July 28, 2013

Practice What You Peach

Good morning and greetings, fruit lovers. One of the things that excites me about this time of year is the exotic array of fruits available for my summer feeding pleasure. Living in California, botanical wonders are king, as I never tire of nectarines, plums, peaches, cherries and blueberries. Add to that the endless variety of melons, including honeydew, canteloupe, won’t commit, casaba and persian. And last but not least, the fruit referred to by botanists as a pepo, the watermelon, a berry that has a thick rind, a fleshy center and a juicy soul.

The sweetest melon I tasted this summer was an orange flesh honeydew that was pure golden sugar. This melon is a hybrid bliss between a canteloupe and honeydew. Its creamy orange flesh melted in mind and my mouth, and it goes along perfectly with my vegan diet that includes meat, fish and free range cornish hens.

So when I came upon story this story written by Ray Henry for the Associated Press, I immediately sensed its seasonal importance. Because unlike myself, all summer fruits have a life of their own.

Georgia is known as the Peach State, and images of one of God’s juiciest fruits appears on billboards, road signs, state license plates and in fruit smoothies throughout the state. If you drive through downtown Atlanta, and do so at your own risk, you’ll see Peachtree Street, Peachtree Center Avenue, West Peachtree Street, Peach Cobbler Boulevard and Peach Pie Parkway. It’s a deciduous route, but one that must be taken.

There’s just one tiny problem, cling-free fans. Peaches no longer dominate the groves in Georgia. The new kids on the block are blueberries, which are by far Georgia’s most lucrative fruit crop. Blueberries generated an estimated $94 million for Georgia growers in 2012, which was more than three times as much as the peach crop.

Now since July is National Blueberry month, the question should be asked, what do we know about our little friend? Well, for starters, native Americans and Marlon Brando called them “star berries” because of their blossoms. They are the state fruit of my beloved New Jersey and make wonderful pies, ice cream and musical lyrics. Just ask Richie Cunningham.

And according to the folks at AAA, the annual harvest of North American blueberries would cover a four lane highway from New York to Chicago if you spread them out in a single layer covered with whipped cream.

Growers and blueberry muffin experts say a combination of supply-and-demand, a good growing environment and the Falcons finally playing winning football propelled blueberries from a tiny crop to a profitable niche that dwarfs and Snow Whites the famed peach. Blueberries used to be a colorful afterthought in the this state that General William Tecumseh Sherman marched to the sea through. But when out-of-state blueberry producers wanted ways to get berries on the supermarket shelves earlier in the year, they signed deals with growers in Georgia, and the rest is blueberry history.

Physicians, nutritionists and food truck chefs have been singing their praises for blueberries for their antioxidantal qualities. The berries are an exotic blue color, which is rarely seen in natural foods and Crips territory. Because of antioxidants being a buzz word these days, blueberries are in high in demand among health-conscious consumers and enemies of the huckleberry. Personally, I love them, but unlike apples, oranges or bananas, they are not emotionally available to me all year round.

It takes three or four years, or the amount of time it would take me to get back into good playing shape, for the blueberry bushes to reach full production. And despite being the peachiest of states, Georgia is not the biggest U.S. producers, as California and South Carolina are the leaders of the pack. Georgia’s reputation for peaches was always one part reality, one part marketing and one part Hollywood. When the Civil War ended and the South was left in ruins like the today’s Oakland Raiders, farmers no longer had slave labor to count on. They needed an alternative and peaches was one crop that came to the rescue.

Samuel Rumph, a 19th century grower in Georgia, was a major innovator, commercializing a tasty and robust variety called the Elberta, named for his wife, Louise. He developed a refrigerated rail car, making it possible to ship Georgia peaches to larger markets in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. As a result, northern customers started associating Georgia with peaches. Or as author Melissa Fay Greene puts it, “A real Georgia peach, a backyard great-grandmother orchard peach, is as thickly furred as a sweater, and so fluent and sweet that once you bite through the flannel, it brings tears to your eyes.”

Peaches were first cultivated in China and came to Europe from Persia, hence their ancient name, the Persian apple, which coincidentally was my nickname in college. There are over 700 varieties of peaches, and some Chinese varieties are flat like hockey pucks, which are very popular in Canada. The peach is a close relative of the almond and as a result, often spend holidays together. August is National Peach Month. And eating peaches can help reduce hair loss, act as a stress reliever and be used as an aphrodisiac, but you have to be careful with the pit.

