A Summer Hello
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.
My Beloved California
For several months my two pals, Steve and Marty, had planned on meeting in Big Sur in November at good old Plaskett Creek Campground. I surrounded that trip with short stays in Morro Bay and Allensworth State Park (my new favorite) for a pure California trip. Sadly, Marty got sick and couldn't make it. I hope he's reading this so he'll realize how much he was missed. I know he was bummed about not going so we'll just need to schedule another trip soon.
I share lots of photos of Morro Bay on this website so I will only share a few more. I am on a "health kick" these days ('bout time, don't ya think?) and I did go on a ten mile walk one day while I was here - from the State Park to the Rock and then all around town. This time of year things are quiet in this sleepy beach town - reminds me of California past...
The next photos are from the hike near the State Park and into the estuary. Posting the photo of the Turkey Vulture online got a lot of responses. It reminded me when I went to a "talk" on them at the Grand Canyon two summers ago the Park Ranger put a photo up on the large projector screen and a kid yelled, "Oh, GROSS!" Cracked us all up and you may see what he means...
Here are a few more photos from magnificent Morro Bay.
After two nice days I drove the short distance to Plaskett Creek Campground which is south of Big Sur and north of Ragged Point on the California coast. Nearby is Sand Dollar Beach. It is one of the few remaining places that has ZERO cell reception which at first is strange and then worrisome and finally - so relaxing. I think we all need an electronics break and it's hard to take one so I suggest camping at Plaskett Creek as soon as possible! The first photo is a view of the sun and the marine layer from a stop along the Coast Highway. It reminded me of my days, long ago, driving across the Rim of the World Highway near Lake Arrowhead...the good old days.
Here are some photos of and from Sand Dollar Beach.
A few more photos of the area near Plaskett Creek.
My dear friend Steve arrived for the weekend. Recently he and I lost someone who we both loved very much. We spent time together connecting in the way that only people who have shared a mutual loss can. We walked and talked and remembered. It was a poignant and meaningful time together.
Luckily Steve brought his guitar and so we serenaded our nearby neighbors with songs of Slaid Cleaves and Jason Isbell. We also loudly proclaimed our thoughts on the band, Queen. One of us is a fan and one of us is not (me).
I didn't focus much on photography. That will be for another time. I'm grateful that Steve and I had that time together.
Here are a few black and white photos from the area.
You may recall that last spring I visited a State Historic Park in Central California in which I fell in love. On this trip I returned and my love affair deepened. I do have a request though -this place is off the beaten track and I'm worried that I talked too much about it online. So, let's keep this a secret just for us?
When I arrived at Allensworth I was only the second camper. The Ranger came by and wanted to talk about my Casita - while we did that she shared more about how I might be able to support the Park. When I came home I joined the "Friends of Allensworth" and made a small donation. I don't necessarily believe in reincarnation but I certainly feel at home here in some strange and reminiscent way.
Each day out there was glorious and I did get out to the local Wildlife Refuges as well.
Here are some photos of the buildings at Allensworth which have been faithfully restored.
Trains roll by on the regular. I love the sound of horns and the hum of the clickety clack as the freight trains roll slowly by. It lulls me into a calm and contemplative state like nothing else. I breathe easier.
On one particularly fine day I got up early and walked 6 miles all around the Park - made a lunch to go, jumped in the truck and drove to the Kern Wildlife Refuge. After meeting with the Ranger I took a few photos and then headed to Pixley Wildlife Refuge which is close to Allensworth for sunset. It was one of the very best days. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them...
Many of my favorite photos of the last few years are of telephone poles and solitary roads. This place was heavenly in that regard.
I will leave you with a few photos of my last sunset in my Central Valley paradise. Thanks for coming along on my western journeys. I love to travel alone knowing I get to share with you on my return.
Death Valley Days
Last year I had a marvelous visit on my own for the "super bloom" in Death Valley. I decided last Fall that I wanted to go out there a little earlier this year since I'd read that December and January were the least crowded of the year (can you imagine going in, say, August? Who are those people?). I asked two of my dearest friends to come with me. I've known Steve and Marty for nearly 40 years.
