Dillon Beach, Deer?

We needed a little more serious shopping today. We were especially anxious to get a supply of fermented grape juice to feed our habit so we thought we might try a larger, and hopefully cheaper supermarket. ‘T was clearly time to investigate the Safeway in Petaluma.

Not wishing to leave shopping sitting in a backing hot car, we decided to go and visit the historic areas of downtown Petaluma first. Finding parking spots and interpreting the parking regulations is always interesting on a first visit to a place that’s new to us but after a few right turns we found a two hour parking spot and set out on foot.

While we were sauntering down one street, Denice Borse spotted us from inside the store she works at and came out to greet us. She’d done very well to recognize us on the strength of one meeting. I would have been hard pressed to reciprocate given her lack of cycling helmet, this time. She directed us to the Petaluma Market store which we duly investigated. They had some sturgeon which I have eaten only once and, on that occasion, it was delicious. The beef looked very good, too. We must return and hope that they have sturgeon again but, for now, this was an exploratory visit.

Time was marching on so we called in what looked like a newish Mexican restaurant called Mi Pueblo el Centro for a spot of lunch washed down with a Dos Equis before retrieving the car before it turned into a pumpkin after its two hour stay, then it was off to find Safeway.

We found Safeway easily enough but I don’t think we’ll bother again. It’s a reasonable store but the main reason for going there would be prices. These are great if you are a  Safeway Club member but we are not. This is very like our perceived difference between Waitrose and Tesco in the UK; Tesco is certainly cheaper but the “shopping experience” in Waitrose is much more pleasant. Just so here where Safeway may be cheaper (even without being a club member) but the quality and ambience of Whole Foods or Petaluma Market is better. So, we bailed out and called into Whole Foods which was on the way back home and on the correct side of the road.

We’d turned off the air conditioning to see what the technologically rich Camry Hybrid would do. Having slowed to make the turn, we glid silently into the car park on battery power. Upon leaving, I made it out into the traffic and up to the first stop light again silently, a distance of, say, 50 yards/metres. The internal pollution engine seems to think about kicking in at about 25 mph. It also kicks in when anything resembling strenuous activity is called for. Any hint of an uphill gradient causes the battery power to demand fossilized fuel assistance. It’s a similar story with acceleration. If you or, more accurately, the 7-litre gas-guzzling Chevy truck up your non-polluting exhaust pipe, is prepared to suffer a stultifying casual zero to 25 mph acceleration time of 5 minutes or so, then the planet is safe from further carbon emissions.

At typical American town speed limits (25 mph) and in very congested situations on an ironing board flat road, this technology may help a little. Most of any saving, though, comes, I suspect, from the engine cutting off when stationary at junctions, particularly traffic lights. This, though, is what several non-battery Volkswagen cars did many years ago. It also strikes me that the potential sport of crossing Milton Keynes using little but interlinked car parks might make a minor saving on carbon emissions. Let’s hope that Tesco is right: every little helps. It won’t, of course, because 2 billion Chinese and 1 billion Indians are furiously engaged in swapping their bicycles for Beemers.

Back at home base, the fog had rolled in faster than a battery-powered car but, nonetheless, we dropped off our shopping and I wondered if Carol would like to check out Dillon Beach, about five miles distant. Having arrived, we didn’t park because somebody with a well-developed sense of humour wanted seven dollars for the privilege. Given some clear weather, that may become worth it but not to sit under a coastal fog bank. One or two cars and a camper van seemed to think differently, though.

Dillon Beach fawn Having dropped a U-turn, we spotted what turned out to be a young deer beside the road so I stopped. Dillon Beach stag Surprisingly, it allowed me to retrieve my camera, change to the long lens and posed for pictures. It had relatively quite large ears and reminded me of an African kudu. (I’ll have to seek advice about identification.) We subsequently discovered its relations having a stag party calmly devouring one or two gardens of the coastal cottages along the road. These Dillon Beach deer look as though they might constitute something of a nuisance to some people. Not to us though; we like nothing more than to see wildlife even when it is a little too accustomed to human company.

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Posted in California, 2008

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