Category Archives: mountains

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

For being such a 100% gorgeous day, Saturday, November 29th turned oddball early on.  First of all I called my friend’s dad, Clarence.  I know his name is Leonard. I only said it wrong twice. Leonard Hansen was Woodlake’s famous World War II POW.

hansen with flag

He was on the Tulare County Office of Education Board of Education.  I worked there.  I’m Tulare County’s History Gal.  We filmed a video about his experiences.  I called him Clarence.  It promised to be an odd day.

Woodlake Farm

Then I picked up Robert Edmiston.  He had promised to show me landmarks in Elderwood that I didn’t know.  So we went to the Woodlake High School Farm.  I couldn’t see a single crop.  How odd was that?

trees

The 100 year old palms listed oddly

Bill Ferry

California is  in the middle of a drought.  Hardly a drop of water sits idle.  Sally, Linda and I easily amble around the circumference of Bravo Lake in an hour.  Farmers pumped Tulare Lake dry over 150 years ago. The only ferry in Central California is Bill Ferry.

Easter Island of Elderwood

Someone in Elderwood replicated Easter Island. This individual wanted to redevelop the Mini-Ha-Ha Ranch and destroyed the 100-year-old stately palm trees that lines the access road by setting them on fire.

Easter Island2

Palm tree trunks don’t burn well.  This violent act clearly disturb the Plane Gods.

Elda School 2014

Someone left the door open at Elda School.

Blue Oak's last stand

The only native stand of blue oaks left is not in a nature preserve, but sits in a hog wallow field across from an orange grove in Elderwood.

Converging signs

The signs are all there, but where’s the road?  Robert pointed out Lone Oak Mountain in the background.  The lone oak died.

TC history gal bites the dust

I don’t think I forgot to put the car in park.  Sometimes my Prius doesn’t turn off when I press the off button.  Sometimes it doesn’t go into park.  Even so, it shouldn’t have gone backwards.  Usually, when it doesn’t turn off, it goes forwards while I’m still in the car, and I press it again.  This time it sat still as though it was really in park, so I got out and took a picture.  Then I looked around to see the car starting to take off!  I ran towards the car as it moved gently backwards and tried to stop it, but I fell out of the car as I tried to get in.  I don’t know how Robert got in the driver’s seat.  The car didn’t crash.  I bit the dust, but the car didn’t run over me, nor did the open car door jab me in the face.  My camera, which I threw on the ground as I fell,  could still shoot pictures.

Blurred vision

The autofocus doesn’t work any more.  Thanksgiving paid it forward for me.  Another one of my X# lives with only one little scratch on my elbow!

022714-odd-ball Yesterday was odd ball.  Click the icon to see more odd ball responses.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: ZigZag

California mountain road contain numerous “hogbacks” as my friend, Darlene, calls the switchbacks on the way to Sequoia National Park. It turns out that those same kinds of roads exist on the Coastal Redwood Highway as well.  This park called Mystery Trees was about where our truck’s worn out transmission tired of lugging our new trailer. oregon trip 201320130915_0021138We rented a car and enjoyed the “break.”  Not only did the roads and the paths twist and turn, so did the trees, providing beauty and shade. oregon trip 201320130914_1105230R When we did get going again, the fog wanted us to slow down more than the zigzags. SFW Wildflower class20130420_93R These zigzags are closer to home – to anyone’s home.  I never tire of the zigzag shapes of tree branches.  These trees are in an educational property called Circle J Ranch owned by Tulare County Office of Education where I worked.  It is close to a tiny town called Springville, east of Porterville, CA.

1969 floodR

I apologize for the quality of this picture.  I heard that someone zig zagged on their responsibilities to posterity, and put the archives in the trash instead of the scanning machine, so this is the best picture I have.  In this newspaper picture it was the Kaweah (Kuh wee’ uh) River that zagged.

The headwaters for the Kaweah River begin their zig zag course out of the Great Western Divide where mountain summits rise to over 12, 000 feet.   The North Fork, which is just east of us begins at 9,000 feet.  If the river could go down the mountain in a straight line, the Kaweah River would drop in excess of 2 vertical miles in a distance of 30 linear miles.  The Kaweah River loses the same altitude as the Colorado River, but is 97% shorter.  It is the steepest river in the United States. Even with a dam to control flooding, in 1969 the water zig zagged its own way into the Woodlake Valley.  (Tilchen, Mark.  Floods of the Kaweah)

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To see more entries for this Zig Zag challenge, click the icon above.  :)

The Accidental Vacation Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine  The Last Sights of Klamath

 

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The next few days Vince and Marsha spend sight-seeing around Klamath.

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Of course they drove to Crescent City to check on the truck.  Locals in the service department directed them to drive through a neighborhood into a state park called Stout Grove.

Klamath Canon236 “There’s a lot of traffic here for such an out-of-the-way place,” Vince commented.

Klamath Canon234 Marsha wanted to jump out and take pictures in spite of the traffic.  Everyone was doing the same thing, so they just traded places in line.

Klamath Canon240 “This goes on for a long time.  I hope they have restrooms somewhere,” Marsha wasn’t ready to dive into the big trees, but it was a concern.

They finally got to the end of the road.  No parking places, but there was a restroom at the top of a little knoll.  Someone pulled out of a spot, and Vince slid in, and headed for the restroom.  Marsha took the dog for a little hike near the signs that said, no dogs on the trails.

“You’re not going to take your dog down there on the trail are you?” a stranger asked her.

“No, I read the signs.”

“I think you are the only one.”

Marsha imagined all kinds of reason that she wouldn’t want to take her dog on the trail that said, ”No dogs on the trails.”  There might be bears.  There might be mountain lions.  There might be ticks.  The other dogs on the trails looked big.  Marsha and Puppy Girl got back in the car.  Vince joined them, and said, “Let’s go.  You don’t want to go up there.”

Klamath Canon241

It was amazing how quickly they got out of the Stout Trees.

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They even found the lost Concrete Bear Bridge to nowhere.  It had flooded out many years before.  Looking at how low the water was, Marsha couldn’t imagine how it would ever have reached the height of the bridge, but there really was nothing left of the bridge but a barrier and a sign telling the history of the flood.

SFW Klamath trips Sept 18 to 19154

Later, they drove through the construction zone over the Hwy 101 Golden Bear Bridge going south then turned right and went on the opposite side of mouth of the  Klamath River.

Klamath Canon320Looking at it from another direction, they realized that the river forked around a little island just before it reached the ocean, or at least that’s what it looked like.

Klamath Canon323

Another day they drove through a single tree – a must do if you have six days to spend in Klamath.

Klamath Canon260

By Friday, they had all their laundry done, and by 12:00 they had their truck, they loaded up their trailer and took off for home.

“I wonder if I could drive all the way home,” Vince mused

SFW TAV Klamath to Willits101

It started raining little spatters in Orick, where they had seen the elk lunging beside the road.  By Eureka, it was a downpour.   Lunch at Applebees while the rain had time to stop sounded like a good idea.  Besides everyone else was stopping there, too.

SFW TAV Klamath to Willits107

“If I can drive through that, I can drive through anything, right?  Windy, narrow roads, rain, big trees, fast trucks, I am the champion, right?”  Vince hesitated as he bragged.

“Do you want to stop in Willits or drive 195 miles to Clearlake?”  Marsha asked him.

SFW TAV Klamath to Willits118

So what do you think he did?  Did Vince drive home, 133 miles to Willits, or to Clearlake?  What would you have done?

The Accidental Vacation: Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven  Jumbled Vacation Journal 

Sunrise Golden Bear

“I had no problem writing in my journal when I used a mechanical pencil,” she grumbled to Vince.  “So I couldn’t find my pencil, and I quit writing.  I didn’t write anything yesterday, or maybe it was day three.  What have we been doing since we got here?  I remember the Trees of Mystery.  I’ve lost track.”

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Since he had nothing better to do for the moment, no lawn to mow, no sprinklers to fix, no chores of any kind, Vince sat down with Marsha and they started sorting through the hundreds of pictures in all of their cameras.  “OK, that’s enough for now,” he said, jumping off the kitchen bench seat across from Marsha.  “You’d better hurry if you are going with me.   Doyouwanttogo?Iwanttoleave here by 6:15 this morning so I can get to the car dealer by 6:45.” Vince took a breath.

“Yes, I want to go.” Marsha rushed to answer the last question she heard.

