Lots of Hugging
By Chuck Graham   |   January 17, 2023

We hugged the crumbly west cliff face of Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel Island with no expectations from the seat of our kayaks. From afar, we couldn’t see any wildlife, but we could clearly hear first-year northern elephant seals snorting and bellowing on distant pocket beaches concealed along the rocky shoreline. I was paddling with […]

The Pelagic Food Chain
By Chuck Graham   |   November 29, 2022

The weather window was tight. It was one day, and we took advantage of it, circumnavigating the 27 coastal miles of San Miguel Island, the most northwesterly isle in the Channel Islands National Park. After several solo circumnavigations of this wave-battered, teeming islet, I was gratefully joined by four kayak guides who I work with […]

 

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More from Montecito

Island Day Spa
By Chuck Graham   |   November 22, 2022

It’s just one of so many countless hidden nooks and crannies carved out over time by volcanic upheaval, the surf, and weather along the craggy coastlines of the Channel Islands National Park. Most of these concealed, volcanic alcoves, corridors, and toothy grottos are only accessible by kayak. Going on foot or even by boat won’t […]

Feigning Injury
By Chuck Graham   |   November 8, 2022

Down on the Carpinteria State Beach, between the mouth of the Carpinteria Creek and southeast of the Tarpits, a nesting colony of western snowy plovers continues to grow on the popular summertime beach. Nesting season is March 15 to September 15, and in 2021, the first successful western snowy plover nest since 1960 saw three […]

A Sonoma Sojourn to Healdsburg and the Marvelous Montage
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 1, 2022

My fall trip to Northern California wine country was designed to spend a few nights during the tail end of harvest season in Sonoma. This included checking out the recently opened Montage Healdsburg resort, a stunning and tranquil retreat set on 258 acres of heritage oak forest, also dotted with manzanita and madrone trees. Vineyards […]

Fall Back; Travel Forward
By Leslie Westbrook   |   October 25, 2022

I rarely travel in the summer: too many tourists and, as the summer of 2022 proved, oodles of delayed flights, piles of lost luggage, and cases of COVID contracted. Plenty of friends can vouch for these annoyances, including Rachel Kaganoff Stern and her sister Tessa Kaganoff, who were separated from their luggage in London for […]

Island Refuge
By Chuck Graham   |   October 11, 2022

The translucent, salty ocean droplets rolled off its velvety sheen feathers, glistening like crystal clear marbles as it streamed off the back of a wayward Pacific Loon. It was early summer 2022. Typically, not a time to catch a glimpse of a seabird that should’ve been well north, maybe even as far north as Alaska […]

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  • Humboldt Canyon
    By Chuck Graham   |   August 30, 2022

    It’s a secretive side canyon cloaked in unique island and California flora on the southeast fringe of Santa Cruz Island. However, this narrow, craggy draw needs to wait for the month of May to arrive before one can truly soak in all its island splendor. Over the years it’s proven to be one of the […]

    San Francisco or Bust! Travel life in the fast lane…
    By Leslie Westbrook   |   July 12, 2022

    My weekend trip to San Francisco began with a bang. I was bopping along in the fast lane of the 101, when just north of Gilroy and south of Morgan Hill, I heard a loud “clank” at the front left of my car. A few light, rain-filled moments later, I realized I had blown a […]

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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 […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

    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. […]

    Thumbs Up
    By Chuck Graham   |   April 5, 2022

    After backpacking out of the Sierra Madre Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest, myself and two others hiked out to Hwy 166 to walk and hitchhike to our next water cache 15 miles to the west. It would require brushing up alongside speeding semitrucks, sleepy cows, the arid Cuyama Valley, all the while knowing […]

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