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 […]

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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A-03 Has Arrived: Bald Eagles on the Channel Islands National Park
By Chuck Graham   |   August 12, 2021

The manic cacophony of western gulls was too frantic to pass up, diverting my attention span toward drama-filled blue skies as a keystone species buzzed a prominent, weather-beaten seabird rookery. As I kayaked toward the commotion, I soon realized I was in the presence of an apex predator wreaking havoc over Scorpion Rock near the […]

Escape to the North: A Look at What San Luis Obispo Has to Offer
By James Buckley   |   July 15, 2021

After having been locked up for more than a year, there is a real need among many Montecito residents to just get away — anywhere. The nice thing about choosing San Luis Obispo is that one needn’t go very far to feel very far away; it is a mere two hours by car, yet it […]

Ants In My Pants
By Chuck Graham   |   July 15, 2021

It was nearly dark when I arrived on a lonely dirt road within the Carrizo Plain National Monument. I pulled off behind a cluster of salt bush, grabbed my binoculars and scanned the immediate region in fading light. About 100 yards to the east, I saw two rambunctious San Joaquin kit fox pups garnering attention […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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 […]

The Beat Goes On
By Chuck Graham   |   February 25, 2021

Resting easy in my tent, headlamp burning bright, I was putting pen to paper when I heard giant kangaroo rats (GKRs) communicating with one another throughout a star-filled night. From one grassland burrow to the next, the drum of their oversized feet tapped the ground at a feverish pace, sending a message to other GKRs […]

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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 […]

High Plains Paddling
By Chuck Graham   |   December 10, 2020

The stoic gentleman at the Mono Lake visitor center studied me like a deputy sheriff during a roadside sobriety test. “You can die out there,” he said deadpan. “Folks paddle out there and they don’t come back. The winds come from out of nowhere and catch people off guard.” I did my damnedest to convince […]

Bears of the Sea
By Chuck Graham   |   December 3, 2020

I’d never been so popular before, as dozens of northern fur seal pups surrounded me while mugging my kayak with demonstrative splashes and harmless bumps into my boat in the dense kelp forests of Adams Cove on the western fringe of San Miguel Island. It was quite possible that these raucous eared fur seals – […]

My Wandering Pilgrim
By Chuck Graham   |   November 19, 2020

My early morning trail run up to Montanon Ridge on the southeast end of Santa Cruz Island was at a pace I wasn’t proud of. Cold, wet fog swirled over the volcanic isle. My joints ached but loosened with each stride above Potato Harbor, then Coche Point, and finally ascending above Chinese Harbor. Stunning seascapes […]

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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