“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
This getting older is an interesting ride, isn't it? The years have certainly simplified things for me. Today I'm 20 years sober. I am grateful for my sobriety and the clarity it has brought me. In my youth, I was, sadly, very confused regarding what was truly important. Then, after retirement and a breathtaking and heartbreaking injustice, I had to re-calibrate everything. Many days I just wanted to go away for good. I can't tell you how low I was because it was an exhausting trial every day just to continue to live. I felt utterly useless and desperately despondent. Fortunately, I did have a wonderful shrink who said to me, "Well, Doc, you tried to change the world. How'd that work out for ya? Maybe you should simplify and just change yourself." She also suggested for me to do things that "soothed" me, reminded me that all things are temporary, and to just hang on.
It became clear to me that two things, besides my beautiful family, might soothe me and help me to make it through the days. One of those was music. The other was nature (part 2 is coming). I have been a music addict since birth (My mother claims that she listened to Calypso music daily while she was pregnant with me in an effort to make me a music lover - evidently it worked). I have been a Bob Dylan fanatic since about 1965 when I was 8 and my cousin Staci played, "Blowing in the Wind" for me. I was also hugely influenced by my blind Uncle Edgar who, in the cool of the evening in his tiny apartment in Southgate, California in the 1960's would put Jimmie Rodgers on his old record player and listen to him yodel and sing songs about trains. He was definitely "soothed" by that and so was I. The songs made my uncle's sadness just vanish. As a result of these particular influences (and growing up the 1960's when AM radio was great) I have been a lifetime lover of American Roots music and the Blues - it's now often called "Americana" and a group called simply, "The Band" epitomized it in many ways.
15-20 years ago I discovered a fellow with the same last name whose music really spoke to me. It's rootsy and swampy and bluesy and the lyrics are witty and hit me right in the heart. He may be best known for "Redneck Mother" and "Snake Farm" and those are certainly fun songs but hardly capture the particular genius of Ray Wylie Hubbard. I could write paragraphs with my recommendations of his albums but couldn't tell you my favorite - there are too many. Occasionally people ask if Ray and I are related and I always say, "Not that I am aware but we do appear to be brothers from another mother". His new album, "Co-Starring Too" has gotten rave reviews and is zooming up the Americana charts so it's an easy place to start if you're just now hearing of him. Email me if you want to know more.
I started following many of my favorite artists on social media and one day while I was out on a walk I got a notification on my phone that Ray Wylie Hubbard had followed me back. Well, lemme tell ya - that was a kick. Then in August 2020 I was lamenting the fact that while I had been sober for 18 years the pandemic sometimes made me feel like drinking again. I then received - in my private messages - a message from Ray which said, "Old timer told me once: "no matter how bad it gets, taking a drink will make it worse. ODAT".
For the un-initiated ODAT means - one day at a time. I was blown away to have the man himself, a fellow friend of Bill W., send me such a kind and meaningful message. I responded and hoped to one day meet my friend in person. That actually happened last December in Las Vegas. Ray was playing at the Golden Nugget and I sent him a message and asked if I could get a picture. To my surprise and delight he said OK. The show was marvelous - I've been attending concerts for many, many years and I cannot recall another where the musical artist connected so easily and deeply to his audience. Ray was humorous and friendly and the crowd adored him.
After the show I was told to wait near the exit and sure enough a gentleman came up to me and asked, "You Doc Hubbard? Ray says for you to come on back." I went back stage and Ray was talking to some people but his son Lucas and drummer Kyle Schneider came right up and asked me how I was doing. They were so damn nice. Then Ray came over and said hello and, you'd think at my age this wouldn't happen, but I got tongue tied and a bit star struck. This, to me, was a really big deal. Dammit! How was Ray gonna know how cool I am? Still... Ray was great and couldn't have been more welcoming and kind-hearted and personable. I managed to mumble something about how much I loved his music. I wanted to be respectful of his time and so asked someone nearby to take our photo so I wouldn't be too much of a bother. Check this out:
Can you believe it? That is me and Ray! We said our goodbyes and off he went - me? Still on Cloud 9, I wandered around Las Vegas in a bit of a stupor... it was such a pleasure to meet a man I respect so much for making some of the best music on the planet and being my brother in sobriety. I'm still over the moon that it happened.
Now, go listen to, "Mother Blues" and "South of the River" or "Conversation with the Devil" and tell me what you think...
My 65th year on the planet started fabulously. For many years I have wanted to be with my family in my favorite desert place - Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It was a dream that, candidly as the years have gone on, I wondered would come true. And while my daughter was stuck in Corvallis amid the omicron variant mess, my boys, their wives, my grandchildren and Lupe were all able to join me. It was a slice of heaven! My only wish is that we could have spent more time out in that glorious green desert. I have decided that, for the foreseeable future, I'll be spending at least two weeks every January in the Sonoran desert. So...who knows - maybe we will be able to do it again. And why don't you too come out to visit?!
Also in January I got a new iMac computer which I needed. Sadly and ironically, I lost much of my music library on Apple Music making the transition from PCs to Apple and was told just yesterday by a "senior advisor" that, "Sometimes at Apple we can't solve everyone's problem". Wow. I could spend hours writing about how technology has plagued me for the last few years but that is NOT the point of this post - I mean if we want to hear complaining we can just go on social media, right? Suffice it to say - you know how much I love music - and this has been a setback - fortunately, there are lots of choices for music streaming out there - and I prefer the ones where I can hear Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. My road trip playlists will carry on! Enough complaining...
As I mentioned my daughter Lilly wasn't able to join us in the desert so I decided to drive to her in Corvallis. She is in her junior year at Oregon State and is doing beautifully. I couldn't be more proud. The only problem - and it's a serious one - is I miss her like Hell. So, I drove up and we went to a basketball game and hung out - she showed me around town and it was fantastic.
The weather, as expected, was chilly. I did bring the camera and made a few photos. Here is Mt. Shasta from Highway 5.
I decided to take the coast road home. It rained from Newport to Gold Beach. I was, as always, stunned by the beauty of the Oregon coastline.
Here is the Heceta Head Lighthouse from a distance.
The next day I drove to Fort Bragg and, when I got to California, the sun broke through the clouds - just for me.
Just last week I made my last desert trek of this winter at Anza Borrego. Marty and Dell joined me and it was a kick - until I hit a rut at speed in my truck and ripped off the bumper out in Blair Valley. But, hey, if you're gonna off road... it's all part of the deal.
Here are my two buddies Dell and Marty - for a couple of city slickers they're not too bad. I can't wait until we do it again.
