Thursday, January 29, 2015

Catalina 2013 | #TBT

If you're in California and you have some time for an island adventure, then I definitely suggest Catalina Island. You can get there by ferry from several ports dotting the coast from Orange County to LA, and then there's always the helicopter route which is obviously much faster!

Looking out the window of the ferry, you will likely see a pod of dolphins at some point.

There are beautiful harbors here. You may recall that famous actress Natalie Wood drowned after falling (or being pushed) off a boat docked just off the island, and in the media stories of the account, the local culture of docking boats just offshore was well-noted around Catalina Island.

 And it is a world-renowned dive site.

Check out our dive, just outside the famous Catalina Casino:

The Casino is no longer an operating gambling casino ("Too bad!" said you, and me too!) but it is open for special events and performances, and allows tours.

The tile work is quite stunning.

We stayed at the Hamilton Cove resort, which has spacious and fairly affordable little condos each of which come with their own golf cart. This is a major bonus considering you really can't get get use of a car on Catalina Island, but you do need something decent to get you around. The golf carts are how everyone does it!

It's the perfect place for, say... a 10-year anniversary weekend.

Deer abound, and are totally unafraid of people and let you get pretty close.

At the time I visited, I had yet to become a hunter and my dominant thought was, "Aww, how cute they are!" Now I look back on these photos and still think the deer are as cute as can be, but I also can't help but think, "If I were hunting right now..."  

Another big thing on Catalina is bicycling - but not just on any bike. With the major hills around town, it would not be a very leisurely ride. Here you see a motorized bicycle that can work like any other, but also allows you to rev it up with its very own engine! The box behind the seat (which reads, "Do Not Sit") is the battery. After riding all over town on this thing I felt a pretty strong need to have one forever and ever...

There are adorable little shops and places for treats all over the main walking area.

And every now and then, a weird sight. We know there's no hunting in Avalon, so I'm guessing these hawks are here for seagull control.

Fancy doing even more on the water?

There is more than one parasailing outfit, and the view from up there is truly stunning!

Opt for the full "let out" - you will be a speck to the boat, the boat will be a speck to you, but you will see many other boats and the whole island unfold before you like a pop-up book.

Later you can come down off your adrenaline high by just playing in the sand...

Catalina Island is a dream!

Thanks for looking :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two-mile Pacific ocean swim | the leopards are still here

Last week I went to the Marine Room dive site and decided that I was going to swim straight(ish) across until I reached La Jolla Cove - the swim is about a mile one way, so that would mean two miles of open water swimming. 

There were times that I felt like I was just treading water and getting nowhere. Also, I brought my camera and stopped here and there to admire the usual fantastic sights seen in my favorite snorkeling spot on the planet. But eventually, I made it! The only thing I suffered was a small rash on my neck from my wetsuit rubbing it from the repetitive shoulder-roll swimming motion required to cover that much ocean. Honestly, anytime I thought it might be too hard, I remembered Diana Nyad and thought... Hey, if she can swim to Cuba...  :D

They say that leopard shark season is roughly July - September, but look who I found JUST as I entered the water? And she was so big ~

Check out the video of my swim. I'll be making this a more regular route and sharing more with you, I hope!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Baby sea lion | love

I heard it was flat and glassy last week so on Thursday I plotted a quick free dive at the Cove in my perpetual search for a fun sea lion interaction... and "quick" turned into almost an hour and a half of paddling and diving in 62-degree water in a 3/2. Totally warm for January, right?

Check out the fun I had with my little buddy (click on the "gear" icon in the lower right-hand corner and select *HD* for a clearer dive experience):

Thanks for looking, and I hope that you can get out there and dive!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year! Resolve to Live Your Adventure

My resolution is to update this blog on a regular basis... and what better way to start than with an inspirational video from the peeps over at Trust me, it's worth the click.

Enjoy and get out there!

The Purpose of Life is Adventure.

riding elephants in Thailand circa 2000

Monday, December 29, 2014

Getting Squirrelly

A friend of mine has recently been having a really tough time with some invasive gray tree squirrels, and in digging through some recipes to give him to make the best use of his war on his neighborly pest, I decided to just compile them all here for anyone else suffering the same fate.

