A short review of driving in Northern California in an economy car


While in Northern California, Tina and I splurged and rented the biggest car they had.

But when we got there, the guy behind the counter down-sold us. “You can save money if you rent a Chevy Spark,” he said with a thick foreign accent.

He finally convinced us that driving the Northern California region would be best suited in a car dwarfed by a Smart Car, or a worm.

So that’s what we did.

It wasn’t bad at all. The car did everything larger cars do, just with less pizzazz as a Maserati or Porsche. Nothing really gains as much respect as when you pull into a 5-star hotel and valet a Chevy Spark, let me tell you.

The rules of the road are just a little different in California. For one: it’s illegal to even HOLD your cell phone. Our friends who live there told me that cops on motorcycles will ride up beside you very quickly and if they see you with your phone in your hand down by your hips, they’ll pull you.

That didn’t stop many Californians from doing it, though. But … as a proponent of not being distracted while driving as seen here by this High Point, NC woman who updated Facebook about the song “Happy” just before crossing the median and dying in a head-on collision and becoming very Unhappy, it’s a good idea to put the phones down until later. At least for your friends and family who love that you love a popular song.

Another rule that the rest of the world doesn’t have to worry about is turning your wheels while parked on a graded street. I remember, you remember, they remember that rule from drivers ed … from 20 to 30 years ago. If you park on a hill, you turn your wheels toward the curb.

I learned that lesson after parking in Chinatown for two hours and returning to my car with a $58 fine.

One major plus to parking downtown is a paybyphone app on your smartphone. For a small surcharge, you can pay your meter using an app and if your lunch is going long, you can add time from your booth.

The one other advantage to driving the Chevy Spark was that we had to navigate steep inclines on treacherous dirt roads to get access to one cabin we stayed in for two days. While other people would drive four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles, we took this dandy up and down those hills. One time, it was in a good bit of rain and mud.

While it’s bad for your wife’s nerves, it’s great for an adrenaline rush.

So that’s my review of driving in NoCal. Get the smallest car possible. Stay in the most remote places only accessible by dirt road. Pay your parking by phone. Don’t turn your wheels when parked on a hill if you want a ticket.

Oh, and you should prepay to cross the Golden Gate bridge. That’s one lie the people at the car rental places are telling the truth.
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Finally! Research to suggest I’m healthy: “A healthy individual can have up to 18 flatulences per day and be perfectly normal”

As reported in this article at NPR:

Many of the smelly sulfur compounds in vegetables have healthful properties.

Take for instance, the broccoli, mustard and cabbage family. These Brassica vegetables are packed with a sulfur compound, called sulforaphane, that is strongly associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

Another possible benefit of a little smelly gas? It may reduce the total volume of air in the gut, Kashyap says.

Why? Because bacteria and archaea make the sulfur gas from other gases in the gut, like hydrogen.

“Bacteria that make sulfide gas are really important,” Kashyap says. “They can cause smelliness, but they can reduce the total amount of gas flow.”

Of course, having too much of anything can be bad. If gas and bloating start interfering with your quality of life, Kashayps recommends seeing a doctor.

But don’t immediately blame your diet, Kashyap says.

In many cases, people who complain about too much gas actually don’t generate more than others, he says. Instead, they perceive the passing more intensely. Or they pass it more often.

“Yes, a more fiber-rich diet will produce more gas,” Kashyap adds. “But completely eliminating fiber from the diet should not be the first option. You don’t want to starve your microbes.”

So go ahead. Enjoy those lentils. Chow down on the cabbage. Then if you stink a little, think of it as a thank you gesture from your microbiome.

I only posted some of the article. The rest can be read here.

If you’re like me, and your farts pretend every day is like Disneyworld’s multiple-time-per-day parades exiting the sphincter, you’ll want to grab this article’s link and forward it to a few of your closer friends and family.

Take that, Tina!

The glorious golden gate awaits you



There are many American structural icons, and the Golden Gate Bridge is certainly one of them.

On our way back from Napa Valley to the airport, we were able to cross it. And let me tell you, I was filled with magical feelings of crossing an American Iconic structure.


My pulse quickened and my palms sweated.

And my stomach growled, because I was hungry.


Wrapping up a whirlwind trip to northern California …


It’s a good sign when working/vacation schedules prevent frequent checkins on social media.

This morning was our final one in the great state of California. For this trip, we stayed primarily in the north. Starting in the San Francisco area, drifting toward Carmel, Big Sur and Monterey and ending in Napa Valley.

Above is a landscape I took in Carmel from our little cabin we rented for two nights. We were far off the beaten path, and had to navigate a treacherous little dirt road to gain access to it.

We slipped in a meal at Nepenthe, which is a well-known, touristy spot overlooking a gorgeous vista and landscape out toward the pacific. We also were able to visit Sea Lions in Monterey where we had breakfast nearby and watched them while we ate. We went early enough to the Fisherman’s Wharf that we avoided a lot of tourist traffic and had the area to ourselves.

Our final leg involved one night in a lovely suite at a place called the Gaige, where we’ve enjoyed wine tastings, a couple’s massage, and the amenities of a beautiful space. Below is the view from Nepenthe. More images to come.


A couple of portraits around the Carmel CA area


The top image is Lonnie Campbell, an area celebrity who plays guitar with rabbits on his head.

For a couple bucks, you can pose with him and hold the bunnies, which smell a bit like shit and smoke.

Below is a shot of Tina in our sustainable cabin located on a farm between Carmel and Big Sur. The cabins are completely off the grid, powered by solar, heated by gas and insulated by old blue jeans. The floors are bamboo and all the materials and glass were already existing from other buildings.

Yesterday, we got a lot of rain, and our car is a little economy, 2-wheel drive Chevy Spark. I managed to get us up the mountain yesterday on wet, muddy roads. I was a bit proud of myself.


Don’t fret it. Everything’s okay! San Francisco is great



Our trip so far has been jam-packed with visiting our friend’s family and doing a bit of sightseeing around the area.

We’re not staying in San Francisco proper, but it’s a beautiful area.

Today we drive down to Carmel, and we’re taking a route that borders the ocean.

Hoping for some great photo opportunities.

In the meantime, enjoy some of this photography from yesterday including some street work on the streets of San Francisco.



















Monthly self-portrait challenge: April. Theme = Water


The 12-self portrait challenge continues in April with the theme water.

This is one that I would have liked to spend more time and use more equipment on, but when it came down to it, I let the deadline inform the way I took the photo.

Sunday slash Easter was one of the warmest days we’ve had so far. My three nephews were here, and after dinner, I said, “Hey guys, I need your help.

I only have one Paul C Buff Einstein that I could trigger, but I popped off a PCB Alien Bee 800 as well.  You see, to stop water in motion, you need a short pop of light. And in a case like this, the more light sources the better as we were covering a pretty large area of splash.

It was either that or I needed a studio full of lights I don’t own.

My intention was to stop the water completely, but I needed a few more faster pops of low light, and I didn’t have time to pick up triggers for my Speedlites from Bill.

So I compromised.

I set up a backdrop in our parking area, and had water coming at me from the sides and above. My family were all involved by the end, as they thought dousing Jeremy while he tried to capture it on film was hilarious.