Didn't feel like going for a hike today but i did want to get a bit of exercise so went for a walk. From my house walked a 6+ mile loop and my feet feel more tired than if i'd done a similar hike. Pavement is hard!
Some screen captures from CNN as president Gerald Ford's body departed Palm Springs on Air Force SAM1 this morning.
Hiked up Cahuilla canyon to the second stream crossing with Eddie. Nice thing to do on Christmas day.
Venus set behind the ridgeline at about 4:50pm today. Fairly easy naked eye object but probably not noticable unless you know where to look. However it was much easier to see than last time i looked 3 weeks ago.
Quick hike up and down the Araby trail with Eddie. Bit cool but otherwise a very bright and clear day.
I had been planning a little solstice camping trip but since the weather has been chilly with some overcast i decided to just go for a day trip with Eddie. Headed east on I10 through Desert Center to the Corn Spring exit then the old highway to the Graham Pass road. Turned south and then took the Cottonwood Spring road toward Augustine Pass. I'd never driven through Augustine pass before so wasn't sure what to expect. Turns out it's a well marked BLM route. There were a couple of tight spots but nothing too tricky. I just took my time and made it though to the Bradshaw road without any trouble. Followed the Bradshaw back west to Salt Creek and then took the Red Canyon Trail through the Orocopias to Maniobra valley. The Red Canyon trail seemed a bit rougher than the last time i was through but i usually do the trail eastbound, not westbound like today which may have made a difference. Rejoined I10 at the Cottonwood Spring road. Nice cool day with partial sun. I didn't see a single other person on the trails all day which was nice. Topo map showing off-pavement portion of trip.
Great pass of the space station with shuttle docked this evening. The spacecrafts came into view in the SW about 5:15pm and crossed the full sky going into shadow low in the NE. Through the TV76 at 30x could see a bit of structure but was hard to keep up with the fast moving craft when overhead. Really good pass. Wish i'd thought to tell some of my neighbors beforehand to go out and look.
I've had a head cold the past few days but feeling better today. Not really up for much of a hike but since it was such a pretty day i did take Eddie on a little walk up Cahuilla canyon to the first stream crossing. The forecast had been for rain today but it turned out to be a beautiful clear sunny day with clouds rolling over the desert divide.
Nice Iridium flare from satellite 81 at 6:12pm due south. Was very bright. The projection says -7 mag. Iridium flares are fun and i should really check for them more often. This page from Heavens-Above shows upcoming flares for the Palm Springs area.
I don't do much for Christmas but i did put some lights on the basketball hoop. My neighbor across the street did quite a bit more.
Nice pass of the space station with shuttle docked this evening. Rose in the SW and went into shadow directly overhead. Very bright just before going into shadow.
Went out in the backyard about 1am to watch for Geminid meteors. Bit of high overcast. Saw quite a few in less than an hour and one very bright fireball in the west that looked like it was going to crash into the mtns. Probably should have come out earlier as the moon was rising about 1:20am.
Hiked up the Araby trail with Eddie today. Bit cool and breezy but very clear and pretty day. Once we got to the top decided to hike east and come out the Rimrocks road. Picture along trail looking west. Walked back along highway 111 to my truck at the Araby trailhead. Nice loop. Took about 2 hours.
Very nice view in the dawn sky of Jupiter, Mercury and Mars forming a tight group low in the SE sky. It had rained during the night with fresh snow on the mtns surrounding the valley but the morning sky was clear. I was out a bit before 6am local time and shared the view through the TV76 with my early-rising neighbor from across the street. Jupiter, Mercury and the star Graffias (beta Sco) made a perfect little line. Also high overhead the moon and Saturn were within a degree of each other.
Brought out the TV76 for a look at Venus this afternoon. Watched it go behind the ridgeline at 4:18pm. By monthend Venus will be and obvious naked-eye object in the early evening sky.
Nice hike to Murray hill today. Beautiful clear cool day. Started from Rimrocks, across Eagle canyon and up the north face. Down via the south trail, over Hotdog hill, over Smoketree mtn and down the Shannon trail. Saw a few other people out hiking but never actually passed anyone on the trail. Great day to be out hiking! The hike took 3 hours and 10 minutes from start to finish.
Using the Leica 10x32 binoculars i caught Venus this afternoon a few minutes before it set over the mtns west of town. After i found with the binoculars i could just barely glimpse Venus with naked eye before it set behind the ridgeline at 4:16pm local time. Nice to have Venus back in the evening sky!
Nice hike up Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Sparklingly bright day but a bit breezy.
It's been cold for us desert people. Today's high was 60°F and the low was 34°F.
Eddie and i hiked the Lykken trail through from the south trailhead north to the Mesquite trailhead this morning. Nice day for a hike. A bit hazy but temps were just right around 70°.
Thanksgiving Day hike up the middle Lykken trail from the end of Mesquite with Eddie. Quite of a few people on the trail today. Eddie was in an energetic mood and had a good time running up on the rocks. Couple of pictures of him here and here.
Nice hike up the Garstin, over Smoketree peak, and a loop across the middle plateau before coming back down the same way i went up. Bright, warm, clear day. See photos link for some pictures along the trail.
Went out for about a half hour around 1:30am this morning hoping to see some Leonids. Didn't see a single one. My (poor) luck with meteor showers continues.
Wen and i visited The Living Desert this today. We mainly wanted to see the Butterflies Alive! exhibit but it was also nice to just walk around the grounds. I also like the trains a lot! I'd not been to the reserve for a long time. Seems the place has grown up quite a bit.
Comet SWAN next to Epsilon Aquilae this evening visible as a little round glow through the TV76. Much dimmer than last time.
Hiked the Henderson trail from the Shannon trailhead toward the Garstin trailhead with Eddie. Walked back via Palm Canyon wash. Eddie had fun!
