A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Fall Colors

Thank you to those who commented on yesterday's fall picture. Here is another shot at the same time out my front door.
The vineyards have yet to really turn color but they are getting there. They are late for some reason and like me, running out of time. I drove out Highway 12 towards Sonoma late yesterday afternoon and have a couple good locations picked out for some nice vineyard shots. Hopefully I can pull it off in the next week or so. Meanwhile, here are a couple vineyard photos from long ago near the Sonoma Mendocinco county line where we used to live. The pictures I took with a little point and shoot camera I had at the time. That camera had a low pixel count so the images don't look too sharp, at least to me, but they will have to do.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Running Out of Time

As of late, many of the blogs I follow the authors have been posting Fall Colors photos. Some started a month ago and now they are posting snow pictures. Egads! Well the trees out in front of my home just turned last week, so here is my contribution to Fall Colors. We're a bit behind here in Sonoma County.
Yeah, it is not of picture postcard quality but it will have to do. I stepped outside in between rain days, snapped a shot and allowed it to languish in my camera for days. I just don't seem to have much time lately or lack good use of my time. Doing this kitchen counter-top redo, fixing some items on one of the motorcycles that I think I'll sell, chasing a reappearing leak in the motor home, plus a host of other things, time is running out. Sinbad and I usually are on a road trip at this time of the year. Now in order to be back for the holiday season as we always do, days are numbered and time is running out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Scene Out of Dexter

Our world is in turmoil once again today. We are having a quartz (or granite, I'm never too sure) counter top installed in the kitchen today. All the tile work will be removed which creates a lot of dust, so it was advised we curtain off the area with plastic in order to keep the dust storm to other parts of the house to a minimum. Thus the Dexter reference.

If you are not familiar with Dexter, it is a TV series on the HBO network. Dexter is a forensic blood splatter analyst for the Miami metro police department's homicide division. Dexter moonlights on the side as a serial killer eliminating those undesirables of society who slip through the judicial system. He first prepares a room sealing it off with plastic before engaging in his craft of killing then dismembering the bad person he's selected.

My wife assures me this is the last big project to be done in our new home. I hope so.  If anything else of this magnitude comes up in the future Sinbad and I will just run away or perhaps a real Dexter scenario might happen.

Okay, it wasn't all that bad, not much of a mess, more of inconvenience than anything else. Yes, it does look and is much nicer than what was before. Although I undid all the plumbing which was requested before installation, I am getting wiser in my advanced years. I have no romantic notions of putting it all back together. We're having someone reconnect and re-do the necessary plumbing work and recondition the drywall where the tile once was. I've got better things to do with my time. But hey, the best of thing of all is the wife is VERY HAPPY, and a happy wife makes for a happy life. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I've been neglecting my good buddy in my posts while here at home. He just turned ten years old recently. I have had cats all my life and loved them all. They have all come into my life one way or another where I give them a good home. By far though, Sinbad is the most unique of all of them. He is the only cat I actively went out and adopted, and that was through an act to relieve the pain of an untimely loss of my previous cat Pink. When we first met at the rescue center ten years ago, he came to me, I held him in my arms and he licked away the tears on my cheeks. From then on we've been inseparable. I vowed 'no more indoor/outdoor cats' after Pink's death and Sinbad has been all the better for it living life indoors. He will lie out on the table in our patio with me watching the birds, never giving much thought in going after them. If he shows any interest all I have to say is a soft "no" and he minds. Now if a squirrel comes by, that is a different story. I have to put him back in the house. He travels with me all the time. At camps I allow him out on a long line and harness. We go for walks in the desert evenings, him on a leash, and he enjoys tracking down all the sights and sounds that are invisible to me. Places with a wide open expanse like dry lakes in the photo above, he is free to wander as there is no place for him to wander off to. He always stays near the motorhome, near me. He is one happy cat as long as he knows where I am, and I can say the same thing also for myself with him.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Our daughter teaches biology and related subjects at Chico State College. She is an avid birder and pre-warned us for our visit. Seemed that a bird not known for our side of the Pacific was spotted nearby. The bird was a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and normally at this time of the year they are in southeast Asia, like Vietnam. This fellow took a wrong turn evidently. Anyway she wondered if we were up for an expedition to seek out the bird. Sure. Twitching, or a twitcher, is a British term among birders for one "who frequently travels long distances on short notice to see rare birds". We were going to be twitchers for a day. She said we could be of great help as  "We could use the extra eyes on this one!" Right.