Thanks, as always, for coming along. Next up is my dream trip - a cross country train trip on Amtrak. I'll be on 8 trains and passing through more than half the states in the USA. As the years dwindle in my life I'm trying to get in as much travel as I can while I am healthy. I do love it so. I'll be making big stops in Chicago, Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame), NYC, New Orleans, Memphis, and Clarksdale MS (Mississippi Blues Trail). I can't wait to tell you all about it.
Much love and best wishes to all who read these words. May 2022 be a beautiful year for each of you.
Hello friends. The world remains weird. This year, as it related to the pandemic, was filled with optimism (vaccines!) and despair (delta and omicron). My travel plans were OK and then interrupted again and then OK again and then... well, you know the story. In terms of my own travel adventures, photography and growth as a photographer I would rate the year a 5 out of 10. A highlight was meeting so many friends on the road. Maybe you can meet me next year?
As usual, I offer these photos as my "favorites" not my "best". And, I must tell you, I had a heckuva time picking 10 - there were about 10 others that I like darn near as much as these - and it's been making me kooky having to choose. But, of course, choose I did...
I use a software program - Lightroom - to process my photos. In 2021 I had computer problems (an intermittent black screen issue - the computer is still on but the screen goes black) starting last December and lasting well into the summer. After complaining up the corporate ladder to Dell Computers tech support it seemed like I had it resolved but Dell techs created a multitude of other issues. And, why, just two days ago after a Windows update the screen went black again. Sigh. After 30 years of using a Windows PC - 2022 is the move to Mac year. Man, sometimes I hate technology. These problems had a significant impact on my desire to even make photos. OK - you get the point - enough kvetching! I had a lot of fun too in 2021 and for that I am grateful.
One other note, while I'm still using my Nikon DSLR for most of my photos I did purchase a Sony RX100 Point and Shoot this year and used it on a few of my trips. Obviously, it lacks the resolution of my Nikon but it's better than my iPhone and it sure is fun to just throw it in my pocket and not worry about it.
I have BIG travel plans for 2022 including a cross country Amtrak trip (including the Baseball Hall of Fame - finally) a trip to see my family in the PNW, a trip to Tulsa for the Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan Centers and a trip with my children and grandchildren to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - a dream come true! So - we shall be in touch!
Alrighty then... here are the photos from 2021.
The first photo here is from a drive I took in Arizona last February which seems so very long ago. This is Canyon Lake along the Apache Trail.
Also from this trip is this simple photo of a petroglyph in Saguaro National Park.
Over the years I have taken hundreds of photos of Morro Rock. It's always the exactly the same and always completely different - know what I mean? Here's a 6:00 AM photo I took last August.
Next up is a photo from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It's a typical Sonoran desert scene.
I have loved Gaviota State Beach since I was a student at UC Santa Barbara a very long time ago. It can still, occasionally, be a solitary place. Here is one of my favorite spots to hang out....under the pier.
Speaking of favorite places, I was able to venture out to White Sands National Park in October. When I went to the visitors center I was shocked - no parking spots and wall to wall people. Sigh. Such is the fate of National Monuments that we turn into National Parks. I was, thankfully, able to find some quiet spots in the Park anyway.
One night in Arizona I drove out to Ironwood National Monument as a storm was rolling in and caught some sun rays between the clouds.
I suppose, like lots of us, I dig lighthouses. This is the Port Isabel Lighthouse in Port Isabel, Texas. It's an interesting angle which took some contorting to achieve and, no, I didn't mind the odd looks from the other visitors.
Another telephone pole, railroad track, pier and sea photo of Gaviota from nearby Hollister Ranch on a stormy day last Spring.
Here is another photo from White Sands and I like the minimal contrast between the sky and sand.
This last photo of a Sonoran Desert sunset. It is an extra and not really one of my favorites but I include it because it had several thousand "likes" on twitter for some reason. Maybe you'll enjoy it too.
I wish you all the best and hope that 2022 is better for all of us. I sincerely appreciate you reading these pages and being my pal. It means the world. Much love to all.
In the last 18 months I have canceled over 60 nights of travel due to the pandemic and associated drama. Late in the summer, I was tired of canceled camp sites and reservations and decided, "THAT'S IT! I AM OUTTA HERE". I went on my favorite trip planning website and, since I've wanted to see it for awhile, planned a trip to Devil's Tower in Wyoming and Badlands National Park for October.
After a few years of deliberation I also decided to get a sports car. When I retired I sold my convertible and bought a truck but missed the sheer fun of the open air. This is especially true because, after too many close calls in the Southern California traffic, I sold my big Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle a few years back. In my life some of my finest moments have been on a lonely two road highway, top down in a convertible, banging the steering wheel to the beat of a great song and letting the wind blast through my hair. That, my friends, is living. I started researching sports cars a few years back and tentatively decided on a Mustang, Camaro, or even another BMW. I required a manual transmission which, today, is a little like finding a needle in a haystack on those models. I subscribed to Road and Track and Consumer Reports and my thoughts on my next car all changed. The little Mazda MX-5 ranked so far above the competition that I had to drive one and then, well, I fell in love with the little roadster. Talk about fun to drive!
Ok! Let's go! For grins and a bit more info I talked to a friend who is a regular visitor to Badlands and she said, "You want to take a convertible to South Dakota in October? Oh, silly boy, you do that when it's warmer - it could snow on you. You drive south in October in a convertible!". Well, alrighty then...let's drive south.
I stared at the map for awhile. I'd always wanted to see the Padre Island National Seashore along the Texas Gulf Coast. That is south. So, I got in the little MX-5 and drove 1508 miles...
But let's jump back a little bit. I actually did have a short 3 day trip to Morro Bay in August. It was quite lovely and I did manage to make a few photos. So before we head out to Texas allow me to show you a few images from an enjoyable short trip to sleepy (and foggy) old Morro Bay - love that place! Lupe and I will be returning this month.
Okay. Fast forward to early October 2021. One morning at 6:00 AM I threw my suitcase in the trunk. Put a backpack in the passenger seat. Hit my Apple Music playlist that included every single Texas song I could think of and backed out of the driveway. As soon as it warmed up I pulled off Interstate 40 - put the top down - and commenced the road trip bliss. My first night was at La Posada in Winslow. I met my pal, Liz, and we had a nice dinner at The Turquoise Room. With it's history, decor and proximity to my beloved trains, La Posada remains one of my favorite spots to stay in all of the Southwest.
After a restless night of sleeping, the thought of the road kept waking me up, I started the drive through some magnificent scenery and Billy the Kid country, to Artesia, New Mexico. Liz had recommended the drive through Quemado and Pie Town and avoiding the interstate and it was an inspired recommendation. I had what Mr. Maslow called a "peak experience" on the drive. No traffic, perfect 80 degree weather, scenery to bring tears to your eyes and cracking good tunes by my favorite Texas singers/songwriters. I lost all sense of time for a few hours and only felt that particular joy that only a road trip can provide. Here are a few photos from that day.
