September 28, 2007

On Your Mark, Sunset, Go

Filed under: clouds,colors,sky,sunset,trees — geoff @ 1:04 am

For our final gasp or blast of September, let’s go back to last Saturday night’s sunset that signaled the end of summer 2007. These shots were taken in a little park that overlooks the arroyo along Western Drive. It had rained that morning and the scent of the flowers and the eucalyptus trees was just magnificent. A visually brilliant and satisfying way to end the summer of love.

Here are some events that have occurred throughout the years in the month of September that I thought were worth mentioning. On September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant women the right to vote. On the September 22, 1776, Nathan Hale was executed during the American Revolution without a trial after he was caught spying on the British in Long Island. His final words, “I only regret that I have one life to lose for my country.” Also on the 22nd back in 1862 President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves in territories held by the Confederates as of January 1, 1863. Now that’s a fairly mind-blowing concept.

Back on September 25, 1690, the first American newspaper was published. A single edition of “Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick” appeared in Boston. However, British authorities considered the newspaper offensive and ordered its immediate suppression before they could include any Red Sox game stories or box scores. On this same day in 1960, the first ever televised presidential debate occured between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon. Many who watched said Kennedy won the debate as Nixon, who declined to use makeup, appeared somewhat haggard looking on TV in contrast to Kennedy. At least that’s what Marilyn Monroe told Entertainment Tonight. And then just four years later, after a ten month investigation the Warren Commission Report was issued stating a lone gunmen was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. They’re still laughing about that one over on the grassy knoll.

And finally, belated birthday wishes go out to American folk legend Johnny Appleseed, who was born on September 26, 1774. For 40 years he traveled through Ohio, Indiana and into Illinois planting orchards. He was regarded as a “great medicine man” by Native Americans and all lovers of applesauce. Johnny Appleseed (born John Chapman) never married and when asked why, his answer was always that two female spirits would be his wives in the after-life if he stayed single on earth. And I bet they were golden delicious.

So that’s it for our final look at September 2007. Coming up on Monday I will give you all the details on the upcoming Open Studios Art Tour that yours truly is participating in for the first time. I don’t want to say I’m excited but I already have my clothes picked out for all six days. And congratulations go out to Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees for clinching a postseason playoff berth for the 13th straight year. I knew all along they would do it. My giving up on them months ago and badmouthing their pitching all season long was just reverse psychology.

Enjoy the colors and have a great sports weekend.

September 24, 2007

It’s Fall and I Can’t Get Up

Filed under: godwits,natural bridges,steamer lane,sunrise,west cliff drive — geoff @ 3:53 am

For our first blog of fall 2007, let’s head down to Steamer Lane and take a look at a couple of recent sunrises. The last two photos are from Friday morning at the Lane. Shots three and four are from yesterday, the Fall Equinox or the first day of autumn. The second shot is a cloud conference taken on West Cliff Drive back on Friday.

The weather is definitely changing here on the central coast. We had our first rain of the season on Saturday and I’ve shot the sunrise three out of the last four days. They’ve been nothing to write your Congressman about but definitely photo worthy. There was a beautiful sunset on Saturday night that closed out the summer of 2007. We’ll take a look at that season ender later in the week.

Here’s an item I ran across this week. U.S. scientists tracked a shorebird as it made a record 7,145-mile flight from Alaska to New Zealand without stopping for food or water. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center says this was the longest nonstop flight ever recorded by a bird without an iPod. This godwit was one of 16 captured by researchers in New Zealand back in early February. It was fitted with GPS and a small battery-powered satellite transmitter to track its migration. The bird, dubbed “E7,” began its record setting flight back from Alaska on August 29, flying past Hawaii, Fiji and other remote islands of the Pacific before arriving in New Zealand on September 7. During those nine days, researchers said the bird “slept’ by shutting down one side of her brain at a time. Coincidentally, I believe the same thing happened to me when I was taking my SAT’s.

The first shot on today’s blog is of some marbled godwits at sunset at Natural Bridges. They were not equipped with GPS or transmitters but all signed a release so I could legally display this photo.

So that’s it for our first blog of autumn. Later this week I’ll have all the information on the upcoming Open Studios Tour. Congratulations go out to the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders, both of whom picked up their first win of the NFL season yesterday. Both teams are now undefeated in the fall. So enjoy the birds, the sunrise clouds and the first week of the new TV season.

