Egret and crab

Monday, October 31, 2016

"Samson and Delilah" - Rev. Gary Davis

Shake it Sugaree

You go to Italy, they have a big quake. You go to the Salton Sea, 20 small quakes. What next? San Francisco?



KJ, I have asked you repeatedly. Please do not refer to any of my secret superpowers again in a public forum.

asking nicely this time,


Sunday, October 30, 2016


Another Salton view with Florentine embellishments

Old docks, Salton Sea

Landing Gear

I was looking through my metadata on Lightroom this morning and I see that I have saved 28,369 shots so far this year on my hard drive.

In terms of sheer numbers this is the biggest year I have ever had taking pictures. The quality is your call.

Not going to do my annual wrap up yet but at least 12 national parks, countless National Monuments and National Wildlife Areas as well as State Parks in the books. You have to make hay while the sun shines, when you find your muse, make sure that you don't let it out of your sight. Thankfully I have a great wife and a job that affords me the opportunity to travel, not to mention good friends that like the odd photographic excursion.

Hope that you enjoy the photographs!

Have you, by chance, seen a seagull passing this way?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Quinn the Eskimo

Coming in hot

Seasick Steve - You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Imperial Message

Sandhill cranes

I needed a little mental health break yesterday. Ken and I had been talking about checking out the Salton Sea and the Imperial Valley for a while and it turned out that yesterday was the appointed day. Soon I will be back to the grind and I wanted to clear my head while I had a chance.

My friend had rented the Nikkor 200-500mm zoom telephoto lens at George's Camera the other day and wanted to put it through its paces with his Nikon D500. I wanted to capture some bird shots and see what was what. I used the Nikon D810 with the Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 as well as the Nikon D7200 paired with the Sigma 150-600mm c for my bird shots. We talked about trading lenses but never did.

Although we had both meandered through the Imperial Valley, neither of us had ever checked out the Salton Sea in our entire lives and it was time to scratch it off the bucket list.

I met my traveling companion at the coffee shop and after getting our internal caffeine levels adjusted, got a fairly early start. I loaded up more gear than I would ever need into the back of Ken's Rav 4 and we got a move on. We took off through Julian and Pine Hills, a flock of wild turkeys ran by my side window.

Harlan's Hawk

We took Highway 78 down the mountain through the Banner grade. A Harlan's Hawk flew high overhead, a buteo morph I seldom encounter.

Drove through Ocotillo Wells and dune buggy heaven and finally stopped in the town of Westmoreland for a date shake. There are beautiful date groves throughout the area and it would have been a shame not to.

Even better than Hadley's. I had mine with banana, Ken had walnuts added. Bought some medjools for the road trip. Women there were very nice, cashier's eyelashes had to weigh a pound a piece.

We hightailed it for the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge passing through an area seemingly devoid of human habitation but covered with plenty of corporate mega farms and power plants.

They gave us the lay of the land at the headquarters, the docent speaking in a deep Boston brogue and giving us our bearings.

A couple in the parking lot told us to forget the nearby observation deck and area and gave him loose directions to a better spot in the vicinity.

Your humble photographers drove hither and yon on the squarely gridded road network, sometimes on legal roads even, finally arriving at Observation deck 1 after a few turn arounds and course corrections, owing to, amongst other things, a bridge being out.

After the Malheur debacle and the acquittal of America's favorite redneck anarchists, the Bundy Brothers, I thought about claiming the refuge as my own.

Not sure what rights I have to it but I think my lawyers can figure that part out later. Adverse possession maybe. And "the man" hasn't been real good to me lately. That's it. It's mine.

The truth was there was pretty much nobody around all day so I could have screamed and hollered all I wanted for everybody to get off my land and it honestly wouldn't have done much good. Maybe I should share?

You drive to the Salton Sea and the one thing difficult to find is the sea itself. For hours I wasn't sure it really existed. Mostly you see a bunch of ditches, marshes and sumps.

The Salton Sea, as I assume most people are aware, is the result of an early twentieth century accident and it was never such a good fit. In fact it still isn't but I am getting ahead of myself. In 1905, due to an engineering miscalculation, the Colorado River overwhelmed an irrigation canal and the Sea was born. It has died a thousand deaths ever since.

Ross and Snow Geese
We walked around and saw all manners of birds. Harriers flew low overhead, masters of the marsh. The landscape was festooned with geese, ibis, herons, ducks, egrets, pelicans, gulls, many different shorebirds and even a whole bunch of sandhill cranes, which I didn't expect to see in such number and which we had last seen at Bosque Del Apache at the start of the year.


I have literally thousands of pictures to process and you ain't getting it today. A cursory examination this morning leaves me pretty happy with my visual quarry.


white faced ibis
Sandhill cranes

American avocet in winter plumage

Greater Egret

Place is definitely interesting but I am not sure I need to go back anytime soon. More raptors at SJWA but it does have the cranes, geese and massive flocks of red winged blackbirds.

Not to mention scads of my fellow blue herons. We took turns playing beater, trying to devise new ways to flush our birds out so we could take their picture.

We drove back towards the headquarters and towards the Red Hill marina.

Finally got a look at the Salton Sea. Meh.

After nearly getting stuck on a canal and managing to extricate ourselves we found this guy living in a ramshackle truck and tent near the edge of the sea.

Laundry, equipment, all manner of refuse lay in a loose sprawl. Sanford and Sons squared.

Ken wasn't sure if we should engage but I decided what the hell. How dangerous could it be?

Turned out to be a very affable 88 year old gent from Sitka named Captain Ron, who wintered with the other flocks in these parts.

Ron had a 100 ton merchant sea captain's license and had been flying planes of all manner since he was 16. Hardy stock, those Alaskans.

Captain Ron gave us the lay of the land. We asked about Slab City and he said to be careful, the place was so ramshackle it depressed him. We laughed to ourselves. Looking at Ron's digs that was really saying something. We drove over anyway.

First to Salvation Mountain.

Sort of like an outsider Christian playdough version of Yellow Submarine. With lots of flat tires.

It was getting gray out and a bit depressing. Old testament sort of day. Not optimal light for shooting pictures.

The artist doled out pearls of biblical wisdom to the curious tourists. I didn't stick around for my dose. Not my cup of meat.

Slab City bills itself as the last free place on earth, a big squatters encampment on the remains of an old Army camp. Burning Man without the money or the internet connections.

Acres and acres of psychedelic junk and encampments, a BNB, hostel restaurant, all donation, not sure but I don't think the last free place on earth has a currency.

I lived in places like this as a dropout hippie kid traveling through the northwest, I know hippie flintstone primitive very well, in fact there was a time when no self respecting  hippie from the North County didn't have a power company spool for a dining room table.

Laughed when I saw a nice BMW convertible parked in front  of one of the Mad Max style dwellings. A curious mix of kook and snowbird.

I don't want to sound too patrician or square, I do honor my roots. But barring a post nuclear apocalypse I think I would have a hard time grooving in such a place today. Not like I need room service but I don't even camp anymore. Got my fill of the Imperial Valley yesterday, honestly.

Shoe Tree, Slab City

We drove back home, stopping for a bite in Borrego Springs at Carmelitas. Great mole enchiladas. Washed an inch of dust off when I got home and into the shower.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

If trouble was money

Trump unshrunk

Every election cycle the Freudians and Jungians come out and have their say and we can hear about the real battle; that is the ever present one between the nurturing mother and the dominant patriarchal father archetypes. Of course we also hear an earful about narcissistic personality disorders.

Got my first taste of this year's psychosurgery last week with Don Zak's Does the American electorate have daddy issues? The oedipal complex raises its ugly head again.

Neuro linguistician George Lakoff started this type of inquiry months ago. See Understanding Trump. And Understanding Trump, the sequel.

Trump Biographer Michael D'antonio adds to the psychobabble with What Drives Donald Trump? Fear of Losing Status, Tapes Show.

My favorite pick this year; Linguistic Professor Julie Sedivy - Donald Trump talks like a woman.
...academic research has picked up something that thousands of hours of campaign punditry has missed completely: Donald Trump talks like a woman. He might be preoccupied with grading women’s looks, penis size and “locker room talk,” but the way he speaks and the actual words he uses make for a distinctly feminine style. In fact, his speaking style is more feminine by far than any other candidate in the 2016 cycle, more feminine than any other presidential candidate since 2004.

The American Pageant

Red blues

In case you were not aware, it is presidential election season in the United States of America. Democrat Hillary Clinton is running against Republican Donald Trump and there are also a few third party candidates sprinkled in the mix.

If I may be permitted to opine, I would say that as nasty and vitriolic as the current battle is, the real battle is taking place in the Republican Party, which is close to civil war at present.

And in the long term, that ideological battle will have greater ramifications nationally than the race between our two current front runners.

You see the principles of the Grand Old Party don't seem to resonate with the average american the same way they used to and people are scared. And the in house people can't quite figure it out.

Not that there are no splits or division in the Democratic party but we have seen nothing like this sheitstorm.

By all accounts and past prognostications, Jeb Bush should be the GOP standard bearer right now. But something happened on the way to the coronation; the Tea Party morphed into the Freedom Caucus and declared war on the establishment for not being aggressive enough. The base wanted on outsider.

John Boehner was the first casualty in this range war, trying to herd cats so that the party didn't look like fools with their obstructionist tactics. They begged Paul Ryan to take the speakership, a job he didn't want, now the same folks are calling for his head.

It is a funny mix, you have your social conservatives and evangelicals, the pro trade fiscal types, the anti trade protectionist fiscal types, the pro immigration/cheap labor business folks pitted against the anti immigration, put up a wall crowd that sometimes includes white separatists and racists. Isolationists are squaring up against war hawks. Trump vs. anti Trump. Doesn't seem to be a lot the Repubs agree on, excepting of course their hatred for Democrats and Hillary Clinton.

Now Trump is burning down the whole house, the party close to shambles. Down ballot Republicans are associating and disassociating with Trump like spinning weather vanes. Forty percent of the base are ready to pick up their muskets and start blood watering the liberty tree.

The post election infighting and saga should be real interesting to watch.

Not we democrats' problem. Fix your own house.

Senators Charles Grassley and Mitch McConnell didn't want to vote for Obama SCOTUS candidate Merrick Garland because they thought that for the first time in history, the next President should get the chance to do it. Now John McCain, Ted Cruz and some yutz at the Cato Institute named Ilya Shapiro think it might be better off to never approve a Supreme Court Justice nominated by a liberal, to let them all die off.

Is this any way to run a republic? Can you imagine the hue and cry if the shoe was on the other foot? But dems of course would never act so cravenly.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz has reportedly got a whole mess of Hillary Clinton investigations on track in the event she becomes President.

Sen. Mitch McConnell started off on the wrong foot with President Obama, immediately signaling that the party strategy was to obstruct and make him a one term President. It is heartbreaking, childish, asinine, ridiculous (insert the adjective of your choice here) behavior. The country deserves better than to be subjected to four more years of partisan bickering and congressional malfeasance.

Good people of both parties need to start working together for the good of the country.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Rob Zombie

With Italy, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs dropping like dominos in quick succession I have been feeling pretty fried. The bronchial hack that I have been fighting for months hasn't helped matters, nor has the lack of fundage at the shows.

I was so looking forward to the next week off for recuperation before I resumed my show schedule in San Francisco.

Oops. Looked at the schedule and I guess I screwed up. Back on the road in a mere couple days. Feels like the march to Balanga City.

Round and round and round we go
where it stops nobody knows?