Thank you for visiting!

You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wharf Fishing in Capitola-

Let's see. I drank a bit more home brew beer than was good for me. We got a tortilla press and learned just how much we didn't know about making tortillas, and had fun doing it. That was my daughter, Beth, and I. And I went fishing on the Capitola Wharf with my son-in-law, David. Not a bad several days off.

Pier fishing is rather fun and relaxing. The Santa Cruz Wharf is long, with many restaurants and businesses along that length. A busy, fun and exciting place, with a view of the Boardwalk amusement park. The Capitola Wharf, in Capitola quite coincidentally, is a different thing altogether.

It is shorter than the wharf at Santa Cruz. That is to be expected, since the Santa Cruz Wharf is, I believe, the longest on the west coast. It has but one restaurant, a small boat service and little else. Unlike the sturdy Santa Cruz Wharf, the Capitola Wharf moves with the ocean, with any motor traffic on the deck, and even people walking.

It also has a charming intimacy. Like little Capitola village it has character and is delightful, but not in the bombastic fashion of the flashy Santa Cruz Wharf. Intimate. Families and friends seemed to abound on the wharf, and quiet fishing was the rule of the day.

The weather was wonderful. A few clouds in the sky, and a rim of fog off over the ocean, but enough sunshine to be pleasant without being too bright or too hot. Thought the view toward the east was better we set up on the west side of the end of the wharf. The sun was just rising and looking into it was not a pleasant prospect no matter how nice the view.

Over the course of the day I caught a goodly amount of kelp, and a lot of sea snails. We were using fish heads from a number of previous outings as bait. I was amazed at how much of a fish head can be stripped by a half-dozen sea snails in just twenty minutes. I had to throw the bait away and start over several times.

For the most part nobody was catching anything, and most were enjoying the process. It is more being there than anything else. One guy did land a Bat Ray, providing the only real fishing excitement for the day. Another fisherman had to help land it, since it weighed probably ten or fifteen pounds and would likely have gotten loose if hauled up from the sea on the fishing line. They lowered a crab net and scooped it up. The hook was removed, a lot of pictures were taken, and then the Ray was returned to the sea.

David caught a crab. We got some Shiner Perch in our impromptu crab net, made from some metal mesh. They became bait, but nothing else was caught.

We did watch a blimp fly over. It came in from the north, turned out to sea, and came back in to fly low over the length of the wharf. I was not sure who was advertising on the airship, but I think it was Navigenics. I really like airships, so it made a very nice day even better.

No license is required to fish on the Capitola Wharf. In fact, fishing piers along the coast lines of the United States do not require a license. It is an affordable alternative to a boat, which is largely a hole in the water into which the owner pours money. Fishing tackle is pretty much whatever you want to use. Technique can be as involved or as informal as you like.

I may not yet be a wharf rat, spending most of my free time on the pier. I am, however, a real fan of this form of fishing. It is just plain fun.

With luck, and our tortilla press, we may yet have some nice fish tacos!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dreams in Conflict-

I have had a few periods in my life when I lost the capacity to dream. In retrospect, I have never had a strong capacity for real dreaming. Oh, I am a pretty good daydreamer. I seem to lack the capacity for a passionate, consuming life dream.

In those particularly down times I lost even the capacity to have daydreams. This, I believe, is a real loss. Daydreams are as valuable as those real dreams that make up part of healthy sleep. A healthy mind benefits from periods of both kinds of dreaming.

Ah, but to have experienced that life directing passionate dream. I begin to think I won't ever have such an experience. I just never bothered to sort through those wispy daydreams to find my real passions, and then give them legs as well as wings.

For example, I longed to be Huck Finn on a river raft. I dreamed about such adventures, even on a few occasions finding myself on some floating junk on an actual body of water. One time it was with my childhood friend Manuel. We found a wooden pallet floating in a pond of gathered rain water and polled it around for hours. Another time I pushed off on a log floating in the Rogue River. It only took a few hundred feet to convince me that this was not a good idea. When it washed up on a sand bar I jumped off and hoofed it home.

I never put legs to the longing. I didn't diligently save money for the purchase of a suitable craft. I did not study the great rivers to learn how to make this dream a reality. I didn't develop a passion for river boats. I just had a vague dream of floating along and doing... nothing.

Over the years I have gotten pretty good at doing... nothing. I have worked at jobs I haven't liked to provide for my family. When my wife had enough vision to put together vacations and other family activities I was able to find the extra work to pay for it. Never, however, did I find the passion to do much more than... nothing.

In recovering from my most recent bout of the loss of dreams I did focus on dreaming once again. However, I again fueled daydreams rather than finding a passion about which to dream and do... something. My dreams of travel were nebulous, and often comprised of finding ways to move slowly from place to place at very little cost.

It could work, for a man alone in a truck. A man who simply wanted to move on and largely do... nothing.

Yet I find that I am living a dream. I have family, and a place to live. We do things together, and even if our relationships are not perfect there is love present. We have enough stuff that it is a problem figuring out what to do with all of it. We may not be flush with cash, but we get by and that with full bellies.

