“All at once the desert was everywhere, and I was overcome with a feeling of relief. Sand, rocks, hills—the whole landscape was tinted the same shade of orange as the sky.”
― Jasmin Darznik, Song of a Captive Bird
Few places I know would merit a return in the same season but Red Rock Canyon State Park in California certainly does. My camping family/friends, Marty and Steve and I had decided, after last year, to go to Death Valley again this year, but after a storm last Fall, our favorite campground was closed. I suggested Red Rock as an alternative and so...we went.
The only problem? It was too damn cold. Steve and I have had 3 frigid camping trips - Calaveras Big Trees, Death Valley and now Red Rock. One morning it was 21F (and the furnace quit working of course) and it never got over 50. We also had to contend with sleet and rain one night. We still hiked a bit and the evenings inside the trailer were filled with drunken and loud singing and musical and political arguments (we had no neighbors- thankfully).
These two guys, from my perspective, are about the two best camping buddies a guy could have. They're fun and funny and smart, love the outdoors, and are forgiving of my quirks. Who could ask for more? The photo above is from our short walk at Fossil Falls off Highway 395 north of Red Rock. The photos below are my black and whites from the trip and I'm enjoying moving more to that medium lately.
The following photos were taken in the tiny old mining town of Randsburg. Fascinating place. The road and railroad photos above were taken on our drive there. My favorite photos these days, if you couldn't tell, are typically roads, sage, train tracks and desert sky. This is the West of my memories and my dreams.
The following images are from Red Rock Canyon State Park itself. I still can't believe I lived so many years of my life not even knowing about this Mojave gem which is just a couple hours north of LA.
We drove up Highway 395 after a late winter snow and visited Fossil Falls on the recommendation from, of all people, my dentist. It's a fascinating place from a geological and scenery perspectives and it didn't disappoint. Thanks Doc Evans!
After a cold week at Red Rock I went home for a few days and prepared to venture to Arizona for Dodger Spring Training as well as visiting Homolovi State Park in the Hopi lands. I knew it had to be hotter there and I was ready for shorts, t-shirts and sandals weather. Oh how wrong I was! Ha!
One of the great gifts of social media is finding cool people that you share common interests with - in the last year I was able to meet a fellow rail-fan (train fanatic) and Southwest lover, Liz Kylin on Twitter. When she read I was going to visit Homolovi she offered to show me around a bit and have lunch at "The Turquoise Room" in the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, AZ (maybe my favorite Southwest restaurant).
It's 525 miles to Homolovi from El Rancho Hubbardo and when I arrived I was exhausted from dragging my trailer around and avoiding the ubiquitous tractor trailers. I got my gear set up, ate some pea soup, watched a movie on my iPad and turned in very early. I awoke and was ridiculously cold. I keep an indoor/outdoor thermometer in the trailer and turned on the light to see the temperature which was a stupidly frigid 14F. Oh, man. So much for shorts and sandals! The next morning I checked in with the Ranger and told him it was 14F. He replied, "14? No, sir, it was 9F last night". Oh, OK, I stood miserably corrected.
The day did begin to warm a bit and Liz arrived at 10:00 AM and proceeded to show me the ruins in the Park. Although partly cloudy, it was getting warmer and I was grateful.
After a lovely walk and drive in the Park we made the short jaunt to Winslow and ate lunch. The La Posada is the home of an old "Harvey House" and the trains run just outside the back door. Liz was somehow able to determine that there was a freight headed our way and so we scurried out to her car and drove to a bridge overlooking the tracks and Interstate 40. Sure enough...here came our train. We even got the whistle!
Liz told me there was one more place that she had to show me...the Little Painted Desert. It was just north of Homolovi and - wow - what a place. Liz was quite the tour guide! I can't thank her enough.
After an extraordinary day Liz headed back to Flagstaff and I got ready to move south to Phoenix and my beloved Dodgers and some warm weather! My next blog post will be for baseball lovers and features the redoubtable R. Scott Jones and some photos of the Boys in Blue. Until then...
