Tuesday, February 15, 2011

california's secret - the carrizo plain

"The Carrizo Plain was named a national monument in 2001 and today encompasses 250,000 acres of unfragmented habitat — making it the largest single native grassland remaining in California.

The diverse terrain of the Carrizo Plain — which includes mixed scrubland, mountains, desert scrub and annual grassland — supports myriad species of birds and other wildlife."

we arrived after dark, to the hooting of owls, yipping of coyotes and steadily dropping temperatures. i couldn't remember the last time i was this cold. at it's lowest, the thermometer read 22 degrees. we were excited to experience the carrizo in winter. this is as close as you can get to a safari in california's serengeti...

1.) soda lake 2.) first tiny wildflowers 3.) raptor nest in the tower
4.) side-blotched lizard 5.) mountain bluebirds and flycatchers.
6.) mountain bluebird 7.) mountain bluebird for sharon lovejoy

8.) walking safari 9.) soda lake overlook 10.) sparrow 11.) white crowned sparrow
12.) american avocets 13.) scanning with the binoculars

14.) ferruginous hawk 15.) ferruginous hawk 16.) ferruginous hawk in flight
17.) on safari 18.) carrizo's empty roads 19.) equipment check and cleanup

20.) historic barn at kcl campground (our campsite under the eucalyptus tree)
21.) inside the barn 22, 23, 24, 25.) knitting in our tent, drinking tea made by my lovely husband

26.) american kestrel & western meadowlark 27.) in flight together
28.) sunset on the plains 29.) first tidy tips
30.) abandoned fences are good for roosting birds 31.) tiny flowers

32.) carrizo means grass 33.) side-blotched lizard 34.) soda lake
35.) american avocets 36.) american avocet
37.) sunrise at kcl campground

38.) barbed wire left over from old ranching days 39.) beautiful carrizo roads and my husbands favorite knitted balaclavas 40.) painted rock 41.) the trail to painted rock, a sacred place belonging to native americans 42.) my favorite thing to see this weekend...can you spot it on the rock, near the words? it's a...

43 - 47.) it is a pair of barn owls!! i saw the one on the rock first. then chuck found the one on the nest. we left soon after they were both away from the nest, so as not to upset them. fantastic. this was a spectacular treat to see.

48.) tea and lots of lens changes (between cameras and chuck and i)
49.) this is not snow, it's salt 50.) soda lake 51.) soda lakes salty shore
52.) salt still life

53- 57.) heading home through the los padres forest, the ocean, although it's hard to see, is on the horizen. and this months issue of camping life magazine, with chuck's carrizo plain article in it. the photos show how different it is in the spring. i don't usually show his work here, except the timing of this i like, so here it is, well done honey!

58.) and last, do you see the cards in the rack? the visitors center bought some (and they want more). my cards! oh, and the very last , i have had my first order of green sleeves today, due friday to this shop in santa barbara. he said he'd like the green felted bowl too.

i have gratefully accepted chucks invitation to a celebration dinner tonight. i wish everyone of you could join us. thank you for coming along on our carrizo trip and for sharing our joy.

♥ lori


  1. i have fainted on the floor.

    i am breathless.





    i don't know where to start. do you mind if i leave 12 comments?

  2. i have bluebirds on my mind anyway, so it is a sure sign that i love your shots of them

    and..the nest and in flight capture of your camera. holy holy moly. i knew this trip would bring show and tell blessings to the rest of us, but lori graham, my sf, i never expected anything so completely magestic and encompassing and reverent.

    tsup smooch lori.

    this is only my second commment.


  3. and....

    ......i am SO HAPPY and not at all surprised that commerce is now in play and working on your behalf. cards in the shop, sleeves on order. yippeedo!

    okay, i'll stop now for a while. i'm sorry if you got excited about three quick comments and you find it's all me blabbering on about how incredible and talented you are.

    guess who

  4. yeah, i'm with kj. i don't know where to begin ---

    first i thought the bluebirds were my favorite, then i saw the hawk, which i love, then the kestrel, another favorite but you topped it all with those owls, which i completely adore -- how did you get those shots??? amazing --

    what a cool cool place -- you captured it so well, like i was there too!

    and YAY about the sale of the cards and the greensleeves (very smart shopowner to include the felt bowl - how cool the shop's right on state street! ;-)

    and congrats on chuck's article ~ enjoy that special dinner to celebrate both your accomplishments!!