The longing to be a wheeled hobo must represent some real need within me. It is a dream in opposition to the life I live. Not hateful opposition, just a dream that does not easily fit. It has the substance of a daydream, and is more longing than passion. It is a dream untested, and probably one that would not survive in the long run.

Vague dreams of the open road. The real dream of having a lap full of grandchildren. It would be grand if the one was able to feed the other, but the longing to go and see conflicts with the desire to stay and be.

Oh, I don't doubt that I will be able to find a chance to hit the road now and again. Perhaps I will be able to get more than enough. More than enough, and find the contentment to stay at home and dream of home.

We shall see.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Wheel of Time-

The Wheel of Time is an epic fantasy adventure tale written by the late Robert Jordan. It currently stands at eleven books in the series. Robert Jordan died prior to completion of the whole tale. Heroically, he made sure that the balance of the tale was handed down to his wife and others to insure the completion of the work. Refering to either (or both) of the links above will provide more details, should you be interested.

I met the author several years ago at a book signing here in Santa Cruz, California. I have a signed copy of the tenth volume in the series. These books are of unusual size, all of them exceeding the size of a standard novel by at least half, and often more. This is a lot of reading. A lot of really great reading.

I am currently reading the series again. I have read it several times over the years, mostly when a new volume was being released and I wanted to refresh my memory. With the next volume coming out in October or November, I want to be ready.

There will be three more volumes, bringing this series to a total of fifteen books. If they manage to produce one volume each year I might be able to rest on this rereading to simply read them as they come out.

If not, I will be reading the whole thing at least one more time. I probably will do so anyway, somewhere in the future. It is very good, and worth reading many times. As with Lord of the Rings, and even Harry Potter, reading an excellent work again is worth much more than reading a multitude of lesser works.

Perhaps I will become motivated to get back to my own writing. Not just the short stories over at

but also my novels. I have completed the one, but not yet published. I have begun a sequel to the first in what will probably end up a trilogy. I am currently stalled, but not forever. It calls me, and I can't stay away forever.

For now, though, I read. I have eleven volumes to get through in just a few months.

Ah, the sublime agony!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our Snow Globe Event-

I just posted my latest short story, Snow Globe Terrorist, over on my short story blog.

This is based on a real experience on our way home from Disneyland. My wife wanted to purchase an Alice in Wonderland tea pot for her mother. So, we popped into the store on Main Street in Disneyland on our way out on our final day. While there my wife spots a snow globe that she takes a liking to. Pirates of the Caribbean. Just a little last minute something.

So, off to the airport and the lines and security and all of that. Linda, my wife, has had her knees replaced and so has to be separately scanned prior to all flights. Profiling is not permitted. The fact that she is extremely unlikely to be a terrorist and that knee bombs have not yet come into vogue had no influence on this procedure. It is something we just put up with.

I am in line getting our carry on stuff. Or I would be doing so if it wasn't being held up by the x-ray operator. A second officer is called over and we go to a table and he apologetically begins poking through our stuff. He finds the target, which proves to be a heavily wrapped snow globe.

Yep. Clearly marked on the underside of the snow globe, in rather small print, is a notice stating that snow globes do not make very good carry on baggage. In fact, they are banned. I don't recall ever reading of a snow globe terrorist taking out a plane with a snow globe, but none-the-less our snow globe is destined for the landfill.

My wife is not giving up on this. Though we lost our snow globe we are going back to Disneyland in seven weeks. Not a special trip to spite the terrorists. It was a planned second trip. While there she plans on buying another of those dangerous items, and putting it in her checked luggage.

Take that, you damned snow globe terrorists!

Monday, August 3, 2009


We went last week. My wife Linda flew down, and I went with my kids and grandkids, Beth, Dave, Madelyn, Wyatt, and Lucas. The drive down was ok, and the grandkids traveled just fine. They do rather well in the car, and so we got in at The Desert Inn and Suites in pretty good shape. Linda had arrived a bit earlier and was already in the park.

Things were moved quickly to the room and we got ready to spend the evening in the park. Stroller, kids, water, clothes. This. That. We're walking now. Even the trek to the entrance is magical. Anticipation. The music. Familiar sights, a peek at this ride or that from over the berm. The security check. The line. The musical chime as they scan entrance tickets.

This is our second year of annual passes. If you plan on a stay of more than three days or a return within the year the annual pass is a good investment.

We always enter under the left arch as you face the train station and the Mickey image in flowers on the bank of the berm. Linda was waiting as we entered, and suddenly we were on Main Street.

This visit was surprisingly uncrowded. That being said there were still many rides with waits over an hour. We took our time over the course of the visit. Three full days, plus the first evening of our arrival and part of the day on the day of our departure.

Even so, my 56 years was telling. I grew footsore and weary each day, and we resolved to do less and less each day as the visit progressed. The "gotta do it all" anxiety affected the first evening and the first day. After that we relaxed, knowing we were coming back again and again throughout the year.

I find that the Magic Kingdom is even more magical when you can share it with children. Having this grandchild or that in tow for various rides made them new again. I don't do Dumbo unless accompanied by a child. I enjoy it every time I have a little pilot along.

