Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina is located above Bishop in the Eastern Sierras of California and has some of the most beautiful lakes that I have ever seen. We stayed at South Lake for almost a week and then moved over to Sabrina which is on the other side of the fork leading up to the campgrounds.

Lake Sabrina Campground was dry camping but the bathrooms were very clean and we had site number 16 that had a view of Bishop Creek and the snow-dusted mountains that cradled the lake. The mosquitos are bad but because we were there when a cold front had moved in and the first rain fell of the season, it wasn’t too bad for us at all. Not being right by the river helped too!

Michael hiked every day and I hung around because of an injured tailbone and I took Callie on walks and did a lot of photography. The rain came down hard several days with thunder and lightning, and the view was spectacular. White-tailed deer sauntered past our RV without a care in the world and Robins and Scrub Jays were everywhere. Callie loved it there because there were very few dogs and the fishermen were quiet and very respectful.

It only cost us $14.00 a night to stay there and it was one of the best places we have ever camped at. We have now moved over to the Keough hot springs right outside Bishop and can spend some time soaking in the mineral pools and relaxing before we have to go to Encinitas for eye surgery on the 18th. I am trying to get as much photography and writing done as possible before I am laid up. I am having a pterygium removed that has grown quite large and has now become a major surgery. I had one removed about 25 years ago and it was so traumatic, that I have held back on having the other eye done until it has now become absolutely necessary.

My Morning Wake-Up Call

Being retired but young enough to hop out of bed with the knowledge that the wind that howled all night, sending sand spraying into the house, and outdoor furniture skittering across the patio, means that the sunrise will be dramatic and I had better get my ass into gear so that I can capture the moment by taking photographs.

I have to jump up onto a wall in order to level my iPhone7 camera lens at Mount Illuminous, (as I fondly call the San Ysidro Mountains and the foothills behind my house), and snap images of the scene unfolding. I hope that someday I don’t trip and land on my face, so I try to be mindful as the wind is whipping up all around me and the early morning chill leaves me stiff and somewhat clumsy. Staying active and biking and hiking have kept my aging joints limber, but still, being 62 years old is a lot different than 52.

This morning did not disappoint me and as the sun rose and peaked out from behind the clouds in the east, my west view lit up delicately with dramatic clouds that were ever changing from the wind and light.

Callie got in one quick climb up her favorite olive tree as I took photographs, and then we both scrambled back inside because it was so chilly outside. We aren’t used to the cold out here in the middle of nowhere at Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, and because I only had a tank top and leggings on, I felt it. Callie is such a wuss too that anything under 80 degrees makes her want to crawl under the blankets and stay there. Another day has dawned for me and for that, I am grateful.

Death Valley National Park

I am not sure what I expected when we decided to visit Death Valley because the campsites at Valley of Fire were all full, but I can honestly tell you, it was better than my wildest imagination.

Death Valley has the honor of being the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America. It is an endorheic basin, which means that the rivers that flow in the valley do not head out to sea. It is part of the Mojave Desert and is famous for its unusual geographical features. There are sand dunes, salt flats, craters, and hardy stalk-like plants called Devil’s Corn Stacks.

This arid desert valley was once covered by a very large lake named Lake Manly that has since dried up. When the water evaporated, it left behind large deposits of minerals and salts that were once harvested by mules. Harmony Borax and the 20 mule team rigs that hauled the salts out of the valley that is used for washing clothes, was a well-known product when I was growing up in the 50’s.

We camped at the Furnace Creek Campground and had site number 66 and 70 which had a lot of privacy and a good view of the Panamint Mountains with white snow dusting the largest peak in the distance. It was dry camping and our auxiliary battery kept dying and our propane was low, so note to self, always fill up with propane before dry camping. I ended up having to get up at 4 am the last morning we were there because the refrigerator needed at least a charged battery or propane to continue cooling our food, and an alarm went off warning us that we were about to run out of both propane and the use of our battery. I turned the motor on and sent out a silent prayer that we weren’t causing our neighbors to lose sleep over the noise; the generator wouldn’t even turn over. I was able to get enough juice stored in the auxiliary battery after about 20 minutes of idling, and turned everything back off until 7 am when generators could be turned on once again.

