"Wherever I go and wherever I am, I find I should be somewhere else."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pacific Coast Trails and Tears

Pacific Crest Trail, San Diego County California

The PCT was designated as a scenic hiking trail way back in 1968, and spans 2569 miles from north to south along the western states.  The trail is one of the best unkept secrets in North America and it is something to personally behold.  In walking along the PCT the contrasts are stunning, they stunned me--from snow covered volcanoes to harsh mountain deserts, it can be 20 degrees or 120 degrees.  There are a lot of views to jar the senses. You may be shocked to see people wearing full wet gear in the Pacific northwest or the rampant nudity, with people wearing nothing at and around Deep Creek Hot Springs north of San Bernadino.  You will see some of the cleanest hikers there but at other places you will see hikers so filthy, and in such threadbare clothing at either end, it will make you laugh.

My favorite juxtaposition was the gorgeous blooming rhododendrons at the base of Mt Hood, in Oregon and then a mere hundred feet away a man in a Volvo plastered with save the earth bumper stickers and stop global warming slogans, was burning a couch. Yes, burning a couch with I'm sure at least 5 types of toxic gasses being formed, how much of a carbon foot print is it to burn a sofa?.

Ah, it is such a trail, a trail of dreams.  In my hikes, I've tallied no less than 4 lifers on this trail, Vaux's swift in Oregon, white throated swifts at Deep Creek Hot Springs and black-chinned sparrows and mountain quail near San Diego.  I've seen American dippers near to Los Angeles while canvasbacks swam in the same view.  This year, my gray vireo came near the trail and my best shots of Lawrence's goldfinches came a short walking distance off the trail, in a nutshell it is something everyone should behold.

I came here for a reason, well there is no bears here, for a start.  I like birding here, and love the peace and freedom of this trail, wear what I want, go at my pace, just sit and enjoy the space and the view.  I like the solitude, and I wanted to actually see a California quail, I had only heard them this year, and I wanted photos of mountain quail and black chinned sparrows, both late birds to my life list and ones I wanted to be able to re-find just for the sport of it.  I like going to a patch of stuff and have a hunt bird, and today I had three.  The California quail proved the most difficult.

Black Chinned Sparrow

California Quail

California Scrub-jay

My first photo of the bird as a new species!

Mountain Quail

Okay, I missed it, you'd think with 9 total mtn quail seen around the trail, on one day and three the next, I could have photographed one?  Photographing quail is tough, really tough.  Just seeing mountain quail involves patience, luck, and maybe skill but I can find them, I just flush them before I can photograph them or they won't come out of the brush.

Getting the California Quail photographed was a challenge and I saw about 50.

Western Tanager

Okay, now I am getting on my soap box a bit.  Just up Kitchen Creek Road is a very nice National Forest Campground and here we are, less than 2 hours from 20 million people and the campground has 2 campers today, one of which looks like he or she just lives here.  Really?  At $14 a day, the cost to stay here an entire month is less than two nights hotel in Monterrey.  The place has water, views, trails, and shade, and BIRDS....what gives?

This is the problem with America.  Our government says our economy will improve when the consumers start spending more money, I believe the problem is that we are spending too much money and we need to learn that more.  This place should be full.  I was just in the Bay area, The Bay area?  I can't even afford to live there.  1 million a house?  You can't cap rate a 1 million house, the rent would need to be $10 K a month, I can't afford that, so things are skewed. You need to be worth 5 to ten million to afford a house there minimum and the payments, do janitors make 150 a year?  Will 150K a year be enough?  Who can live in San Fran?  Either there are tons of rich people out there and /or something is about to explode as the doesn't work.  

But everyone can afford to come here, to the southern PCT.  and I mean everyone, even birders....

Heck, I hear all the time people need the mountain quail and the black chinned sparrow, maybe even the gray vireo, this place has them.  So I'm putting my time and money where my mouth is...unlike others who are trying to promote a faux cause....Olaf is promoting birding on a budget and to show off a marvelous hidden gem of America.

Next year I'd even be willing to lead a group, maybe pay me $100 bucks each for the week for expense. We'd camp and have a good time.  It takes a bit of patience to get the quail, morning and evening walks.  We could have day trips into San Diego to a trail I know that has all the local birds like gnatcatcher, munia, Bell's sparrow, etc.  It took me 30 minutes for the whole selection this spring.  Ridgeway's rail is easy on another trip, even the same day.  There is a great hot springs/ spa near this trailhead that well once you get the shock of body exposure out of the way you might make you even feel comfortable going to the optional non-clothing optional beach day in San Diego, it is gorgeous at Black's. I'm bringing my wife and it would be fun, so come on birding with Olaf on the cheap, where else would you get such an opportunity?  I kid you not, great birds and enjoyment of the great outdoors, if I could share the PCT and the hills above San Diego, with just one person and get them some lifer birds it would be worth it for me. a guide a lot of money, whatever....I love birding San Diego so much I'm willing to basically give away my time.

