Celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary Lone Pine Style

Despite the 3 hour trek, family and friends graced us with their presence at the celebration of our 50th Wedding Annivsary at Boulder Creek RV Resort in Lone Pine.  Before the big party, we all gathered at the Lone Pine Movie Museum and caravaned through the Alabama Hills (pictured in this blog separately).  The night of the party, we ate, danced, embibed and had a wonderful time.  Sandy and the Country High band from Independance entertained as well as some talented family members.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith our children: Holiday & Jenner OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith our grandkids: TajBeau, Joseph, Sierra, Hailey & Kirra

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Alan with Sheri & Kathy alan.sierraA hug for Sierra OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASandy and the Country High Band entertain… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo the delight of the children band1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA band3 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA CAdanceGrass isn’t the best dance floor, but that didn’t stop anyone. cake.eatA re-enaction of the June 1964 wedding! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACassidy & Kennedy Garrett cassidy.kennedy2

The caterers did a great job: tri tip, ranch beans, cheese enchiladas, salad, etc.

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claudia.alan  coco.kids OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                   Connie & Chris -

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                 Connie, Chris and Kimball crowd OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cindy and Cassidy OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore dancing…. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    The Heller family joins the band for a round of “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.group.song  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJenner & Erin, TajBeau and Kirra  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jenner delivers a toast to the anniversary couple

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(below) In honor of our mother, Kimball and Kirby sing a round of Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.  No offence – it was mom’s favorite! kim.kirb.skunk OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKirby & Cindy kirb.ken.sing Kennedy and Kirby entertain.  Kennedy is about to start college at San Luis Obispo.  It’s no surprise that she has musical talents!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKirra OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA mcveysThe McVey family  molina.deroseKathy Molina and Pat DeRose OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jim Newton (my Hollywood High buddy, now residing in Lone Pine) O Linda Smith and Jim Newton. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANita Norgard, Chuck Tipple and Yolanda Bowers  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARobby and Joseph OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Robby, Kirby and Cindy OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATajBeau and Robby sheri.alan.kathy Sheri, Alan & Kathy OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Sisters: Sierra and Hailey OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA table.set OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABackground: sisters Carie and Zoe Osburn OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA table4 table6 table7 table8   yo.chuck zoe.carrie.sing

Carie and Zoe entertain with Kirra (foreground) on the bongos.

IT WAS A FUN NIGHT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.  THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING OUT AND HELPING US CELEBRATE THE ADVENTURE WHICH STARTED AT HOLLYWOOD HIGH SCHOOL ALL THOSE YEARS AGO!

 

June Lake’s Silverlake – and where you can get from there!

California’s drought is obvious on the June Lake Loop.  Grant Lake is a series of ponds where a vast lake once graced the land.  Silverlake, however, has not yet dwindled much and waterfalls are trickling down.  When we arrived the campground was almost full, with about one spot left – the exact spot we wanted.  It is a double site with plenty of room for our group, and only feet from the lake.

camp camp1  deer heather.obsidianA short drive takes you to Mono Lake arrea Obsidian Mountain.  Heather checks out a chuck of the glassy volcanic rock.   monoMono Lake (in the distance) is suffering, but is protected by a Supreme Court ruling.  Los Angeles must c ut back on stealing water from the tribuutaries if the lake level falls below a specified measurement.  If the level is too low, a landbridge appears, making it easy for preditors to cross onto an island where gulls nest.

This plaque and educational signs in the area tell of the logging that once dominated this area to the south of Mono Lake.

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There are so many sights to enjoy between Silverlake and Mono Lake, that it is difficult to stay put.

 

ANOTHER VISIT TO THE ALABAMA HILLS, JUNE 14, 2014

 

Celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, we invited our friends and family to party with us in Lone Pine.  Early Saturday we all gathered at the Lone Pine Movie Museum and proceeded on a trek through the Alabama Hills.movie.museum On  one stop everyone exited their cars and climbed the rocks – enjoying the lovely day and magnificent views! alabamahills2 Below Alan lectures on the history of the area. alan.lecture

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We descended the trail for a hike to an arch.

arch.jen archFound it!  Alan offers a dollar to the first person who spies the next arch on the trip.

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Taj & Kirra throw a line into Whitney Portals pond.

