A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Flea Market & Wikipedia

As I typed in "Flea Market" I wondered for the umpteenth time why do they call them flea markets? When a young lad I knew them as "Swap Meets". So I took the time to Google it and went to Wikipedia as I so often do to educate myself. You can click on that Wikepedia word over there to find out about flea markets and when you do, consider giving Wikipedia a donation to help keep them up and running and most of all advertising free!

Here is a couple of the more interesting things spotted this time at my local flea market:

I don't know if these little creatures are from some current popular movie, TV show or cartoon (and I am not Googling it to find out either) but they did stop me in my tracks.

Now if I were a girl...you betcha I would!

Those were the days you had to know proper spelling, punctuation and grammar.
(Now see, I've got real stupid since computers for I had misspelled 5 words in this post including the word misspelled!) 
No computer to do the thinking for you.
No accidentally hitting a delete button or a system crash and losing everything you wrote either.

This guy's spot, I really had to hold myself back from making a purchase. He had a cardboard box filled with items wrapped in old newspaper. I started unwrapping things and all were old medicine, elixir, and whiskey bottles from the 1800's. Even a Chinese opium bottle (I already have one). I asked if he was aware of what was in there for most all of his junk was like what you would get from buying unclaimed lots from a storage unit. He was and said "You can take the entire box. Make me an offer." Based on what he was selling things for I probably could have had it for $20 or $30. One bottle alone would fetch that on eBay, but these days I just don't feel like dealing with it. And to keep it for myself, it would not be the same as everything I have in my collection I have found in the desert. I took this picture for even these would interest the beer can collector. Do you remember opening a beer or soda can with a "church key"?

Someone's art piece that would mean something to the infantry man of WW2.

So did I buy anything you ask?
 And with that I bid you all a hot dog of a New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Colusa National Wildlife Refuge #1

While at the refuge to see the Falcated Duck (click on that if you missed the post) I also shot some video of other bird activity which I'll have here throughout the next couple of weeks. Practice makes perfect  for better viewing for you the audience. This first video is just a overview panning the area from the viewing platform. The platform by the way was not a good place to be for taking photos. With people walking about, the movement was transferred up through the tripod and shaking the cameras. Being on solid ground was best for filming and individual shots with the DLSR and long lens. No music this time so you can hear the birds squawking, people talking and cameras clicking thus getting a real sense of the scene.

And where is the Falcated Duck in all of this you ask? He had just motored by and parked himself behind the far off island for a snooze. I had to pee real bad when I arrived. I took care of business and when I walked up to the platform with all my gear, there he was putt-putting across real close and I couldn't get either of my cameras set up and adjusted in time, resulting in crappy shots and no video. The shots I used on the post was after I had made a loop of the refuge and he was further away. Damn bladder!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Here's Looking at You Kid.

 1959 Dodge Royal Lancer seen at a fast food joint on my way home from yesterday's post of the Falcated Duck at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Now if you recall when a youngster, there were those cartoon puzzles "What is not right with this picture?" and you had to find so many things not correct in the drawing. Well in the above there is something so VERY RIGHT with this picture. Is that not cool or what?!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Falcated Duck

This individual is an Asian species that showed up at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge 70 miles north of Sacramento in California. An extremely rare occurrence, this is about the best Christmas gift the birders of North America could receive. A lifer for many.

A thank you to my daughter who is an avid birder. She told me about it showing up a couple weeks ago and encouraged me to make the drive to go see it.

This is linked to Springman's Pine River Review on

New Video

I got my camera back last week from being cleaned and went right out on a hike the next day to shoot some video, mainly to work on what to do and not to do in filming plus practice the editing part. So if you watch the video and have any suggestions for improvement I would appreciate hearing them. I know having some wildlife in there would be the most important thing to add but on this hike nothing was seen except for the blurry Chestnut-backed Chickadee. The camera insisted on focusing further away and by the time I got it corrected the bird was gone. I left it in anyway. What you will be seeing among other things is

1. I revisited the tall tree in the forest with the ladder attached, from a post long ago - very dark in the forest then the bright sky overhead confused the camera

2. the blurred Chickadee

3. a very large Manzanita tree

4. a cobblestone quarry I had never seen before. This segment begins with an old 1 gallon tin left behind by the workers. There are several abandoned quarries around the area dating back to the early 1900's. The cobblestone was used for buildings in San Francisco and other west coast cities and were very important in the reconstruction after the 1906 earthquake.

