Good morning and greetings, summer days fans. The weather has certainly turned for the better, as the fog and marine layer have temporarily left the building, leaving sports fans with blue skies, warm breezes and a pollen count that’s higher than my cholesterol was after a summer full of Yankee games, Shakespeare in the Park and chocolate Haagan-Dazs bars.
So it was a nice change of pace last Wednesday, when I went for a walk to have it misting on West Cliff. I thought to myself, how many places could it be sunny and warm one day and having this wonderful moisture in the air the next? We are blessed with having relatively mild weather all year round as that’s what you get with a Mediterranean climate-cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Santa Cruz, where the redwoods meet the sand, the sea and the homeless.
June has always been a great month on the nature front. On that Wednesday stroll along the coast, my power-walking wife and I saw the usual array of otters, sea birds, and some porpoises or dolphins doing flips into the water. A friend walked by and told us that whales had been spotted cruising up the coast. I thought to myself, how lucky we are to live alongide Monterey Bay, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Now, if they could just warm up the water and get rid of that kelp, I might actually put my toes in the water.
So for today’s photo pleasure, we go back to last week, when I performed a reptile rescue just outside of Natural Bridges. I was driving home from a windsurfing outing when I spotted this beautiful snake (photo #1) in the road. I quickly pulled my electric car to the curb and dashed into the street, as this fella was sitting there happily sunning himself, but at the same time in danger of being squished like a slow-running native during an elephant stampede.
For a moment I thought about picking him up, putting him in a basket and carrying him to the sidelines, but when I approached he was curled up and appeared ready to strike, so I decided to play it safe and let him slowly work his way to the sidewalk while I redirected Stevie Winwood and traffic.
Well, in less time than I would take to pop in a Tawny Kitaen Whitesnake video, a woman stopped her car, walked over to the snake, picked him up and brought him over to the grass. She informed me that this was a gopher snake that could be found all over the Wilder Ranch area. Although I was still a bit rattled, she assured me it was safe to take off my catcher’s mask. Still noticing that I was a bit reticent, she queried, “Are you a man or a mouse?” I replied, “Put a piece of cheese in front of me and you’ll find out.”
So in honor of my snake charming experience, I thought I would feature some other westside wildlife. Last week, as we were walking through the Pogonip, I spotted a gorgeous coyote in the meadow. When he turned back to look at me, I was just amazed by the incredible character of his face. Kind of a combination of Yul Brenner and Peter Coyote.
We then ran into some folks who live in the area, who told us they see coyotes all the time, and that at dusk they can be spotted in packs of three to five to seven. Or was it twenty-five or six to four? They then warned me to stay off the path at dusk as the mountain lions hit the trail and with my sinewy muscles and slender physique, I could be mistaken for an antelope or young gazelle.
Due to global warming, I wasn’t carrying my camera on this jaunt so instead I’m showcasing a coyote I spotted last June outside Natural Bridges State Park. It was lightly raining that morning and you can see that his coat was pretty wet (photo #3.) I offered him my poncho but he wasn’t interested. After I had him sign a release, he let me take a few shots before running off (photo #4) and scurrying under a hole in the fence back into the park.
I then photographed that fattest squirrel I’ve even seen, whom I’ll call Jenny Craig. We stopped and talked sports, politics and Oprah. She was a fascinating rodent who spoke three languages and had traveled all over Europe. This little chipmunk was an amazing conversationalist who gave me a whole new perspective on storing nuts for winter.
I shot the great blue heron in pond just north of Natural Bridges. I see these birds all over town, and I spotted one in the ocean on a walk along West Cliff last week. Unfortunately, when I returned with my camera, the long-necked beauty was gone, so we’re going with another contestant. These birds are beautiful to watch in flight, as they move in the same motion that my son Jason does when he’s jump serving. As his mother whispers to him every night before heading off to volleyball dreamland, “good-night and side out, my son.”
On to the late night. “Using electron microscopes, scientists have now discovered the slowest moving thing on Earth. Turns out, it’s the White House responding to the oil spill. BP — they are spending $50 million on an advertisement budget to try and put a PR spin on this whole thing. Like, you hear what they said today? This is unbelievable. They said fishermen down there are catching tuna that are getting 35 miles per gallon.” –Jay Leno “BP was kind of bragging about it today … the top hat. Oh yeah, they put a top hat on it, was collecting about 6% of the oil. Yes, they found a solution that stops as much oil as the margin of error. It lets 94% of the oil through. It was built by the same people who built the Mexican border fence.” –Bill Maher
“The oil spill is getting bad. There is so much oil and tar now in the Gulf of Mexico, Cubans can now walk to Miami. James Cameron has volunteered to go down to the Gulf of Mexico and consult. I love it when a guy who’s an expert in fake disasters gets involved. And if that doesn’t work, they’re going to contact Superman and he’s going to weld the pipe with his X-ray vision.” –David Letterman “People want (Obama) to be madder. His press secretary said he was enraged today. He was on Larry King, last night, and he said, “I am furious.’ He said ‘I am so angry, I have asked Rahm Emanuel to unleash a string of obscenities on my behalf.’” –Bill Maher
“Al Gore and his wife, longtime married couple, are separating. Tipper Gore. And they may get a divorce. Apparently what happened, they experienced global cooling.” –David Letterman “After 40 years, Al and Tipper Gore have split up. Nobody knows why, but there is a rumor today that Al came home early last week and found another man’s carbon footprints. “Rush Limbaugh is getting married this weekend for the fourth time … It’s a traditional wedding. Well, not that traditional. They say instead of throwing rice, throw Vicodin.” –Bill Maher It was so romantic. First, the couple wrote their own vows and then they wrote their own prescriptions.” –Jimmy Fallon
“Here now the official Rush Limbaugh wedding announcement. Rush Limbaugh wed Kathryn Rogers in a quiet Florida ceremony on Saturday. The bridegroom is a controversial radio host and an influential opinion leader in the conservative movement in the United States. The bride is clearly insane.” –David Letterman
“Rush Limbaugh got married over the weekend. This is actually his fourth marriage; he blames the first three breakups on Obama.” –Craig Ferguson
David Letterman’s “Top Ten Things Overheard At Rush Limbaugh’s Wedding 8. “Do you take this woman to be your future ex-wife?” 6. “They have a tent in case it rains. No wait, those are Rush’s pants” 2. “It’s ironic that a guy named ‘Rush’ takes 20 minutes to walk down the aisle”
That’s our mid-June report. I’m not going to mention the oil spill, but like my upcoming 40th high school reunion, it’s constantly on my mind. So with the Lakers in a must-win situation, enjoy game six of the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you playing the box and one. Aloha, mahalo and later, Paul Pierce fans.