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 […]

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 […]

 

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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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. […]

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 […]

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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 […]

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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