I arrived in Artesia, NM at about 5:00 PM after losing an hour heading east and driving about 550 miles. After trying, for several years, I finally met my social media pal Mike Nowak and we had a lovely dinner at the Adobe Rose - where I also happened to be staying. It was cool hanging out with Mike and I'm hopeful it can happen again soon. I slept well and woke up early the next morning to head to San Antonio. I had spent some time in Texas over the years, of course, but hadn't been on a road trip there other than when I picked up my little fiberglass trailer in Rice back in 2015. After driving through the oil country I stopped for some Texas BBQ in Ozona, TX at Wagon Wheel BBQ. After eating the most tender brisket I have ever had I spent about 45 minutes talking to the owner about how he became a barbecue master and the differences between Texas BBQ and Santa Maria BBQ after I told him about my grill and love of tri-tip. It was a hospitable welcome to the Lone Star State.
This was the first of many fine meals I had on my Texas sojourn.
After 3 days of solid driving I was becoming a tiny bit road weary. I decided to stop in one of the many "parking areas" on the Texas interstates and saw this old abandoned stagecoach stop. It was an interesting place and the view through the interior provided a fine photo opportunity.
I arrived to sunny and hot (95F) San Antonio at about 4 in the afternoon. I checked into the hotel and rested for a few minutes but had to, absolutely had to, go get some Tex-Mex. I walked down to the Riverwalk and had a lovely dinner.
The next morning was my obligatory Alamo tour. On the drive in I had listened to an audio-book called, "Forget the Alamo". It's a fairly new history of the context of the battle and it was eye opening and much different than the "official" history including the fact that Mexico's abolishment of slavery was a huge part of the story. I was looking forward to seeing if the tour guide would weave any of this information into his tour. I should have known better. The Alamo is still too sacred to mar with the truth.
I was very surprised when I arrived in Alamo Plaza. It was crazy. There were dozens of people everywhere and people participating in reenactments were wandering around aimlessly shooting their fake guns or selling souvenirs from booths and every 5 minutes cannons were being fired in the street and, man, it was all a bit much. The worst part? The tour itself is a snoozer. I'm still glad I did all this, I suppose, but I can't imagine ever "doing the Alamo" again.
I had Tex-Mex for lunch and visited the Briscoe Western Art Museum, took a river boat tour and that night went on a walking tour of the city - which I would highly recommend. The walking tour (free!) was a historically accurate and entertaining introduction to San Antonio. In fact, it'll make you fall in love with the city. I did. And I know I will be back - there is so much more to see and do and places to eat! Here are a few photos of my day.
As I left the next day for the gulf coast I thought that I would check out one of the San Antonio missions. After doing a little of my own research (scarier words seldom said) I decided to visit Mission Espada which is (allegedly) the best preserved. I arrived to a full parking lot on a gloomy but warm day and realized, since it was a Sunday morning, Mass was being observed. I quietly meandered around. It was an oddly satisfying hour or so. I kept wondering about who and how many people had walked in this same place for so many years.
I was 12 in 1969. Lots happening that year - even Glen Campbell sang an anti-war song called "Galveston". It captured me and inspired a lifelong desire to visit the Texas Gulf Coast. In particular, I had always wanted to stand on the coast and look at the waves and feel the gulf breeze on my face and in my hair. Finally, in October 2021, a mere 52 years after I first heard that song, I made that dream come true. It wasn't exactly in Galveston, I was at the Padre Island National Seashore which is a unit of the National Park Service. The place, as my Texas gulf cost dream evolved over the years, that I wanted to see the most. It did not disappoint.
This then was my first view of the Texas gulf coast at Malaquite Beach. And yes, the warm breezes were blowing in my face - it was just as I had pictured it in my mind's eye all these many years.
I spent two glorious afternoons at the National Seashore. I was astonished and delighted by the solitude I found there. Every summer, in my youth, I would spend days in the ocean swimming. It had been a few years but the water was so warm and inviting that I couldn't help myself. I spent half one afternoon being healed - physically and spiritually - by swimming in that temperate salt water.
I was delighted by the Coastal Prairie grasslands. How novel for me and how magnificent.
I spent a bit of time in Corpus Christi where the temperature barely changed while I was there - it seemed to be 85F all day and all night. That's not strictly true of course but let's not let facts get in the way of my feelings. It seemed to be hot - all the time. Of course, another song, Corpus Christi Bay by Robert Earl Keene, had boosted my interest in this area as well.
The following morning, unaware that a hurricane was building that would eventually alter my course, I drove to the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Park and spent time in the Lower Rio Grande Valley on my way to South Padre Island. I had a marvelous time other than running into the largest Mosquitoes I have ever seen and nearly being carried off and eaten alive. I talked to the Ranger at Palo Alto who lived there locally and he told me, "yeah, we're thinking about changing the state bird". Cracked me up. The following photos are from the battlefield and the surrounding area near Los Fresnos, TX. I need to go back and make that area near Brownsville my home base for 3-4 days and make photographs. It has it's own unique and, to me, spectacular beauty.
On my way to South Padre I stopped at the Port Isabel Lighthouse. Not too many folks around.
I got to South Padre - checked in to my motel room and rested. It had been a busy several days. I checked my twitter account and someone said, "Hey, look out for Pamela". Well, OK. Let's see here. Oh, Pamela is a hurricane but it's not coming from the gulf. It's coming from the Pacific - crossing over Mexico and is supposed to hit Del Rio first as it moves into Texas. Well, tomorrow night when it hits - I'm supposed to be staying in Del... wait, what? I went on the weather app and, sure enough, there was a huge red cone showing the hurricane track and yep it was headed directly for my next stop in Del Rio. They were predicting 6-8 inches of rain in a 24 hour period with flooded roads. I suppose if I'd been in my Tacoma I'd have been more relaxed and game to deal with crazy weather but being in a tiny roadster wasn't a brilliant choice for happiness while driving through flooded roads.
