Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Big Sur International Marathon 2013

One could not fail to notice the extra presence of military,
 police and security
  at the intersection of Rio and Cabrillo Highway

and the “Marathon Village” at the Crossroads Sunday.
 It was difficult not to think about Boston as we stood at the finish line of the Big Sur International Marathon. 

 Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to the three spectators

 and MIT police officer that were killed,  the 260 plus who were injured, and all the first responders, runners,and friends and family of the runners who will forever be affected by this senseless tragedy. 

Yet the strength of our human spirit was made clear;
 photo BigSurMarathonAFacebookE_zpsd16d2ea9.jpg

by the crowd as they ecstatically cheered on each runner (or walker) crossing the finished line,

 by the 400 or so runners who were part of the “Boston 2 Big Sur” contingency in their dark-blue bib, some clearly showing emotion as they finished the race for those who were not able to or would not ever be able to -
by the sheer joy of participants who eagerly posed for pictures with their 2013 Big Sur Medal,

  to the general friendly, peaceful and trustful camaraderie of the crowd. (Yes redundant, but so true) 
  photo BigSurMarathonAFacebookI_zps94245ad9.jpg

We arrived just as Adam Roach of Pacific Grove, last years winner, crossed this finish line at 2:26:47. A half an hour later at 2:50:02 we watched Nuta Olaru of Boulder, Colorado also last year’s winner, cross first for the women.

A huge thank you to all the volunteers, (military, medical, police, fire, civilian, also the entertainment along the marathon, Taiko Drummers, Michael Martinez on the grand piano,
               photo test_2_zpsd778ba6c.jpg
dancers, strawberry ladies, the larger than life mile markers created by John Cerney, and the Big Sur Marathon organization

Apparently  the clock is ticking and we have 300+ days to get in shape for next year - I suppose this means we need to start training............PAX
A Tribute to the Human Spirit
which is a Gift from God

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Garzas Canyon - Focus on Wildflowers Hike - Let's Go Outdoors

One of the best kept secrets for getting outdoors is the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park Districts Let's Go Outdoors! hikes.  I say it is one of the best kept secrets because the usual cast of characters shows up for each hike.  Not that I don't enjoy their company, we have developed quite a nice camaraderie, but I also think it is nice to share.  

The Garzas Canyon Focus on Flowers would be my fifth Let's Go Outdoors activity since moving to the area in June of 2012.

To reach our starting point, coming from Carmel on Carmel Valley Road, pass the main entrance and Visitor Center for Garland Park, turn right onto Boronda Road.  This cuts through a lovely grove of eucalyptus trees  (shown in the picture at the top) and over a one lane bridge.  Turn left onto East Garzas Road.

There is ample parking on the outside of the trail.  The trail map above shows our hike outlined in yellow. And just as a side note, there are over 50 miles of trails in Garland Park and we are only walking 3 1/2 miles of them. 

Our hike was to have been led by Michael Mitchell, a MPRPD volunteer naturalist and co-author with Rod M. Yeager, MD of Wildflowers of Garland Ranch - a field Guide.   Apparently this was prerequisite reading, because many of my fellow hikers showed up with this text already in hand. Not to worry, I still have time to catch up for next time - I purchased my text on the way home at Griggs Nursery.  Anyway back to the hike...

At the last minute Mr. Mitchell was unable to join us so our hike was led by Gordon, with assists from
Paulette and Rick.  Paulette is very knowledgeable about the trails of Garland Park and quite good at flower identification.  Rick is very knowledgeable about birds (he can speak their language) local history, and  entertains us with his captivating stories of local flora and fauna.  He also can mimic a mountain lion which got all of our hearts pounding. 

Gordon, who is quite young at 88, amazed us all, not only with his ability to identify even the tiniest of wildflowers, but with his amazing stamina on a clearly strenuous (at least I thought it was) 3 1/2 mile hike with a number of steep climbs both up and down. 

Off we set on an early Saturday morning in late March. Before getting behind the fence to begin our hike, I had to ask the identity of a vine which I had spend the majority of the previous day removing from my garden.  It had appeared almost overnight and invaded our yard so thoroughly it was even reaching up and pulling the Acacia limbs down to the ground. 

The answer, an aggressive vine called Wild Cucumber, or Man-root because the roots of this plant can become almost as large as a man.  Looks like I will be pulling this out of our yard next year.

Next Gordon pointed out Poison Oak cautioning us not to touch this because 95% of the population is allergic to the oils on this plant (even when green).  Gordon, assuring us that he is one of the 5%, gently plucked a leaf from the plant and popped it into his mouth.  When asked what it tasted like, he deadpanned, "poison oak." And with that we were off on our hike.

In the open field Gordon points out
the tiny white Popcorn Flower
(which I was never able to find),
purple Sky Lupine 

and Meconella the petals of which
alternate in color, cream and yellow.

We leave the open field and the habitat
quickly changes as we begin
our assent through the oaks. 

Gordon leads the way, naming plants
that prior to today, I am sorry to admit,
 I considered nothing more than weeds.
Take this patch for instance

after an hour on the trail I am actually
able to spot the
Padre Shooting Star
(upper left, mid right)

and Parry's Larkspur (dark blue one
next to the purple one).  A flower that ends
in "spur" means that it has petals that
grow together and form a long
 "spur" (point) at the end.