Watched the airplane parade at my dad's house this afternoon with Joan and Lilly.
Shared the Mercury transit with some co-workers today using my TV76 and Baader solar filter. Probably had 30 or 40 people take a look over about an hour and a half. Was fun! Nice clear warm day. Here is a picture of a happy workmate looking into a 9mm Nagler.
Cahuilla canyon to the second stream crossing. Warm day. Perfectly clear and still. So nice to be outside.
Went to the Jacqueline Cochran airshow in Thermal this morning with my dad. Had a great time. Impressive aerobatic and demonstration flights and lots of interesting planes on the tarmac. After i got home in the afternoon i recorded this audio of an airplane passing over my house.
Pretty quiet evening. The two grandkids from across the street and then after about an hour one other nice family with about 4 kids. Not that i really mind the small turnout but Halloween was more fun when i was a kid.
Walked up Cahuilla canyon to the first stream crossing with Eddie. Doesn't even really count as a hike.
Comet SWAN easily visible through first-quarter moonlight within the Hercules keystone. With 10x42 binoculars the comet and M13 fit in the same field.
Quick hike up and down the Araby trail with Eddie.
Pretty contrails in the early morning. (See photos link.) Left home about 9am and drove to the Anza-Borrego desert. Stopped by the Torrez Martinez store along highway 86 for gas my way. Looks like they might be building a casino as there is a large building going up next to the minimart. Not sure how i feel about that. Drove into the park via S22 and stopped at my Truckhaven geocache to place a new cache container after someone took it during the summer. Continued on S22 to Arroyo Salado and drove the loop passing 17 Palms, 5 Palms, Una Palma and the Cut-Across trail to Palo Verde wash. Lots of people out on the desert today. Big groups of off-roaders camped along S22 outside the state park. Those guys are really gregarious! They also stir up a lot of dust! (See photos link.) Quite a few cyclists along S22. And some historic WWII aircraft flying around. Just lots of people on the ground and in the air. But i did have a nice quiet lunch along Palo Verde wash of roasted eel and mexicorn. Also spent a little quiet time at my Ella wash site. I can still see my foot prints from when i camped here last month. Drove home in mid-afternoon.
Comet SWAN and M13 fit in same Fujinon 16x70 binocular field. Really wish timing had worked out to see this comet from a darksky site.
Set up the Fujinon 16x70 binoculars this evening for a look at comet C/2006 M4 SWAN. I think i can just barely pick out a bit of tail but it's really hard through the city lights. The head of the comet is very bright however. The comet and M13 almost fit in the same field but not quite. I'd really like to see the comet from a dark desert location but by the weekend first quarter moonlight will interfere. Here are some more good images from Pete Lawrence of the comet.
Comet C/2006 M4 (SWAN) quite bright but can't yet see a tail. Comet looks similar to globulars M13 and M92 in Hercules except much brighter. Here is a great photo of the comet taken by Pete Lawrence from England a few hours earlier.
Up the Shannon trail to Smoketree mtn and back. Beautiful clear warm day. Didn't see anyone else out on the trails. Looking over at the Desert Divide through binoculars can see fall colors in the trees. I've not been hiking there in many years. I should really make an effort to get there again.
Hiked the south Lykken trail with Eddie. Lots of people on the trail today. The season must be upon us. Nice clear warm day.
While walking Eddie about 7:10pm watched a low pass of the space station as it crossed above the NW horizon. Later set up the TV76 in the backyard. Comet C/2006 M4 easy to find in the west at the end of twilight. Went back out later at about 9:30pm and tracked down a few objects. Found the Helix, 7293, in Aquarius using UHC filter. Without filter the nebula was basically invisible. Also in Aquarius the Saturn nebula, 7009, quite bright using 7mm Nagler and UHC. Very easy to see. Globular M30 in Capricornus. Tried to find galaxy 247 in Cetus but was UTL. However just over the border in Sculptor i was able to see galaxy 253. Nearby globular 288 was also UTL. Also spent a little time visiting some of the brighter open clusters in Cassiopeia and Cygnus and the Pleiades.
In morning climbed to ridge NE of camp. Very steep. Probably shouldn't have climbed alone but i was careful and made it okay. Drove NE from Cadiz/Chambless on route 66 through Essex and Fenner to Goffs. $3.89 gas in Fenner but at least it saved me a 60 mile round trip into Needles. East about 5 miles on I40 then south through Ward valley on powerline road. I've seen this road on maps for years but never driven it. Perfectly straight for 40 miles. Lunch along Cadiz road. (At junction of Ward valley and Cadiz roads i was amazed to get cell phone reception. Was even able to check my email!) Highway 177 west and south to Coxcomb camp. Arrived about 3:50pm. Hazy evening with steady breeze however after dark was still and clear. And it's quiet here with no trains! Nice to just sit back and look at Milky Way. [Audio of late night AM radio.] Drove home Tuesday morning.
Start of a two night Mojave desert camping trip. Drove east on I10 to Desert Center, north on hwy 177, west on hwy 62, north on Ironage road, north through Sheephole pass. Lunch at my lava flow dino cache. Continued on through Amboy, Chambless, Cadiz, then east along tracks and turn around at Schulyler wash because it's wet and muddy. [Audio of train at Cadiz crossing.] Camped about a mile NE of Cadiz on the south side of neat craggy hills. Lots of trains on the BNSF mainline all night kept me awake. But it was kinda fun too. [Audio, with commentary, of trains from camp.] Nice clear night. Comet C/2006 M4 (SWAN) easily visible through 10x32 binoculars. Comet 177P/Barnard 2 not visible through TV76.
Registered another domain name today... SeeYouInTheDark.com! (Right now it just links to my astronomy page.) I rather like the sound of the phrase and i've been using the salutation for a while so it's nice to actually "own" the name. Third domain regged so far this year.
