Back in the Saddle Again

Having returned to Borrego Springs and neighboring Anza Borrego Desert State Park, you have to find ways in which to endure and stay sane while living in the inferno! Temperatures are hovering in the triple digits, but less than the 122 of two weeks ago. Thank goodness we were up in Mammoth during that heat wave….

Getting up early and going for a bike ride while it is still cool enough is a treat. It is still cooling off around 3am and if we hit the road by 6:00, we can get in an hour and a half bike ride, before the sun intensifies and we have to seek shelter in the house. We can only use the swamp cooler because of the high cost of air conditioning, so finding ways to play before being a prisoner in your house the rest of the day, is the only way to avoid going stark, raving mad. Nothing moves outside in this kind of heat, and I have joked that birds drop from the sky fully roasted when the temperature is over 115. Sadly, we saw a young coyote pup hit and killed on the road this morning, and he or she looked like she was bringing up the rear in a pack and killed before she had a chance to grow up. I adore the coyotes out here in the desert, with their sing song howls and yips, fierce independence, and ability to survive in such a hostile climate. This spring brought a lot of rain, and the jack rabbits and cottontails are prolific too! Such is the life in the desert and the balance that must ensue. A bumper crop of flowers and greens produces more small mammals which in turn feed the coyotes. The pack is the largest I have heard howling at night, but it will also be a long, hot, dangerous, summer for all the living creatures of Anza Borrego.

Michael and I had a fabulous bike ride and rode out to S22… Henderson Canyon is still partially shaded early in the morning because of the foothills, and we biked along the road that I have shot all my desert, wildflower photographs. Compare the diffence from the spring this year, to the summer time now! Everything is burned to a crisp, and the sand dunes only show the prints of tiny mammals and the wave patterns of the wind.

We have a couple more weeks in the desert, and then we are heading to the coast.

We dropped the RV off to be serviced after our bike ride, and Michael and I picked up 2 gallons of Tillamook ice cream to make the day even better!:)

The Road Home

It was with a somewhat heavy heart that we had to head back to the inferno, but with Callie’s cough getting worse by the day, we had no choice but to hit the road toward home.

I took her to the vet yesterday, and we should know in the next 72 hours what type of bacterial infection she has. It could be a chronic bronchitis because there was a spot on her left lung. She has lost some weight, but is still eating and drinking with gusto and still climbing her beloved olive trees!

It actually feels good to be back in Borrego Springs, in spite of the 106 degree temperature expected later today. Michael and I went on an early morning, road-bike ride, and had to marvel at how much stronger both of us are after having biked up in the mountains at high altitude and on rocky, sandy, hiking trails. Riding along a flat, well paved surface, and on my Cannondale, felt like riding a thoroughbred horse instead of a Welch Pony!

Callie loved the drive back toward home and rode on the dash most of the way! She is happy to be home though and can once again roam around and snuggle in her Kong bed on top of the hutch in the master bedroom. Living in a 24ft RV for weeks at a time needs some getting use to!

Rock Creek & Lake- A Mirror Image

At an elevation of 9,500 ft. Rock Creek and the lake it feeds, was under 25 ft of snow in April. The run-off from melting snow is extraordinary. The lake is at the high water mark and Rock Creek is feeding it at a tremendous rate. At times, the roar of water cascading into the lake was deafening! There were so many opportunities to take incredible photographs, that I just have to post a few more. Getting up at dawn with the fishermen is why the lake was so glassy and I was able to get the reflection so perfect. It pays to be a morning person when you are a photographer!!


Here We Go Again!

I had to take Callie to Dr Laporte in Poway today to have an X-ray taken. In spite of having the energy to climb her beloved olive trees, her cough returns after every dose of antibiotic has been finished. She does fine while she is on the antibiotic, but starts to cough about a week after she finishes the last dosage. It has been a frustrating and concerning illness that has lingered since early March. We were camping up in Mount Laguna when it first started so long ago.

I did the hour and a half drive to Poway this afternoon and she was examined, X-rayed and had a culture and sensitivity done so we can decide the next step moving forward. There was a spot on her left lung and Dr Laporte believes it has developed into bronchitis. We aren’t going to put her on another antibiotic until we know what we are up against. Her cough is back but we will keep her quiet, fed and well rested until the lab results are confirmed! Her other lab work came out normal.

On a good note, she met He Man when she visited the Poway practice! He Man had it out for Callie and wanted so much to get to know her better. She would have none of it though, and He Man had to be put in the Dr’s Office for safe keeping. Callie does not like cats. He couldn’t quite accept that. Poor Mr He Man! He is use to being the patient greeter and is usually accepted on his own terms. Callie wanted it her way, and she would have none of his He Man charms….

