Tag Archives: nature

The Grandest

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Bottleneck

The northern end of Zion canyon tapers to a region called “The Narrows,” where you can continue venturing but must do so through the icy, silty Virgin river. We stopped here, as did many others who had also ridden the bus shuttle to the last of 9 stops along the canyon. Keeping traffic to shuttles-only in summer (except for visitors staying at the Zion Lodge midway up the canyon) keeps the traffic reasonable. I can’t speak for high summer, but in late September when most American families are tied to the school schedule, the numbers of visitors seem reasonable, but still steady. This is when Europeans know to come.

Anyway, a lot of people collect at this point where some continue on in rented water boots, but many, like us, just hang out and try to not get our feet wet for the walk back to the shuttle. Ironically, I was just the other day explaining to James what the term “bottleneck” means.

Bird Feeder

We were walking the IB pier today and came upon this gentleman wagging a small mackerel at an osprey perched on a light pole. 


She wasn’t interested in the small fish initially, but his whistles finally brought her down to grab at the meal. They have done this before. 


Thanks to past experience, he knew how much those talons can hurt.

And he dropped the fish before she could grab it.

She swooped back around though, so he raised it again for another pass.


This time, success!


He hasn’t named her yet, but probably soon.

Below the Waterline


I was walking the pier and beach in IB as the fog cleared, and saw several people digging for something. They had laid out tape measures, and it appeared they probably weren’t searching for dinner. In fact, they were a professor and several students from Concordia University in Irvine, searching for the sometimes elusive Pismo Clam. They had found several, and one of the students took the time to show me one and explain what they were doing.


They had been in Newport Beach the day before, and only found two. They had already surpassed that feeble haul in a couple hours here.

The study of the clam populations in various places intended to explore responses to several variables, including climate change and the starfish wasting virus, which has led to an explosion in the mussel population in Mexico and probably elsewhere. It must be an exciting, albeit terrifying, time to be a scientist researching populations of species that are so rapidly affected by the slightest of changes in their ecosystem, when those changes are anything but subtle.

Meanwhile, it appears that at least on some beaches, the rest of us could rely on the Pismo Clam for dinner. I would take it if it were prepared in the way this article describes! Especially since who knows if 10 years from now that recipe will be an option for any of us.

Backyard Chronicles #2

When we first moved to our suburban rental house, I found solace at the REI in the nearby mall (which has since closed). Along with a running group I found on Facebook, a trail book I bought there has helped me appreciate living on the edge of civilization. For example, last year I ran a trail 1/2 marathon around the lake behind our house. I decided to do it again since the course was flat, beautiful and so close by.

Waiting for the start as the fog clears.

As you can see, the water level is high. Because of that and unbeknownst to me, the race course was significantly changed in the past week. What was a flat course became one with significant altitude climbs. But that led to some lovely views.

Motorized paragliders (ultralights?) were out.

Looking south and heading up at about mile 7.

Now looking west at mile 7.3 or so.

Still going up.

Finally, running down! Pink tape marks the course.

I am now at a point where I appreciate having all this to enjoy in our backyard while we’re here. It only took me 2 years, and quite a bit of ibuprofen, but I’ve arrived.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Since he is no longer swimming, James is trying water polo. It’s a 7 am practice, so I went for a run in new environs today. The high school he practices at is only a few blocks from an estuary, separated by a strip of dunes from the ocean. It is also very close to the border, but to get there you’d have to cross the Tijuana river delta, where sewage from TJ regularly finds its way and beyond into the ocean. Swim at your own risk.

Since this was only his second practice, James was a little nervous and requested that I return by 7:50. That would give me plenty of time to explore. I ventured off through an older beach neighborhood for several blocks and soon found a trail that went south through the estuary. To the east of a fence parallel to the trail was a Navy outlying landing field. Although I frequently see rabbits on early morning runs in our neighborhood, here cotton-tailed bunnies were everywhere. I guess at the estuary there are few predators and they are allowed to breed like, well, rabbits. And on the landing field, which was quiet, were long-eared jack-rabbits, twice the size of the regular bunnies. I could not, for the life of me, get a decent shot of one.

I did get a few shots of the little ones.

Can you see the bunny?


Here are some of the flowers:


Taking in the surroundings and focusing on rabbit chasing made the run fly by, and before I knew it I had been gone for over 30 minutes. A sign had indicated I was on “The River Loop Trail,” but at about 7:42, I came to this:

Dead end!

I immediately reversed course and quickly came upon an omen I hadn’t noticed previously:


With the entire length of my trek thus far to travel in reverse, I set off in a hare-like sprint to avoid a similar fate. Anyone for whom “the rabbit has died” knows the doom that awaits a parent late to pick up an anxious child. 💀

Fortunately, I was able to pull something out of my hat: I cut a corner of the “loop,” ran quick like a bunny through a neighborhood shortcut, and made it back, not by 7:50, but at least before he got out of the pool.

This rabbit avoided the stew today!