Cypress Junction
By Chuck Graham   |   August 9, 2022

First, it was their undeniable kyeer, kyeer. Then a blur of red and orange instantly diverted me toward their lofty refuge, 30 feet up the sturdy trunk of a Monterey cypress. Swooping to and from, the pair of northern flickers worked at a feverish pace readying their nest for their impending brood. This cypress stands […]

Meanwhile, back to Rancho Valencia…
By Leslie Westbrook   |   June 28, 2022

While the world was going to hell in a handbasket, I escaped to Rancho Santa Fe, a sort of Montecito for the horsey set, for a couple of glorious nights at lovely Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, a Spanish-Colonial hacienda style resort set on 45 acres in north San Diego County that’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive […]

 

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An Island Fox Took My Spoon
By Chuck Graham   |   June 21, 2022

That bowl of oats is almost a daily ritual at this stage of life. Organic oats, organic granola, organic honey, and berries; blue, black and raspberries, plus a ripe banana along with some creamy hemp milk will suffice, rain, shine, fog or northwest winds. When the island foxes are around, they tilt their heads upwards […]

Mining Memories in Nevada City
By Leslie Westbrook   |   June 7, 2022

It’s an eight-hour trek by car from our parts to Nevada City, but if you love history, historic hotels with a hip edge, and mountain scenery, it’s worth the miles. Located approximately 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, Nevada City was once a booming mining town – and they play off their past. A recently restored […]

Harboring Docility
By Chuck Graham   |   May 31, 2022

In 1979, I was a young teen and very green in the ways of animal behavior. I was surfing out front of my home in Carpinteria. It was wintertime and the beach was deserted under cloudy skies. I was the only one surfing that cold, crisp overcast morning. It wasn’t long before I heard a […]

Hitting the Mother Lode: A Road Trip to Historic Gold Country
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 24, 2022

It took me a while to get there. My destination? Grass Valley and Nevada City. I’d never been to either one and I was not only curious about the two towns, but also two historic hotels. One of Santa Barbara’s well-known restauranteurs, Sherry Villanueva, of Acme Hospitality Group (Santa Barbara’s The Lark, La Paloma, Helena […]

The Commute
By Chuck Graham   |   May 10, 2022

I can look at all the local weather reports, scour all the weather apps, but when I’m standing on the shoreline and gazing across the channel with my binoculars, I trust my judgement more than anything to complete a successful channel crossing across the unpredictable Santa Barbara Channel. On March 8, 2022, sea conditions looked […]

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Families in Paradise: “Are we there yet?”
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 3, 2022

How can you — or your kids — not be happy when the GPS navigational voice instructs: “Make a left on Vacation Road.” Especially after that relentless, age-old question: “Are we there yet?” Even a high school friend of mine’s face lit up when I told him I was heading to San Diego’s Paradise Point. […]

South of the Border, Down Baja Sur Way
By Leslie Westbrook   |   March 29, 2022

La Paz, Baja California Sur, México. Sometimes, just getting to your travel destination and safely back home is good enough. But when you return and can brag about snorkeling with the biggest fish in the world, which have 300 rows of teeth and don’t eat humans, that’s something. Whale sharks (which are neither whales nor […]

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High Desert Realm, the Arid Splendor of Joshua Tree National Park
By Chuck Graham   |   March 15, 2022

It sounded like loud cannon blasts hidden away, echoing ahead in massive clusters of boulders somewhere in Joshua Tree National Park.  I scrambled up into the direction of those deafening booms, a natural cathedral of granite spires, cliffs, and rock concealing two desert bighorn sheep rams in predawn light. They were in the rut battling […]

Going SLO in Spring
By Leslie Westbrook   |   March 1, 2022

Rome, Italy. Postponed.  Las Vegas, Nevada. Posponed.  Loreto, Baja, Mexico. Posponed. Spring 2020 — this was my dilemma (as a longtime travel writer with several assignments in place), when a nasty little virus called COVD-19 began wreaking havoc with the world. It was a year the world remembers well – and not particularly affectionately. Italy, […]

The Other Islands
By Chuck Graham   |   March 1, 2022

The northwest swell was heaving into the northern fringe of Prince Island, a half mile off San Miguel Island in the Northern Channel Islands chain. Eleven species of seabirds use Prince Island for breeding and nesting habitat. One of those species, the common murre, had returned to Prince Island after a 100-year absence, egg collecting […]

Taking the Plunge
By Chuck Graham   |   March 1, 2022

While kayaking and circumnavigating the Salton Sea’s 110 miles of coastline in California’s southeastern corner, the winter climes were a mild 75 degrees, and the salty waters were beyond silky smooth.  It was so clear I could see a massive flock of American white pelicans two miles off in the distance resting peacefully on the […]

Migrant Trap
By Chuck Graham   |   January 18, 2022

I was sitting patiently on a hillside within Scorpion Canyon on Santa Cruz Island, the most biodiverse isle in the Channel Islands National Park. It was mid-morning, and all was quiet in early November 2021. It was dry and warm, and the deer flies were having their way with me, as I overlooked a fruitful […]

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