Day 81: Walks with Crickets

Today is Day 81 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

I decide to go for a night walk and set out about 9:00 PM.  I expected to report on “things that go bump in the night,” but the predominate sound was the harmonic strains from an orchestra of crickets. The male insects were unabashedly serenading potential mates. Males rub their wings together to make the chirping sound that defines territory and attracts females. cricket

Their chirping was soft and quiet along the first part of my route, then there was a crescendo midway that became so loud it sounded amplified. Crickets are amazing little critters. You can hear them chirping during summer evenings – a great form of entertainment on a family night walk.

You can hear a cricket chirping in this sound clip on YouTube: Cricket Sound offers a diagram showing the anatomy of a cricket – print it out and let the kids color it!

The University of Arizona provides a great cricket fact sheet that even provides tips on how to find and collect live crickets.

Chinese, Japanese, and Native American cultures have beliefs that crickets are good luck. Click Here to find out why.

On you’ll find some interesting facts about crickets, including this: “It is rumored that crickets can tell the outside temperature: Count the number of chirps they make in one minute, divide by 4 and then add the number 40 to reach the outside temperature.” I’ll have to try that on my next night walk.



Day 80: Guess the Wind Speed Walk!

Today is Day 80 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.  

I didn’t get out for a walk until 11:00 AM, and wondered if it would be too hot outside. Thankfully, I was greeted by a cool breeze that was strong enough to rustle leaves and make small tree limbs sway, cause decorative flags to wave, and annoyingly restyle my hair.FrancisBeaufort

I remembered that I had read about the Beaufort Wind Scale, created in 1806 by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. (See his picture on the right.)  It’s a simple rating system that was developed to estimate wind speed at sea and the effect on sailing rigs. The system was adapted to determine wind speed and its effects on land as well, that is still used today. You’ll find a copy of the scale complied by the National Weather Service by CLICKING HERE. (You can use it to determine how fast the wind is blowing in your neighborhood.)

As I listened to the wind and looked at the landscape to see its effect, I guessed the wind speed was about 20 mph.

When I got home I checked the Beaufort scale and found I was experiencing “Force 5” wind, that is classified as a “Fresh Breeze” with a wind speed of 17-21 knots.

Hmmm…how do you convert knots to miles per hour?  I found this equation: 1 Knot = 1.15077945 Miles Per Hour. So, just multiply the knots by 1.15 and you’ll know how fast the wind is moving in miles per hour.

If math isn’t your thing, you’ll be delighted to know that at I found a table that converts knots to mph and found the wind was 19-24 miles per hour. I had made a good guess!

What’s the wind speed in your neighborhood?

Day 79: Freedom Walk!

Today is Day 79 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

It’s Labor DayBecause of the holiday there was no traffic this morning, so I walked in the middle of the road (a habit Papa enjoyed).

As I walked, a man walking his dog approached from the opposite direction.  He was walking in the middle of the street, too.  As he Labor Daypassed by he said, “Don’t you love walking in the middle of the road? It’s such a sense of freedom!” I agreed.

About half a mile later, I overheard a conversation between two neighbors. One man was out for a walk with his children; he was pushing a stroller with a sleeping infant, while his young daughter rode her tricycle. He greeted his neighbor who was watering the lawn and said, “Isn’t it great? No work today!”

The other man agreed and said, “I love Labor Day. It’s my favorite holiday along with the 4th of July. There’s no guilt. You can just relax and put your feet up.”

The Dad with the stroller said, “And turn off your cell phone!

The neighbor sort of winced apologetically and said, “Uh, well, I’ve got mine with me.”

The Dad said, “C’mon, Art, turn it off. It’s freeing not to have to answer calls and texts.”

Art agreed and said, “I accidently left my phone in the car the other day and it was so great not to constantly have interruptions.”

The Dad said, “We’re really changing, aren’t we? I think it’s important to unplug occasionally.”

With that, Art held his phone up in the air for his neighbor to see, and turned it off.

I marveled at that exchange as I walked home. I encountered three different people who were enjoying Labor Day and the respite from work because of the freedom it afforded them.  An interesting and unexpected lesson on this Labor Day.


Day 78: It’s Good to Be Home

Today, Sunday, September 1, 2013, is Day 78 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

After spending the past few days in Los Angeles, it was good to be home and walk my usual route through the neighborhood. There were two distinct changes in the landscape:

  1. Numerous American flags were waving from the front porches of houses – a signal that the Labor Day holiday is here. Read all about the history of this holiday at the United State Department of Labor website. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate, you may enjoy these 10 ideas for Labor Day family fun.
  2. Election signs for those running for the Redwood City Council have sprouted on front lawns throughout the community. The election doesn’t take place until November, but the petty squabbling among candidates has already begun, according to one local newspaper.

