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 […]

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 – […]

 

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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 […]

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 […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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