Bitter Creek Chronicles: California Condors Put on a Show
By Chuck Graham   |   September 21, 2021

There wasn’t much going on at the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge (NWF). I was laying in the grassy, rolling hills of this California Condor sanctuary, and I was waiting for something to stir. It was mid-afternoon and thermal updrafts were just beginning to waft skyward when a solitary condor rose above the refuge like […]

Two Days Tucked Away in Heavenly Santa Ynez Valley
By Leslie Westbrook   |   August 12, 2021

I’m swaying in a heavenly hammock on the porch of an absolutely charming room (#18 of 18 guestrooms) with views of the creatively landscaped central courtyard at the Hotel Ynez and life is good. Located just off Highway 246, in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, and nestled between Solvang and Santa Ynez, this […]

 

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A-03 Has Arrived: Bald Eagles on the Channel Islands National Park
By Chuck Graham   |   August 12, 2021

The manic cacophony of western gulls was too frantic to pass up, diverting my attention span toward drama-filled blue skies as a keystone species buzzed a prominent, weather-beaten seabird rookery. As I kayaked toward the commotion, I soon realized I was in the presence of an apex predator wreaking havoc over Scorpion Rock near the […]

On The Road Again
By James Buckley   |   August 5, 2021

I’m in Paris. And I arrived as soon as I could.  Yes, masks are required everywhere at the airport, but once inside the lounge and sitting at one’s own table, off comes the mask and in goes the American-style breakfast, excellent espresso coffee, and a glass of champagne to celebrate the start of a long […]

Feeding Curiosity: Wilderness Youth Project Utilizes Nature to Educate
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 22, 2021

I wasn’t much of a hiker before the pandemic. But being cooped up inside for days and weeks on end, with no opportunities for dancing of beach volleyball, finally spurred me to put fears of poison oak and chiggers out of my mind to brave the San Marcos Foothills Preserve. Pretty soon that became a […]

Escape to the North: A Look at What San Luis Obispo Has to Offer
By James Buckley   |   July 15, 2021

After having been locked up for more than a year, there is a real need among many Montecito residents to just get away — anywhere. The nice thing about choosing San Luis Obispo is that one needn’t go very far to feel very far away; it is a mere two hours by car, yet it […]

Ants In My Pants
By Chuck Graham   |   July 15, 2021

It was nearly dark when I arrived on a lonely dirt road within the Carrizo Plain National Monument. I pulled off behind a cluster of salt bush, grabbed my binoculars and scanned the immediate region in fading light. About 100 yards to the east, I saw two rambunctious San Joaquin kit fox pups garnering attention […]

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Rattlesnakes Rearing Their Heads; SBWCN Has Some Tips
By Nick Masuda   |   July 1, 2021

It wasn’t a message that any neighbor wants to see on the NextDoor app: “Rattlesnakes Galore. We found FOUR RATTLESNAKES on our property TODAY! My nerves are shot!!! Also saw a bear last week. It’s a jungle out there, neighbors. Please keep a watchful eye out everywhere you step and be really careful with your […]

Taking the Long Road Home: A Vaccine Journey and the Road to Dominion A day trip to Santa Maria: encounters with the good, the bad, the ugly, and more on re-entering the human race.
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 27, 2021

My “first outside adventure” in a year (a trip to L.A. to visit my hermetically sealed mom on display for her 90th birthday doesn’t count) was on February 20, 2021.  My fellow community activist, board member, and civically minded neighbor John Nicoli texted me a message: “You still looking for a shot?” he wrote, “Available […]

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Worth Saving: Wetlands at Ormond Beach Need Our Love
By Chuck Graham   |   April 15, 2021

The perpetual northwest winds were up, grooming the exposed foredunes of a windswept Ormond Beach in southern Oxnard. The well-manicured dunes constantly shifted with the winds, buffering a sliver of coastal wetland still hanging on in Southern California. The wetlands at Ormond Beach are one of the last remaining coastal wetlands in the entire state. […]

Flash of Blue
By Chuck Graham   |   April 8, 2021

From my kayak I could hear the distinctly harsh shek-shek-shek of the island scrub jay, a songbird that has the smallest range of any bird in North America. As I paddled west along the tranquil northerly shore of Santa Cruz Island, my periphery caught a flash of blue through my 300mm lens streaking through a […]

The Beat Goes On
By Chuck Graham   |   February 25, 2021

Resting easy in my tent, headlamp burning bright, I was putting pen to paper when I heard giant kangaroo rats (GKRs) communicating with one another throughout a star-filled night. From one grassland burrow to the next, the drum of their oversized feet tapped the ground at a feverish pace, sending a message to other GKRs […]

Close Escape to Old California
By Chuck Graham   |   January 7, 2021

It was a trail run like no other. Three trail runners had returned from an early morning run beneath dewy, overcast skies, reporting a mountain lion sighting on the narrow single-track trail, the Coon Creek Trail of Montaña de Oro State Park, located just south of Morro Bay. The runners reported that the mountain lion […]

High Plains Paddling
By Chuck Graham   |   December 10, 2020

The stoic gentleman at the Mono Lake visitor center studied me like a deputy sheriff during a roadside sobriety test. “You can die out there,” he said deadpan. “Folks paddle out there and they don’t come back. The winds come from out of nowhere and catch people off guard.” I did my damnedest to convince […]

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