Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I wanted to leave up the last blog so that people that may be “overwhelmed” with The Christmas frenzy might be able to relate to a more peaceful and worldwide concept. I was going to wait until The First to put up a new post but couldn’t wait.

So, a little special story to tell. I have often written about my solo kayak trips out to The WZ (Whale Zone). That is an area about 2 miles out from the beach and where I have had the greatest number of encounters with Whales, Dolphins, Mobulas, Turtles etc.

Whenever some friends are in town, or when I have just met some interesting new folks, I like to invite them to go out there with me and perhaps share in an encounter (unique but well worth the effort).

This past week my good friends Juanita and Mike Riddell have had their three daughters visiting and I asked them to go out to The WZ with me on the 20th. All three are accomplished, intelligent, strong women and a delight to be with. Gwen graduated from Yale with a Masters degree in Nursing and is now a midwife in Santa Rosa at The Community Health Center, Jen graduated with a Ph.D. in Botany from Arizona State and is working for The American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC, Kirin recently graduated from Stanford University in Earth Systems and is an Associate in Research at Duke University…did I say accomplished? I taught specialty classes at The Waldorf School in Northern California in which Gwen and Jen were students years ago.

From left: Gwen, Jen, Kirin

We got out nice and early around 8:30 am and the conditions were good all around. I did notice however that my kayak was acting a bit wobbly but I thought it was just me and because I had a different dry bag strapped behind me changing the center of gravity.

By the time we were close to The WZ, Gwen, who was directly behind me, commented that the stern of my kayak was riding pretty low in the water. When I turned to look I almost capsized the kayak (not at all dangerous in itself, it is a “sit on top”) but it was clear my kayak was taking on water. This meant there must be a leak in the hull.

This kayak has been with me for 14 years and has been completely reliable under a number of different conditions, some of them a bit dicey but never a leak. I called to Jen and Kirin to hold up and that my kayak was in trouble. I dove out of the kayak, put on my mask and went underneath to see if I could spot the trouble (it had to be a hole somewhere). No luck, so I asked the girls (I use that term with great affection AND their approval) to put their kayaks together and we would pull my kayak over the top of theirs, drain it and see if we could find the hole….or at the very least not let it fill anymore and have it sink. If it sank it would be goodbye to my beloved kayak because at The WZ it is between 600-900’ deep, therefore no recovery. Jen JUMPED RIGHT IN to help me maneuver the kayak into position and help shove it across the other 3 kayaks. Kirin suggested that we tie the 3 kayaks together at their bows because we were having trouble lifting the now HEAVY kayak unto the others without them separating. Rope was gotten, Jen tied them off and we tried again. Still very difficult, so Kirin STANDS UP in her kayak so she has more leverage to pull and she and Gwen pull while Jen and I push.

When we get the kayak up I see where the water is now draining out and it is a 2” by 1/8” crack at the base of the keel. OK fine, we know where the leak is, it is draining and the kayak is stable, laying across the other three. We are 1½ to 2 miles out so we still have a problem…how do I plug the crack so I can paddle back in?

A number of good suggestions are made but I am fixated on somehow “calking” the crack, but with what? Then I remembered I had an old CLIFF BAR in my kit and perhaps it would do the job. With Gwen ENCOURAGING ME THAT THAT MIGHT BE A GOOD START, I can tell she, and Jen/Kirin are a bit dubious. Nevertheless I begin stuffing the crack with old Cliff Bar. Gwen then asks if I have anything that might augment the rather tenuous strength of the CB. I do! I have some cotton balls in my kit (as nose stuffers) that I carry if I have another high blood pressure created nosebleed while out kayaking. I work those in with the CB and I am beginning to feel confident! Gwen asks about any plastic I might have and we eventually engineer a repair based on the CB/cotton “caulking”, a plastic sandwich bag over that, my scarf pulled tight over that and tied around the hull with rope from the painter from one of the kayaks.

We agree that it doesn’t look very cool but it does look serviceable for the trip back. Unfortunately all our time had been taken up messing with my kayak and the wind was coming up so we had to paddle in without really having the chance to enjoy the WZ.

When we got back to shore my kayak was completely dry and we agreed (they very kindly) that the trip had not been a disappointment and that to some degree it was kind of exciting. For me, I was real happy that I had not lost my kayak.

But think on this….suppose, the girls hadn’t been there with me. Two things are very clear; I could not have drained the kayak and therefore probably lost it…AND I would have had a 1½-mile swim in to shore. I would have been very sad to lose the kayak in which I have had so many adventures and I am not all that sure the swim in would have been anything but difficult. I am a very good and strong swimmer, and it is part of my almost daily exercise, but the water is cooler now and I am just coming off some health issues, so…

I repaired the kayak the next day and we went out to The WZ again yesterday without a problem. To Gwen, Jen and Kirin…may The Great Mystery always, always watch over you! Thank you just doesn’t quite cover it.

After hearing my story my friend Alan suggested I carry an inflatable apparatus with me when I go out (I’ll never give up my solo times in The WZ) and perhaps a life jacket. I will not wear a life jacket but do have one now strapped to the back of my kayak….I ain’t stupid!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not my pic
First off, HAPPY SOLSTICE!! Don’t let them fool you, it is astronomically mid-winter, not the beginning of winter, and this is the oldest ritual celebration of our species, honoring the return of The Sun northward. DECEMBER 21st.

So dance to the return of The Sun, Not my pic

Every now and again when my eyesight fails me a bit I wonder whether I’ll be able to spot whale blows like I used to. Here in my area we don’t have so many whales that their blows are everywhere as in Hawaii, so Vicente and I often have to really be focused to see some of our critters. Well the other day I was doing some work in the garden and as I was moving some pruning, and not looking to sea at all except as a back drop for my view field, I caught an anomalous, faint mist in the air about ½ mile out in front of Alan’s place. There was a wind chop besides but as I stopped and focused, there it was again…a whale blow! I saw two whales out there but couldn’t identify them for certain; could have been Blues. I am now confident that I am in fact just as capable as before and am ready for the season to begin (I may go out next week for a first search).

Alan and I took a little drive to El Sargento (a bit up the coast from us) to attend the local school’s science fair. We both have a fascination with everything that is alive…and a lot of other stuff too like rocks and Galaxies etc. As we expected, it was small but fun nonetheless and I made a great contact with a woman who has lived up there for the past 15 years and has been watching the whales for some time. She promised to e-mail me when there is a “gathering” of them near her. She said that last year, my best year ever also, there were whales of all kinds no more than a ½ mile out from the beach, if that. There were Humpbacks, Blues, Sperm Whales and thousands of dolphins. Vicente and I can get there in about 40 minutes by panga so we are ready! To top off the day, we went to the restaurant at Bahia Los Muertos (now named Bahia Los Suenos so it doesn’t scare Gringos to go there) and had a great lunch. You would not believe how beautiful it is there.

I have met a delightful young Mexican artist, Paulina Vargas Garibay. She attended one of my benefits last year and has become a dear friend. Here are some examples of her work, I suggest you check her blog for more paintings,; her e-mail is She has won a number of awards and has shown her work in both Mexico City and Todos Santos. She is extremely versatile and has much to offer….and she is a very sweet person besides.

On the 17th I woke to a very still Sea and of course that meant a trip out to The WZ. Apparently I missed a pod of Orcas that were feeding at the edge of the reef at the same time but I am sure one day we will meet up and I’ll have the swim of my life! I did see one Sea Turtle, and had THREE dolphin encounters. I went in with all three groups but the Sea was pretty turbid so I didn’t see any of them under water (I gave it a hell of a try) but they were all around me on the surface, just not close enough to see when I dove. However, on my first dive out of my kayak I saw the most beautiful jellyfish. I don’t have an underwater camera so here is a picture I got online.

Bolinopsis sp., Not my pic
It was about 18” wide and 20” long, UTTERLY diaphanous, undulating and had four rows of blinking neon florescent beads dividing it into quadrants…extraordinary. If any of you saw the movie “The Deep”(?), where there are these alien water creatures, it looked like the angelic one. When it began to descend I followed it up close and it was just too beautiful to describe adequately; oh do I love this Sea!

Weather looks good next week for my first Whale search with Vicente. I’m hoping to have the three delightful daughters of Mike and Juanita Riddell along. I taught two of them (Gwen & Jenny) as a specialty teacher at The Waldorf School in Mendocino County when they were youngsters. The youngest, Kirin, went out with me about three years ago and we found a group of 11 Blue Whales cruising by and then 2 Humpbacks too, what a day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thank you all for making my past birthday one of the best ever. Though most of the contact was electronic, the love and energy expressed could be felt in every part of me. The day ended at the home of Alan & Marilyn for a dinner of an incredibly good turkey curry, some chocolate, chocolate cake made by my friend Lisa Pedroni, and then sitting back to enjoy watching The 49er’s WIN.

Me at 69 years + 7 days

There were some interesting debates regarding how I figured my age; I have COMPLETED 69 years and am entering my 70 year but of course not yet 70. But my 69th year is over. Oh well, it is of little import but for me, significant nonetheless.

I received two e-mails from friends further south of El Cardonal (San Jose & Vinorama), who are beginning to see Humpbacks in their areas. This of course means they are moving back to The Cape and should be arriving here soon! Unless I spot a number of them from land, I will probably not go out for my first search until mid-January (my first Humpback ID last year was on the 14th of Jan). I am anticipating another good season, but only time will tell, eh?

Two intrepid kayakers passed through here last week, Ken & Wendy from Whitehorse, Alaska. No, they hadn’t kayaked all the way down but they had started far north of me and were reaching their destination at Cabo Pulmo only 40 miles south of here; a total of 3 weeks coastal kayaking along The East Cape.

They are serious birders, check out their blog:

The Saturday that they left my area was one of those especially beautiful days down here with no wind, skies clear and temperature of air and water just about perfect. Alan and I went out to The WZ and had a nice time talking about a multitude of things, no critters stirring though, not even one Mobula.

Wanted to show you a pic of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Frank Denney, who recently returned from Alaska. He and I challenged the limits put on us and had a great older childhood skiing, hiking The High Sierra, riding the train (before we had driver’s licenses) to San Francisco to catch the Burlesque shows at The 3rd & Peerless, listening to George Shearing at The Gilded Cage with our fake IDs secure in our pockets, sneaking into the public pool at night for a swim…..and a lot of other stuff besides. Frank and his delightful wife Jackie are inveterate travelers and have seen a good part of The World, much more than I. What a time we had....and what a time they are having!

Our local Osprey family has produced another brood. About a week ago the whole family was out (parents + two young ones) doing some raptor training. What a privilege to watch.

My grandfather’s book has been republished and is available through Amazon. It is a true adventure yarn of his time in China as a Sea Captain.

Lastly, this is a pic sent to me by Wendy (of the intrepid kayakers), knowing I would enjoy it so I share it with you.

Sun and moon
On Oct. 7, 2010, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, observed its first lunar transit when the new moon passed directly between the spacecraft (in its geosynchronous orbit) and the sun. With SDO watching the sun in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, the dark moon created a partial eclipse of the sun. Image Credit: NASA

Monday, November 29, 2010

Today, Nov. 29th, 2010, is my birthday. Yes, this is a picture of me at around 4-6 mths (?) while still in Tallinn, Estonia, where I was born in 1941.

Of course that makes me a Sagittarius and I am certainly one of those.

Today, as of 2:00 am in the morning, I am a full 69 years old and am now, at this moment, in the first few hours of my 70th year. The 60’s are now the past and my 7th decade on the Planet has begun. For me this is a milestone for various reasons. I can now consider myself an elder. True, people live to much older years but I am a strong believer in a quote of Jack London's. “The function of man is to live, not exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time“. So being an elder is significant for me. There were a number of “elders” in my extended family, we all lived together when we came to The USA (forced to do so by WWII) and I had great respect for them all, as well as a certain awe of the lives they had led.

Yesterday I went out to The Whale Zone in my kayak (the one day this week when the wind will be down) and was gifted by The Cetacean Nation with a close encounter visit by 3 Common Pacific Dolphin that swam near my kayak and did not leave when I entered the water. I was able to swim with all of them under the Sea for a while, and as always, it was an absolutely wonderful experience. Every time this happens I find my body, mind and spirit integrated into the whole that is Urmas Kaldveer….it is a gift indeed.

Since starting my breath work as an adjunct to my daily meditation I have begun to see deeper into my past and the journey that I have taken. Overall I am satisfied with my performance as a human manifested Eternal Soul ( when I use this term it has nothing at all to do with The Judeo/Christian/Muslim religions) but I also see a number of times where I have stumbled; at times hurting others, and often myself besides. I am clearly fortunate in the circumstances under which I now live here in Mexico, and I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to discover (or rediscover ?) more of myself, and in the process…..others.

I am most grateful to my daughter Kersti and my son Zack who withstood a classic old world discipline as youngsters and a father who at times was clearly not thinking straight and they both did it without turning the home into a battle ground. We all worked on it together and they made it easy. Here’s a picture of the three of us in Baja about 8 years ago.

I am also deeply indebted to my deceased mother, Erika Kaldveer, for her utter devotion to myself and my brother Peter in giving us standards to live by that were demanding but totally loving and reasonable.

My mom and me in Yosemite, 199(?)

These 69 years have been exciting, challenging, heart breaking, inspiring, painful and all those other things we call life. Now I am on to this decade of my 70’s. I have no expectations, no quests, no hopes to live “a long life”…..only a good one.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dolores, if you are reading this, I dedicate the following pictures to you.

On the 24th, I went down to the Sea to swim once again. While there I saw a bird perched on a piece of driftwood and could tell right away it was one I had not seen before. It flew away before I could get close but I got a good enough look to be pretty sure that it was a Kingfisher. Checking my field manual I found that there is a local Kingfisher, The Belted Kingfisher, but that it is generally found near streams, lakes or estuaries; none of which exist here for some distance.

This morning, the 25th, I went to the same spot but with my camera and I was delighted to find yesterday’s bird pretty much in the same spot and got these pictures.

It is indeed a Belted Kingfisher and the first I have seen here. They are a truly an extraordinary bird. I read in Natl. Geo. That they can dive from a limb above the water, snare a fish and return to the limb in 2 SECONDS! That is phenomenal and I still find it hard to believe but NG is quite reliable on it’s claims. I hope I will see it (males & females are both highly colored) again and maybe witness one of these amazing dives.

During the time I was watching I also saw this Whimbrel

an Osprey, a Semi-Palmiated Plover, these California Brown Pelicans

and a juvenile Black Bellied Plover (thereby not having the black belly yet). This Plover was also a first for me.

Then when I returned to my home this guy showed up, yet again a new bird for me. This is a Rufous Crowned Sparrow. I’m not 100% certain on this one and if I find later I made an incorrect identification I will let you know.

Not my pic

Thanksgiving was a delight with a traditional turkey dinner at Alan and Marilyn’s home down the beach from me. It was without question one of the top three turkey dinners in my memory and I did it justice…..just a little too much justice but not too bad either.

The wind is going to die down on Sunday and I hope to go out to The WZ to see what’s up. I am beginning to scan the Sea for blows now. A bit early but I am anxious to see my whale friends return. Actually in the 6 years I have been taking photo IDs only one whale has returned from a previous season. That was the whale adopted by my son Zack that he named “Odin”. Perhaps this year I will see more old friends. I am quite sure to meet some new friends!

Today is the 26th and it is grey, cold and windy…..well, comparatively speaking that is.

This is the first flower I have gotten on this transplanted Hibiscus. I thought for sure it was a goner.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I am sitting under the palapa this morning and reveling in the clean Sea air, the sounds of the desert and the warmth of a bright November sun. I have just come through a difficult but not particularly serious health episode involving my blood pressure and a significant back strain. I feel much better this morning than I have in weeks and even swam some laps the other day.

While in SJD last weekend to give my annual Whale Presentation I was treated to a massage and then a bit of breath training by my friend Robin. Whenever I stay over in San Jose now I always take a room at Raices y Brasos where there are clean, comfortable rooms, a first class organic restaurant and a group of the finest young people you could find anywhere. I am always treated with kindness and respect and have come to see them as “family”. I feel once again blessed to have such fine friends. I most highly recommend that anyone visit their facility and enjoy the terrific food and good company.

Brigitte and Jean-Luc (the young couple that have adopted me) from Montreal were here for 10 days staying in the beautiful home they built next to me.

It was a delight to have them here as always and I am looking forward to their return in February with their boys, Antoine, Tristan and Quentin. Their family’s love for the Sea (and it’s critters) and their joyful immersion in it daily warms my heart.

They have also built this Inukshuk on their property next to our Medicine Wheel.

It is from The Inuit and other Arctic Circle Cultures. They were used as reference points for navigation across The Tundra and sometimes as food cairns. The pictures below shows the Spiny Tailed Iguana that uses it as a place to sun himself.

Due to the health matters mentioned before I have not been out much in my kayak but I do have some new friends coming Fri/Sat and I have promised them a tour out to the whale zone and then the reef. I will take it easy but I am “chomping at the bit” to get out there again.

I haven’t seen any more whales for a while and neither have the local fisherman but I am sure they will be showing up soon. I would love to go out further (15-20 miles) to see if there are any Blues going through but alas, insufficient funds for that. In regard to funds, I would like to personally thank The Backman family for their generous contribution at my presentation. They also adopted a whale, HB# 9 09, a handsome black tailed Humpback that they will soon name.

Anyone interested in donating funds for my work now is the time. The 2011 Season starts soon and the more funds I have the more times I get out, the more data I gather AND the greater chance I have of affecting environmental policy down here. Remember, these are “our” whales, these are The Humpbacks that migrate yearly through the waters of The East Pacific. Their home is the entire West Coast of North America from Baja Sur to Southeastern Alaska.

It is almost too cool for the BoBo’s but I see that now that it is warming up (in the last hour) they are gathering around my computer, nose, eyes and mouth, definitely not one of my favorite critters.

That’s about it for now, Shangri-La continues to nourish my soul.

Namaste & Peace


Monday, November 8, 2010

Have been dealing with some health problems again so I have not been as active as I would like, therefore not much to write about.

Nevertheless here is some news and pics.

One of my friends from the HS reunion found this picture in her files and sent it out. That's me, top row, far right, 1954, 7th grade. Eight of my classmates in this photo were at the reunion.

This is a picture of my "honorary" granddaughter, Lola. Isn't she a beauty! Just starting ballet lessons.

Brigitte and Jean-Luc (my "adopted" family from Quebec) found this guy climbing up the exterior wall of their home this afternoon.

This is the male counterpart of the female I posted last week(?) and indicated as a male; never claimed to be an Entomologist!

I have been out in the kayak only a couple of times these past two weeks but haven't seen much. Apparently missed a Humpback just a mile or so south of me the other day while out but didn't see him. They should be starting to come in another month or so.

Recently found out that my grandfather Peipa (our nickname for him), who was my surrogate father, was awarded The Naval Expeditionary Medal by The Congress of The US for his heroism during The Panay Incident in China in 1938. He was an Estonian Sea Captain and was the Captain of The Standard Oil Tanker "Mei Ping" during that event.

Captain Peeter Julias Mender

Stepped out on my little deck off my trailer door the other morning and found a pile of FOX SCAT on the first step. To do that the fox had to be MOTIVATED. What in the world have I done to that fox that he/she decided to do that?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I am happy to announce that my website is back. Unfortunately the domain name is slightly different and now does not match my brand new business cards. The difference is minor but of course determines whether you can access it. So here is the new one (note the dash between 2010 data is not up yet but again I am hoping it will be before the year is out.

A number of whales have been seen in the area recently. I have not been fortunate enough to see any of them myself but it is very early in the season and these are either resident whales or perhaps whales that did not go the full distance to Alaska and instead did their feeding in California and have returned early. They are not all Humpbacks but some Fins and some Bryde’s from what I can gather.

It has of course enticed me to go out to The WZ and see what’s up. Yesterday (Mon. 18th) I came across two groups of Pacific Common Dolphins, jumped in with both groups, one veered off and the other I got to see underwater for a few seconds. Short as it was it was well worth the kayak out just to be with them for even a bit. An added treat to yesterday was that when I went in with them I was at about 900’ depth so the Sea is just this vast blue field that gets darker real quick. There happened to me thousands of little fluorescent blue jellyfish out there and to me, looking straight down, they appeared like brilliant stars in a cobalt sky…very cool!

Well, I couldn’t resist going out again this morning and had my second most fun Dolphin dive ever. Numero uno goes to my dive with my son Zack in March where we went in with about 40 Bottlenose Dolphins and 3 Humpbacks for a little “close encounter” swim but today was special also.

I went out a little after sunrise and paddled leisurely out to The WZ, meditated for about ½ hour and then scanned the horizon for activity. Seeing nor hearing anything, and with the wind coming up, I decided to head back in. Before doing so I put a thought out to The Cetacean Nation to come by for a visit. I also wanted to swim for a bit and see if I could attract any curious critter; I usually don’t swim in from 2 miles out but the water was just too inviting not to so I started in. Before going in I thought I heard a fairly good sized splash nearby but couldn’t see anything jump. There was also a Magnificent Frigate Bird stealing a fish from something that I assumed was the splash (seal, Tuna, Bonito???).

So I dropped in and began to swim….it was delightful and I felt very, very relaxed and strong. At about 4 laps the Sea was beginning to get choppy and my snorkel filled so I decided to get out.

Sitting in my kayak and readying for the paddle in, I suddenly saw two dolphin nearby and I got the feeling they had been curious as to what this swimming thing was. I went right back in and though I knew they were very near I couldn’t see them when I dove down.

I got back up into my kayak, saw they had moved a bit, followed them and then went in again. I looked below me and there ahead of me and about 15’ down was a single dolphin maybe 20’ in front of me. I started swimming toward it and as I closed on it, it turned and came towards me.

Not my picture but certainly captures the moment

As it approached to about 10’ I waved, dove down towards it and it swam a bit away. Then it went up for a breath, I followed and we went down together. It came closer and I again went towards it and we did this for about 5 minutes. What I realized while all this was happening was that this was not a Common Pacific Dolphin, Spinner or Bottlenose….this was something different.

I tried to focus on it’s appearance but I was so into the moment that I really didn’t get all the info I should have (as a “scientist”). Now having checked my field manual I am 90% certain it was a Rough Toothed Dolphin; first that I have experienced but not at all rare in the area.

It finally dove deep and it was time to end the encounter (wind still coming up). By the time I got over the reef it had died again so I swam another 20 laps in and was treated yet again by seeing a Zebra Moray Eel, what a life, eh?

On the 21st we had a bit of a quake in The Sea of Cortez a little ways above La Paz. I was in my trailer taking my morning rest after a sunrise exercise session, reading, and I felt the trailer start to shake and saw the palapa outside moving. Being from California you get used to this kind of thing so I enjoyed the second and third tremors and realized once again how secure I feel in my Air Stream. Apparently it was a fairly good sized quake (6.3 I think) and not surprising since The Sea of Cortez IS THE CRACK BETWEEN THE NORTH AMERICAN AND THE PACIFIC PLATES. My son zack e-mailed soon after to check up on me…sweet.

The hurricane season though not officially over does not seem to have anything more in store for us (famous last words?). I see nothing on the computer for at least the next week and by then the waters will have cooled enough to discourage formation. The season was very short with the last “event” being Georgette, which left a fair amount of rain but hardly a “Chubasco”. Last year we got as far as Hurricane Rick (alphabetically) that could have been bad but veered before reaching The Cape Region.

Although my Spiny Tailed Iguanas are still around (the eldest having been recently named “Zeus” by my adopted grandson Quentin), the lizards have been more scarce this year. No where near the number of Desert Iguanas I used to see. Same with Orange Throated Whiptails or Zebra Tailed Lizards. Nothing implied, just different. I did however get treated to a fairly rare (in this region) Western Skink. Very handsome little fella, eh?

Western Skink

The last few times out in my kayak I have also been visited by Least Storm-Petrels. One stayed with me for about an hour the other day while I was out at The WZ; just me and the bird staying within 100’ of each other. They fly very low to the water and remind me of bats though a slight bit bigger; same wing beat.

Least Storm Petrel: not my pic

Speaking of kayaking I went out on the last full moon and enjoyed the special peacefulness of The Sea at night. There were some Mobulas out there but not much of anything else. To be directly in line with the moon and it’s beam on the water, with everything still around you and the kayak rolling with the swell is extraordinaire!! Next time I will wear my kayaking suit; got a little chilled out there (did have the smarts to take a light windbreaker though).

I am having incredibly insightful dreams almost every night. It is as though a window has opened in my mind and all my experiences/emotions are being reviewed and analyzed. So far not too many dark spots; but some for certain.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I thought this was a rather interesting sunrise. The conditions made the sun look HUGE!

Last week I registered my car in South Dakota because unlike California, SD does not require proof of insurance, smog check and only charges $38 for yearly registration. This saves me over $1000 a year here and that is significant in my life style. I should receive my new plates in the next two weeks; yet another major commitment to my new residence.

Went out to sit under the palapa and do some bird watching, picked up my field manual and a good sized scorpion popped up. Scittered off before I could send him to Arachnid heaven but reminded me to check under stuff. Still no scorpions in the trailer, and that’s very cool!

It was a short stay for the millipedes this year, just a few days and they were gone. I am certain it is a weather (amount/distribution) thing and has been duly recorded in my nature journal.

Water and air temperature has shifted downward significantly. No need for a fan at night and I often even throw a light blanket over me in the early morning.

I was delighted to find that though I am getting older my balance is still pretty darn good. The other day while going down the trail from the bluff I started to slip into the adjacent gully (would not have been at all pleasant) but was able to right myself twice as my feet skidded out underneath me. I was also carrying my snorkeling gear, paddle, back rest and other kayaking paraphernalia but still kept my feet without falling.

A group of some of my very favorite people, and some new ones, were here last week. To :Juanita, Emily, Lynn, Shauna, Deborah, Becky, Becky “the younger”, Linda….so nice to have seen you!

Warning! Be sure to keep up your Website hosting and registration fees for your domain name. The minute you don’t the Chinese buy them and then put them up for sale again at 10 times the price. I have found out the hard way. My website will no longer be but This should go into effect soon. It has been a REAL HASSLE !!!

Water has been very clear the past few days, really beautiful but there are some Agua Malas (Portuguese Man O' War) around. I was stung yesterday while getting into my kayak, fortunately a small one.

Went out this morning, Oct.18th, and came across two groups of Common Pacific Dolphin.

I took this picture some years ago but they are Common Pacific Dolphins.

Went in with both groups and was able to see one of them underwater but the other group veered away when I went in. Very cool though because I haven’t had a dolphin swim in quite a while. I was out a bit over 2 miles so water depth was around 900’ and I was treated to a really beautiful site. When I went in to encounter the dolphins I looked straight down and the sea was filled with tiny fluorescent blue jellies so it looked like stars against the dark blue depth of the water….mesmerizing! That alone was worth the kayak out.

Vicente came by to let me know he had seen two Humpbacks down around Punta Pescadero (5 miles south) last week, also a couple of Fin Whales and a Bryde’s Whale or two. Keeps me going out to The WZ, never know when the timing will be just right and I’ll have an encounter.

Please note that my website is back online with a new domain name: (note the dash)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

For any of you that are wondering what happened to my website I am working on it and hope it to be functional again soon. In the meantime it can be accessed with the following URL:

I expect that the most exciting thing to happen recently is my discovery of a GOOD SIZED Desert Tarantula under my towel the other day.

I have an outdoor shower I use most of the year except during winter, and leave two towels hanging on the fence nearby. The other day I grabbed one of the towels, shook it out (always do that now because of the occasional scorpion that might be hanging out there), and then saw this guy (males are out looking for mates right now) right there where my towel had been. I have wanted to see one of these critters for a long time and so there he was. I have to say they are about as mellow a critter as I have ever seen, I mean mellow. No sign of any aggression as I took a really close look and then I couldn’t help myself, I had to touch him. He remained totally laid back so I talked with him for a while then got the camera and took the above shot. He was still there in the late afternoon so we visited a number of times as I worked in the yard. The last time I saw him I wished him good luck in his search for a mate.

Another rather exciting thing is that I found my lost kayak anchor yesterday. About three weeks ago the line attaching it to my kayak leash separated from the leash and disappeared into the depths of the reef (not very deep, maybe 25-30’). I hadn’t noticed it until I saw that my kayak was not where it should have been. I tried right then to find it but to no avail. So yesterday I am doing my usual swim in from a half mile out but decide to do some crisscrossing over the reef just for fun. Believe me I am not even thinking about the anchor. I decide to do 100 strokes in, 50 to the north, then 100 to the south, etc. On that 100 stroke leg to the south I see to my left a thin white line. Yeah, it was the rope on my anchor and of course there it was. Chance in a million…at best! The anchor itself is only about 6” by 4” and was wedged under some rocks.

The other morning I came out of my trailer door, looked to my left and there was this sunrise.

We are treated to these regularly down here and at times they are truly breath taking. Seeing as I am active before the sun rises I get to see these every morning. Cool way to start the day!

Every now and again I like to take on a construction project (a constant during “The Old Hippy Days”) and this time it was a carport for my trusty Subaru. I finished it in record time and I am pretty sure it will hold up in a hurricane but we’ll see one day I’m sure.
There are 200 10’ pieces of Carrizo (a local bamboo like plant) each secured by 2” wood screws. Each piece had to be cut to length, shaved, drilled to take the screws and then secured to the two beams. All the while The Bobos (small incredibly irritating flies) were swarming around my mouth, eyes and nose and the temperature was in the high 90’s. It was a real labor of love for a car that has been faithful to me for 8 years now.

This is a picture I took, again off my front porch, a few days ago as a small squall was passing through. I was fascinated by the way the wind blew the rain and made it dance….really sweet.

Speaking of sweet, the other day my first wife, Macy, sent me this picture she saw on the net.

Not my pic
She knows I’m a sucker for pictures of little girls after the fun I had in raising our own little girl, Kersti. Interestingly I opened the picture shortly after once again being absolutely dismayed by the antics of the American People and their leadership. I was really pretty depressed and then I saw the above picture and began to cry. Not from depression but from HOPE, they are, as always, the dream of a Just and Peaceful World.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This pic is just to get your attention. It is my daughter Kersti in her Halloween getup in 1980. Costume by Dana Crumb, my second wife and to a great extent my kid's savior.

Had a nice visit from my new friend Stephanie and her daughter Mary Jane. Took them out to The WZ twice in kayaks, saw 4 turtles, a Mobula or two and one really large Panamanic Green Moray Eel. The eel was about 4 ½ feet long but it’s girth is what was so impressive. I would estimate that it’s dorsal to ventral surface was 9”-10” and 5”-6” broad at the neck, a real elder. I believe I remember someone telling me last year of seeing this same eel (Jorge, Alan, Marilyn)?

Panamic Green Moray Eel, Not my pic

Dry as a bone down here around El Cardonal up until this morning (Tues. 21st). Started raining last night (Tropical Storm Georgette) and it is now 11:00 am and it is still blustery with intermittent rain….yahoo!! We expect more the rest of the day and some tomorrow so every critter happy. Of course that means the BoBo’s will come out again and the scorpions but that’s the way of it, eh? There is no indication Georgette will develop into a Hurricane but people are putting up shutters here and there.

Talk about bad timing, I chose to do a major wash yesterday and all my stuff is out on the line right now. Boy will it smell good when it all dries out!! Just had another quick cloud burst while writing the last sentence. The trailer of course is snug as could be, I even had a cup of hot chocolate this morning.

Oh, by the way, my website is down for a bit but I am in the process of reestablishing it. This years changes will also be up before the end of the year I expect.

I have decided to build a carport for my dependable Subaru Impreza (these are such great cars); it deserves it. 7 solo trips down here and back from Ukiah (1700 miles) without one single problem, ever!

The Sea is supposed to calm way down in the next few days so I’ll be kayaking again soon. I did my first full work out yesterday after a two week hiatus. Also back to 2 meals per day and lots of Creosote/Green sun tea. Feeling revived!

It is now the day after Georgette and I tried a lap swim this morning, bad choice. The sea was full of little stinging critters and before I got 30 strokes in I was ready to leave the water. Not unexpected but I had to try. That gave me the morning to work on a palapa I am building over my car. The work went well and my body feels it. How did I ever put in the 8 to 10 hr days with The Yurt Works??

The millipedes and the black beetles are back. WATER changes everything so, so fast. The plants are of course happy but the insects are just ecstatic!!

Vicente came by a while ago to say hello and promised me some fresh Snapper or Dorado tomorrow, he’s taking some Gringos out for fishing. Although there are a very few hardcore gringo fisher people here occasionally, El Cardonal is in it’s quietest period right now and I love it. Just finished eating the last of the tuna Vicente brought me 2 weeks ago.

I’m rewatching all the episodes of Lost right now and need season 4 & 6, anyone got them? E-mail me: I never saw season 4 and have not seen 6 and I’m just enjoying the intricacy of the plot. I have been told the season finale sucks but that doesn’t change anything….I’m having a good time with it NOW.

Skimmers yet again, biggest migration yet on Wed. 22nd. Eliminated a good sized scorpion today. He was under my garbage can outside and could have given me a serious grief if stung.

Javier (Jose Martin’s brother) saw 2 HBs going north on this day about 2 miles out, no action or tails but cruising. The pic below is one I took last year from my place at the early part of the season. You just don’t mistake this for a Mobula, Marlin or anything else.


Great kayak the other day, full moon going down, sun coming up, Friday 24th.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today is Mexico's Independence Day and Bicentennial. I'm off to the village tonight for a bit of Fiesta!!

Just returned from The States where I took care of many final disconnects and to connect with my friends from HS at our 50th reunion. Before I get into that though I want to catch up on some of the action down here before I left on the 7th.

On the 31st of August The Sea was real flat so kayaking out to The WZ was a must. I got out before sunrise, greeted Grandfather Sun and then meditated. Very soon I heard the blows of Dolphins and spotting their location was able to kayak with them for a while….always a treat! Then I returned via The Reef, doing my laps and viewing all the life beneath me. Suddenly I saw a couple of rays down about 20 feet below and looking closely realized they were a new species for me. When I turned to my left I saw another 50-60 coming right at me so I got a real good look. For sure they were a new species. For an old biologist this is always special. When I got in I identified them as Pacific Cownose Rays. Totally harmless and quite different than The Mobulas I see every day. The picture below is not mine.

I keep having to change my report on The Red Skimmer (dragon fly) migration. They did finally do the big one on the 2nd of Sept., much later than last year. Both the temperature and the humidity were considerably higher that week and I suspect that that was the mitigating factor…not surprising. There are more insects in general but still only one scorpion that I have seen (almost stepped on him at night while wandering around barefoot). The scorpions here are not lethal but do give a damn painful sting, and having been stung three times in the last 6 years I know it would not have been pleasant. I just cannot stand to wear anything but sandals here and even they are restrictive.

Vicente saw a Humpback in the area on the 2nd of Sept. and my friend Antonio saw 3 Fin Whales around the same time as well as another Humpback. I’m not sure how rare that is but it is unusual. I would sure love to meet up with any of them while kayaking.

I was down at the beach the other day and had my camera in case of something special to photo and while there I saw a bird I couldn’t identify. I took his picture and when I looked in the field manual it turned out to be a Willet. It is a fairly large shore bird and about a foot tall when standing. I got these shots before he flew off, beautiful upper wing pattern, no?

The night before leaving for The States I stayed at the relatively new Holistic Community Center Raices y Brazos (Roots and Arms) in San Jose. While there I was treated to a most beautiful and rare experience. A Humming bird had her nest at eye level in the courtyard of R & B and I watched her feed her babies from a foot away. I did not have my camera so didn’t get a shot but this is what I saw.

Now about the reunion. I graduated from Menlo-Atherton HS in Menlo Park, CA in 1960. A good high school, relatively new and close to Stanford University so we were treated to the energy that emanates from such a prestigious institution in our midst. I however was not much of a student and though not ignorant, I was not particularly motivated. Nevertheless I kept my grades up enough to attend a State University (Washington State U.) and played sports, had a sweetheart and partied regularly.

My family moved to the area in 1951 to take advantage of the excellent schools there. One of the very pleasant things about the reunion was the fact that most of the people attending I have known since the 4th grade. My very first “girl friend” was there, the one who gave me my first kiss and changed my life forever.

I can’t relate all the wonderful things that happened around this event but I can say that if you miss seeing your old friends by not attending your 50th, remember; you are getting older (83 of my classmates have died) and it might just be worth saying those things to dear friends that you always wanted to say but were held back by convention. No need to say nasty things, they are just your own inability to forgive and release.

I do want to mention just a few things though so here goes. I couldn’t afford to rent a car or stay in motels so I called upon friends to help out and here’s what they gifted me: my ex, Susanna Pepperwood gave me a ride from SFO to Ukiah after dropping off a dear friend, Susan Janssen put me up for three nights and lent me her car while I raced around Ukiah with a list of 20 “to accomplish” items, Juanita Riddell worked tirelessly to get a venue at the college for my lectures, Jim Mastin helped to make that happen, Rebecca Kress gave me a lift to San Bruno so I could catch the train to Palo Alto, John Erving (a special friend from the 4th grade) picked me up and he and his beautiful wife Kristine put me up for two nights while driving me to the two reunion events I attended, my son Zack who came down to visit and had the poise and courage to attend the pre reunion cocktail party, Dick Burns, Geoffrey Powell and Bob Beckstrom who drove Zack and me to The Oasis (a classic college hangout we all used to go to for beer and burgers) and then back to John’s after a rousing visit, Sheri (Smith) & her husband who drove me home after the reunion party, Bill Symon (another of the “special” friends from the 4th) and his delightful wife Gloria who took me in for the next night and drove me to SFO the next morning, Stephanie Doran (a new friend) who picked me up at the SJD airport with my car and got me started on my trip back to El Cardonal. Each of the above events was filled with love and mutual appreciation……I am truly blessed by The Great Mystery.

As far as the reunion itself, I don’t think I stopped talking, listening, hugging the entire time. Too many people to mention you all but to Sheri, Lia, Vicki, Bonnie, Gail, Frank, Cynthia, Susie, Rex, Jeanne, Clive, Sue, Sam, Terry, Bob, Carolyn, Stephanie, Kent and those I mentioned earlier…..”Que les vaya bien” (may your path go well)!

You all know where I live now, come on down…and thanks for the memories.