So although the peach is no longer the top crop in Georgia, I still have all the respect in the world for this fruit the Chinese consider a symbol of immortality. I believe it comes down to this for this fuzzier cousin of the nectarine. In the words of writer James Whitcomb Riley, “The ripest peach is always highest in the tree.” Or as poet Alice Walker put it, “Life is better than death, if only because it is less boring, and it has fresh peaches in it.” But we’ll let the final word come from writer William Somerset Maugham who wrote, “In Hollywood, the women are all peaches. It make one long for an apple occasionally.”

For today photo rendevous, we are heading over to the westside of Santa Cruz. For some reason on this night, the sky fooled me into thinking it wasn’t up to its usual tricks, so I wasn’t photo ready. But when the sky started lighting up like a Christmas tree, I grabbed my camera and hurriedly took some shots by the entrance to the Longs Marine Lab.

But then the sky started to turn psychedelic colors, and I thought, well, better late than never, and drove over to Natural Bridges like Mario Andretti to capture the final scenes of this March drama. I may have been late for the opening act, but when the curtain went down, I was sitting front row and center, and it was fantastic.

On to some late night humor. “Anthony Weiner has been caught in yet another sexting scandal. At the beginning of this campaign he said that other texts and photos were likely to come out. Well, they have. Finally, a politician who keeps his promises. Anthony Weiner said yesterday that he wants closure. If he wants closure he should start with his zipper.” – Jay Leno

Anthony Weiner the peter tweeter is at is again. He admitted in a press conference to having more online sexting episode well after he resigned from Congress. This time Anthony Weiner used the name Carlos Danger. He was sexting women under the name Carlos Danger. See, this is Weiner’s way of getting more Latino support.” –Jay Leno “New Yorkers were so shocked that the thing on Trump’s head fainted.” –Craig Fergsuon

“Everybody is still talking about the royal baby. In fact, I saw that President Obama released a statement congratulating Prince William and Kate Middleton on the birth of their son. Then he said, ‘And whatever you do – hang on to that birth certificate.’” –Jimmy Fallon “The royal baby has a name now: George Alexander Louis. George is not the king yet. So for now, we just address him as ‘Boy George.’ “Prince Harry said what any proud family member would say: ‘Back of the line, junior.’” –Craig Ferguson

“A tourist came up to me today and she says, “I watch your show on and off.” And I said, “How do you like it?” And she said, “Off.”- David Letterman
“Rocky is back. Again. Yeah, 67-year-old Sylvester Stallone is getting ready to star in a seventh “Rocky” movie. You can tell he’s getting up there because instead of running up those famous stairs, now Rocky just takes the elevator.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our last blast for July. We’ll catch you showing baseball fans that at age 40 you can still dominate hitters and being tied for most wins in the American League. Aloha, mahalo and later, Bartolo Colon fans.

July 21, 2013

Welcome Back, Hotter

Good morning and greetings, midsummer fans. Growing up in the Garden State of New Jersey, we always looked forward to some brutal stretches of summer weather, when the days were blisteringly hot and the nights swelteringly warm. And when these uncomfortable conditions hit, we resorted to what the early cavemen and pioneers that settled across this great land of ours did, fleeing into the air conditioning and not exiting this cool space until the coast was more than clear. Without this game-saving process of altering the temperature and humidity in the air, we never would have survived. It was either that or spend a week in the refrigerator.

The reason I harken back to these extreme weather conditions is because last week, the northeast corridor was virtually a giant sauna, with no wind and no rain to go along hot, sticky air. And then added to this mess was Yankee captain Derek Jeter being placed back on the disabled list because of too many beautiful ex-girlfriends.

A heat wave is officially defined as three days or more of temperatures of 90 degrees or more, or what the locals call winter in the Sahara Desert. Early in the week, heat advisories for temperatures over 100 degrees of Kevin Bacon were issued for Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and West Maui. Last Monday, Burlington, Vermont hit 93 degrees. Even the maple syrup was sweating. It hadn’t been that hot on that date since 1955. Last Thursday, a record was set at JFK Airport in New York when the temperature hit an all-time high for the day at the century mark. Cabbies were perspiring like IRS executives appearing before Congress.

The National Weather Service likes to warn people when it gets hot enough bake lasagna on the sidewalk. They warned people of the dangers of heat-related illnesses, like fatigue, sunstroke, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and being forced to stay inside and watch the idiotic reality shows the networks include in their summer programming.

