Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 3 - Petaluma to Ft. Bragg

[Monday, Petaluma, CA] Alarm went off at 6:30a.m. John enjoyed another meager, but free, breakfast at the Best Value Inn of America and Linda had her Raw Bits Twang Twang (from home) as usual. we hit the road somewhere near 7:58a.m. As we were loading Wilma, John noticed that about a dozen emergency vehicles with red lights and sirens going went by headed north on 101... the same way we were to go. Also, traffic was at a crawl. We knew from looking on Wilma's GPS map that we could take a back road and hit 101 at the town of Cotati, about five miles north of Petaluma. Wilma's navigation system complained for a mile or so, wanting us to make a U-turn and get right on 101 in Petaluma. Afer a while, she recalculated the route and gave us directions to hit 101 at Cotati. Which we did. No slow traffic. It was nice except for our uninvited hitchhiker (yes, it was a fly from Petaluma).

It's about 140 miles from Petaluma to Ft. Bragg using the route we were taking which was north on 101 to Cloverdale and then west on 128 to Hwy 1 and Ft. Bragg. Wilma thought we should take a different route, so she complained for a while when we got on 128 at Cloverdale, but she finally figured it out and recalculated the route. Sometimes women (AND occasionally men) just need to be ignored!

Hwy 128 from Cloverdale to the coast is mostly mountainous. Winding roads, little turnouts to let others pass, uphill and downhill and lots of shade from the big redwoods as you'll see in today's photo gallery. We stopped a lot along the way to take pictures of old farm buildings and any other interesting things saw. By the time we reached Boonville, CA John's urge for real coffee (large Mocha with extra shot) rather than motel coffee, not to mention all three of our needs to "rest", led us to make a pit stop. We stopped at Mosswood Market, right on the main drag in Boonville. It's a cute place that is a cafe and bakery. Linda got some decaff and some rosemary/lavendar lip balm. John got his Mocha and a yummy cinnamon roll which he shared a bite of with Linda and Maggie Mae. Linda took a photo of some artwork hanging in the shop. It was called The Hat. Back on the road.

After a while we found we were following the Navarro River on its way to the Pacific. It enters the Pacific just south of Albion, CA. It's pretty wide there. John stopped and took photos of the river entering the ocean and also up river from the ocean. These are in today's gallery as well.
We drove through Albion, Little River, Mendocino and finally to Shoreline Cottages in Ft. Bragg just at lunch time. This place is great. We're in cottage #3 which is "The Dog Cottage". The interior decorating theme is all doggy stuff. It's really cute. Not huge, but has a queen size bed and a kitchenette with full size fridge, nice stove, cookware and dinnerware. Also, a nice microwave and toaster. When we checked in, we asked about good restaurants. John was hankering for a ground sirloin steak with grilled onions. The proprietor gave us a list of their favorite restaurants in Ft. Bragg and Mendocino. They said the Ft. Bragg Steakhouse was good. After we made and ate sandwiches in our room, we went exploring.

Drove past the Ft. Bragg Steakhouse and it appeared to be "For Lease". Bummer! We found a good location to try to photograph the sunset using HDR (high dynamic range) imaging. We also went by the Chamber of Commerce and got lots of recommendations of other things to see in the area. They also said the Ft. Bragg Steakhouse was a good place for dinner. Hmmmmm?

Went back to our room and worked on the travelogue a bit and rested up to leave at 4:15p.m. to go the photo shooting site. After all, the sunrise/sunset chart John downloaded for Arcata, CA for October 5, 2009 said the sun would set at 5:36p.m. Didn't happen. Bad data. We both had to hide behind the car to "rest" while we were waiting. John actually started shooting images sometime after 6:00p.m. HDR requires you to have a set of 3 or more of the same image with different exposure values. John decided to have a set of 6 for each image. Some special computer software aligns the 6 images and combines information from each to produce a result that has a much larger tonal range than can be captured with one image from a digital camera. John took 26 sets of 6 images for a total of 156 images. One HDR image of the sunset will be included at the end of today's photo gallery. It's good that Linda can teach him how to do all that technical stuff. If you want to learn more about HDR, there's a "short" treatise at the end of today's travelogue. The sun began to disappear into the ocean at pretty close to 6:57. Then it dropped like a rock in a matter of seconds as John had been predicting for approximately 2 hours.

The photographers were now really hungry after their grueling sunset photoshoot. Deciding to give it one last try, Linda looked up the actual address of the Ft. Bragg Steakhouse and we drove Wilma there again. Turns out, the building "For Lease" is the building next door. We are happy to report that the Ft. Bragg Steakhouse is alive and well. Linda had coconut shrimp in sort of a mustardy curry sauce and a glass of "It's Not My Fault" red wine. Apparently Sally at Pacific Star Winery has just discovered a fault on her property, thus the name for one of her reds. John had a petite 5oz. Filet Mignon Steak with baked potato and salad. The Filet had a demi-glaze sauce, shitake (John has made a #$%*load of jokes about these through the years) mushrooms, and bleu cheese sauce on top. It was delicious. Upon our arrival they brought out freshly-baked whole wheat bread. Our waitress, Mary, was very friendly. She has lived in Fort Bragg her whole life. The Pacific Star Winery owner, Sally, is a schoolhood chum of hers.

We went by Safeway on our way back to the cottage to get some Linguica and eggs for breakfast. Since we've got a kitchen, John said we might as well save some money and that he would cook breakfast.

Got home. Had a snack. Worked on the travelogue, then nighty-night.

Tomorrow we'll be going to Glass Beach and to the Botanical Gardens.

Link to Day 3 Photo Gallery The gallery will open in its own window. When finished viewing, close that window to return here.

More About HDR: A normal digital camera shot can only capture an exposure range of 5 or 6 f/stops, or 5 or 6 exposure values. Your eyes can see a range of about 13 f/stops. Much more dynamic range than the digital camera. The concept behind High Dynamic Range photography is to expand that 5 or 6 f/stop range. John usually shoots 3 HDR images. One at normal exposure (0ev) one image at -2ev (darker) and one at -4ev (darker yet). This time, because the sun was going down and it was, in fact getting dark, he decided to shoot six images +3ev (way overexposed), +1ev (overexposed a bit) 0ev, -1ev, -2ev and -4ev. These must be shot using a tripod (John weights his tripod with his camera bag for stability) and preferably, a remote shutter release. The images must all be shot at the same lens opening. The exposure values change by the camera chaning it's shutter speed. John uses Photomatix Pro to process the images. That software aligns the six images and by pixel, selects pixels from each image to give you the widest range of luminance values. Once you have that, you process it further to get the tonality just like you want it.

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