SPUGG – December, 2013

Having been an unwitting member of SPUGG for the last 2-3 years, yesterday was another manifestation of giving outings instead of gifts. This was a trip from the Santa Ynez River alongside Paradise Road all the way round to Santa Ynez River at Alisal Road, finishing at Nojoqui Falls The last portion at Gaviota, I did on my own on the way back.

The dryness of the Paradise area was sad and frightening. Even some of the Coast Like Oak were weeping leaves, resulting in very airy, branchy crown structures standing above crunchy leaf litter. Alisal Road was moister and darker, possibly because it is not really in a rain shadow while being north-facing.

The speed with which the table cloth and place settings were set up on a Nojoqui Park table took my breath away, as I usually slog at a slow solo speed. The Park was relatively empty at lunch time, but the hoped-for fiery yellow of the Cottonwoods was not quite there this year. A trip to the Falls did not happen because a large group of bikers got there first. Then we had to go our separate ways from a brief pause in otherwise busy, calendared lives.

The Sycamore color alongside the 101 was again eye-catching yellow/orange, but there are no places to stop to take photos. I took the Rest Stop exit, but no luck there, so I carried on to the Gaviota turnoff. I drove up the hill and back down again, and on both trips noticed lots of Monarch butterflies floating near the bridge across the creek. I drove to the only parking area near the turnoff, walked back and shot a few photos of the butterflies. They were mostly feeding on the Eucalyptus, but I saw one nectaring on Mule Fat.

I need to work on fitness next year, because I crashed when I got home. However, I am still very much busy with downsizing at home – a huge task that has to be finished soon. It was amazing how much occupied space was freed by scanning decades of documents to store on a tiny one-cable 1TB disk (yeah! no bulky power cable). Thankfully, a better slideshow plugin was found.