I love this picture. You can spend 15 cents for a metal washer or you can use one penny to make a comparable washer.
Found comet C/2006 M4 (SWAN) in late twilight at about 7:15pm local time just before moonrise with the TV76. No tail visible from town but the head was easy to see at 30x. Comet and double star Cor Coroli fit in the same field using 16mm Nagler. The comet was also visible, with difficulty, in 10x42 binoculars. Tried to find comet 177P/Barnard 2 but was unable to locate.
Hiked up the Garstin trail, over Smoketree mtn, through the dip to the top of Araby trail, across the middle plateau to Wildhorse junction, then back down the Garstin. No Eddie this time. Nice to do a bit of a longer hike without having to watch after a little doggy all the time. Looks like someone had a party along the Garstin as i picked up four empty Pacifico beer bottles on my way back down. They even left a full unopened bottle at the peak (which i guess was nice of them) except by the time i got there the cerveza was pretty warm. Also, on my way to the Garstin trailhead i made a short detour up Cahuilla canyon to paint over the graffiti i saw yesterday.
Hiked Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Noticed some graffiti on a boulder in the lower bajada of the canyon.
Some pretty evening clouds from near my home.
Hiked up the Shannon trail, over Smoketree mtn, looped through the middle plateau, then back down the Shannon. Bit warm and muggy but not too bad. Picture of Murray Hill and some nice clouds over the Desert Divide. One more photo looking back up the Shannon ridge from Palm Canyon wash.
Eddie and i hiked the north Lykken trail from the end of Ramon to the English Tom geocache. Cache is in good shape although it doesn't get a lot of visitors. Some graffiti painted on rocks a bit off the trail (not near the cache) was annoying. I'm thinking to hike back up sometime soon and cover with dark brown paint.
Hiked the middle Lykken from the west end of Mesquite with Eddie. Bit of Santa Ana winds made for a very nice clear day. I took some pictures with my cell phone and put them online here. The images aren't the best quality but you get an idea of what the trail is like.
18 new entries on the gleanings page.
Went out in the backyard with the TV76 this evening and tracked down Uranus and Neptune. Both well placed high in the south. Neptune in Capricornus is fainter and Uranus in Aquarius brighter. Both visible in 10x42 binoculars as well.
Calm quiet night. Temp at sunrise 70°. Checked wash for sidewinder tracks but none found. Departed camp about 8am and parked in the Ella wash overlook. From there rode my bike east on S22 to the Calcite canyon overlook then back to Thimble trail turnout and back. Rode 16 miles. After the ride spent another hour picking up cans and bottles along S22. Got home a bit after noon.
Leave home at 2:20pm heading for Anza-Borrego desert. Arriving in AB via S22 i drove up the Calcite Mine road to the end. Haven't been up here in a few years. Road seems in better shape than last time. But even so the torque on my bike broke the mount free from the truck bed. The self-tapping screws pulled out of the sheet metal! [Video of Calcite Mine road.] Thought about camping in the mine area but it's quite windy so drove back down to my regular Truckhaven site. Still a bit breezy but not as bad. More haze than i was expecting. Signal mtn is not visible. At 5:20pm i decided it was a bit too windy at Truckhaven for comfort so drove over to my Ella wash site to see if conditions were better. Ella wash is really a nicer and more interesting area. I mostly like Truckhaven for sentimental reasons. Nice evening and much less wind. Sun set at 6:38pm. A few minutes after 7pm using the Fujinon 16x70 i caught a glimpse of Mercury just before it set. Mars was just over a degree away but i was unable to see it tonight. Korean noodles for dinner. Temp at 8pm is 82°. After dark the Milky Way is very bright. Lots of naked eye detail visible. Very nice. Such a difference from home. Didn't take notes nor use charts much. Just enjoyed the evening looking at the sky. Found Barnard's galaxy 6822 through the 16x70 quite easy. Might have just glimpsed in the 10x42 but not sure. Pleiades rising about 10pm. Kemble's Cascade in Camelopardalis very nice in the 16x70.
Hiked Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. The search and rescue folks in their
Ride west on Mesquite, south on Sunrise, south on Toledo, west on Murray Canyon, south to tollbooth, north on Palm Canyon, east on Tahquitz, south on El Cielo to home. 13.5 miles. Beautiful clear day. If i wasn't working tomorrow i'd probably go stargazing at Cottonwood tonight. Didn't go to Cottonwood at all this summer.
Hiked up the Araby trail to my Araby Hope geocache. Nice day. Temps in the mid-eighties.
I spent most of today moving computers and reconfiguring phones at our Cathedral City and Bermuda Dunes offices. On the way home in the afternoon took this picture of some neat clouds over the San Jacintos while i was westbound on Ramon.
If you go out in the evening about 8pm for the next week you can see the planet Jupiter passing just above the star Zuben Elgenubi in the constellation Libra. Look low in the south-west. The brightest object will be Jupiter. Take a look through binoculars and you'll see that Zuben Elgenubi is a nice wide double star. The planet and star(s) will be closest together on Monday or Tuesday nights.
Ride north on Farrell, west on Racquet Club, south on Palm Canyon, east on Palm Canyon, north on Farrell, east on Mesquite to home. Haven't ridden for over a month. Hot and muggy. 12 miles.