After being away from the desert for several months I almost couldn't bear it anymore. I planned a trip to Mojave but the idiots in Washington DC were threatening another government shutdown which would essentially shut down the Mojave Preserve.
After kvetching about this online my friend and Desert Expert Extraordinaire, Lori Carey said, "just get up to Red Rock Canyon". So, I did. The above photo shows the spot that I was able to secure for several days of desert bliss. Red Rock Canyon is only two hours north of Los Angeles but it certainly seems as if you're in another state, or another planet. It is about 80 miles from Bakersfield and 25 miles from the town of Mojave. The State Park link is here.
There is not a lot of civilization nearby this piece of unusual rock formation. As a result, it's uncrowded and provides solitude despite its proximity to Los Angeles. Many old Westerns have used this as a filming locale and it does have it's own unique charm. One day I jumped in the truck and decided to check out the local towns. The highway and the railroad tracks were lonesome on a late autumn afternoon. Just the way I like them. Have you ever felt "in your element" too? I
The weather was terrific. Highs during the day reached the upper 60s. It did get chilly at night but I was nestled in my little home away from home.
There are multiple hiking trails in the area. A highlight of the trip is the short Hagen Canyon Loop Trail. It's only a little over a mile but every bend leads off to another scenic spot which will tempt you into exploring. I spent an entire afternoon out there walking, wandering, resting, and making photographs. The geology is quite spectacular and there are some species of wildflowers that are only found here. It feels unique because it is...certainly no other place like it in California. At times, I found myself marveling at how much it looked like southern Utah.
My annual Death Valley Trip has been altered due to the Mesquite Spring Campground being closed from storm damage and I'm meeting my dear Bay Area family right back here in February. It certainly has on "Old West" feel. On the next trip I'll spend more time in the nearby El Paso Mountains and the Trona Pinnacles are just an hour away.
Thanks for joining me on this little Western getaway. We'll be back soon.
"Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best"
– Henry Van Dyke
At the end of each year it is enjoyable to look back and review the places I've visited. I also enjoy looking through old photos and remembering the fine times I had in each scenic spot.
My viewpoint of photography is changing and evolving on a regular basis. What I like today I may not be fond of a year from now. As my friend and fellow photographer, PJ Finn, has helped me realize, it's all about finding my "voice", just as I did as an actor and director when I was working in the field of Dramatic Art. Indeed, just as all artists should do.
In the next few years I believe my photos will be more of what I LIKE to photograph as opposed to what I think I SHOULD photograph. This is a leap for me but, at my age, what do I have to lose?
The photo above is on a deserted road near the tiny town of Cantil, CA. It's my personal favorite as, to me, it captures that lonesome western highway feel.
This photo below is taken from the Ajo Mountain Drive in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument one evening toward dusk in January.
My next trip was to Death Valley. I made several photos that I liked there and this simple black and white captures the stark and barren yet beautiful landscape of Death Valley near Zabriskie Point.
The next photo is of the Grapevine Mountains from the Valley floor the day after a rare winter storm.
After a soggy winter (finally) I decided to visit Steinbeck Country in Central California in March. This afternoon photo was taken along the Fremont Peak trail overlooking the city of Salinas. This trail was one of Steinbeck's favorites as a youth.
In April I was asked to make some photos of a United Farm Workers March in Madera, CA. I was proud to do so.
Lupe and I went to Chicago in April also and I got to see legendary Wrigley Field. We fell in love with the city and its Midwestern friendly vibe.
In May I was blessed to have been able to camp in Utah with my son, his wonderful wife and her brother, and my itty-bitty grandchildren. It was sheer heaven. The photo below shows Zion Red Rock in a layer of clouds. When I posted it on social media only a few folks "liked" it. But I like it quite a bit.