September 21, 2007

And The Rocks Red Glare II

Just a couple of days left before the summer of 2007 is history so we’re going to do things a little bit differently today. Friday’s blog comes to us courtesy of my longtime friend Nancy Mager who resides in Tucson, Arizona. On a trip through the desert on a horse with no name she saw these rocks and wanted to share them with the audience of Sunrise Santa Cruz. As many of you know, I don’t do much shooting away from the coast (it’s in my contract) so I’m thrilled that we’re bringing in some southwest desert action. The first shot is of a place called White House Ruins. I know Nancy wanted me to make some clever comment about this location but I think the name speaks for itself. So here we go with our first guest blog. Take it away, Nancy.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located in northeastern Arizona, within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. Its 83,840 acres are all nonfederal, preserve artifacts of the early indigenous tribes that lived in the area, including the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi) and Navajo. Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Parks, as it consists entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land that remains home to the canyon community. Access to the canyon floor is restricted, and visitors are allowed to travel in the canyons only when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide.

Canyon De Chelly (pronounced da Shay) National Monument is a group of three canyons that fan eastward for up to thirty miles. Stratified, multicolored cliff walls surround the canyon. For many centuries the Dine (Navajo) built caves and lived in these cliffs. Most of the caves were located high above the canyon floor, protecting them from enemies, flash floods and door-to-door salesmen. Today the canyons contain many ruins and sacred places.

Spider Rock stands over 800 feet high. Geologists say that the formation was created 230 million years ago. Windblown sand swirled and compressed with time, creating the red sandstone monolith. The Dine (Navajo) Indian tribe named it Spider Rock after one of their most important Deities. It was Spider Woman who taught the Dine the art of weaving. She told them, “My husband, Spider Man, constructed the weaving loom making the cross poles of sky and earth cords to support the structure.” Through generations, the Dine remain accomplished weavers. It is said Spider Woman chose the top of Spider Rock for her home and to this day, she watches the sky for rains. Either that or the Weather Channel.

That’s it for our initial guest blogger. It’s amazing that these wildly colorful structures sit in the middle of the Arizona desert. What’s even more amazing is there wasn’t a casino in sight. If anyone else would like to be a guest blogger contact me and we’ll see what we can do. Next week I’ll have news about the upcoming Open Studios Art Tour that Sunrise Santa Cruz will be a part of for the first three weekends in October. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of people from this blast list at this event. Or at least my parents.

Anyway, to sum up my feelings about the state of Arizona, let me quote from Three Dog Night’s classic hit “Never Been to Spain. Well, I’ve never been to heaven. But I’ve been to Oklahoma. Well, they tell me I was born there. But I really don’t remember. In Oklahoma, not Arizona. What does it matter? What does it matter?”

Thank you and good night, everybody.

September 20, 2007

I Hate It When We Flight

Filed under: birds,flocks,sea gulls — geoff @ 1:13 pm

For our midweek photo experience let’s start by heading down to the Main Beach that runs along the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. I was driving by there one day last fall and saw that the sand was just loaded with gulls. I then came back the next day and there wasn’t a gull in sight. These birds were having a blast at the beach that day or in the words of Cyndi Lauper, “gulls just want to have fun.”

The next three shots are from Four Mile Beach on the north coast. This incredible spot sits just four miles north of Santa Cruz. If you like birds in quantity, this is your place. There were so many epic days up there this past winter. I’ll be sending out pictures highlighting these incredible mornings when the sky, ocean and nature all blended together and created photo magic. When I take my camera to Four Mile I’m always excited because I know I’m in for a treat. It’s a great way to start the day. Either that or I just knock off a couple of pop tarts.

Saw an interesting item concerning the sky in the newspaper a couple of days ago. Around midday on Saturday, villagers high up in the Andes in southern Peru were startled by an explosion and a glowing fireball that many thought was an airplane crash. Turns out it was a meteorite that left a 100-foot wide by 20-foot-deep crater. Boiling water was coming out of the crater and particles of rocks and cinders were found nearby. This had local residents very concerned.