  5. I have never seen a bluebird, aren`t they beautiful!! And the barn owl so near! And your starting business - yay! All of your pictures, each one, deserve a comment, kj is right. But all I am saying is thank you, dear Bonnie Lori (I so like you in that tiny tent, knitting)

  6. Yes, the same for me with all the above comments...wow what an amazing trip ! The bluebird is my favourite, and I loved the pic of you knitting the noro shawl..I have one on my needles too, and I think we have chosen very similar colours.

  7. I loved the picture of you in the tent, knitting ... and all the beautiful color combination.

    The owls are amazing and...

    wow!congratulations for your new business and also for Chuck´s article!

    I have no words to describe how amazing are all the pictures you posted here!

  8. Me Too, me too!!! gorgeous wonderful amazing. I'm not leaving 12 comments like some people but wow wow wow.

    And congrads on the orders - you rock!

  9. thank you for sharing this wonderful california secret! amazing pictures! i especially loved the barn owls! what a great sighting! i have been waiting for your post from your trip! it's so fun to travel vicariously through others. congratulations on getting your craft out to the world! let's go to epic together when i return! it looks like mostly raw vegan fare - mmm! yum yum! p.s. i love the noro project you're working on. tell more!

  10. First, Lori, I am so EXCITED about the cards and sleeves!!!!!!!!!!!
    See, see, see!!!! Next, the photos are stunning I love them all, but the owls and you knitting in the tent are my favorite.
    And last, I know 22 degrees is cold because you come from somewhere warm, but try -26 on for size, now that's cold!
    Love and hugs and congrats again on the successes.xoxo

  11. Oh Lori! I feel so Blessed that you share these photos so I can see this beauty that I may never experience in real life! I absolutely love the Mountain Blue bird. And the owls! OMGosh! They are so beautiful! I love that you took your knitting. You are so adorable. Congrats on the cards & green sleeves! YAY! I knew they would be a success.
    Love to you~

  12. Wow what beautiful pictures of such a beautiful place .
    Seems like you 2 were the only only ones down there....... that must be such a wonderful (and romantic) experience!
    And meeting all those animals in the wild......
    And your success in your sales on the cards and sleeves. All just wonderful. Bet you feel great!


    KJ promised 12 comments, I only saw 3 .....did you remove the 9 others? ;)

  13. FAR out that bluebird is BLUE! Wow!

    Beautiful photos as always and that BIG lens in your car is super impressive!

    And the owls! Wow, I cannot imagine seeing them in real life!

  14. Blue Birds, Hawks, Lizards and........BARN OWLS! BE still my heart! I can't think of a more perfect or romantic Valentine's getaway!

    Thank you for taking us along to the California Sergingetti!

    And....yes, Lori, it's storming here - complete with hail! Ah, Spring!


    ♥ Robin ♥

  15. jee whiz, I actually teared up. Its those barn owls. and all the magnificant other shots too.
    Makes me so proud to be a Californian.
    Any sign or word of sandhill cranes?

  16. Oh the eye candy. Wow. Gorgeous. Thank you for sharing all this beauty with us.

  17. What a beautiful post! I feel like I'm along with you. Thank you for sharing. So glad to hear they are displaying your cards - and wonderful news about your green sleeves and felted bowl! Congratulations to Chuck on his article. What a talented and special couple you are. Enjoy your celebration together.
    Hugs - Susan

  18. gee marianne is very impatient about my twelve comments, don;tyathink?

    so, about the barn owls? are they mates? did they see you, know you were taking pictures of them and their furnishings? they really do have spoon eyes. besides the bluebirds, these are my favorites.

  19. oh and the little tent. why did you set it up on cement instead of ground?

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. one more thing: you look GREAT!

    what are you knitting? it looks great too.

    someday would you do a series on fences? i would like that.

    p.s. ♥
    p.s.s. i had to delete a comment because i left out a word. it won't count in my twelve though, right?
    p.s.s.s. I'm in no rush.... :)

  22. Hi Lori! Been looking forward to seeing the photos of this trip. Absolutely glorious, as usual! In many ways it reminds me of here.. but in so many other ways not!

    Congrats on the sales of the greensleeves and the cards, too, of course!!

