This is what the start of winter looks like in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe.
Plus it’s very cold so the resorts are making snow. The two resorts will be able to open for the huge Thanksgiving holiday week, which is this week. Their work prepared them for the opportunity of early snowfall and cold temperatures, and now there is a huge economic benefit, not just for the resort owners, but for all the employees who rely on the season for their livelihoods. Extending the season in the spring and fall helps stabilize the economy up here. I grew up here and it’s nice to see the doldrums of shoulder seasons shrinking. Nice to see people working.
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows prepared over the last years and especially last summer to be ready for snow making. The temperature has to be cold enough to make snow and you have to have a lot of infrastructure to be able to do it. We passed by an installation of electrical lines on the mountain side when we were hiking in Alpine Meadows a month or two ago.
The only huge problem is lack of housing. Somehow economic growth always seems to leave out adequate housing. Hopefully the expansion and development and Squaw Valley will include employee housing. I’m not sure if it does or not. In California we need 3.5 million more homes.
I hope the fall is treating you well. Right now I’m sitting in a rain storm wishing it was a snow storm and reminding myself…hey, it’s water. We Californians want no-more-drought pleeeease, so this is awesome. And the skiers among us…it’s snowing on the upper mountain and Squaw Valley is opening Gold Coast tomorrow. Woot! (I’m not going. LOL. We wait quite some time for there to be a lot of runs open and no crowds.)
What have I been up to? Writing. I finished my Coming Soon book, well the first draft anyway, or maybe that would be the second or third, and sent it to my editor. I also went to the Seattle Indie UnCon. That’s an un-conference for independent authors. How is a conference an un-con? There are no workshops. You sit in a conference room and talk. A moderator sets the topic for the discussion based on what people said ahead of time they wanted to talk about. People talk about that topic and it’s an information fire-hose, in a good way.
This was my first conference as a romance writer. For years I used to go to a literary conference with my mom. We had fun. We were really wannabe authors and that was a cultural experience. I also learned lots of things about writing and met some amazing famous authors. But that was a long time ago, and I’ve been reluctant to get back into conferencing for a number of reasons. When I heard about this un-conference though, I immediately wanted to go. Turns out I was lucky to get in because it’s small. Now that I’m in I can keep going, yay.
I took a lot of notes and generally became excited about marketing and business. That’s huge, since I would say I was not very excited at all about those components of being an author. It was energizing for me to tap into this indie group, too. All these power writers, not all in my genre, it’s a big world.
I do have a few images to show you. These are from the Animal Ark in Sparks Nevada. All these animals are well-cared for rescued wild animals.
Images have become more difficult for me to process since I dropped my Lightroom subscription, so sometimes I really don’t want to take the time to open them in GIMP and shrink them to a reasonable size. I might end up buying the software for Lightroom though. It’s not too bad and then you don’t have that monthly fee that really adds up over the years!
Sorry for the long delay in getting more Australia photos posted. I had to concentrate to finish a novel. The cover is on the blog in the right frame (desktop and tablet) or in the cluster of images at the bottom (on mobile devices).
I worked on STOLEN when we were in Australia, but the setting of the book is another location I have traveled to twice, Monaco. Though it was so long ago I don’t even have pictures, Monaco is a glamorous place that left an indelible impression on me.
Of course the same can be said of Australia. Maybe not the glamour in the same way, but the indelible impression. On this trip we saw different parts, always scratching the surface you know, but pretty much blown away and left wanting more.
Broome, where Cable Beach is located, is an access point for the Kimberley wilderness in Western Australia. We arrived at the Cable Beach Resort, one of the places on my Must See lists, just before sunset. This was not accidental! Actually we were supposed to get there a few hours earlier, but our flight from Darwin was delayed. We were lucky not to miss the famous sunset.
Guests at the Cable Beach Resort were mostly Australians from the south having a beach vacation away from their winter. The Kimberley and Broome are way north, closer to the equator and have a wet and dry season. The season when people visit is Dry which runs, I believe, from May to August.
It was nice to be some of the very few Americans around. I’m not sure why we were, but it’s a long way, and there’s a lot to see in Australia (understatement). I think most foreigners hit Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock). Friends of ours who emigrated from the US to Australia have settled in Western Australia, and they were the ones who told us about the Kimberley.
Anyway, I love tide pools, and I went crazy with my camera at Cable Beach. Here are a ton of photos if you want to see what it’s like. If you can go, I highly recommend it.