So much for my leisurely drive through Laredo along the Rio Grande to Del Rio. I had to dodge this weather front and kick in plan B. The next morning I got up at 2:00 AM and hit the road on the way to Fort Stockton which would put me north of the hurricane track. Of course, it should have been easy enough to do - just go back east toward Corpus Christi and then north to San Antonio. Google maps had me start taking 2 lane highways all over hell and gone and then directed me to a closed highway. At 4:00 AM, no less. I stopped the car. Got out and breathed deeply - this was an adventure now. After a few minutes breathing in that fine Texas air I jumped in - looked at a PAPER MAP and got going - what a novel idea. I headed north but kept checking the radar and watching the leading edge of Pamela every time I stopped - nope - no way to avoid it. By the afternoon the weariness kicked in and then , like clockwork, the storm hit me on the interstate. Now, I've been in some weather in my life but this - just the tip of the storm - was pretty darn wild. The speed limit is 80 MPH and I was driving 30 MPH and passing trucks. We all got hammered for about 45 minutes and then... it was gone. Sweet. I pulled into the Fort Stockton Best Western a relieved and tired California boy. The motel offered a free dinner - what a genius concept. I ate and crashed for 12 hours. Woke up to a beautiful dawn and headed to Las Cruces through Alpine and Marfa.
I was on the home stretch now. Hurricanes and gulf breezes behind me I thoroughly enjoyed two relaxing days in Las Cruces. I spent one morning at White Sands National Monument - er Park - and was rather horrified to find the Visitor Center Parking lot full and the center itself was so crowded one could barely move. Sigh. This is the price we pay these days for making anything a National Park. I took a trip to Zion with my oldest son a few years back and was deeply saddened by seeing the park overrun - I had the same feeling here. Regardless, I did manage to find a bit of solitude and made some photos.
I spent part of one afternoon at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. I do not know why. I did have a nice conversation with the blacksmith and walked across an interesting bridge.
After eating New Mexican cuisine and gaining another 5 pounds and stuffing myself with sopapillas I started the trek home. After a fantastic lunch in Tucson with my friends Holly and Chip I spent a night in Gila Bend at the famed Space Age Lodge.The next morning I took the long way home over Interstate 8. It was a fine trip. I was able to have the top down in the convertible almost every day. I finally felt those gulf breezes blow through my now thinning and graying hair.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, "I owe more than I can express to the West". Me too, Teddy, me too.
Adjusting. I think we are all adjusting. All the time. Have you ever watched a great running back in football avoiding would-be tacklers? Isn't that a bit like life from time to time? The evolution of the pandemic has been a damn 100 yard kick off return except it feels like the other team has 20 guys and you have no blockers. Getting vaccinated felt like a miracle. I started traveling again. And, now, here we are again headed toward more mask requirements and overflowing hospitals of the unvaccinated. Sigh. Misinformation is everywhere and seems to rule the internet. Despite all this I wanted to check in and send a bit of love. Speaking of love...do you know my new grandson William? Man, he makes my heart overflow. I'm still trying to figure out who that old man is in the picture with him.
This last weekend I was able to spend time with all three of my grand-kids. and, you know, when I am around them the problems of the world just melt away. Here are Finley and Joaquin in grandpa's backyard hammock.
Here is a short synopsis of my travels. I have had, for almost a year now, problems with my Dell computer but I will save that rant for another day - it's only worth mentioning because of the impact it has had on my photography - which has been an significant unfortunately. Having said that, here are a few photos from the last few months. The first set (and the top black and white) are from my annual trip to Gaviota. My pal Dell met me for a few days and we had an excellent time.
After Dell left I drove over to La Purisima Mission in Lompoc and spent the day there. I made a couple of indoor photos that I find interesting.
Marty and I drove up to see the Bay Area family and stayed at Half Moon State Beach. While we did go for a couple of short walks the trip was really about hanging out with loved ones. Every post vaccine get together feels like an overdue reunion.
Don't know about where you live but the fireworks around here for the 4th of July were insane last year. It makes our dog crazy. I think each boom is a message to his mind that his life is in imminent danger. It's painful to watch. I know he's not alone and don't fully comprehend the joy of making loud noises for a week before and a week after July 4. Chalk it up to just another thing that baffles me (the list grows daily). Regardless, we decided to go camping with our boy in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. We had a marvelous and relaxing time.
How about you? Get away? You know how fast this life goes... do the right thing - get the shot and get out there!
My next trip is to Lassen Volcanic National Park in August and then meeting old college buddies in Las Vegas in September - if it's not locked down - the virus is bad there now (again). And, well, you may know that Vegas isn't my "cup of tea" but I am hoping to see my pals.
Next year, God willing, I will be celebrating my 65th year of living and my 20th year of sobriety. I will be meeting my dear family in Organ Pipe in January and then, in April, I am taking a once in a lifetime nationwide tour on Amtrak with several cool stops including the Baseball Hall of Fame, Mississippi Blues Trail and Negro Leagues Hall in Fame in Kansas City. Man, I can't wait to tell you about it.
In the meantime - thanks for coming along on my little 2021 getaways - meager as they may be. It's always a joy to say "Hello"! Love to all.
In the month of February 2021 I was able to get out to my happy place again - the Sonoran Desert. It was an especially enjoyable trip for a number of reasons but, primarily because it, "cleared my head". I honestly believe that that human race is a mess but since the pandemic we are a mess times 2 - at least. While I like to see myself as a bit above the madding crowd - I'm not - and the pandemic made me a bit kooky too.
So it was with relief - blessed relief - that I escaped to perhaps my favorite place on earth - the Sonoran Desert. I was also able to meet some of my dear pals along the way. Thanks to Paul, Holly, Joel, Scott, Jen, and Liz. Love you all...
My first night was in Chiriaco Summit near the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. I love it out there.
Next morning I hung out with Paul and we made some photos - then on to the magnificent Superstition Mountains in Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona. There is nothing like them in all of the West.
I was disappointed to discover that the Apache Trail scenic drive was closed due to a washout with NO plan to fix it. I've been traveling that road since I was 9 years old on my first trip to Arizona. The trip that I fell in love with the Sonoran Desert. I've often thought that it would be a great place to toss my ashes. Alas.
Nevertheless I did travel what I could of it and made a few photos.
After a few fabulous days in Apache Junction I drove to Gilbert Ray Campground near Tucson and Saguaro National Park . The following photo went kind of "viral" on the twitter machine giving further pause as to what I think is good vs. the rest of the world...
Arizona certainly has some sublime sunsets.
I spent a marvelous day in the eastern section of Saguaro National Park. It had been years since I'd been there.
The Signal Hill trail, with it's petroglyphs, is a treat in the Park.
From Saguaro I went to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument driving through Tohono O'odham land. I have been distraught over what is happening at the border. The wall is destructive and does not impede border crossings. Candidly, only fools would believe that to be the case. It does, however, mar and, in some instances, utterly destroy important natural resources and the ecology of the borderlands - and its beauty too. I try in these pages to bring joy and not sorrow but this is a sorrowful story. Here is what I found on my drive to magnificent Quitobaquito - a desert oasis and sacred land to the Tohono O'odham.
