Deserts and Beyond

Deserts and beyond...places in and around the southern California deserts and beyond. Photo taken at Canyon Lake, in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, December 2011. A few minutes later, after the sun disappeared, these cliffs were their normal color. They were only golden for a short time and I'm glad we were able to view them in their glory.






Friday, December 31, 2010

Sierras trip!!! ~~Highlights~~
























Hubby and I decided to take our new XTerra to the Sierras and try it out. We had a few days between our son's birthday, on December 28, and New Year's, so we headed up to Lone Pine. We drove up ther Wednesday afternoon. It was snowing on the peaks, and raining on and off along the way. We took a late afternoon drive out to the Alabama Hills and then set out for Bishop Thursday morning. We drove up the road to South Lake, since it was open and clear, but above AspenDell, it was closed, so we turned around. We had heard that Highway 395 was closed at Crowley Lake, unless you had chains or a 4 wheel drive and we didn't have either, but we got that far and then turned around as the road was just too icy. We enjoyed our short vacation and wanted to get home New Year's Eve and let the 3 dogs inside. It has been freezing down here in the desert and they were out for two nights. It was down to 20 degrees in Lone Pine last night and a storm is moving in this evening, so we are glad to be home, with our dogs and our champagne! Happy New Year, everybody! May you have a safe and prosperous New Year!
~~Cheryl Ann~~

Late afternoon Sierras~SkyWatch Friday 123110

Hubby and I are currently up in the Sierras, trying out our new Nissan XTerra. It was snowing Wednesday afternoon when we arrived. Thursday morning was clear and the snow was blowing off the top of the Sierra peaks. Many, many cars were covered with snow and the road had been closed up by Crowley Lake. We headed out from Lone Pine in the morning and had breakfast in Bishop. We drove up the road to South Lake, up and behind Bishop. The road was clear up to the lake. Then, back through town and up Highway 395 as far as we could go! We turned around at Crowley Lake as the road was too icy and we don't have chains or 4 wheel drive. Instead, we drove the road up to Rovana, which is north of Bishop. We frequently take that road and are familiar with it. At one point, we stopped and looked at the peaks there. The sun was setting and just caught the top of one of the peaks. You can see the snow blowing off the top of one of them. SkyWatch Friday for December 31, 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Early morning walk after our last storm~That's My World 121810




The clouds finally departed and one morning the sun was shining, so off I went for my morning walk! It was good to get outside after nearly 4 days of rain. I eagerly got my feet going and I scanned the valley. Everything smelled wet and clean. It was a good day to get out of the house! That's My World for Tuesday, December 28, 2010.

Morning walk and paw prints










Yesterday morning hubby was sleeping late, so I gathered up my camera (Nikon) and drove up Highway 74 to the Art Smith trailhead. I walked up Carrizo Canyon for a while. It apparently had rained (again) the night before because the ground was saturated, wet, and there weren't any prints, except for these! Hmmm...something with claws...a raccoon? Any ideas? It's too small to be a coyote. I enjoyed my morning walk and the desert smelled so fresh and clean! Ahhhh......!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

After the storm~Scenic Sunday and SOOC Sunday 122610







I took an early morning walk on Friday morning, after our series of storms left the desert and moved on to Texas. I was surprised to actually see steam coming off one of the ponds at the golf course (see bottom photo). There were a lot of ducks there and I tried to be quiet, but I scared all of them off! They circled above, showing me their disapproval! We had sunshine yesterday, although clouds moved in last night and I haven't peeked outside yet this morning. Scenic Sunday and SOOC Sunday for December 26, 2010. No, I'm NOT going to the after-Christmas sales, but I think I'll go for a walk a little later. To visit Scenic Sunday, please visit: http://scenicsunday.blogspot.com/ To visit SOOC, please go to: http://www.murrieta365.com/



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mountain, snow, palms, and moon~SkyWatch Friday 122310