Rock Creek Lake

We left Convict Lake Monday morning and headed to Rock Creek Lake and Creek. We were able to park the RV in campsite #7 right across from the lake and it is an RV spot all to itself. The front of the RV is facing west and the lake is in front of us. What a beautiful view we have.

We biked along the lakeside trail this morning and it was a little bit challenging for me because if you fall, you will slide down into the lake which is about 10ft or more at times below a very narrow trail. We were able to go 2/3’s of the way around it and then had to turn around and go in the other direction because the trail is under water. Apparently, the place that we are parked in now with the RV had 25 ft of snow less on it than 2 months ago. There is so much water everywhere, that everyone is talking about it. The runoff once again is so forceful and loud, it sounds like an airplane overhead.

Michael is fishing and I took Callie on a walk part of the way, and had her ride in the backpack for awhile and then walk on her leash and harness. There are so many dogs hanging out with their fishermen owners, that it made me a little nervous to walk her, making Callie even a little bit more nervous, so we turned around and headed back to the RV.

While sitting with Michael as he fished, I watched an osprey attempting to escort a bald eagle away from the lake. The eagle was magnificent, but no match for the much smaller but agile, dive bombing and screaming in outrage, osprey. Michael and I saw it catch a fish earlier in the day and it flew straight up into the air, hesitated, then twisted and turned direction on a dime and plunged straight down into the cold, blue lake. It grasped a large trout in his or her talons and went completely under water for a second before popping back up with the fish wiggling helplessly as they both headed skyward. It was incredible to watch. The eagle had no choice but to leave because the osprey was so swift and outraged, it must have established this territory quite some time ago.

We are spending tonight and maybe tomorrow night depending on our propane and fresh water supply. Both say low to empty on the control panel, so we shall see. Michael claims there is more than enough for a couple of days. Charging up phones and computer takes the generator and the generator uses propane. Using the microwave is generator dependent too. The refrigerator can be used either propane or battery. We have done very well for two weeks of camping and are learning to dry camp efficiently.

When we got up the next morning, we decided to head home because Callie needs an X-ray due to her cough having returned. What an adventure we have had. Next time we head out, it may be to Canada!

The All Night Generator

We are staying at Convict Lake and for the first time camping in the RV, we have experienced a rude and thoughtless neighbor parked across from us. He is pulling a trailer and I have actually not seen who the person is. I won’t jump to conclusions and false assumptions, but I bet it is a man! Sorry all you men out there, but women don’t pull this type of trailer! *

Last night around 10:00 in the evening, long after my bedtime, our neighbor turned on his generator. In every Campground we have stayed in so far, quiet hour is from 10:00 pm to 7am. This is not a generator that sounds well maintained, and this only compounds the problem. It sputters and coughs and actually sounds a lot like Callie when she is purring. It has a rhythm all its own that is a consistent purr but then suddenly coughs and sputters loudly! When trying to get to sleep, I focused on the thought that it was Callie purring, and this helped me get to sleep. But the generator sounded more like Callie having another bout of viral pneumonia and this was not a soothing sound at all. A couple of days ago, Callie started to cough again and we are going to have to take her to the vet once more in hopes of getting her well. So listening to a generator mimic Callie being sick all night was not reassuring, nor relaxing at all!

Around 11:30 Michael had had enough of the noise and told me he was going over to tell them to turn it off. By then I was wide awake myself and told him to be careful and handle the situation without getting into a brawl. Michael will do everything he can to avoid conflict, but if an injustice is being played out, he is right there to enlighten the individual about it! When Michael opened up the door to head over to the trailer, he inadvertently let a mosquito in, which prompted me to shout at him to “shut the door and don’t let in any more mosquitos!” I then said “thank you so much for helping out!” when I realized how selfish I sounded. I wasn’t about to go over there and ask the neighbor myself, and the generator was making it really difficult to sleep.

Michael wasn’t gone more then 5 minutes, and when he returned, he let me know that he had banged on the door several times, quite loudly, and no one had answered. He thought the person was either passed out or had refused to answer the door. We ended up having to listen to the generator all night long, but with the help of an ear plug, I was once again able to partially pretend that it was Callie purring away so that I could stay calm and relaxed and not get all upset about the noise. I ended up having a pretty good night sleep in spite of it all, and Callie had a fabulous night sleep. I put her round fluffy pillow bed in the corner of the upper loft because it was chilly last night and a thunderstorm had passed overhead, and she snuggled into it and slept through the night. Maybe what Callie needs in order to get a good night sleep is a generator that sounds like her coughing and purring?

