Just another average sunset in paradise!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breeding season

After skipping almost a week, I returned to the wetlands yesterday and discovered a lot of love in the air.  The Great Blue Herons were busy building nests.  I never associated herons and palm trees before but there are about 15 palm trees in a fenced in area.  Every tree I could get close to had a pair of herons.

There are a couple of trees that are close enough that I will be able to follow and document the progress of the new families.  What a nice benefit to add to the many others of a daily walk in the wetlands.

There is also a pair of nesting American Kestrels but I have not been able to figure out where the nest is.  For the past couple of weeks the kestrel in the following picture has been sitting on the top of that yucca tree.

I can't wait until I have a dog to share my hikes with.  Of the six dogs I passed yesterday, three were black labs.  Coincidence?  Here are a few more pictures:

And finally, a Coral Tree in mid-bloom.  This tree, and about 20 more like it, line the entry road to the housing development adjacent to the wetlands.  The homes start at $1,380,000.00 but the ones on the cliffs that overlook the wetlands and the Pacific Ocean beyond go for almost $3,000,000.00.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A traveling companion!

For the past few weeks I have been thinking about a traveling companion.  Several readers recommended a dog as the perfect traveling companion.  I don't make decisions easily; especially ones that require a long term commitment.  I decided it may be time to take the plunge so I started looking at pet adoption sites and also checking out craigslist.org in search of the right dog for me.

Sunday I came across the following ad: http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/pet/2343494672.html

I made a decision, that even though Charger was a little larger dog than I thought appropriate for Dod's small size, I could not let this beautiful dog be put down!  It felt good to have finally made the decision.  I called the animal shelter and learned that Charger had been adopted just a few hours before I called.  Good for him!

There are hundreds of other dogs facing the same fate Charger was so I will continue my search and even plan on visiting the local shelter.  I am hesitant about the shelter visit because I am such a softy.  The first dog to lick my hand will probably be starting a life long relationship.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wondering about wandering

The only thing that has bothered me about my decision to RV in Mexico fulltime has been companionship.  I love sharing things with others.   Cooking, hiking, restaurants, walks on beaches - almost everything seems more enjoyable with the right companion.

I average one new relationship each year.  Each one seems magical at first.   The important things for me are the things you cannot experience alone.  Conversation over dinner, holding hands on the walk to the car after dinner, the first kiss, a walk on the beach where each "accidental" touch makes your spine tingle, someone who cares enough to share your daily successes and failures.

Okay, I am definitely a romantic!  "Sleepless in Seattle", "Serendipity", "Sabrina", "The American President", "Return to Me", "You've Got Mail", "Must Love Dogs", "50 First Dates".  These are just a few of the "chick" flicks in my library.  Even my action type DVDs have romance included:  "The Count of Monte Cristo", "The Thomas Crown Affair", "Out of Africa", "Medicine Man".

Wow!  I think I learn a lot about myself by posting.  Maybe too much.

Yes, I was alone when I took this picture!

I have to close for now.  I am going to the local humane society to look for a pet to adopt!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Free TV - Well sort of

In January, 2009 I went to Costco and purchased a 26" Vizio TV.  It was a great TV - great sound and picture. I say "was a great TV" because last month it stopped working.  No snaps, crackles or pops: it just went blank!  It turns out that this is a common problem with Vizio.  Something about the power supply board causes the TV to look like it has power and is on but actually nothing is happening inside.  I was looking at a repair bill of at least $300. for a set that only cost $390. new.

I purchased the set at Costco because they give you an additional one year warranty over the manufacturer's one year warranty.  Just my luck, the warranty expired two months before the TV expired!  Then I remembered that I put the purchase on American Express and they offer an additional year's warranty.

One short telephone call later and AMEX credited the account for the full purchase price!  They didn't even want me to ship the Vizio or take it to a service center for evaluation.  I had watched AMEX commercials touting this service for years but I was skeptical.  No more, way to go AMEX.

In replacing the TV, I decided to get one that would best suit the entertainment/storage center I am installing in Dod's overhead bunk area.  I got a 26" Toshiba with a built-in DVD player that will fit perfectly in the space available.  Also, with the built-in DVD player, I have one less piece of equipment to store.  It has a great picture (Do they still make TVs without good pictures?) and the sound is adequate.  Dod's living area is only 7' x 10' so sound is really not that important.  Purchased from Amazon with free shipping, the new TV combo was $30. less than the Vizio.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Third day at wetlands

I checked my speedometer as I drove to the wetlands and found it is only 1.1 miles from my house.  I could actually walk there but the scenery on that walk is not nearly as nice as the scenery in the wetlands and I am only good for about 5 miles per day.  I may start walking though if the gas prices continue to climb: $4.09 per gallon is the cheapest near me.

My goal today was to experiment with wildlife pictures and make an effort to identify more species.

This little guy reminded me that you need to watch where you are putting your feet while hiking.  The picture may not be close enough to tell but this is a 3' rattlesnake.  Less than 30 yards up the trail was a group of 8 to 10 year old school kids listening to a docent talk about the wetlands.  Scary!

This juvenile Cottontail crossed the path less than 10 yards past the Rattler.  The little snake poses no problem for this guy as a small Rattler must be content with mice and lizards.  But watch out for mama snake!

Idyllic setting for this Great Blue Heron?  

Not so much!  The road in the background is Pacific Coast Highway, easily the busiest non-freeway road in California.  I think it is great that the birds, mammals and reptiles have adapted to living in such close proximity to us.

