Off the Beaten Path: Super Pods~

This is what you see first in the far distance. Sea birds congregating over dolphin herded fish balls. Note the dolphin in the lower center of the photo. For every dolphin you see at any given moment on the surface, there are scores more underwater (click to enlarge).

As you focus in, you notice odd splashes everywhere around you, and dolphins cresting in the distance.

The Captain spins the boat,

in fast churning 360 degree circles,

as dolphins race towards you,

to play in the wake.

They swim,

directly at,


and underneath the boat,

far surpassing the speed and skill of the captain.

Cheers to you from the stunning dolphin super pods~

Off the Beaten Path: Santa Rosa Island~

Endless, pristine beaches with no one on them (click/tap to enlarge).

My son chooses a favored spot,

and prepares to take a very long nap.

Santa Rosa Island,

in Channel Islands National Park in Southern California,

is like a distant, undiscovered paradise. It is only a three hour bumpy small boat ride from mainland California, but it feels worlds away.

It is the only place in the world, besides my hometown in La Jolla, where Torrey Pine Tree forests grow naturally.

This is our boat leaving Santa Rosa Island with Santa Cruz Island in the background. The islands are suprisingly large, unpopulated and completely undeveloped. The waters around them team with wildlife, including blue whales and the largest population of multiple species of dolpins in the world. Super pods are often encountered here and I have been in the midst of them several times, including yesterday, which is a thrilling experience. I will show you some dolphin and whale photos soon.

Wild flowers are still growing profusely in mid-June!

The islands are home to lots of fauna too, including Channel Islands Foxes, which live no where else in the world, are tiny, adorable, and unafraid of humans. Photos of them soon.

What the islands may lack in modern conveniences,

they make up for in spades with unspoiled splendor.

Cheers to you from Santa Rosa Island~

Bullocks Orioles~

This Bullocks Oriole is not sticking his tongue out at you, or me (click to enlarge).

He is eating grape jelly. Orioles are grape jelly fiends. At The Holler, strawberry, or other fruit jellies won’t do. Only ants and wasps will eat it.

We have two types of orioles at The Holler. Hooded Orioles and Bullocks Orioles.

These are all Bullocks Oriole males.

This is a Hooded Oriole male. He is more elongated, has a larger beak, and is a brighter yellow color.

A mated male and female Bullocks Oriole pair. Bullocks Orioles males have the dramatic black eyeliner at the outside corners of their eyes and are more orange in color.

All orioles are extremely argumentative! This male Bullocks Oriole holds his own in a fierce debate against a more formidable Mocking Bird.

Cheers to you from all the quarrelsome Holler Orioles~

Hooded Orioles: Pairs & Females~

Quite a curious Hooded Oriole mated pair (click/tap to enlarge).

They are avid people watchers,

and grape jelly eaters!

Orioles are migrating birds, and because it is cold in the winter at The Holler, our orioles head to warmer winter climes.

They spend spring and summer nesting at The Holler.

Female orioles are supremely talented weaver birds, and design intricate and beautiful hanging nests from palm strings. This female is loading up on string to weave her nests.

Cheers to you from the beautifully curious Holler Hooded Orioles~

Off the Beaten Path: Aviero

Aviero Portugal (click/tap to enlarge),

is off the beaten tourist track.

Portuguese people often vacation here.

It is the Venice of Portugal, replete with canals and gondolas,

but quieter and more peaceful.

There are old Azulejos tiles all over Aviero,

many depicting the town itself.

Except for cars,

and wonderful street art, Aviero hasn’t changed much from the scenes depicted in the old tiles.

Cheers to you from peaceful Aviero~

Note: My new theme! WordPress tech support was really helpful in sorting out many of the aforementioned blog problems. So thank you WordPress support. You are appreciated!

Toast ~

(click to enlarge) This blog is burning,

but, unlike California deserts,

there is no rain on the horizon.

The blog continues to be overwhelmed with WP errors. There is the unfollowed followers issue and there are now 26K+ and growing daily, PHP warning in my WP site logs linked to WP installed/managed plug ins.

PHP warnings are caused by unwanted errors in code or script. They are warnings that there are problems that are likely to cause bigger problems in the future.

Additionally, Google has identified 1.26K blog pages not able to be indexed by google due to redirect errors.

I am not hopeful that this will be fixed.

So, unlike the rain in the desert,

making wildflowers, rivers and waterfalls,

this blog continues,

to burn.

Cheers to you from the wet and happy Sonoran Desert~

Note: Desert wildflowers in order are: Bristlebush, Prickly Pear Cactus, Desert Willow and Desert Marrow.

Off the Beaten Path: Kotor II

There were questions about Koto Montenegro, so here is another post, in the ‘Off the Beaten Path’ series.

A blogger asked if there were any interior shots of the church of St. Nicholas and here is one. The exterior of the cathedral is in this prior post:

Another blogger mentioned hiking the old city walls,

here they are,

extensive and remarkable to explore.

St. Tryphon’s Cathedral and Old Town Square.

Kotor is a wonderful place,

to get lost in,

and the best part is,

it is off the beaten path!

Cheers to you from Kotor Montenegro~

Wasteland Wakened~

The Sonoran Desert in Southern California,

is bursting in bloom!

Rains continue into May in the desert which is unheard of.

Note the people midway up the mountain to give you perspective on the scope of of the superbloom which cover many mountains.

Blooming Brittlebush carpet the foothills in vibrant yellow blankets.

This bloom in Whitewater Wildlands Conservancy is ‘Off the Beaten Path.’ Most superbloom areas in Southern California are mobbed with crowds, but even on the weekend, there are very few people here. You hike by yourself in the wilderness.

The river for which the conservancy is named is full of snow melt cascading into the desert from the surrounding mountains,

filling natural resevoirs to capacity with overflow.

Southern California mountains and deserts are happy!

Cheers to you from the desert in May.

Note: I am traveling now and continuing my ‘Off the Beaten Path’ travel destination series as I go.

Off The Beaten Path: Kotor

Church of St. Nicholas,

Kotor, Montenegro.

My favorite places,

are less traveled and uncrowded.

Kotor is exactly such a place. It is charming, unspoiled and an explorers paradise.

Kotor is one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic.

It is a desiginated as two separate Unesco World Heritage Sites. First, for it’s buildings of medieval significance, and secondly for it’s Venetian defensive structures built at the height of Venetian power in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Cheers to you from the first in a series of ‘Off the Beaten Path Places’ in our small world~