Everyone loved the Alabama Hills and we were thrilled to share the experience with friends who had never visited the area!  After a day of adventure, we all rested up for the evening where we hosted a bbq dinner at Boulder Creek RV Park with entertainment by Sandy and the Country High.  It was a fun night of food, music, dancing  with family and friends to celebrate our 50 yearr marriage.

 

EASTERN SIERRAS – ALABAMA HILLS TO JUNE LAKE. WHERE’S THE WATER?

AH1WE WERE TOLD BIG HORN SHEEP HAD BEEN SPOTTED IN THIS PART OF THE ALABAMA HILLS, SOUTH OF THE PORTALS ROAD.  UNFORTUNATELY WE DIDN’T SEE BIGHORNS BUT THE VIEW AND FLOWERS WERE SPECTACULAR! AH2 AH3 AH4 AH6 AH7 AH8.LUPEN

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WE DROVE “MOVIE ROAD” AND MARVLED AT THE ROCK FORMATIONS.  A WORTHY OPPONENT OF THE ROCKS IN JOSHUA TREE.  AND WE SPOTTED SEVERAL ARCHES!

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Why is this area named “Alabama Hills”?  After the warship The Alabama. AH10 AH11 AH13 AH14

I like this photo because it is ominous.  That cow skull was probably left to be scorched by the sun.  Note the Sierras in the background.  Here it was, springtime (May) and the snowpack was practically nil.  What will this area be like mid summer or Fall?  The lack of water, as you will see shortly, is of great concern!

A trek up to Whitney Portals proves the point.  The pond was shallow.  We did get a few trout.

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And across the pond is the camp store which makes the best burgers and fries!

Trout burritofish.burritoTrout benedict fish.benedictTrout, bagel ‘n eggs IMG_7776

How sad!  Lake Sabrina, about thirty miles out of Bishop.  It is no longer a lake but a string of ponds.  Good fishing!  The poor fish are captured into little lakes so easier to catch.  Here the boats line up on shore.sabrina.boats sabrina.

BELOW ARE PETROGLYPHS AT FISH SLOUGH.

Fish Slough Petroglyph Panel, Bishop, California

Fish Slough Petroglyph panel and the Bishop Petroglyph driving loop are located just north of the town of Bishop, California in the northern end of the Owens valley.

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The petroglyphs are thought to be between about 1000 and 8,800 years old, and possibly made by the ancestors of the native Paiute-Shoshone people who still inhabit the valley. The style of the petroglyphs is classified as Great Basin Curvilinear

PETRO2 PETRO3 PETRO4JUNE LAKE LOOP!  We camped at Silverlake in the primitive campground – well, not so primitive – it had showers!  But it is right on the lake.  Across the road is the RV park but we decided we didn’t need hookups.  Our waterfall view was awesome.

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Below is Grant Lake.  A party fishing where this river emptied into the lake were catching lots of fish.  The lake level is so low, you could drive across it in places. grantlake1

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MR TIKI HAD A GREAT TIME!

MANY SURPRISES IN AND NEAR TWENTYNINE PALMS!

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Relax by a lagoon, or on the porch of your adobe cottage.  Take a short walk to an art gallery, history museum, brand new casino or National Park Nature Center.  Venture into scenic Joshua Tree to enjoy the Spring wildflowers.  Dine poolside to live music.  Now the shocker:  all this only 1.5 hours away in Twentynine Palms!

Where to stay?

THE 29 PALMS INN

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On 70 acres of lush land, this Inn is located at the Oasis of Mara, a life-giving source of water first settled by the Chemehuevis.  It continues to sustain wildlife and migratory birds.  Enjoying the Oasis we spotted an American Bittern, Kingfisher, several turtles, and a half dozen Western Tanagers.  There is even a rentable houseboat on the pond.

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The rooms feature adobe bungalows and wood framed cabins.  Nothing here is cookie cutter.  The restaurant is excellent and features inside or poolside dining, live music and from experience I can say a great ribeye.

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When we arrived there was a two-man play in progress on the lawn – it was Lee Stetson as John Muir, in a conversation with Teddy Roosevelt re-creating what the conversation may have been when they camped together and discussed how to best preserve Yosemite.

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ROUGHLY MANOR

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Nearby is a bed and breakfast of equal but very different charm.  Constructed of native stone and with Maplewood flooring throughout, this 1928 mansion is delightfully furnished and surrounded by grounds teeming with wildlife.  Enjoy the pool or sit on the tree-shaded patios to take in the desert air.  At night the sky is diamond studded.  The owners are charming and serve a delightful breakfast that is as much art as nourishment.  There are rooms, all with private baths, in the manor, and cottages on the grounds.

