Napa Road Trip minus the wine

My friend’s road would be slurried, she wanted a landscape of a vineyard, and I went along to capture some new images. No formal destination and no time constraints. Armed with ice coffee, plenty of water and music for the road.

Early morning departure means little sleep for me. My sleep cycle has really flipped this summer. Even if I try to get to bed early, I fall asleep around 3:30 am. This also seems to happen if I am going somewhere the next day. Need to start making a switch, and wake up early before the temperature rises.

Silverado Trail is our first stop. Vineyards on both sides of the road, but the fields planted along the mountainsides are not as mature and lush.

Grapes ripening on the vine
My imagination goes wild with the bark of the vine. Peeking animals.

I see a cute sign post with a donkey, and then I spot donkeys. I approach animals carefully, but one donkey was particularly friendly. Almost called her such a good puppy. A natural mistake given my situation.

I first spotted this cute garden art. Then OMG donkeys.
Ready to say hello
Just so sweet. Came right over for some love.
Pregnant donkey (called Jenny). Gestation takes a long time. 11-14 Months! I wonder how long this Jenny has to wait?
Good bye my donkey friend.

Facebook has been reminding me that nine years ago Liberty came into my life. Having her, missing her, and needing another dog is a tribute to my Libby.

We brought my Libby Love home 9 years ago.

David would want to have another English Lab, but I am open to looking at another breed. Looking for a medium sized dog. I would like to be able to lift the dog up, be easily trainable and have a good personality. Thought about a cocker spaniel, or Logatto Romagnolo.

I decided to go with an Australian Labradoodle. The DNA includes Labrador retriever, Poodle, and Cocker Spaniel. This is multigenerational hybrid that was essentially developed to provide canine assistance to those who are allergic to dog hair. Since poodles improve the chances for this characteristic, and the Labrador retriever has a proven track record for training the hope is for the best of both. The Labradoodle comes in three sizes, and so this satisfies my need for a more portable dog. Having less hair to sweep up is a bonus! Though I will need to become informed about the grooming. My Libby was a wash & wear dog.

My I have gotten off track. Back to my road trip. Remembering past trips our destination was the CIA – Culinary Institue of America. First stop was the CIA at Copia. I was pleasantly surprised to come across a photographic homage to Julia Child by her husband Paul. Such a wonderful collection of black & white photographs. Well worth taking time out to visit if you are interested in photography!

A Toast!

The space at the CIA was amazing. The light, design, and architecture captured my imagination.

I will certainly schedule another visit and spend time exploring the outside when the temperature is below 100 degrees.

Interesting staircase. Another place to explore next time.
Beautiful glass sculpture
Love the lighting here
Replica of sculpture that rests on top of building.
Serene setting.
These real spices fill the space with wonderful aromas. Makes you hungry!
Grand space

I didn’t spend too much time outside but the outside had much to see.

Outside seating under a pergola. Live music venue at Grove

Fork sculpture made out of forks. But where is the spoon it ran away with?

Went next door to the Oxbow Public Market. Another place I need to come back to for some great people watching with my Fuji x100f. Put myself in a street photography mind set. Ate an interesting gourmet oven baked Mushroom pizza with ricotta cheese sauce. No pictures, just good food!

Last place on our road trip was the Greystone Cellers. This is home to the CIA School. Interesting history. The building was impressive, but the view overlooking the vineyard was difficult to capture. Trees blocked the view. How rude! And then there is the parking lot to contend with. Not to mention the heat.

Massive doorway leads into Greystone Cellers
Impressive main entrance.

Cakes decorated by the students attending the CIA at Greystone. Reminds me of when my daughter decorated cakes in high school in ROP Bakery Academy. Being the good mom I sampled each creation. Made with lard and not buttercream the taste did not match up with the beautiful design.

Among the many collections I was drawn to this clown bottle opener.
Ironic that this truck advertising Vodka was parked next to the vineyard.
Not sure what kind of flower this is. Pretty in Pink.

So ends a day in Napa Valley. No wine was consumed. Any blurriness in the photographs are due to photographer error and not the vino!

Time out for Puppies

My friend’s Golden retriever is a CCI breeder dog. At six weeks Okeara’s pups need socializing. This morning I met her 7 puppies. I am very puppy deprived, and I enjoyed my time with these pups. Playing and taking photographs brought me to my happy place.

Lab/Golden boy fell fast asleep
Reddest pup looks worried. I wonder what is on his mind. Probably just his next meal!
Played hard, tuckered out.

