Or, perhaps, it is Faerie Day. This is just a reminder that, if we choose to see it, every day can be magical.
As is my habit, I took the opportunity for a long Sunday morning bike-ride into Winters. I do this every weekend that my son is with his mother. It began as a way to distract myself from the what-ifs and similarly productive thoughts. In time, I grew enamored of the ride itself, twisting gently through the beautiful farmlands of Yolo and Solano Counties. But, maybe, I have come to take it for granted. I usually take this ride alone, but today I was joined by a friend, who was repeatedly stunned by the beauty of the farmland and crossing an old, converted rail-road bridge into the town of Winters.
After meeting with other friends for e second breakfast and our choice of morning beverage (green tea for me), my friend and I went to explore Putah Creek from the property of a local land-owner friend (see my previous post for more info on that). We saw few dragonflies, but perhaps, appropriately for Faerie Day, many, many damsels (whose wings must have inspired many an image of faerie wings), including the lovely American Rubyspot (again, see previous post for picture). Another damsel — a female Tule bluet — hovered in front of me for half a minute, at a distance of less than six inches. It moved up and down, and seemed fascinated by my reflective, fluorescent yellow tech-shirt (I prefer to be seen when biking). Perhaps it was thinking, “Whoa! That’s one f”ing huge flower!” Or, could it have been wishing me a happy faerie day.
If not, it was a good one in any case.
A weekend spent chasing dragons and damsels (of the insect variety)
Day 1: 05.26.12
Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area: (1300-1430)
Low 70s, partly cloudy, becoming mostly cloudy
SW wind 15-20mph
I biked here and hiked in a couple of miles, but dragonfly-wise, it was very quiet, even by edges of still-wet pools
Common whitetail:1 immature male
Black Saddlebags 1
Both in wind-blown flight (no photos)
dozens of great and snowy egrets
1 green heron
5 red-tailed haws
Wildhorse Ag Buffer (a trail and some grasslands between the golf course and the ag land)
Black saddlebags: 7 or 8
Blue dashers: 2 males
Darner spp. (possible California or blue-eyed — hard to tell as they came zipping by
All in wind-blown, sideways flight (no photos)
Also seen (non-Odes):
2 burrowing owls
Day 2: 05.27.12
Putah Creek, Winters, Private Property
Mid 70s – Low 80s, few clouds
Light SW Breeze: approx 10mph, but the creek is largely sheltered
American rubyspot (my first sighting ever) 1 male; 1 female (verification for female appreciated)
Exclamation damsels (also a first for me)
for photos, see:
Not photographed, due to the fact that they were not landing:
Western Pondhawk: 1 female for sure; several possible males, but could not get a good enough look, so they could be Blue Dashers
1 unknown brown and tan dragonfly with a skimmer-like body
Possible variegated immature meadowhawks (far bank, so hard to tell)
One likely darner species (I’ll get you yet, my little pretty…)
North Davis Pond
Low 80s, sunny
Light SW breeze
Numerous Blue Dashers (scores)
Common whitetails (a few)
Pacific forktails (a few)
Widow skimmer (a few)
This is a different mix than previous years. Blue dashers are by far the most abundant species this year (and most, by far, are male). No flame skimmer visible. No bluets visible.
Day 3: 05.28.12
Today I decided to bike out to a location on Cache Creek where I used to go rock-hounding with a friend. It is located behind the Wildwings golf course and housing development, just off state highway 16. It is kind of an interesting place. The Creek is a public access area, but you have to go through a private housing development to get to it. The entrance of the development says “No Trespassing.” Luckily, I have a standing invitation from a resident. Oddly, every street in the place is named after a species of duck, but I haven’t seen a single duck any time I’ve been in the Creek. A private airport, gravel pit and the Cache Creek Conservancy all border the place.
On the ride in, I had a nice push from the wind. I stopped and inspected the well-flooded irrigation ditches along Co Rd 99 where it looked like that would not piss anyone off. Only Pacific forktails were seen.
The ride from Davis is mostly good, with nice bike lanes for most of it. Highway 16, though is kind of scary, with microscopic paved shoulders and psychotic drivers (the most courteous drivers are those in odd-looking farm-vehicles). My previous theory that those who bike up to Clear Lake have a death wish stands reinforced. The gopher snake body count on Yolo County Roads is becoming distressing.
Behind the Wildwings Housing Development, outside Woodland, CA.
upper 70s to lower 80s, very few clouds
SSW winds 15-20mph winds, but the creek was sheltered
American rubyspot (M/F)
Western pondhawk (M/F)
Emma’s dancer (thanks Ray Bruun)
California or Aztec dancer (verification appreciated)
Flame skimmer (1M)
Not photographed, since they would not hold still:
Some sort of mostly blue darner (blue-eyed, California?)
Not photographed because I have plenty of photos:
Other critters seen:
lots of lizards
red-tailed and Swainson’s hawks
Riding back, I got to understand that 20mph wind is more than it sounds like, especially when you bike directly into it for 16 miles.
The drainage ditches that had held only Pacific forktails in the morning now also boasted Black saddlebags.
It’s been a while, so here is a little something. This past weekend, Justin and I decided to take Buddy and Buster,the wiener-dogs, for a bike ride. As they are little, they fit nicely into my son’s bike baskets, which he loves. I think the best part for him is watching people for their reactions. When they notice, it is usually a smile or a grin. We were not disappointed this time. Smiles all around. One person kidded that the dogs needed helmets. I think he is right.
Note the dog-ear turn signal:
For higher res see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36618387@N06/6539507885
So who remembers the “my other car is a ___” bumper stickers? There was one one that read “my other car is a bike.” While part of me liked it, another part of me thought “why does the bike have to be ‘alternative’ instead of the car?” I guess I live in the perfect town. After growing up in the Bay Area and hating the traffic (even in the 80s), I moved to Davis for school, and stayed. I’ve been here 26 years now. In large part that is because of the bike-friendly culture. I don’t particularly enjoy driving on a regular basis (trips for pleasure are another matter, unless there is traffic), and am inclined to be environmentally minded (okay, that is an understatement), so I bike in town, almost regardless of the weather. It makes me realize what weather weenies we’ve become. Biking in the rain, wind and heat are all possible, and with the right mind-set, even enjoyable.
A few years ago, I had two back-to-back jobs that required commuting. One was in Napa, and I took the scenic route, so that was okay in some respects, though with the hours and a bad situation at home, I didn’t really take the time to enjoy the beauty of the job. The next one was from Davis to El Dorado Hills — a horrid commute in stop-and-go traffic, to a weird little white-flight community and a dysfunctional company, with a bad situation at home. It felt like I was living in my car. When that job ended and I procured one in Davis, I took to biking full-time. Getting back into exercising, breathing real air and saving a fortune in gas have been a joy.
With full-time biking, I started overloading my bike, and eventually cracked the frame of my 20 year-old Trek hybrid. A sad day. On the other had, it was an opportunity to modernize my wheels. This presented me with a bit of a dilemma. New bikes are pricey. I had once sworn that I would never spend $1000 on a bike. For starters, I figured that meant that I would have to start wearing Spandex. Secondly, I have issues buying things for myself. On the other hand, I really wanted the cargo bike that my friend, Aaron, who owns Apex Cycles & Service, in town was telling me about. Now this was the real deal, not the conversion kit. He offered me an excellent price, I did the math and it looked good, so I took the plunge.
About a month and a half later (the company that manufactures these is a bit slow), I was the proud own of a new Kona Ute: a forty-pound, that looks like it has a skate-board strapped to the cargo rack and some bright-orange panniers. It is certainly an attention getter, and people are never shy offering their opinions about it (most are positive, and the others I ignore or laugh at). It handles surprisingly like a “regular” bike, in spite of the fact that it is at least two feet longer and has a double-length chain.
I love this thing! I ride it everywhere in town, and even take an occasional trip to Winters (about 30 miles, round-trip). I have managed to put somewhere in the neighborhood of 6000 -7000 miles on it. My actual car ( a VW Jetta wagon, which is a nice car) does okay on the freeway, but in town, I get less than 20mpg, and it takes premium gas (damn Kraut cars [I’m German, so I can say that]), so with some conservative math: 6000 miles means 300 gallons of gas, which at the average price of around $4 per gallon over the last year, means that there are $1200 or so I haven’t spent on gas. Looks like I broke even in about a year. Okay, maybe not quite. I think I’m eating more with all the extra exercise. Still. Not bad at all.
The above shows the bike after a trip to the Davis Farmers Market and Target, yesterday. You can see the 37lb bucket of kitty litter, but the panniers are full as well — with groceries and birthday gifts for my son. On another trip yesterday, I was easily able to carry a tile saw that I borrowed from a friend, so you can easily see the utility of this beast which can carry 250lb. on the rack. It can also carry my son and his friend.
Indeed. My other bike is a car.