Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January in New Jersey.

1-30-08 SHORT HILLS: Today had everything. During the night there was rain with a roll of thunder and this afternoon sun and high wind. Everything that is but snow. There has been no snow in January in NJ for the first time in 75 years. I guess 1933 was a warm year. We did have cold, and the yard was frozen for a few weeks, but is now thawing. Anyone for early spring? The buds are all starting to swell, but what do they know?

We go to Naples, Florida not Italy, to visit the Wegs and see the new digs on Friday. I will try to do a post from there.

Hey, anybody notice, this blog is about to turn 10,000 visits—check the meter at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

January in Vermont.

1-24-08 VERMONT: It has been a cold week. After that one warm, sunny day it has been in the teens and twenties all week. One day started with minus five. The dogs don’t seen to mind, but the people do. It doesn't get light until 7 AM, and gets dark at 4 PM. Almost every day there have been snow flurries and mostly cloudy skies, and today is typical.

Snow on the ground, in the air and in the sky.

The electrician was here and the electrical system is in order. The dog invisible fence has been repaired. We replaced the DVD player which had been zapped in some summer electric storm and added a better surge protector to that media cabinet.

The social swirl was unaffected by the weather. We went to a party at the Katz’s with the Nelsons and Hanlons, and then we had the Robinsons to dinner to watch the Giants win, then the Hanlons and Hannons, and then the Koreys last night. Add in a class luncheon on Tueday. Yesterday I got to the Dartmouth Skiway for the afternoon. It was cold, but fun for a few hours. That’s the first skiing as a seventy pluser.

Oops, almost forgot to mention the visit to Manchester, NH to see the new puppy, Gus. Back to NJ tomorrow.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Snowshoeing in the Sun.

1-18-08 VERMONT: We’re back up in Thetford for a taste of January. We arrived yesterday to a typical assortment of problems: TV’s not working, invisible dog fence out of order, and furnace electrical switch replacement. We have service appointments for the fence and electrician pending.

Last night we got about eight inches of wet, heavy snow, and we snowshoed around the pasture a few times. The dogs also loved it. There was about six inches of frozen crusty snow on the ground, before the snow. All day the new snow has been sliding off the roof and hitting the ground or deck with thuds and thumps. Each crash is an occasion for some of us to start barking lest that snow tries to break into the house. After noon the sun came out and it warmed to almost 40°, beautiful shiny day and dinner party tonight.

And away we go.

Blue, Black and White

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ghastly, Crippling Storm to Hit Region!

1-14-08 SHORT HILLS: It hasn’t been very cold. It has been rainy and drizzly which keeps everything muddy. For the last few days we have been under a winter storm warning, hyped by the TV news and threatening us with up to six inches of snow, perhaps more. They just love to predict ghastly storms and commuting chaos. It’s far from an original observation, but the TV news people, I guess all the news people, just go for the sensational story. Instead of a crippling storm, we had maybe a half inch of rain but not one solitary flake of snow.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mud and Straw.

1-10-08 SHORT HILLS: Since the cold spell ended, it has been quite warm even reaching 66° a few days ago. The yard which had been frozen thawed giving us a taste of mud season. The mud required a trip to Agway in Morristown for severals bales of straw to top off the mud. The leaf mulch didn’t provide adequate cover for the mud. Spreading the straw kept me busy for an afternoon.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

NJ Turkey Vulture

1-5-08 SHORT HILLS: Well, back to the routine. We returned to 17° weather, although it is warming up today. I spent an hour or so the last two days playing pick-up-sticks in the yard. There were a ton of branches down from some storm while we were away.

There was a bit of a reminder of Baja for us in Short Hills. We saw a turkey vulture working on a flat squirrel on one of those cold days. He would have been warmer in Baja, but there is probably more road kill here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Baja Cruise-IV.

1-1-08 ENSENADA GRANDE: The long hike to top of island was the morning activity through a boulder-filled arroyo. Val, Lily, Maggie, in crocs, and I made it to the top. These rocks and boulders were mostly embedded and rock hopping was fun and easy. They were mostly volcanic, andesite and basalt, with some conglomerate. As usual the views from the top were of the volcano and water. On each island the desert vegetation was a little different, a different variety of thorny shrubs or cacti.

Hiking Trail.

At the Top.

On the Way Down.

I did another hike in the afternoon in a different arroyo, this one was more rugged with a mix of boulders and several walls that required climbing out of the arroyo to get around the wall or climbing the wall. We started down, from about halfway up, at 5:15 and got to the beach at dusk for a gorgeous sunset and then the farewell dinner.

Afternoon Trail.


1-2-08 LA PAZ: We left the ship after breakfast for the three-hour bus ride back tot he airport in Cabo. We took the eastern route this time through a huge arroyo and over mountain passes of plutonic granites.

The weather on the trip was quite uniform. We had sun all day, every day with only an occasional cloud. The wind was fairly strong and from the northeast all the time. The temps were about 70° for a daily high, but the wind always made it feel cooler, especially when wet. The wind made the kayaking harder.

Because the air was so clear and weather mostly cloudless, the stargazing was great, even better than Vermont. Mars was quite bright. The big dipper was mostly below the horizon and Polaris was strangely low in the sky, for us.

Baja Cruise-III.

12-31-07 LOS ISOLTES: We did a zodiac cruise of the sea lion rookery and nature preserve in the morning. There were hundreds of sea lions including many pups sunning on the rocks and swimming around the zodiac. The little islands are more volcanic rocky cliffs covered in bird poop, the red rock is white washed by pelicans, boobies, turkey vultures, frigate birds and gulls. A cardura cactus at the top of the island was white with new green buds, responding to the generous dose of fertilizer supplied by the birds. After the cruise, we snorkeled the same area to see the sea lions in the cold water. If they seem awkward on land, that is how graceful they are in the water. They shoot by like torpedoes, but twisting, flipping and turning upside down and sideways. Or, they lie limply on the surface. If there were hundreds of sea lions, there were almost as many snorkelers and divers. There were a dozen boats other than our ship. Our naturalists said they never saw more than one or two at a time before today.

Sea Lion Watchers.

Sea Lions.

ISLA PARTIDA: In the afternoon, we went to Ensenada Grande, a beautiful, U-shaped bay with two separate beaches. Between the beaches, thick volcanic ash rock formations demonstrate tafone weathering, a lacy, veil like change in the rock. We first kayaked along the rocks and then had a zodiac tour of the bay. The New Years Eve celebration started with a piƱata party for the kids. Staying up to Eastern Time midnight was a struggle, and a few of us, about ten, made it to local Midnight.

More Pelicans.

Tafone Weathering-Looks Lacy.

Baja Cruise-II.

12-30-07 ISLA SAN JOSE: A great morning hike up an arroyo through high walls of conglomerate dotted with lots of granite boulders and cobbles. The conglomerate deposits were re-eroded by the present stream as the island was uplifted. The meanders of the watercourse have created a dramatic maze. The vegetation growth is heavier in the arroyo than on top of the canyon. We climbed up the sidewall of the arroyo over a steep, eroding surface to the top of the island for views large crater-like alluvial plain on the other side. Lily brushed a cholla cactus on the way down and was quite unhappy about it.



Arroyo of Conglomerate Rock.

ISLA SAN FRANCISCO: Half Moon Bay is a beautiful crescentic beach a mile across. We snorkeled along one limb of the arc off a rocky headland. There were millions of fish, mostly anchovies, in clear, very cold water. The crew set on a BBQ on beach for dinner complete with a fire and marshmallows. When we got back to the ship, a dozen pelicans were feeding near the ship in the water light up by the ship’s lights.

Thousands of Anchovies

Beach Comber at Half Moon Day