  23. kj, your comments make me feel like i'm doing something right. thank you for almost all 12 of them.


    amanda, thank you so much. it was a raptor weekend for sure. we saw SO many. however, it is hard to get close, almost every bird photo was taken with a 600mm lens (plus an extender, so almost 800mm). we were a long ways away. but so exciting! the owls were a bit closer and taken with a 300 fixed lens. SO EXCITING.


    kavita, thank you!


    geli, this only my 2nd time to see the mountain bluebird. we were SO excited to see this one, then the next day we saw a flock of over 40 at least. they are very shy and stayed far away.
    our tent is for backpacking and is like sleeping in a large caterpillar!


    sally, we would like to do this same thing (perhaps with a camper van though) on your island.
    yes, the noro shawl, i think the colorway is 275. it's the inbetween project, but almost done!thank you so much for the kind words!


    mina, thank you! i didn't spend too much time sitting and knitting, we were on the go mostly! yes, the owls were my favorites too!


    mim, haha, yes well, your one comment is very much appreciated, thank you for putting up with this extra long post.

  24. anushka, i loved the owls too, i've never seen anything like this, it was a fantastic experiance. i'm making the 'simple yet effective shawl' it's on ravelry. it called for fingering weight noro, but i'm making it out of silk garden. it's a fun mindless knit.
    and yes! we'll go to epic bowl for sure!


    annie, thank you! i can't imagine that kind of cold, i am going to nyc in 3 days and am a bit worried if i've got warm enough clothes. at least camping i have a down sleeping bag!


    janis, thank you for your sweet comment. i hope you do see these things someday. i wish everyone could. but i know what you mean about virtual travel through books and photos, and i am grateful too.


    marianne, that's one of the things we do like best, the solitude. there were a couple other campers one night, but we never saw anyone while out on the plains. and yes, it is romantic. we always bring wine and firewood!
    i think kj is biding her time, haha!


    michele, thank you for the link love, :)
    i have never seen anything like this with owls either. not in such bright daylight. it was really astonishing. they were gorgeous, their feathers matched the color of the lichen and rock. we wanted to stay, but at the same time didn't want to stress them, so after getting photos for 10 minutes, we moved away.


    robin, i knew you'd love this, it really is a spectacular place. we felt so lucky to have seen so much this time. and you are right, it was the perfect valentine getaway!


    julie, i agree, many people are not aware just how diverse california is and how much treasure it holds. the owls felt like a once in a lifetime for me, it was a truly heartpounding moment.
    the cranes have left, usually the end of february is when they go, but we checked at the goodwin center and that's what we were told. but! wildflowers are coming to carrizo next!


    jennifer, welcome! and thank you so much for the kind words!


    susan, i'm glad you enjoyed, it is my pleasure. thank you so much for all your kind words, chuck and i really appreciate them.

  25. kj, the owls were a pair. they had a nest in the cave. yes, they saw us. the male flew out alone first to keep watch(on us), and when the female left the nest to join him, we knew we had to leave. they needed to get back.


    the platform was built to keep snakes and kangaroo rats away.


    and thanks! i thought 3 day old unshowered and unwashed hair was keeping it real. haha. i am knitting a shawl, for me!

    i love fences, that's a good idea.


    karen, many times california reminds me of africa, especially when we're scanning with binoculars. but your right, it's entirely different. thanks!

  26. thanks for taking me with albeit virtually - I had a fabulous trip

  27. They say we can live vicariously through our friends...and every visit to your blog is refreshing, awe inspiring, so full of love and life that it also rejuvenates me...and yay on your business successes, too!

  28. Laughing at Kj's reaction I think she's hyperventilating with happiness :)
    You went on a bird safari - those Bluebirds are stunning and the owls, well spotted and what a treat to see a pair of them at their nest.
    I like that you put your camera down only for your hands to get busy with your needles and yarn. Congrats on your orders and I'm still experiencing lens envy over your husband's camera Lori. Smiles*!*

  29. Dear Lori~

    When I was at Mim's we mentioned this post which I hadn't had time to comment on until now. But I will tell you your ears should have been ringing! I said I wanted to be you, or at least have a comparable life. And we said how every one of your beautiful family members are the quintessential Californians! You really do make us gasp and sigh with your images and words, but mostly your heart.

    Now, I won't comment on each photo but I will say the bluebirds took my breath away. What I wouldn't do to be close to one. And I'd love to meet a Magpie one day too.

    The birds in flight are spectacular! The hawk, kestral and owl. Wow.

    The entire post is magical.

    And Wooooo-hoooooo on the business venture! I know your things will be scooped up. And how very Chuck to take you out to celebrate! What a keeper that guy is. It's obvious how much he adores you (and you, him.)