I don't normally make or show too many photos of people but when they're the two cutest people in the world whats a guy supposed to do? These are my grandchildren, Finley and Joaquin, at Kodachrome State Park in Utah.
Marty and I had a terrific time, as usual, at Gaviota on our annual trip there.
My daughter and I spent a few fantastic days in Pismo in June. Every day spent with the apple of my eye is a blessing.
In June I was at one of my favorite spots in California, Point Mugu State Park, and took this photo directly from my campsite at sunset.
In the summer I took my daughter Lilly and her friend Kennedy to the Giant Sequoia National Monument in the Sierra Nevada. I admire the stubborn independence of that solitary pine.
Lupe and I also visited the state we love the best, New Mexico. These are ruins in the Juniper country of Bandelier National Monument.
In early Fall I visited sublime and renowned Yosemite National Park with my dear Bay Area family.
in November I visited Pismo Beach once again. Man, I love the Central Coast.
I spent a fascinating day with the BLM and Mojave Desert Land Trust exploring George Patton's old WWII Training Center. The photo below is from an old place of worship near Camp Ironwood.
This last photo is another personal favorite that I recently took near the ghost town of Garlock, CA.
I thank you for coming along and wish each of you the most marvelous of years in 2018. Cheers! See you on the road...
Most Americans are familiar with the great WWII general, George Patton. Certainly any student of that war can probably tell you, chapter and verse, of his exploits. There is no question he is one of the most colorful characters in American history.
My father's second cousin was General Omar Bradley, the "Soldier's General" and so we always felt that Bradley was the superior general on moral grounds alone but there is no question that Patton was a "genius for war". His daring leadership, especially of the 3rd Army as they roared through France and Germany, is legendary. He also possessed tremendous foresight and predicted that mechanized warfare would be decisive in the next major war after his service in WWI. He was, of course, right as his German counterpart, Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, would emphatically demonstrate at the outbreak of WWII in North Africa as well as the German onslaught of the European low countries. There is much to say about old George and if you're interested in reading more about him I recommend, "Patton: A Genius for War" by Carlo D'Este and "War As I Knew It" by Patton himself.
Patton grew up in San Gabriel and knew the Mojave Desert. The following is from the Wikipedia page about the Desert Training Center:
Major General George S. Patton Jr. came to Camp Young as the first commanding general of the DTC. As a native of southern California, Patton knew the area well from his youth and from having participated in army maneuvers in the Mojave Desert in the 1930s. His first orders were to select other areas within the desert that would be suitable for the large-scale maneuvers necessary to prepare American soldiers for combat against the German Afrika Korps in the North African desert.
As a WWII history aficionado I had known of the training ground and visited Camp Young and the Patton Museum near Chiriaco Summit in the desert but hadn't gone to any of the other "camps". Fortunately for me, the wonderful people at the Mojave Desert Land Trust sponsored a tour to two of the Desert Training Center Camps, Camp Ironwood and Camp Granite. We were met by a terrific BLM archaeologist who knew the area and its history quite well. This was the first spot we went to near Camp Ironwood. I was told by military personnel that this was probably an "OP" or observation post. Perhaps old Patton himself climbed the hill and looked over his troops from this vantage point?
The next spot we stopped was at Camp Ironwood at the foot of the Ironwood Mountains. I was fascinated by the remnants of the camp from, lo, those many years ago which included a spot for religious services.. In particular the line wire and other debris left by our troops as they prepared to fight overseas and, for some, to experience an early death in sacrifice for not just our American freedom but for the freedom of the world.
A couple of desert creatures also caught my eye. I could write more about the gentle tarantula (the only spider I like!) but I'll save that for another post. Here is a big boy out looking for love and a well camouflaged lizard.
We ate a small and delicious lunch and visited our last stop at Granite Camp where the Desert Shrine was still beautifully intact. Apparently, the troops had to go miles to find the proper rock for the construction of these sanctuaries.