The four of us spent 5 days and 4 nights at Furnace Creek and went exploring every day with our daughter’s car. My only complaint with RVing is that once we set up camp, we either have to walk or bike to wherever we want to explore. We had so much more freedom with a car. Towing a small car may have to be a necessity in the future.

On our first day, we went to Badwater and walked around the salt flats. It consists of mostly plain, white table salt, and was such a trip to look at. From a distance, it appears like snow, but up close, you can see the sodium crystals forming on the surface. On the return drive, we drove through Artist’s Palette Canyon but the lighting was too poor for a decent photograph. The colors were so spectacular with turquoise and rose and yellow ochre tints, that were layered inside golden sandstone. My photographs did not do it justice.

The Harmony Borax site was unsettling to look at because I just know the mules were worked to death and the Chinese workers that mined the salts were only paid a pittance and their wages were deducted for the cost of board and food. The Ubehebe Crater was extraordinary though, and looked like something on the moon and is only 2,000 years old. We hiked up to the crater’s first lookout and it was breathtaking! You pass the sign for the Race Track on your way to the Crater that is famous for the heavy rocks that slide along the ground of their own accord, but it was not reachable because we didn’t have 4 wheel drive. Multiple flat tires are common and there is no cell phone service available. The cost of being towed out can exceed $2,000! We tried to off-road to Darwin’s Falls, but that too became problematic because the car is so low to the ground and Lara and myself were sure that we were going to break down. A guy coming back from the falls convinced us to turn around and Michael reluctantly did so. The falls weren’t flowing strong anyway, so we didn’t miss out on too much!

We visited the Mesquite Sand Dunes, rode bikes and the last day I took photographs of Zabriskie’s Point at sunset. That was incredible and this time the lighting was perfect and I took multiple shots of the magnificent geological rocks that take your breath away.

Camping at Furnace Creek and exploring the Visitor Center was so much fun. Callie loved it too and started to feel better once she unthawed from her stay at Zion. She had the sniffles and kept sneezing the whole time we were in Utah. I wasn’t sure if it was allergies or a cold. Her respiratory system has been so compromised ever since she had that terrible bout of coughing that went on for over 4 months last winter.

I drove the RV all the way back from Death Valley to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park myself, and it handled so well. I am rather proud of doing such a good job. Michael has accidentally gone over railroad tracks in the very beginning just a little too fast, and we have had multiple flat tires and one time it separated the kitchen cabinets from the wall. The RV is a house on wheels and needs to be driven ever so gingerly. I had no mishaps on the way home. We did spot a very tame and curious coyote on the drive back and it came right up to the RV and checked Callie out. She actually growled at it so I am relieved to see that she knows the difference between a dog and a coyote. She loves dogs!

It feels good to be back in a house after 2 weeks on the road, and Callie is relishing having more room to run around in. She climbed up all three of her olive trees this morning and took a shot at the CD cabinet in the living room. All is well and another trip will be planned soon.

Day 2 of Silver Lake

The roar of the waterfalls lulled me to sleep last night while I fretted about the bag of trash that Michael refused to take to the dumpster! He doesn’t want to waste a half full trash bag and I agree, but I don’t want a bear ripping out a side window to get to the garbage either. There are bear postings everywhere. I woke up to the sound of the waterfall roaring and a bear did not come a scavenging during the night!

Callie coughed again last night and we think it was because of the air conditioner. If that is the case, it could very well be asthma again as the default diagnosis for her ongoing health problems. She is feeling fine today and we went on a morning walk and she got to hang out on the picnic table and watch the ground squirrels argue about their territorial disputes, and the deer tiptoe ever so elegantly in search of food.

Silver Lake Resort RV Park is wonderful and we are very pleased with our location. Due to the overwhelming amount of water flooding out a lot of the campsites, only those with reservations can stay. We are going to move a couple miles down the road to a day use facility called: Aerie Crag- an original founder of the Lake site camping in 1916, that will be allowing RV’s to camp overnight. There will not be any hookups and I would be surprised if I will have phone service. We can bike into town everyday and I will post photos and write if I so desire. If it isn’t too hot, we may try to stay for at least 5 days or through the weekend. Because of the flooding everywhere, including Yosemite, campgrounds are filled up and reservations that were made a year ago, honored first. There are no first come first serve availability at this time.

