crane

San Jose and Condors

We had a lovely morning, just waking up in time for breakfast, and then a drive to San Jose to meet up with kiria_dk and get some things from Japantown and then we headed down along the coast to San Simeon, right by Hearst's Castle. Along the way we got lucky and saw and photographed a California Condor.



flit and her husband gave us a stack of good breakfast recommendations thenight before, and we found that Zachary's was closed, but the Walnut Avenue Cafe was open, and had a wonderful breakfast there, though being one of the few things open Memorial Day, they were quite crowded. There was no line for us going in, but by the time we were done, the sidewalk was just full of people waiting for a table.

We managed to do some last minute connections with people for Tuesday and Wednesday in LA, and then packed up everything and headed out to San Jose. There were were to meet up with kiria_dk for ramen at Kumako Ramen at noon. We arrived around 11, so we were able to try and look for a little Japanese art and crafts, anime and manga store that I remembered amberley taking me to years and years and years ago when I used to come to the Bay Area with Hubert Bartells to go to DunDraCon every year. He would take us there, and I would load up on origami paper and sumi-e equipment while Hubert went for the anime and manga.

Nikaku
I had no idea where it was, or even what the name was, but I remembered it was in the second story of a building and there weren't that many two-story buildings. Plus, I remembered the plastic food display from one restaurant and we parked near it, and then circled out until we found Nikaku in San Jose's Japantown. It was, indeed, upstairs, and the lady was very nice and rather harried as they usually didn't open on Mondays, but had opened with just one person as they thought it would be a very slow day. Instead there were quite a few people there and folks calling as well. Jet and I picked a lot of amazing origami paper, and I found a Dark Horse collection of one whole CLAMP series, so I bought that as well.

The lady was impressed by our origami paper buy, so she gave us a paper top made out of three distinct pieces, and she said that they didn't have the time to create instructions on how to put it together, but they knew how to make it from what they'd been given. So they gave the model away to let people figure out how to fold it for themselves.

kiria_dk did meet us for lunch, and while she and I talked and I got to see her art, Jet happily worked with John on how to make the top. The ramen at Kumako was quite good, and I really enjoyed their Dungeness Crab Curry. John helped me eat it as well, and Jet and Kiria had a good time with their ramen bowls. She and I talked for a good long while, and I ended up painting something for her out on the sidewalk. *laughs* It worked out just fine, but it took me a little while to get my courage up, and it turned out nicely enough, I think.

It also took long enough that Jet finished his version of the top and went back to the Nikaku and gave the original top back to the lady. She had a wonderful time talking with him about how he figured out how to do the top, and was very impressed with Jet being able to reverse engineer the toy so quickly. We've been folding it a few times since.

It was very nice to meet Kiria and get to see all her art and listen to her stories. That was a lot of fun and I'm glad we made the trip.

When we were done, we said our good-byes, and then started back out west to the coast and then down along the coast. We just drove along the water, enjoying the winding roads, and looking at the spectacular views along the way. I finally got used to being able to stop John for particular pictures when I asked him to stop after a particular bend in the road that laid out a lot of stuff before me. There were four other cars in the same alcove, and for a while I was kind of bemused at all these people stopping to look at some house on the point.

That was when this HUGE BIRD coasted by the guy next to me, and I reflexively took three shots in a row before my conscious brain caught up with me and said, That's a Californian Condor, idiot. Just like the one at the San Diego Zoo....

LuckyCondor in FlightGliding

Uhm... Right.

At one time there were only 22 known Californian Condors in existence. They were taken captive, the last known wild condor was taken as well, and they were all put into breeding programs across the country. The San Diego Zoo got the bulk of it, but there were other sites including the Bird of Prey Rescue and Rehabilitation center we'd visited in Idaho? or something a few years back. Anyway, the total population is over 300 now, with 180 out in the wild, and the first known released Californian condors to nest again in California were in Big Sur, which we drove by today.

The bird I caught on camera was part of what looked like a mated pair that were nesting by that house everyone was so interested in, you can see the pair on a ledge by the house in one of those pictures I took.

It was like seeing a piece of history undone, in a way as I remember DDT nearly killing off all these strange birds, and now I can see one in the wild!! That was... amazing, and the thing was so freaking huge it just awed me.

So... yeah. That made my day... and it was good to be lucky.

We made it down to San Simeon and have plans to see Hearst Castle in the morning. Our hotel is blessedly silent and right by the ocean, the view in front is of the beach and the pool was heated so the boys went swimming and we just ate at the hotel restaurant. Too tired and a little too lazy to do much else. Plus they had a 10% discount for anyone staying at the hotel. There's enough of a connection I could connect up with everyone in LA again, and I might actually get to see an old high school classmate I haven't seen for a few decades. Whew... this should be interesting... *laughs*

I'm still kind of bemused that no matter where we want to go, someone seems to want to meet us there. This is pretty fun...
Tags:
If you ever pass anywhere remotely near my home grounds, you'd better believe I'd find a way to meet up with you!

I choked up about the California Condor. I also remember when they finally figured out that DDT was ravaging the raptor populations, and when some species' populations dipped dangerously low. The fact that you were able to see one of these birds, back where it belongs... guh.
Yay! I'm very glad that you'd want to meet up as well! It seems to be a great deal of fun for everyone.

Yeah... it really hit hard as I was seeing it fly about wild and... no cages, no nothing, and a mate right there as well. They were together. That was really... yeah... guh... is right.

That was amazing and I felt very... privileged.
(admires the condor) Wow. That's fantastic.

I look forward to hearing about the Hearst Castle -- it was mentioned in a set of novels I was reading (the Company series, by Kage Baker) and I'd be interested to hear your description of it.)
The castle was amazingly fun. We've been on the tour at least two or three times before, but the state has really done a lot of work to the tour and the exhibits. I'll do more detail in an entry, but it was a lot of fun to do.
It sounds like the whole family is just having a fabulous time. And WOW! That Condor sighting has to be one of the coolest things EVER! I'm sure it will bring you fabulously good luck. :D

I remember seeing my first Bald Eagle when I was in high school, it was so rare and surprising then. But now we get dozens every winter fishing on our river. It's still amazing, but never like that very first sighting. I hope someday the Condors will make such an amazing come back to California.
Yeah, we're all having a very good time. Yeah! The sighting was very very lucky indeed and I'm still bemused by it.

Ooooo... neat about the bald eagles as well... that must have been amazing.