I woke up early this morning and looked outside and saw STARS! YES!~(happy dance!) No more rain! Phew! After all the flooding yesterday in the desert, many roads are still closed today and the main wash through the desert still has water running through it. Desert Hot Springs is a horrible mess and Thousand Palms Canyon Road is still closed. There were several homes up there that were flooded. New rainfall records were set in Palm Springs and other outlying areas. Temecula got 12 inches of rain, Hemet got 11 inches, Beaumont got 8 inches! After my walk, I stopped and bought groceries for today and we are getting ready to enjoy Christmas with our family. May you and yours have a Merry Christmas! SkyWatch Friday for December 23, 2010.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Storm!!!~Nature Notes 122310











After 3 days and then 24 hours of straight rain, our desert roads crossing the wash are ALL flooded and closed. Unfortunately, this car didn't get the memo and got stuck in the wash in Rancho Mirage. I went out at 7:00 a.m. and took these photos. Many other folks were out watching the car because the water was rising and I was sure it would go over the side while I was out there (it didn't)...There was a sheriff stationed at both sides of the wash and finally barriers were put up so that other drivers didn't attempt to cross the wash. I listened to the local news and this driver is facing a $400 towing fee AND a ticket for being SO STUPID! I mean, who in their right mind would attempt to cross a road during a storm when water is raging? My husband, who has lived here in the desert since 1960, told me tonight, while he's seen other storms, this one WAS a once in a 100 year storm, especially for winter. I remember back in 1976 and again in 1979 when we were hit with summer tropical storms and the wash flooded out again, but I do NOT remember another time during winter when so much water was in the wash and I've lived here since 1975. This was a warm, tropical storm, called the "pineapple express" because it came directly from Hawaii. At this hour (11:00 p.m.), the skies are clearing and we should have several days of clear and sunny weather! Nature Notes for December 22, 2010.




Monday, December 20, 2010

Palm oasis fire~That's My World 122010







Here are more of the photos I took of the burned palm oasis last weekend. After our two days of rain here and more rain forecast for the rest of the week, I may hike back out there Thursday or Friday and take another look. As I stated earlier, hubby and I were driving home from Indion one evening after having dinner at our daughter's house and I glanced out the window and saw a bright light. I commented to hubby, "That looks like a fire!" to which he gaffed. Then he looked out the passenger window and confirmed my fears. It was all over the local news the next day and took three days and countless fire companies to put out that fire. It turns out that it was one of the palm oases along the San Andreas Fault, which runs through the Coachella Valley. Cause of fire: "under investigation", but this oasis is in a very isolated location. And while our desert palms are not an endangered species, they DO provide homes for many, many birds. Their presence also indicates a location for underground water and if you want to find water in the desert, you look for a palm oasis. That's My World for December 20, 2010.
UPDATE: I've been following the news updates as they come in about these palms. Apparently they WILL grow back, but it may take a year. However, we've recently had 4 days of rain and this area received nearly 4 inches of rain, so they may be back this spring! Good news! I'll keep you updated.

Where are the mountains?

I woke up early yesterday morning and had my coffee and when I glanced out my front door, I could tell there would be a gorgeous sunrise, to I headed out for my morning walk. My bronchitis is slowly receeding and I felt energetic enough for a walk. I counted 7 jackrabbits, 2 cottontails, and numerous ravens. While I couldn't see any of the mountains around the Coachella Valley, I did see a rainbow a couple of times. It was misting while I was doing my walk and then it rained all day yesterday! Even our outdoor cats wanted to come in and snuggle!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A stark beauty~Scenic Sunday and SOOC Sunday 121910




