WordPress Photo Challenge – Change

The theme for this week’s photo challenge — which I have not participated in since my last post of the summer — is change.

I love the quote that host Kristin Snow of SnowMads.com included for the post: Change Quote Lao TzuThe photographs that came to mind is the change from day to night, and these sunset photographs captured while my niece was visiting last month.

They were taken where Ocean Avenue ends (to a popular beach spot) in the town of Carmel-By-The-Sea, California.


Before dark, couples and families make their way to the beach to find the perfect spot to see the sun setting…


And zooming in closer to the water’s edge, I snapped another couple holding hands and watching the sunset…with their feet in the glowing Pacific Ocean water.


It was a beautiful day, capped by a gorgeous, perfect sunset.


I look forward to crafting new posts for the fall, and catching up on reading posts from my favorite blogs and bloggers.

Happy Friday, Happy September, Happy Fall…and a welcome to the changing season.

To participate in this weekly WordPress Photo Challenge, click here.

From natural fiber old fishing nets to the sunset for the Half and Half photo challenge

I’ve learned a lot more about photography since joining the WordPress Photo Challenges.  I’m starting to take more detailed photos, which is  interesting and a lot of fun.

This week’s challenge theme from Ben Huberman is Half and Half and asked participants to share an image that has two clear halves, literally or figuratively.

I like this photo of an old natural fiber fishing net draped over a fence…

Half old natural fiber fishing net

The lichen growing on the net added even more interest to the netting pattern.

Before the invention of nylon fish nets, this type of netting would just decompose in the ocean if lost at sea.  Unfortunately, that is not the case with today’s synthetic fishing materials, which adds to the big problem of marine trash in our oceans.

This photo of a new lock / old lock fits the theme…

New and old half and half

And this brightly painted fence and creeping plants…

Half Fench

Black bird on a roof…

Top half bird 1

And half and half themed photo of the ever-present and invasive iceplants in front of Coast Indian Paintbrush flowers (at least that is what I think these red flowers are)…P1210744

Silhouette of the top of a young Monterey Bay cypress pine tree at sunset…

Cypress silhouette over dunes

And my last half / half photo entry is of the sun setting behind the sand dunes.

Sunset over dunes

To take part in this week’s challenge and to see submissions for this photo challenge theme, click here.

July 4th red, white and blue symbolism for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

The theme for this week’s photo challenge is symbol.  From host Jen H:

Symbolism is uniquely human. We use symbols to represent intangible things like our beliefs and emotions, and to convert the abstract into something understandable. We may also use symbols to simplify and convey information.

Photography is often the same; an image illustrates a single moment in time, or captures an object in perpetuity. Much like symbols, photographs, too, may conjure vivid memories and mean a wide range of things to different people.


Last Saturday was the American July 4th Independence Day holiday.  I think the colors of the American flag is a strong symbol and recognized globally. It seems a good topic for this photo challenge theme!

These photos are from a July 4th community park celebration, where many people from all ages showed their patriotism and creativity, decked out with the red, white and blue colors of the American flag.

From socks to hats, the red, white and blue colors were everywhere.  Even pets had scarves with the colors or carried flags for their owners.


If you live in the U.S., did you attend a similar community celebration?

If you live outside the U.S., are there similar activities that inspire people to dress patriotically, or creatively express your nation’s flag colors?

What is “Shark Week” anyway?

In case you missed it, 2015 Shark Week officially started last Sunday, July 5th.

The week-long programming event was started by Discovery Channel in July, 1988.  The intention then was to raise awareness and respect for sharks, though now, it seems to make even more people afraid of sharks…and definitely continues to raise Discovery Channel’s ratings.

Shark Week is now broadcast in 72 countries and is the longest-running programming event in cable T.V. history.

I am one of those people who have a fear of sharks (isn’t everyone afraid of sharks???).  Through my blog, I’ve learned a lot more about them, and now I do have respect for these ancient creatures.

For Shark Week, I am posting links to my blog’s shark-related posts, just in case you don’t watch much T.V. and want to learn more about sharks.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, contributed by Sean Van Sommeran

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, contributed by Sean Van Sommeran

My first post was about a 4,000 lb “great white” shark tagged off Ano Nuevo Island (county of Santa Cruz, California) in the 1990’s and caught by accident in the Sea of Cortez, Baja area of Mexico in 2012.

Sharks have low reproduction rates, and because they are terrific at foraging and as predators in our oceans, the low reproduction rate worked just fine for them.  That is.. until the introduction of modern fishing methods.  Today, many shark species are considered threatened or endangered, and some sharks in the U.S. are regionally extinct.  More here… 

Shark photo from U.S. - NOAA website

Shark photo from U.S. – NOAA website

And if you have ever wondered what the chances are of getting hit by lightning vs. being attacked by a shark on U.S. coastlines, there is a blog post with state-by-state details, from 50 years of data.  Excerpt:

Over the last few years, there have been shark attacks off a California state-run beach near where we live.  The most recent attack involved a 27-year-old surfer, in October of last year. Thankfully, the attacks were not fatal.

Of course if you stay out of the water, your shark attack chances are zero.  But for those who love spending time and activities in the ocean, and have a  fear of sharks, this post lists statistics and information that should allay your shark attack fears.  More here

And the rest of my shark-related post are:

Shark image Pacific from NOAA

Did you know…. fossil records show that the ancestors of modern sharks swam in our oceans over 400 million years ago?  That makes them older than dinosaurs!  Sharks have changed very little over time.

Door photographs for the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge

While not particularly pretty, I like this door to California’s first brick house because the structure still exist — still standing, and I like the contrast of the fading white paint and the red-orange hued bricks.  It is located in downtown Monterey, and part of the State Park buildings in “oldtown”Door at First Brick House California 1

You will find many interesting doors and doorways in the historic, downtown Monterey area.  Here are a few…

Door related details are also fun to photograph…

A few door photographs in the little town of Moss Landing, California (the red doors to the Old Post Office, door to a railroad car, parked at the Haute Enchilada restaurant and art gallery, and an antique store, with details in the following gballery).

And broken down or missing doors, at the barracks of the old Fort Ord military base in the Monterey bay…  These buildings will soon be demolished to make way for new housing developments and shopping / office / university buildings.

A favorite door related photo are the banners above the entrance to the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory.

Entrance to Moss Landing Marine Laboratory

A great reminder for all of us, to take time each day for the things we love to do… whatever doorway we enter or leave from.

Note: You can see more photos from the open house post at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory here, including  their “internet famous” blob fish.