That is what my big year is about....I'm doing it for the birds and to get people out here and seeing the birds if I have to come with, so be it. other pet peeve....since I'm on a roll, might as well get them all out in the open

The Salton Sea, the place brings tears to my eyes...literally, they burn from the toxins....that is certified organic, (picture) note in the background, the large desalination plant, the smell where I'm standing is a cross between salt march at low tide and being down wind from a week old herd of dead cows.  You can't photo smells.  Behind the sign, they are drilling a gas well to power the desalination plant that makes the water to make your "organic" this really organic?  Do you care when you buy this stuff at Whole Foods or your co-op, do you feel good about yourself?  ..

Okay, what is the rest of this environmentally killing operation making ?  HAY!   Hay to feed cows and in my house, I can't give hay away and you water the desert because the government pays the Hay Kings to do it and through a loop hole in the milk pricing formula....all in a state with supposed severe water restrictions.....the %%&^% school 15 miles from the site has manicured green lawn, all in Imperial County, the poorest in the state????   The Hay Baron in that town has a lake in his front yard and planted palm trees.....all because he is supported by our government to legally exploit this valley.......enough rant.  Where is the Sierra Club?  This is what needs to stop, let the rivers run, and grow the food where it can be supported by natural climate.

BTW, there were no yellow-footed gulls on the sea this visit, but eared grebes, cormorants, and lots of shorebirds in the toxic soup.  It has been 120 here, but it was maybe just 105 today, the sea was down 5 feet from last time and the rock where my lifer blue footed booby in 2013 is now totally out of the water....Yikes!

    Well there is my update, in San year birds but still I love birding here and that is what this is about and invitation awaits..


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Something Bruin and it's not beer

I'm not even sure where to start this tale.

At 3pm I was singing and walking on my favorite trail in Madera Canyon, thinking about how good I had it in life.  I was on my favorite trail, it was perfect Arizona weather (as in no monsoon), and I was having a gorgeous day birding.  Red-faced warblers were coming in close by me at 4pm, I had seen a year bird earlier, and dug out some really fun birds and!  I'll just say it if you don't like my vernacular well then....shit!  You are reading the wrong blog.

I will say it here, I am not a brave man., despite my bravado, I do not typically take risks.  I avoid confrontation, I lead life close to the vest, and well, it hasn't failed me in 50 years.  I should have died in my youth from a terrible disease, it tried but well...I didn't.  Death for me was always something real.

I am writing this at the Four Points Hotel near the Tucson Airport drinking, if the words get slurred well, I'm not stopping, I need to get this story out there, but first let me say ....I am alive. 
I AM ALIVE!!  Yes, the good news!

This stupid big year, doesn't matter, health, use of my arms that matters.
I was not supposed to be here tonight but I'm not fit to go on.  It was hard to get here, I need not a beer but many.  I need to numb the pain.  My left arm hurts from just flexing out the muscles, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I don't know if I believe this stuff, but many of us have spiritual animals.  I know a woman who is the beaver woman of Two Harbors, Minnesota, some have a bull, or a moose, mine is an eagle, but I have a nemesis animal, and maybe I've misread my spiritual animal, maybe it isn't an eagle, the one that comes to me when I least need it or expect it, and it is never good.  Is those damn bears.

A little history...

I was plagued by spiritual visions between the time 4 of us went to Glacier Park in 1989 and ended during my honeymoon at the same spot, the vision ...well hard to explain, unless you experienced it, let me say it involved the continual munching of a bear on me when I disagreed with it.  If it ate my leg I couldn't walk right for a while, broke my arm, same thing, I generally stopped sleeping....this is well documented in my Big Year Book BPT, and I blamed it on accidentally sleeping under Chief Mountain, a place the medicine men went for visions...maybe they should have put up a warning sign?

On my honeymoon, I turned around into the belly of a bear standing in Alberta, standing above me on a river bank when my wife yelled for me to turn around, I was fishing. I dropped my chow right there.  For that, I blamed Silja.

I got chased by a Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone Park on July 4th 2013 into Hindu wedding party, wearing nothing but a pair of boots. It was actually lucky I did or I would have been eaten, I fear, I shouldn't have run, and for that I blamed Thor, he told me to go to Beartooth Pass.  The Barrow's Goldeneye was NOT worth it.

I've fretted about bears in Nome, worried about them fishing, and well, lived in fear my whole life from bears.