I looked for books while I was there and found one in a used bookstore in Fremantle, near Perth. It’s called Tracks by Robyn Davidson. She crossed a massive amount of Australia alone with three camels and her dog. It’s great, a tough non-romanticized view. Parts of it are sad, but I like the knowledge in the book. Our guide also recommended a couple books about the land, animals, and plants that I want to read as well. On this trip, the tours we took made me feel like I’d visited the Australia I imagine from reading my friend’s books about the outback. Australia will be in a book of mine soon, one co-authored with my friend John Holland who provides all the Australiana.
It was amazing to see animals in the wild after having been so recently to the San Diego Zoo.
Here is is the Plumed Whistling Duck we saw in the Kakadu park in Australia. Not a perfect photo, they were far away and suffered camera jiggle, but this is one of my favorite photos anyway. It was just the feeling I had being there among so much bird life. I wasn’t sure if the amazing displays of birds would be present during the dry season, but I wasn’t disappointed.
There was enough water in the Kakadu to see wildlife without being overwhelmed by monsoons (and thrown overboard to swim with crocs). I don’t think they do tours in the wet season, or “The Wet,” as locals call it. Here are some shots showing the environment in The Dry.
As you can see, it’s still not so dry! These are fantastic wetlands. Let’s hope they continue to be because they are vital habitat for almost 300 species of birds.
I hope you have a good Monday, or a good Monday evening for my Australian friends and a good week ahead. I will be continuing to share photos from our mad dash around Australia, so stay tuned!
Our whirlwind tour of Australia was a success, except for one round of getting sick. Fortunately, our first stop was a long one in an apartment so my husband could recover. Unfortunately he missed six days of socializing with our friends.
However the episode made us even more grateful to be able to do the tours we had lined up because it was touch-and-go we would have to cancel.
Kakadu is a national park in the Northern Territory and next to Arnhem Land, both of which are owned and managed by the indigenous people.
We took a cruise on the Yellow River where we saw several saltwater crocodiles. They are magnificent animals giving a sense of what it would be like to live in the days of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Not all Australians are thrilled that they have been brought back from the brink of extinction, for good reason. They do hunt people, sometimes successfully.
When humans are killed by crocodiles, Australians say they were “taken.” I like that; it’s respectful.
After the tour I started researching crocodile attacks on humans and ran across an article by a woman who survived one, Val Plumwood, Being Prey, Utne Reader. It’s a little abstract, she’s a philosopher, but a few things resonated with me. They are not monsters. They are animals. And yes, we are prey, though we don’t like to think of ourselves that way.
I try to avoid putting myself in a position to be eaten by a predator, which may be hard to believe, given these photos, but we were on a steel boat with rails, high off the water…and I have a powerful zoom.
The way these birds hung around, I thought they must not be prey, but later at the museum in Darwin, I found indeed they are. On display was a stuffed crocodile (huge) inside of which, after they accidentally killed it, they found a heron. That’s pretty much a smoking gun, crocodile style!
The fish-hunting birds hang around because the crocs stir up fish when they’re hunting under water.
I don’t want mountain lions, for example, roaming suburban neighborhoods. And that’s a little bit what it’s like in the Northern Territory for people. The fact is, you better not go swimming except in a swimming pool, or down to river banks, or walk along the shoreline, and fishing is hazardous. The croc will watch you for days and if you have the same habit, it can get you. One fisherman was taken when cleaning fish over the side of his tinny (small boat). So, I get that not all Aussies really want these creatures around, and yet they are protected somewhat, which is good for tourism and the ecosystem. And also just for, you know, the wonder of nature and prehistoric animals living among us today.
What an amazing experience to venture out into the wild on a mini safari and visit these animals in their natural habitat.
I love the birds too. Kakadu is a huge wetlands area. The guide said that as many as 280 bird species, a third of the world’s bird species, migrate through here or live here.
These cave paintings are thousands of years old. Here are my hubby and me in front of Nourlangie, a site of the paintings that was on our tour.
I really wanted to get the underwater part of the hippo too; after all, that’s where most of his or her body was located. But alas, that was beyond what I could do. I love that eye though…
I’ve been a little busy, taming the yard and reaping the harvests. Right now I’m eating around a half dozen plums a day and corn on the cob every other day. Cherry tomatoes are in, along with cucumbers, so salads are on the menu. My husband is really the green thumb. Really really. But I’m good at getting rid of weeds. That’s a new specialty.
These okapi are really neat looking. I didn’t get a good photo, but this next one shows the stripes and the interesting shape of the body, if you haven’t seen one.