Posted for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme “Door”

NPR Report on Salinas Valley “Bag Salad” Waste

Americans throw out a lot of perfectly good food — about $1,600 for a typical family per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

On a local level, many of us have heard of grocery stores throwing out food because it is nearing the “sell by” date… but we don’t often hear about the waste generated by food manufacturers.


Salinas Valley, California Farm Fields

Monterey County is the top producer of salad greens in the U.S. The bag salad was invented here, and many people now opt to buy these plastic bag salad mixes instead of a head of lettuce.  It’s convenient, and perfect for our busy lifestyles.

It is understandable that farms can produce a surplus of food, and that sometimes, the excess bagged salad greens nearing the “sell by” date (if they cannot or do not donate to local food banks) must be sent to the municipal dump.

And just how much goes to the dump is the focus of National Public Radio’s (NPR) Allison Aubrey’s report on the Salinas Valley and the bags of salad greens that do end up in the dump.

I’ve included this NPR report on food waste to my earlier post on Iceberg lettuce and posting here.

NPR Image Report on Food Waste

Photo by Allison Aubrey via NPR’s Food News Program “The Salt”

You can listen to the audio of the report below.

Note:  If the audio does not play, you can link to the text version of Allison Aubrey’s report on food waste and the “Landfill of Lettuce” here (What happens to salad past its prime).

I am surprised to learn how much garbage we are adding to our waste stream through this industry.

P1220136In light of the technology we have these days, it is disturbing that we have this much waste.  Even more disturbing is the precious water wasted to grow food that is not eaten (especially that we are in our 4th year of drought), the addition of more garbage (that should be composted) to our landfills, and subsequent (and unnecessary) release of more methane gas to our atmosphere.

Hopefully, this industry is creating systems that minimizes this food waste.  Reports like this one certainly help to highlight these problems.

Have you heard of similar food waste stories, whether through local grocery stores or food manufacturers near where you live?  Do you know what they are doing about it or have suggestions?


Field of greens, Monterey County, California

Food Waste Investigation CartoonRelated:

My muse: The ocean and two little men

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge theme is “Muse”.

Sometimes, these photo challenges (like on refraction) are indeed, a challenge.  But this is an easier one for me and I bet it will be for many bloggers who join in this weekly photo challenge.

There are definitely certain themes to my photographs that I can identify as inspiration: the ocean and my two grandsons.

So for this week, my entry is a collage of ocean and beach related photos of the two little men, many of which have been woven into articles posted on my blog, or for past WordPress Photo Challenges.

Frisbee and no frost here

Silhouette photo of our grandsons enjoying the late afternoon warm weather at the beach with their Frisbee, for post on California Drought last year.

The little men taking turns to bury the other in the sand, and posted for the photo challenge “Thankful”

These photos were taken in Pacifica, near San Francisco 3 year 1/2 years ago, and some posted for the Photo Challenge theme “Blue”.

I posted hotos for this series for the theme “An unusual POV”

Telescopes outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium, near their tide pool…

Photos of a driftwood shelter used for the theme “Angular”

Most of all… I always treasure photos by the ocean and nearing sunset, even if all I have for the moment is my smart phone camera.

With the ocean nearby, and a nice collection of photos with two little men I adore ♥  it will probably be a while until I come across a photo challenge as fun and easy as this one.  Whatever the theme, the challenges are always a great opportunity to learn more about photography.

For more about this week’s theme, and to see host Brie Anne Demkiw’s amazing photos (and the WordPress blogging community submissions), click here.

Roy G. Biv – A post for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge are photos with colors in a rainbow.  From Michelle W:

“Roy G. Biv” is an acronym made of the first letters of the seven colors of the rainbow, to help you remember: Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.

We are to share a photo gallery with one image for each color…

Or… “share an image that contains all the colors of the rainbow (or an actual rainbow)”.

I don’t have a good photo of an actual rainbow yet, but I do have one of my grandson, Gabriel, wearing something that has all the colors of the rainbow, and preparing to do artwork, where most likely, he will use all the colors of the rainbow.

Rainbow Art

And so, my entry is a take on both!  Happy Friday! :)

Should you buy those seashells sold by the seashore? On beach walks, seahorses and collecting sea shells

Kelp on beachesI love seashells.  I am a collector of little shells and interesting objects I find while walking on the beach.

While some beaches are known for their variety of seashells and for beach combing (like those in Florida, Hawaii and Gulf states), at the beaches here in  Monterey Bay, you will likely run into seaweed or giant kelp that have lost their tether and left their undersea home, rather than shells.  It is not a beach you visit to collect seashells.

Kelp on the beach web

My grandson, Gabriel, having fun with kelp that washed up on the beach.

But…you will see sand dollars, broken clam or mussel shells (perhaps remnants from many sea otter lunches), a lot of driftwood, and depending on the beach, pretty little stones, or smooth glass pieces.

Lining up sand dollars with barnacles web

The boys lining up their find of sand dollars… At this beach walk, each of the sand dollars they found (oddly) had barnacles growing on top.

The few shells that do end up on the beach are usually clean, because the animal that lived inside was already eaten by other creatures, shore birds and beach scavengers…or have rotted away before the tide and waves pushed them onto the beach.

My grandsons have picked up my little beach object collecting habit, and we have come back from beach walks with bits of shells, a pretty rock or tiny driftwood.

I started to put  their treasures in glass jars, not because they are colorful or striking like those found at other beaches, but because they liked it and picked it up, and it was a little treasure to them.

Beach combing shells

Some of the little shells and rocks my grandsons collected are in this glass jar.

Although Monterey Bay beaches are not known for pretty seashells, tourist stores — especially those at the Fisherman’s Wharf — do sell colorful sea shells from different parts of the world.

Just as people enjoy eating seafood when visiting seaside towns, people also like buying shells and related products as souvenirs.  I’m sure stores that sell seashells and dried up starfish and other marine animals can be be found in just about any seaside community that caters to tourists.


A few years ago, during the off-season for tourists, I stopped by a store off of Highway 1 that sold shells and seashell products.

Their sign indicated “Sea Shells from Around the World”… but really, the majority of the shells are from a certain part of the world, and that is the Philippines.  In fact, when I went inside to browse, about 90% of the shells were marked as being from the Philippines.

Why is this?  First, the Philippines has a rich and diverse ocean life (cited as “the center of the center” of biodiversity by researchers at the California Academy of Sciences) with an amazing array of seashells — many of which are prized by collectors.

Second, the Philippines is a poor country…so those in the shell trade could easily exploit locals with low pay to collect these shells for export to tourist shops.