Today, I have no one to blame but myself....Man I hate f'in bears, I say that here, right now.  Nothing good ever comes to me in my interactions with them, seeing one is an omen of doom, IMHO

I'll leave the birds to later as I'm sure you are now curious, well even if you are not, I'm finishing this, I need to get this out.

I was walking down the Carrie Nation trail and just after seeing these...

Red Faced Warblers

I was working down the trail thinking how lucky I was to be able to bird all year and I heard a growl.

Let me say, I went up the trail in search of Thrush, I knew there had to be berries.  I found berries, lots of them

I don't know what tree this is, but it looked like good Aztec Thrush food so I watched on the way up and waited, listened, and found no thrush, no robins, no birds of any type and on the way down, I saw no thrush as all I found was a bear.

Okay, it is just a black bear, right?  Laurens Halsey warned me and I just pooh poohed him about 9 months ago and I dismissed the Fort Huachuca story about a bear breaking open a car to get a candy bar, these are just garbage bears.  I grew up with black bears....yea, big scary bears...yea right...

Initially the bear was about 40 feet away and after 2013 I decided to take a picture of all bears in case I didn't make it so everyone knew the killer, but that was a grizzly, but I snapped a quick photo before things got weird.  This was a big boar and a very big one but....I stood up and shouted expecting it to run and instead.....the bear walked out in the open and growled at me, no more photos so I put down the camera quick and picked up rocks and shouted and screamed, the bear, just looked at me and snarled.  I sort of made that oh no thought in my head.

Okay, it was time to get serious so I threw rocks, hitting trees and landing them just a few feet away.  The bear ignored them and then stood up on two legs and growled more.  Okay, maybe this isn't just a run of the mill bear.  I, then, not knowing what to do, shouted and waived my hands nothing.  I didn't want to hurt the bear but now only 30 feet away, I had warned it, so I put the smallest rock squarely into its ribs, I can still throw hard.  It didn't flinch, it didn't back down, it didn't do anything.  Then I threw a four inch rock hitting it in its right paw, up on the thigh.  I got a loud growl and then I noticed I was down to two rocks.  None were handy.  I slowly bent over to pick up my camera and sling it over my neck, I don't know why, it is $11,000 dollars of stuff.  Was I thinking correctly?  NO! It came down to all fours, so that was good, I think,  when I bent over walked slowly at me growling.

"Okay you fucker," It was now maybe ten feet from me, I shouted more obscenities at it as wrapping my bins in my left hand, I figured I'd throw the biggest rock and then transfer the palm-sized rock to my other hand and just punch my way through it, maybe it would give up before I died, I had nothing left to do.  I still had my mouth like that would help.

"You know, (Expletive) when you kill me they are going to hunt you down like the (expletive) dog you are and you are going to be stuffed at the forest service office, (expletives x 8).  It stood up again.  I took a deep breath.  This was going to be it, it is amazing how time slows when you face death.  I could sense the anger from the bruin, I could taste its breath, Gosh It stunk.   I don't know, I saw an opening, I started to side step to my left.    We could have reached out and gave each other high fives as I slid slowly to my left and then it growled again. I held up my fists like I was ready to face death, I didn't really want to die here in Arizona, but well we never know where

Then shockingly I was past it, and making space so down the trail I slid, under that tree I took a picture of the berries and it didn't follow me.......whew.  I race walked to the car!  I was only up just above the bench, it wasn't far.  Crap, I can't believe I brought up my family night birding up here, what AN IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crap, that was close.  My left arm is so sore right now from being totally flexed out.  I somehow scraped my right elbow, I don't know how. You know my finger issues from the strange reaction doesn't seem so bad at the moment.

I was shaking so bad in the car, I couldn't drive well, shaking so badly, so I stopped at Santa Rita on the way down and saw the plain capped starthroat again, getting a picture this time, the guy I sat next to looked at me and said, "buddy, you look like you got a story."  I told him.  He shock my hand after the bird.  He said I needed something good.  Here is a good bird.

I may have better pictures but I don't care.

I was all happy to have earlier photographed a zone-tailed hawk (4th) in Box Canyon nearly running off the road, but I don't care now.  Not even worth sorting the photo.  I was happy to have photographed a Varied bunting east of Box Canyon but again, I don't care.  I saw the Berylline hummingbird at the Beatty's twice this morning without getting a photo bird 754 but I don't even care about that, that all was a long a very long time ago.  Today was a long, a very long day.  Right now I'm starting the next beer, this is a different kind of Lifer beer, my life, ......

I've seen these two hummers before, the Berylline in 2103 with an 8.5/10 picture.  I got a better starthroat photo from the same trip.....I don't care.  Just the same beware of bears up that canyon and Laurens, I stand corrected.

