Gold Rush territory, also known as Gold Country, is actually a region of California East of Sacramento in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gold Country lies spans several Counties that lie along Highway 49 (yes, they named it after the famous 49ers - those men who came to California in 1849 seeking gold).

So if I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which sits on the Pacific Ocean, then why am I greeting you from Gold Country? Because I found abandoned gold mines in my neighborhood!

Last summer I learned about these abandoned gold mines in my neighborhood while doing research on my neighborhood, which is called Santa Venetia. Santa Venetia is a nice little quiet neighborhood in North San Rafael which is the capital of Marin County, CA.

I posted these brief infos about the abandoned mines on our local watershed council website.

Then I went looking for the mines. Over several days I studied the available information and the local terrain. Every evening after work I would go hiking in the hills looking for the mines. It took me 3 days and just before sunset I found one!

That's right, I found a gold mine in my neighborhood! Was there any gold you ask? Lets just say these mines were abandoned for a good reason.

The mines are located in the foothills of San Pedro ridge on a trail that starts just behind the local 7-11 convenience store.

One mine is quite easy to spot and you can even venture into it when it is not waterlogged. The entrance is not very big, you have to slide down into the mine. Spooky!

On the following day I took a neighbor to see my discovery, and together we spotted the second mine.

Now does anybody want to bring some shovels and a pick and go check this out? C'mon, don't let Indiana Jones have all the fun!

P.S. Did you know there is a REAL ghost town nearby? I swear! But that's another story for another blog entry. Out here in the Wild West you never know what you will find...


European wineries have been doing it for decades, here in California the idea of recycling cork has only started to catch on in recent years.

That's right, cork can be recycled

The cork from wine bottles does not have to end up in a landfill. It can be recycled into many useful products.  And I'm not talking about this idea.

You can also collect cork and use it to create your own cork board or for other fun projects.

Here are some interestesting cork recycling initiatives:

ReCORK

ReCORK, the world's largest producer of wine bottle corks, is trying to get wine drinkers to recycle cork in a big way.

The ReCORK site has a list of places you can drop off your cork.

For more details check out the North Bay Biz article "A Cork of a Different Color"

Cork ReHarvestCork ReHarvest & Whole Foods Markets

Cork ReHarvest has finally convinced an large US grocery chain to recycle cork. Thank you to Whole Foods for allowing us to recycle our cork with your company-wide wine cork recycling program!

Ready? Set? Go!

Start collecting cork to recycle!

Matabungkay Sunset, Batangas, PhilippinesHere is an excerpt from a thought provoking article by Scott Allford about the media perception of the Philippines being a DISASTER-PRONE country:


If you watch or read the news you may feel very justified in believing that the Philippines is a very dangerous country, savaged by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and terrorist attacks. A poor country with images of children picking through garbage, slums, and corruption scandals broadcast in most international news reports. They are not all that the country contains. Not every person in the Philippines is poor, a terrorist or a victim of terror. Other countries suffer from these same problems yet they do not become iconic images of those nations.

The Common View of the Philippines

A few months ago I was at a roof-top party in Makati filled with socialites and expats. Whilst there I was introduced to a German ‘journalist', and my friend asked him why the Philippines is portrayed in such a negative light in the foreign media. His response was firstly he could not sell stories about the Philippines if they were not about poverty, violence or corruption. Secondly there is nothing else to report on. After saying this, he sipped his glass of red wine and was whisked away into a group of Filipino socialites.

Perhaps the red wine was ‘poor' in taste, or the fact that that particular roof-top was one of the few in Makati which doesn't have a swimming pool made him focus on the poverty in the Philippines. I think that it was none of these things. Germany, a developed country, has slums. But if the focus can be moved away from the poverty in the developed countries and put on some islands way out in the Pacific Ocean, then people in developed countries can feel a little bit better.

Perhaps the time will come when people outside the Philippines will come to realize that the branded image of the Philippines portrayed in the media is only a small piece of the full picture of this country.

A Different View

Since the Philippines was settled by people 30,000 years ago, this country has blossomed into a mix of over 180 indigenous ethnic groups, over half of which also represent unique linguistic groups. This array of cultures, languages and cultural artifacts cannot be matched by most nations of the world. From the Ilocano, Pangasinense, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano, and Visayans to the Binukid, Moros, Ati, Igorot, and the T'boli, just to name a few. These cultures are rich, strong and proud and in most cases the people that make up these cultures are very friendly and welcoming to outsiders.

The Banaue Rice Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site. But they are not alone. The Philippines have numerous UNESCO world heritage sites

Lastly, the Philippines consists of 7,107 beautiful islands. These islands contain remote beaches and amazing rock formations as well as other natural wonders like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the perfectly conical Mt. Mayon volcano or the stunning Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palawan. But also on these islands is a range of bio diversity not seen in most other places on the planet.

More and more people are starting to discover that there is a different side to the Philippines to the one they have been bombarded with. Those who come to the Philippines to seek out the beauty of this country will not be disappointed.

Read the entire article by Scott Allford here:

Viewing The Philippines In A Different Light 


 

Treehugger.com has an article entitled "Recycling is Bullshit; Make Nov. 15 Zero Waste Day, not America Recycles Day."

Recycling is what?? While that headline is agressive and confrontational, the article makes a very valid point - we are all regularly reminded that recycling is very important. But in fact recycling is the last thing we should be focusing on!

We should be reducing our consumption and reusing our packaging materials. Yes we should be buying our beverages in refillable bottles. That's how it was done in the good old USA in the days before the throwaway society and it is also still done currently in most countries.

% of Reuseable Beer Bottles Worldwide

That's why recycling comes last in this modern list of the 3 R's:

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

I also totally agree with this statement:

Let's demand returnable bottles and deposits on everything and let's celebrate Zero Waste Day on November 15 with a returnable bottle of beer.  

Now I just need to go out and buy a returnable bottle of beer...