Sea shell shop off season

Sea shell shop Monterey Bay “Off-season”

Growing up in the Philippines, I was accustomed to seeing seashell products fashioned into jewelry, necklaces and decorative items, or dried marine animals like starfish, seahorses glued onto frames and home decor items.

Because they were so common, I always thought that these seashells and marine animals were picked up by beach combing… as in, the creatures are already dead and washed ashore.

After a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seahorse Exhibit, I learned otherwise.  From my blog post about the exhibit…

This is not the case, and much of these animals are collected ALIVE and dried to make these souvenirs.

I am saddened at how uninformed I was  about this practice! Family and friends, please do not buy these souvenirs.

With everything else happening to our oceans, we all have to do our part to stop this. And please spread the word about protecting these fragile and fascinating creatures.  In the process, we also protect and  preserve their homes —and our home. More here

This poster from the Aquarium says it best…

Seahorse 1 rd

In support of World Oceans Day and as part of a series for the Earth-Friendly Chroniclers blogging challenge, I am again posting this information.

If I made this incorrect assumption about the shells and dried starfish or seahorses sold at tourist shops, then there are probably others who do not know this information.  More from a shell article in Wikipedia:

…the majority of seashells which are offered for sale commercially have been collected alive (often in bulk) and then killed and cleaned, specifically for the commercial trade.  This type of large-scale exploitation can sometimes have a strong negative impact on local ecosystems, and sometimes can significantly reduce the distribution of rare species.

I am also re-posting this video from the California Academy of Sciences, on the dramatic decline of seahorses all over the world.  Excerpt from my post about seahorses:

…The huge economic boom in China means even more trouble for seahorse populations, as seahorses are highly sought after for use in traditional Chinese medicines.

US Customs at the San Francisco airport recently confiscated a shipment of at least 1,000 seahorses, and the US Fish and Wildlife turned over the dried seahorses to the California Academy of Sciences to help determine their source.  See full post here… including a link about the sea dragons (and seahorses) supply chain and market.

Have you heard of, or used products with dried seahorses?

I can’t help but think that we are doing the same thing to our ocean and its resources, as we did with our forests.  Are we going to look back 25 years from now and find out we unknowingly wiped out certain species of marine life because of unsustainable fishing… and what seems like an innocuous shell collecting hobby?

Can we stop and first find out how these shells are harvested?  If it is done sustainably, or if these creatures are collected beach comb style, then we can happily collect to our heart’s content.  But if not, then we need to find ways to educate the public so we can make responsible choices about the shells we buy.  I don’t want my grandchildren to ask why our generation let the same thing happen to our oceans, as we did to our forests in the Philippines.

Are you  a seashell collector?  If you buy seashells from seaside tourist shops, should the shops let consumers know if the shells were collected from the shore, or sustainably harvested?


To participate in the Earth-Friendly Chroniclers’ blogging challenges hosted by Jane from Just Another Nature Enthusiast or to see other submissions for the theme “Healthy Oceans – Healthy Planet” click here.

Philippines – A Marine Biodiversity Hotspot (Post for Earth-Friendly Chroniclers’ #11)

When my daughter was little, one of her favorite places to visit was the California Academy of Sciences, located within San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  We spent a lot time looking at exhibits there, from the dramatic dioramas in the African Hall to working in a show at the Morrison Planetarium.

Of all the permanent and temporary exhibits at the Academy, the place where we spent the most time was the Steinhart Aquarium.  It was a fascinating place for kids and adults, and when we had family visiting, it was often a place we took them during their stays with us.

The California Academy of Sciences looks much different today than it did when we lived in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and the Steinhart Aquarium now feature a Philippine Coral Reef Exhibit.

Philippine Coral Reef at SteinhartThe 212,000 gallon exhibit includes the largest display of living coral in the world — all from the Philippines, a country that has the most diverse reef ecosystem in the world.

I’ve always wondered what the connection was between the Steinhart Aquarium and the Philippines, and recently learned that researchers from the Academy have worked in and around the Philippine archipelago (of over 7,000 islands) for over 100 years.

Last year, a team of scientists from the Academy explored new sites and depths in an area of the Philippines off the coast of the main island of Luzon, near Batangas.

Map of Philippines highlighting Batangas

This area  — near Isla Verde — is called the “Coral Triangle” and reportedly has over 1/2 of the world’s species of coral.

Isla VerdeFrom the Academy’s website…

Within the Coral Triangle is an area known as the Verde Island Passage—waters teeming with such an abundance of life that Academy scientists suspect it may be “the center of the center” of biodiversity.

Our 2014 expedition sought to document the astounding life in the Verde Island Passage by collecting and identifying species not yet described (and in many cases never before seen) and creating a base of knowledge that will help to protect this area going forward.

And what Academy researchers found in this “Coral Triangle Area” last year was amazing.  On June 8th, 2015 — and to celebrate World Ocean Day — they made this announcement:

100 new marine speciesHere are photos of some of the new marine species found during the expedition…

Philippine new nudibranch


Multi colored Philippine tunicates

Nudibranch Philippines

These new marine species are stunning, and how incredible to learn that there are still undiscovered species living in our oceans!

And who knows… perhaps one of these newly discovered creatures will help us produce a cure for cancer or hold keys and answers to the mysteries of life on our planet.

So the challenge is…. how can areas like this “Coral Triangle” be protected, knowing what we do about the severe threats to marine life and the health of oceans surrounding the Philippine islands due to pollution, over-development of coastal areas, poverty, overpopulation, climate change and unsustainable fishing practices?

From the Academy website:

To combat these dangers, the Academy developed a practice of rapidly translating data collected in the field into effective marine conservation actions.

By working with Filipino and international governments, organizations, and communities, we’ve been able to create real-world change.

Real world change means that as new discoveries are made, scientists take the data and work in collaboration with Philippine government officials and decision makers so that in turn, policy makers can take immediate actions to help protect these areas.

I realize solving the problems that harm our oceans are complex, and will require global cooperation and focus — especially as it relates to pollution and poverty.  But it seems to me, the method directed by Academy scientists may be a good model if immediate steps are indeed taken to preserve natural resources.

It is easy to be cynical (I know I am at times!) but I do think this approach, and increasing awareness about marine life is a positive step towards helping us — and the next generation of human beings — to be better stewards of our oceans and our natural resources.

Maybe the next time someone is tempted to leave trash or plastic bottles on the beach, they will remember these amazing creatures and the harm that it will cause…and do the right thing.  Ideally, the new generation will place as much focus on conservation issues as is placed today on celebrity news / political gossip.  Yes, I’m hopeful!

