08-04-19 – Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest



Wander to Ancient Bristlecones

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a protected area high in the White Mountains in Inyo County in eastern California. The Great Basin bristlecone pine trees grow between 9,800 and 11,000 feet above sea level, in xeric alpine conditions, protected within the Inyo National Forest. Limber pine also grow in the forest.

The Methuselah Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is the location of the “Methuselah”, a Great Basin bristlecone pine that is 4,851 years old. It is considered to be the world’s oldest known and confirmed living non-clonal organism. It was temporarily superseded by the discovery in 2013 of another bristlecone pine in the same area with an age of 5,069 years (germination in 3051 BC), however in May 2017, Dr. Peter Brown removed this tree from his database of old trees because the core sample cannot be found. “Methuselah” is not marked in the forest, to ensure added protection from vandals.

Source: Wikipedia

06-15-19 – Alabama Hills National Scenic Area



The Alabama Hills are a range of hills and rock formations near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley, west of Lone Pine in Inyo County, California, United States. Though geographically separate from the Sierra Nevada, they are part of the same geological formation.

The Alabama Hills are managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. The area is managed as a protected habitat for public enjoyment. In March 2019, the US congress, as part of the California Deserts Wilderness Act, redesignated the area as the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area

04-26-19 to 05-05-19 – Tahiti, French Polynesia



Ia Orana! I took my first real vacation in 3 years, deciding to turn 50 in beautiful Tahiti. I stayed in Papeete on the island of Tahiti, but also spent my birthday in an over-water bungalow in Huahine, and also spent a day on Moorea. Thanks to my host family (maruuru!), I got to visit many cultural and natural sights, tried a lot of native food, and despite spending the week sweating, had a wonderful time, living as both a tourist and native.

French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France, comprises more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, stretching for more than 2,000km. Divided into the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos, they’re known for their coral-fringed lagoons and over-the-water bungalow hotels. Island features include white- and black-sand beaches, mountains, rugged backcountry and towering waterfalls.

04-03-19 Wildflower Wander


I played hooky for a mid-week sojourn to view the California Super Bloom without the overwhelming crowds. There were still a LOT of people, but the flowers were beautiful! I started out with a scenic drive to Carrizo Plain National Monument, wandered over to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve, and wrapped up the day with a hike in Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park.

The Carrizo Plain is a large enclosed grassland plain, approximately 50 miles (80 km) long and up to 15 miles (24 km) across, in southeastern San Luis Obispo County, California, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Los Angeles. It contains the 246,812-acre (99,881 ha) Carrizo Plain National Monument, and it is the largest single native grassland remaining in California. It includes Painted Rock in the Carrizo Plain Rock Art Discontiguous District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2012 it was further designated a National Historic Landmark due to its archeological value. The San Andreas Fault cuts across the plain.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is a state-protected reserve of California, USA, harboring the most consistent blooms of California poppies, the state flower. The reserve is located in the rural west side of Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County, 15 miles (24 km) west of Lancaster. The reserve is at an elevation ranging from 2,600 to 3,000 feet (790 to 910 m) above sea level, in the Mojave Desert climate zone. The reserve is administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Other wildflowers within the reserve include the owl’s clover, lupine, goldfields, cream cups and coreopsis.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 932-acre (377-hectare) park located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains in northern Los Angeles County, California. It is located in the town of Agua Dulce, between the suburbs of Santa Clarita and Palmdale. The area is also visible from the Antelope Valley Freeway (State Route 14).

03-31-19 – Wander


A wander to find wildflowers away from the throngs of Instagram seeking visitors ended in exploring an old favorite, Red Rock Canyon State Park, from a new direction. I’ve been here dozens of times, and I’m still seeing things for the first time.

Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors.

Historically, the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso mountains and other evidence of their inhabitation. The spectacular gash situated at the western edge of the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route for thousands of years. During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water. About 1850, it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek including members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers. The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of 1890s-era mining operations, and has been the site for a number of movies.

After wet winters, the park’s floral displays are stunning. The beauty of the desert, combined with the geologic features make this park a camper’s favorite destination. Wildlife you may encounter includes roadrunners, hawks, lizards, mice and squirrels.

03-10-19 – Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors.

Historically, the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso mountains and other evidence of their inhabitation. The spectacular gash situated at the western edge of the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route for thousands of years. During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water. About 1850, it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek including members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers. The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of 1890s-era mining operations, and has been the site for a number of movies.

After wet winters, the park’s floral displays are stunning. The beauty of the desert, combined with the geologic features make this park a camper’s favorite destination. Wildlife you may encounter includes roadrunners, hawks, lizards, mice and squirrels.

02-17_18-19 – Muir Woods National Monument



Muir Woods National Monument is part of California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, north of San Francisco. It’s known for its towering old-growth redwood trees. Trails wind among the trees to Cathedral Grove and Bohemian Grove, and along Redwood Creek. The Ben Johnson and Dipsea trails climb a hillside for views of the treetops, the Pacific Ocean and Mount Tamalpais in adjacent Mount Tamalpais State Park.

02-02-19 – Red Rock Canyon



Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors.

Historically, the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso mountains and other evidence of their inhabitation. The spectacular gash situated at the western edge of the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route for thousands of years. During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water. About 1850, it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek including members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers. The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of 1890s-era mining operations, and has been the site for a number of movies.

After wet winters, the park’s floral displays are stunning. The beauty of the desert, combined with the geologic features make this park a camper’s favorite destination. Wildlife you may encounter includes roadrunners, hawks, lizards, mice and squirrels.

01-21-19 – Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 932-acre park located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains in northern Los Angeles County, California. It is located in the town of Agua Dulce, between the suburbs of Santa Clarita and Palmdale. The area is also visible from the Antelope Valley Freeway.

These rock formations were formed by rapid erosion during uplift about 25 million years ago, and then later exposed by uplift activity along the San Andreas Fault.

The Tataviam people were living here when the Spanish arrived. Their language was most likely a Takic Uto-Aztecan language. They lived in grass huts within villages. With the coming of the Spanish missions, some of these people were forced to work there. They eventually began speaking Spanish and inter-marrying with other tribes. The last of the Tataviam people died in 1916.

In 1874, Tiburcio Vásquez, one of California’s most notorious bandits, used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature.

The land and rock formations were acquired gradually by Los Angeles County, beginning with a donation of 40 acres in 1971, with more parcels being added through 2001. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses through the park.

Vasquez Rocks was added to the National Register of Historic Places (site #72000228) in 1972 because of its significance as a prehistoric site for the Shoshone and Tataviam peoples.

01-20-19 – Lunar Eclipse



On Jan. 20, 2019, the moon passed through Earth’s shadow in a total lunar eclipse during the Full Wolf Moon, which is also a “supermoon.”