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 […]

On Foot and by Paddle
By Chuck Graham   |   October 5, 2021

Timing the surge of an incoming tide took me to the backend of the Morro Bay Estuary. Paddling my standup paddleboard, I glided effortlessly through serpentine-like channels choked in colorful pickleweed. Flanked by massive Morro Rock to the north, the rest of the seven sisters lied ahead, prominent rocky spires that fortify the backend of […]

 

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Let’s Get Away From It All: The Endless Summer in Laguna Beach
By Leslie Westbrook   |   October 5, 2021

“Let’s motor down to MiamiLet’s climb the Grand Canyon WallLet’s catch a tunaWay out in LagunaLet’s get away from it all”– Lyrics from “Let’s Get Away From It All” (music by Matt Dennis and lyrics by Tom Adair, published 1941) commonly associated with Frank Sinatra  One of my best female friends and I have traveled […]

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 […]

Staying Close to Home
By Chuck Graham   |   September 14, 2021

As my leg dangled off my kayak and into the ocean, I waited to see how curious this adult harbor seal really was. It had been circling the flotilla of kayaks, displaying curiosity mostly seen from their pups. Suddenly, the adult approached. It decided to use my heel for a scratch post. Back and forth […]

A New Leash on Life in Cambria
By Jerry Dunn   |   September 14, 2021

Like many of us as the Year of Plague subsides, my wife, Merry, and I were dying to take a trip somewhere . . . anywhere. But even vaccinated, we weren’t quite ready to board a 5,000-passenger cruise ship in Europe. A trip near home sounded pretty good, though. Baby steps. What’s more, like 23 […]

‘Mystery Bird’: Getting to Know the Ashy Storm Petrel
By Chuck Graham   |   September 7, 2021

It was 9:30 pm, and I was kayaking out to Scorpion Rock, a half-mile east of Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island. I was meeting up with several nocturnal seabird biologists finishing their last round of mist netting for 2021 of the secretive ashy storm petrels on the Channel Islands National Park. If I didn’t […]

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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 […]

Little Hooligans of the Veld
By Chuck Graham   |   June 24, 2021

She convulsed mightily standing watch on the fringe of her burrows. Her black milk ducts protruded through buff, tan fur as her belly full of rich milk warbled while she belted out a series of quavering trills warning her kits of potential danger. The watchful San Joaquin antelope ground squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni) guarded her territory […]

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Some Like it Hot! Water. Food. Sun. Art… Not Necessarily in That Order A travel dispatch from greater Palm Springs
By Leslie Westbrook   |   June 10, 2021

I recently fled the post-COVID couldn’t-wait-to-travel-again-May-gray blues for a five-day escape to the Coachella “sink.” It’s not really a valley (this is a misnomer), but a geological basin, I learned on a lively San Andreas Fault Red Jeep Tour.  I went to visit a few friends, have a little R&R with pool time, learn more […]

Spotted but Nary a Spotting
By Chuck Graham   |   June 3, 2021

The reflection from my headlamp glistened off the wet of its black button snout as we gazed into each other’s eyes under a star-filled night.  I felt the thumps on my picnic table that doubled as my bed at around 2 am on a windswept Santa Rosa Island. I had slept soundly until then, lulled […]

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 […]

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 […]

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