Jack London State Historical Park – day trip, a great place to visit.

This was just a quick day trip, on a Christmas break when the weather was not good for a week-long road trip. I hate driving in rain/various inclement weather, and I am not going to try and drive thru the central valley, to the desert, if the weather is foul.

So i went for a short drive to see Jack’s place, in Glen Ellen, Sonoma county.

It was marvelously well done to begin with, and has been scrupulously maintained.

 Jack London was as you probably know a very famous author. but he was also and traveler, explorer, in time when doing such was much more dangerous than it is now. And also a social activist of sorts.


John GriffithJackLondon (born John Griffith Chaney,[1] January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916)[2][3][4][5] was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone.[6] Some of his most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories “To Build a Fire“, “An Odyssey of the North”, and “Love of Life”. He also wrote of the South Pacific in such stories as “The Pearls of Parlay” and “The Heathen”, and of the San Francisco Bay area in The Sea Wolf.

London was a passionate advocate of unionization, socialism, and the rights of workers. He wrote several powerful works dealing with these topics, such as his dystopian novel The Iron Heel, his non-fiction exposé The People of the Abyss, and The War of the Classes.

When you first enter the ranch, a fenced-off garden of prickly pears.


Fierce as they look?… these suckers are edible!


The fruit of prickly pears, commonly called cactus fruit, cactus fig, Indian fig or tuna in Spanish, is edible, although it must be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before consumption. If the outer layer is not properly removed, glochids can be ingested, causing discomfort of the throat, lips, and tongue, as the small spines are easily lodged in the skin. Native Americans, like the Tequesta, would roll the fruit around in a suitable medium (e.g. grit) to “sand” off the glochids. Alternatively, rotating the fruit in the flame of a campfire or torch has been used to remove the glochids. Today, parthenocarpic (seedless) cultivars are also available.

(Which could easily lead to another topic entirely –  how many of our drugs….. come from plants? It is a long list.) 



As i remember it, the left turn onto London Ranch Road was pretty easy to miss, have sharp eyes.

So here’s a wee bit of what there is to see:

home-cottageJack’s cottage






A Koi Pond… and some tools in the stone barn.




Before GPS, this is how we found our way.



Another place I have visited, though it is quite a drive from Jack’s place is this one, Fort Ross S.H.P.

State historical parks can be very interesting, if you hadn’t already figured that out.


Nearest city – Jenner, Ca.

The drive north from Jenner is one of those California coastal roads that makes anyone very shaky in the knees – it is just two lanes of constant switch backs, no guard rails – if your heart isn’t in your throat? Then you are…. probably senseless.




So as a secondary/addition to this blog about road trips, what do I do in the darkroom with the B&W film negatives I take? This is after all the main reason I ‘hit the road (Jack)’. 

Here’s what i do:

Here’s the film i shot of the huge oak tree, pentax 6×7, 55mm lense.


I turned the huge oak at Jack’s place into something completely different.



And i did much the same to this scene, the koi pond:


If you are into photography, here’s where to learn more:


here’s another, from Ross SHP:


The Ross SHP shot is at the bottom ( a schoolroom, or maybe a church? of some sort), the fractured dome is in the Marin Headlands, just north of SF CA.

And here’s what i did with some of the digital pix:




A good link, and thought, to take in:

“Reclaiming the Age-Old Art of Getting Lost”


I’ve gotten lost more than once, taken the road less traveled, just for the hell of it.

Toss that GPS out the window, walk on the wild side.

Long before there was GPS, or the line ‘walk on the wild side’ was written ( and i have twisted it’s meaning, it’s a line that could be interpreted many ways, isn’t it?) my dad was one for road trips.

My dad wasn’t much for maps, he thought he could figure it out just fine, and he always did. We always got there, and we never slept in the car.

Once we went to Canada from home in Maine (this was in the ’50’s before there were any interstate hiways) and we took the back roads, heading north west. We managed to drive to Canada… without ever passing any customs station! – all of a sudden all the signs were in French, we knew we were there. On the northern borders of Vermont NH and Maine, there weren’t many borders back then, I’ll betcha it’s still the same now.

Or not far from it. 

Anyone reading wants to disagree? – “talk to me”. Operators are standing by, 24/7/365 😉

Enough for now.

Be back again in a month.

Until then? get lost, but not too lost.