Many people who had gotten close to the supposed meteorite have reported health problems. 100 to 150 people have been treated for headaches, nausea and dizziness at a local medical center. Jorge Lopez Tejada, a representitive of the Regional Health Directorate, confirmed that very strong odors are coming from the supposed meteorite crash site. Despite the fact that masks are being worn, the odor causes throat irritation and nose itchiness. Seven police officers, who were hospitalized after collecting samples from the area are recovering after receiving treatment. A local municipal authority, Marco Limachi stated, “the animals aren’t eating and the people are stuttering, it seems, because they are frightened and worried about the impact.” I can’t say that I blame them. Anytime a glowing fireball lands in my backyard I don’t sleep well that night.

It’s been a tough summer for Peruvians. This comes after a 8.0 magnitude quake hit the central coast of Peru back on August 15th. It destroyed 85,000 homes, caused 510 deaths and rocked the capital city of Lima. Coastal Peru has a history of very large earthquakes, with the biggest coming back in 1868 that killed several thousand people and also caused damage in Hawaii. The deadliest earthquake on record occurred in China back in 1556 that wiped out 830,000 people. The largest U.S. quake was a 9.2 magnitude in 1964 in Prince William Sound, Alaska that killed 125 people and caused $311 million in property loss. Alaska is one of the most seismically active regions in the world, experiencing a major earthquake almost every year. In the words of the legendary Johnny Carson, “I did not know that.”

So that’s it for today. All flights are on time with no delays. Welcome aboard and thanks for flying with Sunrise Santa Cruz.

September 17, 2007

You’ve Been Like a Sun to Me

Filed under: low tide,steamer lane,sunrise,wharf — geoff @ 1:12 pm

American naturalist and writer John Muir once wrote, “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” When I read this one thought immediately came to mind. What the heck is gloaming? It’s twilight or dusk. Anyway, Mr. Muir was referring to the weather, which is incredibly wild and diverse around the world. Here are some weather happenings along with some other nature news from around the planet.

The hot spot on Mother Earth this week was Death Valley, California, which drove the thermometer up to very comfortable 115 degrees . The coolest spot was the South Pole in Antarctica, which came in at a chilly 100 below. In earthquake news, an 8.4 magnitude quake struck just off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a 4.9 magnitude quake hit Indonesia’s densely populated East Java and earth movements were felt in Tawian, the Columbia-Ecuador border and along the Southern California coast near San Diego. As “The Killer” Jerry Lee Lewis would say, “there’s a whole lot of shaking going on.”

A Little Rain Must Fall. Another round of severe monsoon floods have forced more than 3 million people from their homes in northeastern India and Bengladesh. This comes just one month after previous downpours forced more than 19 million from their homes across the same region. No, that wasn’t a misprint. The number was 19 million.

Ah, Rats. Chinese officials say their efforts to battle a rampant rodent plague in the country’s Xinjiang region by introducing natural predators have proven to be successful. More than 1,000 eagle nests were erected and 200 foxes bred in captivity were released to feed on the rats. More than 5.4 million acres of pasture have been ravaged by the rodents, causing a food shortage for livestock. The new method of rat control was introduced after poison failed to reduce the pest population and killed the rodent’s natural enemies. After this method failed, Chinese officials issued this statement. “Rats, foiled again.”

Eye Of The Tiger. Royal Bengal tigers have reappeared in an Indian forest nearly 30 years after it was believed that poaching had wiped them out. As many as 20 of the big cats were sighted. Reporters were told that the tigers may have rebounded due to poachers moving to other areas. Wildlife experts believe that India is home to half of the world’s surviving tigers. A census taken back in 2002 showed their numbers had dwindled to 3,642 from about 40,000 a century ago. Siegfried & Roy had no comment on this story but said good seats were still available for all shows this week at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

Today’s photos are from a late summer sunrise taken on the final day of August over Cowell’s Beach and the Municipal Wharf. I threw in the last shot of low tide at Steamer Lane to add a little color to the day. We had a beautiful sunset earlier in the week and there were a few clouds in the sky last night so things are looking up on the sunrise/sunset front. It was another excruciatingly painful weekend for Giant and Raiders fans but the good news is they only play once a week. So enjoy the last week of summer and don’t let the sun catch you crying.

