Nature versus Destruction

But really a post about the desert.

“We pretended that we were the only humans on earth, trekking across an eerie but strangely exciting landscape. It was silent except for an occasional far off bird or the buzzing of a fly. We ate quietly, not speaking, not needing chatter to fill up the silence, until the lack of sound completely settled in around us and we could feel the warm earth beneath our legs anchoring us to this special place.” December 7, 2014

17 Palms Oasis: Hiking with Princess Rosebud and Her Tugboat Man in the Anza-Borrego State Park.

We’ve learned so much from my son.

I may have taught him to discover the world through books, but he returned the lesson by opening our world through boots.

As in hiking, walking, exploring the beauty of land and nature.

About ten years ago, he gave us the best gift ever, Jerry Schad’s Afoot & Afield in San Diego County. We’ve been avid hikers and campers ever since. Sadly, Jerry died in 2011, but his spirit lives on in his every step that we follow and in his love for the backcountry.

A favorite destination for solitude is Anza-Borrego State Park.

Right now as i’m home, typing in the family room with the patio doors wide open, I don’t hear a single bird, not like we did not so long ago. My bird houses lay fallow; unused, no chirping of hungry babies.

Empty nests.

What I do hear, however, is disquietude — the relentless sound of heavy earth movers raping more land in my town, leveling a previously beautiful little hillside, killing all the native plants and displacing the rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats. Do we really need 1200 more homes? Can we really afford more water and energy consumption, more negative impact on our already overpopulated coastal town?

Here’s our view from the deck, taken with my long lens, beyond Santa and his reindeer.SANTABACKHOE

We fought for years against this egregious overbuilding; this time we lost.

There’s not enough open space; our sojourns to the mountains or the desert are even more precious and as necessary to our personal survival as water and air.

This time we chose to explore 17 Palms Oasis.

Tip #1: It would be a good idea to have a four-wheel drive to get there.

We don’t, but tugboat man’s truck is pretty sturdy so we did OK, but keep in mind there are some really sandy spots.

Tip #2: Carry a shovel just in case, and of course lots of water, even in winter.

17 Palms Oasis, 5 Palms Oasis and Una Palma. 

These areas are well-known watering holes for the regional wildlife of the Borrego Badlands. The palms at both Oases are often green and brilliant compared to the stark and barren desert that surrounds them.

They’ve attracted humans for thousands of years.

Nomadic aborigines, wayfaring emigrants, and determined prospectors have all taken shade and water from these islands in the badlands.

Remnants of a time when grasslands, streams, and herds of camels and mammoths covered an ancient landscape, the native palms exist today only because water surfaces here.

As the spring here was unreliable, early travelers with extra water would leave it in large glass jars. Thirsty visitors came to rely on the jars hidden in the shade of the palms. The desert wanderers would leave notes attached to the jars. Today the custom of leaving messages in the prospector’s post office is carried on by visitors. In the post office barrel hidden in the 17 Palms, among the palm tree bases, lies a visitor’s log book, notes and of course, bottles of water!

The 17 Palms area is located off of the S-22. Take the Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground turnoff, travel approx. 3.6 miles on Arroyo Salado Wash to the Seventeen Palms Turnoff which puts you on Tule Wash (you will see a small sign with arrow heading West (right) and travel another 0.2 miles to the 17 Palms parking area. To visit the 5 Palms Oasis continue past Seventeen Palms on Tule Wash to arrived at the Parking area for 5 Palms. Una Palma can be reached by walking over the ridges of the 17 and 5 Palms locations. Or you can go right on Cut Across Trail to arrive at the Una Palma Location.

17palmssign

I think I counted all seventeen palms, but couldn’t locate the oasis ‘cos of our drought.

17palmspalms2 It’s pretty spectacular to see palm trees in the middle of the desert badlands.17palmspalms

Lots of mud as this was once a seafloor. Weird rocks, randomly placed.

17palmsrocks

Exactly how this rock was stuck in the mud!
17palmsrickmud

Ocotillo.

17palmsocotilo 17palmsocotillo2 Mud.17palmsmud1 Una Palma.

17palmsunapalma

Narrow wash.

17palmsmudThe beautiful but stark and naked badlands. Our view as we stopped for lunch.17palmsbadlands2We set off cross country as there’s no real trail. We pretended that we were the only humans on earth, trekking across an eerie but strangely exciting landscape.

