Sunday, December 30, 2007

Baja Cruise.

12-28-07 SEA OF CORTEZ: I am behind a few days from the busy pace these Lindblad people set. Anyway, we left LAX on 12-26-07 after another two-hour delay on the tarmac. We ultimately did get to Cabo and connected with our bus for a four-hour ride to La Paz to catch our ship. We had a refreshment stop at Los Adobes, a bistro with a beautiful cactus garden. It was dark when we finally got to the 'Sea Bird',the Lindblad/National Geographic ship.

On 12-27-07 the 'Sea Bird' took us north to Isla Coronados, an island further north in the Sea of Cortez near the town of Loreto. During the morning sail we saw lots of dolphins surfing on our bow wave. After lunch we had a hike to the top of a volcano and through two seabed terraces. Judy and I actually did only the first half of the hike. It was quite difficult under foot as the trail, so to speak, was made of loose, round volcanic rocks, which, being round and loose, tended to roll on the steep hillside. We each had a bit of a roll too.

Dolphins in the bow wave, reflection of bow of ship.

Isla Coronados. andesite and basalt.

Soldiering on to 12-28-07 and Isla Danzante, another volcanic island, a bit back to the south, but still near Loreto. We started the day kayaking and had a cruise of the shoreline in a zodiac with a naturalist guide. We saw lots of birds including: pelican, brown booby, blue-footed booby, egret, great egret, sand pipers, gulls, blue heron, kingfisher, grebe. We also got in a quick hike to the top of this island before lunch, a much shorter hike than the previous day. In the afternoon we snorkeled and had a guided hike back to the top of the volcano again seeing the birds, a couple small lizards and a scorpion. The snorkeling was in water with temperature of 67°. There were no coral but rock formations served as home to the mostly small fish. There were a couple of interesting starfish. The swim was, brrr, fairly short even with a wet suit.


Isla Danzante and the 'Sea Bird'.

Cardon cactus and friends.



12-29-07 SEA OF CORTEZ:
In the morning we went ashore to the town of Loreto after docking at Puerto Escondido. Loreto is an early mission colony founded in 1697 and the spot from which Junipero Serra started his string of California missions. The mission church is still there, a Romanesque building now with an attached small museum and courtyard. The rest of the town has a seaport for boats and lot of touristy shopping. We all walked around and some of us bought stuff and some of us showed sensible restraint. The afternoon was on the water looking for whales, but only getting a brief glimpse of some dolphins.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


XMAS 07 LAX: We made it here after another day at the grandson’s home. They got quite a bonanza. Joey is a whiz on the Razor scooter. All the presents needed assembly of some sort. We got two small painting done by the junior artists. In the evening we flew to LA and hope to get out early and not miss the boat. This flight was OK. The flight from Newark was delayed four hours.

Here is an attempt to demonstrate what the city streets of San José look like, open and low density.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

We Know the Way.

XMAS EVE, SAN JOSÉ: Well, another hectic day with Eoin and Joey, a pair of total high-energy grandsons. Just watching them play, and fight, is exhausting. The house construction project is progressing, perhaps a bit slowly, but progressing. It will be great some day. Flowers are blooming up and down all the streets, roses, iris, bougainvillea, but the deciduous trees are leafless, an incongruous effect.

California cities look different from eastern cities. Out here the streets are broad with center islands beautifully planted and building set back from the curb and separated from one another. Cross streets just as wide as main streets. In the east, the streets are narrow and the buildings close together across the street and touching their neighbors on either side creating an enclosed, densely packed effect that gives me a feeling of greater energy and vibrancy. The California feeling is openness, low density and lower intensity. City planning as cultural ethos.

Xmas decorations.

This isn't supposed to happen until May.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Shortest Day.

12-21-07 SHORT HILLS: Tomorrow is the winter solstice. Today is dark, overcast, rainy, but not too cold. The snow that we got last week is slowly melting. The day after tomorrow, the first day of winter, or is it the second day, the weather is supposed to be rainy and warm, possibly up to 60°. We go to San José that day to see Jon, Siobhan, Eoin and Joe. Three days later, we meet Alison’s and Valerie’s families in Baja for a Linblad cruise in the Sea of Cortez until January second.

Friday, December 14, 2007


12-14-07 SHORT HILLS: We did have an ice storm and a lot of branches did come down, but nothing had major damage. When the sun came out today, everything was covered in diamond. By late afternoon much of it had melted and the shrubs had partially rebounded.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Icy Forsythia.

12-13-07 SHORT HILLS: The last several days have been similar, all rainy and progressively warmer until today. Today is colder, snowy, sleety, and rainy with temps of right around freezing. The precip changes, but all of it is sticking to the trees and shrubs, especially the evergreens. When it cools off tonight, it will freeze, and break a lot of branches.

Yesterday, when it was warmer, the forsythia started to open. Every year they seem to get trapped by a small warm spell followed by a cold snap. Of course, there are only a few flowers open, and most buds remain tightly wrapped. I suppose what seems foolish on the part of the plant is a way to catch early pollinators, and after all, nothing is better at survival than forsythia. It blooms early, stays in leaf late, spreads itself, and has no major pest problems. Pruning every decade of so removes dead wood and renews the shrub, or you can cut it into balls and cubes if you like. I prefer it natural. You can run it over with a bulldozer, and if a bit of root and stalk are left, it will be back in business.

Winter forsythia.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


12-6-07 SHORT HILLS: Is it just me or do others think that the revelation about Iran’s innocence is so the Bush Leaguers can save face? With no troops and no national will for a war with Iran, they just decided to fix the NEI so they can say no action is necessary now. No need to nuke them after all. We still can’t trust them or talk to them, but we won’t blow them up, for the moment anyway. If the report is true and the information available back in August, why did we have talk of World War III when we “knew” they were out of the WMD business? The facts and the behavior just don’t jibe.

And another thing, I’m sick of all this god talk. Why is it necessary for all the politicians to suck up to the evangelical element? I don’t care what religion they follow. I would vote for, and even support, a politician who says, “My religion is personal and none of your business.” Or even a politician who said she/he didn’t believe. Do they really believe prayers are answered? That’s reason enough for them to be certified, not elected.

In a 2004 movie, “The Big Bounce”, Morgan Freeman says to Owen Wilson, “God is an imaginary friend for grownups.” How can we have fallen so far so fast from healthy skepticism like that?

I pray the nation recovers from this obsession with god and religion. Thank goodness for Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.

And the guns—another armed crazy commits mayhem in Omaha and no one asks, “How did he get a gun? Why was he able to get a gun? Why wasn’t another emotionally unstable jerk prevented form arming himself?” Why doesn’t anyone take on the NRA and the gun manufacturers? I guess those politicians are praying for an end to gun violence or maybe God likes guns.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's cold in December, what's with that?

12-4-07 SHORT HILLS: The snow did disappear within a day or so, but now it’s cold, windy and wintry. We walked the dogs around the block, and everybody seemed to be in a hurry. It was a race to get back in the warm kitchen. There was no dawdling over interesting scents and no long pauses at street signs. We had a brief flurry. The standing water is frozen.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

First Snow in Short HIlls.

12-2-07 SHORT HILLS: First snow of the year in this part of NJ, only about 3 inches of wet stuff, but enough to keep us from visiting Brooklyn for fear of traffic tie-ups from accidents and stuck vehicles. It looks pretty on top of the leaves that are still on the trees. The birds seem happy with the feeders. It will probably all disappear tomorrow.

Hungry Friends.

Interesting contrast of black, white, red and green.