When I'm drunk enough, maybe I'm going to bed, maybe not....nightmares and PTSD, that will follow this, it always does with bears.

oh f$%%


Big Year Total:  754
Coded Birds:  83
provisionals: 1

Miles driven.  35,321
Flight Miles 135, 800
speeding tickets: 1
flight segments: 136   Different Airports: 47
Near bear/ death experiences 1
Hours at sea: 225
Miles walked 281
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Miles biked 12
states/ prov. birded: 35
Lifers seen this year:  62
nights slept in car:  12
slept in airplane:  5


There is a problem when you drink too much and for me that was only two beers apparently.  First, I thought the bill that came was after credit card so I signed it and added a tip and left, it was raining out so I wanted to go next door.

The waiter followed me to my room, I hadn't paid.  I gave him my credit card and then demurred how much tip I should add now with this embarrassment.  He never returned then 45 minutes later sheepishly he called.  They had lost my credit card, and despite many waiters looking in the street and parking lot, couldn't find it.  They said they comp the meal but never did and I had to call the credit card company to send me a new card in Alaska.

My arms ached, and I couldn't sleep well as was expected so I sorted some photos.

Views of many Hummingbirds from Beatty's Guest Ranch and their rare leopard frogs, the Berylline zoomed in so fast and perched on the fence the one time I saw it near the feeder and then only to be jumped shortly later by Roofies that it was impossible to get the camera on it, and the same thing happened on a snag when I first arrived, oh well....I had most likely seen that hummer on my last trip to look for it but that wasn't a good look and I didn't count it.  This time it did sit there and display all of its field marks in the open if only for a few seconds 
but that is birding.

Back to the bruin....I'm not sure why I just didn't back off up the mountain and then cross the gully to the other side and bush wack back to the intersection of the trail.  It would have been a bit hard but not that hard.  I'm just so stubborn....I guess we live and learn as hindsight is 20/20
I've been getting horror stories about the antics of the Madera bears from other birders this summer, maybe someone as in the USFW people should do something before someone gets hurt, JMO

Here is my 4 all-time zone-tailed hawk pretending it was a vulture.  I WAS really proud of that hawk, and not just as I somehow avoided driving off the road trying to chase it down the canyon. I've never photoed one before.

I just don't know about me, I'm such a dweeb.  You'd think I'm a failure but I'm not and that is so puzzling.  I always wonder why crap happens to me, and why I am the only person who seems to get all the weird anecdotes of life, but it seems 1) that is my purpose, I'm a story teller always in need of material and 2) I seem to let it happen.  What next?  It has been a while since my last UFO encounter...Bigfoot?  That has been a while too.  You got to get out there and do stuff to have stuff happen to you, so I guess that is reason number 3.

A now sober and repentant

Monday, August 15, 2016

There is some wine in California

Central California

This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten, (one two three four...), feel the earth move and then hear my heart burst again, for this is the end.  I've drowned and dreamt this moment, so overdue I owe them, swept away, I'm stolen. Let the sky fall, when it crumbles, I will stand tall, face it all together at skyfall.

I had 8 goals this year

1) be the quickest to ever see 700 in a year (and for that matter see 700) (check)
2) get in shape and lose a pants size (check, Stor (big) Olaf is down to a sweldt 38
3) see more birds than Neil Hayward (sorry Neil)
4) bird naked on nude recreation week (check)
5) meet Debi Shearwater and Ben Basham  (Debi is amazing!) check-check
6) connect with my daughter, the young woman calling herself "L" (check)
7) transition my life into the next phase, (wait out a non-compete, and plan my 2017 activities), (family trips up Emery Peak trail in Big Bend every 4-5 years, race-walking and I'm going to work on my cooking and painting) check
8) My birding goal which I haven't ever written in here, you may think you know but you would be wrong, I'm a sea of disinformation, that phase begins now,
so as the unlike, what the lyrics state in skyfall, maybe this isn't the end
I'm still below budget, had a good profitable week last week at home, got my business commitments in check, back to writing my murder mystery, and...yea AND birding.

So I headed west with the young'n and she was hungry for well, whales, but she would take birds, as stated before, it was just lucky we got there, and we had time to go look for birds on the edge of Half Moon bay

First bird right out of the parking lot was a lower 48 bird, USA bird, and a photographic lifer bird for me, and bird #504 for L
chestnut-backed chickadee, no head but well, you know what it is

We made the departure of Debi's boat, Debi was everything I had dreamt of and more, I'm glad I finally had my chance to meet the seabird guru, and after that the day was sort of frosting.  Christian H was on this boat as he heads wherever he is heading to, somehow I get the idea talking to him he is just trying to show up on Gambell towards the end of the month without a place to stay during high birding season....I think everyone in America will be curious to see how that goes, as most of us would like to show up there without reservations and no money...I wish him luck.