Vince continued.  “The dealer opens at 7:30, and maybe somebody will come to work early.  I want to be the first one there.  Then I’ll take you to Starbucks and you can use the internet there.  You haven’t written anything in your journal for five days!  What happened?  You can stay here if you want to work on your journal.”

“No,” she answered quickly.  “It’s ok, I wrote some of it online.  But now I’m mixed up.  Is it Monday?  I’m not used to being on vacation and being so out of touch!”

Klamath River Golden Bear “You know it’s getting late.   Are you going to take a shower?  You’re burning daylight,” Vince prodded his wife gently away from her computer.

Marsha now understood what her dad had said to her 30 years before when he told her that she made him tired with all her bustling around, and couldn’t she just sit still for a minute and talk to him.  It was all making sense.  She was almost over her cold, but felt she was still moving at half speed, and Vince was still moving full speed ahead.  She just wanted him to slow down for a second.  It was 5:30 in the morning and he had already had HIS coffee and cereal.

By 6:15, as planned, they were on the road in their red rental car, winding their way back to Crescent City to see what might be wrong with the truck.  While they waited in the parking lot of the GMC dealer, Vince alternated between pacing the lot, and checking his emails on his cell phone.  It was nice to have cellular service.  He barked a few orders of who to call and email to Marsha.  He wanted to make sure that things ran smoothly back home.

“Vincie, it’s only 6:45 a.m.  Hang loose a bit.  I’ll call them when the sun comes up.  Why don’t you go walk around a bit?”  Marsha knew he was antsy.  In all of her many years in education, she still hadn’t learned how to gracefully take orders and be Vince’s unpaid secretary.  She didn’t mind working for free doing community work, but somehow it annoyed her when he thought he was her community.  She had tried to train him for years until now he just mimicked her, “Isn’t there a better way to say that?”

a man on the move Well anyone listening or looking at him would know he was a little pressure cooker.  At five feet four inches tall, his 139 pound muscular build and tense shoulders told the tale that he never stopped moving.  If there was nothing to do, he adjusted.  It was time for him to make an adjustment somewhere besides inside the car.   People had started to arrive, so he bounced out of the car and introduced himself.  Men loved him.  He carried himself like a mover and a shaker.  His demeanor stated, “I am here to get this done.  How do you think we can get this moving?”

Time passed quickly for Marsha too since she had internet and cell service.  Vince kindly let her answer all her business emails, and by the time they had breakfast and got back to the trailer to leave for the day’s adventures it was 9:00.

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Daylight was well on it’s way, and it was beautiful.  The bright blue sky and 75 degree temperatures couldn’t have been lovelier.  The couple drove south to Eureka to check out the road and cancel the other nights at the KOA they had booked.  The attendant was kind enough to only charge a small cancellation fee, and they were on their way, but to where, they weren’t sure.  There was so much to see in Eureka.

Eureka Surfside Burgers1

First on the agenda was lunch.  Vince had not eaten much since 5:00 a.m., and he wanted man food.  That meant burgers.  Marsha had YELPED restaurants all the way from Arcata, and the one that sounded best was Surfside Burgers on Highway 101, the main street, which was also named 5th Street as it ran through downtown Eureka.  The weather was so beautiful that for that one day during the year they enjoyed sitting outside at a little table eating their burgers with 1/2 inch chunks of bacon smothered with two kinds of cheeses, tomato and lettuce.

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery171

As they ate, Vince poured through the tourist map he had picked up at the Eureka KOA.  “There is so much here, but I think my brother said we should definitely see the Ferndale Cemetery.  Want to check it out?”  His brother, Jimmy, had gone to Humboldt State, and was an expert in all things Northern California.

“A cemetery?  hmmm.  Sure, let’s go.  Why not?  Cemeteries can be interesting.”  It really didn’t take too much to keep Marsha entertained if there was blue sky and she had her camera along.

“This one is supposed to be famous, according to Jimmy,” Vince added.

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery102 “Wow, this cemetery has plots.  Unlike my journal, which has no plot,” Marsha joked.  Look how big the markers are!  This is the size of Ralph!”

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery125 “You could put two Ralphs in here side by side, Marsha.  Look at the inscription on this one.  Did you hear that woman over there that said she found someone here born in 1799?  Almost all the markers around here are from the 1800s”

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery122 Marsha was already in another world taking pictures of cracks in the walls, and lopsided head stones, dates, and moss on rocks.  Vince took the dog and walked up the steep incline to the top of the cemetery.  There was no point in calling down to Marsha.  He knew she would never hear him.  Vince wished she were up there so he could show her where to stand to get the best pictures, but he knew she would get irritated at him for telling her what to do.

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery168

“Sometimes,” he thought to himself, “I just can’t win with that woman.  She wants my help, then she gets mad when I tell her what to do.  Why can’t she just do it, and smile at me?  That would be a lot easier.  It’s a good thing I think she’s cute!”  Vince knew his 61 year old wife was no traditional beauty, but there was something about her smile, WHEN she used it, that he couldn’t resist.

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery129 Knowing and doing were two different things.  Marsha did eventually make it to the top.  “Come right here, sweetie,” Vince held his hand behind him for her to grab as he led the way over to his chosen spot.  “The view is great.  Just point your camera out this way.  See how you can get the ocean in the view?”

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery160

Judging from the look she gave him, he had been right.  He should have kept his mouth shut.  But obediently she turned to align herself to his body, and pointed the camera exactly as he told her, and snapped the picture.  “Was that so hard?” he thought to himself.

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery169 Marsha grinned at him.  She read his mind, and decided it was not worth it to make a big deal over his bossing her.  The day was too perfect.  She kissed him lightly on the cheek.  “That was a perfect shot, honey.  Thanks.”

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery PG

As they left the cemetery, Marsha struck up a conversation with a gentleman placing flowers.  It didn’t take long until they were engaged in a heated conversation about whether or not Southern Oregon and Northern California should become the 52nd state of the Union.

SFW TAV Ferndale Cemetery116“This area was all set to become the state of Jefferson before World War II,” he informed her, assuming she knew nothing about history.  These trees need to be managed, and the government just won’t let us do it.  Ferndale is dying.  There’s no industry here,” his ranting continued.

“Marsha, sweetie, we need to be going.”  Vince saved her.

“It was nice to talk to you,” Marsha smiled sweetly even though she wanted to punch him in the teeth.  Vince and Marsha headed toward the rental car.

The Gingerbread Mansion
The Gingerbread Mansion

“Ferndale is amazing.  I love this place!  It looks like it is still 1852 around here.  Let’s take our time and take some pictures of the buildings,”  Marsha  wheedled.

Klamath Canon199

She hadn’t needed to try hard.  Vince enjoyed watching her have a great time, and he loved the architecture as well.  If he had been thinking with his brain when he was in college, he would have become an architect.

Klamath Canon203

Architecture was his first love, and he knew he would have been good at it, but other priorities called louder than college, and he had been a good salesman, too.  As a bright young man, his hard work rapidly drove him to the top of the electronics company where he worked many years.   His thoughts of college dissipated in the fast running money stream.  He still enjoyed designing and redoing their home.  He was glad that Marsha enjoyed the beauty of the buildings as much as he did.

Quickly the day slipped by, and the couple headed back to their temporary home base in Klamath at the Golden Bear RV Park.

SFW Herds of Elk108 As they drove, Vince spotted a herd of elk bathing in the river, and pulled over.  Marsha jumped out of the car with about 20 other onlookers and captured the amazing views on her digital camera.  Vince snapped a few shots with his cell phone.

SFW Herds of Elk112 “There is another herd about 10 miles up the road,” warned a driver coming from the south.

SFW Herds of Elk124 When they reached that spot, the elk crossed the highway as if it were a meadow in their private forest.  Cars on both sides of the road stopped in the road, and everyone got out to take close up pictures of the racked celebrities.  The elk seemed used to it, stopping to pose as they crossed the street, or lay in the grass having a leafy picnic.  The effect was magical.  Drivers became instant friends as they marveled at the large herd animals.  Vince sat in the car worried that Marsha would be trampled.

SFW Herds of Elk101 Eventually a few cars inched forward around the herd, and soon the spell was broken, and Vince and Marsha headed down the road.  Both accidental travelers were ready for a nap, and they still had to figure out how Marsha was going to conduct her meeting the next night with no internet or cellular service.