Before harvesting your own squirrels, note that there are multiple stories of them being rescued and making decent pets, though the same case can be made for chickens, fish, and even rats. Additionally, look into your particular locality to ensure that squirrels are safe for human consumption where you live; for my friend on the east coast, the answer is yes. But for me in San Diego county, the answer is most definitely no.

Now that you're still with me, check out the many reasons you should consider eating squirrel. If you have area where you can safely discharge a shotgun or a .22 and you have the right to do so, get out there and count on harvesting two per person. If you can't use a shotgun or rifle because of proximity to other houses, consider a pellet gun. Then start cooking! See how to skin your squirrels here.

Here is a recipe for Braised Squirrel Aurora from hunter | angler | gardener | cook. Doesn't it look divine?

photo by Holly A. Heyser

And here is a delicious-sounding recipe for Squirrel Brunswick Stew with Acorns. Photo and recipe courtesy of Georgia Pelligrini:

Here's a video of a deer-hunt-turned-squirrel-hunt, and the resulting very tasty-looking stew: Crockpot Squirrel Stew.

Finally, I'll end with another Pelligrini recipe on AmericanHunter for Buttermilk Fried Squirrel. Give me this on a bed of mashed potatoes any day!

If you can't decide on a recipe and want to consult other options, I have compiled of a bunch of videos which will take you through more great recipes. I love watching videos to learn how to cook something, especially when it's an animal I haven't cooked before.

Enjoy the squirrel and Happy Hunting :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

SoCal Pheasant Hunting

Sunday following Thanksgiving we went on our first pheasant hunt here in California thanks to Mendel at Woodland's Hunt Club out in Imperial County. We drove there early on one of about two foggy mornings they encounter all year:

But the fog soon lifted and we made our rendezvous right on time, where we were met by dog-handler/guide Jim and his beautiful blonde English lab, Gunnar, and Mendel with the two German shorthair pointers he seems to always travel with. I can just feel the envy in them here, that we are going to chase pheasants while they have to accompany Mendel on his various ranch errands:

So off we went into the fields. My gun only had one barrel in operation, so Mendel lent me a nice 20-gauge Escort autoloader. It was so nice! Especially having that third shot at my disposal.

  Jim and Hanuman, searching...

Gunnar doing what he loves to do:

We searched crops and desert alike, with quite a varied terrain.

Hanuman was the first to score! Here, a lovely rooster, and his first pheasant:

We crossed over into straight desert in our search, and in case you've never hunted pheasant before, it is 99.9% of this - just hiking and hiking and hiking while you carry your gun and keep your eyes and ears peeled, watching and listening. And following Gunnar. It was WINDY this day, making the hunt very difficult because it throws the scent off for the dog, and birds don't like to flush and fly into strong winds (not to mention it giving you special pause when firing your gun into wind at your face!)

Finally we found a nice valley where a few pheasant were hiding, and Gunnar's persistence paid off: another flushed up right before me - this time, a hen:

We wound up with three birds - two roosters and the hen:

Aren't they beautiful?

I combed through pheasant recipes the whole drive out, but after seeing these roosters my head was spinning with ways to use their splendid feathers to decorate our home.

We were very excited to get a dinner meat that we knew our children would love. Pheasant, while very lean and often dry if even slightly overcooked, has a delicate sweet taste that our kids really enjoy. They have asked for "more" beyond what I have every time I've served it.

We popped them in the fridge before field-dressing them in the yard and cleaning them. I took the roosters to Lyons + O'Haver for a combo mounting (but not before stripping out the meat) because they were just so beautiful! I will update when I get them back in a few months.

The recipe used on our first batch was Pheasant Normandy. It involves braising (which is the best way to cook this lean bird) in butter and apples and cider, served over mashed with some roasted Brussels sprouts. Don't judge me for the torn skin - I was plucking this bird outside at dusk!

Thanks for looking and Happy Hunting!