THE PLACES BELOW ARE WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF THE 29 PALMS INN:

Schoolhouse Museum:  Twentynine Palms Historical Society owns and operates the Old Schoolhouse Museum. Housed in the oldest public building in the area, it provides visitors a chance to experience a 1920s-era schoolroom, view artifacts and exhibits pertaining to the history of Twentynine Palms and surrounding desert.

29 Palms Creative Center and Art Gallery: Here is a wonderful nest egg of local talents all in one happy place for you to feast your eyes on & take away to your journeys end.  Also a nice gift shop with creative jewelery and other handicrafts.

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Tortoise Rock Casino:  This new casino and entertainment center is affiliated with the Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella.  Make your donation to the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians.

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Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center:  Enjoy a nature hike around the grounds.  You are sure to see a phainopepla!  A ranger is on hand to answer questions.  Peruse the museum.  The gift shop features guides to trails, animals and flowers within the park.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK 

The park entrance is only a few miles from the Inn and the Manor.  Within this spectacular park there are myriad choices:  Whether you visit for a day, a few hours or a week, you will not see all of the wonders of this park.  You can drive through the park and head home, or spend the day and return to 29 Palms for the night.

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HEADING HOME ON HWY 62

If you opt to drive home on Highway 62, be sure to drive through 29 Palms to see all the beautiful historic murals which grace many of the buildings.  They are like a picture book of local history.  29 Palms is now known as the mural capital of California!

On Highway 62 you will travel through Yucca Valley where antique stores are the best!  (If you dare hop off the main road for 4 miles you can visit Pioneer Town!).

After Yucca Valley you will come to Morongo Valley.  Here is Willie Boys Saloon & Dance Hall which offers genuine smoked barbeque in a beautiful authentic wild west saloon atmosphere.  Stop there at night for a wild time, or for lunch where you can enjoy great barbeque.

Hanging out at Willie Boys

Soon after Willie Boys you will see Covington Park and Nature Center.  Here there is a nice boardwalk through the Oasis.  Be on the lookout for you may see a most beautiful bird called the Vermillion Flycatcher:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT YOUR USUAL DEATH VALLEY VISIT!

eApril 2014

Escaping the city a bit early, we spent our first night at Calico.  Ok, its touristo, but does give you a glimpse of life in a mining town at the turn of the Century, and its only a few hours from LA.

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In the event of a fire:  GRAB A BUCKET calico4.buckets calico2 calico1  After a night at the Lakeside RV Resort and Casino (formerly Terrible Herbst) it was on to Death Valley Junction, Shoshone and Ash Meadows. The Junction is probably best known for the Amargosa Opera House where dancer Marta Becket entertained as a one woman show for over 40 years.  In order to not perform to an empty house she painted the walls with paintings of spectators of a bizarre sort.  Her artwork is as famous as her dancing.  Today she is in a wheel chair and suffers from dementia, but is still living at the Amargosa Hotel.

dvj1I would not recommend the hotel or the nearby cafe.  They are struggling and it shows! dvj2 dvj3.HarderAbove Alan poses with Emmett C. Harder, author of “These Canyons are Full of Ghosts: The Last of the Death Valley Prospectors.”  Harder is a writer, lecturer, historian and researcher and taught at Cal State university San Bernardino. He calls himself “an adventurer at heart.”

This trip was to attend the “Rondy” of the Desert Explorers, a club that is affiliated with the Mojave River Valley Museum in Barstow.  It is a 4 Wheel Drive club dedicated to exploring desert ghost towns, mining sites, caves, petrogliphs, etc. We camped at the Longstreet Casino, Hotel & RV park and below was the Rondy Potluck dinner and the Saturday night banquet where the speaker gave us the history of Henry Longstreet and his evil ways.

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Our Saturday trek involved about 15 cars in the caravan.  Our first stop was Beatty for a gas up and then a visit to a Nye County Nevada ghost town called Rhyolite.  The town began in 1905, attracting gold seekers from near and far.  However, it died as fast as it began and by 1911 was all but abandoned.  Today it is a popular movie filming site and tourist attraction. The old depot, casino and bar is pictured below.  Our first visit there many years ago Alan bellied up to the bar and said “Give me a red eye.”  Today the building is boarded up.

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The bank building below is probably one of the most photographed buildings in the desert. Rhy2.bank rhy3.rr Most of our group had visited Rhyolite numberous times, but many of us walked through the local cemetery for the first time. rhy4.cemeOkay, we’ve had our fun and now it is time to get serious.  Damn!  We trekked on a 4wd road that was pretty rough and scary and amazingly we all made it to Chloride Canyon without a mishap.

Below our group explores pegtroglyphs, Indian sleeping circles, alcoves, caves and remnants of the area’s days of mining.

chloride1 chloride2 chloride3.montaro chloride4 chloride5 chloride6Ah, break time.  While managing some civilized moments we set up chairs and table complete with covering, and pulled out our ice chests and sandwiches. chloride7  chloride9.cabin chloride10.mine

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And below the softer side of the desert:  wildflowers. chloride12.flowersHeaded back to camp, we found the road out was better than the road in. chloride13.driving

We took off on our own Sunday to visit the beautiful Ash Meadows and visit the endangered desert pupfish.

pupfish1.ashAsh Meadows is a National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for rare native wildlife,  Below is the Peterson Reservoir. pupfish2.reservoirTreking on the boardwalk to the Longstreet spring and cabin we passed this rock which resembles a sculpture. pupfish3.cabinrockLongstreet (“and his squaw”) resided in this cabin.  Nearby is a lovely spring-fed pool which now is home to many species of desert fish including the pupfish. pupfish4.cabin pupfish5.pondatcabin pupfish6.signAnd now the highlight of our trip.  In the 1970s Alan was one of the first to photograph the desert pupbish in its natural habitat.  He dove with a team of park rangers who were doing a “count.”  Back then his underwater camera was very unsophisticated compared to today’s technology and he took his underwater shots with FLASH BULBS!. The pool is bottomless, crystal clear and constant 92 degrees.  SURPRISE. When we reached the area we were shocked to find a team of rangers ready to make a dive. pupfish7.site pupfish8.diver

A TRIP BACK TO THE 70′S WHEN ALAN PHOTOGRAPHED THE DESERT PUPFISH.  THE COUNT HOVERED AROUND 400 FISH.  TODAY IT IS 30.

alan1Above is Alan’s photo of a pupfish – one of the first ever taken of the fish in its natural habitat.  Below he enters a pool at Saratoga Springs.  The little girl holding her dolly is Holiday.alan2

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Death Valley is a world of adventure, but much of it lies outside the mainstream valley. It was fun to visit Devil’s Hole 40 years after Alan dove there.  Once again we will join the movement;  SAVE THE PUPFISH!

Between Baker and Barstow is an area we had been wanting to explore.  Exiting I15 at Afton Canyon we bounced over a road that was a bit too rough for our trailer.  However, we made it to the campground and enjoyed a lovely site with a view of the canyon, a ramada, and surrounded by dozens of empty campsites.  A train trestle is nearby and an occasional train rumbled through.  This area is for 4WD exploration, which we will do next time we visit this little-known area.

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ARIZONA: CAVES, CACTUS, CUISINE, CASINOS, ADVENTURE!

HEADED FOR ARIZONA, OUR FIRST NIGHT WAS AT HOLE-IN-THE-WALL.  UNFORTUNATELY MITCHELL CAVERNS IS STILL CLOSED (it is a State Park) BUT HOLE-IN-THE-WALL IS A LOVELY CAMPGROUND AND IS PART OF THE EAST MOJAVE PRESERVE, RUN BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. 

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FROM HOLE-IN-THE-WALL TO THE AVI HOTEL IN LAUGHLIN WE GOT OUR CASINO FIX AND THEN HEADED TO THE ANNUAL CRAZY SWAP MEET IN QUARTZSITE.  WE DRY CAMPED WITH THE MOE (Mojave Outback Explorers).

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On Saturday we set up an author’s sign/sell table at the Oasis Book Store.  There we met some fellow authors with whom we had become friends at this same event over the past few years:

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(ABOVE L-R) Elaine Held, Claudia, Bill Held, Dianne Wilson.

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me.paulAbove is Paul Winer – owner of Oasis Book Store.  He is an integral part of the town of Quartzsite, a professional artist who plays and sings boogie woogie, and brings culture to the town through his bookstore.  Most people are repeat customers and therefore not shocked at how he is dressed (or how he is undressed), allthough the man standing  behind us seems to be pretty shocked.  Anyway, thanks go to Paul for inviting authors to sign and sell their books at his store.