Up early
fill up with gas...in a hurry,

and make sure the windshield is clean for there will be extensive windshield ornithology along the way.

We arrive at the marshland wetland preserve and begin looking for a sandpiper

 that does not look like this,
nor this,
or this either...wait, this is a Killdeer.

After about 3 hours of fruitless searching along with a dozen or more other birders, we break for lunch. The mood is grim. Birders are a strange lot. After lunch it is decided to go back and give it another go for an hour or so. We return and there are birders all over looking for this one solitary bird and he's been spotted. The tension is high as if you are one number away from a bingo. The guy in the shorts to the right is the one who spotted the bird a week earlier. Here he is off down the road a few hundred yards informing some other birders where they can see it.
It is spotted once again, spotting scopes swing into action, and subdued jubilation is abundant with silent high fives all around. I look through a scope and yes, he is different from all the thousands of other sandpipers littering the marsh but no way would my wife nor I have picked him out of the crowd. Then he flew. I went to get my 400mm lens, the bird is spotted again, but this time 50 yards away, among tall grasses, down behind a low rise. Here he is
Can't see him? Here's a another shot.
Oh yeah, he's there, popping his head up every once in awhile. It's okay, I never saw him there either but one poor bloke had to settle for this as his only sighting of the rare Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

We were back in Chico in the very late afternoon and I was twiched out. But a spot of tea brought me around and I was ready for another twitching expedition...next year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Million in One Shot

On our weekend visit we went along on a bird expedition. More on that later. While out in the marsh I was goofing around with my 400mm lens, more on that later also. I snapped a hand-held shot of my wife, something she hates me doing. It wasn't till we got home and I downloaded all my images for the weekend did I discover what I had actually captured in that shot.

This is not photoshopped in any way except for an instant fix to improve color.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We're Back

We are home from our visit in Chico, a three and a half hour drive north of us here in Northern California. The area around Chico is so different from ours here in Sonoma County. It is another whole culture and lifestyle; hard to believe you are in the same state let alone country. The terrain is flatland agriculture and you are always smacked in the face with the inhabitant's political and religious views no matter where you are. I won't comment on that except to say they're strange lot. But my daughter likes it there and she'll make it clear she's not one of them. Whew!

I could go with the chicken but think I'll pass on the bar-b-qued Orland Eagle.

Here I would be reluctant to have someone service my air conditioning whose spelling skills are a bit off.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Incident in the Park

Gimme, gimme. Hand it over.

You tellin' me "No"?

Okay fellas, get him!

The suspects fled

and the investigation continues.

Yeah, I am hurting for material as you can see. We are leaving for the weekend, going north to visit our daughter. Hopefully I will come back with some new photos and maybe a story or two to tell. Check back next week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Miss N. D. Pendent

This little girl wasn't interested in what her mother or brother were doing.
She wanted to explore on her own.

Monday, October 11, 2010

94 Pictures

That is what I took on an outing to the coast this weekend.
Good thing digital camera pictures are free.
For sure this little girl's pictures came out better.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yucky Water

The three lakes and swimming lagoon at the nearby parks are undergoing an algae bloom. The swimming lagoon is closed and the three lakes are posted with warnings about the blue-green algae present. The visitor is cautioned against drinking the water or getting any in your mouth. "Thoroughly rinse off your dog or children after swimming in the water." The notices also add to clean fish completely and "do not eat their entrails." People do that?
To me the water looked to contain more than just blue-green algae in creating these colorful patterns.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lenticular Cloud

This shot was taken four years ago as I was coming down out of the Bristlecone Pine Forest high up in the White Mountains of California. It was late in the afternoon and the mountain range in the photo is of the eastern side of the High Sierra mountains. This is one of my favorite areas in the state.

I was going to describe what a lenticular cloud is but reading about them was too confusing to me. Good that I never wanted to be a weatherman. All I can say is they always form over a high mountain or range of mountains. Something to do about moist air rising, condensing and the winds in the high atmosphere create the shape. Although they appear to stay in place for long periods of time, they are actually dissolving on the trailing edge and reforming with new moist air on the leading front. Many times people mistake them for a flying saucer. Umm..okay.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Captain Drift

The Captain is just one of the many characters we've come to know over the years at Burning Man. He is another example of many serendipitous meetings you have within the thousands of people at the event. As you can probably imagine he is quite interesting to visit with. He's never at a loss for words. If you offer him something to eat or drink, he will insist on entertaining you with some form of music first. He usually has his horn with him while traveling through the city. In his travel case is an assortment of homemade mutes for the horn. He also plays a kazoo, harmonica and the little device hanging from his neck.