I was so grateful to find that the springs still had water although geologists fear it may have been irreparably harmed. Time will tell. The wall is right next to it. I did spend a few hours there - breathing in the beauty and history and was joined by only a few people. As I was leaving a number of Tohono O'odham friends arrived. It was good to see them too.
Here are a few more photos from my trip.
I am grateful to each of you who reads this blog. I hope that it provides a bit of fun and relief. I also want to tell you that next year will be my 65th on earth and my 20th of sobriety. I plan on celebrating in epic style with a 2 month long trip around the USA - literally from sea to shining sea. Perhaps I will be coming to your town? Or perhaps you'd like to join me for a portion of the trip? I will be writing a blog post about this trip soon - let's talk! I am planning on seeing many of my friends along the way...
Thanks for joining me on this little trip. I feel like a weight has been lifted - and now to get vaccinated... and back to concerts, restaurants, and the ballpark!
I listened to a lot of music in 2020. I suppose being housebound can do that to a guy. Of course, I'm a music nut without a pandemic forcing me to isolate. This year, as we all know, was weird as Hell though and usually the highlight of my day was making a playlist and going for a 3-4 mile walk around the neighborhood.
In my life - through all the sadness and loss - music has sustained and saved and soothed me. It certainly still does. I was lucky to grow up in the 1960's and be literally raised on Rock and Roll. That experience, along with my parents influences and my enduring love for American roots music, still affects me. A day with out music is like - well, I wouldn't know - I never go a day without music.
In my youth I was an absurd music snob and dismissed anyone who didn't know and appreciate the music of Bob Dylan, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams.
That has changed. Goodness, it has changed. I now enjoy LOTS of different kinds of music and that openness has enriched my life. Nevertheless, you will see my tastes are still limited - I don't listen to current pop very much. So, I'm going to tell you about my favorites this year and it is important to note that this is a narrow look at 2020. As much as I enjoy listening to new music - there are only 24 hours in a day and when I find something I love it gets played and replayed...(and replayed).
I was going to rank the music from last year and I've been agonizing over it, I started several blog posts - got frustrated - moved music rankings around - then my computer went on the fritz and I just decided, "FORGET RANKING!" So, here is an unranked and mostly chronological list of the music that moved me in the strange year of 2020. I'll make a few comments about these albums and you can determine if there might be something you'd enjoy putting on your playlist. That is, after all, the point of this blog post. I will mention if an album would be in my personal "Top 10" list.
I should also say that I do purchase nearly all this music - streaming services shortchange our artists and since they can't go on the road they need our money more than ever. Please consider doing the same. It's the right thing.
1. Technically this one was released in late 2019 but I listened to the latest Who album, WHO, quite a bit at the start of the year. It's a fine album - not great - and didn't grow on me. Still, it was nice to hear a new album from those old guys who once proclaimed that they hoped they'd die before they grew old - too late guys...
2. The Drive-by Truckers released TWO excellent albums - The Unraveling and The New OK. Timely, topical and with typical Hood/Cooley musical charm and sharp lyrics, I listened to them both - a lot. Which is best? Ah, depends on the day and my mood but The Unraveling hit hard all year long. The song 21st Century USA was my second most played this year - and it oozes Patterson Hood angst from his always observant perspective.
3. Just before the virus hit Nathaniel Rateliff released a new album And It's Still Alright - his last album was so big and this is a bit slower and was released when our minds were elsewhere but the title track was a year long favorite and perhaps a bit of an anthem for those of us who scraped by in 2020.
4. A band that I think deserves greater recognition (you'll hear that frequently through this post) is The James Hunter Six. They released another fun and old school cool album, Nick of Time, in March. I grooved to it as the lock downs descended on us and the vibes provided a good salve to the world's problems.
5. Dave Simonett also released a fine solo album that deserved more notice. Red Tail is a slower more relaxed Simonett from his work with Trampled By Turtles. It's a soothing journey and offers timely wisdom. It should have made more of a splash and I highly recommend it.
6. A top 10 album of the year, for me, rolled out at the end of March and it stayed in heavy regular rotation all year long. The fantastic Lilly Hiatt released, Walking Proof, and I immediately liked it - the songs were lively and fun and insightful. I didn't know it would grow and grow and grow on me all year. Turns out, I LOVE IT. Lilly's father John is a lifetime favorite and, well, talk about the apple and tree... what an album.
7. Also at the end of March the remarkable album, Saint Cloud, by Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield) was released and has found near universal acclaim. It was ranked number 2 by Rolling Stone and was mentioned on most of the Top Album lists at years end. It was my introduction to her music and it is a creative and rootsy album that I continue to listen to on an almost daily basis. Obviously recommended and a solid top 10 choice.
8. Several years ago I discovered a band - Clem Snide (Eef Barzelay) - that had a moving and lyrically intriguing aspect to their music that was unique. In Spring of 2020 Eef released a beautiful album, Forever Just Beyond. Mr. Barzelay isn't afraid to tackle the great philosophical questions sometimes tongue in cheek and sometimes with a dagger to the heart - and the song Roger Ebert has haunted me since the first time I heard it. This is comforting music about unsettling issues. Excellent.
9. Good old Pokey LaFarge released a very enjoyable (in a Bukowski kind of way - ha) album this year called, Rock Bottom Rhapsody. I like Pokey's old school approach and it always lends itself to his ironic and poetic lyrics. This is a fine album and did manage to make a few year end lists - which makes me happy. Pokey is cool. My favorite track is, "Lucky Sometimes" which was on my playlists all year long.
10. The Strokes put out an album this year that is very good and I'm a bit surprised to see that it hasn't garnered more attention. The New Abnormal is a bit uneven but has some downright catchy tunes and the title was certainly prescient. Recommended.
11. While I focus on many underrated bands in this post the next album was, by far, the most overrated of 2020 in my opinion. That's probably sacrilege to many but while I liked, Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple it wasn't ALL THAT. I know many of the hipsters reading this are aghast and well - sorry, not sorry. I get that it fits right into the zeitgeist and while that's always powerful it just didn't resonate with me as it obviously did with many others. It's on almost every Top 10 list (but wouldn't make mine).
12. Lucinda Williams had a fine album this year with, Good Souls Better Angels. It's about as topical and political as Lucinda gets and it didn't disappoint. Man Without A Soul is fine song about, well, you know who it's about.
13. An early album of the year candidate, Lamentations, by American Aquarium was released in the spring and hit me right in the heart. The songs are hard hitting and powerful and "Six Years Come September" may be the best alcoholic regret song I have ever heard - and reminds me far too much of some of my drinking days. BJ Barham is a heckuva guy - we communicate occasionally on social media - he gets it. This, for me, is a top 10 album.
14, I didn't realize for some reason that the LA based punk band X released an album in 2020 (some of the songs in 2019). It's called, ALPHABETLAND and, hey, it's still punk and it's good!
15. A little known fellow, Joe Nolan, released a very nice and folksy album, Drifters, in May. If you don't know the name it might be worth your while to find him and listen - he's a singer/songwriter guy with excellent lyrics. Letters to Juliet is a song that I've been spinning since May.
16. I listen to a lot of music but, man, do I miss a lot of great music too. This year I finally discovered Samantha Crain and it was long overdue. Her music often has a 60's sound with penetrating lyrics and I'm stoked to have found her. From Oklahoma, she is Choctaw and has won several Native American music awards. Her album, A Small Death, has been on my daily playlists all year and in exploring her entire catalog I've found songs I'll listen to the rest of my life.
17. The USA has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prisoners. We are a society that loves locking people up. It's pathological. NPR says, "Each incarcerated person has a story. The new album from The Prison Music Project called Long Time Gone highlights a few of those stories. It features songs by nine incarcerated or formerly incarcerated writers and was put together by musician Zoe Boekbinder." Not a lot of songs on this album but it's important to hear them all - oh, and throw a few dollars to the Innocence Project if you can afford it.
18. The "ALBUM OF THE YEAR" no matter what anyone says, has to be, Rough and Rowdy Ways, by Bob Dylan. Bob stunned us with "Murder Most Foul" a song that managed to capture, with precision, the essence of America in the last 60 years in 17 minutes. We were blown away further when he released an entirely new album a few weeks later. It is, simply put, a masterpiece. How anyone could leave it off a Top 10 list is beyond me. The guy is 79 years old and still writing Nobel prize winning type lyrics. Remarkable.
19. Jason Isbell released another very good album and Reunions was met with listener and critical acclaim. The song, Dreamsicle, is magnificent. Another solid effort from Jason even if it is not up to Southeastern or Something More Than Free standards. It certainly should be considered as a Top 10 album - even not at his best Isbell towers above many other contemporary artists.
20. Neil Young dropped an album of some old songs and, like comfort food, Homegrown hit the spot. I listen to Neil and feel my entire body say....ah... and I breathe more easily.
21. The great Sarah Jarosz released an Album of the Year candidate with, World on the Ground. Sarah is a musical prodigy - plays several instruments - and watching her mature as a songwriter and artist is a joy. Each of the songs on this album has received over 30 plays this year and Johnny was my most played song in all of 2020. Fabulous, top 10 album.
22. Ultra cool Larkin Poe gave us some of their trademark Blues with Self-Made Man. Sisters Megan and Rebecca Lowell have some of the most raw, swampy, rootsy and traditional music being made these days. This is REAL American music and Larkin Poe are among the best practitioners today. Fine album.
23. Speaking of coolness and REAL American music it really doesn't get much more authentic than my pal, Ray Wylie Hubbard. I am occasionally asked if we are related and I always answer in that trite but apt way, "we are brothers from another mother". Ray even looks a little like me and he's a fellow friend of Bill W. He follows me on social media and when I was lamenting the troubles of 2020 sent me a private message of encouragement. What a guy. Let's talk about his music - Ray is a bit of a Texas legend for a number of reasons and oddly had never been featured on Austin City Limits until last year - an injustice that took too long to correct but, thankfully, they finally got it right. His show will air this year. Last year he released Co-Starring which is a fun and entertaining and endlessly listenable album. Ray teams up with many friends including Ringo Starr on this excellent effort. Listen to to the song Bad Trick - and, yep, Top 10 stuff in my humble opinion. And in 2021 let's remember Ray's words - "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations...I have real good days".
24. I discovered another new artist this year who blew my mind. John Craigie is an LA boy and sounds to me a bit like a new Ramblin' Jack Elliott with a modern folk spin. Like Samantha Crain finding him this year was a major highlight. His album Asterisk the Universe has been on repeat for several of my walks. Check out Part Wolf and Nomads if you get a chance. Pretty sure you too will become a fan.
25. You know Chuck Prophet, right? I sure hope so because if there was ever a guy who deserved a larger audience it's him. Each of his albums the last few years have been excellent and he has a devoted following - and I am one of those devoted followers. This year the gift he gave us is called The Land That Time Forgot. The song Get Off the Stage about the imbecilic criminal in the White House was perhaps the most timely and apt song of the year. Chuck is a rocker for sure but it is his clever and at times satirical lyrics that always move me. He is the real deal. Check him out (and sign up for his newsletters - I promise you won't be disappointed).
26. Speaking of music that deserves a greater audience the always excellent Jayhawks released xoxo this year and it got lots of attention on the Americana stations but didn't make many Top 10 end of the year lists - too bad. It's a rock solid album. Dogtown days and Living in a Bubble are two of the best song so the year. You can't go wrong with the Jayhawks who are probably over the last few decades the most critically acclaimed band with the fewest sales. I'll never understand it.
27. Taylor Swift released two albums this year, Evermore and Folklore, and while her music doesn't always resonate - these are two excellent albums. I don't need to say much more, right? Taylor is doing just fine.
28. Lydia Loveless, one of my favorites, also released an album called Daughter in 2020. Unfortunately, the album lacks the vitality and energy of her previous albums. I am hoping she can turn things around. In the meantime, check out her album Somewhere Else from 2014.
29. The group Mipso also gave us a new album - Mipso - and it too lacks the vibrancy of previous albums. Still, this is another underrated group that merits more attention.
30. The Boss also released Letter to You and it's wonderful. I don't think it's quite as good as Western Stars (which I adored) but it's close. I always feel connected to Bruce's songs and this album does feel a bit like a letter to those of us who have loved the man since the mid 1970's. Hope you get a chance to hear it.
31. Gillian Welch's All the Good Times is a terrific LP (as she always gives us). This is a collection of 10 covers and she and David Rawlings are marvelous - they even cover Mr. Dylan.
So, that's enough. It gives you a taste of what I have been listening to and perhaps gives you something new to hear. I have to also mention an excellent EP called A Field Guide to Loneliness by Jamestown Revival. Love those guys. Another couple of must mentions are Stay by one of my favorite musicians in the planet Valerie June (an EP) and Hoosier National by rootsy Otis Gibbs.
Here then is an additional list of songs released in 2020 that you might check out too. In some instances I have listened to the album they come from and not listed them above or, in most instances, I still haven't given enough time to the entire album yet and had to leave it off the list. Or - it was only released as a single. Some really inspired stuff here.