Short on sales, but long on fun!  The Quartzsite Big Event attracts snow birds from all over the U.S. particularly this year where the north, east, south, midwest are plagued with ice storms while we bask in the desert sun.

From Quartzsite we back-tracked through Blythe to find an old mine called Tumco, not too far from Yuma.  A short hike and remnants of this once booming gold mining town tell a story.

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Above is an Organ Pipe Cactus for which the park is named:  Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, established to celebrate the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert.  It is a wilderness of plants, animals and dramatic mountain scenery.  The campground is lovely.  Only a few miles from the Mexican Border at Lukeville, the presence of Border Patrol is overwhelming.

AZ26.op.phainopeplaWe had plenty of time to focus our binoculars on a number of biirds.  Above is a phainopepla

AZ18.op.thrasher(Curve-billed Thrasher)

AZ19.op.wrenCactus wren

AZ21.op.wpflyingGila woodpecker

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Because we had a large fire dish, we could have the only kind of campfire allowed:in the park (above ground).  Soon fellow campers wandered over with their chairs and we made new friends and had a lovely evening.  Two of the couples were from Reno and Port Angeles.

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We applied for and received a permit to drive beyond the loop road to hike up to Dripping Springs.  Although we never found “the springs” there were strange cactus and lovely desert scenes along the way (above, for example). Occasionally a border patrol jeep would kick up dust on the road.

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South of Tucson we hooked up at D’Anza RV Park in Amado AZ and from there took off  for adventures. At night the park featured dinner and dancing to a Country Western Band and we practiced our two-step

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BELOW IS THE FRED LAWRENCE OBSERVATORY

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The Fred Lawerence Whipple Observatory is located 15 miles south of Tucson on Mt. Hopkins, but you can only visit on certain days on guided tours.  We were, however, welcomed at the Visitor Center.  The telescope at the Visitor Center doesn’t look like a telescope to me!

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We ate at the Cow Palace where I had a wonderful rack of lamb. The restaurant below is an oddity, Unfortunately it was closed,

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WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP???? THAT IS THE QUESTION MY HUSBAND ALWAYS ASKS.  BELOW ARE SOME PHOTOS FROM MADERA CANYON, MY FAVORITE

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There is a birding area here sponsored by the Santa Rita Lodge.  The lodge is delightful, there is a campground nearby, and a Bed & Breakfast just up the street.  People come from all over to birdwatch.  One fun sighting was a flock of turkeys.

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AZ34.madera.goldfinshes(flashes of gold:  lesser goldfinches.

AZ39.madera.bluebird Western Bluebird

AZ35.madera.tanager (OMG!  An hepatic tanager)

AZ37.madera.nuthatchWhite-breasted nuthatch

AZ36.madera.woodpeckerAcorn woodpecker

TUMACACORI

THE STORY OF THIS MISSION (Near Tubac)  IS JUST A PART OF THE MOVEMENTS FORCED ON THE NATIVE AMERICANS IN ORDER TO SHOW THEM A “PROPER WAY OF LIFE”   The Tumacacori Mission was sustained for over 150 years by members of two religious orders:  the blackrobed Jesuits and later the grey-robed Franciscan Friars.  They were often the only ones in a climate of exploitation, to have the Indian’s interests at heart.

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Nearby the Mission is a favorite stop for locals (below).  Here I found edible lavendar which I bought for the members of the Duarte Reading Circle since our book this month was “Garden Spells” which had edible flowers as part of the plot.

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FOR A CHANGE OF PACE WE VISITED TOMBSTONE, ALAN HUNG OUT WITH THE COWBOYS WHILE I STROLLED THROUGH THE DUSTY MAIN STREET.  WE ENDED UP AT BIG NOSE KATE’S BAR FOR A RED EYE.

AZ51.tomb.courthouseThe Tombstone Courthouse

AZ54.tomb.okThe O.K Corral

AZ56.tomb.guysThe Boys

AZ57.tomb.alanAlan fits right in!

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HEADED OUT TO LAKE PATAGONIA, ALAN CAPTURED THIS SCENE:

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BUT THE SMALLER BURSTS OF BEAUTY IN THE AREA ALSO CAPTURED HIS EYE:

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WE WERE SO IMPRESSED WITH THE CAMPGROUND AT PATAGONIA LAKE THAT AFTER VISITING KARTCHNER CAVERNS, WE HEADED BACK THERE AND STAYED A NIGHT.  WE WERE REWARDED BY A MAGNICENT SITING, ONE THAT THE RANGER CALLS THE PARK’S “money bird.”