Waiting in the dock, I got the fishing report from Smoothrock lake Ontario, the trip I am usually on, biggest northern pike, 42.5 inches won the trophy, by my boat partner, when I'm with, we call that...and good start.
The blueberries were good and Greg ran his temporary partner into the ground by day three, I'll certainly be welcomed back to guide duty next year.  I will also be taking my daughter pike fishing in June prior to the pike hunting trip, it is a low keyed family trip but when L wants to win the pike jackpot she wants dad to go with pike fishing, and we go real pike fishing.  BTW this is her monster pike from 2015

This is the 8th biggest pike in my boat, ever.  This picture from Olaf Danielson now graces the cover of the camps brochure...and yes my daughter both birds and fishes with me, we also shoot carp together with a bow.  She can handle her end of my boat but I don't let her get too cut up, but real pike fishing always involves a little blood, this is her second plus 20 pound pike and she is only 16.  We hand land every pike, no nets, and doing that takes a little skill without losing an appendage.

Back to Half Moon Bay,

The boat cruised out the jetty and on a rock was a Wandering tattler, a lower 48 bird for me

L yawned remembering all the effort to get one in Alaska, which she could have spent sleeping or something....oh well, who knew?

We cruised around, there was whales and cetacians everywhere, maybe 120 humpbacks,
a few blue and fin whales, tons of pacific white sided dolphin, northern right whale-dolphin (lifer cetacian), harbor porpoises (lifer), minke whales seven for the trip assuming I did not miss anything and well counting Sat and Sunday, Steller's, California sea lions, an elephant seal, harbor seals, it was a marine mammal orgy of activity, north of Bodega Bay, there was 250 fathoms of krill, hence the birds and the mammals...whales almost rubbing the boat

Pacific white sided dolphins

In some cases they were jumping over whales, and having sealions and something called a northern right whale-dolphin jumping over them, it was chaos..but cool chaos!

The birds...we saw great auklet and murrelet action as well as shearwater action but the storm petrels were scarce,  I did see the allusive northern gannet on a cliff from far away, which is a local great bird, I guess and we got a good look at a Wilson's storm-petrel close...some pictures

Scripp's murrelet

Craveri's unphotographed by me as I first heard it was a Scripp's pair and I was pointed the pther way and had just taken the above photo only later to be changed on photo inspection, ...again for me and this bird, maybe someday a photo....

Brown Booby

Sabine's Gulls

I love those wing markings on this bird

Day two of the seabird extravaganza was with the RROC (Redwood Regional Ornothilogical Club..I think) out of Blowdega, I mean Bodega Bay (Debi's name for the place), and yes, It blew, and it was cold and it was foggy, and wavy...and....I had an issue....I developed a weird contact dermatitis of my finger tips, I was thinking from either the steering wheel of the rental or the cover on my camera.  In my life, I once developed a latex allergy to a small degree in surgical residency, and my hands would just peel and burn, and in this case, they are could also be a cleaner for the rental or shampoo, but my hands look and felt like crap...but "This is NOT the end" so despite my bad luck on peleagics and bad hands, the birding must go on or maybe this song had a different meaning?  We'll see later in the blog..

We were very low key on this boat, I booked it under my daughter's name, we were almost anonymous, only one guy recognized me and that was later on...I just wanted to bird and munch on mango chips all day, show my duaghter some cool storm-petrels and since this was s club boat and I wasn't in the club, and they graciously let us on I didn't want to get in anyone's way.

The seasickness rate on the boat was about 40%, we weren't part of it on this boat and it was a more independent affair but I was happy they let us tourists on.  Some locals looked like they would just die, the "head" was getting pretty scary as only one person used the back rail like they were supposed to, but well we got into storm-petrels maybe once in a lifetime storm petrels, so many of the sick ones perked up.

Fork-tailed stormpetrels

My daughter had only seen one this year in a hand, and couldn't count it in Alaska, I'd seen a few a distance on the REPO cruise, so this was great.

Ashy Storm-petrels 
rafts of storm petrels

maybe a thousand of each species total, maybe more.  Many came right up to the boat and all of this with NO chumming, as that is illegal now, someone complained and everyone is trying to get a permit, Debi too

I was trying to get better photos and then with my salt encrusted camera, I used up the battery and my daughter, decided it was nap time, so she took a nap and loaned me her camera, then up flew a shearwater, it was close by and very dark, bigger than a soty. I looked at it as it was close, I couldn't even say the words of what it was, and then said "crap,"  yellow bill, black tip, "flesh foot!!" was shouted,  I snapped a quick set of photos, three hopelessly out of focus and one okay, in maybe 20 seconds, then it was team birding so I ran away from the front of the boat as others came to the front of the boat, had to get the daughter, had to get the daughter, I thought as that IS TEAM BIRDING, I found her in the cabin, she was out cold, like she didn't even remember I poked her hard later.  It was all I could do, she missed it, never woke up, I came out and watched it fly away.....

