first fatal shark attack on California’s North Coast in at least a half-century. Since 1959, 16 other people have been attacked by sharks off Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties, but all survived. The shark, estimated to be 16 to 18 feet long, struck the 50-year-old Auburn man at about 4 p.m. Sunday in shallow water north of Ten Mile River Beach near Westport.

“It was over in five seconds,” said Red Bartley of Modesto, a friend of the victim’s, who witnessed the fatal encounter from a boat. Cliff Zimmerman of Fort Bragg was in the water with Fry but escaped injury. Bartley, president of the California Striped Bass Association, said he helped Zimmerman out of the water and into the boat before making a mayday call for help. “When I saw the pool of blood spread across the surface of the water, I knew Randy was gone,” Bartley said.

The three men had put their boat in the water in a sheltered cove at Kibesillah Rock, about 10 miles north of Fort Bragg. Fry and Zimmerman, longtime friends, had dived together at the site in search of abalone for 30 years. The men knew it was shark territory, but like many divers, they believed the chances of an encounter were minimal.

“Despite a public fear of sharks, the fact is attacks are rare and experienced divers and surfers know that,” said Sean Van Sommeran, director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in Santa Cruz. The shark may have mistaken Fry for a seal or sea lion, Van Sommeran said. Fry was diving head first in about 15 feet of water when he was attacked. The shark apparently ripped Fry’s head and neck from his body, a move sharks usually reserve for their preferred targets – seals or sea lions.

The cove where Sunday’s fatal attack occurred is sheltered by sheer, steep cliffs that make it accessible only by boat. As gruesome as the attack was, Miller said he doesn’t believe Fry suffered. “It was so quick I don’t think he had a chance to feel anything,” Miller said. Fry was described by friends and colleagues as a warm, witty man, experienced in diving and all areas of sport fishing. “He was not some average diver. He knew where he was, and what he was doing,” said Jim Martin, a Fort Bragg fishery advocate.

Micheal, I hope this answers your questions.



Jackson Demonstration State Forest

What is a “Demonstration Forest?” A Demonstration Forest is timberland that is managed for forestry education, research, and recreation. It demonstrates innovations in forest management, watershed protection and restoration, and environmentally sensitive timber harvesting techniques. In such a Forest good forestland stewardship is shown by management for a sustainable timber production. At the same time, the Forest is open to the public at no charge. Demonstration State Forest timberlands are publicly owned by the State of California. They are managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF). As a group, they are financially self-sustaining due to the value of timber harvests.

If you traverse Route 20 between Fort Bragg and Willits you will see a sign that says, “Jackson Demonstration State Forest.” Jackson Demonstration State Forest is the largest demonstration forest operated by the State of California. The forest is entirely located within Mendocino County on land formerly owned by Caspar Lumber Company along California State Highway 20. Logging of the area began in 1862, and intense industrial logging has taken place for many decades. There have been several generations of harvests and replantings. The 48,652 acres that make up the forest were purchased in 1947 and the demonstration forest was created in 1949. Coast redwood is the most common type of tree in the forest, but there is also Douglas fir, grand fir, hemlock, bishop pine, tanoak, alder, madrone and bay myrtle. The elevation of the land varies from 80 to 2,200 feet. Precipitation near the coast averages 39 inches per year, but the average is 70 inches per year inland. The temperature reaches a low of 25 °F (−4 °C) and a high of 100 °F (38 °C). The name Jackson comes from the name of the man who bought the Caspar Lumber Company from its first owner. The buyer was Jacob Green Jackson.

This map shows the extent of the forest.

Map of Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Map of Jackson Demonstration State Forest

If you want to know just how twisty Route 20 is just run your finger along the red line. Allegedly there are 312 twists in the road between Fort Bragg and Willits.

CWR (California Western Railroad) Tunnel #1 collapse in April 2013

There was a  major collapse (thousands of tons of rock falling onto and covering approximately forty feet of track) in April of 2013 in CWR’s  #1 Tunnel some 10 miles from Fort Bragg. Whilst some repairs have been effected the tunnel is still closed. Heretofore I have not seen any photos of the collapse and initial work to re-open it. That has changed with club member Lonnie Dickson obtaining from his neighbor some pictures that the neighbor took personally. Alas, I have no further information – just the pics below:

600 Miles of Scenic Britain in One Day

I cut this out of the January 2013 copy of a British Mag named, “Best of British.”

Cutting from Best of British

Cutting from Best of British

Now remember I am an ex-auditor. Auditors are VERY suspicious SOBs. If you get to be a partner in a major auditing firm it means you are a very serious SOB. So I was VERY suspicious as what is described by Mr. Sutcliffe as being doable. One way of checking it out (obviously) is to go and try it. The other alternative is to do a virtual tour.

I thought that the internet, being what it is, would make the exercise a doddle. Like all battle plans my battle plan failed on its first encounter with the enemy. There are billions of sites flogging you tickets you tickets which are worse than useless for what I wanted. To cut to the chase I finally did get it sorted.

The first stage is from London to Leeds. Below is a route map and a view of the rout from a satellite. The view from the satellite shows what the terrain looks like along the journey.

As you can see from the satellite pic there’s not much to see.  From London to Leeds takes  2 hours 11 mins. Leave on the 7:03 am and you’ll arrive at 9:16 am – 169 miles covered.

The next section is quite short from Leeds to Carnforth.

Leeds to Carnforth takes 1 hpur 40 mins. I “took” the 10:18 am and arrived at 11.50 am. 55 miles covered, total miles so far 224 miles.

Next section is from Carnforth to Barrow-in-Furness, This is a very short section as you can see below:

Carnforth to Barrow in Furness takes 53 minutes if you take the 12.12 pm. It arrives in Barrow -in – Furness at 1.05 pm. 18 miles travelled making a total of 242 miles so far.

Next is from Barrow – in – Furness to Carlisle. This is VERY scenic.

From Barrow in Furness to Carlisle takes 2 hours 5 mins. The 1.16 pm from Barrow gets you to Carlisle  at 3.46 pm.  Journey is 55 miles making a total of 297 miles.

So far so good. Next from Carlisle back to Leeds. Again VERY scenic.

Carlisle to Leeds takes 2 hours 39 mins.  Take the 4.18 pm and one arrives  at 7.08 pm.  94 miles covered – 391 miles cumulative.

The last leg is from Leeds back to to London, Travel time  2 hours 11 mins. The 7.45 pm from Leedsw arrives in London at 9.59 pm.. Distance travelled is 169 miles making a total of  560 miles,

Not 600 miles but pretty close.

Am I going to try and do it? It’s added to the bucket list!


Vancouver Garden Railroad

If you have half an hour I have two vids of an astoundingly beautiful G scale garden railroad located on Vancouver Island. A Canadian couple gave me a heads up. They told me that when visiting relatives they had been taken to this great garden railroad. Two years ago it was selected by the Victoria Conservatory of Music for a fund raising event as one of 10 outstanding gardens in the area. 600 donors came to see it during one weekend and loved it.

This vid is a cab ride on the Layout. It takes you on a trip over 1,500 feet of a specially landscaped Garden. the layout is called Gartenbahn, Fuehrerstandsmitfahrt.

This vid takes you around the same route in the opposite direction. The views are quite different.

It’s probably the best “true” garden railroad I have ever seen.