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THE ELEGANT TROGON

The elegant trogon (or copper-tailed trogon) is known to lurk around the trail.  After walking only a few minutes a fellow birder ran over to meet us, warning that the trogon was in sight.  Its brilliant emerald feathers were aglow, but it would not pose so that the front was in view.    Still it was exciting to witness.

Other birds awaited: (Below: Great Blue Heron

pata1.heron pata2.bridge pata4.cardinal(above: Northern Cardinal

HEY, WHAT FOOL STOPS AT A PLACE LIKE THIS??

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KARTCHNER CAVERNS

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The caverns are magnificent but you cannot take photos inside.  We loved the tour – it   is one of the more beautful caves in the West.  The campground is excellent, all campsites with plenty of room, hook ups, views.  There are even showers and lovely scenery.  In the Discovery Center there is a mock cave where you can practice your spelunking skills.  Alan is finding it a pretty tight squeeze (above).

Kart1.sign Kart2.sotol The sotol cactus (above) is a magnificently sculptural plant for the desert garden. Sotol has striking straplike blue-green leaves that make it look a bit like yucca or agave.

Kart3.snow(Hey, we thought it was cold during the night – so weren’t surprised to wake up to a dusting of snow behind the campground.)kart4.trail.Braving the snowy climate, we drove up to the CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT which the Chiricahua Apache called “LAND OF STANDING UP ROCKS.”  This area is called a sky island – an isolated mountain range rising above the surrounding grassland sea.

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(Below:  Mexican Jay

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OK, WE’VE SEEN WHAT WE CAME TO SEE, AND IT IS TIME TO HEAD ON HOME.  BUT WAIT….WE ARE RETIRED.  WE DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME.  SO, LET’S SPEND A FEW DAYS IN ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PARKS:  ANZA BORREGO!!!  THERE WAS SO MUCH TO DO:  ATTEND THE GALA GRAND OPENING OF THE BORREGO SPRINGS ART CENTER, PERUSE THE FARMER’S MARKET, DINNER AT CARLEE’S AND AT THE RED OCOTILLO, A DRIVE UP TO JULIAN, AND, OF COURSE, VISIT THE AWESOME SCULPTURES OF RICARDO BRECEDA.  ALAN COULD NOT TAKE ENOUGH PICTURES!

AB2.monster AB4.monstertail AB5.scorpion   AZ3.hole.cactus        AND HERE IN BORREGO SPRINGS WE MET SOME NEW FRIENDS WHO WERE CAMPING AROUND THE WEST ESCAPING THE BITTER COLD OF THEIR HOME (and their own RV Park) in Bella Coola, Canada:  Susan and Karl Osmers.

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A few errant photos below and then signing off til next time.

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THE WONDERS OF THE DESERT: DEATH VALLEY, TECOPA, JOSHUA TREE, SALTON SEA

DSC_0124SThe serenity, sweeping vistas, vast blue skies and warm climate make Death Valley a favorite during the winter months.  Each year in November it is the scene of the Death Valley 49ers Encampment where people come from near and far to celebrate the goldmining days. DSC_0182S DSC_0234S

The festivities are centered at the Furnace Creek Ranch, but take a short drive and you will find yourself in the beauty of the desert geology.

DSC_0240S DSC_0260SWith the sweeping desert floor below we enjoyed gazing out from Dante’s View. Below our perch sits Badwater, the famed spot where you can stand at the lowest point below sea level in North America and look up at Telescope Peak, some 11,049 feet in altitude.

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Each year, thousands of RVers descend on Death Valley for the Encampment.  We opt to camp at Texas Spring on the hill.  It’s a short drive to the festivities and although there are no hook ups, we prefer the solitude.  Below, across the street from the Ranch, hundreds of RVers camp within inches of each other.

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(Above) parking lot type conditions.

DSC_0201S(Above) Texas Springs campground is rarely filled up.

Many activities continue throughout the weekend.  Crafts and artwork abound.DSC_0136S DSC_0127S

There is even a gold panning contest. DSC_0139S

Entertainment is unique featuring cowboy ballads, yodeling and fiddling.  Below Alan takes an opportunity to pose with singer Mary Kaye.  Can you believe she has 10 children?