    Aaaaah, a lovely way to start my day. Thank you ;)


  30. Thank you for sharing this trip to CP and all these gorgeous photos, Lori! I loved those of you knitting in the tent!!! How adorable!!! And all the others were just amazing. Those mountain bluebirds are such a beautiful blue! One of my favs is the image of the two barn owls peeking out from the recess (of a mountain?)You got some really wonderful images. I'd want to look at these again and again. You and your hubby have such exciting adventures and share them with the world. Congratulations to both of you on the article and postcards!!!

  31. So not fair. NOT. FAIR!

    First you wash me in tranquility with your gorgeous photos. I could not hear anything but the soft rustle of grass and a few warbling birds and crickets. And then WHAMO! You made me WHOOP! Yup, made the dog jump up from his sleep. See? Your news almost gave both me and my dog heart attacks! You are AWESOME! Congratulations, you are in DEMAND!

    Epic Bowl
    Epic photos
    Epic success
    Epic weekend!

  32. Magnificent!!!!!
    I have goosebumps Lori...

    I have been looking forward to this post as soon as you mentioned that you were off to visit the carrizo plain again.

    You and Chuck make dreams come true.... I love you for that.

    Just in case I haven't said it before..... thank you so very much for being a blogger as your generosity is good medicine for all who happen here.

    I guess you can figure how excited I am by this post.

    Please extend my gratitude to Chuck too.

    Lori I won't comment on each individual photo, but please know that I think they are all exceptional.

    So pleased to read that your cards and sleeves will be on sale. I hope you will have more cards for your etsy in the future.

    Big love and a big smile to you
    xx Robyn :)

    PS... I will be back. These photos make me feel very happy. I love your view of nature.

    Okay really going now x

  33. Hi there,
    I hope you don't mind, I posted your link to a Ravelry group as we love owls and I recommended visiting your blog to see the gorgeous owl pictures!

  34. it's the textures!

    you capture texture in every shot! you show the fabric of the natural world!

    please will you teach me one camera trick? just one? :^)

  35. i need some air....omg...what a post...so wonderful lori...all of it...just beautiful....

    so i am reading along...LOVING EVERYTHING and then. BOOM. the barn owls...what a special treat to see them.... they are beyond wonderful...those sweet faces...and i LOVED seeing you {so cute} in your tent..knitting...and congratulations on the sleeves { i am knitting one too...thanks to you and seeing them on julie's teacup} i want one...the only problem....i have to knit standing up in the kitchen because somebody {Teddy} LOVES to chew on yarn... and Congratualtions on the cards.

    GREAT POST !!! Thanks for sharing and give little Owen a scratch behind the ears from Teddy and Me.

    Sending love today, my friend,
    Kary and Teddy

  36. janet, i'm glad you enjoyed. in a small way going here satisfys a longing for a true african safari.


    teri, thank you so much. i do that too, living vicariously through books and blogs. i think it can add another dimension to a good life.


    annie, it did turn out that way this time. although we did see a lot of bunnys and a kangaroo rat (too hard to photo!)but then again so are birds. they hardly ever stay in one place.


    lo, dear me. i don't know what to say, what a lovely lovely comment. thank you so much.


    ann marie, thank you so much! the owls were nesting in a cave in a really large rock. it was just thrilling to see them fly in and out.


    bella, haha, poor dog! your comment is just as colorful and gorgeous as your artwork. thank you dear.


    robyn, i thought of you too while we were there, i know you would love cp. i thank you, your comment means so much to me, gosh, you are so kind.


    faeryfay, i'm really flattered! thank you for the kindness. i LOVE little owl knits. someday when i get around to it i'll add to ravelry and even join some groups!


    kj, i have a lONg way to go, but whatever i know, i'll share with you. :)


    kary, ah thank you dear. i really appreciate it. it was a good weekend, and now all this rain is hopefully watering all those wildflower seeds. can't wait for spring!
    owen loves to be hugged and scratched, thanks! hi teddy!

  37. Lori. I am gobsmacked. Such beautiful pictures, and it seems as if you two were all alone in that amazing world. I love the picture of you knitting in the tent - lol! Were you freezing? :) And the owls! I see owls now and then on my drive down Wildcat Road, and it is such a gift. Thank you for the vacation! Such talent with you two! And congrats on the sales! More to come! :)) xox Pam

  38. wow such amazing photos!! this has me pining after a camping trip which, here in BC, would mean snow and or very wet, cold camping that I'm just not quite brave enough for...yet. thank goodness camping season is only a few months away.

    I love the bright colours of your knitting project. Beautiful


xoxo lori