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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wind Across Western Mongolia

The wind can howl whisper to you in Mongolia.

Listen to an intimate recording of the dust and grit blowing from the mountains across the plains and valleys.

Put on headphones, if you have them... 

The roads within Mongolia become dirt tracks across the landscape. Here there is little to stop the wind.



This is all one highway down the valley.
In Mongolia, like in the old Western US, you wouldn't want to ride horseback on a trail directly behind someone else and eat their dust! 

Most of the plant and animal life stays down within an inch or two of the rocky soil. 

 See and hear more at

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Visit Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California

Channel Islands National Park is just a short boat trip from the Los Angeles area. 

It's an opportunity to get away from the city, step back to an earlier time and experience remote California.

In May, Santa Cruz Island is still green and adorned with wildflowers. 

Keep a look out for the endangered Channel Island fox. The Santa Cruz Island fox (Urocyon littoralis santacruzae) is one of six subspecies of island fox, each found on their own Channel Island. In 2000, this tiny canine was facing extinction. Today they are making a strong recovery. (Find out more at Friends of the Island Fox)

Explore other southern California destinations and wildlife.

See more of this Santa Cruz Island trip May 2014 at Friends of the Island Fox and My Word with Douglas E. Welch.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Flying Foxes in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia

See flying foxes with an over 2 foot wingspan in
Cairns, North Queensland, Australia!

 These very large fruit-eating bats Pteropus sp. roost downtown in Cairns in giant ficus and eucalyptus trees. 

 You can hear them chattering and fanning themselves to keep cool from several blocks away.

Here's more information on the bats!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

See Aphrodisia and the Temple of Aphrodite, Anatolia, Turkey

Explore the Roman ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite at the base of the Tarsus Mountains in Turkey.

Dedicated to the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodisia was a ceremonial city between 200 BCE and 200 CE. A gathering place to enjoy athletic competitions in a stadium holding 30,000 spectators. An artisan colony were sculptors created masterpieces in local marble. A resort for the spirit with market places and baths.


Before the Romans, the Greeks; before the Greeks, this was a sacred site for honoring the Earth Mother. 

Walk the green hills with their wild poppies, sit on a marble bench in the Odeon, or City Council meeting hall, spot a wild spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca ibera) basking in the mountain sunshine.

Spend an Earth Minute in a distant place and time.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Visit Orcutt Ranch Park - L.A. Hidden Gardens #1

Orcutt Ranch Park
Los Angeles is filled with Hidden Gardens; gardens free to the public offering quiet escapes and natural treasures.

Orcutt Ranch Park has been one of my favorite Hidden Gardens since I was a child, it is rich with romantic rose gardens, iconic citrus groves, and ancient oak trees.  


The park is a 24-acre remnant of a 210-acre cattle ranch established by William Warren Orcutt and his wife. Rancho Sombra del Roble or “ranch in the shade of the oak” was nestled along a stream in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. In wet years the stream still flows. This prime location was probably inhabited by native peoples prior to the mission era. Legend has it that the adobe to build the bricks for the San Fernando Mission came from just up the canyon west of the ranch.

Orcutt was a wealthy oil executive in the early boom days of California oil drilling. He and his wife retired to their ranch and lived out the rest of their lives here. In doing so, they protected a slice of California history, including a majestic oak glen. The Orcutt home, now used for events, is modest and classically southwestern. The park was registered as a Historical-Cultural Monument in 1965. 

 Look For:
  • Adobe ranch house built in 1926
  • Ancient oak trees, including the Bicentennial Oak; a coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) believed to be over 700 years old. (Massive branches were cut off of this tree to stoke the kilns that created the limestone ash for use in making the bricks and mortar for Mission San Fernando.)
  • Rose garden & citrus orchards
  • Variety of birds and butterflies (Including California towhee, Bewick's wren, and red-shouldered hawk; mourning cloaks and swallowtails)

Special Opportunities: Public fruit harvesting (oranges and grapefruit) on specific dates in Feb. and June.

The Specifics:

  • Open - Daily, Sunrise to Sunset; Free to the public
  • Parking - Plenty
  • Restrooms - Yes
  • Kid Friendly - Absolutely, a wonderful place to explore
  • Accessibility - Many pathways are wheelchair friendly, but unpaved
  • Dogs - Welcome on a leash, watch for coyotes and rattlesnakes
  • Restrictions - Expect some closure of the house area and rose garden on weekends due to the large number of weddings performed here. The house is typically not open to the public.

For More Information:

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