  Gordon  navigates our hike by using the
carefully placed trail markers.

We continue on Garzas Canyon Trail
looking for the gate to Terrace Trail.

No horses on this trail, but dogs are allowed.

Terrace Trail crosses East Ridge and we stop (finally)
for a water break at the top of Redwood Canyon.

Rick, our bird docent, points out two
 Red-tailed Hawks
soaring effortlessly high above us engaging
in what apparently is a courtship dance.

 But no time to lollygag Gordon gets
 us back on our feet.
 We are on our way to find
 the fields of Indian Warrior.

Not to be confused with
Indian Paintbrush which we saw earlier.

 Our hike continues, at a rather rapid steep decent,
 into Redwood Canyon as
 we follow the Las Garzas Creek,

traversing back and forth over four

seasonally available wooden foot bridges.

We will follow the
tranquil Las Garzas Creek

 to the gate connecting to Garzas Canyon Trail,
and through the open field (where we began).
With my new found
ability to identify wildflowers I spy 
California Goldenfields, I think.
As a novice, I am open to correction.

I never did see the elusive Popcorn Flower
(thank goodness for Wikipedia).

I highly recommend Let's Go Outdoors! Unless the popularity would mean that I am unable to join in the fun. Or maybe the popularity will lead to more hikes and more adventures. 

I have put together a pdf list of the wildflowers we saw on our hike and when possible have matched the name with a photo.  This exercise has encouraged me to take off on my own...stay tuned for there is so much of God's Green Earth to discover.   Pax.

Photos - L.A. Momboisse 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Carmel by the Sea - Hugh Comstock’s Architectural Signature - Inside "Hugh W. Comstock Residence formerly known as Obers"

Hugh Comstock and his wife Mayotta built
 “Hugh W. Comstock Residence
as their private residence and office in 1925.

The picture above shows the original
structure shortly after being built
for $1,000.

The approximately 20 x 20 square foot
floor plan  consisted of a living area


with a signature Comstock Carmel
stone fireplace on the first floor,


and a petite bedroom above the living area.



In this tiny cottage, Hugh built the ceiling
low over the first floor living area.

The open beam ceiling exists today
as it did over 80 years ago -

intersecting the bottom of the top tier
of the south facing three-tier
mullioned window at 90 degrees.
(seen from outside in this picture from 1924)

Or this current picture 

The bedroom over the living area is reached by
the staircase in the foyer, 


which features an open balcony enclosed with
another Comstock signature,
a highly detailed hand hewn
low railing ornamented 
with pierced 
flat wood balusters. 


This light fixture is thought
 to be an original to the home.

Comstock, also famous for his use of space,
 incorporates two twin beds and

a door for storage in the slant of the steep roof line. 


The bedroom over the living area contains the
east facing eyebrow window with
diamond-pane leaded glass
(seen from the outside below)


and the south facing narrow arched
 three-light casement window. 
 Features Comstock would incorporate in his
 future cottages, The Studio and Our House.

In 1940 Hugh Comstock added a
 two story addition to the west side
 of the cottage.

On the first floor a kitchen, dining room
and lavatory were added.

In this new addition Hugh incorporated
 his new Post-Adobe
construction on the first floor.
 The original brick floor
 and fireplace still exist

as well as the Post-Adobe brick walls.

The picture below shows the south elevation of
the home after this addition.

Upstairs Hugh added a master bedroom
with adjoining bathroom
 and east facing deck,
and a sewing room
with west facing deck for Mayotta.

The plans above were drawn by Hugh Comstock.
  The balcony outside Mayotta's sewing room
 is shown on the plans
to the left and would be
 the west facing elevation
toward the sea.


Today Mayotta’s sewing room is a cozy bedroom,
 featuring the south facing eyebrow window with
 diamond-pane leaded glass and

Wooden French doors leading to a balcony
 with yet another signature
 Comstock hand hewn low railing,
 this time of double pierced
flat wood balusters similar in style to the
 interior staircase and balcony.


Hugh Comstock’s architectural signature
 is visible throughout this historical cottage
located in the Historical Hill District of

We have the longtime current owners to thank,
as they have lovingly maintained
 and restored this charming home
 both inside and out.

Photo Credits
Black and White photo of Hugh and Mayotta outside “Obers” donated by Harrison Comstock to the Henry Meade Williams Local History Department, Harrison Memorial Library.

Black and White photo of Comstock personal residence “Obers” in 1925 – Photograph Images of America Carmel A History In Architecture, Kent Seavey page 81, courtesy of Pat Hathaway, Historic California Views.

Black and White photo of Comstock personal residence “Obers” circa 1940 – Photograph Images of America Carmel A History In Architecture, Kent Seavey page 117 Photograph by Morley Baer, courtesy of Montery Peninsula College.

House plans courtesy of Carmel-by-the-Sea City Hall Files

*Color Photos by Al Saroyan Masterbuilder
**Color Photos by M. Vincent
All other color photos by L. A.Momboisse