It was silent except for an occasional far off bird or the buzzing of a fly. We ate quietly, not speaking, not needing chatter to fill up the silence, until the lack of sound completely settled in around us and we could feel the warm earth beneath our legs anchoring us to this special place.17palmsbadlandsIt was warm, almost too hot at eighty degrees. Being out here in the summer at more than a hundred degrees with no shade would be an extreme hardship.17palmsbadlands3Ahhh…a refreshing cup of ginger tea at the end of a dusty hike. Good times! Angel Boy got tugboat man a JetBoil, an absolutely amazing gift– boiling water in about a minute.17palmsjetboil

Driving home as the sun sets. 17palms

Back to reality.

And back to being alone, as my tugboat man left again, but only for two short weeks, hopefully home on the 22nd, fingers crossed.

Take time to actively experience nature. Walk, hike, breathe in all of the beauty of the wild. It’s healing and restorative.

Hike to Glen Canyon Park in San Francisco

A few weeks ago I visited Professor Angel Boy and DIL in SF. While DIL was at work, my son and I walked to Glen Canyon Park (or Glen Park Canyon) from their home.

Who knew this deep pocket of wilderness is steps away from high density living in the middle of the city?

Everything is either UP or DOWN. It was quite a strenuous workout, especially since I had to keep up with my six-foot-plus son.

We were looking for the coyotes that live in the canyon. My son saw one recently on a previous visit and we hoped to see him or her again, but we had no luck.

glencanyon18Lots of raspberries.glencanyon1 glencanyon2 glencanyon3 Twin Peaks.glencanyon4Angel Boy is always lightyears ahead of me.
glencanyon5 glencanyon6 glencanyon7 glencanyon8 glencanyon9 glencanyon19glencanyon10glencanyon17

glencanyon11 glencanyon12 glencanyon13The free flowing Islais Creek.glencanyon20Islais Creekglencanyon14 It was a little hazy in the afternoon. I hadn’t traveled with my good Canon — pics were taken with Canon point and shoot. glencanyon15 Finally, he turned around. You can tell he’s saying, “Hurry up, Mom, and stop taking so many pictures!”glencanyon16According to Wiki: The park and hollow offer an experience of San Francisco’s diverse terrains as they appeared before the intense development of the region in the late 19th and the 20th centuries. The park incorporates free-flowing Islais Creek and the associated riparian habitat, an extensive grassland with adjoining trees that supports breeding pairs of red-tailed hawks and great horned owls, striking rock outcrops, and arid patches covered by “coastal scrub” plant communities. In all, about 63 acres (25 ha) of the park and hollow are designated as undeveloped Natural Area. Elevations in Glen Canyon Park range from approximately 225 feet (69 m) above sea level at the south end of the park to 575 feet (175 m) above sea level at the north end and along the east rim of the canyon; the walls of the canyon are extremely steep, with many slopes approaching a length-to-height ratio of 1:1

A Secret Cathedral at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

We had one last detour before our final destination of the magnificent Zion National Park.

Our goal was to pack in as many sights as we could on our ten-day trip.

We were up early for a short hike to a lookout at Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon Dam.lakepowell

Lake Powell, with hardly any water in the middle of this drought.lakepowell3 Beautiful cliffs.lakepowell1

Back on the road, we turned off the main highway and set out on a dusty, bumpy, red-dirt path barely wide enough for one vehicle — more like a wagon train trail — several miles off the main road to a trailhead that would lead to an amazing slot canyon hike.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, at 1.7 million acres, dominates southern Utah.

It’s unique in that it is the first monument to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management, rather than the National Park Service.

The Grand Staircase is a geological formation spanning eons of time and is a territory of multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles, slot canyons, and world-class paleontological sites..

After hiking for about and hour or so, clambering up and out of narrow and shady slot canyons that seemed to go on forever, passing a random cow or two, the “cathedral” emerged in a open space bathed in sunlight.

It was really, really, really, REALLY special. Words can’t describe it and my pics don’t do justice to its beauty.vermillioncliffscathedral

I don’t know why it’s “secret” except that a couple of experienced hikers we chatted with at the trailhead shared a few of the highlights of the area and cautioned us not to be TOO specific when we talked about where we were to avoid it becoming overcrowded. vermillioncliffs vermillioncliffs1 vermillioncliffs2 Spectacular. WOW.vermillioncliffs4 This is supposed to be one of the longest slot canyon hikes in the country, if not THE longest. We hiked for about three hours in, a six-mile round trip.vermillioncliffs5 vermillioncliffs6 ME! vermillioncliffsme Vermillioncliffs10 Vermillioncliffs11 vermillioncliffs12

Next stop, ZION!