Left home a few minutes before 8am and drove to the Anza-Borrego desert. Just wanted to get out on the desert again for a bit. I remember thinking when we were in Hawai'i last month that i wouldn't be interested in the desert anymore after being in the paradise of Hawai'i. Well, i was wrong. The desert really is my first true love. On the drive down stopped at the Torrez Martinez store along highway 86 for $2.99 gas. Haven't paid less than $3 for gas in a long time! Stopped at my Truckhaven geocache just to check but seems someone took it. It's gone! Will replace with a new cache next time i'm in the area. Spent the next couple of hours just visiting my regular places... Truckhaven campsite (the road westward is open again), Calcite overlook (picked up the remains of a recent beer party), west Truckhaven trail, Font's wash to Font's point, Short wash to Palo Verde wash to Ella wash. [Video from Font's point.] Looks like there was a bit of rain in the Font's wash/point area yesterday. Nice desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) at Font's point. Seemed a bit underfed. [The desert iguana was my favorite lizard when i was a kid. I loved to catch them in the desert across from my house and keep them as pets. But sadly, that desert i loved as a child is now covered with houses and no longer exists.] Had my lunch in the shade of a smoketree along Ella wash. Always a nice day whenever i can be out on the desert. Neat cloud over the San Jacintos on the drive home.
Bit of rain and thunder today. Might be from the northern edge of hurricane John. Rained pretty hard for a bit. Some videos here and here. Some pretty clouds after the rain too.
Hiked the Lykken trail to the vista point and back with Eddie. Still too hot for little dogs. Kinda hot for me too!
Tried to find comet 177P/Barnard in Draco with the TV76 but it seems to still be out of reach. Of course the first-quarter moon and muggy air didn't help any either.
Hiked from tramway to Wellman's Divide then back via the high trail. Beautiful clear day. Nice views from Wellman's of the Salton Sea and south to Mexico. Took this shot of Long Valley on my way out. This will be my last tramway hike this year since my summer pass expires the end of August. Rode the tram 11 times this summer. Pretty good deal for $50!
Hike the Shannon trail to peak and back. Feels good to get some exercise after vacation. [I want to go snorkeling some more.] Still warm on the desert but not too bad.
Nice clear evening. The Milky Way is fairly easy from the backyard. Did a bit of observing mostly in Sagittarius with the TV76... M8 Lagoon nebula, 6526 maybe, M20 Trifid nebula, M21, 6544, 6553, 6522 but not 6528, unable to find 6558 and 6569, 6624, M69, M70, 6652, M54, 6638, M28, M22, 6642 just barely, M75, M55, M24 star cloud, M18, M17 Omega nebula, M25, M23, M16 Eagle nebula, 6604.
Back to work at 8am. Vacation is more fun.
Touchdown in LA at 5:37am local time. (2:37am Hawai'i time.) Take FlyAway bus back to Union Station then Metro gold line to Pasadena. Fon picks us up and we go out for Chinese breakfast before driving home. We had a wonderful vacation. All these years i somehow was never interested in returning to Hawai'i. I always thought it was too touristy or too commercial. But it's not. Even Waikiki which is a popular place for sure is much less crowded than a busy southern Calif beach on a weekend. And there are tons of remote out of the way places to explore and enjoy. Looking forward to going back. Soon i hope. Aloha...
I got up at 4am hoping to see Achernar (Alpha Eridani) but skies were overcast so no luck. Last morning in Hawai'i. Wen and Kai have breakfast at Ken's while i stay in room and pack. Last night at dinner i realized my VISA card was missing. Thinking back i remembered the last place i'd used it was a little place in old Hilo called Joy's Gift Shop where i bought a Ukulele yesterday. While the others were at breakfast i drove over to the store and sure enough, they had my card and were hoping i'd come back to claim it. Nice folks! Checked out of Uncle Billy's and since our flight isn't until 3pm we headed east on highway 130 and 132 through lower Puna to Cape Kumukahi. This is the easternmost point of Hawai'i. Very impressive relatively fresh lava flow and crashing aqua waves. South point was neat a couple of days ago but this place is really nicer. Drive south along the coast on highway 137 stopping at the Ahalanui hot pool. Bought a couple of hot dogs for an early lunch. Continued south to the 1990 lava flow then back on highway 130 through Pahoa to the airport. The Hilo airport has lovely comfortable furniture in the waiting area. Like the lobby of a very nice hotel. Nicest airport waiting area i've ever seen. Takeoff at 3:02pm with touchdown in Honolulu at 3:39pm. We have lots of time in the airport before our flight to LAX. [Spent a couple hours in the bar editing this blog.] Northwest flight 90 back to Calif takes off at 9:56pm.
Got up early hoping to see a 5:25am overhead pass of HST but skies were overcast. Due to HST's orbit inclination i can never see HST overhead at home so this would have been different. Our last full day in Hawai'i. In the morning we all drove up Mauna Kea. Stopped at the visitor center near where i was stargazing last night then took it slow and easy on the steep road beyond. Our little rental car did just fine. Clear, bright, crisp sky at the 13,796 foot summit miles (literally) above the rain in Hilo. The peak is an amazing place with telescope domes all around under an intense blue sky. I was pleased and surprised to find that you can drive right up to all the domes and aren't kept a "safe" politically correct distance away. [Video taken at the summit.] On the drive down had picnic lunch at the junction of the observatory and saddle roads. Back in Hilo we explored the Kaumana lava tube a bit but only had a little LED pinch light so couldn't really go too deep. Also stopped at Rainbow falls. [Video here.] Back to the hotel in mid-afternoon to just take it easy for a few hours. I did a bit of snorkeling in the water off the hotel steps but with the overcast skies the views weren't great. Dinner again at Ken's because Kai liked it.
Head south from Hilo on highway 11 to Volcano national park. Drive the chain of craters road to the end and walk a mile or so out on the fresh lava. Didn't walk as far as the steam plume (about 3.5 miles) but have a good view of it from a distance. Lava is such interesting stuff. Continue south to the Punalu'u black sand beach and have our picnic sandwich lunch. There are even sea turtles in the water! Beautiful but fairly popular beach as tour buses seem to stop here. After lunch drive through Na'alehu and out the road to Ka Lae, the south point of Hawai'i. For a while we are the southernmost people in the USA. Watch some cliff jumpers before heading back to Hilo. [Cliff jumper video.] Dinner at Ken's House of Pancakes. Good busy local joint. After dinner Wen and Kai take a walk. I decided to head out in search of stars. While overcast in Hilo i was hoping to find clear skies inland. Taking the saddle road i ended up going all the way to the Mauna Kea visitor center at the 9,200' level. Spectacular sky conditions! So many stars it's hard to pick out familiar constellations. At first i thought the Milky Way was a cloud it was so bright. Stayed for about an hour just looking around with my 10x42 Nikons. This is why i carried the larger binoculars all this way. Up until now i had only been using the little 10x25 Zeiss. I must return with the TV76! Got back to the hotel about midnight.