It was a beautiful desert day. The weather was perfect and a few clouds rolled in at the end of the day. I couldn't help but pull myself away for some landscape photos. The first is a panorama and then I made some black and whites that I hope you'll enjoy as they seem to capture some essence of the Mojave to me.
I also made some good old color photos too. In reviewing these photos I was reminded how easy it is to breathe and why I receive such solace in wide open spaces.
I had a wonderful time on this one day trip but it made me hunger for a longer stay. Next trip will be to the Mojave Preserve at the beginning of December. Thanks for coming along.
The Los Angeles Dodgers interrupted my travel plans.
I had planned on heading east but my team decided to make a run at the World Championship.
I grew up just south of LA in a small suburb and in the 1960's few things occupied my thoughts and affection like my beloved Dodgers. I've been a Dodger fan literally since I can remember. I was born in 1957 and the Dodgers came west in 1958. I don't remember the Dodgers winning the Series in 1959 against the "Go Go Sox" in the Coliseum but I have vague memories of our glorious sweep of the Yankees in 1963 and I remember every out of the 1965 Series when the Dodgers beat the Twins. The first time the Dodgers broke my heart was 1966 and not simply because they were swept in the World Series by the Baltimore Orioles. Sandy Koufax retired at the end of that season.
My sports hero of the 1960's is still my hero at age 60. My words will fail, tremendously, at trying to describe my adoration, appreciation, and respect for the great Sandy Koufax. In my childhood, Sandy was the most dominant force in major league baseball. He was the classiest, most humble, courageous, kindest, smartest, player in the game. He remains simply coolest athlete in my lifetime. In fact, no one else comes close.
Sandy was forced to retire in 1966 due to an arthritic elbow. I still remember hearing the news on the radio and I was in a state of disbelief for a long time. I grieved his loss to the Dodgers and to the game...still do.
Anyway enough about baseball...perhaps I'll save my discussion of Jackie Robinson, Maury Wills, Lou Johnson, Claude Osteen, Don Drysdale, Ron Cey, John Roseboro, Davey Lopes, Orel Hershiser, Roy Campanella and Corey Seager for another post strictly devoted to my favorite sport in the coming months or so... Just know...I love the Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers.
Suffice it to say, the Dodgers did make it to the Series this year and lost in the seventh game. I stayed home and watched and don't regret that decision. It was a marvelous post season (wait 'til next year!).
I was, however, itchy to get back on the road. I had reserved last May a few days at North Beach campground in Pismo Beach (planning months ahead is required these days). Although rather "urban" by my standards, it's still a long time favorite. I used to take my boys there when they were young and Lupe said she could join me thanks to the Veterans Day holiday. I arrived a day early to set up camp and realized that the Monarch Butterflies were just arriving for their yearly migration to Pismo. I spoke to a docent who shared that the numbers of butterflies has decreased dramatically in the last few years due to climate change.
Nevertheless, those butterflies are a sight to behold. If you get a chance...
The weather in Pismo was spectacular. I awoke the first morning to the sound of rain on the roof of the little trailer. I turned on the tiny furnace, warmed the trailer to about 70 degrees and made a pot of coffee. I spent the next few hours reading, drinking coffee and staring out the window at the steady rain. It was, in other words, a perfect morning. At about 11:00 AM the sun burst through the clouds and it became warm and clear and utterly delightful. Lupe arrived and I did make a few photos of the campground and nearby dunes. The sea water meanders through, behind, and around the dunes which are typically fairly crowded. I did manage to get few photos without people.
The central coast of California draws me back, again and again. Less crowded and commercialized than Southern California it captures some nostalgic, old California charm for me. In reviewing these pages you may find my deep affection for the place...in the meantime I'll keep returning. I've already scheduled a trip for the Rincon, Gaviota, Point Mugu and Morro Bay for the spring. Thanks for coming along...maybe we'll run into each other on some lonely dune near Cayucos one of these days...
