Bicycle Botany
Happy New Year Sunset

Back on the Joe Rodota trail.

 This time of year the weeds are germinating and growing roots for the new year, with last years dead stalks standing.

Tonight there were striated cloud formations that were hanging dark blue and gray to the west before sunset. The sun set giving way to especially vivid colors to the west, orange, purple, and dark red.

I first saw them from a taqueria by ROSS on Stony Point Rd.

This was one of the brightest skies I have ever experienced. It was hypnotizing, especially for me, one who looks to the sky often.  Remember, these photos are taken with a Cannon Powershot A540 6.0 Mega Pixel camera from 2006.

The second quarter moon was already high in the east, glowing along with the rest of the sky.

Happy New Year!! 2012 is the years of the Dragon, and the year of coincidence.  January Jupiter will move to the west towards venus setting earlier each day.

In March Jupiter and Venus will reach conjunction, which means they will appear right next to each other from our Earthly perspective.

This article gave me a lot of information:

http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury

Joe Rodota Trail II

Went down the Joe Rodota Trail again, this time all the way to Santa Rosa where Highways 12 and 101 meet. Here is a link to the Sonoma County Bicycle Trail system maps:

http://www.sctransit.com/bikesafe/maps.htm

Strange how much the landscape changes from Sebastopol to Santa Rosa! From Sebastopol it is changes from open spaces, oaks and plum trees. East of Stony Pt. Rd it becomes more developed, non descript industrial warehouses, barbed wire, bridge underpasses. Tall Fences and subdivisions take the place of open fields, with more busy intersections and traffic.  The social demographics change too- a depressed economy is more evident towards Santa Rosa by the amount of people pushing shopping carts along the trail.

I went back to my favorite prunus grove to get some more Santa Rosa Wild Plums, still on the tree and still sweet!

I stopped and took some photos of the plants growing alongside the trail vigorously. You could call them weeds, non native, invasive, but they are still pretty cool nonetheless, tenacious plants.

In one area we have many growing together, here is Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium album.

Prickly Lettuce, Lactuca serriola

Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum. Do not eat or breathe in this plant! It causes respiratory problems and death, the story goes that Socrates ate some to kill himself.

It grows everywhere, tall too, sometimes 10 feet or more. It has purple spots on its stem which is a good identifying feature.

Curly Dock, Rumex crispus

Wild Radish, Raphnus sativus

Joe Rodota Trail in July

Just rode for my first time about half of the Joe Rodota Multi-use trail which connects Sebastopol to Santa Rosa, California.  I happened upon it at a nice time I suppose, it was late afternoon/early evening when I started out, on a hot July 12th day. It felt nice to be on a bicycle as always, more aware of the space I travel through.

..What do you know! Cherry trees full of ripe cherries lining the path! Well, some were plums, so lets call them cherry plum trees- and lots of them! Some with green leaves some with red leaves, some with dark red fruit some with yellowish fruits. A major score and one unexpected so all the better. Prunus is my favorite genera of flowering plants.

Besides the cherry plums there is lots of blackberries, and today I had my first ripe blackberry of the season. Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus discolor, of course, not a rare sight by any means but at its best when producing sweet black fruits. I predict it will be a summer of many blackberries.

I made sure to pick fruits that are above me- dont trust the trailside low hanging fruits.

Lots of other cool wildflowers, mostly all non-native. Mustard, Wild Radish, Fennel, Queen Anne’s Lace, Poison Hemlock, Bristly Ox Tongue, Vetch + many more lining the trail.  Soap Root flower stalks were blooming too, a nice sight to see and my first of the summer, in the Sierras all of the Chlorogalum sp. have been growing their basal leaves. Also, the soap root flowers only open during the evening and night apparently.

A cool sunflower -

Lots of Oak - Live oaks and some sort of valley oak? I need to figure out which is broadleaved oaks growing out in that area, which is actually the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a large floodplain area where water from surrounding hills flows to and drops sediment, making for a fertile soil.

Willows along the path and creek that the trail runs parallel to. Walnut trees in peoples yards over the path. Lots of grasses growing tall, the bulk of the land is prohibited access for restoration- a good thing. Once you get closer to Santa Rosa vineyards and cattle occupy the lands, and hay fields, which are irrigated and at this evening time of day makes a rainbow reflected.

On my way back I also became acutely aware of a rising 2nd quarter, waxing gibbous moon- nearly full. I was taking my time riding about 10 mph when the limit is 15. Notice the fog to the south in this photo- San Francisco Bay. Sunny in Sonoma County!

I am very impressed by that trail! Bicycle travel really is the most pleasant activity you can do on a summer evening like this, especially when there are so many fresh fruits lining the path to taste.