Flesh-footed shearwater

Bird 753 for the year and a LIFER bird, lifer beer, I chanted.  I could taste it, but was saddened about the daughter's miss, finally, a little luck for me, not for her.

It was an oatmeal stout BTW, oh wait, I'm still on the trip

Then we got into a pod of whales, L woke up for that, it was about as good as whale watching ever ever got.  COOL!!  She took back her camera and was off to the edge as happy as a whale lister would ever be, the shutter straining under the constant pushing.....

L's total for the trip, despite the big miss, plus 11, 514 for the year. WOW!
Best bird for the trip, she states, the many in-close black-footed albatrosses
Handsome birds...
Yea, they were mega cool, I agree!

It is back to school for her in a week, yea, maybe Adele's song lyrics from above are for her not me, a majority of our birding together is over so "maybe this IS the end."  It is the end of an era, as I can't bird with her until October, maybe not the whole year, that is very sad for me, we have bonded in a whole new way, a way I could have never guessed, she is SUCH a good kid, it is almost bringing a tear to my eye right here.  OKAY IT IS BRINGING A TEAR TO MY EYE.  I will throw her on a plane to home, little Miss Independent, I watched her 777 being pushed out of the plane  and started crying, my plane to LAX was 15 minutes later.  I am crying typing this.  I love my kids, and they like me!  We texted the whole time she was able before the plane backed off, she as unhappy some old guy got my seat next to hers, and well, she signed off, and that was ...that.... onward I must go.

It wasn't an earthquake:

 feel the earth move and then hear my heart burst again, for this is the end
It was me being sad, I miss her already

Sad on the west coast

Big Year Total:  753
Coded Birds:  82
provisionals: 1

Miles driven.  35,102
Flight Miles 134, 600
speeding tickets: 1
flight segments: 136   Different Airports: 47
(is the flight over Monterrey a segment or two or none?)
Hours at sea: 225
Miles walked 279
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Miles biked 12
states/ prov. birded: 35
Lifers seen this year:  62
nights slept in car:  12
slept in airplane:  5
cost of trip
pelagics 330
flight 460
car 235
hotels, 510
food, 85

total  $1620

PS thank you Debi and the RROC again!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Box Elder Bug Blues

George Bernard Shaw once quipped "
A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul"

I would like to change this slightly.  If you rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul is quite happy but Peter is mad, and visa versa if you don't do it, Paul is angry but Peter is happy, in other words, no matter what you do, people are unhappy, because people are inherently unhappy and there is nothing you can do about it.  I have long ago understood that I leave a long line of unhappy people in my wake and therefore you all are just going to have to deal with it.

So if you have been waiting for an update from me, you are just going to have to be deal with it.  I was busy...

An update from Lake ..Wob...well in my case The news from Enemy Swim Lake...

In local news the long time CEO of the regions largest industry was recently fired by his father about in law issues, that is tough one to bounce back from.....At Bill's pretty good grocery...they had a special on plums, the first of the season....   The usual hot and dry August has been replaced by torrents of rain, intermittent flooding, and well 100 degrees.  My wife's niece and friends came by to visit and well, they took out the powerboat and took out the prop, now the third prop repair job since I've driven the boat.  Then they took out the jet ski and submerged it, luckily I only own 2 watercraft, nothing else to break, as after 420 bucks of repairs, one begins to about this and then I remember a bed we broke visiting friends and no, sex was NOT involved...sigh, I wasn't even there when the stuff got broken. Well, that is that, I guess.   It looks like there is going to be a big crop of box elder bugs...The local price of sweet corn is up to $4 a bushell if you can still get it, but tomatoes are dropping. It has been an amusement to watch the helicopter laying electric cable on the new powerline east of town and west of town the mysterious 6 foot pipeline laying continues.  No one knows what that is for. There was a false alarm at the firehall when Bo Schenckles accidentally leaned on the alarm, and at The Real Safe Insurance Company building an announcement went out to warn the people to be careful of the mowers as well with all the rain, they will be still mowing the grass.  Football has started although with the heat everyone on the Maroon and Gold looks lethargic and the coach assures everyone that everyone will be fit for the big game with the arch enemy Sisseton, who it is reported has developed a secret trick play so secret that they are afraid to even tell their own players about it.  .  
It was such a slow news weekend that I got to be the front page of the regional newspaper, but again I wrote the story and well, that is my job

In my news....
I did fly off last weekend to Hatteras for 2 days of pelagics although the second day was cancelled.  I saw and photographed

Band rumped storm-petrels

South Polar skua

Audubon's shearwaters

all first of year photographs for the year, we saw 7 species although no new year birds, my daughter which was going with, cancelled  as my sister who is 8 mos pregnant, needed to finish her teacher certification studies before the baby comes and needed someone to watch her 3 year old so Lena decided family was more important than birding, oddly all 7 species, she needed.....
As I said, they cancelled the second day due to weather and so, if I would have came a week earlier I would have tallied 2 birds and then went this weekend to the west coast, would have gotten 1.  It is odd how things just don't work out for me.  Surprising I've gotten what I have gotten.