The Accidental Vacation Chapter Six

Chapter Six  Settling in on Sunday

Sunrise

Like the fog lifting the in the morning sun, The Twilight Zone of optimism surrounding Vince began to burn off.  With each telltale defeatist comment coming from Vince’s mouth Marsha’s opposing positive comments became more frequent.  Vince relaxed and began to enjoy a real vacation.  “They’re not going to start on the truck until Thursday.  They have to get the part from Las Vegas.  I bet they don’t even have the part.  We won’t get out of here until Saturday.”

“That means we can settle back and enjoy this beautiful place,” Marsha answered naturally.  She would miss the cheerful Vince, but normal Vince meant that HE was relaxing.  “What do you want to do today?”

Klamath_1317R

“I’m happy just hanging around here for a while.  Look at these pictures I took this morning.”  Vince took out his cell phone and shared some gorgeous sunrise pictures with fog clinging to the redwoods on the hill and sun sparkling on the Klamath River as it charged its way to the Pacific Ocean a half mile away.  The fishing boats had either gone back to their winter homes or lay still in the docks.  Water lapped rhythmically against their sides, a metronome for the chirping birds catching their breakfast.

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Marsha couldn’t argue with the natural beauty that surrounded them.  She and Puppy Girl made several rounds around the RV Park.  The manager tanned from many years in the sun, and missing many teeth from years of neglect and poverty rode up on his bicycle to chat as the couple walked down to the dock, this time with Marsha carrying the camera.

SFW TAV Golden Bear101R

“Have you been here before?  People stay here for months at a time.  You just missed the salmon run.  It slammed!  This couple here,” he pointed to a man maneuvering his boat toward the dock, “they’ve been fishing here for years.  They are both retired police officers.   Gil caught his first fish in 1957.”

Even a distance Marsha didn’t think Gil looked old enough to be catching fish in 1957, but she had her first and only fishing experience at age 9, so she supposed he might have started fishing at an early age.  Soon his wife joined him.  Marsha, sitting on the dock snapped pictures of her appropriate fishing boots as she approached.

DFW TAV Golden Bear

“Take a picture of where I ran into a wire.  It took forever to heal, but it’s almost  gone now.” The attractive blond with a ranger hat modeled for Marsha’s camera.

SFW TAV Golden Bear 208R

“We’ve heard you are good at catching salmon.  You just made two new best friends,” Marsha called down to her, flashing a beaming smile teasing, as the couple revved off in their utility boat.  They waved back, and were gone.

You can come down here and see the little otters playing in the evening.  Marsha snapped a second too late, but he was there.
You can come down here and see the little otters playing in the evening. Marsha snapped a second too late, but he was there.

“You two should go up to the lookout point, right over there on the north side of the Klamath,” the friendly manager offered his tour guide advice to the neophytes.  “You can see the mouth of the river, and the jetty where all the fishermen just catch salmon from the dock.  Then if you go across the Golden Bear Bridge, you can go up the other side.  Those are nice drive.  Have you been to the drive through tree?  That makes a great picture.”  He chatted for several minutes before his wife came and put him to work again.

SFW TAV Golden Bear 209R

Vince, tired of standing on the dock watching Marsha take pictures of the seaweed decorating the dock’s underbelly, headed back to the chairs that lined the shore.  “I say we go to the Trees of Mystery that’s just down the road today,” he called as he left her sprawled face down camera pointed into the water.  “Don’t drop your camera!”

"It's so cool," Marsha called to her impatient, worried spouse.  Sometimes she wondered later what made her so enthusiastic.  This was one of those times.
“It’s so cool,” Marsha called to her impatient, worried spouse. Sometimes she wondered later what made her so enthusiastic. This was one of those times.

Vince couldn’t believe his wife could be so klutzy.  She had already dropped her camera, with its brand new lens on the ground when she took it off the tripod.  She broke another lens trying to climb up on a wall and misjudged the step, smashing it on the rock wall.  She didn’t even wear the watch he gave her since the last one had fallen in the toilet, and another smashed on a grocery cart.  “I might lose it,’ she had told him batting her innocent looking blue eyes.  He bet she didn’t even know where it was.  It amazed him that she could wear clothes without some catastrophe.  Her wedding ring sat on the table by her bed, having rubbed a finger sized bulge onto her finger.  Earrings turned her ears green then red and oozing – if she didn’t lose them first.  Necklaces with delicate chain links or clasps broke, and if there was any inexpensive jewel, it dropped off unnoticed by his unobservant wife.

SFW TAV Golden Bell 211

“Come on, let’s go.  You’ll find some more mossy stuff on the trees you can photograph.”

With child-like obedience Marsha rolled over and stood up to follow Vince as he strode away, confident that she would do just that.  They left Puppy Girl at the trailer, and ventured out in the rental car to see the Trees of Mystery, a famous spot they would have missed if the truck hadn’t broken down.  Paul Bunyan and Babe welcomed them, and directed them to pay at the gate and make themselves at home.  “Take your time,” the ticket person said.

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Just as Vince remembered from forty years before when he brought his three-year old son to see the trees, the Trees of Mystery didn’t disappoint.

Vince and Marsha posed as biker people snapped their picture at the top station of the sky cab.
Vince and Marsha posed as biker people snapped their picture at the top station of the sky cab.

In addition to the carved redwood statues, and ancient living giants, the Yurok Tribe had added a sky cab that escorted them to the top of the mountain, where even the tallest trees became tiny as they ascended.  From there they could see over the mystery forest to the ocean.

SVW TAV trees of mystery at the top

Like gazing at the Grand Canyon, after seeing pictures of it for years, Vince and Marsha stared at the magnificent forest framed ocean view, posed for pictures, and then stepped back onto the moving sky cab to go down.  “The trees are beautiful from up here.   So is the ocean,” they both agreed as the cab descended, then stopped, then descended again.  “It looks just like the pictures.”

SFW TAV Trees of Mystery skycab1

“You have to be patient to take good pictures,” Vince told her like the father lecturing his 10 year-old daughter.  Marsha let him walk on ahead and enjoy the walk back down at his own pace.

Marsha took this one for her friend, PT.
Marsha took this one for her friend, PT.  The frog was certainly patient as he posed for the picture.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Like anyone can be patient with Mr. “We’re Burning Daylight Here” pushing all the time,” Marsha muttered as Vince raced down the path in front of her.  Sometimes wanted to punch him, but that wouldn’t change his natural mothering tendency, nor was that her way.  He still treated his grown son the same way.  In 43 years Vince, Jr. had learned to tease his dad out of it.  In twenty, Marsha still steamed quietly and went her own way.

SFW TAV Trees of Mystery VR
“Hehehe,” she muttered as she snapped his picture getting the same result over and over again.

Clear down out of sight, Vince called up to her, “Take my picture down here in the Cathedral Trees.”  He spread his arms as if preaching to the multitudes, and beamed a happy face up to her.  She snapped several pictures.  “Was it the camera setting, or did Vince just move THAT fast?  Maybe my camera broke,” Marsha thought as she checked each picture after she took it.

ooops
ooops …  His countenance lost its happy glow.

“You moved, Marsha.  You ALWAYS move just as you snap the picture like you see something else you should take,” Vince instructed helpfully when she explained that she DIDN’T get the one picture or which he voluntarily posed.  Maybe she would kill him in another life.  It didn’t help that he was usually right.

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After about two hours the tourists had taken every record shot, every sign.  After a quick spin through the gift shop, Vince and Marsha headed back down the familiar section of Highway 101 to their new digs at The Golden Bear RV Park.   No internet meant they would have to just sit outside and enjoy the healing sunshine.  Marsha’s cold was melting away like ice on the hot pavement, but she could sure use an afternoon nap.

What do you think, Sir?  Is a midday nap a sin?
What do you think, Sir? You look a bit tired. Is a midday nap a sin?

Is it a sin to take a nap when the weather outside is perfect, and be awake all night reading or writing?

"And you, Sir?  What is your opinion of napping on a fine day like today?"
“And you, Sir? You don’t look like you sleep much.  What is your opinion of napping on a fine day like today?”

What do YOU think?

The Paso Place to Go

A few weeks ago we had lunch with our friends Spencer and Margaret in Paso Robles, CA.  Paso has the best of both worlds.  You have just exited the most soporific road trips through the hills past Kettleman City.  Unless I’m driving, I sleep through these hills.