We ate pretty well this trip. Our focus was not so much on buying Disney trinkets this trip, so the money could go more toward food. The chicken dinner at the Plaza Inn was our first meal. We split four meals among four adults and three children, with a few items added, and had more than enough to eat. Unless you are very hungry splitting meals here can save some money, and the meals are pretty good.

They also have pasta and pot roast meals, along with salads and deserts.

We had brunch at Goofy's Kitchen to celebrate Madelyn's eighth birthday. Though this is not a particularly inexpensive experience it is really fun with the kids. The brunch buffet has some very nice foods for adults, and a vast array of playful foods for the kids. Peanut butter and jelly pizza, cup cakes, and many other things to please the playful palate.

I enjoyed smoked salmon, Pancetta, smoked cheeses, bacon, Eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs with black olives, bacon, fried plantains, fruit salad, bacon, coffee, some more cheese, and bacon. I wasn't hungry until around seven that evening.

We did the Blue Bayou the next day for a late lunch. This restaurant is inside the beginning section of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and features the illusion of being on a big patio in the bayou at night. I always get the Monte Cristo sandwich, since they do it so well.

Years ago we went and I ate my Monte Cristo, and left over bits from several other family members. Apparently it is not just my feet that have become less adventurous over time. I could just barely finish my meal. Oh, but it was good!

Several meals were catch-as-catch-can. Hungry? Grab something. Two times we just started the day with the free breakfast from the motel. Twice, however, we did breakfast at the LaBrea Bakery Cafe. The meals are still less than ten bucks, and quite good. The location is nice, at the head of Downtown Disney and near enough to the entrances to both parks to enjoy the sights and sounds.

Another notable meal was the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. All you can eat, very good food, and a fun environment. Plus, entertainment! Cowboy musicians and performers entertain as you eat, engaging the kids and the adult audience. They even pulled up on stage six Marines who were being deployed to Afghanistan, and honored them while incorporating them into the fun.

That was not an inexpensive meal, but pound per dollar I think we reduced the actual cost. I recommend it if your budget can allow. This is one experience we have passed up in the past, but probably will become a part of future visits. Good food. Entertainment. All you can eat. Disneyland! Can it get any better?

With some judicious planning we managed to get to a lot of the rides when the lines were under thirty minutes long. Some were down for repair and improvement, but only a few. It is hard not to have fun, even if you don't chose to ride all of the rides. Beth is currently pregnant, and so could only ride some of the rides, but she still had a great time.

The newest attraction is in California Adventure. The new attraction is deep in the park, at the boardwalk. Toy Story Mania! We had to visit the area several times before the lines got short enough. Our first visit was a 40 minute wait, but well worth it. The second time we waited less than thirty minutes! This fun ride incorporates several rider participation games, and is housed in a very attractive boardwalk beach style building. Don't forget to spend a little time with the Mr. Potato Head barker out front, and enjoy the art and style while in line.

We did three full days, plus two partial days. The weather was very nice, though the later part of each day grew a bit hot. The lines and crowds were manageable, and there were very few negatives in this particular visit.

Our suite in the Dessert Inn was a two queen main room, a fold out sofa bed front room, and one bath. We traded mattresses from one of the beds to the sofa bed, as it was really not pleasant to sleep on otherwise. However, we saved a bit using this suite rather than the four queen bed suite. That suite would have had the added benefit of another bathroom, but we made this suite work.

One option for those choosing a suite like this would be an inexpensive air bed mattress for the sofa bed. It could be placed along a wall when the sofa bed was folded, allowing the space to be used as a living room as well as a bedroom. That would be easier than swapping the mattresses, and some such air beds are not particularly expensive.

During one of the fireworks displays we saw a man step off of a curb and take a fall. The fireworks require reduced lighting, as do the evening parades. It is a good idea not to move very much during these times, unless you are familiar with where you are walking. A spill like that could ruin the vacation for a family member.

Strollers are a good idea, even if the kids aren't actually stroller sized. They provide a place to rest for a fatiguing child and a place to put stuff in general. Bring your own and rent any extras you may need. Adults might consider renting a wheelchair for the same purpose for adults who may fatigue easily.

Our next trip is just Linda and I, plus her mother Alta. This will be a slow paced visit, less focused on rides than on the experience. Alta does not yet feel the need for walkers or wheelchairs, but those who must choose between such accommodations or not visiting the park should consider them. The park is fun even if you are not riding many rides, but all of that walking can be tiring.

I would love to visit the park with my parents, but that raises an issue that could make some visitors uncomfortable. There are only a few smoking areas within the two parks, and that will mean smokers will have to plan their travels within the park to allow them to smoke when the need arises. When your mobility is limited and you are also a smoker the fun day in the park could become a form of torture.

That brings up another recommendation. Become familiar with the general locations of rest rooms prior to visiting the park. This can be particularly important should you have, say, issues at the time of your visit to the Disneyland Resort. I once visited another amusement park in another state with a, uh, condition. It was not much fun.

Well, that's enough for now. We had a great visit, and our annual passes insure we will have several more this year.