Thankfully, a cold front finally blew in late Saturday, which shoved the hot, humid air mass southward so those Confederate states could get a taste of this July magic. This cold front also triggered severe thunderstorms, of which I have fond memories of. All of a sudden, the sky would suddenly darken, and the warm rain would start pelting down while the thunder blasted away. I always liked being outside when the heat wave snapped as the air turned cooler than, in the words of ESPN’s Stuart Scott, “the other side of my pillow.”

Elsewhere around the nation last Monday, while the east coast was frying like my parmesan crusted chicken, Texas and Oklahoma recorded their all-time lowest temperatures for July 15. And to make it even macadamia nuttier, parts of Alaska’s eastern interior were warmer than the Great Plains of Texas. The surprisingly cooler temperatures in Lone Star state were due to clouds, rain and Houston’s signing of much-sought-after center Dwight Howard. So Superman now becomes Rocket Man. Can’t wait to see what Elton John has to say about that.

The southwest felt the extreme heat in June, as the temperature at Death Valley National Park tied the record for the hottest June day at 128 degrees. How hot was it? Squirrels were handling their nuts with potholders. Lance Armstrong tested positive for Snapple. In Palm Springs, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was spotted drinking a Big Gulp.

And speaking of Palm Springs, a raging wildfire was burning six miles outside the home of Sherman’s Deli, where hot corned beef piled high on rye bread is king. There were 17 major wildfires burning 17 western states last week, making this a dangerous time for fire fighters and homeowners in these regions. Or in the words of author Robert Fulghum, “If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience.”

When it comes to scorching summers, not to be confused with the lovely Suzanne Somers, the hottest occurred during the Dust Bowl of 1936, when the average temperature was over 73 degrees. And believe it or not, popsicle fans, the past two summers have come Glenn Close to breaking that mark, as the summers of 2011 and 2012 tied for the second-hottest with an average temperature only one-tenth of a degree off the record. Only 20 times in the past 150 summers has the east coast felt a heat wave like this, or about as often as I leave my feet on the basketball court when bringing down a rebound.

So while the scorching heat was baking the east coast, folks in Santa Cruz woke up on Monday to heavy fog, followed by a light rain falling the next day. I thought to myself, folks are sweating back east like Eddie Snowden waiting in line at the Cinnabon at the Moscow Airport, while I’m standing in the rain in 50 degree temps here on the central coast. What a country. And speaking of Eddie, heard a great line on Letterman when he asked Bill Maher about the Snowden affair. “All I know is I’m glad I’m not the guy circling the airport waiting to pick him up.”

So for today’s photo launch, while the precipitation was falling on Tuesday, I took out my camera and recorded some of the effects on the plants and flowers in my front yard. The rain really brings out a spark in nature, as the plants are overjoyed to be receiving showers of love from the sky. The last two shots are from the Arboretum at UCSC, the place I journey to when moisture fills my heart and windshield.

Rain is a joyous event for so many living things and often leaves me in tears. “The Little Tramp,” Charlie Chaplan put it this way,” I always like walking in the rain so no one can tell I’m crying.” Between sobs I couldn’t have said it better myself. Or as singer Johnny Nash once crooned, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone.” At this stage in life, it’s nice to see all the obstacles that are in my way.

On to some late night humor. “Al-Qaida’s No. 2 man in Yemen was killed this week by a drone strike. He was doing a cover shoot for Rolling Stone and they were able to pinpoint him. Joe Biden said this week that he still dreams of being president. To which Hillary said, “Keep dreaming.” A key prosecution witness in the racketeering and murder trial of Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger was found dead this week. Who could have seen that coming? What, a witness in a mob trial dead? Turned out the guy suffered an allergic reaction to a baseball bat. Taxi companies in St. Louis are considering an additional charge for passengers who throw up in the car. If you vomit in the cab, it is going to cost you more. I have a better idea. How about a discount for the next guy who gets in the cab?” – Jay Leno

“Rush Limbaugh claims he is now allowed to say the N-word. After hearing this, Paula Deen said, ‘Let me know how that works out for you.’ It’s been revealed that the iPhone will not autocorrect the word “marijuana.” Yeah, that explains why the other night Snoop Dogg was delivered a package of marinara. McDonald’s plans to open its first restaurant in Vietnam. So it looks like we might win that war after all.” – Conan O’Brien

Here’s some big news out of England. Today, Queen Elizabeth officially legalized gay marriage in Britain. Or as she put it, ‘You know, it doesn’t always have to be tea and crumpets. Sometimes it can just be two crumpets.’” –Jimmy Fallon “The royal baby is due today. Kate Middleton and Prince William are expecting the baby any minute now. The royals say they don’t care what gender it is as long as it’s healthy enough to never work a day in its life.” –Conan O’Brien

