Category Archives: Strange World

The Shrinking Outdoors

Last weekend, a lot of people in the Los Angeles area tried to go hiking, or to the beach, or otherwise outdoors…to the same places. Which ended up creating the crowds that the shutdown was supposed to prevent, just in different places. 🤦‍♂️

So over the last few days, various cities, counties and the state have closed a bunch more parks, beaches, hiking trails and bike paths. It’s still OK to walk in your neighborhood as long as you keep your distance from people, but destination-based going outdoors is mostly off the table now.

Meanwhile the coronavirus continues to spread, and cases continue to climb, driven by people who were exposed before “social distancing” became a thing as they start developing symptoms. And in some cases succumb to them.

It’s been almost three weeks since I last went for a photo walk or a hike in anything resembling more nature than a patch of weeds in someone’s lawn. It feels like a year ago. And they just closed that beach and the paths along the bluffs.

Though I’ve got to say: in retrospect I’m relieved that I couldn’t find parking closer to the pier because of the kite festival, and ended up at a less crowded part of the beach. I could have gotten exposed to Covid-19 the same day the flu hit me, which would’ve been a really fun one-two punch. As it is, the whole household has been mostly isolated since then, and not only have we avoided picking up Covid-19 as near as we can tell, but I managed to not give anyone else the flu. So that’s good.

Back to the outdoors, though. Over the last year or so I’ve realized that getting outside really helps me de-stress. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a search for songbirds, a hike through nature (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), or heck, a search for Pokémon, spending at least some time outside with sky and sunlight makes a difference.

It’s probably going to be mostly walks around the block for a while. Most of the open nature spaces in the area are either closed outright (Madrona Marsh, for instance), or are open but with their parking lots closed (like Hahn Park). Even the bike path where I’ve spotted hawks and scrub jays and a wide variety of plants (not just puncture vine) is closed. The South Coast Botanic Garden is still open for now, but they’ve instituted an appointment system to limit the number of people inside at a time. I’m debating trying to go this weekend. While it’s still possible.

Though to be honest, if the process of getting there and back induces too much anxiety, it’ll pretty much defeat the purpose.

CA Lockdown Confusion

On Thursday, Los Angeles County ordered that everyone stay at home except for essential activities like buying food, getting medical care, taking care of someone, or going to an “essential” job. Later that evening, California issued a similar order.

But something was unclear: The county specifically mentioned that the guidelines didn’t apply to just going out to walk your dog, hike, or get exercise as long as you maintained your distance from other people and didn’t try to use facilities that were closed, like playground/gym equipment. The state didn’t.

And while I’m reasonably certain that we’re not at the point where they’re going to be arresting or fining people just for walking around the block, I don’t want to be like the guy who explained to Italian police that “I have to hunt the Pokemon” when they charged him for breaking quarantine.

State officials clarified it to the press on Friday:

“Californians can still go hiking and biking outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “safer at home” order issued Thursday, state officials say. Though many activities have been curtailed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, going outdoors isn’t one of them.”

Good – that explains why South Coast Botanic Garden sent out the notice that they were still open for hiking despite cancelling events. They have stopped taking payments at the gate, though, which is understandable.

And today the state’s official page on the directive features this clarification:

Can I still exercise? Take my kids to the park for fresh air? Take a walk around the block? Walk my dog?

Yes. So long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of six feet from people who aren’t part of your household, it is ok to go outside for exercise, a walk or fresh air.

For now, at least.

The Visible Housing Timeline

I saw an article about open space preservation efforts in Newport Beach, and decided to look up the area on maps’ satellite view. Looking around nearby areas in Newport, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Tustin, Orange, etc, I realized: the timeline of residential development in central Orange County is actually visible.

  • Newer neighborhoods have bigger houses than older ones.
  • Older neighborhoods have varied muted colored roofs. Newer ones are almost all red tile.
  • With some exceptions, older areas were built on flatter land & newer areas have crept into the hills, so grids are mostly older. The one newer area that’s flat-and-grid is all red tile roofs.

I don’t know how well it tracks for other areas. I’m less familiar with southern Orange County, for instance, and areas from Santa Ana northward into the LA Basin are much flatter and were largely built-up by the time I started paying attention.

Tenacious Tree

A palm tree growing along the column supporting a bridge...and then diagonally sideways until it gets out from under the bridge entirely.

I finally stopped to take a photo of this tenacious palm tree. I’m not sure whether it was planted or if it just took root next to the support pillar back when the Green Line was new two decades ago. It’s clearly not actively maintained, judging by all the old dry fronds still attached, and I keep wondering if it’ll get taken out as part of the construction of the Crenshaw line (this is right next to the Y connector where the new line branches off, and the fences are part of the construction site)…but that construction’s almost done, and the tree’s still there.

Treetop Tomatoes

Tomato plant with a mix of red and green tomatoes, growing out of the side of a palm tree.

Is this the weirdest place I’ve seen a volunteer tomato? It’s certainly up there!

*sorry*

*ok, not sorry* 🙂

Originally posted on Pixelfed. Observation on iNaturalist.