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!

From Dawn to Dusk

The morning started out bright and early with Callie once again expecting me to get up and serve breakfast so that she and Michael could go back to sleep for a couple of hours. It is rather funny and because I am a morning person, it is no big deal. As soon as I fed Callie, Michael was already sleeping and Callie tucked herself into the tent I created for her on the sofa. It is chilly at night but today it reached 85 and it felt warm to me. It is nothing compared to Anza Borrego though, which will hit a high of 121 on Tuesday. Those kinds of temperatures are a killer for birds and mammals and plants. It is so hot that when you take in a deep breath, your lungs feel scorched.

Michael and I went on a fabulous off road bike ride again this morning and because it was so difficult, I am considering packing a first aid kit. I wear a scarf around my neck in case I will ever need a tourniquet, but can see the use of bandages and wraps for all kinds of injuries. You can’t see the deep sand in the shadows when it is mixed with dappled light and the ruts in the trails trap you before stopping you in your tracks. I had air put in my tires this morning and I think the added pressure made for a much more difficult ride. We made it back to the RV in one piece though and felt the zen of having a strenuous workout roll over our shoulders all day today. 

Fred decided to head back home this morning so Michael, Callie and I have the rest of the vacation to ourselves. I will be able to celebrate Father’s Day and not worry about Fred anymore. He blew a tire heading home and is waiting for a tow service as I write. The same right back tire that we had a flat fire with! RV’s sit a lot and the tires are the first to show wear and tear. He has a long way to go yet to get home, I wish him the best.

Callie got a morning walk and was able to hang out on the picnic table most of the day while Michael worked on the bikes. She is getting more than her fair share of excitement and the strain is starting to show. When I find her up in the loft in between the rungs of the step up ladder to the loft bed, I know I have sufficiently worn her out from dawn to dusk. Wearing out a cat is always a good thing!

Plenty of Time to get into Trouble!

Callie has finally recovered from her viral pneumonia. She had one mild coughing spell yesterday, but none the day before and we are finished with the antibiotic. It has been a difficult illness for her, but the joy of feeling well again is obvious. She has a spring in her step and wanted to rip out all the bark of every pine tree she came across on her morning walk here at Mammoth. Tiny chipmunks kept running in front of her and birds of all kinds were singing and flying from tree to tree. The sky is a deep blue with just a few puffy clouds in the distance. Apparently it snowed just two days ago, but you would never believe it from the mild temperature today and it almost feels like summer.  

Michael, Fred, Callie and I left Anza Borrego yesterday morning at 7am and made the heroic effort to get to Mammoth Lakes before sundown. Preparing for an RV trip is work. You have to be organized in your thoughts and have the energy and strength to load up everything you will need. You must grocery shop, get gas or diesel fuel, make sure the oil levels are good and the water tank has some fresh water in it.  You don’t want to drive around with too much water because of the added weight. We don’t have the luxery of leaving a lot of stuff in the RV in between our trips, because everything would melt. The temperature in Borrego Springs is expected to reach 117 this week. Thank goodness we made it to Mammoth and as I write about this blog this fine morning, it is a beautiful 75 degrees out with a low of 41 at night. 

We arrived in plenty of time to set up camp but unfortunatly the lakes are closed to camping because of massive amounts of snow still on the sides of the mountains. We were turned around at Lake George and Mary and finally at Twin Lakes we had to drive back into town and are staying at a local RV park called New Shady Rest which is at a lower elevation. It is beautiful here and we are parked under pine trees with Fred camped right across from us. *

Callie loved the drive yesterday and sat on the dash most of the way. She loves to look out the window and feel the sun on her face with the air conditioning blasting right below her. She really is jostled around quit a bit, and it is funny to watch her with her eyes closed and a content look on her face while appearing to be tossed up and down at a rapid pace. It looks like she is a baby taking a nap and her mommy is jiggling her to sleep. Her head bobs up and down and lulls her into a deep sleep.

We plan on staying here for a couple of nights and may attempt to go to Convict Lake next. It is at a lower elevation and may be open to camping. I have called but no one at the campground has returned my call as of yet. Sitting here in the RV with Callie napping after a long walk this morning is such a treat. People always comment on what an unusual sight she is, and I always tell them she is a D.O.G.- spelling it out for them slowly until they get it. It usually produces a hearty laugh and a response that you don’t see a cat being walked very often. She is really improving on her walking skills and we are going further and further and she respects my wishes to go one way when she would rather go another! We also went on a long bike ride with her sitting primly in the basket. Mammoth is very biker friendly and there are paved bike paths all over the town. 

 It is so wonderful to be here and I can’t wait to share all of the adventures that Callie and I will discover and experience.  We hope to travel for about 2 weeks; plenty of time to get into loads of trouble!

* The reason that the campgrounds around the lakes are closed is because of record breaking amounts of snow and the generator has broken. There is a concern of raw sewage seeping into the lakes.

The War on Drugs

The latest diagnosis for Callie has been viral pneumonia. She started coughing in early March and every time she finishes up a round of antibiotics, she starts to cough again. It is a deep, wracking cough, that stops her in her tracks. It has not been a fun experience for her or for me. I have to administer a decongestant and an antibiotic, a 1cc syringe full of fluid every 12 hours. This will be her 5th and 6th round. We doubled up this time in hopes that we finally get her 100% well. 

In order to not get scratched, I pull out a towel or blanket and wrap her up nice and snug with just her head peaking out. I then hold her tight and pry open her mouth so that Michael can inject the medicine down her throat. Once it is in her mouth, I have to make sure that she doesn’t spit it back out, so I have to hold her firmly until I see that she has swallowed. The first decongestant I gave her was so bitter and nasty tasting, she would froth at the mouth and then vomit. When I told this to the doctor, he laughed and said “He knew it was bitter, but had never heard of a pet acting out so dramatically!” We switched to another med that seems to be much more palatable.

Callie has figured out the 12 hour encriments too and runs and hides under the bed. She watches my hands to see if I am holding anything in them, and will take off at a brisk trot at the first hint of trouble heading her way. We have about 10 more days of dealing with this before we can be done. She is going to be so neurotic by then…. I have taken to holding her tight for awhile after she swallows the medicine, to praise her and tell her what a good girl she is. The war on drugs has been a hefty battle, but I will win the war because it is for her own good. I imagine that if this round doesn’t do the trick, we will have to figure out what to do next. It is still plausible that she has asthma or heart worm.

This morning has been a good one so far. She has climbed her favorite olive tree and came head to head with the rascally roadrunner. That bird shows no fear of Callie. She hasn’t coughed once yet and her energy is back. It is a beautiful morning in the desert and birds are singing. My hummingbirds entertain her with their swoops and dives, clicks and flashes of green and purple. It will be a mild temperature outside, with high clouds and a slight breeze in Anza Borrego. There are no more flowers left blooming except for domesticated oleander and bougainvillea and the desert has returned to an arid landscape once again…

The Sacred Datura

The Sacred Datura, (Jimson Weed), Purple Sand Verbena and the occasional pale, yellow, Desert Dandelions, are all that is left of the Anza Borrego Desert super bloom this past spring. The sacred datura holds out until the very end to bloom because it depends on the Hawkmoths to pollinate it. The Hawk-moths don’t become moths until they survive the caterpillar stage. The caterpillar stage is fraught with many dangers. The flower is a large and striking trumpet shape that opens up in the early evening to attract the moths. They are a brilliant white that glow in the dark and have a lovely, sweet fragrance that is irresistible to this specific pollinator. The moths look like hummingbirds in flight because they are so large and hover over the flower to lick up the nectar much like hummingbirds. These caterpillars and other kinds, were all over our backyard during the spring bloom and because they didn’t understand the dangers of a swimming pool, many of them met an untimely death that way. It was traumatic to watch them fall into the pool and drown. The ones that did manage to cross the yard unharmed, were able to mow down every wildflower in its path. The cycle of life is a journey and a trip to observe. After the caterpillars come the Swainson’s Hawks to finish off the job.

The entire plant is highly poisonous and if ingested by humans, can cause a high fever, delirium and possibly death. In spite of this horrible reputation, every part of the plant is almost universally used as a hallucinogenic and medicinal plant among the native Indians of the southwest. The Seri brewed tea to relieve sore throats, Cahuilla shamans ingested it to transcend reality in order to contact specific guardian spirits, and the Hopi medicine men chewed the roots to induce visions when making a diagnosis on someone who was ill. 

The desert is returning to a hot and arid environment. Because of the cool inland breezes colliding with the hotter temperatures of the desert, the winds have returned making life miserable for most of its inhabitants. We still see the occasional jackrabbit and cottontail, quail, and coyote but the roadrunners seem to be in their glory. Everywhere you look, you might see a roadrunner with a snake or lizard in its long and lethal beak, careening down the street. They always look right to left and side to side when they run and are very comical to watch. They must be pretty street savvy though, because you never see one hit by a car and dead by the side of the road. 

As the summer makes itself known, I am constantly sweeping sand out of the house and trying to be appreciative that it isn’t a snow drift. The sand is everywhere and the dust and pollen are making Callie and me sneeze and Callie has become asthmatic. Soon we will be packing up to head out on our road trip and will leave the desert to its desert inhabitants. We don’t belong here during the summer, and I will tip my hat off to those that have to stay. We stayed last summer with temperatures reaching 124 degrees Fahrenheit, and I refuse to do it again this summer. This summer will be all about travels with Callie….

One of the many varieties of caterpillars that made it to become a moth

Purple Sand Verbena – The Last of the Desert Wildflowers

The golden yellow of the abundant Brittle Brush has faded to brown and most of the Red Ocotillo have once again lost their waxy green leaves and left just their bushy red blossom crowns, but the Purple Verbena are hanging on to the bitter end. The Anza Borrego Desert State Park is becoming dry and arid and all the seeds and pollen have been dispersed for yet another year. The super bloom has faded and the crowds have gone and left the desert quiet and filled with solitude once again. Only the strong and the hardy survive throughout the dry season and when the temperature rises, early morning and evening are the only time the wise are out and about. Michael, Callie and I will be leaving often now in the RV to escape the summer heat. Last year we survived, but only barely. It is extraordinary how the plants and animals that have adapted to the desert make it through the summer when the thermometer reads 124 degrees. That was how hot last summer peaked out at. We do not plan on staying this year. That is why we got the RV…. to escape the heat and soaring temperature. Callie sleeps more and more during the day and wants to play in the middle of the night. Getting away in the RV helps us all stay on schedule and sanity will once again be restored.

I Can’t Help Myself

The Anza Borrego Desert State Park Super bloom is just too grand for me to ignore. I can’t help myself for wanting to upload more photographs. It will be past its peak by the end of the week because of rising temperatures. Once it is gone, it will be gone…. I have to admit that the past 3 weeks have been a blur of activity and anticipation. To watch the desert bloom into such a profuse amount of wildflowers has been a gift to witness. I will always be grateful for having witnessed it first hand. It made living through the inferno of last summer all worth it.