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has filed for asylum in Russia, but Vladimir Putin is against it. You know, if Snowden really wants to stay in Russia he should just speak out against Putin. He’ll get to stay in Russia the rest of his life.” –Jay Leno “Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, wants asylum in Venezuela. He also wants to be able to have summer asylum in the Hamptons. It’s crazy hot outside. I’ll give you an example. Remember Joey Chestnut, the competitive eating champion who recently ate 106 hot dogs in a minute? It was so hot today that he ate 68 Dove bars.” David Letterman

“Jay-Z says that he and President Obama text each other regularly. In one text, Jay-Z was like, ‘What’s it like being the most powerful person in the world?’ And Obama was like, ‘I dunno. Ask Beyonce.’ “Pope Francis is on summer vacation right now and apparently he’s been spotted driving around in a Ford Focus. So I guess he takes that vow of celibacy very seriously.” –Jimmy Fallon “People in Florida are pretty worried about the Zimmerman acquittal. They’re trying so hard to get black people to stay in their homes, it looks like election day down there.” –Bill Maher

So that’s our July weather update. We’ll catch you trying to save rare turtles and golden-shelled plowshare tortoise from extinction in places like Madagascar and beyond. Aloha, mahalo and later, Eric Goode fans.

July 14, 2013

Out Of The Light And Into The Dark

Good morning and greetings, food lovers. A few years ago, a young friend of mine suggested I write a blog about the variety of meals I prepare for my parents, family and the bands of gypsies who always want to spray my roof or pave my driveway. I never thought it would be that interesting to hear about my adventures with chili sauce, carmelized onions and broken eggs and dreams, as I’ve never followed a recipe when preparing a meal or a lifestyle.

But then I saw an story written in the New York Times that caught my culinary attention. It stated that if chicken producers could breed a bird with four legs, this would more than delight fowl growers, as the demand for thighs and legs is growing faster than KFC spread their finger lickin’ franchises throughout China. Who knew fried chicken and fried rice could ever co-exist so nicely in the land of rising dim sum?

One thought on KFC. A few years ago In Pakistan, anti-American protesters set fire to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. They thought they were attacking a high-ranking U.S. military official named Colonel Sanders. Despite intense interrogation of the employees afterwards, the attackers learned nothing about the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices recipe and were left with just biscuits, cole slaw and a burnt out, extra crispy building structure.

Back in this country, the demographics are shifting and the new kids on the block prefer the darker blend of the bird. This has something to do with the influx of immigrants from Asia, Latin America and the North Shore of Oahu, as the look on grocery shelves is a changin’. Now you’re more likely to see lemon grass and sriracha peppers rather than Lemon Pledge and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club spices.

Now I’ve always been a dark meat man, whether it be chicken, turkey, or carrier pigeon. In my later years I’ve grown particularly fond of boneless thighs, although I haven’t figured out how those chickens roam the free range without a bone in their legs. And after years of exclusively living on the dark side, I admit that I can enjoy the virtues of white meat, as I’ve opened my mind to new ideas and sauces. Who says a leopard can’t change its stripes?

There are thousands of chicken recipes to choose from including piccata, tetrazzini, cacciatore, catchabreak and the American favorite, nuggets, which even chickens find puzzling. And it doesn’t take years of schooling at the French Culinary Institute to learn how to make chicken surrender to good flavor. All you have to do is find any kind of juice, marinade or some concoction that turns into a liquid, pour it over those waiting thighs, pop it in the oven for forty five minutes, and voila, poultry magic. Or as we said back in the old country, “Don’t cook tonight, call Chicken Delight.”

Personally, my favorite recipe involving the boneless wonders is one of my Italian specialities-chicken parmesan. Food critics from around the world and my son agree that this is a big time winner on the scallopini front, as the chicken, when covered by a layer of mozzarella cheese and savory tomato sauce, is as tender and moist as my eyes after watching an episode of “Friday Night Lights.” Clear eyes, full heart, garlic knots forever.

Chicken Parm is just one of my Italian selections, along with meatballs and spaghetti, baked mostaccioli and my pasta a la Sophia Loren. I believe my children would be happy if I served them pasta seven nights a week. I’m just glad it’s nutritious and doesn’t pack any pounds around the the waistline. In the words of British writer George Miller, “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.”