There is nowhere on earth like Yosemite National Park. Yet, the last few years I have assiduously avoided this paradise in granite. I've grown weary of National Park crowds and craziness (see my commentary on Zion). I go to nature to reduce my anxiety and sadness not to increase it.
A couple of years ago we stayed in Wawona in July and visiting Glacier Point felt a lot more like Disneyland than the wilderness. The only reason we went was that I wanted to be sure my daughter experienced it before she ran off to college. I really didn't know when I'd be back but, it is, after all, one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the world. In the valley, looking up at the granite monoliths, one becomes overwhelmed by the staggering size and sublime scenery. It literally brings tears to the eyes. It's just that spectacular.
Last year I wrote a blog post about my favorite National parks and started to think about going camping again in Yosemite perhaps during the off season or my favorite mountain month- September. I knew that getting camping spots was problematic and I would have to plan on reserving online at 7:00 AM five months before I wanted to go. The Yosemite website suggests making sure that your clock is set correctly when attempting to book a site. Yeah. It's that intense.
So...I lucked out and got a spot in Upper Pines campground for a week following Labor Day. The campgrounds were full but the Park was, relatively, quiet compared to the June, July and August just as I'd hoped. Unfortunately there were two large wildfires burning nearby which obscured many views and limited my photography. Still it was magnificent Yosemite. Here are some black and white images I made on the trip.
The first few days I walked around the valley and drove up to the Tuolumne Grove, got to know my neighboring campers, hiked a bit, and kicked back while trying to find sun for my solar panels. On Saturday my dear bay area family; Kara, Steve and Jack arrived. We walked up to Happy Isles and had a marvelous dinner. The next day we spent in the Valley and sunned in one of Kara's favorite childhood spots along the Merced River. That following day Kara and Steve hiked up Yosemite Falls while the old guys, Jack and Jeff, drove over the Tioga Pass and had lunch in Lee Vining. Here are some more images of the trip. The first image was taken the night I arrived - a cloudy and smoky sunset.
If you look closely at the next photo you'll see Kara about to take a dip in the Merced River. The weather was perfect and warm that day but that night we were treated to a rocking and rolling thunderstorm.
Yosemite alone? Remarkable. Yosemite with people you love? Even better.
Since the Park was so smoky I think it merits a quick return trip, don't you? May sounds like a delightful month before it gets too crowded and while the water is running high. I better go back. In the meantime I'll leave you with a panorama of a soggy mountain meadow along the Tioga Pass in John Muir's "Range of Light".
Lilly, my 16 year old daughter, her friend Kennedy and I visited the western slope of the Southern Sierra and Giant Sequoia National Monument this August. We had a fine trip. Sadly, the legacy, history and scenic splendor of this area is currently under attack by developers and the United States Department of Interior. Please keep that in mind as you enjoy the photos and short narrative.
We chose to stay at the Quaking Aspen Campground in the National Monument. Ironically, there are very few Aspens in the campground proper but they are found all around the area. The campground sits near a small alpine meadow (7200 feet), has Tule Creek running through it, and is quiet and beautiful. After a somewhat harrowing drive on Highway 190 - it's steep and narrow and crazy curvy - we arrived and Lilly and Kennedy went to the nearby meadow and found a nice spot by the creek.
That night the old man (me) made his notorious Frito Pie, we watched "Sing" on my iPad in the trailer (to the pleasure of all...including the old man) and fell asleep to the sound of the whispering pines.
The next day we explored and went on two wonderful walks. The first is known as the "Trail of 100 Giants". Kennedy had never seen a Sequoia before and it was a kick to watch her expressions as we came upon these majestic wonders. We had a delightful hike.
