A mountain lion takes over a segment of the park

Yesterday was a bit odd. We kept trying to leave for a hike in our favorite park but kept encountering problems, including a flat tire. We finally made it about 2 hours after our initial attempt only to find that part of our usual route was blocked due to a mountain-lion sighting.

We spent a good deal of time at the warning sign, studying our own map, to see where we could go instead. Finally we sorted that out and off we went.

On the way a pair of joggers passed us, then a single female jogger. Later, she turned back and asked to hike with us. Turns out she knew what happened because on Sunday she overheard a ranger talking on a radio saying the mountain lion had finished eating the deer and was looking at people. LOL! I don’t know, that just struck me as funny. I figured his eyes registered movement, and he was probably looking out for who might come and steal his prey. But can you imagine overhearing that conversation? “Well, he’s finished the deer and is now looking at people.”

Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would hike alone here. There are posted warnings about mountain lions. I was seriously paying attention to the trees today. They like to pounce from above.

All three of us went up a new path together. Well, since I was looking at all the trees for lions, I saw these and had to stop to take a photo:

Oak trees with yellow grass on a hillOak trees on the hill, photographer ceases to be a useful lookout as she takes a photo

Another hiker passed us, so our friend ditched us and went with her. She caught on quickly that once I took out that camera, we were going to move even more slowly. I kept my camera out and continued snapping…and looking for lions. We caught up to the two hikers at a fork in the path, which was very fortunate because the other hiker was familiar with the route and saved us taking the wrong path.

We followed the switchbacks down the side of the ridge, spotting this beautiful deer. Really, deer were everywhere. Why would a lion bother with a person? Sometimes they do, though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_cougar_attacks_in_North_America Don’t hike, bike, or even cross-country ski alone, and don’t let your kids play alone in the yard, walk alone on the road, or ride his or her trike alone, even in the burbs.

Oh, but these deer…so sweet.

Fawn eating in Rancho San Antonio park Doe eating in Rancho San Antonio Park, Cupertino California

Doe eating, close up of her face
Doe eating

Doe eating in Rancho San Antonio Park, Cupertino California

I wanted to take the doe home and keep her as a pet and keep her safe from the mountain lion. I realized this was a ridiculous thought, but it did cross my mind when she looked at me with those huge sweet eyes and then went back to nibbling leaves with her black velvety muzzle.

As we descended through the trees we found our views out to the bay were better on this side of the park.

View of San Francisco Bay
View of San Francisco Bay

My husband told me to use my 28 – 200 mm lens outdoors instead of the smaller one. I’m so glad because I wouldn’t have had access to all these shots, and it was beautiful out in the forest.

Red berry bush
Red berry bush
An oak in the sunlight
An oak in the sunlight
A bit of water in a creek in Rancho San Antonio Park, Cupertino
A bit of water in a creek from recent rain

Our delays let us meet up with that woman who was very afraid of the lion but who wanted to get in her whole workout. She was able to tell us exactly what had happened with the lion, and her connection with the other hiker helped us avoid going the wrong way and having too long of a hike. It’s lovely when we go with the flow and cooperate with each other, don’t you think?

Have you ever had a delay that you felt protected you or served you or someone else?

Smoky skies and forest light

Lake Tahoe PaintingThe air was a bit smoky around Lake Tahoe and around the San Francisco bay area because of all the forest fires in California this summer.

When I was a child, forests called to me. Fortunately I grew up near Lake Tahoe and was allowed to hike all day alone with my dog, so I could fulfill this powerful urge.

My parents would drive to New Jersey every summer for grandparent visits, and whenever we reached Pennsylvania, my nose would be pressed to the window staring at the forest. I longed to be able to wander in the mysterious shadows, but I could see it would be difficult to move between the trunks. The trees grow much more densely there than in Tahoe National Forest, as thick as broccoli bunches, thick enough you could build a house on top of them.

To this day, feeling the soil beneath my sneakers, listening to wildlife, and soaking up the quiet presence of trees, is comforting and satisfying. Forest light-4

The way light falls in the forest draws the eye, particularly when there is something reflective, like water or tree trunks rubbed white by time.

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Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino, California

As much as thick forests attracted me as a child, as an adult, I like the more scattered forests of the high Sierra. The separation among the trees happens I think because of the rugged climate and also perhaps because not many things can grow in a pine-needle carpet.

Tahoe National Forest
Tahoe National Forest

Walking through a stretch of forest like the last photo gives a satisfying crunch as your sneakers come down on the twigs…but nowadays, I stick more to the trails.

Perhaps my spirit is not as drawn to mystery any more. The cost of becoming an adult, I suppose. But at least I can still enjoy walking in the woods.

Historic buildings, painted

How are you? I’m trying to get back to blogging. Where has the time gone?

I haven’t been out walking and taking photos, due to a sore foot, but I thought I’d make some paintings out of pictures I’ve shown you recently. These are all farm related, from Rancho San Antonio. I’m so glad they preserved some of the old buildings.

I love farms. I know I romanticize them. I wouldn’t last a day on a real farm.

