Another Lagoon, More Learning

Yesterday’s daily expedition in the Carlsbad, California area was to the Buena Vista Audubon Society’s nature center in Oceanside. It’s on the Buena Vista lagoon, which is a former saltwater marsh that was dammed 50 years ago to create a freshwater pond. One of the things we learned at our visit is that the nature center folks and friends are about to open it back up to its original state.

Quiet in the middle of urban beach world

The center is surrounded by plantings of native vegetation, which attract lots and lots of birds. We saw California towhees, brown-headed cowbirds, hummingbirds that were too distant to identify, and something green (kept hiding).

Shy towhee

We also saw many butterflies. There were many monarchs and fiery skippers, plus whites and some other skippers.

Hooray for monarchs. My fiery skipper images are too blurry to share.

I have to say the highlights of the wildlife were this gorgeous lizard, an ornate tree lizard, and one resident we only heard, an American bullfrog. It had a lot to say, that’s for sure, and was so loud! Ours don’t make that much noise.

She posed for me. Look how well the colors blend in with wood.

The docent we spoke with was full of information. She said the lagoon will no longer be crammed with cattails once the salt water comes in, which will be welcome to observers. The center itself was just beautiful and obviously well loved by society members. They also had prepared beautiful maps of the trail with important plants labeled, and a really good guide to the plants for young people that encouraged them to interact with some of the more interesting specimens like the lemonade berries and the rushes. I learned from the brochure, too, about how pickleweed traps salt in little growths and then drops off the stored stuff in little red segments.

I also learned a bit more about that alkali water. It comes from an aquifer under Carlsbad and is full of calcium. Now I want to try some!

They cut down some cattails to provide a view.

After we left, we drove by Oceanside beach and watched some surfers. It was a beautiful day at the beach, which meant not much parking. We took a wrong turn and ended up at the entrance to Camp Pendleton, where my dear friend Mike spent many years. He shared some stories with me and told me all about the cool Osprey planes I saw practicing landings and takeoffs as we drove past the base. That made our wrong turn worth it. I’d never seen an Osprey (the plane, not the bird) in person.

We ended the expedition with another piece of culinary luck. We found a real taco stand hiding in the same shopping center where I bought my yarn (though I didn’t realize it at the time, since we approached from the other direction). I got to eat real fish tacos, and Lee had a most impressive burrito. We were the only Anglo customers the whole time we were there, and we could watch the cook make everything from scratch. Now, that’s some Cal-Mex cuisine! I’m doing pretty well at choosing random restaurants on this trip!

So fresh, even the taco.
Hilton humor

One more piece of humor for any of you who aren’t on Facebook with me. This sign has been on the door of our condo since we arrived, but I’d only read “no smoking” and the fine until yesterday. I got such a good laugh out of it that I had to share it with a family member, who shared it with all the nurses who came to her room. I cheered up an entire hospital!

Otherwise, I’m continuing to rest a lot, crochet away, sit in the quiet hot tub area, and work on my mental health. It’s going well.

Hermits Visit a Zoo

Both my spouse and I like animals. I like plants. The San Diego Zoo has lots of each. It also has crowds, though, and neither of us likes crowds. Especially with good ole COVID getting worse again. But we were nearby, and that’s one of the best zoos on earth, so we went.

This guy reminded me of Lee. Plopped down and immediately started snoozing.

We survived the line for the bus tour, and after that it wasn’t too crowded. So we lived, though it wore Lee out.

Some animals were easy to see from the bus.

Lee truly endeared himself to me when he suggested we try to hit all the aviaries. That was good with me. I liked them, because they all have plants common in the areas where the birds are from. And bird spotting is so fun!

My favorite was this fancy pheasant of some sort who really wanted to get a fish!

We got to see birds eating, nesting, and building nests. Some were really entertaining.

Mr. Pigeon here did a mating display, including really impressive vocalizations.

I probably would have been fine just looking at birds and plants. Here are just a few of the dozens of interesting birds we saw. Forgive me for not knowing what they all are. There were so many! I never realized how many kinds of doves there are!

I did look at some animals. I managed to see all the apes and most bears. I didn’t get photos but got a great look at a huge anteater. Those are some interesting animals! I was too busy looking to take many photos, but here are a few.

I guess that was our big tourist activity of the trip. We are really concentrating on spending quiet time together with as little stress as possible, given the unending health challenges of the folks at home. They tell us to stay here, so we have done so! We even manage to look happy.

Alkali. It’s a thing.

Yesterday’s non-hermit activity was going to a nature place less than a mile from where we staying. It’s on a fascinating tidal lagoon.

Lagoon from the trail

The place was CRAWLING with wee ones. It’s actually one of the nicest interactive nature exhibits for children that I’ve ever seen. There was so much for them to do and see, from making kites to painting rocks to interacting with the birds and reptiles the place takes care of.

Coastal golden bush. Bugs, too.

It’s the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation nature center, discovery center, or something. As I took photos of the native plants around the trail, which was relatively child free, I discovered that many of the plants are specific to the Pacific coastline. Lots of them have “alkali” in their names.

Interesting, huh? Carlsbad is actually famous for alkali water, which I didn’t know before. The area we were in consists of vernal pools, which have lots of marsh and alkaline-living plants. I learned something! Vernal pools are common in the Mediterranean, but are also found in California.

This gorgeous thing is Algerian sea lavender. Obviously introduced, as are so many plants here.

I really enjoyed the walk and all the new plants I discovered. It’s obvious that it’s very dry here. I can see why the fire danger is so high. The natural areas are so brown. But there’s beauty. Here are some more plants.

Later yesterday we walked around the resort. Again, I was amazed at how many Australian plants they’ve put here. There are lots of these tuckeroo trees with annoying seeds all over the paths. I guess they have other redeeming qualities.

And there are tons of eucalyptus trees. They smell just like eucalyptus!

Yep. This is an interesting place. I’m glad I’m getting to learn about these different ecosystems. That’s my idea of vacation fun.

The Wild among the Fancy

Here where I’m mostly walking and meditating, there is a theme park next door. That means many exotic plants that, of course, thrive in the Southern California coastal climate.

These agapanthus are everywhere.

I took a long walk yesterday and managed to find some native flora and fauna. Perhaps the radish and fennel escaped from nearby farms.

I had to photograph some of the exotics. Not shown are eucalyptus, melaleuca, palms, pines, and other trees. Lots and lots of the cultivated plants here are from Australia. There are of course pines native to here. Maybe I’ll see some. Today I hope to drag myself out to see some nature.

Hope to feel better soon!

You can see the ocean from our room, sorta. Barren earth is either a retention pond project or future view-eliminating new construction.

Traveling and Sizzling

Been traveling. Yesterday we took back roads through a very hot but beautiful Arizona day. We passed through many tribal lands, including Apache. Eventually we hit the ocean and stopped driving. The solitude washed over me like yesterday’s desert rain and the heat burned through my concerns. I was left empty in a good way.

Desert rain from Thursday in New Mexico.

Here are some mountains, rocks, cactus, and vastness from our trip from western New Mexico to just north of San Diego. Lee loved the back roads. Me too. Who cares if it was 114°? Where we are now it’s perfect. Just like they advertise California to be.

Where we stopped for gas. Gas is $6 per gallon where we are now. Not perfect.
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