Now since this is a family show, I’m not going to get into the physiological or psychological reasons why there is a difference between white meat and dark meat. Let’s just say it’s all about the energy these birds are extending in parts of their anatomy and leave it at that.

Now according to a study done by the Drumstick Institute, most dark meat contains more zinc, riboflavin, flavoflavin, jennifer flavin, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, orange sunshine and iron than white meat. So although it may be fattier, there are some benefits to the tanner of meats. I believe it was either President Herbert Hoover or Robert Hoover from ‘Animal House’ who said, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” Yes, the time has come to decriminalize dark meat chicken. The skies are not falling.

To sum up my feelings about our nation’s preference changing from white to dark, let me paraphrase Nobel prize winning writer Rabindranath Tagore, who said, “Faith is the bird that feels that light when the dawn is still dark meat.” Thank you and good night.

For today’s photo portion of our program, we are taking a stroll down the street from where I currently reside. For some reason, whether it’s the tilt of the earth’s axis or my past life karma, on two mornings this past year I failed to make it to the edge of the continent for the dawn experience, and I had to settle for shooting on a bluff overlooking the westside. I tried to take advantage of the silhouette action from the trees, as the sky lit up with color and the sun rose without paying much attention to my position. I didn’t capture the vivid color of the clouds reflecting on the water, but I did bring a little something home to talk about around the dinner table.

On to some late night humor. “Great news for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. He’s just been named Cinnabon Customer of the Month in the Moscow Airport.” –David Letterman “NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been offered asylum in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Or as Snowden put it, ‘Prison it is!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“With Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer running for political office, New York City is changing its nickname to “The City That Never Sleeps With Its Wife.” Despite his prostitution scandal several years ago, Eliot Spitzer is running for comptroller of New York. He’s paying someone $800 a day to collect signatures to put his name on the ballot. He said it’s the second best $800 he’s ever spent.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mexico has replaced the U.S. as the world’s fattest nation. The U.S. is now number two. The Mexican government has done a lot of research. It turns out their people eat way too much Mexican food.” –Conan O’Brien “Mexicans now are trying to cross the border just to ask, “Are you going to finish that?” ‘ Jay Leno “It turns out the Pakistan police pulled Osama bin Laden over for speeding. Pulled him over and wrote the guy a ticket. So listen. I don’t want to hear any more of this nonsense about Pakistan being lenient on Osama bin Laden, OK?” –David Letterman

“One of the world’s leading scientists said he believes the human species was probably created when pigs mated with chimps. And that is how we got “Jersey Shore.” So it turns out that men really ARE pigs. There is scientific evidence.” – Jimmy Kimmel “A video has surfaced of Justin Bieber urinating into a mop bucket. Critics are calling it the best thing Justin Bieber has ever released.” – Conan O’Brien

“Last Thursday we celebrated our 237th year of independence from Great Britain. And our 10th year of dependence on the Chinese.” –Jay Leno
“It’s been a bit of a week for the Supreme Court. Yesterday they ruled that it’s okay for gay people to get married. Today, they ruled it’s okay for straight people to rollerblade.” –Craig Ferguson

“It’s now 32 NFL players that have been arrested since the Super Bowl. To give you an idea of how bad it’s gotten, now when a team says they’ve hired a new defensive coordinator, they’re talking about a lawyer. 31 players have been arrested just since the Super Bowl. In fact, a lot of teams are switching to the no-huddle offense because players aren’t allowed to associate with known felons. The show “Cops” is now on the NFL network. That’s how bad it’s gotten.” – Jay Leno

So another week has past as the summer rolls along. We’ll catch you playing in one of the most dramatic finals in Wimbledon history and giving the English fans something to boast about besides their muffins. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andy Murray fans.

July 7, 2013

Here’s To The Red, White And Blue Whales

Good morning and greetings, marine life fans. Let’s face it, life is good if you live on Monterey Bay. When I walk along West Cliff Drive, I’m always fascinated by the waves, the changing skies and the people who pass by who don’t make eye contact. I see seals, dolphins, broncos, sea otters, sea lions, sea biscuits and the passing whales. I always stop in my tracks and watch them glide through the water, surface and then go back under as I await their next appearance. That’s the view you get from being a land bound creature. However, offshore is where the real action is, and that’s where we’re headed today.

You may have missed this story from back in mid June written by Jason Hoppin in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The description of the events in our front yard called Monterey Bay blew what little is left of my mind, as it described a kind of excitement unseen by yours truly.

