Road Trip to Palm Springs


Life brought me to the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California late last summer. A few months later, my childhood friend from elementary school in the farmlands of Northwestern Missouri moved back to Palm Springs. Today I drove out to the desert to see him, Craig Prater. I arrived a little early so drove around, took a walk downtown, and took some photos. We were so intent on catching up and visiting, I forgot to take a photo of Craig and me together. Here are photos I took as I walked and drove around.

Palm Springs shopping area.

Desert mountains surround Palm Springs. It is hot compared to where I live. When I returned to my car after lunch, the thermometer said 121. It really was not quite that hot, only 103. 1.25 hours later when I arrived back home, it was 87 at my house.

I took this to include parts of the palo verde tree and the mountains. Palm trees are everywhere as you can see from the photos.

This is one of the largest palo verde trees I have ever seen. I want one for my backyard. You see them everywhere in the desert. Now that LA County has water restrictions, it would seem to be a good choice.

Palm Springs is Mid-Century Modern architecture country. This photo and the following photos are some examples of the types of houses I saw as I drove around.

While some houses still have grass, the trend is desert landscaping to save water.

There is a house behind all this desert vegetation.

An Afternoon at Laguna Beach


Every year Laguna Beach has a Garden Tour. We decided to take a look and celebrate Mother’s Day one day early–my daughter, grandson, his girlfriend, and I. To be honest the tour was a bit disappointing but Laguna Beach itself definitely was not. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and will return.

We decided to do the cardio tour–yes, that is what they called it. The shuttle drops everyone off at Garden 1, you follow a map, and walk the rest of the tour. The option is to take the shuttle just about everywhere. We did not do that. Here are a few photos I took along the way.


The rest of my family in front of me walking one of the cardio sections.

A door I loved in an alley along the way.

Laguna Beach is very hilly. Many houses are not only like those above but perched at the top of the hills.

Some interesting flowers along the way.

The final street of the tour was the street closet to the ocean.

Looking through the gate at the side of one the elegant houses along the sea.

Some people apparently prefer more privacy.

I found this undulating grass quite fascinating.

This and the following photo are of Shaw’s Cove, a rather hidden public beach with waves crashing against rocks and only a few locals. There is a series of steps that lead down to the Cove.

Afternoon at the California Botanical Garden


Unlike The Huntington where you can find plants from all over the world, this garden focuses on plants native to California.

Near the entrance.

Not sure you can see here, but the mountain top has a tiny bit of snow left even though in the 80s in the garden.

Many of the plants are labeled. This one was not.


This is the sycamore mentioned in the previous photo.
These large trees are everywhere. I did not see a label.
Channel Islands Bush Poppies. I have not made it to Channel Islands National Park yet.
In this photo the snow on the mountain is evident. Much of this garden is forested and cool.
California Iris
Poppies and Firecracker Penstemon.
Wild Iris blooming everywhere.
A small Coastal Redwood forest. Redwood trees grow better if more than one so they can join roots and communicate. I have one in my yard and no space to plant another to keep it company.
One of the mountains often referred to as sisters.
At my house all the squirrels are brown. Here I saw both grey and brown.
California Buckeye. The flowers emit an intense heavenly perfume.
The flowers. If I had space in my yard, I would plant one.
Wild strawberries.
The edge of a sculpture garden with some interesting sculptures.
Poppies and Iris.
More Iris .
Many flowers, many colors growing together.

Blackwater Draw


I walk the mile long trail down into the depths,

caliche, gravel, larger rocks strewn by millennia.

The ancients–Clovis, Folsom, Portales

Man–hunted here at the shores of a lake

nearly 12,000 years ago. In 1929, an amateur

archeologist discovered a spear point lodged in bone.

Scattered cottonwoods whisper in the wind,

timeless voices call me, beckoning.

Who were these people? What did they

look like? Where did they come

from? In whose gods, goddesses, did

they believe? Doubtless hunger

drove them to this place of water

and plenty. Columbia mammoths, giant

sloths, dire wolves, saber toothed cats.

I walk this long path, read signs

that tell what diggers found at specific

spots along the trail: bison horns

spanning seven feet, mammoths twice

the size of elephants. I stand in the shade

of the cottonwoods. They whisper to me.

They tell me ancient tales of hunger, strife,

beauty, love, endurance, woe, war, weaponry,

courage and community. How did they overcome

danger, fear? My skin tingles strangely

in the summer heat. Now this land is dry,

desert, the water that sustained teeming life

evaporated in the crystalline air.

Twelve thousand years from now who will stand here?

Will this place exist? Will someone wonder the meaning

of our bones, who we were, what we believed?

The Huntington Gardens–Part Two


In the last six weeks I have travelled to these gardens five times, two alone and three with house guests. Amid all the turmoil in the world today this is a place where nature continues its grand display, instilling a sense of peace and quiet.

My son headed to the Chinese and Japanese gardens.
Earlier photos were the walk to arrive here at the Japanese Gardens.

Depending on how you walk through the gardens, you walk to Japanese first, then Chinese, then back to the Japanese Gardens. This and the following few photos are the Chinese Gardens.

The Chinese Garden is filled with various sizes of limestone that looks like sculptures but is natural. The next time I go, I am going to learn what is written on many of the pieces of limestone.

In many places you can see the San Gabriel Mountains which are not far away.
The pond is filled with fish.
My son enjoying the waterfall.
I sat on a bench and stared at this for a long time, wondering how they do this without messing any of it up. There are doze
Looking back as we are on the way out.
And finally something European as we headed toward the parking area.

After five times, I have seen most of the gardens–next post will be some photos of the Australian area–and the two art galleries. Never made it to the library yet.

The Huntington–Gardens, Part One


Where have I been? Entertaining my son whom I had not seen in more than two years. One of the things he wanted to do was visit The Huntington in Pasadena after seeing some photos I took on a visit in January. Unless you get there as soon as they open and stay all day, it is impossible to see everything in one day. I have been there four times and only seen the gardens. The library and art gallery await for another time. Here are the photos from the first excursion with my son, Erik.

Erik took a lot of photos. This set is mostly in the desert garden section filled with cactus and succulents.
Yes, those are thorns sticking out of the trunk.

In many place in the gardens you can see the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.

I found the colors and texture of the trunk of this tree quite a contrast to many in the desert area. This photo and several that follow were taken in the Australian section.
Some of these trees are too huge to get all the tree in a photo.
On the way out. The rest had to wait for another day.

Ponies


Mom loved Shetland ponies.

not so much the stocky, chubby ones,

the fancy show ponies.

We had so many, I’ve lost count–

black, pinto, dappled grey with silver

mane and tail–the fanciest one.

Midget, a pinto, was the first one.

They bought her so I could learn to ride.

I was six.

At the country fair, I rode her.

She zigged; I zagged, fell off.

Utter humiliation.

On rainy days my sister and I would

put a few in the barn, dress them up,

play games with them,

living toys.

We even rode them when in high school

along the cornfields, across the terraces.

My last memory–riding, ambling along, not paying attention,

suddenly lots of noise in the cornfield,

an animal running through the cornstalks.

Pony bolted; I jumped, landed wrong,

limped for days at school, climbing

up and down the steps.

Did I ride again?

I don’t think so, not for years and

then I rode horses.

Winter Afternoon


No wind, stringy high clouds block a bit of blue.

Someone bounces a ball next door,

I hear the intermittent sound.

Suddenly several dogs bark across the golf course green,

Suddenly stop.

Across the turquoise pool water burnt orange leaves waft downward,

some land on the pale gold rocks,

some float at the pool’s terracotta edge,

others lay across the dark green rosemary bushes.

Bird song I cannot identify fills the background.

Two men, voices loud, banter –they’re neighbors, friends.

One of their small children cries, stops, cries again.

A late day golfer strides a ball, shouts.

Breeze arises, quits, more leaves fall,

the pool and birdbath water slightly ripple.

The lemons glow against the dark green leaves,

a painting emerald and bright yellow.

I sit beside the African multi-colored granite table my son made,

admire the colors:

-succulents called fire sticks match the falling leaves.

shades of orange, red, and green.

-the pots that house them match the dark blue of the pool’s old fashioned

Mexican tile.

-roses still display a few blossoms, dark red, pale pink, peach.

Tomorrow the gardener will trim them back to help them bloom lushly n spring.

-the oleander, still green, quit blooming weeks ago.

-rosemary loves this time of year, covers itself with tiny, fragrant, grey-blue flowers.

-in the distance mountains arise, a purple haze.

Now, no sounds, only silence.

I sit in the quiet beauty, write, drink green tea, feel grateful.