Monday, July 31, 2006

Still More Road Trip Photos

The other post got too big and wouldn't load any more photos sooo I'll make another one, hehe
The view from Lombard Street above the portion that's called the 'crookedest street in the world'...
Ring-billed gull on the shore near Ghiradelli Square.
Big Sur - this is naval property, what a waste eh?
Skyline as Pete and I first drove into S.F.
View up one of the streets in S.F.
Ship in the harbor, that's part of Alcatraz behind it to the right, and Oakland behind that.
Ah, gotta love that Nor Cal fog...

More Road Trip Photos

Wow, nothing like coming down off the high of a vacation to give you the blues. I decided to edit my photos and post a few to reminisce and perhaps lift my spirits a little... On a bird-related note, (yes I haven't forgotten about those) I saw a California endemic species on our drive home yesterday - The yellow-billed magpie. It flew over our car =) I was glad to get one good bird on what was otherwise a very non-birding oriented trip.
Monterey/Big Sur
Big Sur is one of my favorite places I've been to, and I was thrilled that Pete really liked it as well. Look at the view! It almost seems fake it's so gorgeous. Honestly, how could you not like a place like that?!
Hoary Comma, a lifer for me!!
This is the closest I came to getting in a boat out of Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey...
BSOL - photo from the river
These were the deer we saw outside our hotel in Pacific Grove, Pete was adorably stoked to see them. They were incredible tame...
I made this panorama of an oak branch from photos I took at Big Sur Andrew Molera State Park.
Santa Cruz
It was great to see Charlie again, I hadn't seen him since I left, and he was my best friend from my few short months living in Santa Cruz last fall.
San Francisco
I attempted to get skyline shots, took an entire memory card worth of S.F. photos, this one's from the Embarcadero...
Crabs for sale along the Fisherman's Grotto.
We watched these guys for a while before taking the BART back to our car.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Summer Road Trip ~ Last Day and Wrap-up

Well today was the last day of my road trip up the coast with Pete. It was basically consumed by the drive home. We woke up and had breakfast at our hotel then hopped on the 101 south to the San Mateo Bridge, on the 580 east. We took that until it dumped into the 5 freeway around Tracy. The 5 was a straight drive home on a two lane (four both directions) freeway.
One of our first views upon entering San Francisco, and the bridge we got great looks at from the Equinox restaurant
We made exceptionally good time and got home in about 7 hours, traveling over 300 miles. We made two bathroom/drink/stretch pit stops, skipped lunch, and had dinner around 5 at the Olive Garden in Burbank, but other than that it was a direct drive home with no detours.
Playing pool at the Q Club, is awesome, we pay like 5 bucks each for a few hours of pool.
Once back into Orange County it just didn't seem right to end the trip by just going home so after a run into Starbucks, we called up our friends Taylor and Evan and met up at our favorite pool hall in Costa Mesa, the Q Club, to play a few rounds.
Aren't they a pair...
I kicked ass the first game and then went to hell after that, perhaps the fact that my day started 300+ miles away in Northern California had something to do with that? In any case, it's nice to be back in my own bed and all but I really did have an awesome time, and I'm not at all sick of Pete considering we spent 5 days together 4/7. That's pretty sweet =) All in all an incredible trip and one I'll remember hopefully for the rest of my life as my very first, very awesome road trip.
My crappy shot of the L.A. skyline as we drove through on the 5 freeway - crazy to think we drove from S.F. to L.A. in seven hours...
FINAL MILEAGE: 1,177 miles approx.
  • Riding the trolley car, hanging off the side in true San Fransiscan fashion
  • Eating dinner at the Equinox, the rotating restaurant ontop on the Hyatt hotel on the Embarcadero in San Francisco
  • Hiking up the center of the Big Sur river, and being there in general
  • The drive up PCH the second day, the views from the road in the area around Santa Barbara were really amazing
  • Eating lunch at the Madonna Inn in SLO, nuff said there
  • The Hotels/Inns we stayed at each night, all awesome and all uniquely suited to the area
  • Walking around UCSC and downtown Santa Cruz
  • Walking and shopping along the Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey
  • Seeing Charlie, Dave and Adam in Santa Cruz
  • Spending time with myboyfriend, and perhaps more importantly my best friend, Peter
  • The amazing lack of traffic, the weather, and basically everything else...