White Herons (also known as Great Egrets) seem to be more timid around humans so I settled for this long distance photo.  All of my pix are taken with a 6 year old Kodak point-and-shoot.  Boy do I need a new camera!

A few minutes after these Pelicans did a fly-by, they were fishing in the lagoon.  Unfortunately they were out of camera range.

Can anyone help me with a posting problem?  I want my blog photos to link to a larger photo.  My first few posts did this and I don't remember doing anything special.  I don't seem to be able to replicate this feature.  I use the standard blogger.com software to compose and post.

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Never mind!  Somehow when I posted this the blog pix were all linked to larger photos.  I checked older posts and they are all providing links also (even though, I swear, they weren't working yesterday).  I spent 2 or 3 hours trying to fix a problem that seemingly has fixed itself.  I can't remember my last drink and I am not on any medications!  Maybe I should start drinking.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A walk in the ecological reserve

Yesterday, while I was trying to figure out what to do for the day,  my ex-wife came by and offered to buy me lunch if I would go for a walk first.  What a great offer!  We drove over to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands which is about a 3 mile drive.  We took a 4 mile walk on trails that surround the wetlands.

After years of deterioration the wetlands finally started a comeback in 2006 when for the first time in more than 100 years sea water again flowed into the wetlands.  In 1900 a group of rich businessmen from Los Angeles and Pasadena formed a gun club and blocked the flow of seawater into the wetlands.  They replaced the seawater with fresh water to attract migrating ducks and geese.   This worked to some degree but the reduction in the salinity of the water caused damage to the habitat which seemed insurmountable.

Their clubhouse was directly behind the clump of trees in the background.  Parts still remain but the main building was torn down in the 1970s.  Strangely the recent improvements were made by rich businessmen but not for altruistic reasons.  The ports of Los  Angeles and Long Beach paid more than $100 million into the restoration project for permission to expand on protected lands adjacent to the ports.

Prior to 2006, the area pictured above was almost completely dry.  It was almost a dumping ground including the normal trash, setups for moto-cross bikers and pools of oil and debris left from oil drilling sites.  What an improvement!

The century without proper tidal flow allowed non-native plants to take over 70% of the wetlands.  The focus of the current restoration project is to eliminate the invaders and replace them with indigenous plant species.

The number and variety of birds has increased.  If I had Judy's knowledge (Travels with Emma) I could tell you what most of them are.  Following are pix of a couple I do know: a Great Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Red light at 6:00 a.m.

Has anyone out there ever stopped at a red light; waited what seemed like an eternity; noticed absolutely no one else on the road and then carefully proceeded across the intersection?

In June of last year I spent the night on my boat in a marina in Long Beach, CA.  I awoke about 5:30 a.m. and noticed that I was completely out of coffee.  I hopped in my truck and proceeded to make the short, short trip to the local 24 hour market.  This market is called "Ralph's" and is located in a shopping mall adjacent to the marina.  The main drag in this part of town is the Pacific Coast Highway and I am sure most readers have at least heard of this road and probably most have spent some time traveling on it.  To get to the market, I made a left turn onto PCH and proceeded to the entrance of the mall.

Okay, it is 6:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning and there are no other cars on the road.  This is Los Angeles County territory so that in itself is highly unusual.  To get into the mall you have to make a left hand turn into the parking lot and there is a signal involved.  I pulled into the left hand turn lane and waited for the arrow to turn green.  This is not an intersection by normal definitions.  Imagine, if you will, a "T".  You can turn left into a parking lot and people in the parking lot can turn either left or right on PCH.   I waited, and waited, and waited.

It was still dark; the weather was crystal clear; visibility was unlimited.  I watched the roadway ahead and the roadway behind in my rear view mirror.  There were no visible head lights or tail lights.  I had an unobstructed view for more than a mile in each direction.  Remember, it is dark so the vehicle lights are incredibly visible!  After what I thought was about 3 minutes I checked once more, and once again, no lights were visible!  I turned left when the arrow was still red.

I got into the parking lot and proceeded to the market.  I had no one to high five but inside I was celebrating the fact that I got away with my "criminal" enterprise.  The red and blue lights in my rear view mirror announced that my celebration was premature!

A very nice officer came to my window and asked me why I didn't wait for the light to change.  I said, "I waited over 3 minutes and I thought the signal must be malfunctioning".  He said, "It may have seemed like 3 minutes but that light turns green 1 minute and 20 seconds after it is tripped.  The light actually turned green less than 5 seconds after you turned".  Do you think it is possible that this officer has written similar tickets before?

Remember, I checked traffic in both directions and there is no way he was behind me or approaching me on Pacific Coast Highway.  He must have been in the parking lot waiting for a fool such as I.  I was polite; he was polite.  I went back to the boat with citation in hand and had an expensive cup of coffee.

I did not know how expensive until this afternoon when I went to traffic court.  When my turn came, I explained to the judge that I had run the red light but would like to explain.  I carefully described the situation (much as I have explained here) and the judge said, "So you plead guilty?".  I said yes and he indicated he would give me a break.

The "break" was a fine of $655.00.  I hate to think what the fine would have been without the sympathy of the court.  I know California is short of funds; so is the County of Los Angeles and the City of Long Beach; I just didn't think that my share of the deficit would be this large!

I wish I was still living in Mexico where I could just hand the cop 20 dollars U.S. and be on my way!