I do a bit of snorkeling in the morning at Waikiki then check out of hotel and drive to Chinatown. Buy a spare suitcase to pack some overflow into. Meet up with Di Anne and have dim sum lunch. Really good to see her again! After lunch drive to airport and return rental car. Fly to Hilo on Aloha Airlines. Takeoff at 3:05pm and touchdown Hilo at 3:42pm. Nice views of Moloka'i and Maui during the flight. Rent car and then check in to Uncle Billy's. Neat older traditional island lodging. Lava beach, tidepools, flowers, a gecko in the hallway and even a mongoose sneaking around the grounds! Quite a difference from Waikiki. While i was at the water only one other person was there. Compared to Waikiki that i had to share with hundreds/thousands of people. Nice overhead pass of the space station at 7:25pm. Subway takehome for dinner.
Early walk to beach and came across this spiffy police car. After a spam, eggs & rice breakfast at McDonalds we drove the Likelike highway to windward shore. Do a little snorkeling at Kualoa regional park. Find both old houses where i lived as a kid in the late 60s near Kaaawa. They haven't that changed much in 40 years. Snorkel some more at Kahana bay [video here] then have lunch at Crouching Lion Inn. Continue driving on around island via north shore then back to Honolulu. Kai does some more surfing at Waikiki in afternoon while Wen and i have some quiet time. Dinner again in the International Marketplace.
Up early for a pre-sunrise walk on the beach. Sirius still visible in the eastern sky as is Venus. Canopus might have been visible but i didn't think to look. Buy sunblock, facemask/snorkel, coffee at ABC store. Walk to Dollar car rental (farther than i thought it would be) and pick up a nice Nissan Maxima. Drive to Hanauma Bay but the parking is full and they won't even let you stop. Disappointing. Drive on and stop at Kaiona beach park near Waimanalo. Do a bit of snorkeling. I have a good time but Kai doesn't really care much for it. Snorkeling isn't his thing. Drive back to Honolulu via Pali highway. Lunch at food court in International Marketplace. Spend a couple hours on the beach in late afternoon while Kai goes surfing again. Back to the marketplace for dinner and a great avocado boba for dessert. From the marketplace i caught a nice near overhead pass of the space station at 8:12pm. After dinner Kai goes back to room while Wen and i walk along Waikiki a bit. Rather surprised that brighter areas of the Milky Way are easily visible! I guess being surrounded by thousands of miles of dark ocean in every direction makes a difference.
In the morning Wen and i walk along beach while Kai sleeps late. [Video of Waikiki beach.] After breakfast in room we buy a beach towel for Kai, sandals and sunglasses for me, and a necklace for Wen at an ABC store. Kai surfs for a couple hours at Waikiki while Wen and i relax and watch people. At noon we take bus to Ala Moana center for lunch and miscellaneous shopping. Walk through Ala Moana park enjoying the trees and grass and all the locals out for a picnic then take bus back to hotel. Relax in room watching Seinfeld a while. Find a little Korean place to have dinner. They had the best menu cover ever. After eating walk through the International Marketplace before returning to hotel. From the hotel balcony around 10:30pm the moon is rising and Fomalhaut is high in the east.
Leave home a few minutes after 7am and drive to LA. Fon drives us to Union Station to catch 9:30am FlyAway bus to LAX. Checked in at LAX and through all security by 10:45am. I thought security would take a lot longer after the recent security alerts. 4 hours early for our flight! Takeoff at 2:58pm on Northwest flight 91. Touchdown in Honolulu at 5pm local time. (8pm Calif time.) Ride the City Bus to Waikiki. Took longer than i expected but worked out fine as bus stopped right across from our hotel. Checked into Ohana East hotel on Ka'iulani about 8pm. Great room with kitchenette and two balconies. The north balcony is huge. Room 1105. Walk to beach and Kai swims in the dark for a while. Can see Alpha Centauri above the southern horizon above a cloudbank. Yay! Dinner at the food court at the corner of Ka'iulani and Kalakaua. Buy some water and supplies at the ABC store. We notice there are ABC stores everywhere in Waikiki. They are nice little stores too and have pretty much everything one needs while on vacation.
Yet another mountain hike from the tramway. This was my yearly tramway hike with Kai. We hiked to Round valley via the high trail and back along the regular trail. Great day! Wish i didn't have to work tonight. Today also happened to be the day the Miss Teen USA contestants visited the tram. Made for a bit of an interesting side show.
Another mountain hike from the tramway. This time with Wen. Nice cool day. Probably the coolest hike in the mountains so far this summer. Walked from the tramway to Round Valley then back via the high trail to Hidden Lake. Took the cross-country route back to Long Valley. Photos here.
Hiked up the Garstin trail, over Smoketree peak, across the middle plateau, down via Andreas Hills. Middle plateau video. At first i was just planning a quick hike up and down the Garstin but it was such a nice day i decided to do the longer through hike. Warm but not bad at all. Air very dry and clear. Almost felt like autumn. Beautiful bright blue sky. Nice to be hiking on the desert again! Photo gallery here.