My daughter, a lifelong adherent to lunacy, crawled into the hollow of a burned out Giant Sequoia and I asked her to poke her head out so that I could take a picture. It was, evidently, a far reach, and the photo came, over several minutes, in the following stages:
After our leisurely jaunt among the Sequoias we drove on the short dirt road to "Dome Rock" a large granite outcropping that is a rock climbing favorite. The views were beautiful and the steady strong wind we faced was refreshing and invigorating. Since I was camp counselor and guide I didn't focus that much on photography but I was able to capture a tiny bit of this pretty Sierra afternoon. I particularly like this photo of a lone pine on a rock outcropping.
The girls enjoyed the view and Kennedy was able to get cell phone service via her Verizon plan. Lilly and I on AT&T? Not so much. We planted ourselves and simply enjoyed the wind and sun.
Our last day was spent with more exploring, driving, and going for another hike. Lilly needed to get back to SoCal for Cross Country time trials but we managed to have a brief but brilliant time anyway. Life is so damn short and every moment with her in the wild is a profound blessing. I'll just count the days until we get out there again.
Lastly, I need to provide a quick editorial comment - it appears as if Secretary Zinke and the Interior Department will be recommending shrinking some of the National Monuments in the country. I am, of course, horrified. So much of the West has already been destroyed. We must, absolutely must, preserve all that is left. If you haven't already, won't you consider joining the cause of preserving these magnificent places?
My favorite state in the USA is New Mexico.
It's true I haven't visited all 50. I've traveled a bit however. How can I tell you why I love New Mexico the best? The history and culture are, in my opinion, the most fascinating and diverse in America. It's the scenery, and the adobe. It's the fine people, the Spanish and Mexican and Indian and Anglo. It's the spicy and delectable cuisine. It's El Malpais and El Morro and Bisti and the "seven cities of gold". It's chile peppers. It's the Chihuahuan Desert and the Rocky Mountains. It's the politics. It's the "Red or Green"? It's the scarcity of humanity. It's the sunsets, and the rain and the hiking and camping. It's Santa Fe. It's high Taos and low Las Cruces. It's the clouds! It's the sparkling metallic 1963 Chevy Impalas - chopped and channeled. It's sopapillas and posole and fideo. It's the cowboys still out on the range. It's Chaco Canyon and the Acoma Pueblo. It's Route 66. It's Billy the Kid. It's Carlsbad Caverns and the White Sands near Alamogordo. It's Bandelier National Monument. It's the Navajo and the Zuni. It's the snow on houses of earth. It's weird alien stories from Roswell. It's Georgia O'Keefe and Robert Oppenheimer and Tony Hillerman and Dennis Hopper. It's the mariachis on the Plaza in Albuquerque. It's the fertile Mesilla Valley. It's the Pecos and the Rio Grande. It's farolitos at Christmas and Hatch green chiles. It's the Tent Rocks and the llano and Shiprock. It's Los Alamos and the Hubbard Museum of the West and, well, I'm just getting started. Did I mention the food?
For the third time in four years Lupe and I visited the "Land of Enchantment". The reason that this is "Part 1" is because I have a New Mexico trip (Part 2 - El Malpais, El Morro and Acoma Pueblo) planned for October too. That trip will be camping and hiking. This trip's primary purpose was to visit Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces and look at property in communities to consider once Lupe retires. It was also, evidently, shopping and eating.
We started by taking the north route through Prescott, Arizona. I had been to Prescott some years back, on the 4th of July, and liked it well enough. It is an attractive cowboy town that sits at 5400 feet in elevation and has a famous rodeo every year. We stayed at the historic Hassayampa Inn which I highly recommend.
We got up early and hit the road to Santa Fe. There was a large fire about 15 miles away from Prescott (Goodwin Fire - 28,500 acres...now fully contained thankfully) which we skirted on our way. We arrived at the supposedly great Inn of the Governors (not recommended...ahem) and immediately went to eat at one of my favorite Southwest restaurants, The Shed.