This video from the Academy tells how the 7,107 islands in the Philippines came to be…and the urgency in studying its marine biodiversity hotspots.

Have you heard of these new discoveries?

Are you hopeful, as I am, that scientists, conservation groups and a willing government / policy makers (and we, the public) can reverse the decline of our ocean’s health… or do you think it is too late?


This post is part of a series in support of the Earth-Friendly Chroniclers blogging challenge hosted by Jane from Just Another Nature Enthusiast.  To take part in this blogging event and to see other submissions for the theme “Healthy Oceans – Healthy Planet” click here.

Previous Earth-Friendly Chroniclers articles posted on LolaKo.com are here.




10 Ways to Rise Above Plastics

Article about the plastic bag ban in California (California is the first U.S. State to ban single use plastic bags)

Link to California Academy of Sciences

Weird blue oniony thingy… or Vellela Vellelas Part 2

My blog’s search engine terms usually have the same types of queries.  Everyday, there is something about tilapia origins, on the Magic Sarap ban (a popular seasoning mix in the Philippines) or about cooking the popular Filipino dessert, Leche Flan with coconut milk.

Today, I noticed a string of new words:

“weird blue oniony thingy that the tide washes up on the beach”

I wondered what on earth brought them to my blog…so I did an image search of the words on Google, and sure enough, among the images are of my grandson Jun’s feet — near a Vellela Vellela that washed ashore.

Vellela jellie like creatures washed up on California beaches wb

I never thought to describe these as “oniony thingy” when I posted about these creatures last summer.

But just a few days ago, I went for a walk on the beach and saw remnants of what looked like the top or sail part of Vellelas.

There were hundreds of them on the beach…and I suppose you could describe them as being like onions.

The certainly looked like Vellelas…but what happened to the rest of the creature…the bottom blue-purple part?


Further up on the beach, I did see a complete one…and could then confirm they were Vellela Vellelas.


So now I wondered if shore birds ate the bottom part, or if they just decompose in this manner while at sea, the top part breaking away from the bottom…

Anyway, I am posting these photos too, in case there are people looking to identify weird blue oniony thingys that the tide washes up on the beach or even just “oniony looking thingys” on the beach.

And if you want to know what they are, there is a post and great video here, to tell you all about these interesting, jellyfish-like creatures that live on the surface of the water, and related to Portuguese man o’ wars.


Photo of Sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala) — a common sand dune plant found on beaches here on the California Central Coast. Click on photo to see more beach plant photos on the post about the invasive Ice Plant.

Since Vellela Vellelas are found on most of the world’s oceans, have you seen these creatures washed up on the beaches near where you live?

Visiting Monterey, California Off-Season

Monterey Transit CenterThough tourist visit Monterey throughout the year, there is a distinct tourist season, and visiting off-season (between November and April) has its rewards.

If you like to visit historic buildings and heritage gardens, springtime is a great time to visit Monterey, and to learn about the beginnings of California’s statehood.

In addition to being the first capital of California (under both Spain and Mexico), Monterey’s other “firsts” include:

  • California’s first theater
  • California’s first brick house
  • California’s first public building and library
  • California’s first publicly funded school
  • and California’s first printing press and newspaper

The photos for this post were taken during the off-season months of March / April this year, and as you will see, there are not very many visitors…yet.

The gardens are fresh with new growth, and with many benches around town, it is easy to stop, sit and take in the beauty of the area.

Oldtown Monterey Gardens

A springtime visit will reward you with gardens fresh with new growth, and a variety of flowers emerging and expressing new life, and the beauty of the season…

A popular destination in Monterey is Fisherman’s Wharf, and off-season or springtime visits mean there is plenty of room to take a leisurely stroll, stop and watch seals (or people watch), and when you are ready to eat, wharf restaurants will have plenty of seating.

Monterey Fishermans Wharf back 2

The average temperature in Monterey is 57 degrees and oddly (like San Francisco) the summer is often foggy and cold.

We moved to the Monterey Bay area during the middle of summer 9 years ago, and had the heater on pretty much all summer long!  We felt very wimpy for doing so, but it really is cold during summer.  Thankfully, we are now accustomed to the weather and do not need heaters until winter.

In addition to spring, the fall is also a great time to visit, and for me, the best weather, with many clear and sunny days.

Climate Information Monterey

Chart of Monterey Climate via Wikipedia commons

For more Monterey related post and photographs on LolaKo.com, click here.

This post is my entry for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme “Off-Season”, hosted by Krista:

This week, we challenge you to show us what off-season means to you. It could be the shuttered ice-cream stand in the Southern Hemisphere where winter is drawing near. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere it might your snowmobile peeking out from beneath its tarp, or your Christmas decorations arranged neatly in the attic. Feel free to interpret this theme loosely — consider objects at rest and unmoved, places that are stagnant or abandoned.

See other entries for this theme from the WordPress blogging community here.

Banig mat patterns plus a vivid parrot

The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is vivid.

The bright colors and striking patterns of Philippine banig (traditional sleeping mats) came to mind.  Natural plant fibers are used for these handwoven mats, and the photos below are examples of a type made from a grass called “tikog”

Here are 3 pattern examples…

Banig Pattern 1 web

Banig Pattern web

Banig Pattern 2 web

Tikog grass grows near rice fields.  It is a thin grass, so as you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to create a sleeping mat big enough for two adults.

It also takes a lot of planning and an artistic spirit to create the beautiful geometric patterns of banigs for sale at markets in the Philippines.


Two years ago, I accompanied my grandsons Jun and Gabriel to a summer camp field trip to the San Francisco Zoo.

Both my grandsons like to take photographs, and Jun captured this photo of a parrot in the tropical bird house.  He was 8, and took many photographs while we were there.  This is one of my favorites of his photos for the zoo trip.

Parrot tropical room SF Zoo

San Francisco Giants team at the White House today

Today, our beloved San Francisco Giants baseball team was honored at the White House by President Obama, for their 2014 World Series win.

Video of the event below…

For more, there is a fun article and photos (also funny) at McCovey Chronicles

It is amazing that the SF Giants now have three World Series titles, all won in the last 5 years!

Bay Area sports fans are in lucky, as today is also the first day of the 2015 National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals championship games, with the Oakland-based Golden Gate Warriors against LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. So…Go Giants….and Go Warriors!

New Americans: Top 5 country of birth for new U.S. citizens

American Flag Immigration imageAs an immigrant to the U.S., I am always interested in immigration topics, especially as it relates to Filipinos.