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When the sun gets too much, a swim in the spring-fed pool at Furnace Creek Ranch is called for:DSC_0141S On Saturday morning, the highlight is the 49er parade.  This year, E Clampus Vitus was in the lead! DSC_0148S DSC_0152SLeaving Death Valley we headed to Tecopa Hot Springs and met this fella on the way:  a rather healthy looking coyote.

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COOLPOOLOnce in Tecopa we read a sign indicating that bathing suits are not allowed!  We drove to a nearby lake to do a little birding.DSC_0297S Near Tecopa we spent some time at China Ranch where we birded along the creek and bought date nut bread in the store.

DSC_0313S DSC_0324SLeaving Tecopa we headed for Joshua Tree, making a stop at the Kelso Station just in time to photograph 2 trains passing through, thankfully on different tracks!  We watched this station deteriorate for years and are so pleased to re-visit now that it has been renovated to its former glory.  It is now the headquarters for the East Mojave National Preserve

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Camping a night at Jumbo Rocks we were greeted by a magnificent sunset which cast a glow on the boulders around us..

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It was time to head home, but the picture-perfect weather and beauty of the desert would not let us go.  We spent our last night at the Salton Sea where dozens of white pelicans entertained us.

DSC_0393-2S DSC_0386-2S DSC_0402SOk, no more excuses…it’s time to head home and face real life.  But we feel empowered to handle the stress after almost a week in the desert.

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DUARTE SENIORS GET THEIR KICKS!

October 23-24, 2013

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MORE THAN 50 SENIORS BOARDED A BUS AND HEADED EAST ON ROUTE 66.   AFTER TRAVELING THROUGH THE CAJON PASS, THE FOG DISAPPEARED AND WE EMERGED INTO THE WARM DESERT UNDER BLUE SKIES.  OUR FIRST STOP: THE MOJAVE RIVER VALLEY MUSEUM IN BARSTOW

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TIME FOR LUNCH, WE HEADED FOR THE MOVIE-FAMOUS BAGDAD CAFE, GREETED BY OWNER ANDREE PRUETT.  WE WERE PRETTY COZY IN THAT ROOM BUT REVELED IN THE AMBIENCE OF THE OLD MOTHER ROAD

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SOMEONE SAID THE TRAILER BELOW WAS WHERE JACK PALANCE STAYED DURING THE FILMING.  COULDN’T VERIFY THAT RUMOR! BAGDAD3.AIRSTREAM

HARD TO SEE, BUT MOST EVERYONE WAS ABLE TO PICK OUT HUELL HOWSER’S HOUSE OUTSIDE NEWBERRY SPRINGS WHERE IT SITS LIKE A WHITEHEAD ON A BLACK CINDER CONE.  WE MADE A STOP IN AMBOY AT ROYS WHERE EVERYONE TOOK SHOTS OF PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED SIGNS ALONG THE ROAD.

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ROYS1 ROYS2                                           THE MIGHTY DUARTE SENIORS 

THE ROUTE 66 TOWN OF GOFFS IS NOW HOME TO THE MOJAVE DESERT HERITAGE AND CULTURAL ASSOCIATION. THE GOFFS POPULATION IS NOW ELEVEN.  THERE WAS MUCH TO SEE!  WE WERE GREETED BY HUGH BROWN WHO TALKED ABOUT THE AREA’S HISTORY.

GOFFS1 GOFFS2 GOFFS3The 1914 Goffs School House (above)  was almost a goner when Dennis Casebier and his group, then known as Friends of the Old Mojave Road, restored it to its former glory.  It now serves as the Goffs Museum.   GOFFS4.CANONThe seniors pose with an old cannon that was brought in to Goffs from a desert mine. GOFFS5.stamp.Above, Alan tells John West about the working two-stamp mill.

After a night’s stay at the Avi Hotel in Laughlin, we crossed the Colorado River and took the dusty road to the Route 66 town of Oatman. Once a thriving gold mining town, it is now a block of shops, eateries, wandering burros, and scheduled “shoot outs.”

