Backyard Birding

So the monkey has been thinking about birds lately. His home sits in a bit of niche valley near the northern edge of the Santa Monica mountains with open space behind and tall, surrounding ridges that lead south to the ocean about six miles away (as the crow flies). Kongo sees lots of birds. Western gulls fly back and forth to Anacapa Island, a large covey of quail live in a stand of manzanita behind the back fence, an occasional golden eagle will perch in an oak tree behind the manzanita, hawks hunt overhead, finches and oriels visit in the…

Swamp Monkey

There’s nothing quite like a great swamp. Luckily, there’s a very swampy swamp only  few minutes from Kongo’s son’s house in Tampa, Florida named Lettuce Lake.  It’s named for the lettuce looking plants that grow all over the shallow waters. Giant cypress trees line the water and help support abundant wildlife that ranges from stink bugs to tropical birds to alligators. Now Kongo didn’t see any gators on this visit but he saw plenty of other wildlife. At Lettuce Lake there is a long boardwalk elevated above the swamp so visitors can explore in relative safety and not worry about…

Kitsch and Glass in Tampa

Kongo is in Florida this week visiting #3 granddaughter and taking in some of the local sites that include things like biscuits and gravy (twice), swimming lessons, and the wildlife that visits a lake in her backyard. In between sandhill cranes, whistling ducks, egrets, and mosquitos Kongo has spent a lot of time just watching the wilderness nearby. Since this is Florida, trips to the beach are part of the package.  Persephone is pretty much a water nymph and spends a lot of time frolicking in the waves and sand. One day we headed over to St. Petersburg because Mrs….

Gold Digging Monkey

Kongo loves living in the Golden State.  There’s always a lot to see and do just about anywhere you visit here. Over this Memorial Day weekend he was in the Sacramento area and decided to explore the origin of the “gold” in the Golden State. It was all pretty much of an accident and involved an unlucky man named James Marshall. You might think the man who sparked the California Gold Rush would be anything but unlucky but Marshall managed to blow just about every opportunity he ever had. He was a carpenter and wheelwright who landed in California in…

Azamara Club Cruise Review – Japan

Kongo just completed an “intensive” 15-day cruise about the Japanese islands aboard the Azamara Quest. This review is an in-depth critique of that cruise and examines the good, okay, so-so, and downright awful aspects of this cruise line and the voyage in general. If you’re considering an Azamara cruise in the future, the monkey urges you to read on and he would be happy to answer any of your questions. In many ways this is a hard review for the monkey to write. He’s generally fairly forgiving and upbeat and takes life as it comes with a little grumbling now…

A Final Day in Tokyo

Kongo finally returned to the port city of Yokohama and had a final day of sight seeing in Tokyo before flying back to California. After cruising for fifteen days, it had been a long trip for the monkeys. Mrs. Kongo was complaining of blisters on her toes (after doing more than 17,000 steps one day in the wrong set of walking shoes), Kongo was getting blurry, and they were both tired of ship tours. So on this last day they took off on their own to see a slice of the capital city they hadn’t seen before. After a quick…

Monkey Mount Fuji

This time of year the locals say you can only expect to see Mt. Fuji about twenty percent of the time. Fogs and clouds usually obscure the famous peak but when Kongo came here the sun was out and it was a clear (ish) day that got hazy in the afternoon. From sea the snow-capped symbol of Japan is magnificent and awe inspiring. It’s one of those places you’ve seen pictures of your entire monkey life and there it was right there in front o you. Fuji’s almost perfect cone shape comes from volcanic activity and the mountain is the…