P.S. And don’t ask, there’s no way I’m telling the exact coordinates. Only tugboat man knows exactly where we were :)

 

Fog + Condors, and California’s Amazing Big Sur

Remember when I ran away from BlogHer14?
(Click HERE to read my sad tale.)

My tugboat man and I headed west to take the 101 back home to SoCal.

We stopped in Carmel for a lovely night to celebrate hub’s birthday, and thought we’d camp for a few nights as we travelled south.

It was obvious that everyone else had the same idea. No open campsites and no hotels meant we drove all the way home, sad and dejected, at 2:00 a.m.

Even though we didn’t camp anywhere and there was heavy fog, every so often the sun would peek through and I was able to snap some amazing pics.

Ultimate optimists, we’re giving it another try.

We figure that everyone is back to school and we should have a road less travelled. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Until we return with more pics, here’s some of my faves.

See you soon!

California Condors with attached radio collars. Too bad I couldn’t get closer pics but we could see the collars with tugboat man’s superior binoculars.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Boats hidden on a hillside only seen if you hike down a secret trail (and I’ll never tell)…

bigsurboats bigsurboats2

Weird things hanging off a tree.bigsurcrazytreeFog…
bigsur12
bigsur8 bigsur4 And once in a while, the fog cleared…bigsurtripbigsurfog10bigsurfog9bigsurfog8bigsurfog7bigsurfog2bigsurfog4bigsurflower bigsufog4

Angel’s Landing @ Zion National Park: Photos

A few of my favorite pics from our road trip last week:

Pretty pink flowers growing out of the mountain wall at Angel’s Landing

zionflower

Beautiful bright red bird!

zionredbird

Looking down from the top of Angel’s Landing. Don’t climb this if you have vertigo!!

angellandingSurrounded by beauty.

angellanding2

The view from the top while we ate a snack of nuts and apples.

angellanding3#ZionNationalPark #AngelsLanding #photography #travel #nature #hiking #camping #Utah

 

Wandering to Zion, Part Three

Our road trip adventure continues…only two more installments and then I’ll be back to writing sparkly + snarky commentary.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Confession: I’m a great co-pilot traveling companion. You would LOVE to have me in the passenger seat with you, I promise.

I keep the snacks flowing, conversation is stimulating, and I even throw a few dance moves in with jazz handskitty-jazz-hands at appropriate moments. Jazz hands are the BEST.

Kitty jazz hands are even better, don’t you agree?

We compiled a bunch of music for the road; stuff we both like; Frank, Ella, Nat King Cole, stuff I like; Adele and Christina Perri, and music hub enjoys; Coldplay, U2, Nine Inch Nail, Com Truise.

The next morning we hit the road to explore the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert. We walked pretty much throughout the whole park at every stop and trailhead. The sky wasn’t as blue as the day before so the colors weren’t as vibrant as they might have been.

Of course I compelled my tugboat man to accompany me to a gift shop for local wares, and we chose geodes, petrified wood, and a petrified sand dollar!aquageode hotpinkgeode petrifiedsanddollar petrifiedwood

It’s hard to believe this was all under the ocean a zillion years ago. Evidence of early human occupation (13,000 years ago) is readily visible with petroglyphs and potsherds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our plan was to journey on the Highway 40 — old Route 66 — to Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah, between Hanksville and Blanding. It’s rather remote and not close to other parks so is not so heavily visited. Unlike Arches National Park with over 2,000 classified arches, there are only three bridges here though the monument also contains Anasazi cliff dwellings, pictographs and white sandstone canyons.

But…when we got back on the road, my tugboat man noticed that one of the dashboard gauges indicated that we were losing power.

Things didn’t look good.

We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Although he packed a lot of tools, the one thing we needed most, something called a volt meter, was still at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

Lucky for us (unlucky for lots of other cars that must break down on that road) we saw a hand painted sign for Mike’s Auto Repair and took the next exit.

Mike was like a lot of people we came in contact with in Arizona — sorta friendly, sorta not — and all business. He had a volt meter, and he and hub figured that our problem was either a bad battery or a bad alternator — or both.

We gave Mike a “donation” for the use of his diagnostic tool which ensured that our tires remained unslashed, and drove forty miles back to Holbrook, where there was an O’Reilly Auto Parts Store, just like there was in Payson where we had a less urgent car repair issue.