I brought over my Fuji xt2 and started with my 18-55mm kit lens. After a little while I pulled out my newest lens to see what it could do when it wasn’t getting closer in macro mode. This may end up being a favorite portrait lens also.

Kendra takes care of Okeara for about two weeks before the pups are due. Then she takes on the job of caring for the pups until they are released to their puppy raiser at 8 weeks of age. “Canine Companions puppies are raised by volunteers who take them to puppy classes to teach them basic obedience and house manners. When the puppies are old enough to enter our professional training program, Canine Companions dogs come to one of our six regional training centers, located in Northern California, Southern California, Texas, Ohio, New York and Florida.” Information provided by CCI website.

Puppy Love

Wanda raised Okeara, and will now be raising Okeara’s puppy Ragu.

Ragu being cradled by Wanda
An upside down cradle to calm Ragu down
Such a big bundle of joy for a 6 week old
Lots of love coming her way!

Canine Companions for Independence is a worthwhile organization that does such good for everyone it touches! Over the years I have met some puppy raisers, photographed their pups and learned training tips from this organization. Thanks CCI for letting me in!

Getting Closer

Macro photography done well, takes patience. I usually think of myself as a patient person. To get a good image it should be clear. That means I need to stop motion. A small breeze on a summer’s day appears like a gale force wind when seen close up. I stepped away from using past macro lenses because each time I placed the lens on the camera the winds would start up.

I recently converted a concrete birdbath into a succulent garden. Last year I cleaned, filled, and refilled the birdbath. I bought a water stirrer gadget to encourage birds to visit, and keep mosquitoes away. With all my effort I only saw an occasional bird stop by. Word did not get around my neighborhood. So this year after holes were drilled in the concrete I filled it with many different succulents. The up-side is that these plants are not subject to the wind. 

So armed with my new macro lens I ventured out to my backyard. My first attempt to use the Fujifilm xf 80mm lens with my Fuji xt2 camera.

Captured this Red Pagoda Succulent
This dragonfly appeared at just the right time.
Watched me and let me get closer!

Camera Totin’ Days outing to Green Acres Nursery fit right into my macro practice.

Cornflower
I think this is a Chrysanthemum, but I could be wrong.

I like the way this lens handles the sharp and soft parts of the image. This is called depth of field.

Using the focal length of 80mm I think this lens did a great job of capturing this portrait.

A customer at Green Acres captured
With a bit of imagination you can see the kid jumping for joy!
I spied a carpenter bee hovering around.

This lens passed the test! I have a new focus! Yes!

Come a little bit closer

Instead of looking at the BIG picture, I decided to explore the world close up. Last weekend while I was out photographing the fields of sunflowers I found that I was drawn to the world of things that fly.

Each year the fields around Yolo County bloom with sunflowers. While surrounded by sunflowers I ended up watching the activity around the flowers. Plenty of bees capturing pollen, and there were the occasional butterfly.

I am here!
Row after row of sunflowers
Butterfly shaped shadow
Mezger’s Zinnia Patch located in Woodland, CA.

Mezger’s Zinnia Patch is a delightful place to visit. This flower garden is privately owned and the public are encouraged to come enjoy the flowers, and pick some fresh zinnias for themselves. The idea is that you should also pick a bouquet for someone who cannot get out to enjoy the flowers in their natural setting. Zinnias available in different varieties and multiple colors. As you enter the field, there are pruning shears, vases and water (for flowers only!). The beauty of nature uplifts the spirit in many retirement homes in Woodland. Sharing has been the reason for Mark Mezger’s continued planting of his zinnia fields.

I have stopped by over the years, and I enjoy watching children selecting, and picking flowers.

Carefully selecting flowers, and placing them together in a bouquet

Not only people stop by for a visit. There are plenty of bees, butterflies and dragonflies.

This butterfly paused for a moment.
Another variety and I caught some sunlight on its wings.
On this flower I found a butterfly and a bee sharing the zinnia!

No dragonflies for me this time.

One last stop on this getting hotter Saturday. The UC Davis Arboretum. As we drove in I was reminded of the many, many trip here with my pooch, Libby.

Plenty of information, and signage to educate the visitor to the UC Davis Arboretum.
My favorite color roses!

I spotted a dragonfly who stopped long enough for me to capture an image.

As close as I could go. Now I am inspired to get a macro lens for my Fuji xt2.

A swallowtail butterfly zoomed around but would not stop.

Taken from a shaded bench. A perfect spot!
Pet owners walking their dogs passed the horse corral.

Time to go. Hope you enjoyed this close-up look at nature. My next stop during the week will be to purchase the Fuji x 80mm macro lens. And hope to get even closer.