Last week my wife gave me a Photoshop program to install in my laptop. The other day she sat down with me for a 30 minute tutorial on some of it's features. So this here is my first effort at using the program. I blurred out the background which I felt kind of added to the Captain's persona.

Gee, one sure can burn up a lot of time with Photoshop.

(later) My wife informs me I don't have Photoshop, I have Photoshop Elements. Evidently there is a big difference (read big bucks). Okay so I have Photoshop Elements. It's more than I can use.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


In Amboy, California on historic Route 66 you will find Roy's. Roy's been a feature in many movies when the setting of a lonely desert gas station was needed. Built in 1938 Roy's served all the traveler's needs up till the early 1970's when Interstate 40 was completed and bypassed the town of Amboy. From then on things slowly fell into disrepair and abandonment leaving it to the mercy of vandals. In 2005 a businessman bought the entire town for $425,000 and slowly began to restore Roy's with the 1950's look it once had. In January 2008 Roy's was once again in business even though the rest of the town, which at one time had 800 residents, remains a ghost town. I happened to roll through there 3 months afterwards not knowing of it's resurrection.

The motel rooms were in the process of being fixed up and by now I would guess ready to rent. Might be a bit spooky in the middle of the night of a lonely deserted ghost town of the Mojave Desert. What do you think?
These were the prices in 2008 when gas prices went ballistic. It wouldn't be to bad filling up a motorcycle but a car or RV is another matter. This is a favorite route for motorcyclists. Much better than riding the Interstate with all of it's big rigs and crazy motorists racing to Las Vegas.
Further east down Route 66 lies another abandoned traveller's retreat. I doubt we will ever see it come back to life. We can only imagine how it was to stop here in the 50's after hours of driving across the hot dry Mojave desert. How refreshing a thick chocolate malt would be, the taste of a big fat juicy hamburger, relaxing in the cool air of the resturant's swamp cooler. It would be difficult to step back out into the baking oven-like air and continue on with your journey to wherever it may be. Remember to check the radiator.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hey, I could use this

An electric powered mountain bike.
Actually I think the bike was designed as an all-purpose type of bicycle equally at home on city streets or trail. Whatever the case may be, there it was several miles into Annadel Park locked to the post by the lake. I know the rough grade the bike had to conquer in order to reach this spot. I wonder if it was able to do so on battery power alone or the rider assisted with pedal action. No one was around except for this fisherman in a nearby cove of the lake.
How he gets his inflatable floating fishing thingy there is another matter. There was an empty backpack secured to the bike so maybe it deflates down to where he can pack it away. Then consider packing in his pole and fishing gear...such dedication to his pastime.

The last few days I've ridden my bike into the park I've seen all types of animal action. A doe and it's fawn no more than 10 feet from me. A three pointer buck and a coyote having a stand-off less than 200 feet away. Five Turkey Vultures perched in a dead tree15 feet directly overhead keeping an eye on a fresh smelly carcass nearby. So yesterday I pack my SLR and hiked in to the park and see...nothing, naturally.

So here are three yellow jackets feeding on something I could not make out what it was and I wasn't about to disturb them any to investigate it either.

Don't suggest I take my camera with me while on the mountain bike. I know I will crash just because I have it with me. Leave the camera home. I will see more animals while hiking and not crash any while biking.
Works great. 

Friday, October 1, 2010


I like reptiles. Many people do not. When a little boy I dreamed of growing up and being an expert on snakes. I asked my grandmother what that is called. "A herpetologist" she told me. Naturally being a little boy, the next time I stayed with my grandparents I wanted to be something different but grandma always had a name for it when I asked - archaeologist, paleontologist, zoologist. The one time I wanted to work in a zoo she just said zookeeper. "I would think that would be a zoologist grandma." Well I became none of those dreams so in place of that I just take pictures of the reptiles I find during my outings. Here are a few.
No Rattlesnakes. I only have print photos of them. No digital shots.
Same breed of snake but one in Death Valley and the other in Anza Borrego

This Chuckwalla was not cooperative in having his photo taken.