Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009 from Joshua Tree National Park

Beside my glove is a tiny foxtail cactus that will grow from a two-inch ball to look like a fluffy (but prickly) foxtail.

(Joshua Tree National Park, December 2008)

The week before Christmas, Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree National Park were blanketed in white by one of the biggest snowstorms ever. Not much snow was left when we visited the park a few days after Christmas, just drifts at the side of the road. The park also wasn't as full of visitors as usual because of the cold weather, about 45 degrees that day.

William and I drove to the end of Stirrup Tank Road near Wilson Canyon and hiked a few hundred feet up to the top of a huge rock formation with a clear view of the park. By the time we reached the top I took off my gloves and unzipped my jacket. The silence, huge blue sky, and the view were amazing. Pure heaven!

Hiking down a steep, rocky path can be more dangerous than going up. William and I reminded ourselves to put the toes of our boots down first and to avoid patches of loose gravel. I came across fresh scat from an animal that looked to be a large one, and I started thinking about mountain lions. For all the serenity the park provides, it's still a wilderness! We were out of cell phone range, and the only people for miles around.

We kept a lookout and made it safely down the trail to the car. In 20 years of visiting the park I've never seen a mountain lion but it's a good idea to be aware.

Take a trip out to our beautiful deserts and enjoy the clean air and beautiful views. The wild animals you'll likely encounter will be jackrabbits or roadrunners.

Happy New Year and have a fantastic 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008--more Joshua Tree National Park snow

(Joshua Tree National Park, 2004)

(Jazzy, 2008)

We're going out to the park--hoping to see more snow this year!!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter snow--Joshua Tree National Park

(JTNP, December 2004)

It snows in the park every once in a while, not what
many people expect to see in the desert. It's beautiful while it lasts!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

desert literature events

Saturday, December 13, 2008
1:30-4:30 PM

Class A302 Desert Literature - Stories and Lore of the Coachella Valley

Education Center, Living Desert University/Living Desert Reserve, Palm Desert

Instructor: Ruth Nolan, M.A., Assistant Professor of English at College of the Desert

Ever wonder how the Coachella Valley got its name? Interested in the stories of our valley's early pioneers, the celebrity influence on shaping our desert as we know it today, and the centuries-old legends and contemporary stories and memoirs of our local Native American inhabitants? This lecture and discussion will focus on the literature -- excerpts of fiction, poetry, essays, memoirs, tall tales, legends, and Native American stories and oral tellings - of our local and surrounding desert areas. The lecture will combine slide show, reading, lecture and discussion to give you a desert literary experience that will enhance your understanding and knowledge of our unique desert.

For more information or to register, click here.

and... for more desert literature...

Trapdoor Poetry

invites you to a poetry reading

Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008
6:00 p.m.
Mike Cipra
Caryn Davidson
Joshua Tree Park Ranger-Poets
there will also be an open microphone

Palm Springs
Wine and Art Gallery
242 No. Palm Canyon Dr.,
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Thanks to Ruth Nolan & Steve Peterson,
Poetry Series Coordinators!
More information :

Saturday, December 6, 2008

coolio license plate art--July 2008:Patriotic sights Part IV--the Smithsonian

("Preamble" by Mike Wilkins, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., July 2008)

In 1987 Durham artist Mike Wilkins created this art piece made from license plates to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. I thought it was pretty cool. It reads:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

(Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., July 2008)


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Patriotic sights--July 2008: Part I

(Gettysburg Address, the Lincoln Memorial)

(Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C, July 2008)

(steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech)

(Jefferson Memorial)

(Washington Monument, White House)

Okay, I'm veering away from the desert a bit...

In July, 2008, I visited Washington, D.C., for the first time. My family and I toured the Capitol area and the National Mall. Though I've seen these sights so often on TV or in the movies, I felt a visceral stir seeing in person the White House and Washington Monument, the statue of President Lincoln, and the Gettysburg Address carved in huge letters into the marble walls of the Lincoln Memorial.

I stood in the exact spot where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood and looked from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the throngs below to deliver "I Have a Dream." Seeing these amazing sights made me appreciate our country more than ever before.

