A Rest Stop in Morro Bay

It feels wonderful to be parked at Cypress RV Park in Morro Bay after a month of being on the road with our grown up daughter and darling cat- Callie. We can look west to the rock and smoke stakes and can see a peak of the sunset if you dodge the buildings across the street. I saw the gentleman who fed the seagull and raven over the summer and we stopped by at Coast Veterinary to pick up an antibiotic and steroid for Callie.

Callie developed bronchitis last summer and it took 4 months for her to be properly diagnosed and treated and Dr Stephens in Morro Bay was the one to finally get her well. Callie made it up to BC Canada and sailed on my brother’s catamaran called: El Fresca, while enjoying a 7 week trip featuring one fantastic adventure after another. She has managed to stay well up until the fires in Santa Rosa, and the smoke became too much for her and she relapsed. We started her on the meds this evening, so I am hoping she will feel better by tomorrow. She is coughing and wheezing and feeling quite crummy, poor little thing.

We will stay here until we see that her health is improving and feel that it is safe to continue south to Anza Borrego Desert State Park where we live. If she doesn’t show improvement, we will take her back in to see the doctor.

But for now, it will be so nice to relax and bike, walk and rest in this idyllic beach town near San Luis Obispo, California.

*Callie is showing signs of improvement this morning.

The Beauty of Dawn

It is another beautiful morning in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. When the sun rises in the east and there are shades of pink in the sunrise, the San Ysidro foothills in the west blush a beautiful rose color. It is my favorite time in the desert. It is also Callie’s favorite time of the day! The birds are singing and the temperature is still tolerable. It looks like the series of summer storms are behind us. Soon the desert will start cooling down.

Desert Storms-Part 2

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is having a series of summer storms in September that build up in the early afternoon with ominous, dark gray clouds forming in the northwest. As they move slowly across the sky, the sound of low emitting thunder, grumbling and rumbling deep in the belly of these clouds, is like no sound I have ever heard before. Instead of a crashing boom after the crack of a lightening bolt, there is just a constant, thrumming vibration as the clouds pile up overhead. If the desert is fortunate, these clouds will give up their moisture and provide life giving water to the plants and animals below. If not, the clouds will move on and pass overhead without releasing so much as a drop of water. The entire desert seems to hold its breath in anxious hope that rain will come soon. And when the rain does come, it arrives in torrents and sheets and all at once. The rain is usually a drenching downpour, saturating the foothills as the water finds a path to lower ground. You would think that the rainfall would immediately be soaked right up and into the sandy soil, but it doesn’t. The water stays on the surface as it turns into a muddy, raging, flash flood and can be quite dangerous to anything left in its path. Because these storms are putting on a display right in my very own back yard, I feel like I have a ringside seat to nature’s  “Greatest Show on Earth!”

Below are a few of the photographs that I took today. Anza Borrego Desert State Park is a beautiful and wild place in which to live out my retirement years. At least for now that is.





Desert Storms

Yesterday late afternoon, a storm built up in strength and power, with heavy, saturated clouds that formed over the San Ysidro Mountains. These rain saturated clouds then ominously fanned out and over the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, casting purple shadows over the desert landscape. We watched as bolts of lightening pierced the darkened sky, and sonic booms of thunder, slowly and laboriously, followed shortly afterwards. It was the perfect condition for a downpour. Behind the house and along the foothills, you could see that the storm was building up strength and moving in our direction.

First you get a whiff of the scent of desert plants being blown around haphazardy. Then the sky darkens and cools as it covers up the sun. Next, a blast of dry, hot, brittle, wind, sends debris swirling up all around you, causing you to close your eyes tightly as you quickly throw your arms up to protect your face. After that, big, fat, cold, raindrops start to fall as you take serious notice and run for cover. And with that, the heavens suddenly open up, providing life giving rain to the parched, dry, desert below. The smell of creosote suddenly fills the air and birds take cover and try to cling to tree branches that are being whipped around in a frenzied circle. Palm trees bend and give into the force of the wind, rather then snap and break in two. The olive trees out back seem to dance and twirl and fortunately are hardy enough to withstand the force of this storm.

