Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I have been sidetracked by an "article" that I am writing that I plan to submit to a local newspaper, maybe the Sacramento Bee or the San Francisco Chronicle. It's all about the skies that I have photographed since we moved here in 2010. We have seen more stunning sights looking skyward than I could have ever possibly imagined. The skies here have compelled me to find sites like Atmospheric Optics and The Cloud Appreciation Society just to be able to identify what the heck we're looking at.

Last week I sent this photo to Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics. I am utterly embarrassed to admit that I didn't recognize that silly lens reflection in the photo. I was just so surprised to find that blue dot in two photos out of many I shot that day. I chalked up my enthusiasm to a week of meteors and asteroids, so I was overly influenced by the moment. What Mr. Cowley saw, though, was a "faint upper tangent arc halo" and a "22 degree circular halo."  I was so relieved that he found something of merit. I thought it was an interesting sky, I just didn't know why.

I'm learning, and I'm sharing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Road Trip Retrospective

We drove a thousand miles in four days. We're not as young as we once were, when racking up those kind of miles was easy. By the time we got home on Saturday, we were bone-tired exhausted. It's a good thing we absolutely love these miles and that California is as beautiful as ever in the late winter early spring.

Our timing could not have been better for the trip. We had been watching the weather forecasts and waiting for mild temps and clear skies. When we got to Capitola, it was 70 degrees and the tide was low. We headed out for a walk along the shoreline that is only accessible during very low tides. It's our favorite fossil walk. On this day we saw fossils we hadn't seen before and this wonderful little bouncy Spotted Sandpiper.

We spent the first night in Capitola and then headed out in the morning, 350 miles south to Thousand Oaks. We have favorite spots along this familiar journey. We love to stop at the rest area just north of Paso Robles. It's there we know we're going to see the Yellow-billed Magpie. They have a very narrow range in California, and they exist nowhere else in the world. They are a reliable sight at this particular rest-stop, so, we sip our tea and munch on toast, while we watch them.

The road south hugs the coast for a while and then heads a bit inland running parallel to the Los Padres National Forest. I'm always hoping I'll catch a glimpse of a condor on one of these trips, but it hasn't happened yet. That doesn't stop me from shouting "condor" every time I see a turkey vulture, which if you know California skies is all the time! The hillsides are a dazzling yellow these days, covered in blooming mustard. Even the median strips have the first lupines of the season. We love these rocky peaks in the mountains just north of Santa Barbara. There are nearly two million acres of national forest just east of the highway, and more than 80% of it is public lands. It is thrilling to know how far the wildness spreads out from here.

The purpose of the journey was to spend two days with my mom. She has been living in the assisted-living facility since July, and in many ways it has enriched her life. She's in a reading group. She plays Mah Jongg. She has made new friends and never eats alone anymore. All good, all good. My mother is a remarkable 87-year old. She has incredible presence. She is engaged with the world. She reads a newspaper everyday and never turns the TV on. She is an amazing role model, and I feel lucky. We are glad to have made the trip, even if it did kick our aging butts!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Snowy Egret

Hunting the surf in Monterey Bay. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013