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Dinosaur Caves from the sea


 Dinosaur Caves is a small little section of beach-cliff in the Shell Beach/Pismo Beach area of the Central Coast of California.

   If you’ve ever been to Lagos Portugal… you’ll recognize similar features… but Portugal has warmer and clearer water.

   The rock strata and the waves have created an ever-changing landscape of eroded cliffs and caves and holes underneath them.
Caves and arches can be seen aplenty.. but since it is so difficult and precarious to navigate on the rocks, one does not see the full beauty of the cliffs from above them, looking down.
   We rented some kayaks from Central Coat Kayaks in Shell Beach.  They have a full range of various types and sizes of kayaks and paddleboards.  They like to get people started early in the mornings to avoid the wind.  We tend to get very windy in the afternoons.

   The caves are interesting, beautiful. It seems like you’re in another world… one of National Geographic explorers, and strange exotic animals….. it’s really pretty cool to just drift like a piece of wood, right up near nesting colonies of birds, seeing seals and sea otters.
   You have to be careful not to get so close that you disturb them… but they seem to be used to people drifting about in quiet boats….

   The rocky cliff-side is pockmarked with caves of various sizes and depths.  As you go along, you can envision how the coastline has changed through the millenia… some areas were obviously caves, but are now just narrow arches… soon to fall into the sea leaving only the posts on either side. 


   The Big Cave is really something to see. From shore you can see only the small hole that comes through to the land-side…
We all went through the cave…. you have to time it with the ocean swell so that the wave will pick your boat up and carry you over the rocks…. then you have to stop yourself and turn when the wave carries you through… because it crashes against the cliff on the other side…. it’s totally awesome and rad Dude!
   One of the fellows even worked back against the tide through the big cave.. seemed like quite  a feat to me..

   We paddled into one of the caves that has two holes… most of the waves go into one hole, and with a great rushing and swirling turbulence, it rushes out the other hole…. it was really easy to get into the cave…. but getting out was a bit of a challenge…. I pushed the other fellow out, helping to guide his boat through the crashing surf…. helping to guide it in the narrow channel filled with rushing waters going every direction, and trying to carry the boat sideways to hang bow and stern on the rocks…. we got him started, and like a sluice… once he got to a certain spot, he was able to just zip right on through…. then I was next… alone.. it took three tries.. but third time’s the charm… like a dream the boat found its own way through the channel, and it looked like I knew what I was doing!

  Kayaks are surprisingly easy to learn…. they are a pretty safe way to boat… much more stable than you’d imagine due to the low profile…. VERY shallow draft…. and Central Coat Kayaks will even give you lessons at their clinics and one-on-one lessons.

  Get out there and have some fun.. and good clean water-sports are one of the best ways to experience life and maintain fitness.

Patience My Ass, I'm gonna kill something!

   We have Turkey Vultures in this area. They are pretty amazing animals….. they can eat dead animals felled by disease, and their systems can clean the disease out…. they are called the ‘trashmen of the wilderness’… they are a necessary component to our local eco-system.

   They are also terribly pest-ridden creatures…. infested with little crawlies… and stinking really bad… really, really, really bad.

  But I like them a lot…. they taste a bit like a cross between a Peregrine Falcon and a Spotted Owl! (Joke).

   They are an amazing little creature to watch… they will sit high on a treetop or cliff waiting for the sun to cause the thermal updrafts that they ride so effortlessly…. a simple jump into the breeze… a short downhill glide to build air-current causing lift (the curves of the wings causes a vacuum that actually lifts the animal up), and the animal can turn into the updrafts… letting the upwelling column of air lift the bird up gradually… they must spin in circles inside this column of air….. each circle will bring them a bit higher than they were before…. all of this is done with just small ‘tweaks’ to the feathers… the birds can control some of the flight feathers giving small adjustments to balance and steering.

   Amazing creatures really….

   Incidentally… they have to take several running steps to build momentum for lift if starting off on the level ground. A Turkey vulture in a five foot pen cannot fly out due to this take-off restriction. I’d say  a Turkey Vulture takes thirty feet horizontal-run to get six feet off the ground.

Turkey Vulture on a tree

Turkey Vulture on a tree

    I saw this Vulture in a  tree over the creek…..

Turkey Vultures on a tree

Turkey Vultures on a tree

   Moments later a cousin (they nest in family groups) came to mess with him…..
They squawked for a few moments, then left off together to do some Vulture stuff I’d not understand.

