Sunday, February 05, 2006

Never too cold to surf in California! Posted by Picasa

Hundreds of Snowy Plovers were at the mouth of Devereux Slough in Goleta Ca. for the winter-smart birds! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 04, 2006

La Tolteca in Phoenix (1205 E.Van Buren St.)was one of the better Mexican food restaurants I ate at. The tacos were great (although I wished they used two tortillas instead of one). Few gringos here at lunch (think authentic, whatever that means) and has a warm friendly atmosphere. Prices very reasonable.
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Dead Fish in Phoenix Canal. Arizona, sprawling Phoenix in particular, has a canal fetish. Here in a downtown portion of the Salt River Canal is a bunch of dying fish. Most of them are grass carp, stocked by the Salt River Project (SRP) to munch on aquatic weeds to help keep the canals clean. The canals are drained annually for maintennance and cleaning. Despite SRPs attempts to save fish, some inevitably die. Seems like a waste to me. There's a grocery store in the Chinese Cultural Center that sells live carp, along with live eels, crabs, frogs and other species of fish. Thats a lot of meals going to waste in this ditch! Posted by Picasa

Saquaro cactus, the quintessential symbol of the Southwest and Sonoran Desert. Posted by Picasa

Saguaros are cool! Posted by Picasa

Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. Posted by Picasa

Winter Hiatus

Looks like the blog novelty wore off pretty quick. Who really does have time, for this? I spent much of January in warmer climates: Phoenix Az. for 1 week, and Southern California (Santa Barbara area) for two. Weather in both places was fantastic. Az was a work trip but managed some recreation and a little bit of birding on a weekend. Did some hiking in the Lost Dutchman Mts. and some birding there and around Phoenix, mainly the botanical. The AZ bird list wasn't great, 41 species, nothing unusual, although I added two lifers, not saying much since I've only been to AZ once before. Was stuck in Seattle for a night due to the Augustine Volcano going off and cancelling my flight to Anchortown. THANKS DAD and PAM for getting me!!

California (1/17 to 1/31) was awesome, beautiful blue sunny warm skies the whole time. This was R&R, and my girlfriend for life, Susie, traveled with. Took a side trip to Monterrey via Hwy 1 then headed back south on 101 after squeezing (literally) a hike in at Pinnacles (West Side). Stopped for some wine tasting around Paso Robles (Tablas Creek, Wild Horse, Mastantuano, Norman), spent the night in a dumpy motel (Economy Inn -dont't go there).

What made up for the hotel though was the Thai restaurant Basil-excellent food and service!! Then went over to beautiful Morro Bay and woke up to the only day of rain. Much better hotel choices in Morro, we splurged on the Ascot Suites ($99), which included yet more free wine, jacuzzi tub, decent continental breakfast, very nice rooms. Ate at Sabetta's and had a pretty good pizza. Stopped in Santa Ynez area for some more tasting (Rusack, Morovino) and headed back to Carpinteria, where my mom lives (still, thanks Mom!) and I spent most of my younger years, graduated from high school, etc. Little bit better birding in CA, 126 species for the trip, although I have to admit, we did not bird like crazies and go after ever single possible rarity in the area, and missed some real easy ones. Our biggest day was pretty close to 70 - again not trying extemely hard. I like sitting in the sun on the beach (hardly anyone there but surfers cause its too cold) and saying "oh, hey, there goes a royal tern" or "there's a long-billed curlew. Sun sure feels nice!"
Party got over real quick, came back to Alaska and zero degree weather, which sooned turned to below zero for a couple of days. Suppose to warm up to teens for Super Bowl Sunday. oh boy, Go Seahawks. Funny thing both trips I stopped in SeaTac to change planes, both times dumping rain. Well not so funny if you live there. Its all relative. Cold and snow in AK, Rain in WA, sunny and warm in CA, sunnier AND warmer in AZ. Relative.