We toured much of the Smithsonian Museum (clusters of large buildings dotted along the Mall) and the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence is on display in a marble-floored, dimly-lit hall.

At 11:00 PM on our last night of touring D.C., we visited the Jefferson Memorial. The night was still and balmy, the Memorial lit with a pink light. William and I stood on the steps and looked across the Potomac at the Washington Monument, beyond it the White House.

I felt a swell of gratitude and appreciation that we live in a country founded on the great principles written in the Declaration of Independence: "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Maybe it's because it's election year that my patriotism and pride are stirred again. No matter who each of us voted for, I hope that we can march forward in unity behind our new president and work together. I'm glad to be an American.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

(Vietnam Memorial, Washington, D.C., July 2008)

To all the veterans who have served our country, from those we have lost to those who are currently serving: thank you, and Happy Veterans Day.

(On this day in 1982, the newly finished Vietnam Veterans Memorial was opened to its first visitors in Washington, D.C.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Screening: "Escape to Reality"

Join my friend Ruth Nolan for a reception and screening of "Escape to Reality," a video project she's worked on featuring desert images of 60+ California photographers.

When: November 6th, 6:00 PM
Where: University of California, Riverside--California Museum of Photography
3824 Main Street (at University Ave.), Riverside, CA 92501
phone: (951) 827-4796
Check out the website here.

The video project "Escape to Reality: 24hrs @ 24fps" borrows narrative elements from Mabel Dodge Luhan's memoirs combining them with the poetry of Palm Desert resident Ruth Nolan, images from Eadweard Muybridge's 1870s Palo Alto motion studies, post-modern music, tourist travelogues taken in New York, California, and Pearl Harbor in 1930s, along with the images of photographers who roamed Joshua Tree National Park for a 24-hour period in May 2008.

"Escape to Reality" montages time periods and styles marking the transition between East and West, day and night, sophisticated urbanity and isolated desert, class comfort and new realities, war to peace, still camera to cinematic, from analog film to digital device.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween from Gold Point Ghost Town

(William the Assayer)

(Sheriff Stone and us)

(our lodging)

(Gold Point Ghost Town, Gold Point, Nevada, 2005)

In the spirit of Halloween (no pun intended) I'm posting photos from our trip in April, 2005 to Death Valley National Park to see the 100-year wildflower bloom. I hemmed and hawed about taking a last-minute road trip without overnight reservations to a destination six hours from home."I'm going to see the wildflowers!" William said. I wasn't about to be left behind.

Death Valley was packed. Every campsite, motel, and hotel for miles, full. We found a room on Friday night at the Amargosa Opera House Hotel (that deserves its own blog post) at the park's outskirts. With the help of a hotel clerk we located lodging for Saturday night at the closest place we could book: a bed and breakfast 50 miles away off of Star Route 30 in Gold Point, Nevada.

Gold Point, a former mining town set on a high desert plain, with a magnificent view of distant snow-capped mountains, turned out to be a ghost town. Population: 27 (living folks, that is). Sheriff Stone runs the Gold Point Bed & Breakfast & More. He served up delicious chow (including homemade ice cream for dessert) and even better conversation, and almost convinced me of the existence of an animal that prowled the plain called a jackalope.

We dined with other guests in the sheriff's main house then retired to an old miner's cabin to sleep. The picturesque shack was a little drafty and a bit spooky, but fun!

After the trip Juliana, then 11, said, "Staying in that ghost town was the best part!"

Driving to Nevada and staying overnight in Gold Point was one of those pleasant surprises that happen on a spontaneous road trip. I'm glad I went along.

For more information about Gold Point or Sheriff Stone's B & B, click here.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mourning dove nesting in a prickly pear cactus

(Twentynine Palms, May 2006)

Just outside the window of my in-laws' den at their Twentynine Palms home, a mourning dove made a nest inside the branches of a huge prickly pear cactus. She sat on her eggs night and day. The baby birds finally hatched and a few days later disappeared.

That's true love--sitting in a cactus in 90 plus degree weather to protect her young. A mother' s dedication!