1. Options Open - Kathleen Edwards
2. Headstart - Jade Bird
3. Crawl Into the Promised Land - Rosanne Cash
4. Leave Virginia Alone - Tom Petty
5. The Problem - Amanda Shires
6. Long Violent History - Tyler Childers
7. Over That Road I'm Bound to Go - Joachim Cooder
8. Love is the King - Jeff Tweedy
9. Are We Alright Again - Eels
10. Can Anyone Hear Me? - Dusty Wright
11. High Feeling - Cordovas
12. You'll Be Mine - Pyschedelic Furs
13. Ablaze - Alanis Morissette
14. Welcome to Hard Times - Charley Crockett
15. Letting Me Down - Margo Price
16. California - The Mammals
17. Days of Heaven - Jerry Joseph
18. Living in a Ghost Town - Rolling Stones
19. Punk Rock Girl - Sarah Siskind
20. Black Crow Moan - Eliza Neals
21. Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues - Steve Forbert
22. 24/5 - The Claudettes
23. Wreckless Abandon - The Dirty Knobs
24. It's Not Easy - Puss N Boots
25. Living for Yesterday - Jamie Webster
26. Better Luck - Heather Anne Lomax
27. Count on Me - The Lone Bellow
28. Feel the Way I Want - Caroline Rose
29. No Handle - The Panhandlers
30. Southern Rock Will Never Die - The Outlaws
31. When My Fever Breaks - John Moreland
32. Dawn - Fruition
33. The Well - Marcus King
34. Stay Down Man - Dan Reeder
35. Living Life - Kathy McCarty
Thanks for reading. My hope is that you find something here and that you will share some of your favorites from 2020 in the comments or in an email to me. I love finding new music and would love to hear your thoughts. May music continue to soothe and enlighten us in 2021 and beyond.
Well, this year has been a bit weird, eh? My big travel plans which included a trip to Yellowstone, Route 66 and the SABR Convention in Baltimore were canceled due to the virus. 2020 was supposed to be an epic travel year - oops! What's the expression? Man plans, God laughs?
As a result this years photographs - for the first time- are really slim pickings. A few years I've had trouble narrowing it down to ten - this year - I'm struggling to find ten. I do this each year because a fellow photographer, Jim Goldstein, puts together a compilation of top photos by many photographers and each year I participate. It's a cool project and here is the link to his website.
I'm sure, in time, we will all have much to say about this challenging time in our lives. Currently here in California the hospitals are overflowing and the death count marches on. It is, seemingly, a chaotic almost dystopian Hell. I was forced to visit the ER too a few weeks back after becoming short of breath in the middle of the night but, fortunately, it wasn't COVID. The doctor told me, "good thing you don't have to be admitted because we don't have room". That was over 2 weeks ago...I can't imagine what's happening right now.
So, yes, it is a terrible time for many. Recently, I was speaking to a fellow friend of Bill W. and we were discussing the importance of having, "an attitude of gratitude". We discussed our belief that those of us who luckily haven't lost family members and have avoided the virus or have not been terribly sickened by it have MUCH to be grateful for -in fact, probably more than other years in our lives.
I am grateful I was able to get out a tiny bit. I'm grateful for my family and their health and the new granddaughter on the way. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful that you are reading this. I am grateful for you. I hope these photos take your mind off our troubles for a brief moment.
About a year ago we moved and my daily walk takes me by the nearby high school. Valencia High was built in 1933 and many of the buildings, including the auditorium and cafeteria, were built during the depression by the WPA. It's a beautiful school.
The next four photos are from my annual trip to Gaviota State Park and nearby Los Osos. The fog rolled in and, well, I love the fog.
I was also able to get out to Anza Borrego for a few nights with my pal, Dell. By now you are probably aware of my affinity for that place.
I was also able to get out to Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park and the nearby wildlife refuges. It's a place that I just feel at home.
Lupe and I spent Thanksgiving at Pinnacles National Park. The photo below is of Bear Gulch Reservoir from a frigid (29F) morning hike.
My favorite trip for photography this year- although it too was cut short - not by COVID but rather electrical issues with my Casita - was to the McGee Creek area of the Sierra Nevada. The first photo is of a nearby aspen grove and the second of McGee Creek Pass.
So, there you have it. I am still planning trips for 2021 although all in California, Nevada and Arizona. I will also be spending much of my time planning for 2022. That year will mark my 65th on the planet and I want to celebrate in style. First, with a huge backyard fiesta and then with a 3 month cross country trip - similar to Travels with Charley and Blue Highways - well, my version, anyway. I am excited about it - it will be the "trip of a lifetime" from sea to shining sea. It will feature nature and plains and mountains and National Parks I haven't previously visited with lots of baseball including a visit to Cooperstown and music - lots of music - including much of the Mississippi Blues Trail. I hope to see you when I'm on the road!
Now, let's stay safe - let's get through 2021 in style and and may you all have the happiest of holiday seasons.
This, as we all know, has been an odd year. While the virus appears to be surging again I have sincere gratitude for all the good things that have happened and are happening this year. To date no one in our family has become seriously ill from the virus. Sadly, I did have a former colleague - younger than I am - pass away from COVID a few months back. I think of him and his family and the families of so many others right now and it's clear that 2020 while challenging has not been an altogether bad year for me personally and we have much for which to be thankful. I have healthy and beautiful children and grandchildren and a new granddaughter is on the way! I sincerely hope things are tolerable for you and yours and may you all remain healthy and safe until this scourge is eradicated.
I've shared previously that many of my plans had to be altered this year. I'm guessing yours have, too. All of our lives have been disrupted. I decided some months back to cancel my "big" travel plans and look for more local opportunities to find peace and solitude. So... I went again to another couple of favorites.
Lately the weather has been quite warm and the summer feels like it might, finally, be ending here in Southern California but it's been brutally hot. The beach sounded nice and I was able to escape on my annual trip to Gaviota.
Each time I return to a place I know that it is different. It has changed and so have I. I've certainly learned that nothing stays the same in this life and all things are temporary. There are a few places that I return to - again and again -and they are always different - I get some comfort from the familiarity and joy from the changes. This year Gaviota was warm but not hot and had a few days of foggy weather.