From the tramway hiked south to Hidden Lake. Followed the Long Valley nature trail part of the way, part of the way cross country, and part of the way along the old abandoned Hidden Lake trail. Pretty views south with clouds rolling over the Desert Divide. Desert view video. Still a nice little flow of water through Long Valley. Followed the creek to where it drops off into the desert. Long Valley canyon video. Also quite a bit of water in Hidden Lake. Hidden Lake video. Walked back the same way. Just an easy day. Photo gallery here. [Back at the tram station i bought a beer. A regular Bud now costs $4.85! That's a bit much. Worse than airport prices.]
From home ride north on Farrell, west on Racquet Club, south on Palm Canyon, east on Murray Canyon, north on Toledo, north on Sunrise, east on Mesquite to home. Temp was only about 95°F but seemed hotter. 15 miles.
Up at 6:30am. On the trail at 7am. At the peak of Mt. San Jacinto just before 9am. The hike to the peak seemed easier this time. Might have something to do with a bit of acclimatisation from spending the night camped at 9000 feet. Had the peak to myself. Heavy overcast in the desert to the east. Walked down via the old Tamarack trail. Rode down on the 12:30pm tram car. Photo gallery from trip.
Went backpacking to Round valley. This is the first time i've done an overnight backpack in 20+ years. Rode the 4pm tram car and arrived at Round valley about 5:10pm. Set up in Bobcat campsite. Overcast evening and cool after sunset with temp about 60°F. I was hoping to see what the stargazing conditions would be like but no luck with the clouds. I was bored so took this video of myself. Not much to do in the evening so went to bed about 8:30pm. Perfectly still/quiet night without a breath of wind. Photo gallery from trip.
Woke up about 4am realizing i didn't have the keys to the truck in the tent. I was sure i'd locked them inside the vehicle and was having all sorts of anxious thoughts about having to call a tow company to come and unlock the door. (Or break a window to get in like i actually had to do a few years ago when i locked my keys in the truck in a very remote desert area.) Got up just as it was starting to get light since i couldn't sleep. Found i'd dropped the keys just outside the truck door! What a relief. Since i was up went for an early dawn walk out to the rocks to see Venus and then across the highway to the desert view point with Eddie. Departed camp about 9am and drove home via the desert route. Photo gallery from trip is here. The best thing about coming home from camping is using your own nice clean bathroom and not a smelly pit toilet. 127 miles today. 266 miles trip total.
Clear early morning but then smoke blew in from the fires. Overcast most of the day which kept temps pretty comfortable. About noon a group of young people form the group camp walked out to the boulders and left all their empty water bottles. I walked over to their site and talked to a couple of the group leaders. They were good about it and after a bit they took all the kids back out to the rocks to pick up trash! I went out and thanked them for doing that. After lunch Kai and i drove over to the little store at Mount Laguna for some supplies. Lots of smoke in afternoon from wildfire but it pretty much cleared off by evening. Watched two military helicopters pass over in the evening. Sat out under the stars until about 11pm. Photo gallery from trip is here. 8 miles today.
Depart home about 10:45am and drive to Mount Laguna via the desert route. Been really hot at home so hoping for a little bit of cooler weather in the mountains. Stopped at Julian park for lunch. Arrive at campground about 2pm. No one else camping on the meadow loop when we arrived! Set up in site 15 right on the meadow. Warmish afternoon about 90°F but quite comfortable sitting in the shade. Can see smoke from the Horse wildfire to the SW. Looks like it might be a pretty big fire. Campfire in the evening. Did just a bit of stargazing with 10x42 binoculars. Photo gallery from trip is here. 131 miles today.
Ride north on El Cielo, east on Ramon, north on Gene Autry, west on Vista Chino, south on Palm Canyon, east on Palm Canyon, north on Farrell to home. Damn hot. 12.5 miles.
I took some shots around my work tonight while working the evening shift. When i'm not hiking/camping/stargazing this is where i spend most of my days and some of my nights. I know where most of the wires go. My desk is in the 9th picture.
We had quite a thunderstorm in town last night with lots of rain and even some hail. Walked up Cahuilla canyon this morning with Eddie thinking we might find water in the creek. It did rain in the canyon but not enough to put any water in the creek. There was some water in the middle rock pools but nothing flowing. We flushed two nighthawks below the first stream crossing.
Hiked with Wen from the tramway to Round valley. Came back via the high trail. Bit warmer than usual. But much better than down on the desert. Posted a bunch of photos to my PBase gallery. On the ride down the tram car was full with a tour group from Taiwan. They started doing some goofy cheerleading yells. Here is a video. Wen thought it was embarrassing.
Pretty sunset today as well. But i'd much rather the fires be out even though the smoke makes for pretty pictures.
NASA's Aqua MODIS satellite has a good image of the Calif fires today.
Ride west on Mesquite, south on Sunrise, south on Toledo, west on Murray Canyon, tollbooth, north on Palm Canyon, north on Indian, east on Racquet Club, south on Farrell to home. Hot and muggy. 16.5 miles.
Pretty sunrise this morning. Going to be a hot, humid, nasty day however. Hopefully the humidity will help slow the wildfires a bit.
Huge wildfires in the mountains north of town! One starting in the Pioneertown area called the Sawtooth Complex fire and another on the south slopes of San Gorgonio called the Millard fire. Such a large area is burning. So sad. I've been posting some images of what the smoke plumes look like from town here.
Finally cooled off enough to go outside a bit in the evening. Happened to catch the almost full moon rising. Then a bit later had a really nice view of the space station with docked shuttle pass just below Jupiter. The spacecraft pair were almost as bright as Jupiter.
Didn't go hiking in the mountains after all. Wanted to watch the final game of the World Cup. Forza Azzuri!!! Did a little city tour instead riding north on Farrell, west on Racquet Club, south on Palm Canyon, east on La Verne, east on Palm Canyon, north on Farrell to home. 13 miles.