The next day when we got up, we complained to Dennis, the ranger host, and he too knocked on the trailer door and no one answered. He left a rules and regulations notice on the door and told me he may be hanging out with friends further down the campground. He promised to talk to him face to face before the end of the day. The trailer is still across the street so I am hoping I don’t have to listen to the generator all night again tonight. If I do, I shall once again pretend that it is Callie purring and try not to get too upset. Michael on the other hand will most certainly serve out justice if they are rude and inconsiderate once again!

• We found out that it is indeed a man and he is on dialysis…. Dennis had a talk with him and we are very sorry to hear of his health issues. The rules still hold though and generators have to be turned off after 10pm.
• Our neighbor once again chose to turn on his generator last night, all night long, and Michael and I had a discussion about the moral implications of his illness and his rights as someone who is sick, versus those of us who are trying to escape the noise of city life and enjoy nature. We think the park service should offer several sights like handicapped sights for people that have an illness that requires medical services that will impact campers around them. Put these camp sights on the edge of the campground and somewhat further away from the rest of the campers so the noise won’t be so loud. I think it should be required that someone who needs to be on dialysis check in with the neighbors around him and let them know of his medical requirements and that he will need to use a generator at night in order to hook up to his dialysis machine. He can then be moved if his neighbors are negatively impacted by it. He has a right to enjoy his life, but campers have a right to peace and quiet from 10pm to 7am. It is an interesting conundrum and Michael is going to share his thoughts with Dennis. Being a retired podiatrist, Michael is very familiar with the devastating impact diabetes has on an individual. The life expectancy of someone on dialysis is less than 10 years. Our neighbor is also being inconsiderate for having been told that he can’t have the generator on at certain hours and doing it anyway. I have not seen the guy and it would have been considerate of him to let us know. We would have shown compassion toward him rather than feel annoyed and irritated by the all night generator!
• The good that has come out of it all, is that Michael went and talked to a couple next door to the generator man, and he and his wife are going to move to our campsite when we leave today. His wife is from Turkey and he is from Redlands where Michael use to practice medicine. His wife just received her PhD and he teaches English in Turkey. They are hoping to move back to the United States some day soon.
• Paul and his wife placed their chair at our campsite as we pulled out to leave and they now have a campsite next to the river.
• The All Night Generator man will be asked to move to another site with the help of the staff if he continues to need to use his generator all night.

The Circle of Life

I have never seen so many swallowtail butterflies congregating in one place before. Convict Lake must be a major breeding ground for these magnificent butterflies, because they are literally everywhere. I saw about 15 fluttering along the lakeside by the boardwalk where wild iris blooms have proliferated. Swallowtails are surprisingly swift and aware of your presence. It is difficult to tiptoe up to one to take a photograph. If they notice you, they will fly away! The reason I believe I was able to capture so many of them with a photograph, was because they seemed intoxicated by the sheer abundance of flowers that this winter’s rain and snowfall have produced. Flowers and butterflies are everywhere; that and the mosquito. It is paradise for the trout too, except that they have to worry about the increase in the numbers of fisherman. The cycle of life is an interesting one. Survival of the fittest can mean many things. Strength, intelligence and the good fortune to be born at the right time and in the right place. For the swallowtails, this is a good year to be born!

When Michael and I reached the part of the boardwalk that was washed away, we turned around and low and behold, there were the swallowtails. I was able to sneak up on them by hiding behind the birch trees. I also found that if I stood really still- (a difficult task because of the mosquitoes) I could snap off a photograph before one would fly away. They have such a beautiful wingspan and are large for such adept fliers. It has got to be somewhat mind blowing to go from being a lowly, ground hugging caterpillar, and then become an airborne butterfly. They also fly with little regard to predators! I will have to do some research to see if they are poisonous to birds…..* Metamorphosis also seems miraculous and almost divine to me. I am not religious, but nature is as close as I can get to believing that there is something more and bigger then ourselves out there. Watching these magnificent butterflies is quite extraordinary and I am grateful for the opportunity to capture and record them with a camera, and to disturb them as little as possible.

So, to leave nothing behind but footsteps and to shoot photographs of nature’s animals with a camera instead of using a gun is my weapon of choice. I realize that because I am not a vegetarian, this is a bit of a double standard, but I am at least trying to eat less meat and animal products and I am appreciative of the sacrifice when I do decide to eat one. It has more to do with modern animal husbandry and the conditions in which most domestic animals that are raised for human consumption have to endure, that prompts me to eat less meat. And to be driving around in an RV that uses diesel fuel is an extravagance that I am aware of. At least we found the Fleetwood (Icon) to be energy efficient! It gets close to 15.80 mpg. That is pretty impressive for an RV. Some day there will be electric and hybrid RV’s too! The circle of life continues and I can only hope that swallowtail butterflies and nature in its “wild” state, will be there for generations of humans to witness and admire for years to come!

* from what I have read, some swallowtails practice mimicry in order to pretend that they are poisonous. I do not know if this is the case at Convict Lake but was very surprised they could fly about with so little concern about predation. 

A Return to Convict Lake

We returned to Convict Lake on Wednesday afternoon after attempting to once again head north toward Lee Vining and Tioga Pass. The Pass is still closed due to heavy snow and the snow melting, which is causing flooding throughout the campgrounds. They have no date planned in the near future for opening up the Pass. We decided to return to Convict Lake and are so thrilled that we did. It is only about 30 minutes past Mammoth Lakes and we were able to get a fabulous campsite by 1:00 pm. We came here last year with the SUV and fantasized about returning some day in an RV. We turned the dream into a reality and Callie, Michael and I were able to make it happen. Fred had to return home last week due to altitude sickness and a fractured ankle. He made it home safely the day before Father’s Day. He will have to make his own dreams come true after he recovers…..

The Paiute Indians call this Lake-
Watsunupa (“Lake in a dent in the ground”). The Lake received its current name after a dramatic shootout in September, 1871. A group of 29 men broke out of the Carson City, Nevada Penitentiary and 6 of them made it to the Lake which is 200 miles away. The county sheriff and a Paiute guide were both killed while trying to capture the escaped convicts. I prefer the name that the Paiutes gave the Lake!

Convict Lake is one of the deepest Eastern Sierra Nevada lakes and it is a gorgeous, silvery, blue-green. The runoff from snow melt is extraordinary and the river that we are camped alongside of is roaring right past the campsite. The boardwalk that I took Callie on with Fred and Michael last year, is partially swept away from fallen trees that have crashed into it. Heavy snowfall has broken some of the birch and aspen groves and the splintered trees have piled up against the boardwalk. The water is rushing over other parts of the boardwalk too, and I believe more damage will occur as the melt continues. We have had 5 days in a row of temperatures in the middle to high 80’s and every day the volume of water increases.

We saw a lot of mule deer, swallowtail butterflies, primroses, roses, wild Iris, robins, woodpeckers, seagulls, starlings, a pale white butterfly with beautiful black markings, deep orange/black moths that seek moisture along the damp shoreline and of course the pesky mosquito. You can’t have this kind of paradise with so much water all around and warm temperatures and not have mosquitoes. There are also many fisherman catching record size trout in boats and along the shoreline, and people are hiking the trail in spite of the heat and intense sunshine. Bicycles are not allowed out on the hiking trail, but it would have been too difficult anyway, so walking the trail is the only option. Last year when Callie and I were out on the trail, a string of pack horses rode past us with the sound of hooves hitting rocks and dirt being kicked up into the air. As they passed by, you could smell their sweat and saddle leather, and Callie gazed up at them in wonder. She was brave and curious while she watched them lumber along in a cloud of dust and flies, and when the last horse and rider walked past us, the rider turned around in astonishment at seeing a cat hiking the trail on a leash and harness.

We have decided to camp here through the weekend and may head toward Oregon next. I am writing this post on Friday with the help of NOTES and will upload the story when I have internet again.

We are having a fabulous time and Michael has been fishing and BBQing every evening and we have biked around the campground with Callie in her basket in the coolness of the early morning.

Escaping the Furnace

Poor Borrego Springs is suppose to hit 122 degrees today. As I write, it is 121 out. Oh the poor creatures that I love so much in Anza Borrego. How can they possibly survive? Our dear friend, Salvador keeps an eye on our house and plants while we are away, but what about him? How does he manage? Thank you Salvador for all your hard work and you do it with such grace and dignity. We appreciate you so much.

Here at Silver Lake at the series of lakes called: June Lake, it is 83 outside and Callie thinks it is way too warm and she can hardly open her eyes and move about. She is hanging out on the top loft but we have the air conditioning on and she is still being lazy. Thunder and lightening storms are expected on Thursday and it should be quite exciting hanging out in the RV. Callie isn’t afraid of thunder and lightening like our jack russel dog, Addy was. Thunder and lightening would send Addy into my closet and she would bury herself under any discarded clothing or pile of shoes she was fortunate enough to find. She would cower and shake and shiver until the storm would pass. Attacking a coyote was nothing for Addy, but thunder and lightening did her in.

We are having a fabulous time in the RV and it is another beautiful day. I suppose it is cooler for those that don’t wear fur coats!