September 12, 2007

And The Rocks Red Glare

Filed under: cliffs,ocean,sandstone,yellow bank beach — geoff @ 1:07 pm

For our Wednesday photo blog experience let’s head seven miles up the coast. We have visited this scenic spot with an arch entrance before but as you can tell by the unusual color of the rocks this is a place well-worth revisiting, like the Bronx and Yankee Stadium. If you are a fan of erosion, geological formations or just like the thrill of possibly being trapped at a beach when high tide rolls in, then Yellow Bank Beach is the place for you. These stained golden-yellow sandstone cliffs, which are eroding away from the firmer rock underneath, get their color from mineral deposits. There is no other place quite like it on the north coast. It is an exotic location where the earth has truly gone wild.

Some interesting events have occurred in American history on September 13th. Let’s go back to the year 1814. It was during the pretty much forgotten War of 1812 that a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key was aboard a ship in Baltimore Harbor negotiating a prisoner release while the British were bombarding Fort McHenry. The position of the American flag was distinctly seen by Key through the night by the glare of the battle. Before daylight there was a sudden and mysterious silence. After 25 hours of continuous bombing the British had realized they would be unable to destroy the fort and ceased the attack. Meanwhile, Key waited for the sight that would end his anxiety.

When at last daylight came, the flag was still there! Having been uniquely inspired and being an amateur poet, Key began to write on a letter he had in his pocket. Sailing back to Baltimore he composed more lines and back at his hotel finished the poem. He then hit the mini-bar watched a Jackie Chan movie on pay-per-view.

His brother-in-law took then newly finished poem to the printer and it circulated around Baltimore under the title “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Two months later an actor sang Key’s new song in a public performance and called it “The Star Spangled Banner.” It became America’s national anthem in 1931 through a congressional resolution that was later signed by President Herbert Hoover.

On a more sobering note, back on September 13, 1971, State Police and National Guardsmen stormed the Attica prison in New York State ending a four day prisoner revolt. Twenty-nine convicts and 10 guards were killed in the attack. A New York State Special Commission later wrote, “With the exception of Indian massacres in the late 19th century, the State Police Assault, which ended a four-day uprising, was the bloodiest one day encounter between Americans since the Civil War.”

The Attica riots were notable in that they brought attention to the condition of American prisons in the U.S. in the early 70′s. For you film buffs, the chant of “Attica, Attica, Attica” was brought to the big screen by Al Pacino’s character “Sonny” in the 1975 film “Dog Day Afternoon” and repeated by John Travolta in his classic role as “Tony Manero” in “Saturday Night Fever.” Here’s a little bit of movie trivia for you. “Saturday Night Fever” was the favorite film of the late movie critic Gene Siskel, who claimed to have seen it 17 times. He liked the movie so much that he bought the white disco suit worn by Travolta in the movie at an auction for $17,000. I don’t see what the big deal is. I stopped bidding at $15,000.

So that’s our show for today. Tune in next time when we’ll take a look at the very lovely Florida Keys, superstar singer and songwriter Alicia Keys and one of my all-time favorite restaurants located on Mott Street in New York City’s Chinatown, Hop Kee. So rock on, rock steady and enjoy that star-spangled banner yet waving. And if you want to add a comment below rather than emailing me please do so because this is America, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

September 10, 2007

Sitting on the Rock of the Bay

Filed under: birds,cormorants,natural bridges,ocean,pelicans — geoff @ 1:00 pm

As some of you know, I am all about dressing for success. That is, if you consider a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals the clothing recipe for success. Anyway, for someone like myself who’s trying to live the tropical lifestyle by wearing shorts 365 days a year, thinking about what I’m wearing or where the clothes are from is not a big deal. New shirt, old shirt, red shirt, blue shirt, it doesn’t make a difference. But there are people who feel differently about this issue.

One of those people is Bolivian President Evo Morales, who considers it shameful that poor shoppers in his country rummage thru used clothing at outdoor markets. Back in April, his Andean nation become the 32nd country to ban or restrict used clothing imports to protect native clothing industries. Each year $1.2 billion in used clothing is sent from wealthy nations to developing countries. In landlocked Bolivia most of it smuggled across the border from Chile, who is the No.3 importer of U.S. clothing after Canada, Japan and West Hollywood.

Applauded and jeered for the striped Bolivian sweater he wore (which was acrylic, not alpaca) to meet presidents and kings after his 2005 election, Morales understands well that clothes make the man. Ramiro Uchani, his deputy minister of small business says, “It’s impossible to think that we can be dignified if, in the name of poverty, we wear clothing that has been thrown out of another country.”