If you have ever wondered about the country of birth of new American citizens, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) publishes this data through the Office of Immigration Statistics.

The Top 5 Country of Birth for New Americans (for fiscal year 2011 to 2013):

  1. Mexico (99.385)
  2. India (49,897)
  3. Philippines (43,489)
  4. Dominican Republic (39.590)
  5. China (35,387)

And here is the chart of the Top 20 Country of Birth for New Americans:

Note: Filipinos dropped to #3 after India, from the #2 spot after Mexico in the data compiled for the previous report.

New Americans 2013 by Country of Birth

With Mexico being a neighboring country, it is no surprise that most new Americans were born in Mexico.

But what about the other countries?  Does this country of birth data surprise you?  For example, that India is #2 and that Iran (a country we often hear about in terms of U.S. foreign affairs) is in the Top 20 countries?

The chart below lists the top states where new Americans resided, at the time they became naturalized.

New Americans by state of residence

The number of new Americans residing in these 10 states represent 75% of those who naturalized. The data pretty much matches the states with the most population, and so there were no surprises for me on this chart.  How about you?

Do you know what it takes to become a U.S. citizen?  From the Department of Homeland Security:

An applicant for naturalization must fulfill certain requirements set forth in the INA concerning age, lawful admission and residence in the United States. These general naturalization provisions specify that a foreign national must be at least 18 years of age; be a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR); and have resided in the country continuously for at least five years. Additional requirements include the ability to speak, read, and write the English language; knowledge of the U.S. government and history; and good moral character.


Up until the 1970s, most people who become American citizens were born in European countries.

It shifted from Europe to Asia because of increased legal immigration from Asian countries, and the arrival of refugees from countries like Vietnam in the 1970s. Since 1976, countries in the Asian region has led as the origin of birth for new American citizens.

Purple flowers for Cee’s Photo Challenge — and they are invasive in this part of California

I’ve seen this plant with beautiful, spiky purple flowers growing around Monterey Bay for many years.  I took photos a few months ago when they were in full bloom.


The flower photo above is from a shrub growing in the wild, near the Salinas river, where the river merges with the Pacific Ocean.  I spotted it while taking photographs for a post about my watershed.

I’ve always found these flowers attractive — and also photographed some in bloom at the entrance of Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey.

Monterey Fishermans Wharf yellows and pink 1

I read on one of the blogs I follow that Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge theme this week was purple, and remembered these flowers.  I have wanted to take part for a while, and thought the flowers were perfect to post for the theme.

Not knowing the name, I did an image search and learned that they are called Pride of Maidera (Echium candicans).  It is a perennial shrub native to the island of Maidera in Portugal, much loved by bees and butterflies for its nectar.  It is drought tolerant, and a popular ornamental plant in coastal California.

Great to know!  Except… it is also an invasive plant species, and now being removed in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park National Recreation Area so that the native habitat can be restored.  Sigh :(

And so… I’m also linking this post to Just Another Nature Enthusiast’s challenge — Earth-Friendly Chroniclers #9 — focused on invasive plants.

Here is another beautiful purple flower from a plant that I know is not native to California.  Right  now, it is growing all over our landscape, from fields, to the side of the roads and embankments.

Do you know what it is?

Wild Radish flowers purple

The flowers are from a wild radish.  Most wild radish have white flowers, but sometimes, they also have purple flowers.

From the CalFlora website:

Wild Radish California

I pulled out one of the plants and sure enough, I get that it is a wild radish… It is tiny, but the root smells like, and looks like a radish.  A miniature of the “daikon” types I see at Asian stores.

Wild Radish  roots

Wild Radish notes

Some more purple flowers for the theme… and I’m pretty certain these are not invasive here in my little part of the world.

My favorite purple flower shot thus far are the wisteria at the Pacific House Memory Garden, posted for the changing season photo challenge.

Memory Garden Wisteria

Click on the photo for more garden images, taken at the historic Monterey downtown area.

And lastly, a non-flower related (but these young girls are pretty as flowers!) photo of Baile Folklorico dance group members, performing for a community celebration on the occasion of Cesar Chavez Day.


Click on the photo to see more dance photos, for the commemorative holiday that celebrates the legacy of civil rights and labor movement activist Cesar Chavez (promoting community service).

Earthquake memories and living on the San Andreas Fault

If you live in California — or even if you don’t — you probably think about earthquakes every now and then, and most likely have heard of the San Andreas Fault.

San_Andreas_Fault Image via NASA and Public Domain

The San Andreas Fault – Image via NASA (Public Domain)

From what I understand, this fault is a boundary where two parts of the earth’s crust (the Pacific plate – under the Pacific Ocean and the North American plate) meet.

The San Andreas Fault stretches for 810 miles (1300 km) across California, from the Salton Sea in the south all the way to Humboldt County, 200 miles north of San Francisco. It is the most studied boundary plate on our planet for the following reasons:

  •  it is on land, and therefore easier to study than tectonic plates that meet in the ocean
  • the fault is in close proximity to educational institutions and organizations dedicated to earthquake research

There are cities and communities that sit directly on the San Andreas Fault, and we lived in one of these communities while stationed at a base in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Late in the summer of 1981, Jeff and I drove from our military base in the high desert to the San Gabriel mountains.  He wanted to show me the little town where he and his friend, Bill, skied during the winter.  The town we visited is called Wrightwod, and about 40 miles (64 km) away from the base, at 6,000 feet (1809 m) elevation.

At the time, there were just over 2,000 people living there, though in the winter, there were many more as it was a popular ski resort area about 75 (124 km) miles from Los Angeles, in San Bernardino County.

Vintage photo 1981 Wrightwood California

Vintage photo! Wrightwood, California, Fall of 1981. This area is covered in snow in the winter, and the bare ski trails of the Mountain High Ski Resort can be seen on this photo.

While in Wrightwood, we went to a pub, where the bartender overheard us talking about how beautiful it was there.  He told us about a little cabin for rent just down the street.  On a lark, we decided to visit the cabin, and met the owners (who lived in the house next door).

It was partly furnished, had 1 bedroom, a fireplace, a loft space, and knotted pine walls.  It faced California’s State Highway 2, and behind the cabin was a hill.

Wrightwood cabin

The little cabin home we rented in Wrightwood, California.

Wrightwood cabin front

Front of the cabin, facing California Highway 2

We rented it on the spot, not even thinking about the drive we had to make back and forth from the base (about 45 minutes to 1 hour each way).

Shortly after our move, we met a fellow service member living there, and a civilian who also worked at the base, meaning we were able to join in a carpool.