Shannon trail to peak and back. I think tomorrow i'll go to the mountains where it's cooler.
Quick hike up and down the Araby trail. Went early but it was still pretty hot.
West on Sonora, south on Sunrise, south on Toledo, west on Murray Canyon, tollbooth loop, north on Palm Canyon/Indian, east on Alejo, south on Civic by airport, south on El Cielo to home. 14 miles.
North on Farrell, west on Alejo, south on Palm Canyon, east on Murray Canyon, north on Toledo, north on Sunrise, east on Ramon, south on Farrell to home. 13 miles.
From the tramway hiked cross country a bit north of Long valley to peak 8802. That's not really the name of the peak. It's just the elevation marked on topo maps. This map shows the peak and its location relative to the tram and Long valley. Neat views up toward San Jacinto peak and also down to the desert floor. Fun to be off trails for a while where no one goes very often. Looks like there might be rain this afternoon as some nice clouds were building up before noon. On the way back to the tram i walked the Long valley nature trail loop. [Update: Looking up from home in mid-afternoon it's all gray and rainy on the mountain top. Can hear thunder too!]
From home north on Farrell, east on Vista Chino, south on Date Palm, west on Ramon, south on Farrell to home. Pretty darn warm even at 9am. 13.5 miles.
Ride canyon loop after work. Temp at 5:00pm was 110°F. Too hot so took a bit shorter ride. 7.5 miles.
Hike up and down the south Lykken trail with Eddie. Humid muggy day.
From the tramway hiked to Round valley via the high trail with Wen. Looped around the valley then back to the tram via the regular trail. Round valley has some charming little outhouses that look better than they smell. Nice subdued overcast day. Bought a summer tram pass for Wen too so we'll both be hiking more this summer.
From home west on Mesquite, south on Sunrise, south on Toledo, west on Murray Canyon, north on Palm Canyon, loop through downdown, east on Racquet Club, south on Farrell to home. 18.5 miles.
Bought another new domain name today... TheDesertSon.com! I live in and love the desert. And i'm a son too of course. It's also a play on the name of the newspaper i work for... TheDesertSun.com. Right now the domain just points to my home computer so if i'm not home the web page won't work.
Drove to the Anza-Borrego desert this afternoon for a bit of hot weather camping and stargazing. Was a bit warm but not too bad. Breezy. When i arrived about 4:45pm the temp was 108°F. Spent an hour or so in the shade of a nice desert willow along Font's wash just north of S22. Later i drove to my regular Ella wash site. Nice late afternoon in the shade of a smoke tree. Climbed the knoll next to my site to watch the sun set. View of my campsite from the knoll. Temps down to 99°F but still quite breezy. Very nice pass of the space station around 8:40pm. The planets Mercury, Mars and Saturn in the west with Jupiter high in the south. After dark i had some fun finding scorpions with a UV fluorescent light. Found 4 or 5 along the wash near camp. The largest was maybe 2" including tail. For stargazing i brought the Fujinon 16x70 and Tele Vue 76. Did not bring the mount for the binoculars so was just handholding them. Worked fairly well using the small reclining lawn chair for objects not too high in the sky as i could brace my arms on the chair pretty well. Not good for viewing objects high overhead. Also used the Leica 10x32 a bit. Alternating between the Fujinons and the TV76 viewed M104, M68, M83 (visible in 10x32 also), Omega Centauri, Centaurus A in the south. Overhead with the TV76 viewed M13 (tried to find galaxy 6207 just north but unsure), M92, NGC 6229. A bit later in the evening wandered down the Milky Way viewing the North American nebula, M29, Albireo, M27, M71, M57, Brocchi's cluster, M11, Trifid and Lagoon nebulae, M7, and the beautiful NGC 6231 and Collinder 316 area of Scorpius. Still windy at 1am. Slept outside on the open cot but was up by 5:30am. Temp at sunrise 82°F. Drove home early Tuesday.
From home north on Farrell, east on Vista Chino, south on Gene Autry, west on 111, north on Farrell to home.
From tramway hiked to Wellman's divide and back. Seemed not to be many people on the mountain. Didn't see any large boy scout troops and just a few other hikers. Nice!
Had the palm trees trimmed today. Have to do this every spring or early summer. Stupid palm trees. I'd yank them all out but it costs about $500 per tree to have them removed and i have 10 of them. Here is Juan Martinez just getting started. Juan and his crew do good work.
Ride from home north on Farrell, west on Racquet Club, south on Palm Canyon, east on Murray Canyon, north on Sunrise, east on Ramon to home. 15.5 miles.
I came across this amazing photo of the Milky Way from the Racetrack playa in Death Valley National Park on the AP wire at work. I think it's the most impressive photo i've ever seen of the night sky! The original caption did not credit the photographer. I wish i knew who took the photo. I've been to the Racetrack a couple times but never at night. [Update 2/2/07: I believe the original photo was taken by Dan Duriscoe as shown on this site... http://ipsw.org/cms/. If the owner of the photo would like me to remove the image from my site please contact me.]
Ride toll booth loop after work. 11 miles.
From the tramway hiked the high trail loop, counterclockwise, twice. The loop itself takes about an hour and 15 minutes each time. Nice day. High temp about 70°. Picture of the Long Valley ranger station and a picture as i was riding down the tram looking back up right after we passed the other car. (The bright streaks are reflections from the tram car window.)
From home north on El Cielo, east on Ramon, south on Bob Hope, west on Frank Sinatra, Hwy 111 all the way to Alejo, back through town on Palm Canyon, east on Ramon, south on El Cielo to home. 25 miles.
Ride toll booth loop after work. 10 miles.
Four naked-eye planets visible in the evening after sunset. From west to east they are Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
Rode west on south Palm Canyon, north on Indian, east on Vista Chino, south on Gene Autry, west on Ramon to home. 13 miles.
