Category Archives: Fauna

I’m rich! I’m rich!

Inspiration

It doesn’t take much for me to get inspired each day, usually a catnap here and there, a hot shower, the news report, and my Excel spreadsheet detailing my goals and tasks for each day.

Occasionally, though, my level of inspiration jumps a few notches, as it did two days ago when I got this email:

Newsflare

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that payment is in Pounds. I thought Great Britain was part of the Eurozone and was using the Euro. Not so. I guess the citizens voted down membership in the Eurozone. Good for me, though. When I initially read the email, I thought the sales price was in Euros, which were trading at $1.14 to a U.S. dollar. When I went to my PayPal account, the amount was much more than what I thought it should be. That’s when I realized that payment was in Pounds Sterling, which were trading at $1.499 to a U.S. dollar. Yahooooo! More money for me!

Here is the video that sold:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A mere 13 seconds. However, the event itself started at 10:00 a.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m. Knowing that parking in the area would be bad, I arrived at 7:00 a.m., got a great parking spot, and proceeded to take pictures of the trains passing by every 30 minutes:

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner in Del Mar, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

So if I divide the sales price, $1,124.25, by 12 hours, I get an hourly rate of $93.69. Hmmm. Still not bad………..LOL

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Out & About—The La Jolla tide pools

Out & About

Any time is a great time to visit the San Diego coast, but when the low tides get really low, it’s time for a visit to the various tide pools along the coast. One of the best is the La Jolla Tide Pools.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Tide Pools, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The lowest of the low tides, and the highest of the high tides, present the best opportunities to see (low tide) or witness (high tide) things that normally can’t be seen or witnessed. To find the low and high tides for San Diego, visit San Diego Tides.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#10: Torrey Pines Area, part 2

San Diego Historical Landmarks

If you missed Torrey Pines Area, part 1, here it is.

Let us start at the far north of the Torrey Pines Area as defined by this map:

Torrey Pines Area

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That blue just below Carmel Valley Road is Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. It’s a great place to go train watching since Amtrak, Coaster, and BNSF freight use the single track through the marsh.

Amtrak under the Del Mar Bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach near San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Those trees you see on the hill behind the bridge are torrey pines in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

The torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) is the rarest pine species in the United States. It grows only in a small area here in San Diego and on Santa Rosa Island, one of the islands in Channel Island National Park off the coast of Southern California.

Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I went to the Reserve at 7:00 one morning and did everything within my power not to just sit out there and watch the trains go by. Long-time readers probably realize how difficult it was for me to ignore the trains. Nonetheless, here’s a walk through a couple of the trails in the Reserve:

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The first time I visited the Reserve was back in May 1993. As I remember it, there was very little sunshine to be found on the trails since it was a fairly dense forest of torrey pines. Sadly, the pines slowly are losing their fight for existence due to drought, insect attacks, and pollution from nearby developments and roadways.

There are two named beaches below the 400-foot cliffs of the Reserve: Torrey Pines State Beach and Blacks Beach. Blacks Beach is one of the world’s largest and best naturist beaches. It is difficult to get to because one has to navigate trails down the 400-foot sandstone cliffs, and each time you go, the trails are different due to erosion from human traffic and rainfall during the winter weeks.

My knees don’t like me going up and down cliffs anymore, so these pictures are from a trip a couple of years ago:

Blacks Beach

Stairs to Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

IMG_7122 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Torrey Pines Golf Course is San Diego’s best and most beautiful course, and it’s a municipal course! It is where Tiger Woods won his last major championship, the U.S. Open, back in 2008.

Torrey Pines Golf Course

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Overlooking the golf course is The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a AAA Five Diamond hotel:

The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California

The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California

The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) is in the Torrey Pines Area. UCSD was established in November 1960, and in just 54 years has risen to prominence among universities worldwide, with U.S. News & World Report recently ranking it as the 18th Top World University.

The campus has many unique buildings and public art, and is worth spending a day just walking around gawking at everything. The library, shown in the first picture, is named after Theodore Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss.” Geisel was a La Jolla resident when he died, and many of his works are in the Geisel Collection in the library.

Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego

UCSD Sun God

University of California San DiegoUniversity of California San Diego

Computer Science & Engineering Building at University of California San Diego

House at the University of California San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Across the street from the campus is the historic Torrey Pines Glider Port. I have been known to sit there for hours at a time and just watch the hang gliders.

Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego

Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego

Torrey Pines Glider Port

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On the beach below the Glider Port is the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, founded in 1903, and one of the world’s foremost oceanographic institutions. The Institution is now a part of the University of California San Diego, and also includes the Birch Aquarium. Take an afternoon to visit the Aquarium because the view of the beach and ocean is unparalleled, and the aquariums and fish are pretty nice, too!

Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego

Scripps Institute of Oceanography, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At the very south of the Torrey Pines Area is the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

Salk Institute, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Salk Institute was founded in 1960 by Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine. It often is ranked as the premier biological & biomedicine institute in the world.