It seems on this late spring day the bay was teeming with a lunch special for a variety of whales. This brought about a sight seen by a few but missed by the masses. The action was so spectacular that I wanted to bring it back into the July light.

The date was June 15, and giants of the deep were putting on an unbelievable show. Boat captains and calamari lovers estimated that at least 30 blue whales, which, next to the cast of “Baywatch,” are some of the most spectacular creatures ever to grace the ocean’s water, were involved in a feeding frenzy seven miles off shore in a place called Soquel Canyon. I have extensively researched these so-called “frenzies” at various all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets. It’s a world where mu shu pancakes meets Animal Planet and anything can happen, especially if there’s any sweet and sour sauce lurking in the area.

Now on a good day, blue whales measure about 90 feet. If you are thinking in terms of sports, this is the length of a basketball court, or almost a third of a football field, which means you’d need three first downs to just go end to end with these giants. Their tails alone are as wide as a Greyhound bus. Just imagine the earth’s largest dinosaurs swimming in the ocean. Now imagine them all jacked up and feeding on krill like a Yom Kippur fast had just ended.

If you could find a scale big enough, these big boys and girls would weigh in between 100 and 150 tons. Don’t bother them with Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig as much like myself, they’re not interested. Their tongues are the size of a Buick and get better mileage. And I don’t want to say that whale calves are big, but after a year of formulating inside their mother’s womb, these cute little babies emerge weighing three tons and measuring 25 feet. Try fitting that into a car seat.

And if you think your baby was a big eater, listen to this. For the first year, a whale calf dines on nothing but mother’s milk and cookies and gains 200 pounds a day, which leads to body issues during the teenage years. And in case you were planning a vacation, you can fit about 100 people inside a blue whale’s mouth. And these mammals have no need for cell phones, as they can communicate with relatives and other whales over a thousand miles away.

So what happened on this day all came about because of the wind. The spring breezes shoved the warmer surface water aside, which allowed much cooler water, which was filled with more nutrients than a Jamba Juice Peach Pleasure smoothie, to come up from the ocean floor. This process is called upwelling, which is great for hungry whales but not so good for family members of the lower species like krill, squid or members of the NRA, because on this day, they were the “blue plate special,” with a pun definitely intended.

Let’s just say that blue whales have a large appetite. How large? At one meal they can down four tons of krill along with a dinner salad and small dessert. According to Ken Stagnaro of Stagnaro Charters, on this Saturday, the ruckus out at Soquel Canyon was put in play by the krill getting trapped against the canyon walls by the tides with no way out. This led to “side by side, dozens of blue and humpback whales continually surface lunging (which is also my favorite way of eating) at the massive schools of krill, sometimes swimming within yards of the boat. We sat nearly motionless for nearly 90 minutes as the largest animals in the world gorged on the sea surface for everyone to see.” And all meals include an 18% gratuity added to the total before any discounts.

What made this day even more remarkable was that the blues don’t usually make an appearance until the NFL preseason, making this open sea dining experience that much more remarkable. There are usually humpback whales in the bay, but the blues were an unexpected late spring treat. Also on display were the orcas, the killer whales who like to dine on seals, dolphins and baby gray whales, and who along with Japanese and Norwegian whalers and Sarah Palin are the only natural predators of the blues.

It was nature gone wild this June day on Monterey Bay, which was first discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo back in 1542 while searching for a junior college. And it was all made possible by the wind, which brought to the surface more culinary riches than could be found at all the Red Lobsters, Long John Silvers and Bubba Gump Shrimp Companies in America. Monterey Bay, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Stop by, admission is free.

For today’s photo entree, we are going back to March 15. This day started on a fabulous note, as I photographed a beautiful sunrise down at Lighthouse Point. And then that evening, color returned to the sky, as I started my photographic trek at Stockton Avenue before moving up to Natural Bridges to complete the daily double sunrise/sunset experience. Any time you can get two for the price of one is a good day on the photography front.

There’s no late night action this week so I’ll throw in a joke. A woman stormed up to the front desk of the library and said, “I have a complaint.” “Yes, ma’am?” “I borrowed a book and it was horrible!” “What was wrong with it?” “It had too many characters and there was no plot whatsoever.” The librarian nodded and said, ‘Ah. So you must be the person who took our phone book.”

So that’s our first blast for July. Hope you enjoyed the holiday week as now the summer of 2013 is in full swing.

We’ll catch you surprising the NBA world by turning down more money and signing a free agent contract with the Golden State Warriors. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andre Iguadola fans.

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