Sea Lions in Avila

Young sea lion in Avila California


    Avila California has a few really nice piers.
    The Sea Lions have taken to sleeping along some of the lower access walkways.
    It’s illegal to try to get them to move.. as this may be construed as harassing them….
   They are also wild beasts… so if you try to get past them.. they might get scared and bite….
   In fact… these critters are like dogs with flippers and no ears.   They are beautiful creatures when in the water…. they transform from the ungainly creatures we see on land.. to swirling and twirling flying dancers in the deep kelp…..

beautiful and astounding.


Mary McLaughlin

Over the waves you call to me
Shadow of dream, ancient mystery
Oh how I long for your sweet caress
Oh how I long for your gentleness

Torn between sea mists and solid land
Nights when I’ve ached for a human hand
I’ll come to you when the moon shines bright
But I must go free with the first streak of light

Over the waves you call to me
Shadow of dream ancient mystery
Oh how I long for your sweet caress
Oh how I long for your gentleness


a deer fawn

   We leave water out for the local wildlife… even though the deer love many of our cactus plants… I like having them around. Our best cactus is behind a seven foot tall fence….

   The local does (a female deer) have their babies here… it is a safer place than further from the house. Local predators do not come to our house that much because it riles the dogs…. the dogs bark like crazy at the deer, but don’t worry them too much. The dogs are preferable to coyotes….

   Our dogs are chihuahuas… so mostly all they do is make a ruckus. They get scared by anything larger than them… so they fright up when they see a rabbit.  But they do keep predators away…. believe me, foxes, coyotes and lions don’t worry about a chihuahua… but they know there is usually a human nearby… so this is a relatively safe place for deer. Sometimes we get to see the babies nursing…. so sweet.


   Here’s a photo of the little fawn near our house. I took this photo from our open front door.


a deer fawn

a deer fawn

Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake

  We call them Gopher Snakes here…
Some places call them ‘Bull Snakes’, or ‘Corn Snakes’
Taxonomists call them “Pituophis’

Some of the old folks call them ‘Hoop Snakes’…
and say that when frightened in this hilly country,
they will grasp their tail in their mouth,
form themselves into a hoop, and roll down the hill to evade capture.
I’ve never seen it happen….
But my cousin met a guy once who did.

They imitate rattlesnakes….
very interesting.
I’ve jumped out of my skin a few times when one of these guys turned up in the brush.
They’ll form into a coiled striking pattern…feigning strikes,
wriggling their tail and hissing in a strange way that sounds vaguely like a rattlesnake tail-rattle.

This one was sunning on the asphalt roadway.

I like these snakes… they eat vermin…
maybe having them around might reduce the rattlesnakes
as there’d be less food for the rattlers.
The King snake is good also..
and they are known for killing and eating young rattlesnakes….
although I imagine they’d eat gopher snakes also.

There’s usually no need for killing snakes….
beneficial snakes such as this should be left alone to live their lives.






Road Crew Ahead

We live far down a dirt road….
We’re pretty remote….
I understand that other folks with higher population densities would get the highest level of service….
That makes economic and social sense

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

   Nonetheless…. our road occasinally gets to a really bad condition, such that people get their tires flattened and rims broken, and shocks breaking through the vehicle due to the huge potholes they hit…. at speed (not good to drive fast down a twisty dirt road with occasional washouts).

   There are some local folk looking to sue the county for the poor condition of the road….
   In principal I disagree with this thinking. The ones who ruin their vehicles year after year are always the same people… everyone else just gets unusually high wear and tear…. and there are going to be occasional accidents due to people trying to evade potholes at the exact second someone comes around a bend…. yet we can’t expect the county to get back into this remote area after every rainstorm… they’ve got an entire county full of dirt roads to maintain, and they have people along each of those roads with the same story.

   In return for me not messing with the county… I’d like to have a reciprocal agreement that the county, state, Feds, and all other governmental agencies would leave me alone.  But I know that won’t happen. Every one of those agencies seems to want to stick their fingers into the pie… while they stir it up and knock your own hands away such that you can’t even cook.

A joke:
What does a libertarian eat for a salad dish?
Answ: Lettuce alone

     There are many people who like the security of a ‘Nanny State’, taking care of our every need… ensuring employment and medical services etc.
   Such a state would also have the right to decide when, how and where you live your life….

