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 […]

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 […]

 

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Through and Through: One day through-hike from the coast to the Matilija Wilderness
By Chuck Graham   |   June 4, 2020

Straddling the coastal spine of the Transverse Range, I hiked (and sometimes ran) the sandstone sea serpent that rises and falls east to west all the way from the idyllic Gaviota Coast to the stunningly breathtaking Matilija Wilderness, a stone’s throw away from Carpinteria. The chaparral-choked Santa Ynez Mountains are one of the main gateways […]

Alcatraz
By Lynda Millner   |   April 2, 2020

I’ve been studying to be a docent at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and learning historical facts. I never knew that the building at the back part of the Courthouse with the turret on top was once our jail. The first floor held the sheriff’s offices (it still does), the second floor was for the […]

No Expectations
By Chuck Graham   |   January 16, 2020

It was nearly dark on the Carrizo Plain National Monument. I pulled up in my truck on a plateau of dry, crunchy grass overlooking the Temblor Range on the Elkhorn Plain in the southeast corner of the monument, coyotes yelping in unison in some nameless canyon. I was tired from five full days of guiding […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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 […]

Not Just the Valley Floor
By Chuck Graham   |   May 2, 2019

I think after midnight I gave up on those stiff, piercing, westerly winds lying down. It was blowing 50 mph and the temps were in the mid-20s on Wildrose Peak, but the views were easily worth every frigid gust the Mojave Desert had to offer. I decided not to bring a tent to Death Valley […]

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The Day the Island Shook
By Chuck Graham   |   May 31, 2018

It started out just like any other day that I lead a kayak tour on Santa Cruz Island; get folks dialed in with their paddling gear and a kayak briefing before launching them off the beach at Scorpion Anchorage. Spring time on the islands is a dual-edged sword; rolling green marine terraces, island wildflowers, and […]

High Plains Paddling
By Chuck Graham   |   April 5, 2018

Surely Clint Eastwood didn’t envision Mono Lake as a sublime paddling destination during the filming of the 1973 Western classic High Plains Drifter, but today that high-desert realm located in California’s Eastern Sierra is just that, with a few surprises along the way. I had heard you needed a permit to paddle the expanse of […]

Full Moon Fever
By Chuck Graham   |   March 22, 2018

I think I was suffering from anxiety. Wracking my brain trying to figure out where to position myself for that rare event of a super moon, blue/blood moon and lunar eclipse, a simultaneous solar systematical natural wonder that hadn’t occurred since 1866, I had to force myself to choose. I finally settled on the Carrizo […]