We went on a bike ride this morning and are amazed at all the water. Silver Lake is filled to capacity and the overflow has flooded out neighborhood cabins and driveways. The California drought is officially over in this area. I bet there will be a huge mosquito problem in a couple of weeks if the temperature stays warm. There is a lot of stagnant water lying around and they are already starting to buzz around when I stop to take photographs. Wild Iris blooms are everywhere and the scent of sage and pine fill the air with a wonderful outdoor scent.

It will be another warm day and I hear it will hit 101 in Oceanside, California where Fred lives. It will be 86 here….

Silver Lake Resort RV Park

This morning we packed up and headed to the June Lake series of lakes and are now camped at Silver Lake Resort RV Park. We are parked in E-11 at the very back of the park and our RV is the last row alongside the hiking trail to a major waterfall that is flooding out the cabins and the bridge. There are 3 more lakes still frozen solid that are starting to thaw in this heat wave. The entire campground and all who wanted to volunteer last night until 1:30 this morning sandbagged the perimeter of the Resort trying to keep the water from rising any further into the campground. The waterfall is roaring and the Silver Lake is way beyond most known borders. You could literally fish right outside your car window if you so inclined. A main water pipe also broke yesterday and people were without potable water yesterday. It has been an exciting day of grocery shopping at Von’s before dropping off Michael’s old bike to the Second Chance Thrift Store for the Wounded Warriors Project, and then making the 30 minute drive to the campground. We decided to head north instead of to Convict Lake because of the heat wave. Silver Lake is having an overwhelming black bear problem too, so all food has to be stored in airtight containers and nothing left outside. What an adventure we are having. 

June Lake


Two Men and a Cat

I can’t believe it is going to finally happen. Tomorrow we are driving over to Borrego Palm Canyon to camp in our two RV’s. Our good friend Fred, who is an incredible trail guide and Michael went up to Ramona, California to pick up a second used RV, a Winnebago Miniwinnie for Fred today. We had picked up our RV in Huntsville, Alabama over a month ago. After examining it and bargaining to get the cost down, the deal was made and they headed home. Not 8 miles into their return trip back to Borrego Springs, Fred was horrified to find out that the keys were locked in the RV because they had stepped outside to admire the view. Michael called me and asked ever so politely whether I would call a local locksmith to see if someone by chance could come out and rescue them. I called at least 5 locksmiths and no one could accommodate us. Fortunately Michael was able to pry one small window open and with Fred’s help they managed to get inside. Yay for determination. So tomorrow we head out with Callie in tow for our very first day and night away from home. I warned both guys that they had better behave themselves because I would be writing about our adventures together. They both moaned and laughed nervously at the idea of having their adventures told for the world to read! Callie chose to ignore the threat as usual, and in perfect cat fashion decided to take a nap……

Valley of Fire-The Movie

I have had so much fun with the photographs I took while visiting Las Vegas and Valley of Fire. This is a movie trailer that is created through the use of iMovie. The Durrant family visited Valley of Fire on December 31, 2016. It was a beautiful day after a major storm had blown through the state park.  There was evidence of flash flooding and the clouds were very dramatic with backlit sunlight pouring through. It was cold in the shade when the sun slid behind the clouds, but once the sun came out, it cast a wonderful warmth and glow on everything it touched. We enjoyed a picnic of Subway sandwiches and appreciated the sunshine. Callie loved exploring with her leash dragging behind her and we checked out Seven Sisters, Mouse Tank Trail and Arches Rock. Bighorn Sheep were grazing on the hill heading to Arches Rock and you couldn’t have asked for a better day for photography. 

Valley of Fire State Park 12/31/2016

This video doesn’t exist

A Cat Won’t Do!