I think this is someone’s house, not necessarily historic, though it is in the park. I like the simple style.

Old_farmhouse_Rancho
Oil painting (Corel Painter Essentials 4)

Maybe in some corner of my soul, I long for a simpler time.

The next one is officially historic. This was the home of the foreman. Deer Hollow Farm was a homestead owned by the Grants in the 1800s, sold in 1937. The original structure was a one room house, then they added on one more room. I can imagine living here and decorating the interior with antiques. The inside has been restored and filled with artifacts.

Two-room-house-Rancho
Impressionist (Corel Painter Essentials)

Here’s the old barn. I stopped the painting a bit before it was finished, just for fun. I kind of liked the smudged effect.

Barn_Rancho
“Classical Oil Painting” unfinished (Corel Painter Essentials 4)

Have a great Friday or Saturday as the case may be!

Animals, domestic and wild, at Rancho San Antonio

Two hikers were watching this snake cross the path. I started taking pictures. My husband later said that he was impressed that I’m not afraid of snakes. I said, “Yes I am!” He said for someone afraid of snakes I was pretty close. But I thought the snake was moving really slowly and I could easily get out of the way if it turned on me. He said it wasn’t venomous; if it had been, he wouldn’t have let me get that close. Then he explained striking range and the speed with which a snake can strike. Since I can’t tell a venomous snake from a non-venomous one, I’m going to start giving them a wider berth. I’m also keeping my eyes peeled for any snakes lurking on the sides. It’s a good idea to stay alert.

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There was a happy ending for me though. I snapped several pictures.

Later we passed this deer, who was even closer to the trail than she is in this picture. Just nibbling away…so sweet. I love their eyes.

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We took a different route back and passed by this historic farm. I heard a really loud bellow and was wondering if it was a steer, but it didn’t really sound like a moo. We found out soon enough.

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When this pig came out of the shed, I was startled because he was really looking at me with my camera. He seemed intelligent and not too happy with me.  I remember reading in the Encyclopedia (remember those?) that pigs are pretty smart, smarter than horses.

The bleating was coming from these sweet goats.

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This squirrel was eating something fabulous by the artichoke plant. He started to run when I came closer for the photo.

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Rancho San Antonio

Rancho-San-Antonio

That is fog coming over the western hills, a phenomenon very typical here. That fog extends out to the coast. Sometimes it comes over the valley where I live as high clouds that give us nice cool mornings. The clouds retreat by noon, leaving us with hot, sunny, dry afternoons. The coast near here will be socked in with fog all day, meantime. That’s why I love living here in the valley.

The fog hovers over those hills and feeds water to those trees. Some trees along the ridgeline, not this particular ridge line, but other ridges closer to the ocean, create their own rain by an adaptation that has their needles pulling water out of the fog. I’m told there is mud and sometimes running water below those pines even though, under other types of trees in the same vicinity, the ground is dry.

The trails in Rancho San Antonio lead up through those forests. There are little running creeks, wild turkeys, the occasional deer, and even mountain lion. There is also a petting farm nestled in the woods in the flat area accessible to children. They have calves and lambs I think. I’ve definitely heard roosters crowing.

The park is crowded every day. It is extremely popular for walking. We passed a few people today up on the mountain trails who were all looking at the wildflowers. There were purple ones and yellow ones and one exotic looking cream and lavender poppy shaped flower. Thistles were in crazy bloom in the exposed dry areas.

There are always remote-plane hobbyists on the bluff. I happened to catch one of the planes while it was landed. The pilot was quite handy with the maneuvers, evoking some wows from my husband.

Rancho-San-Antonio-plane

I missed the moves because I was trying to get a nice shot of a bird. Wildlife is so hard to photograph! Why do the critters always move right when I’m just about to get focused? It must be personal.

I always love looking at this little farm house up on the hill. It is very far away, but I zoomed in a lot. I’ll also show a shot without the zoom so you can see where it was in relation to where I was standing.

Rancho-San-Antonio-farm-house-close

Today there was a couple walking down the street. I thought that was nice.

Here is the distant shot. The little farmhouse is hard to see in both photos. It’s to the left of the big cluster of trees on the right, pretty much at the top of the hill.

Rancho-San-Antonio-farm-house-far

I like to imagine what it would be like to live up there all alone with all that open space. They probably have a view of the bay, which is on the other side of that hill.

Rancho San Antonio

I decided I like how these came out of the camera. I couldn’t think of anything to do in Photoshop that might make them better.

Rancho San Antonio is a big park in Cupertino that really showcases the Golden State’s typical landscape.

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The park is so well-maintained with lots of flat places to walk, wide pathways, and well-marked hiking trails.SONY DSC

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A turkey and a farmhouse

Here are two more photos from Rancho San Antonio.

Turkey

I am practicing what I’m learning in my Photoshop class. I think the turkey may be a bit “overdone.” But fortunately not in the way that he would really hate! Photoshop cooking doesn’t hurt the bird at all.

I’m happy with my little farmhouse.

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When can I move in?