“Bolivia Dignified” is an all-purpose motto Morales applies to everything from nationalizing the country’s railways to overturning a ban on high-altitude soccer games. Persuading Bolivians to shed their U.S. hand-me-down fits his vision perfectly. The problem is that as much as the people would like to dress their children in new clothes, the reality of paychecks is a different story.

Evo Morales has made news before. When the former Indian activist took power in 2005 as the country’s first indigenous president, he vowed to do three things. He nationalized Bolivia’s energy industry, which is expected to double the country’s annual revenues. He formed an assembly to rewrite the constitution, which will ensure greater rights to indigenous Bolivans. But it’s his third initiative that has the U.S. concerned. He wants to legalize the growing of coca, which many Bolivians consider an integral part of their culture. Coca has been a major crop since Incan times and its eradication back in the late 90′s plunged many farmers into abject poverty. Keith Richards is also a backer of this initiative.

Morales controversial coca program, his plan to limit foreign investments, his close ties to the leftists governments of Venezuela and Cuba have predictably anatagonized the U.S. Morales has referred to himself as “the United States’ biggest nightmare,” although many Americans know that person is sitting in the White House.

Let’s move on to the photos. Today’s shots were taken from three different locations along West Cliff Drive. The first two shots are of pelicans and cormorants at Bird Rock where there’s always lots of aviary action. The next two are from a sea stack at the end of Woodrow Avenue with the sun low in the sky and the final two come from early one morning at Natural Bridges State Beach. Lots of in-flight action that day and more shots to come.

So that’s it for a Monday. I hope you enjoyed our updated version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” My sympathy to New York Giant and Oakland Raider fans. Not the way we wanted to start the season but at least they gave us a few thrills. And speaking of thrills, New York Yankee Alex Rodriquez is tearing it up in the American League. Thank you, A-Rod and please don’t forget to do it in October. Enjoy the byrds.

September 7, 2007

Why Is It Always About View?

Filed under: arch,cowell's beach,lighthouse,sunrise,wharf — geoff @ 5:46 am

As I’ve gotten older one thing I’ve come to value in life is the view. This could be the view from inside your head (you know, the perspective of half-empty or half-full) or the view that you see thru your eyes. I lived with the direct view of the Pacific Ocean from 1975 thru 1989 on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. Living across the street from this body of water was like a good dream that I never wanted to end. There were incredible sunrises and sunsets, whales and dolphins, roller skaters and joggers. Birds of all kinds flying by day and night. The sound of waves crashing along the coastline, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This spot had it all. To wake up every day and walk outside gave me a feeling of power, that this was the place I was supposed to be. The view was outstanding.

It was along this street that today’s photo journey begins. For an appetizer we’ll check out some clouds over Cowell’s Beach, and then for the main course head over to my favorite arch at Its Beach. The water reflecting third shot was taken mid-morning while the next shot was taken on an almost empty beach just after sunrise. The glowing red cliffs were photographed just as the sun hit the horizon at the beginning of a glorious day . The last shot is a Lighthouse Point tribute to Old Glory. Right after I took this picture I headed up the coast to Four Mile Beach to see how the gulls would look with these clouds as a backdrop. They looked simply marvelous.

The look of the coastline is always changing because of the constant pounding of the waves along the cliffs. It’s called erosion and it’s nature’s longest running show. Fortunately, good seats are still available. I’m taking as many shots of the arch at Its Beach as possible because this structure will collapse one of the days. You can be sure of that. All along West Cliff Drive are sea stacks which are rock formations that used to be connected to the the land. There’s one right next to the arch and I’ll show it to you in a future blog. Anyway, I’m not crazy about change but it is part of life. So if we were to go back 100 years in time, things would be quite different. Here’s some amazing statistics and facts about the United States from the year 1907.

Only 14 percent of homes had bathtubs. Only 8 per cent of these homes had a telephone. There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour. More than 95 percent of all births took place at home. And 90 percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education.

Most women only washed their hair once a month and used Borax or egg yolks as shampoo. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30 including Wayne Newton. Crossword puzzles, canned beer and ice tea hadn’t been invented yet. There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. And there were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.A.!

Now here come my favorite facts. Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyance to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.” And all the time I thought that was the role of chocolate. Them changes.

