Friday, May 27, 2011

Skywatch Friday!

Geology Tour Road, Joshua Tree National Park

for more beautiful skies from around the world!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jackrabbit Homestead Cabin Driving Tour

Decided to take a little tour this last weekend.  I came across a website with a map recommending a driving tour to see Wonder Valley homestead cabins.  Here's the link (hope it works):

The site even has podcasts you can download and listen to as you're driving through the desert checking out all the little cabins.  The map kind of gives you the small / medium / large menu approach, with small being 62 (east) to Godwin (north) to Amboy (west) and back.  Not bad, but you never leave the pavement or really get into the open.  Still, good choice in 2WD and/or limited time.  It will wet your appetite!  Medium is 62 east to Chadwick north to Amboy west loop.  However, absolutely need 4WD for this.  Chadwick is dirt and hits soft, heavy sand at about the half-way point.  Large is 62 all the way out to Ironage Road, N to Amboy and back.

For my money, Amboy is the best place to check out cabins as far as paved roads.  Although 62 doesn't get much traffic east of 29 Palms, the speed limit is 65 so you shouldn't be poking along and doing u-turns all over the place.  

To really explore the homesteads, 4WD is necessary.  Bottom line, just go east of 29 Palms, find any dirt road, and go.  You really don't need a tour guide.  You will be amazed at what you find!  We've done this many times and never been disappointed!

We did a variation on the "large" tour, and went out Amboy all the way to Ironage, then south to 62. One cabin that caught my eye on Amboy was on the south side of the road.  I've dubbed it "the pink palace" after the beautiful Hawaiian hotel in Waikiki... this one is just on a much smaller scale!
Pink Palace, view from the front.

Pink Palace, view from the rear.
Wide open space with  homestead in the distance; north side of Amboy Road
Only the 2x4 framing material remains of this homestead.
Dry lake to the west of Ironage Road - appears to be a salt processing facility.

Old foundation in forground, dry lake in the distance.

SmokeTree Wash (not on the tour)... some great roads on the S. side of 62 at Ironage to explore!

Also not on the tour... late day sun lighting up the roadside plants.

My wife doing her very best to capture the last rays of the desert sun!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Desert Hummingbirds

We're out in 29 again this weekend.  Weather is about perfect... light wind, high about 90.  First thing I did early today (even before my coffee!) was go outside to water a couple plants and I see something moving fast out of the corner of my eye and running off into the distance.  Too big for jackrabbits.  Less than a minute later, I see a coyote in full pursuit of something (not sure what).  He was so involved in chasing his prey that he nearly ran me over! He stopped for a second, checked me out, then shot off. Not sure if he ever caught whatever it was he was chasing, but it was fun to see close up like that.

Next I turned on the hose, I sprayed a light stream of water hitting a cactus, and a humming bird came right up to within inches of the water spray.  It clearly was interested and intrigued with the water, and hovered for a long time trying to decide whether or not to get a drink.  I got my camera, but couldn't figure out how to hold the hose, spray water, and take a pic at the same time!  I decided to turn on the ground bubblers we use to water the trees and sit and wait to see if any hummers showed up.  Well, didn't have to wait long at all! They quickly started drinking the water and taking bird baths in the wet sand. Very fun to watch!

Taking a bath!
 I don't know what species they are.  Looking on the internet, it looks like "Anna's Hummingbird" is the most common in S. CA.  But the males have a red head, and I didn't see any with this coloration, so cross Anna's off the list.  "Costa's Hummingbird" is the most common in the CA deserts, so that's where I'm placing my bet.  However, based on the internet pics, I'm not so sure.  I'll keep looking and see if I can figure it out.

This has nothing to do with Hummingbirds, but couldn't resist posting a pic of my better half taking a break under the desert willow from her gardening.  Nice flowering prickly pear in the foreground.

We're heading off to explore an area of Wonder Valley we've never been to before (Ironage Road), so should have another post soon!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun with Monochrome

Sticking around the house this weekend and not taking any pictures, so a great time to go back into the archives and do some developing.  I was playing around in Lightroom converting some pics to B&W, and they came out pretty good.  Some of the desert pics look really good... perhaps better... in B&W!
Homestead cabin somewhere in Wonder Valley

Wonder Valley Homestead cabin... great sky in B&W!

Target practice desert car

Mystery photographer... look at those clouds!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Say Hello to my Little (4 legged) Friend!

We let our 18 year old daughter get a dog this week.  After our last dog passed away (at 17 years old), it was so traumatic we were not at all anxious to get another one.  We've also been enjoying the freedom of not having to care for an animal, and being able to head out to the desert on the weekends.  So why the about-face?  That's a long story, but the thumbnail is we're using the dog as a bribe to (hopefully) change some behavior.  Anyway, the dog is a chihuahua, and we think she is about 8 weeks old.  Her name is "Miley".  She's a bundle of energy and very photogenic!!

The scarf didn't last long at all!

How can you say no to a face like that??

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Market Street Gig 2011

I play guitar in a band called Scoop DeVille... for the most part, a bunch of old fogeys who enjoy playing music.  We're actually pretty good... we've been playing together for a lot of years, and we've steadily improved (at least that's my perception!).

Today we played our annual "Market Street" gig - a small church on Market St. in north Long Beach that does an annual fundraiser.  This is a poor community, largely Hispanic, and we (that band) feel fortunate to be a part of the fundraiser.  The organizer gave us an award today and pointed out this is the 11th consecutive year Scoop DeVille has donated our time to play the fundraiser (jeez... 11 years!!?).
Bruce, our Band Leader, accepting the plaque.
Didn't have my camera with me today... these photos were taken on my iTouch, which really takes a decent photo in a pinch.
Setting up... Brad (percussion), Bruce (bass/keyboard) and Tod (drums)

Before and after we played, they had local talent... church members performing folklorico dancing, Hawaiian dancing, even Elvis dancers in past years!
Hawaiian dancers

Jugos (juices)

Everyone was invited on to the stage to learn the hula!

Folklorico dancers

Tear down and load up the trailer after the gig - don't they have roadies for this!?

Backstage view

Overall, a good gig today.  A good crowd and they seemed to enjoy the music.  No major mess-ups, so I guess year 12, here we come!