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 […]

Keeping the Wild in the Wilderness
By Chuck Graham   |   September 24, 2020

I had to admit it. I was lost and feeling a little meager, 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 […]

 

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Bugle Call
By Chuck Graham   |   August 27, 2020

The pea soup fog hung over Tomales Point at Point Reyes National Seashore like a wet, cold blanket in Northern California. We could hear the surf thundering below, but Holly Lohuis and I couldn’t determine how big the waves were, the fog concealing just about everything except the narrow, rolling route out to the wave-battered […]

Digging In
By Chuck Graham   |   August 20, 2020

The nameless dirt road turned out to be a nighttime buffet for a squadron of opportunistic burrowing owls. It was all about the crickets and grasshoppers, a menagerie of entomology living in the tall grasses and the cunning eight-inch-tall owls gobbling down as many as they could before taking a break. As I inched forward […]

The Nesting Ground
By Chuck Graham   |   August 6, 2020

The Santa Clara River Estuary was a graveyard of tattered driftwood, tangled kelp balls, a rotting sea lion carcass that was so putrid it could only attract a pair of turkey vultures. A high ceiling of overcast kept the early morning comfortably cool. The sand was coarse and gritty, perfect for breeding and nesting western […]

Fox and Friends
By Chuck Graham   |   July 30, 2020

The ears were a dead giveaway. As the morning sun warmed the grasslands of California’s Central Valley, it was the large, backlit ears of a San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) that caught my eye. Red blood vessels braiding like a red river lit up each of the fox’s ears, allowing the smallest canid […]

California’s Car Camping Possibilities
By Chuck Graham   |   July 2, 2020

It’s the mobile basecamp transporting you to hidden natural wonders, where time slows down and the only set schedule moves along on its own course. You’re just along for the ride because you chose to be there, making the drive with enough provisions to see you through on your car camping excursion. All you need […]

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Newtified
By Chuck Graham   |   June 18, 2020

The creeks were flowing, spilling over a configuration of cobble that snaked their way to the Santa Clara River. As water pooled up and calmed California newts (Taricha torosa) gathered, the only endemic salamander species in the Golden State. As I rock-hopped upstream, I found one of the orange-bellied newts out of the water, out […]

How to Be a Montanan: A Sojourn at the Ranch at Rock Creek
By Jerry Dunn   |   November 21, 2019

“If you ride a horse, shoot a gun, and go fishing,” locals told me, “you’re a Montanan!” Over the next few days, I hoped to earn my membership badge. My wife, Merry, and I had just arrived at the Ranch at Rock Creek in southwest Montana. Set along a mountain-fed stream amidst cottonwoods and evergreen […]

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Booby Bound on Santa Barbara Island
By Chuck Graham   |   October 3, 2019

I love surprises when Mother Earth serves them up. A few years ago when I kayaked from Santa Cruz Island to tiny Santa Barbara Island, at the end I just wanted the 42-mile slog to be finished. In 2015, at 8 pm on a crisp, cool October evening, all I wanted was to see the […]

The Sistine Chapel
By Lynda Millner   |   September 5, 2019

Part two of Lynda’s journey to Orange County with MClub.  Right now, there is even more to see at the Christ Cathedral campus –Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel exhibit. This traveling exhibition is on display at the Christ Cathedral Cultural Center. When I was in Rome in the 1960s the ceiling was 47 feet above my head […]

Sanded Down
By Chuck Graham   |   July 25, 2019

For an hour straight I’d been up to my knees in wind-groomed sand dunes, but finally my barefoot trek had reached an apex. To the north was the breathtakingly artistic Guadalupe – Nipomo Sand Dunes National Wildlife Refuge and to the south were the wave-battered cliffs at Point Sal, where currents never rest, swirling and […]

Gaviota Coast Conservancy
By Lynda Millner   |   July 11, 2019

Right in our own backyard sits one of the most beautiful and threatened biodiversity hotspots in the world, the Gaviota Coast. “We should never take this 72-mile long stretch of coast for granted,” said Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC) board member Phil McKenna. We were gathered at the Santa Barbara Club for another Lunch & Learn […]