Wrightwood hill behind cabin

Cabin roof after the first major storm, winter 1981. We were trapped as it took a while for the highways to be cleared.

Later on, I learned that the town sat on the San Andreas Fault from a newspaper article a co-worker showed me.  Wow…. a fault…oh, what is a fault?  Earthquakes… really?

Philippine Casiguran Earthquake

When I was little and we lived in Manila, a big earthquake hit the Philippines.  I remember my mother rushing us outside (that is what you were told to do back then), and the distraught neighbors around us talking about fires and something about the Ruby Tower.

With a bit of research, I found out that the Philippine earthquake happened in 1968 and was called the “Casiguran earthquake”.

Since it happened at night, I most likely was asleep when it hit.  More about this earthquake from a Wikipedia article:

The city of Manila was the hardest hit with 268 people killed and 261 more injured.

Many structures that suffered severe damage were built near the mouth of the Pasig River on huge alluvial deposits.

A number of buildings were damaged beyond repair while others only suffered cosmetic damage.

Two hundred and sixty people died during the collapse of the six-story Ruby Tower, located in the district of Binondo. The entire building, save for a portion of the first and second floors at its northern end, was destroyed. Allegations of poor design and construction, as well as use of low-quality building materials, arose. (More here)

Besides the earthquake in Manila, I had not experienced any other major earthquakes, and none while living in California at that point, so I didn’t really think much more about it.

California 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

Years later, we moved to the San Francisco Bay area, and lived here when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit Northern California.  The Loma Preita is in a segment of the San Andreas Fault.

San Francisco Skyline 2012 web

The beautiful San Francisco skyline as seen from Treasure Island at sunset (2012) Photo LolaKo.com

The Loma Prieta earthquake is memorable because it happened during a World Series baseball championship, and was broadcast live on national television.

Due to the World Series, casualties were amazingly low (63 deaths and 3,757 injured).  Instead of being in the rush hour traffic heading home, many people left work early to watch the game, and traffic was lighter than normal.

While casualties were low compared to other earthquakes of the same magnitude, the Loma Prieta earthquake remains one of the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the United States.

View of San Francisco Bay at TI Web

To the left of this photo is the Oakland – San Francisco “Bay Bridge”. Photo LolaKo.com

My younger sister was working in a San Francisco high-rise office building at the time of the earthquake.

It took us 5 hours to reach her by phone, when she finally made her way home…and we were relieved to find out she was safe and unhurt.

We lived in the East Bay, and I was in the car on the way to pick up my older sister when the earthquake happened.  I suddenly lost the radio signal, and felt the car making unusual movements — movements that I could not control with my steering wheel.

A few minutes later, I arrived at my older sister’s workplace.  She was already outside of the office building where she worked, and felt the earth quake beneath her feet, and saw the building she was just in, move and slightly sway.  She opened the car door and got in…we both couldn’t believe that a strong earthquake had just occurred.

Bay_Bridge_collapse photo USGS

The collapsed upper portion of the Bay Bridge. Photo by USGS via public domain

We rushed to pick up my daughter from her after-school care. She was outside at the playground during the earthquake, and she (and her teachers) told us they distinctly remembered that the birds stopped chirping right before and after the shaking.

We tuned into the news as soon as we got home — and were glued to the television set for hours.

It was a mistake, because the constant image of fires in the Marina District of San Francisco, and the collapse of a portion of the Bay Bridge made my daughter anxious about crossing the bridge, for many years after the earthquake!

San Andreas Fault North / South

Another well-known earthquake in California was the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which destroyed 80% of San Francisco and killed 3,000 people.  The 1906 earthquake is also connected to the north part of the San Andreas Fault.

In terms of the death toll, the 1906 earthquake is the worst natural disaster in California’s history.

Wrightwood related at Geoscience WorldThe part of the fault where Wrightwood is located is in the south part the San Andreas Fault.

If you want to read more about Wrightwood as it relates to the San Andreas Fault, past earthquakes and predictions for future earthquakes, visit this GeoScience World article.

There have been many earthquakes in this part of the fault, and they note “These observations and elapsed times that are significantly longer than mean recurrence intervals at Wrightwood and sites to the southeast suggest that at least the southermost 200 km of the San Andreas fault is near failure.

San Andreas – The Movie

You may hear even more about the San Andreas Fault this summer.

An earthquake disaster movie with Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is now playing in movie theaters, and it is called (what else?) San Andreas.

Here is the preview…

Nothing like seeing the place where you live (and that you love) destroyed and in total chaos…with millions of people in peril.

But at least it is just a movie, and perhaps it will make us think about our emergency preparedness, and supporting strict building codes and improvements that incorporate new technology to save lives in the event of “the big one”.

If the “big one” hits, will California fall into the Pacific Ocean?

Los Angeles from above web

Greater Los Angeles area – photo posted for article The Los Angeles Spread. Photo LolaKo.com

The San Andreas movie trailer shows the ground splitting, complete destruction of buildings in downtown Los Angeles, and a tsunami in the process of finishing off the city of San Francisco.

The tsunami scenario is certainly real… and of all the natural disasters in the world’s history (i.e., volcanoes erupting, heatwaves, floods, typhoons, cyclones) earthquakes by far have killed more people than any other.

But the myth that you may have heard of — that California could somehow fall into the sea — when the big one hits, well, it is just that, a MYTH.

From the Earthquake Mythology page of the California Department of Conservation:

The San Andreas Fault System is the dividing line between two tectonic plates. The Pacific Plate is moving in a northwesterly direction relative to the North American plate. The movement is horizontal, so while Los Angeles is moving toward San Francisco, California won’t sink. However, earthquakes can cause landslides, slightly changing the shape of the coastline.

To further allay immediate concerns about a complete change in the California landscape should the big one occur on the San Andreas Fault (SAF), here is a clip from SanAndreasFault.org: on how long it would take for California to look different from how we see it today:

California San Andreas Fault 28 million years old

I don’t know about you, but for me…that’s good to know!


Do you live in an earthquake prone area?

It seems to me that the entire state of California is earthquake prone, but it has not stopped people from living here.  There are now 38 million people that live in California — that is 1 out of every 8 Americans.

Have you heard about the San Andreas Fault or do you have earthquakes worries where you live?  I would also like to hear about your own earthquake experience, so please do leave comment.



  • From SanAndreasFault.org, see cities and communities in the fault zone (San Bernadino, along with Wrightwood in Southern Claifornia, and closer to home here in the Monterey Bay — Aromas, San Juan Bautista…)
  • Data from the USGS on the largest and deadliest earthquakes over the last 25 years.

