Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Thursday, October 25, 2012

California - Part 4

Day 10 - Mojave Desert

What to do on a Saturday during vacation? Why, visit the desert of course! We went with Aunt Joan and Claire on a roadtrip to see some of the neatest places in our family roots. Kyle's and my grandfather, as well as Aunt Joan, grew up in Mojave and Randsburg, which is out in the middle of the Mojave desert. Not much birding, but I finally saw a California Quail, plus my lifer Greater Roadrunner! Thinking back now, I wish I had been more observant when I was there. I dipped on Black-chinned and Sage Sparrow, plus Sage Thrasher because I wasn't aware they would be there. However, the desert was filled with a bunch of great photo ops. Hopefully you won't get overwhelmed by the following HDR photos.
Scene seen from the Golden Queen, a gold mine my family used to own.

Red Rocks Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Randsburg ore mill


Road towards San Diego

Day 11 - Oceanside

First thing on Sunday, as always, was Mass. We visited a different church and it was far better than the previous week. Afterwards, Todd picked us up (we were to stay at Tina's house again) and the family took us to Oceanside where we spent the day on a family friend's Yacht in the Oceanside Harbor and the surrounding beach. Oceanside was a very neat beach! Birds observed here include: Double-crested Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Long-billed Curlew, Heermann's and Western Gull, Caspian Tern, Rock Pigeon, Great-tailed Grackle, and Long-billed Curlew. Other neat animals were Sandcrabs, California Sea Lions, and my very first wild Octopus!

California Sea Lion

Long-billed Curlew (immature)

Day 12 - La Jolla

Kyle is a big fan of cars, and I wouldn't say I'm completely clueless when it comes to them either, so Tina took us to La Jolla again to see all the dealerships and go swimming. We visited three, maybe four dealerships of the most prestigious companies (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Maserati, Rolls-Royce, Maybach). Afterwards, we went to the beach on Marine St. and I went swimming for the first time in two years (pretty much wading previously). We walked on the beach to a rocky outcrop with tons of crabs and shells, where I found a Least Sandpiper, who looked tiny foraging next to a Western Gull.
By this time I was feeling dehydrated, so we headed back to Tina's. After eating Dinner, we left San Diego, for what we thought was the last time. We had another day with Aimee in Orange County before we were to leave for Georgia.

Lamborghini Gallardo
Day 13 

Back in Georgia, Bella and Kyle had gone bowling and Kyle had won, so Isabella challenged Kyle to a rematch. 
Therefore, we spent the morning bowling. Not to pat myself on the back, but I ended up winning both games. By a landslide. 
Anyhow, after bowling Aimee promised I could get some birding in. She took us to Caspers Wilderness Park, which is off of Ortega Hwy (74). Birds I saw there include: Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Acorn and Nuttall's Woodpeckers, Common Raven, Cliff Swallow, White-breasted Nuthatch, California Towhee, House Finch, and my lifers Western Scrub-Jay and Oak Titmouse (lifer 250!). We hiked a for a while, but most of the birds we found at the visitor center, where they had a feeder. 

Acorn Woodpecker

Immature Turkey Vulture

Widdle baby Cliff Swallow :')

Lifer Oak Titmouse!
Days 14 and 15

Before sunrise, August 8, we headed to the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, and tried to get a stand-by flight to Atlanta through Denver. That flight was full, so we tried for another that went through Las Vegas, but that one was full as well. In the end, we wasted 3 and a half hours trying to get a flight, and we decided to try again later.
We got some Starbucks and went back to Aimee's where we spent part of the morning watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Have I mentioned it's an awesome show?
Anyway, we tried to get another flight to Atlanta at the John Wayne Airport, but failed once more. Another two hours wasted. Andrew, the cousin who works for Southwestern and gave Kyle and me the tickets, told us our best chance was to try again the next day in San Diego, so we headed down to San Diego once more. We stayed the night at Tina's, but Aunt Joan brought us to the airport the next morning. We managed to catch the 6:30am flight to Atlanta through Las Vegas just in the nick of time thanks to Aunt Joan.
I wasn't a fan of Las Vegas's airport. It was much too commercial for my taste. It was crowded and noisy. And unfortunately, we were stuck there for about three hours. However, we were lucky enough to get tickets on the flight to Atlanta. Even though we were able to squeeze into a couple window seats, I slept most of the way back. After getting up at 4:30 for the past two days, I was pretty darn beat.

30-thousand feet above what could be Oklahoma

We arrived in Atlanta around 4pm EST, where is was raining, hot, and humid. Apparently, it was an awesome storm system caused by a trough line, complete with rotating wall clouds, but by the time we landed, the storm had mellowed down to a drizzle. 
It is good to be back in Georgia, but I will miss everything about California like crazy.

An obligatory thanks goes out to: Aimee, Mike, and family; Tina, Todd, and family; Aunt Joan and Uncle Larry; Aunt Margie and Uncle Nils; and Andrew. Without y'all, the trip wouldn't have been possible and definitely not as fun. So thanks so much for the trip of my life!

Signing out for now. Who knows when you'll see another post from me, hopefully soon. ;)

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