I mentioned in my introduction, that Callie was a runaway and adopted me when she was about 3 years old. Her estimated  age is about 9 now as I have had the pleasure of getting to know her for the past 6 years. She spotted my husband Michael, and daughter, Lara and myself, standing by the front door one morning and she decided right then and there, that we were going to take excellent care of her and she was going to stay no matter what. I have to let you know that I had put my Jack Russel Terrier down several months earlier and I was still grieving and in no mood to attend to a cat. If you survive raising a Jack Russel from puppyhood and into adulthood, and you somehow maintain an alpha status, you are smitten for life with these incredibly bright and obnoxious dogs. They take over your life and you will never be the same for having experienced it. Miss Adelaide was about the most incredible dog I have ever had the honor of raising and there wasn’t anything she was afraid of except thunder and lightening. I had always imagined that if I were to get another animal, it would be another terrier and probably another Jack Russel. So, along comes this cat and I did everything to locate her owners short of making one up. We posted notices everywhere and I sincerely hoped someone would answer my call for help in finding her, her home. She was too darn cute to be a stray but I did not want a cat. No one answered my ad and after several weeks, I decided to go ahead and recluctanly keep her. A year later, the previous owners actually stopped by one day to tell me her story. Her name was Dora, and she was incredibly difficult to raise and they were tired of her running out the door whenever a door was opened. When they noticed that she seemed happy and content with me, they decided to say something but they made it clear that they didn’t want her back. Well, Callie has proven me wrong about wanting another dog and I sometimes feel like she is trying to act like a Jack Russel Terrier. One time, two local brazen tom cats made the mistake of walking through our front door, and when I ran out to chase them away, here comes Callie in all her fury, and she doesn’t just chase them out the door, she goes after them, screaming her head off and doesn’t stop until they are a block away. The front yard boundary wasn’t nearly far enough for her. The look on her face when she charged the tom cats was priceless and when she returned to the yard, she had this little swagger and her tail was held high and she practically pranced back into the house. Needless to say, those two cats never bothered her again. Tom cats have frequently developed a crush on her and she will have nothing to do with them. You can see the look in their eyes when she saunteres by with that cute little rear -end of hers and her darling brown and black spot on her back legs leave them weak in the kness.  It doesn’t matter, she can’t stand even the sight of a cat from a safe distance and finds their presence deplorable. She loves dogs though and when she is walking on her leash, dogs will come up to her and she grandly sits down and waits for them to approach with caution. Dogs seem a little stunned at seeing a cat on a leash and I always make sure to watch their body language before letting them come too close. Then they touch noses and the dogs inevitably start to do the wiggle and waggle and she silences their over enthusiastic tail wagging with one raise of a paw. They must have good manners and move with grave solemnity to stay in her presence. When the greeting is over the dogs look like they are trying to figure out what the hell just happened and Callie looks  like she is holding royal court.  Callie has proven me wrong about being a dog person, and now I can’t imagine life without her. She is game for any adventure as long as I appear confident and curious. She is almost a therapy cat for me when it comes to social situations. She has brought a lot of joy to my life and I will be forever grateful that I have a cat that thinks she is a dog!

Miss Adelaide
Joan and Miss Adelaide at Henderson Canyon in Borrego Springs

August 13: A return to Crater Lake and Kalamath Falls

It was time to start heading south again and we wanted to see Crater Lake one more time. The story about Crater Lake is about another cataclysmic event, but I won’t go into detail except to say that this time the volcano collapsed into itself and created a vast crater, or bowl, which then filled with snow and water over time. The lake is so blue and deep that it draws visitors from all around the world. It isn’t open during the winter months because 45 feet of snowfall in the winter months is a common event. I can’t even imagine what that would look like. You can drive around the lake and there are many beautiful lookouts with hiking and picnicking a great way to spend the day. The first time we went, Callie was under the motel bed, so this time she got to go and enjoyed checking out the squirrels whenever we would stop. One squirrel in particular darted right up to Callie before realizing its mistske and fleeing while chirping loudly as it dove under a rock. The squirrel was so intent on getting a treat from a group of people that it failed to see the danger. People were laughing and enjoying the drama. Callie stayed perfectly still except for her tail which jerked back and forth in anticipation of catching it. The park was crowded that day and many people came up to me and asked how I had trained a cat to walk on a leash… She loved all the attention and posed for many photographs. In one particular photo she wanted to take a nap on a sign post. People couldn’t believe how calm she was. I told them she was on Facebook but I can now proudly brag that she has her own BLOG too!


Callie is a wonderful assistant …