We spent the next couple of days wandering around town and relaxing. A highlight was the New Mexico History Museum exhibit called "Voices of the Counterculture in the Southwest". The exhibit was really put together by Ed Abbey's old amigo, Jack Loeffler and well known '60's photographer Lisa Law. I had known of Lisa's Rock musician photos but was deeply impressed by her images of life in the 1960's. Coincidentally, having dinner one night in Santa Fe, Lisa walked into the restaurant and I was able to meet and chat with her. Very, very cool. Her website for fellow '60's aficionados, historians and culture lovers, is here.
Here are some photos I took while we meandered around town. It's a delightful place. I don't believe I've ever had an unhappy moment there.
On the last day of our stay, before spending time in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, I drove Lupe over to Bandelier National Monument. The Monument is remarkable for the cavates that ancestral Puebloan people inhabited for thousands of years. The setting is in a pinyon-juniper woodland...perhaps the most appealing topography in all the Southwest. I did take a few photos including the one at the top of this post and the one below which, to me, captures the area well.
The following photos show an ancient Kiva, old walls, cavates, the pinyon-juniper woodland and Lupe along the main trail in Frijoles Canyon.
You may have noticed the photo of the two young Native men doing maintenance on a ladder. A lowlight of the trip was some guy asking them what kind of rock comprised the ancient homes. They answered. "It's volcanic tuff". This guy walks a few feet away and says to his wife, "That's NOT volcanic. Those damn Indians don't know what they're talking about". Yeah, I was livid. I've found that confronting such ignorance with my anger typically isn't helpful but I find myself still burning, now, a few weeks later. What a monumental idiot. It is, of course, volcanic tuff and understanding that is part of the Bandelier experience - that racist halfwit could have easily discovered this through a 60 second perusal of the Monument website. Some of the people I meet on the road...I could write a book.
Enough about that. I'll probably write a cathartic blog post one day just telling stories about the inanities of some folks I've run into but, for now, enjoy the following gallery of black and white photos I made of magnificent New Mexico. I hope you enjoy the photos and remember...I'll be back in October. Who wants to come along?
The month of June in California typically signals two things; the start of the glorious summertime and "June Gloom" when the marine layer hovers over Southern California. I happen to be a lover of both. While September may be the best month of the year at the beach for those of who are sun worshippers June offers morning fog and overcast that usually "burns off" in the afternoon. After a lifetime of living in SoCal I've grown to love both months but June has a certain charm and I scheduled three coast trips this year. We had originally planned a large family outing to Lassen but, as I write this, the highway through the Park still isn't open due to the massive snow California received last winter. The water is a blessing and, hey, despite missing family and friends, the beach ain't bad!
I started at a longtime favorite-Thornhill Broome Beach near Point Mugu. In the early 1980's I was living in Ventura, CA and attending UC Santa Barbara. On the weekends, to survive, I would work at my father's typesetting shop in Los Alamitos. While taking the 101 to the 405 was much faster I invariably found myself taking "the long way home" along Highway 1 through Santa Monica, Malibu and up to Ventura County. I'd drive by Thornhill Broome and see campers literally right on the beach and think- "one day I'm gonna go there". I have followed through on that thought - many, many times.
The stretch of coast from Port Hueneme to Neptune's Net in Northern Malibu is some of the best in Southern California. There are very few homes and the beach is often desolate and lonely despite its proximity to LA.
Lupe and Banjo joined me for the weekend. In addition, her cousin Mundo and his wife Jenn also joined us on Saturday night for a wonderful outdoor barbecue and bonfire. Prior to their arrival I hiked each day in Sycamore Canyon and near the wetlands just north of Mugu Rock.
After the weekend Lupe went back to finish off the school year and I drove north to windy Gaviota State Park. I like it there and there may be more photos of that place here on the blog than any other place. It is almost always ridiculously windy and this trip was no exception. At one point I looked out the window and saw a dome tent rolling, end over end, directly at me. It ended up hitting the side of the fiberglass trailer with a thud and then flew over the top and about 50 more yards away where it was finally stopped by a wooden fence. Those folks left pretty quickly afterward.
