Saturday, July 28, 2018

Trackable geocaching tokens

CityBus pass and PathTags token
Bought a couple of all-day CityBus passes, and headed out for geocaching adventure. First stop, “Good Grief Sparky!,” which requires the user to visit a Santa Rosa landmark — where, using information we obtained on-site, we were able to obtain the coordinates we needed to locate a hidden cache.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


Beige-skinned hands holding a blue cylindrical container
Jonathan and I have embarked on an outdoor treasure-hunting adventure! Geocaching involves using GPS to locate a hidden object.

With so many phones now equipped with GPS, participation can be as simple as downloading a free app and creating an account.

Caches come in a range of sizes, and shapes. This one had an appealing “hand-crafted” look, sort of a paper-collage effect.

The caches generally include a paper “log” for finders to write their names, but some of them also carry little “prizes” and even trackable tokens. If you take a prize from the Geocache, it’s nice to leave something too, for the next finder who comes along.

Jonathan and I went around to some local thrift stores and assembled a “stash” of trinkets, less than $1 each. Later, we might also purchase tokens from the Geocaching store.

I especially like combining Geocache with a ride via public transit or a trip on-foot or by bicycling. Yesterday, we caught Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit from downtown Santa Rosa. We disembarked in Cotati, and then used our apps to look for nearby caches.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

West County Regional Trail via bicycle

Paved bike path through oak landscape
Image credit: Sonoma County Regional Parks
After taking several successful round-trips on bicycle between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, Jonathan and I made our first foray this week on the West County Regional Trail between Sebastopol and Forestville.

West County Regional Trail is 5.5 miles in length, according to Sonoma County Regional Parks. “The path is separated from Highway 116 and offers views of farms, pastures, and vineyards.”

We began our ride from our apartment to Santa Rosa-downtown and out the Prince Memorial Greenway, which, if we stayed on it, would become the Santa Rosa Creek Trail. But for this ride, we headed out the Joe Rodota Trail to reach downtown Sebastopol.

We had to navigate downtown Sebastopol traffic to reach the West County Regional Trail entrance. We fell in line behind a tour group of riders led by Getaway Adventures.

Once on the trail, we found it quiet and peaceful, fragrant from eucalyptus and far from traffic noises. We rode the trail until it met up with Old Gravenstein Highway; on future rides, we plan to tackle additional segments of the trail.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Commute by-bike for summer school

During the summer, I’m working for “summer school” at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa. My work-days this week each began and ended with a bicycle ride. It takes me a 15- or 20-minute ride to reach Montgomery High School from our apartment.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450, essential for daily commute

Side view of Cynthia M. Parkhill wearing the pine-green Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450. An apple-green water bottle is tucked into the pack's water bottle holder pocket.

For my daily commute as a non-motorist, I rely on the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450. This roomy, but not overly-large, pack is suitable to my small frame. It’ll hold my lunch, it’ll hold my reading glasses and maybe a book or two. It has water-bottle pockets on each side of the pack to hold my reusable bottle.

Promotional image of the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450, shown from right-rear view
Once at work, if I need to travel with a laptop to another part of campus, the bag ensures that I can carry it hands-free, without risk of dropping the laptop.

For those occasions when I find myself part of a pressed-in crowd, the pack has several security features that make it resistant to theft. There’s wire mesh embedded in the fabric and wire-reinforcement in the straps. And security clips make it more difficult for a thief to un-zip the bag's pockets and reach inside.

Possibly best of all, during most occasions of use, the pack is comfortable to wear. The straps have an ergonomic cut to them, molded to the neck and shoulders. I’d have liked the bag to include a sternum strap to help with heavier loads, but for the typical load I carry during commutes, the bag lets me travel in comfort.

Fortunately, it was easy to add a removable sternum strap. I also have a reflective and waterproof backpack cover to keep pack contents dry, as well as to provide greater visibility when I wear the pack while traveling by bicycle.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bicycle-themed collage art

Layered-paper collage with a bus-route map background. Green strip of paper along bottom, roughly one-quarter height of total image. In lower left corner, the word 'Bicycle' has been pasted, in blue letters against white background. The cut-out image of a blue, step-through framed bicycle, shown from side view with multi-colored flowers in a handlebar basket, is positioned on the green strip as if it were being ridden over the green 'ground.' Behind it, to the left in picture, is a cut-out paper image of a fabric butterfly. In the upper-right corner is a yellow half-sun. The artist's initials, 'CMP,' are rendered in individual cut-out letters, black type against white background, in the lower-right corner of the picture.

Here’s a collage from greeting-card images and from informational brochures gathered during an Earth Day celebration in Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square. The background is a route map for Santa Rosa City Bus.

San Francisco via train, bus, and ferry

Took a library-themed day trip to San Francisco this week, to celebrate my birthday. Rode aboard Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit to the San Rafael Transit Center, then caught Golden Gate Transit’s “Route 31” free shuttle to the Golden Gate Ferry.

Once in SF, we walked to the closest branch of the San Francisco Public Library, which offers a free library card to any California resident.

Our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Readers Bookstore Fort Mason, operated by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library; with book-laden packs we then made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge Visitors Center, where we caught Golden Gate Transit’s “Route 101X” back to downtown Santa Rosa.

(Image depicts a view of Golden Gate Bridge from the Batteries to Bluffs Trail along the San Francisco shoreline.)