We leave soon for a trip. We don’t usually travel in the summer as we like to be around for the fruits and veggies, but we want to see a part of Australia that requires dry season travel, which is in the southern hemisphere’s summer. I’m trying to figure out what camera equipment to take. The travel camera is great for most everything, but I’d like to get an off-camera fill flash which would only work for the big camera, and I’ve been wanting a softbox. I haven’t practiced with these things yet, but there’s still a bit of time to learn…what to do…
I’ve been hoping to finish the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on before I go, but I think it will need to overlap with the trip a bit. The writing comes as fast as the writing comes.
I hope you are having a nice weekend. Stay safe on the fourth of July.
We’re hunkered down in our heat wave, trying to stay cool. We have the Pacific Gas and Electric deal where we get a discount all year if we agree to pay four times as much on designated days during peak hours (when it’s HOT). They want to motivate people not to use a lot of power during heat waves.
Do you remember California’s rolling blackouts in the early noughts (2000, 2001)? Well, we don’t have those anymore because they ramped up renewable energy sources big time now. Since it’s not really a social issue anymore, we have been regretting being on the energy savings plan. We’d like to end that plan right about now.
We’ve already been to a matinee and out to lunch a few of the hot days this week. We never go to the movies, but they are a great way to escape the heat. We really wanted to see Wonder Woman, so we went to the matinee. We loved it. Well I did, and my husband liked it. I even cried a little.
Here are nice cool shots from the Tomales Point Tule Elk Preserve:
Today we lowered the temperature as much as possible before the shut-off time (2:00) and are sitting here with all the blinds closed hoping it doesn’t get too hot in here. And writing. Or at least, I am writing. I’m participating in a Book in a Week challenge with the Kiss of Death (romantic suspense) chapter of Romance Writers of America. I consider it a metaphor. I can’t really write a book in a week, LOL. But the challenge has me moving along and I’m chalking up more words than I had been for the past few weeks. I’m so excited about this book, and I want to get the first draft done so I can get it out to my critique partners to read while we are on our big trip. No, I haven’t told you about my next trip yet, but there will be photos!
Where are the tule elk in the preserve, you ask? Hiding. This is with an 80x zoom.
But this little guy didn’t hide from me.
Have a great weekend, and stay cool! Or warm for you southern hemisphere folks.
I was going to make this the grand finale, and it might be, but I do have a few other zoo photos that might be good enough to share.
I am not sure of the name of this bear. I think it’s the daddy bear, Gao Gao.
These pandas are seriously cute. But they also have big teeth, and keep in mind that’s bamboo he’s munching like it’s potato chips.
When we were in China, we did venture across Beijing using their public transit (which was awesome) to see their giant pandas. I felt that the enclosure was cramped, at least the part where they were at that moment, and it seemed like they wanted to get out. That upset me and I don’t think I showed pictures of them on my blog because of that. Other parts of the zoo were pretty nice. The pollution, sadly, affects everybody, animals and people alike.
The San Diego Zoo doesn’t depress me. The animals seem okay, for being captive. (Although honestly, the big male orangutan I showed in an earlier post looked sad.) I think I’m going to get an annual membership. I want to go back very often and try for more big cat photos without the cage visible, and other things.
This is Xiao Liwu (which means Little Gift). He was born on July 29, 2012.
This is Bai Yun, which means White Cloud. She is mama bear.
The zoo keeper told me they’ve bred Gao Gao and Bai Yun and given five of their cubs to China, per loan agreements with China. It’s really great we have this cooperation to help the beloved pandas.
Another interesting thing is Gao Gao was released into the wild in China, but it didn’t work out, (he raided crops), and so now he’s safe and sound in San Diego Zoo. He gets along well with his handlers and is active and interested in everything. I guess some pandas get released, to try to restore the population, so that’s awesome.
I used to think zoos were horrible, but it’s so hard to protect everything in the wild, (though we must keep trying with wildlife sanctuaries and law enforcement to protect the animals from poachers. I saw an award winning photo of armed guards protecting two of the remaining white rhinos in Africa. That’s what it takes.) Zoos play a big role in preservation as well as education. Sure, no wild animal should be captive, and maybe one day we’ll get to that point. In the meantime, I’m glad the San Diego Zoo does such a brilliant job with comfortable environments for the animals. They grow about 70 different kinds of bamboo for their bears and harvest 700 pounds a week for them. That zoo is a labor of love and science.
In other news, I had a happy realization. I can feed the finches in my back yard during the winter when we don’t have a veggie garden…and when they really need the food. Now I have something to look forward to in the winter. The birds delight me all day, and I was so sad to take away the feeder. I can still hear them out there working a bit harder in the neighborhood to get their food. I can’t wait to invite them back in for free food in the winter.