I wrote about hiking out to the burned palm oasis along Thousand Palms Canyon Road a couple of weekends ago, but I didn't post any photos of the palms until now. My recent bout of bronchitis basically left me totally brainless and disoriented and weak and exhausted! Sorry about that! I didn't realize until this morning that I hadn't posted any photos, so here are a couple of them and I'll post the rest this week. I don't believe it has been announced yet what caused the fire, but HELLO! I mean, these palms were on a protected preserve with no reason for them to suddenly ignite on their own. Period. While they ARE on a hiking trail, I'm sure the fire department is investigating whether or not a thrown-out cigarette caused the fire. They will grow back and many palms up there were not burned at all (fortunately). This grove is right along the San Andreas fault. The reason that they grow in these barren places is that, through the cracks in the earth, the palms' roots can find underground water. There are many of these groves along the fault, in Indio, and at Cottonwood Springs, in Joshua Tree National Park. Still, it is a shame that these burned. I'll update you as soon as I discover what the cause of the fire was. While they aren't exactly scenic, they do have a certain stark beauty about them and this is the first time I've seen a burned-out palm grove. Scenic Sunday and SOOC Sunday for December 19, 2010. To visit Scenic Sunday, please go to: http://scenicsunday.blogspot.com/ To visit SOOC, please visit: http://www.murrieta365.com/ Ahhhh.... I found this announcement from the BLM: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/newsroom/2010/november/CDD1115_palmfire.html The cause of the fire is STILL under investigation. So sad. And, here's an article from our local newspaper: http://www.mydesert.com/article/20101130/NEWS0806/11300306/Fire-crews-seek-answers-in-Coachella-Valley-Preserve-fire

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Palms and Sunrise~SkyWatch Friday 121710


This was the view during one of my morning walks. We had clouds today and I didn't have time or the energy to walk. This bronchitis (3rd time) has really got me down. I have no energy or motivation to walk or even get out right now. All I want is some hot tea and my cough syrup! BUMMER! I can't wait for Christmas vacation to start tomorrow at 12:31 p.m.!!! SkyWatch Friday for December 17, 2010.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Palm tree and pond~Watery Wed 121510


I saw this palm tree standing alone by one of the water courses during my afternoon walk last week. Unfortunately, I'm now battling bronchitis for the third time this fall and I haven't been able to walk this week at all. I did notice that my morning walks are helping my endurance because when I hiked out to the burned out palm oasis on Saturday morning, I wasn't winded at all. So, to get bronchitis again, is just darn frustrating! I gargled with salt water all day yesterday and I seem to have knocked out the sore throat, but I'll be spending today with 27 coughing, sneezing kids (third grade), so I'm not sure what kind of shape I'll be in this afternoon! Watery Wednesday for December 15, 2010.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ponds and reflections~That's My World 121410



One day I missed my morning walk and I decided to do it in the afternoon instead. I'm pleased that I did! The reflections on the ponds in the golf course were incredible! It was deserted and I had one whole course completely to myself! But, there were a couple of cattle egrets there and some ducks too. If you click on the bottom photo, you can see one of the egrets near the edge of the water. I plan on taking more afternoon walks! It's a great way to unwind after a long day! That's My World for Tuesday, December 14, 2010.

The Witch in the Mountain 121310

A friend told me about the "witch in the mountain", which is a shadow that appears on Mt. San Jacinto. I believe she told me it is visible in the afternoon. This photo was taken in the morning and I certainly do NOT see her. I'm going to have to email my friend and clarify this. I actually did see it one time and I THINK it was in the afternoon. I've learned that if I can't get my morning walk done, I can also do it in the afternoon, so I'll stop by and walk after school today! Maybe I'll see the witch!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gnarled bush~SOOC Sunday and Scenic Sunday 121210


I do believe that my morning walking is paying off. Yesterday morning I had to drop off my kitty, Abby, for spaying at our valley's low-cost spay and neuter clinic, so since I was out by Thousand Palms Canyon, I decided to walk back to the burned-out area of a couple of weeks ago. One night hubby and I were driving home and I glanced up toward the hills and saw a huge fire! It was a palm oasis on the San Andreas fault and it burned all night and all the next day. Fire crews were called in from all over the county to help put it out. So, yesterday, since I was near that area, I decided to hike back to it (it's about 1/2 mile from the road) to investigate. There were two other cars there and I met a young couple who were also there to do some hiking. Unfortunately, while we started out on the trail together, they soon left me way behind! GOSH DARN! They also eventually took another trail which goes over to the Coachella Valley Preserve. So, I continued on the trail (...alone...). I met a couple coming back and stopped to chat with them. I saw some interesting things alone the trail, including this bare bush. I stopped to take a couple of pics of it and I continued on my way...SOOC and Scenic Sunday for December 12, 2010. To visit SOOC, please visit here: http://www.murrieta365.com/ To visit Scenic Sunday, please visit: http://scenicsunday.blogspot.com/

