Out of the area: Port Costa, Contra Costa County

Bulletin: most places won’t let customers use their restrooms because of COVID! That’s what Jean and I found out when we left recently to drive out of the Sacramento Valley with our cameras. We were driving to Port Costa, an old little port city in Contra Costa County. I had been there twice before, but that was several years ago. Nothing changed! I decided to take pictures in a way I didn’t before.

On our way down to the port, we stopped at this viewpoint to take a picture of the Carquinez Bridge while it was being enveloped by approaching fog. A couple of seconds after I took this image, the bridge was totally fogged in.

We then made the usual stop at the C&H Sugar refinery. Photographers are not allowed in, but they do let you take pictures at the entrance. You may have seen this view before if you’ve been following this blog for some time.

Now for Port Costa itself. The railroad still runs by it.

The town is old and the hotel shows it. Homes are overrun with overgrowth.

The shoreline, beyond the railroad tracks is interesting and we saw some kayakers paddle by.

It was just before we left Port Costa that we realized there was not a public restroom to be found. We did find a portable toilet at a small park near a fishing pier. The flush bathroom was closed. It was a good stop in more ways than one!

Before heading home, we stopped at Mare Island. I knew that the only public restroom was in the museum which was closed. There was a Navy ship in for repairs. No, we couldn’t go on board! So, after taking our pictures as best we could because it was all fenced off, we headed to a Starbucks in Vallejo.

When we found the Starbucks, we were allowed to buy coffee but not use their restroom! CostCo to the rescue. Fortunately there was one on the way home. All in all, it was a fun day. We did learn, though, not to go too far from home!

Lens Artists Challenge #132: Striped and Checked

Just look around, patterns make up our scenery. It may be buildings, trees or seating. As photographers, we all look for repetitive lines whether linear, curved or squared. Or, as Ann Christine says, “striped and checked” in her challenge this week.

Before I was able to look in my archives, I read JohnRH’s post on the challenge. His was of trees. I thanked him for the idea! Here are trees from Calaveras Big Trees State Park and its giant Sequoia trees. And a leading line too.

I love textures, and wood has so much, including lines. The horseshoe is there for luck!

Windows give us a checkerboard of reflections. I found these at Mare Island, a former Naval Station.

How about a line of squares, a square monument to those lost in the Vietnam War, or the lines on the grate of an old train?

I’ll end this post with diagonal lines.

I don’t see squares, but I do see rectangles! Thanks Ann Christine for this fun challenge.

Lens Artists Challenge #129: Favorite Images of 2020

This challenge from Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles seemed easy at first, but when I started digging through my photos, the challenge became emotional and difficult. The pandemic wove its way into our lives touching all aspects even photography. There were fewer outings, no lunches afterwards, less day trips. Picking the favorites out of a challenging year was tough.

The year 2020 started out great with one of my best sunsets taken at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, and an eagle shot at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. I didn’t make it back to either place that year.

Before the first lockdown, we did make it to Mare Island (A former Naval installation) where I spotted the perfect natural frame for an old brick building. I do love structures.

I did win an honorable mention for this photo in the McKinley Rose Garden contest.

Our photo shoots mainly consisted of meeting at the designated place shooting masked and then going our separate ways. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the World Peace Rose Garden in Sacramento reached deep into my soul since my husband served in Vietnam. This piece particularly touched me. A prisoner waiting for what?

I did take two longer trips. One with husband Richard as we searched for the beautiful California poppy and one with my friend Jean as we looked for Fall color, but instead found this beautiful lake.

Out again with our small group, we searched for Fall color before it disappeared. As we were going home, we came upon this.

But my favorite is the simple love of a child for her mother. In this case the child is Glory, 6-weeks I think when this was taken, and her mother. This was taken at the Sacramento Zoo. I call it, “This is MY mommy!”

And so, we are now two days into 2021 and things are looking up. We have vaccine choices in the works and hope. Take care and stay safe!

Doing it while there’s time! Mare Island Museum & more.

The next two days look busy, but that’s nothing new for a retired lifestyle. Ask any retiree! They’ll probably say they are busier now than before. That’s because active people need to fill their time. I’m no different. So, what better use of my free time right now than to show you the pictures from the Mare Island Museum in Vallejo as promised in yesterday’s post.

Even though I’d been to Mare Island a few times before, I never visited the museum. I guess I was too busy taking photos. But since I’ve gained experience taking photos indoors without flash and tripod, this seemed like a good time to investigate what was in this large building.

What a surprise! Not only does the museum house Mare Island’s history, it also serves as a meeting place and banquet hall. Here are some images:

Additional photos from Mare Island.

That’s it for now! Time to relax!

No horse on this island: Mare Island, Vallejo

It’s been a few years, and I wondered how much this former naval shipyard may have changed. Mare Island, in Vallejo,was America’s first such military post on the West Coast. Established in 1854, it was closed in 1996.

When I first visited, the transformation to a multi-use of commercial, residential and other uses had begun. During one visit, we caught the sunset as it gleamed through broken windows. The old buildings were already decaying. I also visited the island to view Osprey as they nested. (Of course, I can’t find those pictures. I did notice from the pictures I did find that my shooting and editing abilities have progressed!)

So, at our recent visit, I wasn’t surprised to find small changes. Some of the buildings that were behind chain-link fencing were re-opened and turned into businesses. Some older buildings remained as was.

