Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lilly at the Beach

My granddaughter joined her cousin Zoe for an overnighter at Crystal Cove State Park, CA, a few weeks ago. The b&w shot below is one of my favorite recent photos of Lilly.

Photo credit E. Parra

Photo credit E. Parra

Photo credit E. Parra
Night night!!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Walking Around Suburbia

I went out for a walk yesterday in the Orange County suburb where I live. For the most part, I like where I live. Nice neighbors, great weather, clean, convenient. But kind of boring. All the houses were built by the same builder at the same time. They all have a similar look and feel, same or similar floor plans, similar yards. Not a lot of individual personality or creativity. Just about the opposite of what we see when we spend time in the desert. I guess that's the downside of housing tracts, but I digress...
Google Earth view of a local neighborhood suburb
Taking pics was about the last thing on my mind as I started my walk, but then I noticed how beautiful the skies were. By the time I finished my walk, I must have taken about 25 photos on my iPhone. Kind of a fun change from my usual desert photography! I used Topaz Simplify to edit some of these shots.


These contrails remind me of power lines!

Neighborhood park.

There is a good view from this spot, hence the viewing scope (or UFO finder?)

Suburban homes end here. Cross the bridge and you are in a shopping center.

Couldn't resist including this shot, converted to b&w. The clouds seem to go on forever!

Everyone's gardens seem to be in bloom right now!!
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

High Desert Skies

The view west, at sunset, from 29 Palms towards the village of Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley in the high desert of Southern California. Funny, I thought the sunset on this particular night was going to be dull, and then as if just to prove me wrong, the sky suddenly added color and the clouds became more dramatic. I find it hard to predict what the desert sky will do!!

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

"Surprise" Tank

So, I left you hanging last week by mentioning "Surprise Tank" but making you wait until this week to see photos. Inexcusable!! First, a little background. Elliot over at is where I first heard about Surprise Tank. As a matter of fact, I think Elliot came up with the Surprise Tank name. Unlike a lot of other tanks in JTNP (Barker Dam, Twin Tanks, White Tank, etc.), Elliot was unable to find any information on this particular tank and even a couple of the park rangers he spoke with were unfamiliar with it. He had to call it something, right? Only time will tell if the "Surprise Tank" name sticks.

After our recent CA rains of a month ago, I had been anxious to see what Surprise Tank looked like. If you read last week's post, you will recall this was my second hike to the area. During my first hike, I didn't make it to Surprise Tank. But had I made it, there likely would have been a lot of water behind the dam. As it turns out, when I finally got there about a week ago, it wasn't much more than a mud puddle. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I think most people get to this area by parking where the CA Riding Trail intersects Geology Tour Road, and hike S/SW, which eventually takes you to the front of Surprise Tank. I chose to continue further south on Geology Tour Road before parking, and then head directly west to the rocks. This requires off-trail hiking and a bit of rock scrambling and you eventually end up behind Surprise Tank. It's a fun hike and you pass through some very photogenic rock formations!
"Window Rock" #1
"Window Rock" #2
"Weird Rock" (as you can tell, I'm running low on creative rock names!)

No shortage or rock formations in this area!!

Just before reaching Surprise Tank, I found this water hole. I wonder if it's natural, or perhaps some animal dug it as a convenient source of water? Either way, lots of critter footprints all around it, and I even noticed some bighorn sheep droppings in the area.

Surprise Tank!! Bigger than a mud puddle, but not by much! Still, a beautiful area and fun to see a little water in the desert.

A nice side view of the dam. It actually goes straight for some distance, then makes a sharp turn around some rocks. 

The height of the dam is low, perhaps a maximum of 6-8' measured from the back. Below is what it looks like after a good rain or two.
Photo credit Elliot Koeppel at
Pretty cool, don't you think? I'm sure I'll be coming back to this location, perhaps next year after the rains.

I'll leave you with a Joshua Tree picture. I never get tired of these guys... all are unique, no two are the same! I tried to grunge it up a bit to give it that "old west" look!
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