On a sadder note, tomorrow is the anniversary of the killer hurricane that hit the city of Galveston, Texas in 1900. This Category 4 hurricane had estimated winds of 135 mph and lasted 18 hours as tidal waves wiped away 12 city blocks and destroyed 3,600 homes. The death toll has been estimated between 6,000 and 12,000, with most official counts settling on 8,000, making it the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the U.S. besides the election of George W. Bush.)

Horror stories like this make me appreciate every hour of every day. Life can be stressful dealing with children, pets, parents and partners along with financial and health issues. Throw in the war, the homeless problem and world hunger and our plates are full. What these photo blogs are all about is that while all this stuff is going on there are still sunrises and sunsets and moments of intense color and wonder. Nature is still going full bore and these are the moments I’m trying to capture and bring to the table. That along with a few laughs and some information that you may have forgotten along the way. I guess what I’m trying to say is savor the moment and if you can’t, tape or Tivo it. Every day is precious.
That’s it for Philosophy of Life 101 . Enjoy the sights and have a great first weekend of NFL football. Unless, of course, you’re a New York Giant or Oakland Raider fan. Then make sure you have your seatbelt on because your ride might be a little bumpy.

September 5, 2007

Could You Be a Little More Pacific?

Filed under: its beach,lighthouse,sunrise,surfers — geoff @ 6:03 am

September is a great time to be alive and place kicking on the central coast. Temperature wise it’s the warmest month of the year and days like the last few with warm summer breezes give Santa Cruz its well-deserved reputation of a paradise by the sea with cold water. There’s something magical about living on the edge of the continent . Or as the quote by a now deceased local resident on a bench along West Cliff Drive reads, “I live by the sea. Enough said.”

These first four shots are from a fabulous sunrise at Lighthouse Point from back in November of 2005. This was an outstanding morning to be an American League fan with a camera. The last two photos were shot at sunset at Natural Bridge State Beach. Reflections on an afternoon spent riding the waves in the blue Pacific. Or as my friend Carol puts it, “End of a perfect day at NB’s.”

You may have sometime wondered. Just who was it that discovered this watery piece of real estate? Magellen, Cortez, Dick Clark? Actually, it was Vasco de Nunez de Balboa, who while in Panana in 1513 was told by the Indians of a sea on the other side of the Isthmus. On September 1, Balboa set out to discover this great sea, taking with him 190 Spanish soldiers, a pack of dogs and 1,000 Indian slaves. It took 25 days to wade thru the dense jungles of Panama before they came upon the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. What an incredible moment that must have been. Clad in full armor, Balboa waded into the water and claimed the sea and the all the shores on which it washed the property of the King of Spain. For his efforts, Balboa, one of the greatest explorers of the new world, was later condemned as a traitor and charged with treason and condemned to death by a governor jealous of his successes. He met his death by the executioner’s axe. Shouldn’t someone have given him a head’s up on that? And by the way, it was the Portuguese explorer Magellen, not Balboa, who bestowed the ocean its name “Pacifica,” meaning peaceful because the waters seemed so calm.

So now you’re probably wondering, if Rocky Balboa discovered the Pacific, who was it that discovered California? I’m glad you inquired. The honor goes to Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, who scoped it out upon his arrival in San Diego Bay for a Chargers-Raiders game in 1542. Spain wanted him to find an easier route to the Pacific rather than the long loop around South America. They were hoping to find a route thru the American continent via an alleged northwest passage called the Strait of Anian. So as Cabrillo sailed up and down the coast of California, every time he saw a big river, he wondered if he had found the passage. He claimed California for the Spanish crown and as all explorers were required to do when they encountered a new group of Indians, read them an explanation called a “requerimiento”. It was an act of taking possession of the land and was read in Spanish, Latin and Yiddish, none of which the Indians understood. It basically ordered the Indians to submit their land to Spain because of religious justification ordered by the pope. Ah, to be young again and a conquistador.

And finally, for our first blog of the new month, birthday wishes go out to the wild west legend Jesse James, who following the civil war, formed a group of outlaws with his brother Frank that robbed banks, trains and stagecoaches. In 1882, after the governor of Missouri offered a $10,000 reward for their capture dead or alive, a member of the gang shot Jesse in the back of the head and claimed the reward. You just don’t see that kind of loyalty any more. So on that note enjoy the day and the colors in the sky. In the words of The Happenings and their #1 hit from the summer of 1966, “See you in September.”

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