Constant praise is heaped upon the architecture, but I find it to be absolutely atrocious. Bare concrete everywhere; just depressing and oogie.

Salk Institute in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There you have it. An absolutely gorgeous and historic area, so if ever you are in San Diego, take a day out of your schedule and go visit the Torrey Pines Area in La Jolla. You won’t regret it.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#10: Torrey Pines Area, part 1

San Diego Historical Landmarks

It has taken me a good amount of time to research San Diego Historical Landmark #10, Torrey Pines Area, because there is no good description of where this area is. There is a weird description in one source that defines the area as

One mile strip: both sides of Soledad River from 3 miles north of Del Mar to 5 miles south of Point Pinos.

The problem:

(1) I can locate no Soledad River in San Diego County. There is a Soledad Lagoon but it is south of Del Mar, not 3 miles north.

(2) The only Point Pinos I can find is up near San Francisco.

(3) To me, it sounds like the “one mile strip” is at least an eight mile strip, i.e., from 3 miles north of Del Mar to 5 miles south…. Confusing.

One source has notes which say, “Torry [sic] Pine Trees, one of the largest Torry [sic] Pine reserves.”

Since I can’t find a definitive area, I’m going to make my own map of the Torrey Pines Area as I think it might be, based on what I know about the area along North Torrey Pines Road:

Torrey Pines Area

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In part 2, I’ll start exploring the Torrey Pines Area beginning at the north. On our trek to the south, I’ll take you to:

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve,

Torrey Pines State Beach and Blacks Beach,

Torrey Pines Golf Course (where Tiger Woods won his last major championship, the U.S. Open, back in 2008),

Torrey Pines Lodge and maybe a couple of other ritzy hotels in the area,

University of California at San Diego,

Scripps Institute of Oceanography,

Salk Institute,

the historic Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite:

Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

 Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego

Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scripps Institute of Oceanography, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Salk Institute, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Torrey Pines Glider Port

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Out & About

I found an online resource a couple of weeks ago that basically updates my library of San Diego books, all of which were published from 1989 to 1994. One of the first places I went after reading about it online was the Crestridge Ecological Reserve.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Crestridge Ecological Reserve currently comprises 2,638 acres. Acquisition began in 1995, which explains why it is not in any of my San Diego books.

Before I even set foot on the Reserve, I was notified that some of the Republicans’ friends might be found:

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Visitors also were asked to stay alert for badgers and to inform the Reserve if any were seen.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Crestridge Ecological ReserveSadly, during the 2½ hours I spent walking around the Reserve on the trails, I saw not a single species of wildlife—no snakes, no badgers, not even a bird!

Maybe birds don’t get up as early as I do…. Wait! I thought the early bird got the worm! Oh, I am so confused.

Just past the various signs but before the Visitor Center, I found a graveyard.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since my Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University is in forest management, I knew that it wasn’t a graveyard. Those are protective cones used to prevent wildlife like rabbits and deer from eating the vegetation inside the cone.

Just across the trail from those cones was a 10-acre meadow, the Crestridge Grasslands, where serious restoration is in progress:

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Purple needlegrassIn this case, most of the cones are protecting purple needlegrass (Nasella pulchra).

Purple needlegrass became the state grass of California in 2004. It ranges from the Oregon border at the north to the Mexico border at the south, and an individual plant can live for a hundred years. It was a food source for native Indians, as well as being the main food source for horses and cattle in California’s wild, wild west. It also happens to be the preferred material used by the California Indian Basket Weavers to teach children the art of basket weaving.

In an ecological reserve, one of the primary purposes is to replace non-native vegetation with native vegetation. In the Crestridge Grasslands, students from several school districts, as well as volunteers, plant and care for the area, providing a service to the community while learning science and restoration skills.

The visitor center, not open at 7:00 a.m. when I was there, is quite beautiful. It has some interesting benches, and there are unique tiles in the grounds surrounding the center.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Part of the mission of the reserve is education. There was a very interesting area set up for composting.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s easy to forget that this reserve is smack dab in the middle of a suburban area and bounded on one side by busy Interstate 8. The rust-colored trails reveal the soil’s iron-rich composition, and huge granite boulders and outcroppings occur throughout the reserve, including this Hobbit House:

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The trails are wide and clean, with no major long-distance gains in elevation, making for a leisurely walk. You do have to stay on the trails, though, because poison oak and poison ivy like it here, too.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Crestridge Ecological Reserve is one of the most significant pieces of land set aside for nature in Southern Californa. It has everything ecologically significant to Southern California, including sensitive butterflies, bobcats, and an ancient Indian village where people once ground acorns in mortars of smooth boulders.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since the reserve is in the midst of so many suburban cities—Lakeside, Santee, Crest, El Cajon, Alpine, and Blossom Valley—other problems have to be dealt with. In October 2003, someone drove a bulldozer onto the reserve and destroyed an acre of native vegetation, including at least one 200-year-old oak tree, and built 8-foot-high motorcycle jumps. Shortly afterwards, surveillance cameras documented 18 motorcycles on the reserve.