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cloud reflections~Looking at the Sky on Friday and Weekend Reflections 121010

As I took my morning one one day a few weeks ago, clouds had gathered in the desert and I saw their reflections in the water course where I walk every morning. I think their reflections are more crisp and clear than the sky, don't you? Looking at the Sky and Weekend Reflections for Friday for December 10, 2010. To see Weekend Reflections, please visit: http://newtowndailyphoto.blogspot.com/?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Elusive meadowlarks~Nature Notes 120910





I have a new-found respect for nature photographers. I don't know how some people get the photos of birds and other creatures that they get! Sunday morning I was driving down this road (see bottom photo) and I had my windows down and I heard meadowlarks. Hmmmm.....I should stop and get some pics of them (or so I thought!) NOT A HAPPENING THING! First of all, the @#$% birds flew away so quickly that I never got a decent shot of them! Second, I just don't have the right lens (I DO have a zoom to 200 mm lens...) but, I couldn't get close enough to any of the birds to get a decent photo! I finally gave up and headed up to the horse ranch, abandoning any thoughts of photographing elusive meadowlarks!!! I did get to hear them and there were plenty of them in the field (see bottom photo). I like to drive down this road as it frequently has hawks and vultures circling above, hoping for a snack of the many ground squirrels along the fields! Nature Notes for December 9, 2010.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"U" is for...ABC Wednesday 120810











UNWARY. The UNWARY traveler in our nearby mountains and in our desert may encoUnter a cholla cactus and if you do, you better be wearing thick shoes! I was up in the pinyon forest of our local mountains this weekend and I spotted some cholla cactus (see them in the lower left hand of the top photo). I found a dead one (see the ribs?) and spotted little barbed cholla pieces. I put my foot next to them to take a photo. I always wear these heavy, steel-toed WALMART boots when I'm out hiking or taking photos, just because I don't wish to encounter any cholla! So, I very carefully tiptoed around these and continued on my way to the horse ranch and GUESS WHAT? YUP! One of the little buggers had attached itself to my boot and when I arrived at the ranch, the owner said, "Look what you've got on your shoe. Where did you pick that up?"....Ack! As careful as I was, I guess I picked up one and I was an UNWARY traveler! For other participants in ABC Wednesday, please visit: http://abcwednesdayround3.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 6, 2010

Palms~That's My World 120710





Every morning that I take my morning walk, I see these palms and one morning I decided to walk down to them and investigate them. They were full of birds and I scared off many of them. They were also full of hanging date seeds. No wonder they were full of birds! I stopped to admire and investigate them and then continued on my way. That's My World for Tuesday, December 07, 2010.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Short walk yesterday morning~SOOC and Scenic Sunday 120510



I took a short walk yesterday morning, only 15 minutes. Saw a roadrunner, 2 cottontails, and one huge jackrabbit. Oh, and the hawk, who has seemed to have survived its encounter with the crow. See http://rav4adventures.blogspot.com/2010/12/tale-of-hawk-and-ravennature-notes.html for that story! Anyway, I'm still not back into shape after my bronchitis and I didn't get very far yesterday morning. This has taken a heavier toll on me than I expected and my endurance is shot. It was cloudy yesterday and I almost didn't take my walk, but I had to stop by the post office and since I was only a couple of blocks away, I decided to give it a try. I also had parent conferences this week at school and that was EXHAUSTING! Try talking from 12:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. after a bout of bronchitis! We have a new report card, which I had to explain to the parents, and by 7:00, I was completely numb. I staggered home and fell asleep at 7:30 that night! All of us teachers were so tired the next day ( a FULL day) that we barely made it through Thursday. Anyway, I digress...so I didn't get any walking in this past week, except for Friday morning (another 15 minute walk). I was doing 30 to 40 minutes and I'm hoping to work my way back up to that time over the holidays. In the meantime, these were my views from yesterday. SOOC and Scenic Sunday for December 5, 2010. I took these with my little Nikon Coolpix, since I can slip it in my pocket and then I don't have to carry around my big Nikon! For other participants, please visit: http://www.murrieta365.com/ and http://scenicsunday.blogspot.com/