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Settling In and 17 Mile Road

Robert and Erica on 17 Mile RoadTwo months in San Jose as of this weekend. We’re finally out of our most of our boxes, I finished the bookcases that I’d been building, I’ve finished sanding and painting our old giant coffee table and turning it into our low dining room table, and we’ve had our first East Coast visitors.  Today we capped that off with another drive.

The book cases are actually about 8 sets of varying sized Billy book cases from Ikea. I had an idea about making them look like built-ins by evening the spacing and then tacking facing boards, base boards and crowning onto them. I found others who had the same ideas, borrowed some of their ideas, adapted to my situation, and finished them up. It seems to have worked pretty well. This week, I finished unpacking books, I hung the bamboo mirror, and I brought in the now finished table.

Book cases


It’s nice to come home to a house not filled with boxes needing to be unpacked or boxes filled with furniture needing to be constructed. Both the living room and dining room are flanked by the book cases that run the 23 feet of  the north wall.  The dining table used to be a brown  wood grain texture. It was scratched-up a bit from years of following Erica and I through various living situations. I sanded out the scratches and roughed the veneer so that it would hold the paint. I then gave it a couple rounds of the same paint with primer included that I used on the book case facing boards. Below are the finished products.

Dining roomLoaded book cases








Farm Fresh Produce

Erica’s dad and his girlfriend Carol came to visit this weekend. It’s cool to have our first guests, especially two folks who love food and the outdoors. Yesterday we went to our neighborhood municipal Alum Rock Park and took some photos while Erica and I scouted trail running paths. Today we drove down to Carmel and 17 Mile Drive. On the way, we stopped for produce (of course). We picked up a bag of avocados for about $1.50. We also picked-up fresh berries, almonds, and artichokes (10 for $1!!!). Very nice start to the day.

Erica Nosing into My Shot

From there, it was down past Monterrey and onto 17 Mile Drive. We stopped along the way at a number of beach spots and side roads to get pictures of deer, sea lions, seals, birds, trees, surf etc. My phone wasn’t equipped to get long range photos, so I can only post some distance pics of seals and some close-ups of foliage and Erica. Sometimes the pictures of the foliage and Erica are not mutually exclusive, as you can see to the right here.

It was a beautiful drive, but a bit too civilized for my taste. Lots of tour buses, expensive golf courses, and homes for the fabulously wealthy. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely worth the drive and the ten bucks they charge you to drive there, but not something I’ll probably do again (unless its to get photos of sea lions, seals, and sea otters).

Lou and Carol on beach

My grumpy, cynical tendencies aside, it was really cool to learn more about our new home and its flora, fauna, history, and geography.  It was also cool to have Carol with us. She takes wildlife photographs and it was a lot of fun to see someone who thrives in chasing photos of wildlife in action with someone who loves to help her do so. Lou (Erica’s dad) is Carol’s spotter, and they looked to be having a lot of fun. It’s always a viscerally satisfying experience to share time with people who love sharing lives and experiences. They have both traveled a lot in Northern California, and Erica and I spent the day being shown around the area from Monterrey south to Carmel.

SealsOn Bird Island, there were hundreds of sea lions and seals chilling in the sun. They were too far to get pics with my camera, but I later caught a picture at another spot. There were only seals at this spot, but they were also basking in the sun in no hurry to do anything.


The low-growing and flowering succulents and wildflowers had fantastic colors. I’ve been in the habit of capturing textures for reference for so long, that I find I take a lot of casual photos built around texture. Of course, I am a bit texture obsessed. Food, fabric, film shots, etc. I find great pleasure in pleasing juxtaposition of structure, surface characteristics, variation in wear, spacing, timing…

We finished the day with some Monterrey Cyprus trees and another of the little ground squirrels who live on the beach. They look like tree squirells, with a less bushy tail and more spots. We left 17 Mile Road for some decent seafood on the wharf in Monterrey. While eating, I got to see a sea otter doing the belly-table-float-and-eat trick. Erica dozed off on my lap as we drove back to San Jose. Tomorrow…another exploration.

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