There is a house on one of the peaks, apparently belonging to the Reserve’s main caretaker. From the driveway around the house, there is a nice view of Interstate 8 and the cities below.

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Crestridge Ecological Reserve

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Crestridge Oak GroveAlso within the reserve is the Crestridge Oak Grove. It’s in pretty bad shape, so there weren’t any good pictures to be had. Most of the oaks are Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), but there are also some Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmanii) and Shrub Oak (Quercus dumosa). The mature Coast Live Oaks range in age from 100 to 200 years. I didn’t see any mature Engelmann oaks, but I did find a couple of young’uns.

Engelmann Oak

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Oak woodlands provide food, water, and shelter for about 350 species of wildlife, as well as providing the basis of watersheds which provide drinking water for millions of Californians. At one point a couple of hundred years ago, oak woodlands covered about 10 million acres in California. Population growth resulting in urban and suburban sprawl through agricultural conversion have profoundly affected the land and our resources.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Meet Boots (or, How to have another cat without having another cat!)

Cats

Jim and I have only one cat, Zoey the Cool Cat. Looks like this:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Up until late 2007, I had always considered myself a dog person. Cats seemed too, well, aloof.

In late 2007, though, a stray black cat adopted our home. Could have something to do with me giving it food and water….

She stayed around, and we named her Sophie.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie was a dog trapped in a cat’s body. She used to follow me around, inside and outside, never more than a few feet away.

Sophie the Black Cat

It was funny when I went for a walk because I had a cat by my side walking with me, although occasionally she would stop to, uh, smell the roses, and then have to run to catch up with me.

We tried to make Sophie into an indoor cat because we lived in a rural area with black asphalt roads, no street lights, and rapidly moving cars (that’s a polite way of saying “speeding”). She loved the indoors, until dusk came. If she was still in the house an hour after dusk, she would howl until we let her out.

On the morning of September 20, 2007, a neighbor called with the inevitable news. I went to pick up the body and gave her a proper burial, in the yard just feet from where we first met.

That afternoon Jim and I went to the El Cajon Animal Shelter to get a cat, a 100% indoor cat. We saw several we liked but some were already spoken for. We settled on an American short hair ginger tabby cat, but she wouldn’t be ready for adoption until 10:00 a.m. the next morning. We were there at 9:30, and came home with Zoey. After just a few hours with us, she knew she had a forever home:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That was when I renamed her from “Zoey” to “Zoey the Cool Cat.”

During these past 7½ years with Zoey the Cool Cat, I have taken a significant interest in cats, big and little. I find them fascinating creatures…. Still love dogs, too!

For several years I have been wishing that I could have another cat, or two…. maybe three…. why stop at three? four…. five?…. six…

Recently I discovered that I actually can have another cat, and here he is:

Boots

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

His name is Boots. Click on the collage to see a larger version.

Boots won’t be joining us in our home, though. We are merely sponsors, to the tune of $20 a month, so that Boots can have the love and care that he needs.

BootsYou see, when I decided to sponsor a cat, I decided that I wanted to sponsor a special needs cat. The only special needs I knew about were the wobbly cats (CH), tripods, and pirates. I really wasn’t thinking about all the other afflictions that our little feline friends can have.

In the case of Boots, he occasionally has seizures, and during those seizures he loses bladder control, thereby wetting on himself (and probably anything nearby). So Boots is getting care, attention, food, love, and play at The Cat House on the Kings up near Fresno, California.

Sponsoring Boots, or any of the other cuties at The Cat House on the Kings, is only $15 a month. I decided to use the advertising revenue from WordAds on my blog right here to sponsor Boots, to the tune of $20 a month.

If YOU would like to sponsor a little cutie, see their sponsor page here:

Sponsors Needed

You can sponsor dogs, too, since they have some. They also have goats and peacocks, but I don’t know if you can sponsor them. Heck, just donate to The Cat House on the Kings and tell everyone that you are sponsoring a dog, goat, or peacock at a cat sanctuary! As my wise old grandmother would say: “That will throw ‘em for a loop.”

Now if I can just get an animal shelter or sanctuary somewhere to offer me a job. I think it would be the coolest thing in the world to work with animals all day, every day.

Cat House on the Kings

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Pets rule! at SeaWorld San Diego

Out & About

One of the best places to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon is SeaWorld San Diego, and one of the best shows there is “Pets Rule.”

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

These “pets” include cats, dogs, pigs, birds, and a kangaroo.

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Some pets (birds, mostly) were rescued from illegal animal trading and importing.

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Others (mostly cats and dogs) were deemed by shelters to be not adoptable due to a bad disposition or such.

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Once you see these “pets” and how happy they are to have a loving audience, you’ll never understand how they were deemed not adoptable.

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pets rule at SeaWorld San Diego!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat