Tuesday, December 14, 2010

From Siberia to Arizona, and the Truck that Tried To Kill Me

It's all Dany Sloan's fault. 

     He forwarded an email to me, asking me if I knew that there was a Baikal Teal in Phoenix.  Arizona?  Are you shitting me?  Wow.  This would make up for the Baikal Teal that I missed in Santa Barbara five years ago.  Herb Clarke spooked it by getting too close with his tripod and lens, and it left half an hour before I got there, then left during the week, while I was working in the hospital.   

 Baikal Teal
December 2010
Gilbert Water Ranch, Gibert, Arizona

     So Dany & I hatched the following plan: he'll go to my house , get in my car, we'll drive to Phoenix, see the Baikal Teal, and head home. 

His car broke down on the way to my house.

So I went without him. 

What a bastard. 

     I do feel like I betrayed him, but hey--I tried to talk him into leaving the car in my drievway, and going with me.  I even offered to let him borrow my Jeep on weekdays, until they fix his Volvo.  Nope, no, no.  He said he needs his car fixed ASAP. so that he can get to work on weekdays.  Sorry, dude!
     When I got to the Gilbert Water Ranch, who did I run into, but Bill Myers, of all people.  Bill moved out there from Pasadena, four years ago.  What a small world.  So Bill escorted me to where the Baikal Teal was (emphasis: was), and we admired it for quite a while.  Then Bill showed me where the Northern Parula is, along with the Ruddy Ground Doves.  Bill noticed a small Myiarchus, which then called.  Fantastic, it was a Dusky-capped Flycatcher.  They breed in Canyons in Arizona, but are unheard of anywhere in the state in the winter.  Small numbers of them do winter in coastal California. 

     Well, I'm sorry that I went without Dany, because now the teal is gone.  Gone, gone, gone.  Whew! 

The real reason I love Arizona:
     I love stopping at Dairy Queen, and getting a large vanilla ice cream cone dipped in melted chocolate.  I love it when the vanilla ice cream is melting, and dripping all over my shirt, despite the fistful of paper napkins that I am using to try to catch the runoff.  The only Dairy Queen around here is inside the mall.  Too much work.

 Curve-billed Thrasher
Gilbert Water Ranch, Gibert, Arizona

Black Phoebe
One of my favorite birds, despite the fact that they're very common.

Saguaro cacti along Highway 10

     Another reason I love Arizona: the desert flora.   Especially the saguaros.  One of the most beautiful places in the world is Saguaro National Park in Tucson.  Here's something that's really weird:  Saguaros do not grow wild in California, but as soon as you cross the Colorado River in to Arizona, you start seeing saguaros.  How does that work???  I can't hink of any ecological i.e. biological reason why they grow on one side of the river, but not the other.  Mind you, they're not as common in western Arizona as they are around Tucson, but still.

A Minor Disaster
     Left Phoenix, made great time (speed limit in Arizona is 75 mph), crossed the river, re-entering California while the sun was still up.  As the 10 climbed up into the desert mountains, the sun dropped, and it got dark.  Everybody is hauling up the hill, and a big rig truck in front of me blows a tire.  Boom!  His tread comes at me like a bat out of hell, and hits the front of the Celica.  Now I've got a truck tire stuck underneath me, and the noise is horrendous, and I don't dare pull over on this pitch-black stretch of highway, for fear of someone doing 80 crashing into me. 

     So I drove all the way to Chiriaco Summit to the service station, surrounded by noise so loud it felt like I'm in the engine room of the Titanic, and found out that it's been closed for years.  I got on my knees to figure out how I'm going to remove that truck tire, and discovered that it was no longer under the car.  Huh?  The noise was caused by the Celica's various plastic plates underneath it that form a coat of armor against road debris.  I had to pull and yank them off, but couldn't get to the last 2 pieces that were right under the car, so I got to enjoy the 747 Jumbo Jet level of noise all the way home, the last 150 miles to Claremont.

That's when the fun started.

     Instead of getting home at 6:00 I got home at 7:30, and the wife and kids weren't home.  On a school night?  That's weird?  Where are they?  So I call her cell phone, and of course, it rings inside the house.  Oh well, where-ever she is, it's got to be close by.  I grab the dog's leash, and head out the door, to take her for a walk.  The wife pulls up in the driveway, and boy is she pissed.

I ask, "Hey, where ya been?"

She fumes, "I hope you had fun birding in Arizona with your friends.  My truck's battery died.  I've been calling you"

"No you haven't.  Your cell phone is home."

"I've been calling the home phone.  YOU SAID YOU'D BE HOME BY THREE."

"Why didn't you call my cell phone?"

"I just told you, I didn't have my cell phone with me."

"Yeah, but you could have asked someone esle to let you call my cell phone."


Wow, we've been married for years, have two kids together, and she doesn't know my cell phone number, so she's mad at me.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Religious Republican Admits Climate Change Is Real

I'm like, so "Oh my god"!

I checked out the most recent episode of  "Science Friday" and found myself hearing a southern conservative, religious Republican Congressman Bob Ingliss talk about his conversion from being a global warming skeptic, to having the science explained to him by Antarctic researchers.

Of course, the Tea-Baggers ran him out of office, so in January he'll be another unemployed American who lost his job due to Republican destruction.

And so it goes.