With nothing else to do, Silja and I stopped by the swamp, got a few chiggers and spotted a prothonotory  warbler and looked for red-cockaded woodpeckers for something to do.

The warblers were everywhere

The woodpeckers were out and about but all I got on camera this time was an odd artificial nest hole for them.

The yellow flies or as we call them deer flies were present but you could deal with them, the heat almost killed my poor wife. I like birded the Carolina and it was fun.
We arrived early to Sanford NC to visit my wife's cousin Tim, now retired from Ft Bragg and the US Army.  Tim is fighting a bad back from too many parachute jumps but I appreciate his service for us and hope it improves.  It was a nice visit and they live in a nice part of NC.

On the flight home a facebook picture of the duct tape on the plane engine went viral

I guess it was something called 350 mph tape but still, it made me a little weary of flying, more on that later

This week was a big week, (well big for Peter (life), I didn't rob it to pay Paul (birding) ) It was a big week for me and it wasn't because the in-laws came to visit.  This is the birding blues period, the doldrums and nothing of note is or has been around to chase and I needed to do some things, like....taxes for one.

This was the week I usually chase big pike in Ontario, but alas I gave up my spot and my 4 year run as the biggest pike champion, cry cry

 This 2014 pike was the biggest on the lake for the decade.  Biggest since my 1997 brute, and three pounds bigger than my 2013 monster.  Oh what I gave up for birding.  I live for wrestling with the big ugly green slimy things. Nothing beats the smell of pike in the morning or a boat with more of your blood in the bottom of the boat than that from fish....I could be there... and I do bird when I fish though, but alas, I'm committed to this whole thing.

Well, like I said I also had to finish taxes, with no time to do it later, and I also still had a couple of company returns.  I also had to lay out my mother's book on the sheriffs of Burnett County Wisconsin, she is such the historian.  One can't forsake everything, you know this is just something kind of silly I'm doing.  I also had to come home to sell a business.....yea, I am no longer storage king of the region....sorry about that.  Two business sales in less than a year, not bragging, just is.

This was one really odd deal, and thank you big year, you actually made me money..but in an odd way.

The fact that I built up a storage company is sort of an odd deal and luck in the first place.  It was the depths of the hell they called the great recession.  I needed office space and so there was one with storage attached and well, it was like eating can't just stop at one.. So, I (or the company I manage) bought one in bankruptcy, then another, them I built one, then two, acquired another company, and begged a U-Haul franchise for one, and had big plans, but then I had employment issues...zoning issues, and a unrecord easement in a deed of a property I was negotiating from a bank... and it stalled a bit, and well I think I wised up... in what I had basically started as a joke with no hope to grow it when I spun off our office buildings into a separate company with a lease back, and then stumbled into real estate in a big way but well that was I'm 50 and tired of the rat race

Back in April I got contacted from a guy wishing to purchase the storage division.  This had happened before, they didn't know how much I had.  There is a savings by getting bigger, and I had just sold the office division as we decided we needed an open space design (oddly they are now making offices to get rid of the open office design)....only 18 mos later....?  Anyhow, I was open to selling as well, I had been selling stuff, so he asked me if it was for sale, I said "anything is for sale, except dog and family and one painting I own"  and I gave him a price I wouldn't refuse. Then I went birding.

He countered but I was still birding so I never got the call or message, then thinking I ignored it, he went higher on offer, now birding in Texas I flew all day west, still no message, and no internet for 3 days as cut my power cord in a door....well then I had to get back east....where he was thinking I think, that I wasn't negotiating thinking I didn't like the counter, eventually he just paid my asking price when I just didn't have cell service for a week, and I would have possibly taken less, but alas, the big year paid for itself in what I spent or will spend by me playing the "no reply" method of negotiating which wasn't my intent, but I got extra for selling it so some things are good.  Oddly he is doing what I wanted to do, and is merging two companies and creating a better monopoly, but well, he is hungrier than I.

I closed on Wednesday, I then, had to go and say good bye to my property.  Here is e of the building I designed and built in Madison Minnesota in 2014,  it feels like an old friend, now gone, tear tear, I had to make my rounds to say goodbye

I am a good buyer but a very poor seller, usually beset by guilt, should I have gotten more?  Did I screw up?  I get anxious selling anything, DO I HAVE THE START OF A HOARDING PROBLEM?  Please intervene if I start taking home dozens of cats or something

IDK, I still feel odd, but I have sold 19 buildings now in 17 months and well, I don't really want to manage property into my 5th decade, no one is happy and dealing with renters is not my Idea of fun, something is always wrong, the checks bounce.  The unit behind the sign above...., we got a search warrant in the spring and it was filled with meth house equipment as he was moving locations, BUT he had paid his rent.....let me say it here, the abandoned units.....we rarely even get enough stuff to pay off the dump fees, let alone the effort to get it there.

so I guess...good riddance...IDK, what to do what to do...too late now I guess
I did it

Madison Minnesota BTW has a great mascot, it is Louie The Lutefisk as it is the Lutefisk capital of the free world and I took a picture of it but it will not be accepted to myself on email from my phone so well...I'll spare you Louie

I did chase a bird while I was down there...45 miles from Madison is my favorite Chinese spot...
my favorite festival in Minneota
 a town I worked in one day and got to even watch the bug races!  I could photograph this sign.
and receive it BTW
..and farther south, in the Lyon County dump...a black-headed gull was spotted, a lower 48 lifer for me, and a lower 48 and USA year bird........good was 101 degrees on the road and the bird was too flighty for a photo after I sorted it out from the Franklin's but it was a continuing bird and well, I had to get back for the second half of my 60 hours of tax work.  It is very light for a Black-headed gull, winter plumage already, all white gull with black wing tips, bright red bill and a small black spot behind the eye, can't really be anything else.

Okay, the 12th came today and I finished up an Oklahoma tax return at 11pm last night and started to pack, then I was notified that Delta had delayed my 5am departure from Sioux falls until 645.  I'm flying Delta because I am not doing Monterrey and so San Jose I can use my new Platinum status to be somebody so I will actually get there....right?
and Sioux Falls for if I have to leave a car at the airport for a month, I'll save 900 bucks
We slept a little longer and took off, then at 0509 when I walked to the counter, just as I got notified that my delayed plane status was new time, it just left at 0507,..................I had missed it.  REALLY?  Is that the best you can do Delta?

Damn airlines.....why notify me of the change after it leaves when you had notified me of it earlier that it was it wasn't even delayed, it took off early...I was told that those are estimates, and one shouldn't come late even, so then why do they send it out?

So I used my status to rebook, as everyone else in line came in to learn the same things....only people to make plane were those non frequent fliers who don't have the Delta elites...we ended up screwed. The woman helping me on the phone told me she would expedite my upgrade which I learned later, never happened, she was just being nice to get me off the phone.

So now I'm flying to San Fran and my 8am plane is now delayed the same 1 hour and 51 minutes, hum, just enough so if I run, I maybe can make connection in Minneapolis...does this sound familiar?  This is deja vu all over again to the Bay area, maybe I'm just not meant to ever go out daughter is just smiling and well there is nothing I can do about it.  She is a great kid.  I moved my car rental and found out the difference in price is 370 bucks (more), so then I cancelled and rebooked cars online and saved money, amazing again......I just couldn't use my gold status with Hertz on the phone, they tried to screw with me...Hard to fathom again, first is last and the last....first IDK, why screw with your best customers?

so if I ever make it anywhere, I'm back on the road for birds...taxes and property sales done, oh what a relief that is.  

here is an update on my stuff, no new birds

Big Year Total:  752
Coded Birds:  81
provisionals: 1

Miles driven.  35,102
Flight Miles 132, 200
speeding tickets: 1
flight segments: 134   Different Airports: 46
(is the flight over Monterrey a segment or two or none?)
Hours at sea: 201
Miles walked 278
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Miles biked 12
states/ prov. birded: 35
Lifers seen this year:  61
nights slept in car:  12
slept in airplane:  5

Oh well, I HAVE figured out what happiness is this year and I think I'm happy.  I have maybe even figured out 2017.  I'm taking up race walking, going to Jackson MS in January to learn correct technique.  I need to get in shape, stay in shape.  My old punter knees won't take running.  I have also started to enjoy my retirement as the week alone with accounting has made me reflect as to how great I really have it....and I guess, I have a lot less things in my backpack to weigh me longer will I get a nasty call from the weed commissioner in some small town that I have noxious weeds growing in my storage properties as they aren't mine (well not owned by the company I was managing partner for any more).

Well, I continue with the Box Elder Bug Blues....I need to check on my plane, maybe it left without us?
That would be my luck.... damn airlines, they make a living out of robbing Peter to pay Paul