The wind is one of the reasons I like Gaviota so much. It's in a small bowl along the coast, Kerouac slept here in "The Dharma Bums" and a train trestle is just overhead. But, the wind howls down through Gaviota Pass and makes camping there, sans an RV, difficult (although I did it for years). It generally keeps the amateur campers away. After a few hours of contending with the wind they often, while loudly cursing, get in their car and go. Can't blame them and gives me a bit more solitude.
Rumors abound that it may be closed soon. I certainly hope not. It's a treasure.
Marty, famous Marty, joined me the last night of my stay in Gaviota. He and I decided to hoist our old carcasses up a nearby peak to see some wind caves that I'd recently heard about. While it's a short hike it is very steep in places. We labored up the hills, sweating and mumbling to ourselves, but the destination was worth it.
I returned home for a few days and then my 16 year old daughter, Lilly, and I drove up to an old favorite of ours Pismo Beach. Lilly and I have been going to Pismo since she was a tot and we know the drill. We shop, bowl and head for the pier. Unfortunately, this year the Pismo Pier is going through a much needed rehabilitation and so it was off limits.
I brought my camera but didn't really plan on taking any photos. I wanted to devote my time and energy to "The Lilster". However, on one of last days we were there Lilly asked if we could go to Margo Dodd park since she'd heard it was pretty cool. Well, despite the heavy marine layer, it was indeed, "pretty cool". The rocks were covered with pelicans and it was a joy to discover.
I know, with Lilly reaching the latter part of her teen years and me getting older, we may not have many more trips with just the two of us. It was a memorable trip and she is a wonderful traveling companion. Her old man couldn't love her more if he tried. Here are some photos of Lilly's day trip suggestion.
This was written prior to the decision, along with Syria and Nicaragua (who thinks the accord isn't enough), to drop out of the Paris accords regarding Climate Change. Multiply my comments by several factors...
The photos above are from Mojave Trails National Monument.
An online friend of mine R. Scott Jones suggested that us "nature and public land lovers" write a blog about the federal government's attack on our public lands. I think it's a wonderful idea.
I started to write a long editorial essay regarding the Trump administration's "review" of our magnificent National Monuments and I wrote 6 pages of angry vitriol. The more I wrote the angrier I became. I made a list of the National Monuments I have visited. I made another list of the lies coming from Washington DC. I got ready to publish it and had second thoughts.
I got depressed and sad as I thought about the world we're leaving for my grandchildren and their children. I started writing again and will try to offer a simpler message. I want to convey, without bitterness, the beauty of the public lands and how much is at stake if we lose them. I'm in love with what's left of the West and our National Monuments, National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, and ALL public land that WE own and that our descendants deserve to enjoy. I want to come from a place of love...not hate.
My opinions on the decimation of the West are found, right here, on this website. If you want a more complete description of exactly what's happening this is an excellent article.
My hunch is that venting my anger is not a productive exercise for those of you who follow this blog. I only hope you will condemn and resist the development of our public lands in general and our National Monuments in particular. Please join us in doing all we can to halt the destruction of our land.
As Edward Abbey said,
"The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders".
Consider me an ardent defender. By any measure it's easy to see that our wild lands are being paved over, mined, drilled and ultimately destroyed. It is one of the great heartbreaks of my life.
My words fail. I am too emotional to be very articulate. Instead, I offer more photos of one of my favorite National Monuments, Organ Pipe Cactus in southern Arizona. Please visit a National Monument if you can. I promise, if you do, you'll want to stop the madness of this "review".
I hope you'll agree that these lands deserve saving. Contact your representatives by mail, email, or phone. Join one of the groups that advocate for the outdoors and our precious public lands. Fight for beauty and nature- it's a battle worth waging.
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.
All content (C) Jeffrey C. Hubbard. No re-use without express written permission