Wake up!  We're going to Paso
Wake up! We’re going to Paso!  Actually this is leaving Paso, so don’t be confused by where the mountains are.  I just wanted you to see how boring it is.

El Paso del Robles, passage of the Oaks, is an old western town dividing the two worlds, the desert heat of the Kettleman City hills and the Tulare Lake Basin, and the Central Coast beginning with San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, and ending with Nipomo before you move into Santa Barbara County.

Paso Robles Inn, built in 1891.
Paso Robles Inn, built in 1891.

Once you get to the Paso Robles Inn, you can begin to see the charm of Paso Robles.  You still have the heat of the valley, but a half hour away, you have the coolness of the ocean breeze with the flavor of the Old Wild West.  I took this picture on April 1st, an unusually cloudy day in Paso.  I darkened the picture even a little more to add Leanne-style drama.  I found that if you darken the layer too much, the sky pixelates.  So I used the burn tool.  I don’t like that quite as much because I don’t paint evenly, and I’m not sure if streaks are in style.  I like them in my hair. Paso Robles The front of the Inn looks western and old, but the real beauty lies in the back, in my opinion.  I darkened this one, too.  Maybe I’m just in a dark mood.  I’m sitting in the dark right now looking out at the Los Angeles skyline from my 14th floor picture window.  But let’s get back to Paso.

While we waited for Spencer and Margaret, we snapped some pictures.  You can see the covered front porch.  This is handy in the hot sun.  It wasn’t so necessary on the day we were there.  I tried a couple of things with this picture.  I added a golden filter, then I made it black and white.  Which one do you like best?

So the Inn is in the back.  The restaurant is good.  You get lots of food, but to me the real benefit is the setting.  Unfortunately for us that day, there was a party out in the back.  So we had to eat outside.  We ate just as much either way.

You knew I'd sneak into the picture somewhere, didn't you?
You knew I’d sneak into the picture somewhere, didn’t you?

Beneath the beautiful fountain, they grew some of their vegetables.  I doubt that they used very many of them.  Maybe they had some others hidden away somewhere.

I am always fascinated by flowing water and fish and bridges.  Which rocks do you like best, darkened or unprocessed?  It’s the perfect place for a wedding, and here I am already married.  Maybe Vince will propose to me again.  xoxox

Don't they look famous with their sunglasses?
Don’t they look famous with their sunglasses?

Our friends arrived, then lunch came with sweet potato fries (my current favorite thing), and all too quickly it was time to go back home again.  With a full tummy, my mouth gaping open, snoring loudly, Vince’s bride slept her way through the boring trip home.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzz  glub, glu  zzzzzzzzzzz

Another successful Valleycation.  :)

Bravo Lake Is All Filled Up

Sally Pace and I walked around Bravo Lake for the first time together on February 12.  It was so empty.  I darkened it to show you how sad it looked, and wrote my name in the sky so you’d know the sky wasn’t really that color.  The amount of water is real.

Bravo Lake in Feb.

Water managers turned on the faucets and filled Bravo Lake over the weekend.  Today I picked up trash along side of five middle school students, and their teacher, my friend Courtney, and the President of Kiwanis, Tony.  We split up to get the job done faster, but we didn’t get finished, in spite of having the best equipment.  Can you see our little pincher pick-up things?

Good bass, catfish , and trout fishing in Bravo Lake
Good bass, catfish , and trout fishing in Bravo Lake

Bravo Lake is the main attraction in Woodlake, but it is hidden behind a levee that is built up all the way around the .46 square mile lake to prevent flooding.  Right now it is filled to capacity so that the runoff from the Sierra Nevada Mountains doesn’t overpower the Kaweah River Terminus Dam I wrote about a few days ago.

It's about a 3 mile walk around the lake.
It’s about a 3 mile walk around the lake.  See how clean it’s getting?

Saturday at 6:15 a.m. I will go back to Bravo Lake to help register runners for the big fundraiser for Kiwanis “Round-Up for Hunger 5K/2K Walk/Run.  If you are interested you can register at http://www.WoodlakeKiwanis.com., or call Linda at 559-564-2485 or email linda.441@hotmail.com.

Everybody that sees Bravo Lake wonders why it is so undeveloped.  It wasn’t meant to be that way.  The picture below is from Pogue’s book covering the years 1853-1943.  Can you guess the year in which this picture might have been taken?

Fish Fry at Bravo Lake
We saw a huge dead fish today, April 9, 2013 hovering against the bank of the lake trapped in the tule weeds.  I’m guessing it’s one they either missed or threw back.

One of my questions is when did Bravo Lake appear?  I know it was a reservoir, #713 to be exact, but was it man-made or was it part of the landscape when white Americans first appeared in Tulare County in 1852?  So far I haven’t found that out.  Gary Davis and I poured over this 1892 Atlas of Tulare County that has been reprinted.  Here is Bravo Lake, plain as day, long before Terminus Dam was built on the Kaweah River.  The atlas was printed 40 years after the first white settlers appeared in Tulare County.

Notice that they have dug the Wuchumna Irrigation Ditch from Bravo Lake across the valley.  Water rights in this area have been, and still are a much contested item in California.  Nobody wants to share their water.  Our region is quite dry most of the time receiving less that 10 inches of rain annually.  However, there are many rivers, canals, and springs that are used to irrigate crops.  The work of digging and redefining the landscape in Tulare County began almost as soon as settlers appeared.  So settlers could have dug Bravo Lake, but did they?  I still have much to learn.

from the Official Historical Atlas Map of Tulare County Thos. H. Thompson.  Tulare, California. 1892
from the Official Historical Atlas Map of Tulare County Thos. H. Thompson. Tulare, California. 1892 Reprinted by Bear State Books in Exeter, CA

I love this old atlas.  I bought it from my friend, publisher, Chris Brewer.  His bookstore in Exeter, the Book Garden, is the best place to get books about Tulare County.  This historic atlas has the names of all the owners of all the property at that time.  You can see Bravo Lake in the lower left corner and the property that belonged to Jonathan Blair just right of the lake.  He was the fellow that pastored the Presbyterian church for 20 years.

Closer view of Bravo Lake
Closer view of Bravo Lake  Up at the very top right hand corner of this small part of the map you see the name T. H. Davis.  That is the edge of Gary Davis’s great-grandfather’s property.

“Steve R. Webb, Real Estate agent, had bought up a large tract of level land from Blair and others north and west of Bravo Lake. Now, to the utter surprise of everyone, except (Gilbert) Stevenson (millionaire from Los Angeles who had the vision to build a town around Bravo Lake),…, the lake suddenly found itself rechristened, and the town of Woodlake sprang up beside it in a phenomenally short period of time.” Pogue 37.  That was in 1910.  During the Great Depression, Stevenson lost all his money, and his dream died.  He had spent the grand sum of $135,000.  The reservoir remained, but Woodlake never became the developed resort that Stevenson envisioned.

In real life today it gets a lot of use as a walking path.  Unfortunately it gets messy.  We found a bur-infested coat, a shoe, lots of brittle, lake-permeated styrofoam cups that cracked into a million pieces when our pick-up tongs pinched them to pick them up, some cupcakes, an unopened bottle of beer, and lots of plastic bottles, bottle caps, potato chip bags, and plastic bags.

Here is the Kiwanis/Builders Club de-trashers standing in the Botanical Gardens.
Here are the Kiwanis/Builders Club de-trashers standing in the Botanical Gardens.

In 2003, Manuel and Olga Jiminez wrote a grant and started a botanical garden at the foot of the levee around Bravo Lake.  On Saturday I will take more pictures of the gardens for you because I will  be WALKING at the Run for Hunger.  Or maybe I’ll take pictures before that if you sweet talk me.  The roses behind us are just gorgeous right now.  I haven’t researched the gardens just yet, but they are gaining recognition in the area.  The new website, Tulare County Treasures has a nice article about the Botanical Gardens.

Vince Ingrao, Realtor

By the way, if you want to buy property in Woodlake now, you can always call the great real estate agent, Vince Ingrao – the honest agent I married.  559-799-9165

Dam 50th Anniversary

What would you do with an unruly river that tumbles 12,000 feet from the Sierra Nevada Mountains starting in the Sequoia National Park?  No other North American river, including the Colorado River, drops so far in such a short distance.

South Fork Bridge in Three Rivers, National Park Service, Tulare County Library.

 

What would you do if its unruliness built up one the most fertile deltas in the West?

What would you do if it emptied into the largest body of fresh water in the lower 48 states west of the Lake Superior?  (That shallow lake, Tulare Lake, has long since been drained by a series of irrigation canals.)  Like a ghost it infrequently reappears flooding Highway 43, the road to my favorite beach.

What would you do with the unruly, three-forked river?

You would dam that river!  And 50 years ago, that’s just what the U.S. Corps of Engineers did.

Inside were all kinds of treasures including this wonderful 50th Anniversary Edition Book
Inside this small treasure of a museum were all kinds of treasures including this wonderful 50th Anniversary Edition Book

Mary restrains the clouds from ushering in the next flood at  the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center.

Grapes of Wrath

Though these were not the only flood years, large floods caused by warm winter rains melting the snowpack occurred in 1937 (Remember the Grapes of Wrath?  Steinbeck wrote his famous book after he visited Visalia, and saw the destruction of the flood that year.)  Additionally warm weather floods also took place in 1955, 1966, and 1986.

Smaller floods caused by warm weather snowmelt only without lots of extra watery input deluged the valley in 1969, 1978, 1983, and 1997.  The once every 50 years or so a flash flood type storm, caused by a tropical storm dropping 3-5 inches overnight during a dry season, last happened in September, 1978.  Finally, the rarest destructive flood initiated by a landslide that created a natural dam. Like a chain of dominos when the dam broke it caused a 40 foot deep river to plunge down the mountain side and flow into Visalia, still 5 feet deep when it created the temporary Venice in CA.  This disaster happened only once in December, 1867. (Facts thanks to Sequoia Natural History Association, author Mark Tilchen.  Floods of the Kaweah.)  Mary bought it for me at half price, $5.99, compared to the next museum we visited.  Amazon price is $10.95.  It’s a great book with many pictures of famous floods.

Here are the pictures I took of the old photos from the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center at Kaweah Lake.

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If you teach 3rd grade in Tulare County I would recommend visiting Terminus Dam on the Kaweah River as a mini-field trip for your students or your own family, and the book would certainly interest you. Although the reading level is too difficult for third graders, the pictures might draw them into challenging the descriptions.   Earl Mann, who took many of the pictures in the book, still lives in the area, might be a great primary source witness to the flood of 1955.  Tilchen recorded Earl Mann’s account of the 1955 flood on page 36 of the book.

Hope you enjoyed this short history lesson about fascinating Tulare County.

Day Trip In Search of Snow

Thanks for nominating me!!!
Thank you Ivon for nominating me!!!

Thank you Ivon for adding star number 5 to my blog of 2012 award.  One more to go, and I’ve got them all.  Thanks to all of you who have helped me accumulate 13,500 views on my site.

We got up Sunday morning to absolutely sparkly blue skies, and cool temperatures.  It was a perfect day for a trip to the mountains.  I wanted to see snow up close and personal.  In the summer here the weather changes very little, but in the winter it can change from minute to minute.  Before it changed too much V, Kalev and I hopped into the car and headed for the hills.  My goal was to get to Sequoia National Park, and play in the snow.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake014The trip up to the park was distracting.  “Pull over right here, V.  I want to snap a picture of rock outcroppings.”

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake013

“Stop, stop, stop. right here V.  There’s a great picture of a horse for Auty.”

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“Look at that view, V.  Don’t you think I should take that?  SToooooop!!!”

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“Thanks V.  I’m ready now.”  Both V and Kalev were VERY patient

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I do want to stop at Kaweah Lake and take a few pictures.  OK?

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Now that’s what I’m talking about.  I can’t believe that I thought this was ugly when I first moved here.  Right now it is at its lowest levels.  You can see the high-level water mark on the side of the hill.  When the rains come, and the snows melt, the lake behind Terminus Dam builds up.  If the Corps of Engineers doesn’t keep it empty now, it could conceivably break the dam built in 1955.  Before that time our valley was subject to extreme droughts most years, then huge floods every 7-10 years that bathed all the valley towns in several feet of fast-flowing, tree and rock-laden river waters.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake041

We pulled into the Tulare County Boat Safety Patrol Lake Kaweah Office parking lot, saw a friend of V’s, and took some pictures.  The flag was flying at half-mast in honor of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

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Terminus Dam
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“No, no Puppy Girl. Mommy doesn’t want to climb back UP those stairs.” – ML
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I’ll bring you back here this spring, and you’ll wonder how those cars could have ever been driving down there. ML

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake052 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake055 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake076Then we headed up the road in search of snow.  Almost immediately we came to Horse Creek Bridge.  When I was teaching, just before summer vacation one year, a young woman came to speak to our 4th graders about swimming safety.

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Like many other youngsters, when summer came, she went with her friends and took turns jumping off Horse Creek Bridge into the water below.  Of course, there’s a lot more water in the summer.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake084

Nonetheless, the rocks are still there, buried, and impossible to judge.  She hit her head, and broke her neck.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake082 The jump paralyzed her for life at age 19.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake085 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake094 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake097

We drove up to Slick Rock, a popular place to swim in the summer.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake118

Kalev was thankful for a chance to explore.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake101

Mom and Dad weren’t paying much attention to her.  Good thing she had on her leash!

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake110
Plenty of green grass. Don’t look Dad! About time we get to explore something besides pavement!  This is MORE like it. OK, I’m done now, Dad. DAD! I said I’m DONE. LET”S MOVE IT!   COME ON! – K
TC Drive to Kaweah Lake102
Finally, there’s a lot to sniff here . – K
TC Drive to Kaweah Lake099
I could make it down this little slope, but Dad said no. If he’d just LOSE this leash! – K
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I could climb those. He’s not being reasonable with this leash thing. MMMM, What’s this smell? -K
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Dad seems preoccupied with this view. I don’t know what the big deal is. I could just run around if he’d just unsnap my leash. – K
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Mom doesn’t even care. Do you think SHE is going to climb those rocks. hahaha Last time she tried something like that she smashed her camera lens when she tripped. LOL  BUT I COULD BE CLIMBING THOSE ROCKS!  DAD, LET ME GO!  -K
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I wonder how I could get his attention? – K
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There, these did the trick! Now he’s looking.  He’s bending down.  He’ll unsnap my leash now.  Ouch DAD! You’re pulling my hair!  I don’t have much, hair, and … What are you doing?  Leave those burs in my back alone. They aren’t bothering anyone! – K
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Great, now he’s called Mom over. She never gives up on these things. OUUUUUCH! MOM! Why don’t they just go back to their sightseeing? – K

V came unglued.  I struggled with my bandaged thumb to pull out burs for about the next 15 minutes.  Finally we were down to the last three, but they weren’t budging.  Then one more to go.  It was almost in her mouth, and needed to be cut out.  About that time, the park ranger drove up.  I got out of the car and asked if he had any scissors.  He did!  We cut the last bur out, bit by bit.  Kalev was such a good girl.  She did jerk her head a bit, but never a yelp or a snap. In the end it took both V and me to hold her head still while Ranger Bill snipped out the bur.  Here’s a FAQ for you about burs.  “The bur of burdock was the inspiration for Velcro.”  Wikipedia

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That wasn’t so bad. Maybe Ranger Bill will let me down to run around. – K

Kalev was very grateful to Ranger Bill.

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Our next stop was Horse Creek Campground.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake125 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake127

You can see how exposed the tree roots are because of the higher level of the water in the spring and early summer.  That means the campground is under water, and we wouldn’t be driving on this road.

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Dad, put me down. Mom’s leaving us.  MOM, you forgot me!  Do you see that grass? What’s a Pac-Man? – K

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake137 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake138

Across the road I spotted Pac-Man hanging out at Horse Creek Campground.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake141

Can you tell how old this tree is?  Me either, the rings are too small for me to count, but it’s dead now.  After one last shot for Toemail, we were ready to leave. The blue skies suddenly turned gray, we were tired, and we never drove high enough to reach snow.  We decided to go back home and wait for the snow to come down to us.  It was a relatively quick trip, and we thought of many other reasons to come back.  It was a great date.  People come from all over the world to visit the Sequoia National Park, home of the biggest trees in the world.  We didn’t make it up that far today.

So if you come visit us, we’ll make the entire trip to the Sequoias without all the distractions because you will have seen them already.  Or maybe you’d like the distractions, too.

What do you think?  With or without distractions?

BTW, my proof reader suggested that burs is burrs.  Actually both is correct.  I looked it up, and decided to opt for the space saving spelling of burs.

Featured Blog

Rumpy Dog seems like an appropriate blog to spotlight here.  You probably already know him, he has 6,874 followers already.  I get his FB updates, and he’s been really good this year.  Well, most of the time.  Though a little garbage rubbish strewing is no BIG deal, Jen.  Rump’s friend Atticus writes to Santa Rumpy from Canada, and sends pictures.  Some of Rumpy’s friends dress up for Christmas.

Atticus

If you don’t already know about Rumpy, you won’t want to miss the Dear Santa letters, and the many doggie tails tales that Santa Dog hears.

I think he might already be opening his presents.  I just read on FB that we wants a dinosaur, and this one seems in jeopardy of being opened.

My dear friend Marvin sent me this card.  I’ll pass it on because it’s so cute!

He also sent me this video, and it seems appropriate for this post as well, and a perfect ending to a busy day.

When you feel like you’ve had enough!

Do you have a pet?  They might want to write to Rumpy Dog.  Or, they can write to Kalev, and she’s love to meet them, too.  Either way, please write to me.  I love comments.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

A dear friend gave me wool yarn from Australia to make a warm sweater as a departure gift from Colorado Springs.  It was summer, and even in Colorado we weren’t thinking about cold weather, but certainly not in Tulare County where the 90 degree temperature recorded at 5:00 a.m. almost persuaded us to find a job elsewhere.  I wondered if I would ever need a sweater!  Was I ever naive!  While the temperatures rarely get below freezing, sweaters are VERY useful.

Changing SeasonsThis first picture, taken December 4th, shows the basic gray that indicates that winter is upon us.

Winter in TC

Last January, while hustling to a meeting, the picture above demanded me to stop, and remove my camera from its bag, and click it.  Where we only get 10 inches of rain a year, 99% of it comes in November – January.  Rain could start any minute – and it did.

TC January 2012 FogWhen the rain stops, dastardly Tule fog creeps across the landscape blinding drivers who can not longer see two feet away from them in the daytime!  On this beautiful January last year the sun broke through, dashing the plans of Fog’s armed clouds that stuck close, protecting their earthly territory.  Warrior Sun fought valiantly for two or three days to slash through thick foggy armor to free us.  We have not had fog this year, but we all know it’s on its way.

Featured Blog

Justice For Raymond, written by Ray’s Mom, differs from most of the blogs I see. The first time I visited it, I thought, “Wow could that happen?”  So far in my blogging travels this blog challenges viewers to do more than like the article or write a response.  The blogster says it best,

http://www.denied-justice.com is a web site that holds documents, court transcripts, autopsy for Raymond Zachry, the reason for the blog, Justice for Raymond.  Ray suddenly, unexpectedly died September 25, 2007.  The autopsy revealed that he had a huge amount of lethal poison in his system.  Still the coroner refused to cooperate and allow an investigation.”

In this season of giving, I need to pause sometimes, and think seriously about the meaning of life and my purpose for enjoying the privilege of being here.  Thanks Ray’s Mom for reminding me that life is precious.

More ideas for Changing Seasons

Celebrate the season!

Sunday Post: Natural Resources

I’ve been hoping for a challenge in which I could post these photos of wind machines.  Thanks Jake.  Air is probably our most precious and abused natural resource in California Our EPA regulations for air quality are the most stringent in the United States.  Yet, for all it’s poor quality from times and in places, air can still be harnessed and used to produce another clean energy – electricity.

I read this morning on Pairodox Farm’s blog that my home state of Indiana, “the Fowler Ridge wind farm is one of the largest installations of its sort in the world. It ranges over 50,000 acres and is currently comprised of more than 300 wind turbines which can generate enough carbon-free electricity for nearly 200,000 homes.

I pulled off the freeway just before an exit going to Palm Springs to get these pictures.  I used the 75-300 lens.  You can see that the air is hazy.  Had I pulled off the road on Saturday instead of Monday, the sky would have been blue.  Rats!!!These photos have not been altered in any way except to imprint my moniker in the sky.Developed in the 1980s the  San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, one of three large wind farms in CA, consists of 3,218 units delivering 615 MW.[1]This wind farm spans the I 10.  This is one of the windiest places in California.

Featured Blog

Pairodox Farm is my choice for today.  Their website is about sustainable living in rural Pennsylvania, but I think their ideas can apply to all of us. The reason they are a pairodox is because in real life they are a pair of docs, one in zoology and in plant ecology.  In spite of all that science in their educational background they actually speak English.

A Pair of Docs in Pennsylvania

To participate in Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post

1. Each week, he will provide a theme for creative inspiration. Show the world based on your interpretation what you have in mind for the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. Subscribe to jakesprinter so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.

So I learned something today.  How about you?

Here are some of the participants gathered by rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity.  Check his out, then you have lots of other examples also!  Thanks!!!

  1. SUNDAY POST: Natural Resources | Tea with a Pirate -
  2. sunday post : natural resources | bodhisattvaintraining
  3. Windmill at Sunset | Canoe Communications
  4. Sunday Post: Natural Resources…The Children of the World
  5. Eye candy | Thirdeyemom
  6. The Giving Tree | Thirdeyemom
  7. Sunday Post: Natural Resources « patriciaddrury
  8. SUNDAY POST : Natural Resources | tahira’s shenanigans
  9. Sunday Post:  Natural Resources -Another Day in Paradise
  10. Sunday Post : Natural Resources « restlessjo
  11. Positive Parental Participation
  12. Natural Resources. « Luddy’s Lens
  13. Jake’s Sunday Post: Natural Resources | A Number of Things
  14. BAMBOO- A Natural Resource « Zeebra Designs & Destinations
  15. If a tree falls | Beyond the Brush
  16. Jake’s Sunday Post theme: Natural resources « newsferret
  17. Tell me, was it one of those days? | The Wanderlust Gene
  18. Longing « Stray Thoughts
  19. SUNDAY POST: Natural Resources Wool | Cee’s Life Photography
  20. Wind Turbines | Figments of a DuTchess

Magnified Fall in the Foothills

Happy Thanksgiving!!!  It’s always good to be home, even though there are no cultural places to visit nearby, or Diners and Dives restaurants.  There’s also little rain, traffic, or noise – although cows make a lot of noise from time to time.

There’s not much traffic on this street, but PG knows to move over when a truck ambles by.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day that I took my big lens out for a walk to experiment with it.  I took the wide-angle with me, but never got it out.  It was too much fun to get up close and personal with the mountains.

Sierra Nevada Mountains

These mountains I do know, and I know that we are looking east.  The Sierra Nevada range is a Spanish name meaning sawtooth snowy.  It must have been loggers that named it, but I think they were accurate in their description.

There are definitely teeth in them thar hills.

You can see that east of the valley is more frequently range land and not farming, although we do have groves of citrus in this area.  Mountains compose 2/3 of Tulare County.  This location is only about 40 minutes from the mountains where you visit Sequoia National Park.I love the layers of hills and mountains.  It’s hard to capture them with even the big lens., but we had rain while I was away, and the mountains took on a thin layer of snow which helps show their definition.  Unfortunately for capturing the sky, I waited just about an hour too long before going outside.  While it is clear as a bell from 10:00 to about 2:00, after that there is a winter haze that settles in.These pictures may all start to look the same to you.  I’m having to go back and forth a little to make sure I don’t pick the same picture accidentally because I didn’t save all the pictures in the file, and I didn’t go in order.  I just stand in one place and pivot, so there is a lot of similarity.  I’m sure every little peak has a name, but I don’t know them. However, I do have my favorites, and this little saw blade on the left side of the picture is one of them.

Just so you know, there are foothills on every side.  This picture points northwest.

Foothills every which way

And this one points due west.  See I really do know my directions.Since I’m from deciduous Indiana, autumn is not complete without leaves.  The sun was almost ready to set making these leaves shimmer and shiver with the impending dusk.Even the ugly leaves are pretty in the sun.

I got a phone call at just about this time, and missed the sunlight on the dandelions.  They looked etherial on the hillside.  The more I take pictures, the more I am aware that if I don’t snap the picture from exactly the right place at exactly the right time, I miss it.  I can walk one step and the view changes.  This drives me nuts when I am driving and I can’t stop the car soon enough.  In this case I had to settle for dandelions on flat land, not circling the tree like alien landing lights.This at least gives you a glimpse of the magic I saw magnified through my mega 75-300 lens.  Hope you enjoyed being back home again in Tulare County, California.

Mowing the Cotton Field

When the mountain stopped me and asked me to take a picture of it, I had no idea that right across the street something was begging me even more to take its picture.

a field of cotton

NO, it took more than a mere field of cotton.  You guessed it – farm equipment doing its job.

Here it comes, that ole cotton mower

It looks small and innocent enough from this vantage point.  Wait till you get closer!

Closer, closer. Be careful! It’s got teeth!

You can see why the air gets so dusty in the Central Valley.  The sky was so immaculate on Saturday because it rained Friday night – our very first rain of the fall.

It still looks small and harmless, just a little dusty!

Don’t be fooled, You wouldn’t want your fingers down there.  About this time I had slid down the slight embankment, and was rushing toward the machine faster than it was coming at me.  In fact, it was ignoring me all together.  HOWEVER…

She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes…
Watch out tchistorygal.  Can you find my tchistorygal signature?  I’m hiding them now!
the cotton boll

As I turned from my engaging activity, I jolted to see, not 10 feet away, a white pick-up with a stern looking man sitting inside staring at me, just waiting.  That was a little eerie, I have to admit, but I greeted him with a friendly apology asking if he minded if I took pictures.  He didn’t, but reminded me not to get my fingers or feet near the cotton mower.  HELLO – like even a 2 year old would back away from a moving grinder like that!  But the slight reprimand was a small price to pay for being allowed to be at that place at that time with my camera in tow, fully charged with an empty disk.  I didn’t ask to take his picture, though.  Maybe he was worried that I was a safety inspector.

all ground up
Have you found me yet? My signature, not a miniature Marsha Lee.

Ok, that is pretty obvious, but don’t you love the little opening of light following the mower?  I did NOT Photoshop that in.  It was an amazing opening in the clouds.  How cool was that?

Just so you will be more knowledgeable at the end of this article than you were at the first, I want to clarify something.  I mistakenly thought that this machine was a cotton picker until I looked online.  I thought the fields looked pretty full of cotton still, but how wrong I was!  This machine in my pictures was merely mowing down the cotton remains.

http://www.toreuse.com/john-deere-7760-cotton-picker/

Did you find all my signatures?  I’m getting pretty cagey, don’t you think?

Under the Grapevine

Grapevine is a place, a town at the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley.  I learned when I first moved here that when you start to cross over Tejon Pass you say, “I’m crossing over the Grapevine.”   It is quite a climb in just a few miles to the 4, 000 foot pass.  In the summer you are warned to turn off your air-conditioning so that the car doesn’t overheat.  That was not a problem on Saturday morning.  My problem in crossing the Grapevine was that it was so beautiful I kept stopping to take pictures.  I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Can you guess what lush crop is growing at the foot of the foothills?

As you are heading south, if you look to the southwest, this is the view you see.

Have you guessed the crop?

What captures your attention?  The mountains in the distance, the green crop, the patch of sunshine beneath the thick blanket of clouds, or the heavy sky?  For me it was the sun turning the mountains copper-colored as I looked west.  I hardly wanted to post this picture, yet as I analyze it I appreciate it.

The sign MIGHT tell you, if you could enlarge the photo enough. Or would it?????

Some of you may know without a sign.  I was still captivated by the sun sneaking through the moisture laden sun-blockers to tan the hills.  I couldn’t resist the texture of the canyons in the mountain sides.  Mostly I was captivated by the falseness of it.  When I was in school in the midwest, I remember seeing pictures of the west, and I didn’t think that the pictures could possibly be real.  How could plateaus be so flat and still be at such a high elevation.  How could the sky look so ethereal?  But here it is years later, still looking like Tinkerbell could pop into the picture sprinkling  fog dust any second.

Have you guessed yet? I had to get closer before I knew for sure.

Have you ever seen anything that looked so healthy?  If I eat a few of these I might turn into the Jolly Green Giant.  Instead I am just turning into the Jolly Giant.

Were you right? Did you guess carrots?

I didn’t pull one up to check, but they look similar to the ones I have grown.  Mine never looked this good, and they always come out short or twisted.

Fall in the Foothills

Come white misty fog
Dusting the sun-brushed hilltops
Polishing the air.

You know fall has finally arrived when the fog greets you in the mornings.

Fog in the foothills

This picture looks fake, but believe me, the only Photoshop touch on this picture was to give my husband credit for taking it.

fall flowers

By evening the flowers were drinking in the last rays of sunshine at about 4:00 in the afternoon.

“Give me just a little more sun.”

The cats look like they have gained 10 pounds.  It’s all fur.

“We’re good luck!”

“Check out all those abizia seed pods, Scardy Cat.”

“I think I could jump up and get those pods!”  “You’ve GOT to be Kidding – at your age, Mama?”

Hard to believe that at one time they were feral cats, Mama and Baby.  Now they actually pose for pictures.  Scardy is about 10 now.

Under the palm tree

It still looks like spring under the palm tree, but these annuals are lasting so far.

Kalev checks on my strawbabies.

There are even a few berries, but mostly they are putting out runners now.  I have a lot of work to do!!!

Kalev’s report, “It’s all good.”

Even though I think spring looks better on peach and apricot trees, our trees are doing their best to add to the fall spirit.

They even let go of a few leaves.

It’s not easy letting go.

You can’t have too many pictures of leaves.

Even Taliah’s caterpillar is looking a little wilted, and a bit faded this fall.

“If I had only one wish, I would wish I could fly away from this cold weather.”

Some of the fall blooms were blessed to be brought in from the cool weather.

Romantic Bouquet

Hope your enjoyed this photo walk around our yard.  V has designed and maintained it all, and the cats, Kalev, and I all enjoy the fruits of his labors.  I hope you will, too!

The Needle (Not the Haystack)

Before I start this post I want to thank you all for coming to visit my site, reading all my posts, making wonderfully encouraging and engaging comments, and in general, addicting me to y’all.  This is my 200th post.  Today, I may go over 9,000 views.  Who knew when I started this adventure that even ONE person would want to read my thoughts.  I am so grateful.

Secondly, I don’t want to get so caught up in my blogging that I forget to vote, and I don’t want you to either.  So if you are reading this and need to go vote, just go.  I’ll still be here when you get back.

I met a wonderful woman while battling the Hawaiian surf old-lady style.  On our last day there she told me about Iao Valley State Park where we had not visited.  So before we went to the airport we spent an hour or more hiking around this park wondering how in the world the ancient warriors ever hid behind this needle.

Watch your step; 133 steps to the lookout point!

So up we go to see this big needle that was a famous hiding ground for ancient warriors.  What did THEY do before these steps were here?

The climb was easy because we both stopped so much to take pictures.  We didn’t even try to stay together.  I got sidetracked by a spider web sparkling in the sun that wouldn’t cooperate.  Needle-like FOCUS Marsha.  (Self-talk is good.)

OK there it is.  Splendid view, and we are not even close to the viewing area!

This place is a little TOO inspiring!  What does that sign say?  Please pick up?  Is that what you want?  There are easier ways, Buff Man.

Oh NO.  Don’t Do It, Mr. Buff Man.

Viewpoint Headquarters

V and the French people made it to the top.  Of COURSE I did, too.  I’m taking the picture.  Still, we’re not very close to the Needle.  So how DID those warriors get there?  It’s still quite a climb.

What goes up, must come down.

And what a journey down was.  It wasn’t raining while we were there, but with this lush vegetation, you could well imagine that it should have been.

They don’t bother to post “Watch your step” signs here! (where it’s much more needed than on the safe stairs!)

Instead people were frolicking in the water.  With my inability to keep my feet under me on flat land, I didn’t try walking on boulders with cool river waters gurgling over them.

There was something for everybody at this park.

Is he looking for the Needle? He’s not even close to the Haystack!!

What is HE doing?

??? So what happened to Buff Man???

Where did HE go?

Did he turn into Spiderman?

Realistic costume Spiderman!  Nice crib, too!

Anybody seen Mr. Buff Man?

They were all waiting and looking.  Nobody could find him.  It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

If she saw him, she wasn’t talking!

I met this lovely woman from Bakersfield, CA lounging on the rocks just enjoying the shade.  The day was hot, about 86 degrees and muggy.

Watching the Vog Roll In

Finally, V and I met up at the entrance and sat in the shade and watched the vog roll in.  Vog was a result of the smoldering volcano ash from a nearby island.  It’s no healthier for you than smog, but we sat and breathed it in for a while just to get a feel for the place.

The Needle

With a needle this big, who needs a haystack?  I have to say, this needle is a little disturbing.  Cross my heart and hope not to die, I wouldn’t want IT in MY eye.

Related Hawaii Stories

Horseback in Hawaii

Like Lesley Carter, I have my bucket list.  I also hold, sometimes unrealistic, admiration for people and because of that I want to try to do the things they do.

If Carmen can do it, I want to try it!  Copied without her permission.

Enter Carmen again. She’s taking horseback riding lessons, and she’s going to ride with the stars.  When will I ever learn, Marsha Lee, you are not Carmen?  Carmen can do things you can’t, and it’s ok.  But I tried.

Trying to “hang loose”.

Start with the end and work backwards.  I made it up the mountain.  You can all see that.  I made it back down or I wouldn’t be writing.  My husband asked, didn’t you love the views?

Oh yeah! The view was great!

I knew I was in trouble as soon as the guide adjusted my stirrups.  He tried to pull my leg back to put it in the stirrup, and it wasn’t going that direction.  He managed to get it in the stirrup, but I was already in pain.

The view as I saw it!

You notice that the picture is a little fuzzy.  I wanted you to see what I was seeing.  Remember I was bouncing with every excruciating step.  The view wasn’t in focus any more for me that it is for you!  Not only that I had my camera around my neck and hanging at my side.  The guide wisely reminded me that lenses and saddles didn’t mix, and if the lens accidentally came in contact with the saddle…  This is my third lens already.

Ah, relief, we stopped for a second. Snap. Ops, we’re off again!

So you can see that it really was beautiful  This was VERY early on.  I could still look out when the guide stopped to give us a break.  We are going through a housing development developed to continue agriculture.  Each plot was something like 10 acres, and they had to grow something.  I admit I wasn’t concentrating on his words right then.

Our guide explaining some history. Better listen.

This aqueduct was built in blah, blah, blah.  Amazing work of engineering.  I will appreciate it when I get home.  Meanwhile, my camera is still safe, but at what cost?  I have the reins in my right hand holding tight because my horse likes to veer to the side whenever he/she sees something green.  Down goes her (I’m thinking broad, gentle, must be an older woman horse) head.  MMMMMM.  “Don’t let the horses eat,” warned the guide in the beginning.  I yank with all my might and she grabs her bites to go.  My left hand is twisted behind my back holding onto the camera lens to protect it from the saddle.

The one guest who knew how to ride.

She looked comfortable in the saddle.  I definitely was NOT.  I got the BROADEST  mare.  When I was 10, I never could do the splits sideways, no matter how much I stretched.  I could do them front to back, but that position was not needed for this task.  At 60 sitting atop Bessie I was stretched wider than my widest 10 year old splits.  I had my heels down which stretched my nerves and muscles ways they couldn’t go either.  My toes were pointed up, and my knees were pressed in.  I don’t know what my ankles were doing, but they hurt too.

Look at that great form. Toes still up in ready position.

We finally got to dismount for a bit.  That was not easy, but my legs were still functioning at this point.  I blessed my husband over and over for choosing the morning ride that only lasted 2 hours instead of the lunch ride I had wanted that lasted 2.5 hours.

Still able to stand by myself. Halfway there. Snacks on the picnic table.

You can’t see how fat my horse is, but Francis’ horse is obviously looking for grass.  He didn’t get ANY on the way up!  I think horses must eat anything – tree leaves, grass, rocks…

We were told several times along the way to pat our horse and tell them what a good job they were doing.   I obeyed.

I was trying not to cry in front of everyone, but at least I was safe for a bit.  She had not fallen off the rocky path – came close a few times, I thought.  So I gave her sweaty body a brief pat.  She won’t look at me.  The horses in our neighborhood love me, and look at me, but they don’t have to carry me up a steep mountain side.

Smiling, smiling, smiling

We’re ready to go back down.  I’m smiling on the outside.  Francis isn’t under the same obligation.  This is it until we get back down.  No more pictures.  Bessie was really hungry on the way down.  She would pull off to the side of the road, bend her head down.  I used both hands to keep her on the path, not going over the cliff to higher grass.  Then she jogged to catch up to the rest.  I begged her to slow down.  I pulled back on her reigns.  I cried.  I pleaded.  She kept jogging until she caught up.

I was able to get off the horse, but a nice young man had to almost lift me off.  I couldn’t get my right leg over the saddle.  I slid onto the ground with him holding on to me.  I clung to Bessie until I could stand.  I didn’t care that she was sweaty and dusty. I couldn’t see anything for a few minutes.  Slowly I came back to life, and walked away from the horse.

Everybody told the guide what a wonderful trip it was.  I was crying.  I couldn’t stop the tears.  I told him I was out of shape.  The ride was great.

End with the beginning. Check that OFF the bucket list!!!

I was just grateful that I didn’t kick the bucket on that trip.  The next day I was fine.  We probably walked 6 miles along the beach to Whalers’ Village and back.  No stiffness, sore muscles, nothing.  Go figure!

Warning to newlyweds – don’t try horseback riding on a mountain trail on your honeymoon unless you are REALLY used to doing it!

Sunday Post: Favorite Spot

Thanks to Amy for leading me to Jake who has the Sunday Post Challenge.  I have to think about where my favorite spot is, but I know it faces north.  I love to sit at the dining room table and write my blog, answer emails, and, or course, eat. I think I could sit here all day, but that wouldn’t be good for me.  When we first made an offer on this house, it was a HUD repo, and we couldn’t get inside, so we drove our pick-up out, pulled out the tailgate and began planning our dream home.

Where we used to park our pick-up.

We now have a patio there, and we go out and enjoy coffee out there, or on the front porch facing north.

Marsha’s Foothill  I didn’t plant the flag, though.

The reason for the northern direction is that there is a huge foothill at the end of our street, and you just can’t go any farther.  When I taught 4th grade, we brought our students on a bike trip out along this street and over the fence so that we could climb the foothill and see the Native American painted rocks in a little cave.  We loved to sit down and eat by the mortar holes where the native women ground acorns into flour.

Our neighbors called our foothill Marsha’s Foothill for a while because of the small incident I had up there.  My friend and I were hiking, and of course all the neighbor kids wanted to go with us.  So we started off.  The older kids, and my friend went on ahead leaving me to help the littlest member of our party, A 5-year-old little girl.  I had to lift her all the way because it was really too steep for her.  Big clue.  If they can’t climb it, don’t do the work for them!!! NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY BEG TO GO WITH YOU!!!  We got to the top and discovered that everyone had jumped across the gap between the boulders.  The gap looks like no big deal from where I drink my coffee in the morning, but up there the gap widens.  I knew I couldn’t lift, throw, or otherwise transport her over the gap, so we decided to go back down.  All of the sudden the ledges shrank, and I didn’t trust her stay put on a little ledge and move on by herself while I climbed onto the ledge myself.  There surely wasn’t room for both of our little feet at the same time.

So we sat up there and talked.  I asked her if her mother hadn’t minded that she climbed up to the top of the foothill.  Big clue #2  When in doubt ask the mom for permission to take kids with you ANYWHERE- even if the kids beg and beg, and your friend is an attorney.

“Oh, she doesn’t know,” she told me innocently.  “She thinks I’m in bed.  I have strep throat.”

So there I was at the top of the hill with a sick 5-year-old at about 4:30 p.m. on a December afternoon.  The rest of the group was on their way down, but struggling and not wanting to come back over the GAP to help us.  We sat and visited. AND PRAYED.

Soon my friend’s and my husbands ventured by wondering why our walk was taking so long.  Neither of them felt like tackling up the steep incline.  I didn’t think it was that bad going up.  They went and got the little girl’s father.  Fortunately for me, the parents were good-natured about the incident.  It was no big deal for me to hand the little girl down to her dad’s waiting arms, so we were down that hill in no time, and I’ve never gone back up it.  The dad renamed the hill, and we laughed about it later.I still love to look north to the foothills from my home.  Marsha’s Foothill IS my favorite spot, I just don’t want to occupy it.