Holding hands on the way to a nature park

I love this picture of my first-born grandson, Jun, holding the hands of my sisters.  It is very sweet, and I can’t believe how tiny he was, and how big he is now.  We were on the way to a nature park…

On the way with Juns hand held by great aunties

It was on my bulletin board for many years, and I’m glad I printed it, because the hard drive on the computer where I stored the original digital photo CRASHED.  I lost all the photos in the series.

So now it is scanned, and in digital format once again.  I know…back up, back up, back up, right?  I treasure my photos, and better at backing up photo files now.

The Los Angeles Spread

Whenever I had to do work in Los Angeles in my prior job,  I often elected to drive (from Northern California) instead of booking a flight and flying into LAX.

My rationale was by the time I drove to the airport, parked, shuttled, waited, flew, picked up a rental car, I am really only gaining 1 1/2 to 2 hours of travel time.  I didn’t mind the easy drive, and liked the alone time and being in my own space.

Los Angeles from above web

Downtown L.A. buildings visible from this shot…

On the way to see my sisters in the East Coast last fall, my flight had a layover in LAX and I took these photos.

The view from above gave me a good perspective of the size of the greater Los Angeles area, and an appreciation for why it was easy to feel disoriented in such a big city.

LA Spread web

Higher up, L.A.’s downtown high rises blend into the wider landscape

Population wise, L.A. is the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S., after New York.

With over 13 million people, Los Angeles has the distinction of being the most populous city in California.  The Greater Los Angeles area has over 18 million people, making it the most populous county in the United States.

Cities similar in size to Los Angeles are London, Buenos Aires, and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Southern California coast Leaving LAX

Leaving LAX – Southern California coastline

Post for the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge theme from Michelle W,  “On the Way”:

For this week’s photo challenge, stop and photograph the metaphorical roses (or the literal tulips). Share a shot of something you saw, did, or experienced on the way: a photo not of your destination, but of an interesting thing along the way. Show us something stunning others might have missed, or find some unexpected beauty in a mundane moment. Maybe we can all start looking at the in-betweens a bit differently!

So while my destination was the East Coast, I appreciated seeing Los Angeles. this time…from above.

Pistachios and the Manny Pacquiao ad

Pistachio Almost 100% of the pistachios grown in the U.S. are grown in California, mostly in counties in the Central Valley area.

Pistachios are a high value crop, and rank #5 in California’s agricultural exports, after almonds, dairy products, wine, and walnuts.

The pistachios grown here are the type called “Kerman”, which originated in Iran. I used to shop at a Middle East market when we lived in the East Bay that sold delicious baklava types of desserts, many featuring pistachios inside, or sprinkled on top.  It must play a big role in the food of Iran and the region.

California PistachiosAfter Iran, the U.S. is the 2nd largest producer of pistachios in the world.

This chart of the top 10 world producers of pistachios is interesting because though Iran leads in production, the yields per ton/hectare are significantly higher in the U.S, and high in Turkey.

Top 10 producers of pistachios in World

Chart via Wikipedia commons

So, the industry here in California must be doing something different, if they can produce more nuts per tree, or perhaps they developed varieties with greater yields.

I used to drive past what seemed like endless pistachio orchards during trips to Southern California, when my grandchildren lived in San Diego.

Pistachio Kerman

If I did not want to take Highway 101, I would cross over on another highway in Paso Robles, to get to Highway 5, the main artery freeway to Southern California.

The crossover part of the trip going towards Lost Hills was the area where a lot of pistachios are grown.  It must thrive in this part of California.

I do wonder if the drought situation we face here will affect the orchards.  Since pistachios are native to desert areas, probably not, and hopefully they will live on past the drought years.

Pistachio trees can produce nuts after 7 years, and peak production is at around 20 years.  I’ve read that they can continue to produce nuts until 50, and even at 80 years old, but by then, the trees are too big for the nut harvesting machines.


Do you remember the red-dyed pistachios?  I think the first time I had pistachios, we still lived in the Philippines — and they were red.  It only took a few nuts to turn my fingers, tongue, and lips red.

It turns out that the beige shells of pistachios can have stains due to hand-harvesting, so manufacturers dyed the nuts red to hide the stain.  Who knew!

They don’t do that anymore because pistachios are now harvested by machines…so no more stain problems.  Good thing, because who knows what mystery red dye # was used.  I think I would rather have my pistachios “natural” anyway…

I’ve seen a variety of humorous pistachio commercials over the last year, through a marketing campaign by the “Wonderful” brand The most memorable for me featured Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Have you seen this ad?  They may have just played in certain regions, which is why I am posting it.

As a Filipino-American, it is good to see Manny Pacquiao reach a level of success and appeal to promote and endorse products in the U.S. — even if I don’t like to watch boxing.  Here is another of his product endorsements (Hennessy) from the blog Taking a Deep Breath (and a write up about Manny’s recent fight against Mayweather).

Do you remember the red-dyed pistachios?  What is your favorite way to eat pistachios?  By itself or as a part of something else, like the baklava type desserts?   I remember getting green colored pistachio ice cream when my daughter was younger, but that ice cream flavor does not seem to be very popular these days.

Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) is everywhere – post for Earth-friendly Chroniclers’ #10

Poison Hemlock flowers 1It is easy mistake the poison hemlock plant (Conium maculatum) with another plant called “Queen Anne’s lace” (Daucus carota – and also called wild carrot).

Poison hemlock and Queen Anne’s lace belong to the same family of plants (carrots and parsley).  So, not only are the delicate, pretty white flowers similar, the leaves are similar too!

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed seeing the beautiful white flowers of these plants in different parts of California.  I spent a lot of time on the road in my prior work — and a lot of time stuck in traffic in the Bay Area — which means, a lot of time to look out the window and see plants growing on the side the road.

I thought these flowers all came from the same plant (Queen Anne’s lace) and did not know very much about them.

Through the Earth-Friendly Chroniclers’ Challenge this month — focused on biodiversity — I now know that there are two different plants with very similar flowers that grow here in my ecoregion.

Blue Sky and trees

Challenge, #10 asked that we play a naturalist version of I “Spy!” at our ecoregion, to take a camera, and observe what we see.  I went to the greenbelt space behind where we live here in the Central Coast.

I “spied” these familiar flowers and wanted to know more, because there were many of the plants here.  Most were already flowering, with white, lacy blooms.  There were rather tall plants (taller than me) and some of the flowers came from shorter plants.

Unlike the yellow starthistle or iceplants (posted for Challenge #9), which are listed as a high priority invasive plant, the Calflora website listed the poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) as a “moderate” problem.

