Category Archives: About Chuq

What to do… What to do…

Given that I will soon have about ten days as a “man of leisure”, I’ve been thinking about things to do and places to go during that time. I immediately made a list of the usual suspects, starting with a couple of days in Yosemite, because, well, it’s never bad to plan a couple of days in Yosemite.

But that got me thinking, how do I want to spend my free time? Do I want to do something different? I’ve been wanting to get down to Salton Sea to bird and shoot since 2007; I still haven’t gotten there. I’ve wanted to explore the Mendocino coast. A friend of mine has been working on a project in Vancouver, and well, dammit. Vancouver. Maybe bird up around Klamath? hey! Disneyland!

It didn’t take me long to triple-book this time off. One of the things I started to realize is that I’m just not that interested in putting lots of hours driving to a place — the Grand Canyon, for instance, might be fun, but with ten days free, do I want to invest two days on the road for two days at a place? I have things at home I want to get done, too, so a longer trip isn’t high on my priority list, especially with the Yellowstone trip looming.

So, I finally decided — four hours drive max.  which given I live in Northern California, doesn’t limit my options too much.  Because of this, I’ve started thinking in terms of day trips and acting more as a local tourist.

So here are some of the things I’ve decided not to do:

  • Salton Sea
  • Death Valley
  • morro bay
  • disneyland
  • point arena/fort bragg
  • big sur
  • Yosemite
  • Klamath Falls

I could put yosemite back on the list depending on how the wildflower blooms hit, but right now, I’m deciding against it.

  • Here are things I plan on doing:
  • San Francisco Zoo
  • Napa/Sonoma
  • Touristy San Francisco (golden gate bridge, pier 39, fisherman’s wharf, Presidio, Ferry Terminal)
  • Local birding hotspots (shoreline, etc)

And on the maybe list:

  • Point Lobos
  • Pt. Reyes
  • Monterey and the Aquarium
  • Sacramento Railroad Museum and Old Town

The question I want to throw out is this — what haven’t I thought of here in the bay area that’s worth grabbing a half or a full day and visiting, doing, or taking pictures of? How should I spend this rare week of no meetings and freedom to wander? What are your favorite suggestions?

What I definitely don’t want to do: ten days of sitting at home doing nothing but writing. This is about getting out and seeing things I never seem to find time to get to…


One suggestion I got I really like: limit yourself to ten miles around your house, and find interesting things to shoot. (as it turns out a few shooting spots I really like are within that area. not sure if going to them would be cheating…)

Another idea that’s turned up is Calaveras Big Trees.

I also am now thinking I might day trip out to Yolo Bypass on a birding trip.

15 of the interesting and influential

Every year I try to do a short list of people and sites that I find interesting or that have influenced me significantly in the last year. Here’s the list for 2013. Not surprisingly it’s heavily biased towards photographers. These are in no particular order.

I do hope you’ll take a look and give them a chance to influence you as well.

Looking forward into 2014

Where will 2014 take me? To be honest, I don’t know. I have some plans, but I also expect those plans to change. Mostly it’s about getting started, then iterating until I’m happy with them.

There was a time when I was a serious planner-of-things. I couldn’t get started until I could figure out where the end was and I knew the path to get there. The end result of that is too often lots of planning and not so much actual stuff to point at. It’s taken me some time to learn to be comfortable with going and course correcting along the way — but now that I’ve done it a few times, I much prefer it. The trick continues to be to figure out what to do; more correctly, have a strong understanding of what things NOT to do so you have enough time and resources to do things properly.

This list is always subject to change, but here are some of the things currently on the docket for 2014:

Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. I’ve finally carved out time to go to a birding festival, in a favorite place. As part of this, I’ve put myself on my first pelagic tour, and I’ll be taking a guided birding tour of Carrizo as well as being able to explore the Morro Bay area with some of the local experts. If you’re going to be at the Festival and you see me, make sure you say hello. I’ll be down in the Morro Bay area for a couple of extra days, giving me time, I hope, to shoot the elephant seals again, and just hang out a bit and enjoy the area.

I’m planning a trip to Yellowstone in spring, probably just after Memorial day when the roads are plowed and the park is starting to wake up from winter. The current plan is to take a week and go, just me and my cameras, and see what happens, and spend that time in Yellowstone and the Tetons intensively shooting whatever I find.

Laurie and I have decided our fall vacation together will probably be to the Eastern Sierras for a fall foliage shoot. Way too early to figure out the timing or location for it but it’s something we’ve both been hoping to do.

The blog is going to be busier, as I have a number of writing projects I plan on kicking off. I am hoping to exit 2014 with two eBooks available based on the writing plans in place so far. On top of that, I still want to push the refuge project forward. I have a major worry there, though, in the drought, because even though we’ll get through this winter with water for the birds in the refuges, if we continue to not get rain I’m not sure there’ll be water available to flood the refuges properly next winter. Or for people, either.

And coming to some understanding of the drought and water challenges in the state has caused me to get interested in the “don’t call it the peripheral canal” central valley water tunnel project, a massive engineering beast that may dwarf the california high speed rail project in scope and cost before it’s done. It’s way too early for me to write about the project coherently, other than to say I don’t like what I see and what I’ve read so far reads like the science and research being done for it is scoped to validate that it ought to be built rather than investigate whether or not it’s a viable and needed project.

The scary thing is, I think an argument can be made there is no choice and it needs to be built; the water situation in California is that screwed up and all of the choices are bad ones. Which is why every time I wander through the central valley and see one of these signs all it generates is a hollow laugh:

Congress Created Dust Bowl

I’ve seen the water levels at the various reservoirs this winter, and you can argue politics all you want, but if there’s no water, there’s no water. And if something doesn’t change, we’re getting painfully close to the point where argument about water allocations is going to be meaningless. And it’s hard to feel too sorry for the agricultural interests when they’re planting so many acres in rice and cotton and other water-thirsty crops (but if they don’t, where are they going to be grown? And watered? it’s a nasty, difficult set of problems we’ve allowed to happen….)

So I enter 2014 looking forward to much, but also seeing some significant challenges that may directly impact things I’m interested in protecting, and for which there may be no answers, much less good ones. We’ll see as the year plays out.

And may it start raining soon.