I was nervous the whole way — being stranded didn’t sound like it was any sort of adventure that I wanted to experience.

In Holbrook, we bought a battery which hub installed in a few minutes.

Everyone at O’Reilly (and hub)  thought that would/should solve the problem…and brushed aside my BRILLIANT and soon-to-be prophetic suggestion that we also purchase an alternator “just in case”.

We’ve gone on a lot of road trips and we’ve never had any problems, and so far this was our second mechanical failure in three days. For someone who has absolutely NO idea about what makes cars tick, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on parts that MIGHT break, right?

Can you guess where this is going?

We hadn’t gone more than one mile when the battery gauge indicated a problem in the electrical system  —  again.

Obviously not the battery this time, but hub said that somehow the battery wasn’t charging.

Yup.

The alternator or the voltage regulator was probably at fault. Apparently, everything decided to fail at the same time. We immediately turned around back to O’Reilly and lucked out that they even had the right part in stock or we might still be there.

carholbrook1

There’s a Dollar General on pretty much every corner throughout Arizona and I picked my way between broken glass and plastic bags across a trash strewn empty lot for a little retail therapy while hub was doing his best MacGyver impression. I went up and down every aisle but came away empty-handed; nothing caught my discerning eye. Oh well. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.carholbrook

Once again we settled in for a long ride. Because we had lost most of the day, we decided to change direction, skip National Bridges National Park and forge ahead to the Vermillion Cliffs at the The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah  – wandering ever closer to Zion.

Driving down Highway 40 — Old Route 66 — we both sang along with Nat to “Get Your Kicks on Route 66″ I mean, how can you NOT, right?

route661 route662 route663 route664

Along the way, on the side of the road, were a couple of Navajo women selling jewelry. I screeched, “Pull over!!” to hub, and jumped out of the car. The tables were packed with handmade jewelry — turquoise, hematite, juniper beads, and baskets. I asked before I snapped, and got a big smile for the camera.jewelryNavajo

A pretty good haul, don’t you agree? I got a basket too, but forgot to take a pic.navajojewelryArriving in Page too late to locate a campground, we had our worst night EVER at Motel Sucks Six in Page, Utah at fake Lake Powell. Apparently, this was a busy time for Page, as all the hotels were booked. The fact that Motel Six had any room available was NOT a good sign.

My travel tip to everyone is to avoid this Motel Six if at all possible. Especially Room 239. 

You’re welcome.

Next stop: Vermillion Cliffs!

 

 

Wandering to Zion…Part Two

Wandering to Zion, Day One: Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man
Part One and a Half…Wandering to Zion
***********************************************************************************************************

We were meandering; taking our sweet time getting to our ultimate destination of Zion National Park.  Zion was so crowded that we figured it was the perfect excuse to explore lesser known parks.

That’s how we roll, me and my tugboat man. This was the most relaxed road trip we’ve embarked upon; no stress or pressure — no deadline.

Moving on, literally…we left Payson, Arizona and drove to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. We hiked to the largest travertine bridge in the world — 183 feet high with a tunnel width of 150 feet and length of 400 feet.

There was a bit of scary, slippery rock scrambling with a moderately steep drop; not one of my favorite things to do, but the view was worth it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our next stop was the nearly 700 year-old Salado cave dwellings at Tonto National Monument. To get to them, there’s a steep but paved one-mile round-trip trail that ascends 350 feet to the Lower Cave Dwelling.

Built in the early 14th century, this village was part of a vast multi-cultural network that extended from the Four Corners region to Northern Mexico. While remnants of thousands of similar villages dot the Southwest, this well-preserved building represents one of the last Salido cliff dwellings. Local springs provided water for Paleo-Indians who lived here over 10,500 years ago.

There was so much to see and be amazed by –

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

t am so in LOVE with Saguaro cactus — those arms that dot the landscape all over Arizona. We don’t have that variety of cactus in SoCal. I got a package of seeds and hope they sprout.

Saguaro cactus

Along the road, whenever we saw something that looked cool, we’d stop and follow a trail or hike to a monument or a site.

OldHouseAZ

It began to get late and we couldn’t find a campground again so we stayed at a Howard Johnson in Holbrook, Arizona. There was a quaint little Italian restaurant in walking distance with great pizza and decent chianti.

I’m not overly fond of hotels — I always make hub check for bugs and bring my own sanitizer — but it’s nice to take a shower and wash off the dust at the end of a long day. I don’t care if it’s a a five-star hotel, either. Have you seen those TV shows that expose the dirt and germs? So much ick, right?