Links to other trip-related posts:

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Summer Road Trip ~ Day Four

Today was our fourth day on our trip up the coast. We had breakfast at a cute little place called the Beach Street Cafe along the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz with David, my old roomate, and Adam a friend from Ventura. After that we checked out of our hotel and after finally hearing that Pete wasn't going to be on call, we turned north on the 101 towards San Francisco. With one stop in San Mateo at a cute little swimming center thingy in San Mateo to use their restrooms, we made it in good time.
Breakfast on the boardwalk was fantastic, I can't really comment on that rubber chicken however...
We had a late lunch (clam chowder in a sourdough bowl of course) at Fisherman's Wharf, our second "fisherman's" wharf of the trip, and probably third or fourth pier/wharf in general.
Yummm, bread bowls and soup are a S.F. classic
After that we walked to Ghiradelli's square to buy some of the famous chocolate. We took photos from that area of Alcatraz and what we could see of the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked up a very steeeeeep hill to see the Lombard Street, the world's "crookedest" road, which offered amazing views of S.F. from all angles, then hopped onto on of the trolley cars to take it back to where we parked, which was by far the highlight of the day perhaps even the trip. Something about holding onto the sides and hanging out away from the car as it breaks up and down the steep hills just seals the feeling of San Fransisco for me. After retrieving our car, we got a room at the Holiday Inn in South San Fransisco.
Pete and I standing in front of Alcatraz in San Francicso
We had dinner at the most awesome restaurant. We decided it was our last night so it was alright to splurge and eat at the Equinox, a rotating restaurant ontop of the Hyatt Regency on the Embarcadero. It was amazing, dinner and dessert were delicious, dessert being yummy pumpkin creme brulee and coffee =)
Tomorrow we hop onto the 5 freeway and coast the entire way home, what an amazing trip we've had, and how lucky we've been that it's been stress-free, trouble-free and truly incredible.

Summer Road Trip ~ Day Three =)

The second day began in Monterey. We had a continental breakfast at our Inn before heading to the Fisherman's Wharf to walk around a bit. It was a typical foggy morning, cool but not cold. We saw David, my old roomate's car at the wharf and wrote him a nice note in the copious amounts of dirt and dust on his back window ;)
Monterey is a great place to visit, it seems to be the perfect example of a Northern Californian coastal city.
We took photos and shopped around a bit then made the decision to head back down to Big Sur to buy the shirts we had been eyeing while there the day before. With that purchase made, we headed into Santa Cruz.
Our last few moments in Monterey county were at Dominick's Fruit stand in Watsonville, where I often shopped for fruits and veggies while I lived in Aptos last fall. We bought honey sticks, dried fruits and flavored pistachios and headed across the county line. We got off at Rio Del Mar to see my old houses (yes two in four short months, that's another story) as well as my old school, Cabrillo College. From there we drove into downtown Santa Cruz to find lodging for the night. We found a perfect place within easy walking distance of the boardwalk and pier, the Ocean Pacific Lodge, off the corner of Pacific and Front Street.
Big Sur is so breathtakingly beautiful - it may be one of my absolute favorite places in California.
After getting our hotel, we headed to UCSC for a brief visit to the campus, which was just as beautiful and peaceful as I remembered. Almost like you're hiking in a state park, not walking around a University... We then went down to the Promenade on Pacific Avenue, where we listened to a few different street performances, the best of which being Woodsong, a perky little band with entirely wood instruments - think carribean style. We stopped into my favorite store on the strip, World Market Bazaar, where I bought myself a boho scarf to wear to dinner...
We walked down to the boardwalk, which was overflowing with people. The weather was quite nice, cool yet not uncomfortably so. There was a band was playing, and we took the chairlift that ran the length of the boardwalk, and got a bird's-eye-view of the concert.
We had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Cruz and a must stop for me everytime I'm in town, Olita's. It's a mexican/seafood type restaurant on the end of the pier with delicious chips and salsa, plus a view of the entire boardwalk. I had my usual, the lobster quesadilla and Pete had a chicken mole dish.
We finished the night by briefly meeting Charlie - my best friend from the semester I spent up in Santa Cruz - at the bowling alley in downtown (best prices I've ever seen for bowling!). After that we headed back to the hotel to turn in for the night, the end of a another awesome and eventful day.
I have a lot more photos from this day especially, but for some reason blogger won't load them so they may have to go in a photo-specific post of the trip highlights... =(

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer Road Trip~ Days One and Two