U.S.A. Saying:
When you’re living under my roof… you’re gonna follow my rules

  If we wish the government to ensure medical coverage… then we should also expect that the same agencies would want to reduce overeating and alcohol/cigarette/drug abuse.  This would greatly reduce the amount of health costs for the nation.  Salts, fats and sugars should also be reduced in the diet…. In fact.. to ensure the best health/life care… we should have all people living in large apartment complexes, with a communal dining area. We’d not have to buy food either!  And all we’d have to do is sign over our lives to the state.

   Here’s some photos of the grader maintaining our dirt road.
   The fellows on the crew do a good job… they give a proper crown so the water rolls off to the sides… the ditches along the edges are maintained and lead to culverts underneath the road, carrying the excess water to the creek….
   I think the county could save some money by permitting some of the locals to help maintain the road between the big grading jobs they do… we could all show up on occasion to scrape the road with our tractors to smooth it out and fill the potholes… but that’d bother the union the county workers belong to…. and there’d probably be someone who’d plow into a car, or have their blade tilted too much and ruin the crown… road-maintenance by committee is probably not too efficient either. And besides…  the county road is a mile from our house…. and it takes forever to drive a tractor a mile. So I’m happy enough having the county do the maintenance… thank you very much.

  Life can be a bit complex sometimes… even with something as simple as a dirt road. 
The complexities come from the people.





Amazing and awesome whale story

   I’ve seen some sights in my time… and animals and people both continually amaze me…. I don’t get out much anymore… but reading a story such as this makes me want to go to sea again!


The Whale

   A female humpback whale had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.
    She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat.
    She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging
in her mouth.
    A fisherman spotted her just east of the Faralon Islands (outside the Golden Gate ) and radioed for help
    Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to
save her was to dive in and untangle her — a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill
a rescuer.

    They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. 
    When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles.  She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, nudged them, and pushed gently, thanking them.
Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.

    The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.. 

May you, and all those you love, be so fortunate…
To be surrounded by people who will help you get
untangled from the things that are binding you.
And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude. 
We pass this on to you, our friend, in the same spirit.

Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly,
Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably…
Never regret anything that made you smile.


    The posting above was sent to me by a WWII Marine who was in the Guadalcanal invasion along with other island campaigns in WWII. He often sends me truly inspirational e-mails… and I am happy to receive them.

    I have been watching the HBO mini-series ‘The Pacific’ chronicling the exploits of the First Marine Division…. it makes me even more thankful for the sacrifices he and other military have given in defense of our lives and freedoms…. thank you to ALL veterans out there… while we wile away the time at home,  it is the ones who fight for us that we should be thinking of, and appreciating when they come home….. carrying their shield or on it.  God Bless you all… thank you so much for your sacrifices.                                     

Mossy Bank, 2010

   This winter’s rainy-season gave us plenty of rain. Luckily it mostly came down in nice easy showers for eight months or so. I don’t think there were too many weeks in which we did not get at least a little rain.  Because of the low angle of the winter sun, some areas of north-facing creek bank deep in the canyon don’t get any sun at all for four months or so. These areas got plenty of thick moss growing along the vertical rock cliffs. It was worth taking photos of.   I also made a screensaver of these photos, you can download it for free from our screensavers page.


February Flowers


Some photos I took along the roadway last month…
just as the wildflowers started blooming.



Wild Native Peonies






Alyssum (a native plant) and Gazanias, naturalized along the roadway by a neighbor.



More gazanias…





Most places have their beauty especially illustrated with rampant color at one time or another.



Down Home California….

Looks like Appalachia… but it’s a house on the Central Coast…. deep in the hills, near us.


The great thing about living remote is you can be yourself….
you don’t have ‘The World’ telling you how you should act or look.
Being so far from the world… it begins to matter less….
and life means so much more….
because you always see it being lost everywhere around you, daily.

The bad thing about living remote is that you can be yourself….
You don’t have those cues from ‘The World’ to keep you in line.
Being so far from the world… it begins to matter less….
and life becomes an object of life….
because you use the lives of others for your own life.

Always do benefit, not harm.

But sadly, every action will likely have repercussions on the lives of others.
When I roto-till I know I kill untold small creatures…
when I mow, small insects and mammals may lose their food source and homes…
Now I try to keep all such intrusions to a minimum…..
scheduling around animal nesting periods,
and considering their prospects for survival if I can delay action.

Most of our actions are done in little ‘swaths’,
nothing is done wholesale here….
we mow a small area while another nearby is being planted.
One spot is being allowed to grow fallow while the next is waxing in a five year growth.
Always, the animals have a spot to retreat to….
just as I do.