In my opinion, the flags are pretty and festive but the ugly political signs pollute the scenery. Nevertheless, it was good to be back on my old stomping grounds

Day 77: On the Road Again

Saturday, August 31, 2013, was Day 77 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

After head-banging to the music of Raiju on Friday night, we loaded the van with the band’s gear and arrived back at our hotel room at 1:30 AM.  We got about 5 hours of sleep because we had to get up early to transport the band’s equipment from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area for their gig on Saturday night at the Oakland Metro Opera House.

I took the opportunity to walk the perimeters of parking lots at coffee shops and gas harris ranchstations at each stop along the way, culminating with a walk around the huge Harris Ranch restaurant/hotel/tourist attraction in Coalinga, CA.  (See picture at right.)

At the end of the six-hour car trip, we were greeted by the band at our home. After their gig on Friday night, their plans to couch-surf with friends fell through. So, at 2:00 AM they made the decision to drive all the way back to the Bay Area from L.A. and try to catch a few hours of sleep at our house.

We pulled into our driveway at 2:30 PM. The band’s load time at the Oakland Metro Opera house was 4:00 PM. The guys quickly unloaded the gear from our van into their individual cars and headed for the final destination on their tour. They were looking forward to partying after the gig. We were looking forward to chilling on the couch – the life of a roadie is exhausting.

Day 76: A Walk Down Hollywood Boulevard

Friday, August 30, 2013, was Day 76 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

We met the band, Raiju, at 9:30 PM to load their gear at Loaded on Hollywood Boulevard, in Hollywood, CaliforniaHollywood Sign Daylight

Hollywood is noted for its glitz and glam, but there is a dark, seamy side as well. The stark contrast from the main entrance of the music venue on Hollywood Boulevard to the alleyway behind it (where we unloaded the band’s equipment) was staggering.

A homeless lunatic was mumbling and yelling while dumpster diving in the urine-soaked alley where he had set up a make-shift camp. There was more garbage on the pavement than in the dumpster, accompanied by the stench of human feces. (It is not uncommon to see vagrants relieving themselves on the backstreets of Hollywood.)

While we unloaded the van, a group of inebriated young people ducked into the alley to smoke something from a pipe. One of the guys was totally messed up, belligerent, cussing, and looking for a fight. He threw a beer bottle against the wall of the building and it shattered into pieces. One of his friends said, “Dude, you’re gonna get us in trouble. Let’s get out of here before the cops come.”

They needn’t have worried. There were four L.A.P.D. motorcycle cops right next door eating Shakey’s Pizza, who could’ve cared less about what was going down in that alley.

Hollywood Walk of FameOnce we unloaded the gear, my husband found a piece of cardboard that he used to sweep away the big glass shards from the broken bottle to avoid damaging the tires of our van as we backed out of the alleyway. We parked in a lot around the corner. We had an hour and a half to kill before Raiju performed, and decided to trek down the star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame.

There were hundreds of people on the boulevard at that time of night, many stopping to take a photo of the star of a favorite celebrity. People of all ages lined up to get into restaurants and venues along the strip. Some were in shorts and tees, others were dressed to the nines. We saw scores of young women in tight dresses and stiletto heels – and actually saw three stumble and almost fall off their shoes. Based on the activity we had just seen in the alley around the corner, we wondered why any young woman would dress in clothes that would prevent her from running away, should the need arise. Apparently, fashion trumps safety.

I think many tourists visit Hollywood expecting a theme-park experience and the sanitation of Disneyland. While there is something alluring and thrilling about moving through the throng of star-searchers on the boulevard, the seedy surroundings make the entire experience surreal.

Day 75: Studio City Walk!

Thursday, August 29, 2013, was  Day 75 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

We had the day off from carting gear for the band, Raiju, and decided to take advantage of the lull. We took a walk down Ventura Boulevard (a main drag through Studio City, CA) and checked out Studio Citysome local boutique shops, antique stores, coffee shops, and trendy restaurants.

One of my favorite memories of Papa, is taking a morning walk with him through the main streets of the towns and cities we visited on vacation. You get a better feel for a place when you walk through the area where the natives hang out.

Studio City is located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, and is home to many celebrities and film industry players – but the heat had the starring role. It was about 95 degrees in the shade and the humidity was high. Walking outside was like walking in a sauna bath.

We headed back to the hotel to hang out on our poolside patio. Ahhhh – much better!