Pete and I have been plannng a roadtrip for sometime now. That roadtrip finally happened from Wednesday July 26th to Sunday July 30th, up Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1 or PCH. We wanted to spend some time together before he leaves for the school year, and to simply enjoy California without over-planning the trip.
Our first day on the road was a half day since I had class =/ We left Newport Beach around 2pm and drove through pretty slow traffic up to Santa Monica where we spent our first night.
We had gone there on a day trip earlier this summer and had a great time, so it seemed appropriate for the first stop this time as well. After finding lodging at the Hotel Carmel (discounted due to a power outage that took out the A.C. and the elevator) we had a lovely dinner at Il Fornaio, an Italian restaurant chain.
After getting cleaned up, we walked down to the pier to enjoy the sunset and sea breeze. We walked along the Third Street Promenade after dark, and got a real feel for the sights, sounds and culture of Santa Monica. (including a minor run-in with one of the resident homeless individuals) Thursday morning we got up early and had muffins and coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the corner before leaving for Northern California.
We made great time heading up the coast, passing through Santa Barbara with almost no traffic, and stopping for lunch at the Madonna Inn in San Louis Obispo county. For those of you who have never been, check out their website, it's a pretty rediculous hotel, to give you an idea of the kitch and craziness, the men's urinal is a fountain, and yes I did peek in and see it, haha.
We continued up the very long, very gorgeous, and very windy highway 1 towards Big Sur.
It was slightly cloudy but with enough sun that everything still had color and the views were lovely. When we finally arrived at Andrew Molera State Park, we wasted no time splashing into the Big Sur river for a short and relaxing hike up the center. I found a saytr butterfly, I have yet to I.D. a life family for me!
Then it was into Pacific Grove in Monterey to find a place to stay for the night and to eat. Our hotel is on Lighthouse street, aptly named The Lighthouse Lodge. When we pulled up to check out the hotel we saw a family of deer browsing on grass in the fog in the field next door, pretty awesome. Dinner was at a delicious restaurant called Hula's. Pete had chicken, and I had some deliciously prepared fish, we split a basket of sweet potato fries and moaned the whole way home with overstuffed bellies. =)
Now it's off to the jacuzzi and calling it an early night because tomorrow we explore Monterey then push onto Santa Cruz, can't wait!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Marsh Camp Wrap-up

Well I had an amazing two weeks of camp. I'm sad to see it go, but I am a little happy to have my free time back =) We have been having an incredibly hot summer, hotter than average temperatures made our daily walks a little harder, but we still managed to see a lot of really great birds. Our campers saw 57 species over the course of one week. Highlights included but were certaintly not limited to a barn owl (which I never got to see), a wilson's phalarope, a cattle egret, a flock of white-faced ibis and one of the resident bobcats! The water level in one of the ponds was higher than I've ever seen it, which allowed the campers to get fantastic looks at all our common species of egrets and herons, which were drawn to the large amounts of misquito fish present. It also gave us an eye level view of the terns plunge-diving (Caspian, Least and Forster's) as well as the swallows feeding on the midge flies over the water (Tree, N. Rough-winged, Cliff and Barn)

Probably our male, he has a mate and young =)

Cattle Egret

Flame Skimmer I found with Trude while photographing the bobcat

Wilson's Phalarope in with WESAs

The water level provided unique views of our marsh species...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Marsh Camp - Week Two - Nest Day

So camp continues and this week has been crazy. Pond C was higher than I have ever seen it in all the years I've been birding at the Marsh... These photos are all from that pond and because of the water level.
CLSW, the were flying eye level!
FOTE plunge-diving, same deal
This one really shows you how high the water level is, and check out all those egrets! I've never seen that many in one pond together, and this is only one bank...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Marsh Camp - Week 2: Day 1

Today was a great day at camp, luckily it's a bit cooler this week than last week, or at least we had a bit of a breeze today. We started camp with 32 species, two more than the first day of camp last week, the Cattle Egret was the last one on the list, we were alerted by a birder who led us out to see it. I think the last time we saw Cattle Egrets at Marsh Camp I was a camper myself! They've been declining in recent years.
Cattle Egret - look at those gorgeous reddish plumes!
Caspian Terns - there were a few Forster's mixed in with this flock
female AMAV feeding

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Marsh Camp 1 Thursday - Raptor Day

Here are the pictures from the Orange County Bird of Prey Center's talk at camp this morning. My spacebar on my keyboard is broken and it's hard to type with, so I will add more text later...
Sparticus was a male burrowing owl, brought to the center when he was hit by a car.
JR the Harris Hawk was being quite uncooperative and extremely vocal...
O'Neil is a gorgeous male American Kestrel, I've gotten to handle him while volunteering for the Bird of Prey Center.
Campers got an up close and personal look at Slug the Western Screech-Owl.
Yes, I realize this picture is blurry, but check out that nictitating membrane!
This RSHA showed up outside the Duck Club window allowing all the campers a great view, perfect for Raptor Day, I can't believe I didn't get a better shot...