Friday, February 25, 2011

Family Reunion in the Desert!

Wow, what a day! Exhausted (in a good way) as I type this.  My cousin and his wife from Pennsylvania, my other cousin and wife from Wisconsin, my aunt from Chicago, my mom, wife and I are all out at our place in 29 Palms having a blast!  Really great to see everyone, and just wish we could do it more often. I'm officially proposing we make this an annual event!  My sister and brother-in-law will be joining us tomorrow... can't wait for them to arrive.

Started the day hiking the Hidden Valley nature trail in Joshua Tree.  Really nice, easy hike (1 mile loop) and very scenic! I give it two enthusiatic thumbs up if you are looking for a short hike. Great rock formations all along the hike.

Signage at start of the hike.

The Gang!

Lots of great rock formations.

Quality time!

My cousin doing a little rock climbing!

My cousins wife, Beth, high up on a rocky ledge!

A professional climber seen along the hike today.

Kind of reminds me of a Hershey's Kiss!
  Afternoon activity:  49 Palms Oasis

After heading home from the Hidden Valley hike for lunch, four of us headed out to tackle the 49 Palms Oasis hike.  This is a 3 mile out and back hike with an elevation gain of 360 feet (felt like more to me!).  Basically, the first half of the hike is up, the second half (to the oasis) is down.  Not a lot of flat terrain!  However, I really enjoyed this hike.  Try it towards the end of the day so you can complete it by sunset for very pretty views to the north.

A big storm was moving in, so lucked out with some very pretty cloud formations! Hoping for another post tomorrow, weather permitting.  Not sure what to expect... rain?  Possibly even snow???

Signage at start of hike

The intrepid hiking team - AKA the Motly Crew!

Second half of hike - going down to the oasis.

Lots of beautiful red barrel cactus along the way!

The oasis - sureal in the desert!

A birds nest near the oasis.

The views toward 29 Palms are stunning!

Sunset - making it back just in time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Night Skies in the Desert

We're back out in 29 Palms this weekend.  Last week, I bought a tripod, and anxious to try taking some night pictures.  Never done this with a digital camera, so not sure what to expect.

Usually, the skies out here are beautifully lit up by stars.  So I quickly unpacked the tripod after we got out here last night around 10:30 PM, and attached my Cannon Rebel T1i.  I put the setting on "manual", zoomed the lens to as wide as it would go, and started fiddling around with the exposure. 

Click... Oops, first picture didn't work because I had the auto-focus on, and the camera couldn't figure out what to focus on (too dark).  OK, change to manual focus and try again.  Click (long click... most of these exposures were in the neighborhood of 25 seconds!).  Viola!  Night sky!

North View:  Highway 62 and Copper Mountain

South View:  Joshua Tree National Park

West:  Moon View!

Good Morning!  Just before sunrise looking NorthEast

Forgot to mention, my sister-in-law from Kona joined us this weekend.  She's here in CA visiting.  Below are a couple photos she took... first is a 'wild' chicken (which has actually become pretty tame) she has named "Henrietta", and her chicks!

Proud Mama!

Next is the totally awesome view from her deck!
Wow!!! View from my sister-in-laws deck in Kona