We all hung out in the backyard to watch the drama unfold, and Callie showed no fear and was not afraid of the thunder and lightening. Even the rain didn’t seem to bother her too much. When the gusts sent sand and palm fronds, olives and dust her way in maddening swirls and blasts, she raced for the door to watch the storm blow past from the safety of the house. And just as suddenly as the storm arrived, it moved away, leaving a delicate imprint of solitary raindrops on the desert floor.

The storm had stalled, backed up and stayed concentrated over the foothills behind the house. It put on quite a show for us at a safe distance. There was torrential rain for an hour or so, which prompted flash flood warnings to blast from our cell phones. I jumped in fright when the phone sent a shrill warning, but ignored the warning of course. In the morning when we got up, I discovered that the warning had indeed applied to us. Our street was flooded and fortunately the sand and mud was kept mostly at bay with sandbags and small retaining walls.

We live in the aluvian flood plain and are subjected to seasonal, flash floods. Most of the houses on our block have dealt with this before and have been built and rebuilt with potential, future, flooding damage as a distinct possibility. Only one house was damaged this time though. Our house did well and the rock barrier did its job to keep us safe and dry. Another storm is building again today but does not seem to be as powerful as yesterdays.  Such is the life in the desert. I love it.



Just Another Day

I love biking in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. There is hardly anyone here until the first of October. You can bike for hours and not see any people. Wild animals are a whole other story though. We watched a magnificent, young male coyote in his prime, with a fine coat of rust and gray, jog across our street as we were heading out. Flocks of twenty or more quail explode out of the brush as we pass by quietly, and the cottontails and jackrabbits dash in front of us, still curious and not quite sure what a person on a bike is. Roadrunners run by and look left and right as they trot along, and are just as funny to look at as the cartoons that depict them.

We biked over to Coyote Canyon on our street bikes today, and passed one of the orange groves that was left to die, and some of the trees still have a branch or two that are green, trying desperate to survive. These trees have been abandoned to save on water and it breaks my heart to watch them die a slow and agonizing death. I don’t care what anyone says, these trees want to live and not to die. They bore fruit for years that this rancher harvested and profited over, and to just turn off the water source and walk away seems unnecessarily cruel and ungrateful. Cut the trees down and harvest the wood, don’t let them die slowly.

Life in the desert is harsh and you pay a serious price if you are under the sun during peak hours without water. People have died out here that are hiking and unprepared for the heat. Every once in awhile you will hear a helicopter buzz overhead, searching for hikers that have not returned as scheduled.

Today is just another day in the desert. The high will be 107, so we have gotten our exercise over with early in the morning and can now relax in a cooled, air conditioned house. What a luxury that animals out in the wild do not have!

Survival of the Fittest

Michael and I are starting to get up early again in order to fit in a bike ride before the sun heats up. Today we went over to Seley Ranch- an orange, date and grapefruit ranch that has been around for generations. The farmers here have water rights and use up much of the natural aquifer. Times are changing and now that water has become such a precious commodity, some growers are letting portions of their crops die. It is heartbreaking for me to watch a grove slowly succumb to the heat and lack of water. I wish they would hire a local worker to cut the grove down right away and dry the wood for later use. I believe that plants have their own form of consciousness, and to die slowly, is a form of suffering that isn’t necessary and I believe, cruel.

The bike ride was beautiful though and I love taking photographs of the desert in its natural state. It always continues to amaze me how each plant that does survive, stakes out a claim and there appears to be some form of cooperation. When you look at ocotillo, they are always spread out uniformly. I have a great deal of respect for the desert and admire the harsh, stark beauty of survival of the fittest.

The desert willow for example is flowering now, and it has been well over 115 degrees several times last week. How does such a delicate looking flower manage to bloom in such intense heat? The flower smells like scented soap, clean and fresh, with leaves that are long, dark green and slender. Soon it will be autumn and who knows what surprise will be in store for me next? I plan on being strong myself- survival of the fittest is the name of game.

