The Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Department's Starlight Dinner and Auction took place on Aug. 19, a clear, warm evening at the Gordenker Ranch, with lots of happy people dressed Western style and ready to party. Any band featuring Duke Ellington's grandson is memorable, and East Bay's Hobo Paradise provided a foot-stomping 1920s ragtime rhythm that had people up and dancing. The auction was lively, with heavy bidding driving up prices to record levels. Items included a week in Paris, a sailing trip for four on San Francisco Bay, and a nighttime hike with the Audubon Canyon Ranch Mountain Lion Project. Everybody dug right in to Catherine Venturini's hearty steak and salmon dinner, served family style at the tables. And best of all, the event was a sellout, raising over $34,000 for the department. Mayacamas VFD board treasurer Mark Schwager reports that the proceeds will be used to equip the department's first-out engines with hand-held FLIR units that can find people and animals in smoky burning buildings, and the rest will cover their operating budget for most of the year. This is awesome news.
Sugarloaf Park Manager John Roney and his family, wife Mary Jo and teenage children Jack and Kate, visited Alaska at the end of July/beginning of August. They were in Anchorage and Whittier for a day each, and then spent five days with some friends who have a house at Halibut Cove on Ismailof Island, five miles across Kachemak Bay from Homer on the Kenai Peninsula. John reported that while there, “We participated in the weekly island softball game, hiked to Grewingk Glacier, kayaked and went halibut fishing. My freezer is full of halibut, and of course the first-time deep sea fisher, my daughter Kate, got the biggest one, about 50 pounds. We saw moose, bear, whales, and saw so many otters we got bored of them.”
Meanwhile, the Atkin family, Eva, Jack, Matt and Mike, were on safari in Tanzania in early August, visiting three game preserves - Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire. They reported abundant animal sightings in each park, and many occasions when animals were within 50 feet, sometimes within five feet. Eva said that a highlight was going on a walking safari with a guide and a ranger, both of whom were armed. Being on foot in the animal habitat gave them a completely different point of view than when traveling in a safari vehicle. Another high point was encountering a bull elephant face to face from about 10 feet away while walking from their tent/cabin to the dining pavilion for breakfast one morning. That would definitely be an adrenaline rush!
Inga Aksamit is a dedicated backpacker, and she pointed out to me that I misidentified the Pacific Crest Trail (I called it the Pacific Coast Trail) in the last issue when I wrote about Kyle Bunte hiking the entire PCT. I even knew this, having read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed - doh!
Inga recently published her second backpacking-focused book, The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker's Guide to Meal Planning. Born out of her first long-distance backpacking experience in 2014 on the John Muir Trail, the book provides tips and recipes for tasty, nutritious backpacking foods that can fuel a backpacker for weeks or months on the trail. Inga, a moderator on “John Muir Trail” Facebook group, kept track of a plethora of suggestions on how to tackle the challenge of organizing food for a long trek. She incorporated the best of those ideas into her own meal planning, and this book, with a focus on healthy, whole foods, is the result.
Her first book, Highs and Lows on the John Muir Trail, was awarded “Best Outdoor Book in 2015” by the Outdoor Writers Association of California.
Inga is currently hiking a 150-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Tahoe to Yosemite and is testing new recipes with her husband and official taste-tester, Steve Mullen.
Two wonderful Kenwood couples celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries in August. Sally and Damon Doss were married on Aug. 12, 1967, which also happened to be Damon's beloved Granny's birthday. And Diane and Morry Strauss were married 50 years ago on Aug. 19. They met when they were college students - Diane at U.C. Berkeley, and Morry at Peralta. Obviously I'm getting older because both these couples look way too young to have been married that long! Congratulations to you all!
As usual, the mother-daughter duo of Cathy and Catie Fletcher won big at the Sonoma County Fair last month. Catie won a first place, Best of Division, and Best of Show for her miniature rose Vista. She also took home a second place ribbon for her sugarless blackberry jam. Cathy also won a blue ribbon, Best of Division, and Best of Show for her Cut Flower, Secret, on Rose Day, and on Dahlia Day she took best of show for her beautiful Dahlia, Bodacious. Cathy also got four first place ribbons and two second for her jams. Congratulations, ladies!
Got a cool, classic vehicle you'd like to show off? Come to the front field of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church for a friendly neighborhood Classic Car Meet-up on Saturday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is being organized by Devin Daly, and you can give him a call at 978-0450. Devin will provide warm coals for grilling, so bring a lunch and something to barbecue. No alcohol, please. All classic car owners and classic car fans are welcome. Devin says, “As the organizer, I'm looking forward to sharing my 1946 Hudson Big Boy.”
That's all I have room for. Thanks, everyone, for sharing your news and photos. It's easy to do. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP