Goodbye 2016: A look back

I am melancholy this New Year’s Eve day. The year 2016 was full of personal challenges for me personally and my dear friends. The one thing I counted on to keep me balanced was photography. When I was out shooting, my attention was drawn away from health issues and global and United States politics. Editing in my office helped relax away fears. I almost lost a dear friend and another had heart surgery. Add that to Richard’s back surgery, it was a tough autumn.

So while in this moody state of mind, I’m going to show you some of the images I chose for my yearly calendar. I’m hoping 2017 will surprise us with political healing, prosperity, health and peace for all. Happy 2017.


The last from the desert: Painted Canyon, Mecca

We got a late start, we got lost, we finally found our way. That pretty much sums up why we arrived at the Painted Canyon in Mecca California so late in the day. Richard and I visited the Painted Desert in Arizona during our 2013 cross country trip, so what could compare to it? Was I surprised!

Even though we just got a taste of it, I want to go back. The approach to the Canyon is on a 3-mile dirt road. The golden hour had just begun as we parked the car. I talked to a couple who had just come out of the canyon and found out that it’s a slot canyon with narrow passages and involves a good deal of climbing. When I said we were not able to climb, I was told that there was another way around that was flat with a good view of the colorful mountains, but was a 5-mile round trip. Again, due to our current physical limitations and late arrival, that was impossible this trip.

So, I did what I usually do, made the most of what I could do. I walked to where the slot canyon began and was amazed that there was so much color already. The minerals created such beautiful orange and green effects. Also, the entrance to the canyon was majestic.

Enough talk, take a look for yourself. Next year, it will be get up early, go the direct way, and be able to walk the 5-miles!

Holiday countdown: Festival of Lights, Palm Springs

I know everyone is busy now with holiday preparation, but I hope you take time to view this blog anyway. The Festival of Lights is a weekly evening event in Palm Springs during the winter months. I don’t know what I was expecting, but all we saw were vendors. Since we got there early, musicians were just setting up.

To make matters even worse, I left my D7100 and walk around lens in my cousin’s car. That left me with the D3100 and my 55 – 300 mm lens. It was make do time and challenging. Cold, hungry and disappointed, we went inside a restaurant. There we found our evening’s entertainment.

A group was setting up on the small stage and we asked what they were doing. One of them impersonated Carol Channing, and they were going to rehearse for the next evening’s show.  We asked if we could stay to see the rehearsal and they were very agreeable. The show was very good, but we had to imagine it with costumes. We were even asked for input at the end. Also, photographing it was difficult. I only had my on camera flash, no tripod, bad lighting and a small area. But, I think I did well this was a shooting and processing lesson for me.

So here are some pictures. So take some time and look at them and thanks!

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Not just any museum: Coachella Valley History Museum

It’s okay to admit it. You may not be a museum lover. I shy away from some types of museums, but I do enjoy history museums. I’ve always been a fan of historical novels, movies and museums. But, don’t ask me details any more–I just can’t remember them! I just like to share their moments in history for a short while.

So I was happy we chose to visit the Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio. The museum campus includes the 1926 residence and medical practice office of Doctor and Mrs. Smiley, the historic 1909 schoolhouse, a Desert Submarine, pioneer farming equipment and a Date Museum. An old Cork Tree can also be found on the grounds. I touched it and the bark is like a cork!

The Desert Submarine is the small sleeping quarters for workers during the summer. They fashioned what I think is the first evaporative cooler for the men. The schoolhouse was moved onto the property as an addition to the complex. Most of the museum’s historical pieces are in the Smiley residence. And, the Date Museum is one of a kind, giving the history of date farming in the area with help from Arab countries.

The Museum was incorporated on September 3, 1965, by a dedicated group of valley residents, opened in 1984, and is run primarily by volunteers. Our docent was proud to give us the tour even though she had only been a volunteer for 2 weeks. Her excitement for the property certainly was apparent. Through her knowledge, I was able to go back in time and understand what desert life was like before all our modern conveniences.


In search of water: Thousand Palms Coachella Valley Preserve

Looking for a certain Oasis can be daunting. We came close one day, but didn’t find the bubbly spring or the San Andreas fault line. But, we did find water–a small pond of it. The locals called it a lake. We’re still not sure of this oasis’s exact location, but we do know that it is part of the Thousand Palms Coachella Valley Preserve.

It amazed me that each oasis is slightly different from the other. There were a few on this preserve, and we walked to one. It was a 2-mile round trip walk in mostly sand to get to the pond and back. It was like walking on the beach forever. It was worth it though. I loved the background scenery and the pond was beautiful.

Our route there began on a wood walk way boarded by the California Fan Palm, the only palm native to California. Ernie knew it’s official name, and you can learn about it by following the link. Their skirts of dead leaves are not cut and hang down unless the tree drops them. They will be cut to make room for a walk way as you’ll see in the gallery pictures.

We didn’t continue our search for the elusive oasis this trip, but there’s always next year. The question is, will we find that certain oasis?

Broken routine: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert

You don’t know how important your routine is until it’s broken. I’ve been without a computer for a day and a half. Not so bad? Yes, bad…grumble, grumble. Richard is installing a new modem/router and the computers were off limits. Therefore, no email (cell phone worked for that), no reading the newspaper (difficult to do on a cell phone), no solitaire games and no writing my blog. Again, grumble, grumble!

I didn’t realize how important my morning routine was until we joined my cousins in Palm Desert for the week. I was the first one up in the morning and enjoyed my routine of reading emails, reading the newspaper and processing photos.

This morning, the computer is working, and I can get on the internet to write this blog about a hidden gem in the desert–The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. We took a docent tour through the gardens, and since cousin Ernie is a retired landscape architect, the discussion was informative. We talked about various cacti, shrubs and trees. Of course our docent had to put up with my veering off to shoot pictures. But, after the tour, she did ask me to send her my pictures.

Then we went on to the zoo. This was so unlike my local Sacramento Zoo. Habitats were large and the animals were those adapted to the desert. You’ll see what I mean in the picture gallery. It was a great visit. If we go back to the desert, I’d not hesitate to visit there again.

Oh, Richard woke up and is working on his computer. I’d better finish this blog–just in case my routine gets interrupted again!


Coming home: Palm Springs Indian Canyons

It took us two days to get to Desert Palms and my cousins two hours! But, I think it was worth it for both of us. We had vacationed in that desert area before, but never had seen so much.

Our first outing was to the Palm Springs Indian Canyons. “Fifteen miles long, Palm Canyon is one of the areas of great beauty in Western North America. Its indigenous flora and fauna, which the Cahuilla people so expertly used and its abundant Washingtonia filifera (California Fan Palm) are breathtaking contrasts to the stark rocky gorges and barren desert lands beyond. A moderately graded, foot path winds down into the canyon for picnicking near the stream, meditating, exploring, hiking or horseback riding. While in Palm Canyon visit the Trading Post for hiking maps, refreshments, Indian art and artifacts, books, jewelry, pottery, baskets, weaving, and conversational cultural lore,” taken from their website.

The images in this post are from Murray and Palm Canyons. These oasis are amazing and beautiful. At Murray Canyon a Ranger gave us a talk on the history and unique features of they canyons. It was fascinating that water was flowing enough in this harsh desert to create these oasis.

Take a look at what we experienced.