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Chance meeting at Patterson Pass

Patterson Pass Road view

I love the international flavor of California, especially that of some of the cities, like San Francisco. Today, however, after tutoring a math student in the morning and signing a bunch of checks for artists in the late afternoon, I decided to use the rest of the time before supper to attempt a panorama and some short 1080p HD movies at the high point of Patterson Pass Road through the Altamont. The point offers sweeping views of hundreds of wind turbines and of the Central Valley, beyond!

I set up the tripod, mounted the camera, remote shutter release, and stereo microphone and, almost immediately afterward, heard the sound of gravel being disturbed behind me. A lean and fit bicyclist dismounted and said hello, in a strong German accent. I learned that he has a Ph.D. in physics (almost common in Livermore :-) ), but that he was in the middle of a three-week vacation and lived in Dresden – formerly in East Germany, which was the target of a very controversial Allied bombing and firebombing raid in the last months of World War II that destroyed 15 square miles of the city center and caused the deaths of thousands of civilians. I made a reference to the bombing, so that he was aware of my knowledge of Dresden.

We talked a bit about his travels in the United States and compared points of interest in California. We talked about the way Americans work too much and are not given enough vacation to lead balanced lives. I noted the Garmin GPS on his bicycle and told him that I have a mount for mine on my motorcycle. He said that he had bicycled to Livermore from Berkeley today and would return in the evening. I told him that Patterson Pass Road east is an interesting one, and that the first Tour of California that passed through Livermore included Patterson Pass Road going WEST…  a long uphill run for most of its length.

We parted ways after he took some photos and I shook his hand and gave him my business card. Later this week, he will visit Big Sur.

I took my still shots and a couple of short high-def movies. I used a “dead cat” this time, which is a “furry” (fake fur) “sock” that fits over the stereo microphone to serve as a wind screen and reduce wind noise. We shall see how effective it was.

This evening, I parked along Tesla Road to photograph the “Supermoon” that rose tonight. The full moon appears 14% “larger” than usual. We shall see how well the photos turned out.

My life has been full of chance encounters like today’s, and it has been enriched by them. International visitors to California have merely broadened the scope.

-Bill at

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