5. the bones of a deer left behind from a Mountain Lion kill spread over a wide area probably by Turkey Vultures, Grey Fox, Coyote and Bobcat. This has been here for at least two years.

Thanks for watching.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have a Nice Christmas Everyone

I must give credit to my wife for she took this picture. Sinbad basically ignores her but if I try to take a picture of him he's all into me. "Whatcha doin', whatcha doin'?" snif sniff, purr, rub, wet nose to the lens, etc.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

First Day of Winter

So what does the above photo of the refrigerator/mailbox (you place packages inside the frig) seen in Montana have to do with the Winter's Solstice? Not a darn thing!
Last night I prepared my Christmas Eve post and was just a press of the button away from posting it this morning when I checked the date. It's two days away yet!
So I hastily came up with something else to post this morning.
Here, I'll add another photo of a road that was named for me.

Maybe I'm just excited for Christmas to get here, or do I just want it all to be over with?
Don't ask me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some Good Comes From Bad

A couple days ago I was frustrated with my Feeding Frenzy video. I couldn't figure out hour to edit the middle portion out. Well the next day I did something to wrench my back (probably cleaning rain gutters), so yesterday I decided to do nothing and let it get better. It is much better now as I write this. Anyway I devoted all of yesterday to learn how to cut out unwanted parts in a video. After a couple hours I finally figured it out. But that led on to a host of other issues to be solved.

1. The solution was found on another blog site. In it, the blogger included a link to a complete Windows Movie Maker guide someone created. Wow! What a find! (Microsoft thinks their Movie Maker is so simple to use that no user guide is needed. Just give me 5 minutes with those people!) So I decided to print it out all 16 pages and ended up fighting with the printer for I don't know how long.

2. My wife was clang-banging dishes in the background plus talking to me while I was filming the video included below. "Sweetheart, hello! Major production going on here." This forced me into finally learning how to silence the audio that is produced while filming. That was easy thanks to my newly printed user guide.

3. But now the video needed something. The silence was deafening. So it was about time to learn how to put background music in a video. Well again my new guide made that easy except for one thing...I had no music in my Music Library in the computer. Again, untold hours were wasted spent learning how to download music. To some this may seem an easy task. Not for me. It was a complicated process involving two laptops, lots of note taking, deciding what type of music to use, looking for CD's I know I have somewhere around here and a lot more problems, all which I will not bore you with here.

So here is the final result which probably would not have happened for some time yet to come had it not been for my wrenching my back. I wonder what I will learn next time I am laid up?

The players are a Western Scrub Jay, Oregon Junco and a Spotted Towhee from three separate videos spliced together, something else I learned how to do. It was a good day.

By the way, today is December 21 and the world is scheduled to come to an end 1 year from now according to the Mayan calendar. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feeding Frenzy

Here is a video of the bird activity in our yard. Mainly I wanted to show the covey of California Quail feeding. I tried to cut out a portion in the middle but wasn't able to figure out how to do so. I am still learning at this, so you are stuck with the entire 2:43 minutes. Also I was filming through the glass doors and there is some reflection. I haven't gained the bird's trust entirely yet to be outside. I could crack the slider open a bit but then I am dealing with Sinbad sticking his head outside. I have enough to deal with already just trying to film, I certainly do not need his help.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Barn With a Mystery Building

This barn I found along Hwy 299 out of MacArthur in northern California. I thought the steepness of the roof interesting. How could one stand on it during its construction without being tied on? One thing is for sure, the snow would not pile up on the roof. I wondered what the tall square building was used for. Maybe some of you farm folk out there could tell me.

This is linked to Tricia's

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

This is my first entry into Scavenger Hunt Sunday. Normally this wouldn't be something I would do. Given five subjects and seek them out to photograph can be a challenge, but I do like a good challenge now and then, so here goes.

What is it?
(answer at the end)

Fur Baby Sleeping
Sinbad napping in the late afternoon sun rays.
What more needs to be said?

I went with a different route than this subject was meant to be.
Done with an ultra wide angle at the grocery store.

Scavenger Hunt Sunday rules encourage you to use fresh photos but old ones are okay too. Well this is my "old one" and I like this picture from inside of an abandoned house in the middle of the desert with the natural decaying process going on. We all are going through a natural decaying process but rest assured, there is that bright light through the window.