Side note: Only in California do all public restrooms provide seat protectors. There needs to be a Federal law that make seat protectors mandatory. I HATE going all old school with toilet paper lining the seat — but I NEED that barrier between me and the rest of the world

Next time, Part Three of Wandering to Zion with Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering to Zion, Day One: Princess Rosebud and Her Tugboat Man

Day One… Sunday, April 13

Sort of a late departure at 9:30 a.m. ‘cos we still had some packing to do and my tugboat man wanted French toast for breakfast. Since he does 100% of the driving, he deserved a bit of pampering, right?

Vehicle mileage 176,080

We stopped at Vons to get water and ice before heading East on the 78 to North 15.

There was a squeaky sound near a belt or bearing or something that was annoying hub; I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was saying — blah blah blah, and we stopped to buy a small can of WD-40 at Lowe’s in Escondido and got back on the road.

11:35 a.m. On Highway 10, OMG, just saw a solo rollover crash on the south side of the freeway; we didn’t stop because so many other good samaritans had already pulled over to render aid  — hope it won’t a driver distracted by texting.

12:30 p.m. Ate lunch at a rest stop just outside Coachella where the music festival is happening this weekend.  35-40 mph winds, crazy windy!

7:00 p.m. Because it’s Easter week and everything’s so crowded, we changed our itinerary a bit and drove all the way to Payson, Arizona where we’re spending the night at a Comfort Inn.

Tomorrow we plan to leave early to hike to 13th century Native American pueblos, and then drive to the Petrified Forest National Park  — after than, we’re on to something hub found called The Grand Staircase or “escarpments” — after that the Grand Canyon, ending up at Zion later in the week.

Or something like that.

We’re pretty flexible. If we see something interesting, we’ll stop and camp and hike even if it’s not on our official itinerary.

The scenery here in and around Payson, Arizona is amazing. It’s in the middle of Navajo country.

We drove through Maricopa County, home to the eccentric and notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but we didn’t see any of his pink-clad chain prisoners, I’m glad to say.

We walked over to Denny’s Restaurant for dinner. I had a veggie burger and hub had grilled salmon with wild rice and broccoli. Everything was surprisingly delicious — or maybe we were just starved.

Good night!

Click on each pic to see a larger version.

 

Wandering To Zion

FINALLY, my tugboat man recovered from his bout with the flu and we’re packed and ready to leave early Sunday morning on a road trip to Zion National Park

It’s a place we’ve always wanted to visit — hopefully we’ll get to more than one park –have you seen all the TV commercials about Utah’s Mighty Five?

Utah’s five national parks have it all. See unique soaring spires, towering pinnacles, sandstone canyons, and intricately eroded arches of sculptured stone.

I’d love to camp and hike at Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park, too, and we’ll be try to include at least a couple days at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

We might stay at a hotel or a lodge for a night, especially since the weather calls for night temps in the 30s and the possibility of rain.

It’s been a while since we’ve gone off the grid for a while; I’m really looking forward to beautiful country and some long, rigorous hikes.

Wearing my Chanel sunglasses to pop a squat in the desert; always fashion forward no matter where I go, that’s the way I roll.

Yay for adventures!

panoZION

 

 

 

 

 

*Secret Location* Hike with Princess Rosebud and Her Tugboat Man

Now that my masterful mariner is totes recovered from the flu and the weather is AMAZING, it was time to drag him away from watching surf videos in his man cave and hit the dusty trails.

I can’t tell you where this spot is.

I wish I could but I can’t.

BUT  I promise if you come to my neck of the woods, I’ll blindfold you and take you there and you will LOVE it as much as we do. I promise.

In one direction, there’s a spectacular view of the ocean and off to the east you can see snow high atop the peaks of Mt. San Jacinto near Palm Springs. We could see snow today, but it was a bit hazy and the pic didn’t come out very good.

It used to be a place that only locals knew about; really primitive, but over the years the trails have expanded and are now managed and maintained and protected as open space by the city of Carlsbad, which is one of the FEW good things they’ve ever done (now you know what I think of the politics in my little town).

This secret spot is about five minutes by car from our house; sometimes we ride bicycles there but now we only have one bicycle ‘cos my son took tugboat man’s to a seminar at UC Irvine and it got stolen and we haven’t yet replaced it.

I snapped lots of pics. Click on them for a bigger and better view.

If you think you know where we are, let me know!