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 […]

Go North Young Pup
By Chuck Graham   |   March 29, 2022

They were a long way from home – a long way from the “Great North” – those distant, pelagic habitats northern fur seals thrive in. Strong ocean currents had firmly gripped these three beleaguered pups that were now seven months old. Malnourished and fatigued, they were discovered by beachgoers on Los Angeles County beaches. Now […]

 

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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 […]

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 […]

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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 […]

Playing with Patches
By Chuck Graham   |   December 21, 2021

It was quite similar to many other channel crossings: overcast skies and silky-smooth sea conditions seemingly stretching from the coast to the Channel Islands National Park. It was also ideal for spotting wildlife on the Santa Barbara Channel. Common dolphins are almost a guarantee, pods numbering in the thousands seen splashing for hundreds of yards […]

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Eating Italy My Roman Holiday: Part Two
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 21, 2021

My first morning in Rome began with some much-appreciated exercise, as I was aching to hit the ground running. A person can run — or walk briskly as I did — with stops at historic sites on a special tour arranged by the dream team of concierges at my hotel Sofitel Villa Borghese. Along with […]

My Roman Holiday
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 14, 2021

Rome, I barely know thee. I visited you briefly in the 1980s on a whirlwind trip through Italy on my first European travel writing assignment and carry a few impressions in my memory bank. Now, along with legions of visitors over the centuries, I too have fallen in love with Roma, la citta bella, one […]

Keeping the Wild in the Wilderness
By Chuck Graham   |   December 14, 2021

I had to admit it. I was lost and feeling a little vulnerable, the grandeur of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the largest refuge in North America, was swallowing me whole. Located in northeastern Alaska, the braiding Canning River was a maze of channels that separated me from the rest of my group. I had […]

Knee Deep
By Chuck Graham   |   November 23, 2021

We walked gingerly across a teeming mudflat on a minus tide within Elkhorn Slough, located in Moss Landing and within Monterey Bay. As we glopped along the muddy banks of the slough, legions of line shore crabs scrambled into the shadows dramatically baring their pinchers in self-defense. The eel grass was exposed and laid across […]

Forces of Nature
By Chuck Graham   |   November 16, 2021

Strolling down Scorpion Canyon to the cobble beach, I was keen to see lightning strikes across the Santa Barbara Channel. From the southeast fringe of Santa Cruz Island, the beach was deserted with lightning strikes touching down around the largest isle off the California Coast. As dusk approached, the storm moved directly over Scorpion Canyon. […]

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