Poison Hemlock in CaliforniaWhile it is good to know that this plant is not (at least not yet) as problematic as the iceplant or starthistle in California, it was disturbing to learn that these plants have naturalized here and are now invasive.

Even more disturbing is to learn that all parts of these plants are toxic (flowers, seeds, leaves, canes)…and even the dead parts of the plants can remain toxic for up to 3 years.

Poison Hemlock flower details

And not mildly toxic, or an irritant, but really TOXIC, as in the plant is deadly for humans and animals.

Poison hemlock is native to Europe’s Mediterranean region.  The ancient Greeks used the plant to poison prisoners condemned to death — including the philosopher Socrates.

The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David 1787

The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David

Because these plants are in the same family of plants as carrots and parsley, it is understandable how people can accidentally ingest the plants.  From a May, 2015 Food Safety News article:

All parts of poison-hemlock can kill humans and animals, even when it is dried. Foragers can easily mistake it for wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace), parsley, parsnip, sweet cicely, anise, fennel, wild chervil, and caraway, as well as other plants in the parsley or carrot family (Apiaceae), such as the violently toxic western-water-hemlock, or watercress, which is in another family.

…“Misidentifying poison hemlock or other toxic plants can have truly tragic results,” says Alison Halpern, executive secretary of the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. “Learn from an expert before foraging for wild plants, and if you think you have poison hemlock on your property, contact your county weed board, conservation district, or WSU Extension office to learn how to safely get rid of it.”

While poison hemlock is considered invasive, the Quee Anne’s lace plant, though not native to California (and a plant that has also naturalized in the wild), is not considered invasive.

Queen Annes Lace CalfloraWhich means…the plants that I’ve observed growing by the side of the road and in other places in California for all these years, were likely poison hemlock and not Queen Anne’s lace.

In other parts of the U.S., it may be easier to differentiate the two based on bloom periods, but in California, the flowering periods are similar:  Poison hemlocks bloom from April to September, while the Queen Anne’s lace flowers from May to September.

Poison Hemlock Plants

Poison hemlock plants can grow up to 8 feet tall.

Last summer, my grandsons and I spent time a lot of time walking around this greenbelt area (where there are also invasive Himalayan blackberries — and poison oak).

They know to stay away from poison oaks…and I’m glad they did not try to pick any of these flowers.

Poison Hemlock flowers 6

Unless you are absolutely sure which plant is which, it is best to treat these lovely flowers as poisonous, and to be careful of handling them.

I don’t have photos of the Queen’s Anne lace plant yet, but you can view a good collection at this USDA plant database page.

Poison Hemlock flowers

If you want to learn more about how to remove this toxic plant from your area, please contact your local agency, e.g., for Monterey County, start with the Agricultural Commissioner’s office, or see this USDA State Resource page.

The King County (Washington State) website has a section on noxious weed control. Excerpt and link below…

Removing poison hemlockWhen digging or mowing large amounts of poison-hemlock, it is best to wear gloves and a mask or take frequent breaks to avoid becoming ill.  One individual had a severe reaction after pulling plants on a hot day because the toxins were absorbed into her skin…(click here for more).

Poison Hemlock Plants 2Since writing this post, I’ve noticed these plants in spots (by the roadside mostly) here in Monterey County, and I’m surprised that it is not listed on Monterey County’s weed threats.

Do poison hemlocks grow where you live?

Did you get the flower and plant confused with the Queen Anne’s lace flowers, as I did?

Broken down barracks of Fort Ord in the Monterey Bay

Starting in 1917 and up to the 1990’s, almost 1,500,000 military troops trained at Fort Ord.  It was a major army post, located here in the Monterey Bay, in California’s central coast.

Although the post closed in 1994, many of the old buildings remain.

Because I was in the military, there is a part of me that is nostalgic about these buildings…and having lived at military bases, they are familiar to me.Fort Ord off Imjin Eucalyptus side barracks

In addition to its role as a major training base for the army, Fort Ord was also a staging and deployment area for troops that fought in World War II, as well as the Vietnam war.

Word War II is known as the most violent and largest armed conflict in history, and troops who trained here were involved in battles in the Philippines — my home country — after the Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1942.

Many of the old buildings at Fort Ord have already been torn down, and eventually, these will too, to be replaced with new housing communities, office and service facilities, and new shopping centers.

Fort Ord off Imjin barracks 6a

I’ve wanted to photograph some of these old buildings before they are gone forever, and glad that I finally had a chance to do so this month.

I was in the Air Force, and our living quarters were called “dormitories”.  But in the army and other armed forces, buildings that house soldiers are called “barracks”.  Definition below:

The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word “barraca” (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks, are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation.

…The main object of barracks is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training, and esprit de corps.

Fort Ord off Imjin barracks 2

These barracks photos are much different from my previous post for The Changing Season photo challenge (the beautiful scenery at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf).

Fort Ord off Imjin exit side table

Still…I think it is worth posting, and preserving these images, especially as the landscape transitions to something else.

I imagined this place once filled with many soldiers, and the bugle sounds of the morning reveille — the wake up call (short sound clip below).

Over 20 years after the post closure, the abandoned barracks stand, wounded by vandals, and awaiting their end.

Most of the buildings have broken windows…

Doors removed, stairs missing or overtaken by iceplants…

Fort Ord off Imjin no more stairs

Debris around some of the buildings…

What remains at the Imjin exit side of Fort Ord are mature eucalyptus trees, and the ever-present and invasive ice plants — planted there to contain the sand and for erosion control.

Fort Ord off Imjin Eucalyptus trees

Across the street from these barracks, a wellness center and a shopping center is in place, and beyond these new buildings are brand new housing communities.

Future of Fort Ord land 1

The Ford Ord land also houses facilities used by California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB).  With plenty of land available to construct new buildings, CSUMB is predicted to eventually be the largest in the California State University system.

Fort Ord off Imjin Exit

It’s not all going to be developed though…

Thankfully, three years ago, a large part of the Fort Ord area became a national monument, and is federally protected from further development — a great thing for the Monterey Bay area!

In addition to the interior part of the Fort Ord land, beaches in this area are also part of the national monument  / California State Park system, and land set aside for the public.

And so the Fort Ord land that started as an artillery training field almost 100 years ago, and was a major post for the military from World War I to 1994 now continues its transition, with much of the land going back to public use.

Are there military base closures where you live?  How has the government and community transformed the land after closing the military facility?

Related link: President Barack Obama Proclamation – Establishment of the Fort Ord National Monument

…The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans.