Whales and pelicans

San Diego, 2nd November 2019 The sea is calm today; the kayakers are on the ocean again close to shore; further out, the dolphins are not there in great pods just a handful moving quickly seawards with little show. The whales are easier to find; the first spot is a Minke that appears as aContinue reading “Whales and pelicans”

Alcazar Garden

Balboa Park in the heart of San Diego is a perfect place to idle the day away; grand buildings set around wide avenues and plazas that house an assortment of museums and an arboretum. Perhaps the most peaceful corner is the Alcazar Garden, a neatly clipped, geometric space modelled on the gardens within Alcazar CastleContinue reading “Alcazar Garden”

Anza-Barrego Desert State Park

On the drive over across the empty rangelands a few miles from Anza-Barrego we watch a red-tailed hawk harry a golden eagle. We drive the switchbacks down the slope to the desert basin and the temperature picks up a few degrees. At the visitor centre, half buried in the slope we receive some helpful adviceContinue reading “Anza-Barrego Desert State Park”

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve has been protected one way or another since 1899 and is located adjacent to ‘one of the premier municipal golf courses in the US‘. The nature reserve is accessed by a network of paths from a car park on the crest of the hill. The reserve protects coastal sage scrubContinue reading “Torrey Pines”

Nelder Creek and Nelder Grove

The creek below the house at Oakhurst holds a flock of California wood ducks that fly off at first sight. As they are unapproachable, we build a hide at the edge of the creek and soon two males are taken in, or are perhaps too curious, and swim slowly downstream; females are clearly less foolhardyContinue reading “Nelder Creek and Nelder Grove”


Some places on Earth are simply too beautiful and too extraordinary, such that in the modern tourism era, they may never for a moment escape public attention. Yosemite must be up there; defined by El Capitan and the Half Dome. First-time visitors like us simply stand and stare at the improbable beauty of 3,000 feetContinue reading “Yosemite”

El Cerrito, San Diego

The little hill is filled with small, well-proportioned bungalows; these were first built back in the 1950s and now sympathetically updated, many with exquisite, desert gardens. The views in the warm, brilliant light of an October evening are reminiscent of a David Hockney painting. In the back garden, the Anna’s hummingbirds announce their arrival withContinue reading “El Cerrito, San Diego”

San Diego whale watch

We leave the harbour and pass the pelicans, egrets, cormorants and gulls that sit around competing for attention with the sea lions; these bask and pose in the water and on the buoys. We run up the channel to meet the swell of the ocean that tosses the boat; a pod of kayakers works hardContinue reading “San Diego whale watch”

Linville Gorge Wilderness

William Linville was killed in 1766 by the Shawnee in the beautiful forested gorge that now bears his name; it was a brutal end to a hard life. Linville, like his friend Daniel Boone, was a ‘long hunter’, travelling in a small party for months at a time deep into uncharted forests to trap andContinue reading “Linville Gorge Wilderness”