OATMAN1WOW!  THE TOWN WOKE UP WHEN 52 DUARTE SENIORS STEPPED OFF THE BUS.  IT WAS SHOP-AND-SIGHTSEE GALORE. OATMAN2 OATMAN3 OATMAN4 OATMAN5 OATMAN6 OATMAN7 OATMAN8.BURROS OATMAN9.BURROS OATMAN10.SHOP OATMAN11 OATMAN12 OATMAN13

WELL, TIME TO HEAD HOME.  WE TOOK A RIDE THROUGH NEEDLES TO SEE THE EL GARCES DEPOT AND MADE IT TO LUDLOW FOR LUNCH AT THE CAFE.  HOMEWARD BOUND, OUR LAST STOP WAS THE VICTORVILLE ROUTE 66 MUSEUM.  THE VOLUNTEER STAFF THERE WAS KIND ENOUGH TO STAY AFTER HOURS TO ALLOW US TO VISIT.  IT WAS ONE FUN STOP!

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BACK ON THE BUS, WE RELUCTANTLY RETURNED TO DUARTE’S LITTLE STRETCH OF THE MOTHER ROAD AFTER A FUN, EDUCATIONAL DAY OF GETTING OUR KICKS.  WITH BAGS OF PURCHASED SOUVENIRS, GREAT PHOTOS AND A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRESENT STATE OF AMERICA’S HIGHWAY, WE BID FAREWELL TO EACH OTHER.

THANKS TO PEGGY AND KELLY FOR MAKING THE ARRANGEMENTS, AND TO FRED OUR BUS DRIVER FOR DELIVERING US SAFELY HOME, AND TO ALL THOSE VOLUNTEERS ALONG THE ROAD WHO WERE QUICK TO GIVE US A SMILE, A WELCOME AND SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF THE ROAD’S HISTORY.

IT WAS OUR PLEASURE TO BE THE TRIP LEADERS TO A BUS LOAD OF FUN LOVING SENIORS!   ALAN & CLAUDIA

 

LONE PINE FILM FESTIVAL – A TRIP INTO HISTORY

Remember those days when such movies as Gunga Din, Hop-Along-Cassidy and The Lone Ranger entertained us?  Hundreds of movies were filmed in the Alabama Hills, a jumble of rocks between the town of Lone Pine on Highway 395 and the saw-toothed peaks of Mt. Whitney.  Via bus and led by a town of Darwin resident named Jude, we toured the hills and learned alot!

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Comparing photos of the actual filming, we could locate the exact spots where filming of Gunga Din in 1939 by RKO Radio Pictures occurred.  The unique rock formations made the exercise easy!  Imagine the hundreds of people, the sets, the elephants, the caterers, the tents for the cast to live in –  gd2.smThe movie starred Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Fontaine and Sam Jaffe in the title role.  gd3.smAbove is where the temple stood.  We were able to find shards of sets and even elephant dung. gd4.sm gd5.smOur tour leader, Jude, explained the details with her australian accent – sometimes hard to understand!   gd6.sm

We took another tour called the North-South Tour – and visited many movie sites. Below is where William Boyd (Hop Along Cassidy) lived with his wife.  There is also a rumor he once had a home in Duarte, but we have not been able to verify the truth of that rumor.

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Another tour was called The Water Wars – Today we think of the modern war between the Owens Valley and the MWD over mitigation of the dust problems.  This tour took us back to the days the land was taken from the Native Americans!

ww1.smA spot little known to even Lone Pine residents:  The old train depot. ww2.sm ww3.sm

Our tour stopped for photos at magnificent view of the Sierras which received a dusting of snow the day before we arrived for the festival.  Foreground:  The Owens River.  Much of the foliage showed signs of being crushed by the large Elk herd which lives in the area. ww4.smportal.sm

We drove up the switchback road which appeared in the film The Long Trailer with Lucile Ball and Dezi Arnaz.  At the road’s end (above) Alan attempted to fish in the Portals Pond – only to find it was frozen!

We visited the almost ghost town of Keeler on the north shore of Owens “Lake.” (below). The steamship “Bessie Brady” once brought ore from Keeler across the lake to the town of Cartago.

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Looping back to Hwy 395 we found Dirty Sock Mineral Pool not far from Olancha.  We were horrified to recall that we used to take the kids into that pool to swim.  Yuch!

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Below is Palisades Glacier.  We were in search of fall colors and were not disappointed. The scene was breathtaking, but the fishing sucked.  palisades1

fall1.colors fall2.colors fall3.colorsBelow, Alan spotted an osprey and managed to get some good photos. fall4.osprey

After camping in Lone Pine at the Boulder Creek RV Resort and enjoying their hook ups, pool and jacuzzi, we spent a few days primitive camping at Taboose Creek with our friends Bill and Elaine Held, then came back south and (below) enjoyed a night at Diaz Lake.  The full moon shining across the water made for an awesome scene.

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