Monday, March 19, 2007

Coming Home from the Trial

SUMMARY: Random thoughts and notes from the trip home. Demonstrating the "point snapshot camera out the window with one hand without looking at it because your eyes are on the road" technique of photography.

Driving along 152 westward from 99, across I-5, and then through Pacheco Pass alongside the gigantic San Luis Reservoir to 101 at the south end of the Santa Clara Valley, for some reason I noted a lot of the cultural and agricultural aspects. First, my van hit 100,000 miles just 10 miles out of the trial site on 99 north, right before this rural roadside stand (I did pull over for these momentous photos):

It's so flat in the central valley; drive for an hour west on 152 with the mountains in the background but the land as flat as a steamrolled pancake. Plowed or planted fields mile after mile, with older rural houses, buildings, and enclaves scattered everywhere. Interspersed with "New single family homes!" "New homes starting at $126, 000!" "Coming soon: New homes!" We've already covered all the lovely fertile soil in Santa Clara county with houses, pavement, and shopping centers, and now we're working on the central valley, one of the most fertile stretches of land on earth--

From signs along the road advertising "Cutting horses" or "farm animals for sale" to a sudden behemoth of a shopping center slashed into the landscape. From a field with long-horned cattle (!) to double MacDonalds in Los Banos, a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere just a decade or so ago, now starting to sprawl enthusiastically outward, consuming the middle of nowhere until someday there will no longer be any nowhere--

I was interested to note fairly new signs for the "SJ Valley National Cemetery" (for "San Juaquin Valley"--the lower half of the central valley) and "Korean War Memorial" along the stretch of 152 below the San Luis Reservoir. I don't recall seeing those signs before. Wonder whether these are really new? Oh--yup, pretty new (follow the link).

I'm always a little awed by the San Luis Dam. It's not the engineering marvel of Boulder Dam, but it's a dark imposing monolithic earthen structure that speads across your entire visual foreground as you approach it from the east, rising well over 300 feet from the valley floor.

And off to the right is the O'Neal Forebay and recreational area.

This whole shebang is interesting. This dam, rather than containing a creek and backing up its water, is instead a holding area for water pumped from other areas of the state via the California Aqueduct, splooshed into the forebay at ground level and then pumped again up into the reservoir for use during the summer months. It is the "largest offstream reservoir in the united states", covering roughly 45 square miles.

Just before 152 hits 101, they've cleverly built two gigantonormous shopping centers, one on either side of the road, and put a stop light in. So what used to be not such a horrid intersection is now a disaster. And there are no current plans for a replacement highway out of the Bay Area over the hills. The stoplight was letting about 6 cars through per green, and even I--usually calm in my car--was starting to squeeze indentations in my steering wheel. So I was intrigued to notice the license plate of the car that merged in ahead of me (shot through my VERY dusty/windshield-wiped windshield--which was clean on Friday night--):

So I tried to chill, but by the time I was back on the freeway, the ordeal had been such that I just had to pull off briefly at the next exit for my favorite rest stop:

When I got home, my copy of the January/February issue of Dog Sport magazine had arrived, with a photo of mine that they bought of an agility acquaintance at Scottsdale. Photo is here, but you'll have to buy the magazine to read the article (wink/grin).

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At 11:18 AM, March 19, 2007 , Blogger Flirt the Squirt said...

Did you see my profile of Stacy in Dogs Sports Magazine last fall?


At 11:22 AM, March 19, 2007 , Blogger Elf said...

It's my guilty secret that I don't in fact subscribe to any dog magazines. I just don't have time for them. I'm years behind on reading the free copies that I get from time to time for various reasons.

Cool that you published something there! Have you written things for dog mags before?


At 11:58 AM, March 19, 2007 , Blogger Flirt the Squirt said...

I did one profile for Clean Run last year on Mike Murphy and I've got two waiting to publish on Ron Heller (ACE Award winner) and Lo Baker (2nd in the GP at 22 inches in 2006).

I don't subscribe either. I don't have the patience to read them.

I like doing profiles because I am willing to ask people anything. I am naturally curious and interested in my subject.

I could write more technical stuff, but it bores me to read it, so i can't imagine that anyone else would be interested. :-D


At 12:04 PM, March 19, 2007 , Blogger Elf said...

Profiles are good. I like reading them, too, because they don't make me feel like a pathetic loser because I'm not doing all these creative exercises and training regimens described in all the other articles. :-)


At 4:36 AM, March 20, 2007 , Blogger Flirt the Squirt said...

Okay, you need to get a mount for your camera and a remote control because taking pictures while driving, even if you aren't looking is way too dangerous. :-D

Or a co-pilot. Something.


PS - I am getting a new digital camera. A little one I can take everywhere because this Nikon is too big to lug around on hikes. Any suggestions?

At 9:11 AM, March 20, 2007 , Blogger Elf said...

Little cameras: Get something with a good optical zoom (not digital zoom, although most have both). I think most have the basic 35-100 mm, but something that goes to a wider-angle 24mm would be useful at times. Something that'll slip into your pocket. If you're accustomed to an SLR, you'll want one that has at least a few optional settings like being able to turn off the automatic flash, maybe settings for specific purposes like "sports" or "scenery" or "portraits", or maybe not. Consumer Reports says minimum of 4 megapixels. Mine is an olympus and I like it ok but I have to use the LCD screen because looking thru the eyepiece (optical viewfinder) doesn't match what the lens sees so I misframe photos. Some don't even have optical viewfinders any more. Would be nice if (again, you have a clue from using SLRs) it had an ISO setting so that you could adjust for lower light w/out flash. Wish mine had it. Don't know how common it is on little cameras.


At 9:15 AM, March 21, 2007 , Blogger Flirt the Squirt said...

Camera: went with the Canon SD700-IS. Should be arriving today. I am so excited. :-D

At 7:31 PM, March 21, 2007 , Blogger Elf said...

Cool! Looking forward to hearing how you like it and seeing photos.



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