I was really at a loss for this one until I drove by this raccoon roadkill.
It just spoke out to me "This is it."
The back half of the raccoon standing up on end looking as if he was squeezing down into a burrow.
Where the front half was, I don't know.

The answer to the first photograph is that it is a large container I have in my study. In it I have put a 1 inch layer of soil from places I have been, comprised of interesting material in their make-up.
Bottom to the top is:
From a 400 square mile alkali lake bed in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada
Red Rock Canyon in the high desert of California north of Mojave
Desert soil from Anza Borrego (I just like this place)
Salt from the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
Arches National Monument, Utah
Death Valley, California
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
~ there is space for 4 more "special" places yet ~

I'd like to give a thank you to Ms. Becky at Shaking The Tree for encouraging me to do this.

Check out ashleysisk for more on

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seeing Stars

When I looked out back early yesterday morning this little American Goldfinch was sitting on the deck. I knew he must have crashed into the glass doors and was just waiting to regain his senses. I got my camera, took the shot below, then set the camera on the deck for the above shot. Right afterward he flew off, healthy and hopefully a bit wiser.

Now if only I could get pictures like this of birds that are thinking clearly.

These shots are straight out of the camera using my 105 VR macro lens.
Check out Murrieta365 for more

This is also linked up to Springman's World-Bird-Wednesday

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stoned Fence

My Fridays Fence for last week, A Lot of Rocks, interested a few so here is another stone fence at a different winery on a different day, one that was cold and overcast with a hint of fog in the air.
If I had to have a fence I would like one of these, as long as the rocks stayed in place
and they seem to do.
Having to go out daily and replace fallen rocks would grow tiresome.

For more fences on this Friday go to Jan's

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Care to Have Some Left Overs?

While going through all my foto folders and doing some house cleaning, here are a few that went unused.

This is from the Occupy Santa Rosa posts.
I took this picture for this is what we used to travel in before getting our current RV. A 1972 Winnebago just like this except green where it is brown here. We named it "The Box".
Inside with avocado green table, stove and oven (so 70's) we painted over all the dark wall paneling a light cream color which really brightened it up.
In the back where the bed was we added wallpaper for that homey touch.
We traveled around in it for 9 years, not without its fair share of "adventures" either.
We sold it in '07 and 5 months later bought the Winnebago View.

This is from the Clydesdale Horses post.
Don't know why I didn't use it.

This from that rare day when Sinbad was sunbathing on the deck and allowed me to photograph him up close without his getting up and sticking his nose into the lens.
Yes, his fur is so very soft.

This is from the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge over the Thanksgiving Day visit.
The five stand outs.

From the lunar eclipse series.
This is the very first shot I took while a portion of the moon was still illuminated by the sun.
What is wrong here?
I flipped the moon upside down.

Finally, a left over from summer.
Just a reminder for me while it is cold and wet outside right now.
Hang in there. Spring will be here soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

California Quail

Popping his head up to see if I am a threat or not.

I was not as I was inside shooting through our sliding glass door.

We have a covey of quail that visits our yard everyday scratching about beneath the feeders for all the scraps the other birds carelessly fling to the ground.

I intend to work on gaining their trust enabling me to sit on the deck and photograph them without a sheet of glass obstructing the sharpness of the image. 

This is linked to Springman's Pine River Review the home of

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lake Ilsanjo

Lake Ilsanjo is a man-made 26 acre lake that sets in the center of my Annadel State Park which is conveniently located next door to where I live. There is no easy way to get to the lake. The shortest route is over 2 miles and all 5 trails require at least a 400 foot elevation gain. I rode my bike in last week just to see if any waterfowl had come in and if it would worth lugging in my tripod and long lens.

 As usual, nothing. There are always a couple of American Coot, maybe a pair of Mallards, the occasional few Canada Goose and sometimes a Great Blue Heron or Great Egret. For some reason I have never seen large groups of any type of migratory fowl on the lake. With virtually no human disturbance, one would think they would like to stop by.

I took these pictures with my Canon point & click while sitting on the dam eating my apple.
This shot I thought I might use for a Weekend Reflections photo but too many ripples in the water.

Any of the birds I see in the woods for the most part frequent my backyard so it really isn't worth the effort to haul all the camera gear in except for in spring when the wildflowers are out.
But I know the day will come I will see coyote or better still a bobcat and not have my telephoto with me.
I don't even want to think of seeing a mountain lion and not having any camera with me!