Window reflections told stories:

We toured the USS LCS (L) (3) 102: “A Mighty Midget.” This Landing Craft Support ship was a shallow craft vessel designed to provide close-in fire support for our troops going ashore in the amphibious landings in the Pacific during WWII. Dedicated volunteers are restoring the ship and giving tours:

We also toured the Mare Island Museum, and I’ll show you those images in my next post. Stay tuned for part two!

Staying the same and changing: Crockett and Mare Island

It may be a challenge, but it puts your photography to a test–revisiting places you’ve already shot. I go back with the idea that I’m going to find a new way of shooting, find new things to shoot and just enjoy it.

That’s the approach I took when Marlene and I went to Crockett and Mare Island. She had never been to Crockett and had been to Mare Island a long time ago. Crockett was the same: old, and sometimes dreary and quaint. Can a town be both? This one can. Its claim to fame is the C & H Sugar plant, and just like before, we were chased away. They do not like their property photographed.

We drove around, had lunch and found Port Costa (described in my previous post). From there we drove on to Mare Island, which was in the midst of change. Chain link fencing was around many buildings, the front street at the shore was closed to traffic, most of the large cranes were gone and we were left with little to shoot. They are fixing up the Island and getting ready to lease out buildings. So, I made lemonade by shooting various locks I found and some buildings.

It was a full-day shoot, and I enjoyed it. Especially the challenge of finding a new slant to a place I’ve already photographed.

Riding the freeway: Port Costa California

Not knowing the country roads, we needed to take the freeway to get to Crockett, Port Costa and Mare Island. Marlene said, “Greg wouldn’t approve,” and I agreed. This was our first long distance outing since Greg became ill. We stayed around home base for a few weeks during our Tuesday’s With Seniors outings to accommodate his needs. He may not have been able to come, but he was certainly on our minds.

Driving the freeway route, we first stopped at Crockett, then found Port Costa and eventually made our way to Mare Island. Today, I want to show you some of Port Costa. This small, decaying town is a census-designated place in Conra Costa County. The population was 190 at the 2010 census. Founded in 1879 as a landing for the railroad ferry Solano, Port Costa’s ferries carried entire trains across the Carquinez Strait from Benicia to Port Costa. The town lost its importance when a railroad bridge was constructed at Martinez in 1930 to replace the ferry crossing. Today, it’s a sleepy, photogenic and cute town.

I enjoyed shooting in Port Costa more than the other two places which I will show you in another post. I just wish, some of the stores were open on Tuesdays. It’s a good thing we ate lunch before we arrived!

From Port Costa to Mare Island, we were able to stay off the freeway although we did use the GPS–another thing Greg would never use!

A change of attitude: The Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island, part 3

When you need to change attitude, it’s best to get away. That’s what we did. We took our new/used trailer to Las Vegas, Nevada for its “shakedown run.” I know it’s hot in Las Vegas this time of the year, but it was our cousin Jim’s 70th birthday–so why not! The good news is that we were able to outfit and situate the trailer to our liking, but the bad news is that I didn’t take any pictures except for Peggy Sue’s Diner on the way home. I’ll show you those in my next post.

Today, I want to wrap up the Otainium Cup Race and show you some images that are a mixture of what is happening on Mare Island. I did not do any HDR on these, and, yes, there are some buildings again. But, don’t click off, there are some new sights too. Hopefully, if I can get into a carpool, I’ll be going back there for a full moon shoot on Saturday. Fair warning–more Mare Island. Hopefully I can do better with my images. After all, a change in attitude is mostly accepting that what you’re doing is good and you can also improve.

A change of attitude: The Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island, part 2

When you wake up at 5:30 in the morning to find a busted pipe, a flooded back yard and a broken water heater, it’s difficult to concentrate on a change of attitude! All is well now. Wow! We were lucky to find a plumber who came out right away and worked on both projects. But, I’m still working on changing that attitude. You know the one where you say, “I’m not good enough.”

So today I bought a new software editing tool from On One. The only problem is that it won’t work on my computer which is a 32 bit. For now, I’ll install it on my laptop and upgrade my desktop which really needs it. I did go through the thought process of I have a new camera that I haven’t learned all about yet, Lightroom that I haven’t mastered all the way, Photomatix that, again, I haven’t mastered, am I good enough to get more software. YES! Eventually I will be master of all my software.

Now for the continued story about the Optainium Cup. At each challenge station, the racers had to complete some tasks. Jayne and I were at the Mad Hatter station. You really had to choose one because you couldn’t walk from one to the other without missing some of the action. One photographer rode her bike around from station to station, but didn’t stay long.

At the Mad Hatter they had to talk to the bunny who gave them a special egg, great the Queen and wake the sleeping mouse. It was set up to be fun and it was.

A change of attitude: The Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island

Yes, there needs to be a change of attitude on my part. When I was looking at other photographers’ photos of the Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island, I thought how could mine compare. That’s what you get for posting to the Meetup a few days late! But, that’s been my feeling, everyone is better than me. I need to change that. I may not be great, but I’m better than some. And, I’m learning. Each time I go out, I learn. Each time I look at other photographers’ images, I learn.

My recent outing to the Optainium Cup race was fun and another learning experience. The race was exactly that except it was in homemade peddled vehicles that were decorated with a theme. You’ll understand when you look at the pictures. My photo buddy Jayne and I had never been to this fun activity before and it was a learning curve for us.

In this post, I’ll show you the line up and the start. Tomorrow, I’ll show you the challenge stop that we were at. I’ll explain it also. Oh, the people staffing the race were also in costume. Visitors were too; however, it was hot. I don’t know how they managed in costumes.