Eugene O'Neill, my favorite playwright - of life - wrote eloquently about the fog in his remarkable play, "Long Day's Journey Into Night":
“The fog was where I wanted to be. Halfway down the path you can’t see this house. You’d never know it was here. Or any of the other places down the avenue. I couldn’t see but a few feet ahead. I didn’t meet a soul. Everything looked and sounded unreal. Nothing was what it is. That’s what I wanted—to be alone with myself in another world where truth is untrue and life can hide from itself. Out beyond the harbor, where the road runs along the beach, I even lost the feeling of being on land. The fog and the sea seemed part of each other. It was like walking on the bottom of the sea. As if I had drowned long ago. As if I was the ghost belonging to the fog, and the fog was the ghost of the sea. It felt damned peaceful to be nothing more than a ghost within a ghost.”
Some of my favorite outdoor haunts of my youth are in the hills above Santa Barbara. I decided to take a drive up to Figueroa Mountain in the Santa Ynez Mountains. I wanted to check out the campgrounds and places I hadn't been to in awhile in those old oak covered sedimentary hills.
Unfortunately, when I got two miles from the campground the road was closed. The Los Padres, and many other National Forest lands in California, were closed to ALL visitors due to the extreme fire danger. I understand why and believe it was a good call but I wish it had been advertised a bit more and that I'd known they were extending the forest ban past the originally publicized dates. Regardless, I had an enjoyable drive.
When I returned to my campsite I realized I had a cold blooded visitor. I notified the camp host who called the cavalry and they moved my friend to a less populated spot.
Mr. Rattler wasn't a happy camper. After all, he'd been enjoying this view of the creek for at least a few days.
I got up early the next morning and made a series of photos of the sunrise. I hope you enjoy this gallery.
Before we travel inland to Allensworth I'll leave you with a few more photographs of Gaviota State Beach.
My little fiberglass trailer, "El Correcaminos" is now 5 years old and has gone on nearly FIFTY trips. It is starting to show a bit of wear. I had electrical problems in the Sierra Nevada and a propane leak at Gaviota. I fixed those things (hopefully), got new trailer tires, and then headed to Colonel Allensworth State Park.
I am in love with Allensworth. I even joined the Friends of Allensworth to support the Park. The story of the place is fascinating and I encourage you, if you don't know it, to revisit my previous posts or to read the Wikipedia page right here.
I believe that Allensworth, like my musician pal Ray Wylie Hubbard would say, is "an acquired taste." It's in the heart of the Great Central Valley. Most Californians would complain about the highway to get there - Highway 99. They would argue that Highway 1 and 395 and 101 are much prettier and, well, it's easy to see why they'd make that point but, life is short, so lets look for beauty everywhere - even in the desolate and dry farmlands of California. The sunset photo at the top of this blog post is an example of that beauty. Further, there are two National Wildlife refuges within a half hour drive of Allensworth near Highway 99.
I also decided to check out the Carrizo Plain National Monument to see if the roads had been improved over the years in order to perhaps camp there this spring. The Monument is 75 miles from Allensworth but closer than from home (about 200 miles). The place is famous for its spring display of wildflowers. This time of year it's hot and dry. I only saw a few other people (nice!) explored a bit and had a very nice day.
A friend and former colleague, Debbie, is a reader of this website and has mentioned, for several years now, that she'd like a barn photo - and while the light isn't at it's best it is a pretty cool old barn - so...to my pal Debbie...
After driving back to Allensworth I spent the evening over the barbecue and sitting outside and watching the sunset.
The following morning I got up at the crack of dawn and drove to the Kern National Wildlife Refuge. I saw no one. Unfortunately, most of the birds were a bit shy too.
That afternoon, to beat the heat, I decided to cruise around aimlessly with the AC on in the truck. I saw a crop duster and got out to take this photo. Within, no kidding, a minute, a truck pulled up and a guy yelled. "You gotta move!" Ok, ok... I'm moving. Settle down...I'm a bit slower than I used to be.
I found a place called, "China Alley" on the map in Hanford and went to take a few photos. It too has an interesting history.
The following day I drove out to the Pixley Wildlife Refuge at dusk. The mosquitoes were THICK but it was a lovely evening - not as much water as my last visit but still a calm, solitary and peaceful walk.
It started getting HOT the next day and I was (am?) so damn tired of the heat. I spent one last beautiful but sweltering day and then headed home. I had a fabulous time.
I couldn't leave you without, of course, a lonely road and old telephone poles...
Off to the desert in a few days... has autumn arrived in your world? Mask up! See ya soon.
Hola, my friends!
2020 continues to be a challenging year. Besides the virus, tragically, as I write this, much of California is burning again.
I'm checking in on all of you and thinking of you...
I thought I would share a few photos from around town and the backyard from the last few months and, also, lo and behold, I got away for a few days to the Eastern Sierra (see the photo above). May these photos offer a tiny respite from the bad news out there.
First off, I have taken some photos around here the last few months and I thought I'd share a few. We have been working at making our backyard a bird haven and we had a fascinating visitor a few weeks back. I took this photo of a majestic Cooper's Hawk back there. Normally we have a few dozen birds the backyard daily - finches, sparrows, crows, Black Phoebes, Western Bluebirds, Mourning Doves and Mockingbirds but- when he (she?) was around they were definitely not.
The next photo is of the nearby High School which was built in the 1930's with an art deco motif. Eerily, of course, no one has been around there for months now. It's a strange world.
Here are a few more photos from my daily walks.
And here are a few from the yard.
A Short Getaway
The following photos are from the McGee Creek area in the eastern Sierra Nevada. I'm sorry to report a few negative things about my little getaway. First, the campground was filled every night and the camp host (she was also the host at Convict Lake which she said was much worse) was nearly in tears. She said that, "this summer is a zoo" and that many people had no idea about social distancing and some even refused to wear masks (while in close proximity to her) even though she explained that she's lost family members to the virus and the she is high risk. She said she's never seen more selfish and disrespectful campers after several years of supplementing her pension by being a camp host. She was exhausted and stressed and said this was probably her last year - it has gotten too hard. I felt damn sorry for her.
Secondly, I had some strange electrical problems with my little trailer which necessitated an early return home. We still haven't figured out exactly what happened, but it is fixed, and thank heavens, all seems OK now - after all, I'm headed to Gaviota in a few weeks.
It was still a relief to finally get out - if only for a few days. McGee Creek is surrounded by Aspens and the photo below is an example.
Here are a few more from the area.
I must admit it was a blessing to be on the road again. It felt good to breathe in open spaces again and go for long walks in the woods. My plan, until there is a vaccine or the virus abates, is to do lots of short trips. In that vein I am going on my annual trip to Gaviota in mid-September. I was able to get the one spot where, even if the campground is full, I will be well away from other campers and the beach there is notoriously and happily uncrowded.
Thanks for allowing me to check in - please check in with me! I always enjoy seeing your comments and getting your emails. How are you holding up?
Let's talk soon, and until then, please be safe and stay well. Much love to all...
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.