Saturday, December 31, 2022

Another Year of Memories: December 2022


West Brother Island in San Pablo Bay, California

We usually try to mark Dan's late December birthday by going somewhere new. Months ago I read in the New York Times' California Today email about the East Brother Light Station (EBLS) and B&B. I made our reservations for a time closest to Dan's birthdate, marked out the days on our calendar, and told Dan I was taking him somewhere but didn't tell him where. 

The day arrived and we drove to the Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor to wait for the 10-minute boat ride to the light station. At this point, Dan's beginning to figure out the destination. The water was rough, the skies were cloudy, and and it was windy as we arrived at the station.

East Brother Light Station (on our departure)
The Light Tower and Keeper's House (now the Bed and Breakfast)
Upon arrival at the station B&B innkeepers Brian and Stephanie gave us an interesting tour of the station and explained life at the station pre automation. East Brother Light Station was built in 1879 and automated in 1969. 
View of the Fog Signal Building and the round white cistern (foreground)
The water cistern was blasted to a depth of 30 feet (9.1 m) and is capable of holding 50,000 US gallons (190 m3) of rain water. Rain is the only source of water at the light station. 

We saw quite a few birds: Western Gulls, Black Oystercatchers, Cormorants, an Anna's hummingbird, and more. The gulls were constant visitors, and each had their regular spot on the edge of the island.


East Brother Light Station is almost on the dividing line between San Pablo Bay and San Francisco Bay. Both bays have numerous small rock islands. There are the Brothers (East and West), the Sisters, and the 5+ acre Red Rock Island among many others. Red Rock Island is just south of the San Rafael Bridge. It has the distinction of being the only privately owned island in either of the bays. It is for sale. Unfortunately, it sits in three counties: Marin, San Francisco, and Contra Costa. It has no structures and probably never will as a result of its tri-county position.

Red Rock Island
We were at the light station two nights. The weather continued to improve, the fog lifted, and the skies cleared. Our second day it was sunny and warm enough to have lunch outside. All the meals were wonderful. Breakfast and dinners were eaten with our fellow guests at a long dining table. Pre dinner we had wine/champagne and appetizers in one of the sitting areas next to a wood burning stove.



West Brother Island with Mt Tamalpais in in the distance
West Brother Island sits just a few feet away from East Brother Light Station. In the early years of the light station, the keepers kept milk goats tied on West Brother Island where they could be milked but couldn't eat the keepers' gardens. A small metal post used to secure the goats is still visible on West Brother Island.
East Brother Light Station and West Brother Island
We both thoroughly enjoyed our two days at the light station. Staying there was both interesting and very relaxing. 

A couple of weeks before the trip to the light station, a friend contacted me to say she and her son would be in San Francisco about the same time. They are Sri Lankans. We met Vatsala and her son Sheran (now 22) in 2006 in Sri Lanka. We had gone there as Earthwatch "volunteers" for a primate study in Polonnaruwa. For two weeks we chased macaques and sauntered after langurs (we didn't need to chase them), recording where they were and what they were doing. Their research continues at the Primate Center in Sri Lanka.

Through the years we managed to keep in touch so when Vatsala said they were coming to SF because Sheran was going to attend classes at SF Community College beginning in January I said I'd pick them up on Christmas Eve morning after we left the light station. And, we did. We brought them back to our house for three days. After the holiday period, we took Vatsala and Sheran to the Sacramento Amtrak station for their return to SF to continue apartment hunting. It was such a lovely visit, but we forgot to take photos of each other.

Sheran was successful in finding a place to live and will move in December 31.

Curious Cats

December was busier than the paltry number of photos I took this month would indicate. Early in December on a rainy evening I took photos for the Mountain Democrat of the Christmas Tree lighting in El Dorado Hills Town Center. Some people, like me, waited under cover for Santa to arrive, but these two little girls enjoyed everything about their evening out--even dancing in the rain.


A couple of weeks later with drier weather, Dan and I checked out Placerville's Main Street Christmas lights. This year Main Street had free hay rides in a tractor pulled wagon. 




Christmas Cheer along Highway 50

The cumulative total of deaths from Covid-19 in El Dorado County is 236 which since the end of October is an increase in five people who didn't get to enjoy this holiday season. One bright spot is that the death rate seems to be slowing and hospitals in our area are not overwhelmed by Covid patients. Perhaps there is really an end in sight to this pandemic.

One of the best December occurrences this year is rain. We've had several storms which have dropped copious amounts of rain in Northern California. Today, December 31, it seems like Mother Nature has turned all the spigots to full blast. We are getting rain, lots of rain! Yesterday we received 3.39 inches, and so far today another 3.50 (8.89 cm). The cumulative rainfall right now is 144.3% of normal for this date. At our house, today's rain will continue until midnight. New Year's Day will be sunny, and then another, cooler, multi-day atmospheric river will begin. While we are hoping that these rain days will lessen the fire danger in 2023, all that rainfall is bad news for some of the low lying areas. There have already been flooded areas and evacuations.

A seasonal drainage that hasn't had a stream in years

Happy New Year. Tonight we'll have our usual cheese fondue and champagne to welcome the New Year. Wishing you health and happiness in 2023. Make some great memories. Слава Украина

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