I arrived on Monday, at overdeveloped and busy Furnace Creek, and had two days to myself before the lads joined me a few days later. I made a few photos near Zabriskie Point on Tuesday morning.
This night photo is from my campsite. That is the Furnace Creek Inn in the distance.
I spent the next day, in shorts with weather in the sunny mid 70's, hanging out in Furnace Creek. I went to the old Borax Museum and the Harmony Borax site as well as driving the short road through Mustard Canyon. I was also visited by my favorite bird, "El Correcaminos".
On Wednesday I got on the road and listened to the Liverpool match on radio while waiting for Marty. The weather began to change and while the forecast was for rain I figured, "Hey, it's Death Valley. How much could it rain? How cold could it get?" This seemed especially true as I drove through a dust storm in the warm Mojave sun.
Marty finally arrived a few hours late but explained that the drive was so beautiful he had to stop and take photos along the way. Made sense to me.
We got up early and drove out to my favorite Death Valley campground - the much more primitive and isolated Mesquite Springs. Mesquite sits at 1800 feet in elevation. We should probably have stayed in Furnace Creek or gone to Stovepipe Wells which are much lower and warmer but, to me, Mesquite is more scenic. It rained all day (as had been forecast). Steve arrived that day after a long drive from the Bay Area. The three amigos were together and ready for some Death Valley fun because tomorrow had to be warmer, right?
Since it was Steve's first visit I decided to do the "tourist tour" which included Badwater and the Devil's Golf Course.
To my surprise, it stayed cold and it stayed wet. After many years of tent and cowboy camping we felt fortunate to have my little trailer to stay warm. We spent time inside watching a few movies on my iPad and singing folk songs to the accompaniment of Steve's guitar and Marty's harmonica.
We spent much of the next day at the Ubehebe Crater. That's Marty on the far left of the panorama running to take his next photo or perhaps trying to stay warm. Since the weather was so nasty it did preclude us from some off road travel but we're saving it up for next year.
I also made a few black and white photos on the trip as well.
We all went our separate ways at the end of the week but have decided to make this an annual trip. The planning has already begun...Death Valley holds a lifetime worth of fascinations. I will get to see Steve and Marty at the big shindig in Lassen this summer but I'll miss them until then.
Next I'll be heading to the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona. My hunch? It will be warmer and stunning but, without my amigos, not quite as much fun.
It's gotten to the point that I get a little stir crazy if I don 't sleep outside and see beautiful sights often enough. I'm at that point now.
I was supposed to camp with my man Marty last week at Joshua Tree, but so very sadly, his brother and my old pal, Michael passed away unexpectedly. That, of course, put the kibosh on our trip and also started a period of mourning that some of us just can't seem to shake. We will miss Michael. He was a profoundly intelligent person who had great compassion for the poor and disenfranchised. He was a great potter. He also loved his family dearly as they loved him. I have so many stories about Michael- he was an original- no doubt about that. Rest in peace amigo.
I'm getting ready this week to head for the central coast on Thursday. First, I'm heading to the newest National Park in California- Pinnacles. I've never been there or traveled much in that area but it's busy. I was only able to secure camping for one night and then I'll be staying a night in the mountains just east of Big Sur and the Monterey Bay.
On Saturday, I'll drive down to windy Gaviota Campground which is north of Santa Barbara. It's a kooky and cramped campground. The wind blows so hard there the trees actually grow almost horizontally. However, the beach is stunning, there is a cool pier, and an old-fashioned riveted railroad trestle above the campground. Due to the wind- it's camping that's not for the faint of heart.
Then I'll head back north to the Central Coast and Big Sur area staying at Plaskett Creek and Limekiln State Park.
I'm looking forward to walking along the beach and meditating by the waves.
Two last things- Vote For Bernie Sanders and listen to Ry Cooder!
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.