Rain is predicted for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

It is hot and humid this morning, and if you walk outside, it is like entering a sauna. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, with thunder and lightening too! I love storms and hope we will get some rain. Rain is always a nice surprise in the middle of summer, and in the arid desert.

Callie woke up with high energy and enthusiasm toward climbing her beloved olive trees. She loves to climb trees and misses them when we are on the road. Pine trees are ok to climb, but frequently they have sap oozing out of them. The pine sap causes Callie no end of grief. If she gets it on her paws, it takes a great deal of foot shaking and licking to remove it. If she gets it on her coat, I have to put a little hand lotion on the affected area and that seems to remove some of it. So Callie climbed her tree this morning and is enjoying a day spent in an air conditioned house with tiny rainbow prisms flickering over her outstretched body. Both of our air conditioners were on the blink when we returned from our 7 week, adventures with Callie road trip, and it was pretty dismal for the first couple of days. With cooler temperatures inside, it is a good day to be alive!

Batgirl to the Rescue

With close to 50% humidity in Borrego Springs, it feels like the tropics minus the greenery. The gnats are everywhere and flies are circling, seeking out your eyes and nose for moisture. The cicadas too are buzzing furiously and “batgirl” has her job cut out for her. Seeing as I won’t let her catch any birds on my watch…. cicadas are all that is left besides dry palm fronds blowing dustily in the wind… PS You will have to look carefully, she is very clever and difficult to spot, and will only be discovered once it is too late!




Four Sisters Come Calling

When I headed out for my early morning bike ride before the inferno kicked in, ( it is suppose to reach 113 today) I happened to spot four hen turkeys getting ready to jump over my back wall in search of food… Turkeys in Anza Borrego Desert State Park? Amazing! I have yet to see a tom- turkey, but the four hens today all looked the same age and are probably sisters.

Wild turkeys are omnivorous and will eat both animal and vegetable products. They forage as they roam and when moving along, one behind the other in single file, they peck at seeds and insects, looking up and all around in a constant search for danger and possible predators. 

This is the first summer I have witnessed turkeys in the desert, I also saw two hens about a month ago along Henderson Canyon where I shoot all of my wildflower photographs. I wonder if there has been a big spike in their population growth due to ample rainfall and the lush vegetation that followed this spring? Neighboring Julian and Ramona, at much higher elevations, and up in the mountains, are known for wild turkeys, but in the desert? These four hens looked healthy and alert, and they were obviously enjoying the bright, early morning sunshine. It hadn’t warmed up yet, and birds were singing and insects buzzing. I left them alone as soon as I shot a few photographs, and they headed back out into the desert in a slow and meandering way, glancing back at me often in silent, calm, curiosity.

Joe Hutto in The Sun Magazine- May-2017, issue 497, gives a wonderful interview in which he shares his experience with living for a couple of years with mule deer and again with wild turkeys. He has the utmost respect for these beautiful creatures, and developed long lasting relationships with some of them. It was quite an honor to watch these four hens obviously thriving in the harshest of climates, and looking out for each other- as only good sisters will do.

This morning on my bike ride with Lara and Michael, we saw many cottontail bunnies, jackrabbits, roadrunners, a hawk soaking in a puddle, one lean coyote and common grackles. Hummingbirds are still braving it out, along with quail. It is amazing that anything can survive in the summer heat. It will be 117 on Friday and thunder strorms are expected on Sunday. We are going to try and pack up the RV and head to the beach for a few days. Hope we can find a camping site!








Happy Days

Rise and shine and let your little light pour through for all to see…. Callie is responding to the antibiotic and climbed her beloved olive tree and asked for rough and tumble playtime. She is still coughing, but less often. She has always done well on the antibiotics, so I am still guarded in my enthusiasm for a cure, but at least for today, it is a happy day!