In late twilight i set up my TV76 with green laser pointer. Took a bit of careful aiming to find the prism i placed on the mountain earlier today. [See below.] But once i found it it worked pretty good! A bright reflection easily seen with and without telescope. I was impressed how narrow the beam remained even after the 14 mile round trip to the prism and back. The returning beam was not visible even a couple of feet off-axis.
Bought my summer tramway pass today. All set for another summer of hikes! Rode the 9:20am car then hiked south to Hidden lake. Breezy with temps in the mid-seventies. Quite nice! Lake is a bit below the high water line. One of my goals today was to place a laser reflecting prism somewhere near the viewpoint by Hidden lake. I want to see if i can bounce my laser off the prism from home at night. [See above.] Found a really good crack in a boulder to hide the prism with a good view of the city. From Hidden lake followed the trail back a ways then went cross-country to visit the Mini Cache One geocache. Found the cache from memory as i usually do. One of my favorite caches. Left Canadian geocoin #2275 that i found in my Flag Over Palm Springs cache last month. Continued on the high trail to Round valley then north to Mini Cache Two. Also found from memory and is another favorite cache. Nice little flow of water in the creek next to the cache as well as fresh deer tracks in the mud. Walked back to the tramway via Round valley trail. The mountain is quite a bit drier this year. (Last year my first hike of the season my boots got soaked from all the snow.) Today i only saw one little bit of snow at the corn lilly patch near Round valley. Still a nice flow of water in the creek along the Round valley trail. Hope it lasts a while.
Quick hike up the Shannon trail with Eddie. Just went to the Araby overlook and back. Hot.
Ride toll booth loop after work. 10 miles.
North on Farrell, west on Racquet Club, south on Palm Canyon through town to the canyon toll booth, east on Murray Canyon, north on Toledo, east on Palm Canyon to Araby and home. 18 miles.
Hiked the Lykken trail with Eddie from the Mesquite trailhead southward coming down the Descanso trail in the middle. Walked back along streets to where i left my truck. Nice loop. Walked by this neat house on my way back. High temps today are only in the low 80s. Very nice for the end of May. Interesting warning signs near the Mesquite trailhead.
Drove up to the RTMC astronomy expo near Big Bear Lake today. Just stayed a few hours and didn't spend the night. Quite cool and breezy this year. Posted some random photos here. Bought a laser bracket from Howie Glatter and visited with Larry from Universal Astronomics. Al Nagler was at the Tele Vue tent. Generally just enjoyed wandering around and looking at all the optics. Matthew Ota took a group shot of a small group of six sci.astro.amateur members which may be viewed here.
Packed up my tentcot and telescope and went for a morning bike ride north on the park road to a bit beyond the Eagle Mine road and back. 18.5 miles. Good ride. Nice in the morning when there's no traffic. Departed camp about 9:50am and drove home.
Departed home about 3:30pm heading east on I10. I originally went to a spot along the aqueduct road about 5 miles east of Chiriaco Summit. I thought this would be a nice stargazing spot, even with the threatening signs, but after spending some time there i decided to head back to Cottonwood and checkout how conditions in the campground were. Turns out i'm very glad i went to Cottonwood because i got to use a 17.5" scope!
Arrived at Cottonwood about 6:20pm and set up in my regular site B15 in the upper loop. Took a short bike ride out to the trailhead and back. Sunset at 7:30pm. A few other stargazers in the camp tonight... Chuck from Yuma is just across from me with his 5" Meade and Lee and Bonnie from British Columbia are in the lower loop with their 17.5" truss dob. Otherwise there are maybe 5 other sites occupied for a total of 8 or so. Everyone is quiet with the exception of one guy playing radio till about 10pm. I have my TV76 and Nikon 10x42 SE binoculars. Sky conditions aren't great. The day had been very clear but haze moved in by late afternoon. Still, it's always impressive how much more i can see from here than from my backyard. Otherwise temps are comfortably cool and no wind.
Didn't take formal observing notes. Seems now i'm just happy to be out under the stars and it doesn't matter so much if i take detailed notes or not. A partial list of objects included galaxies M104 and M83 in Virgo, planetary 4361 and galaxy 4038/4039 in Corvus. In Ursa Major galaxy 3184 between Tania Borealis and Tania Australis, galaxy M108, planetary M97, galaxies M109, M101 and M51 with companion just over the border in Canes Venatici.
After a while i walked over to visit Lee and Bonnie and shared some great views through their 17.5". The Omega Centauri cluster was spectacular as was 5128 Centaurus A. (Omega Centauri looked very much like this image from the SEDS site.) We toured some wonderful edge-on galaxies as well as the M81/M82/3077 "trio" in Ursa Major. On returning to my site i also visited Omega Centauri and Centaurus A plus the Leo Trio and the Ursa Major trio. Spent another hour or so in the lounger just wandering around with binoculars. Slept for a few hours and got up at 3:30am to see the B and C components of comet Schwassmann-Wachmann rising over the Eagle mtns. Both easily visible and fitting in the same binocular field. Unable to find G or R components.
Bought a new domain name today... BinoGuy.com! I was rather surprised the domain was still available. For now it just links to my binocular accessories page.
Did a bit of binocular observing from the backyard this evening while reclining in my lounger. The air today was exceptionally clear for this time of year. I was surprised to be able to pick out quite a few dim objects for about an hour starting at about 9:30pm. All observations were using handheld Nikon 10x42 SE binoculars...
» M104, GX, Virgo - Easy to find location NE of Corvus. The Stargate asterism and that little string of stars west of the galaxy really help. The galaxy itself was just on the edge of visibility.
» M68, GC, Hydra
» M83, GX, Hydra - This one took some time. It's a large galaxy with low surface brightness. But using averted vision and careful sweeping i could definitely detect the soft round glow of the galaxy.
» Omega Centaurus - I'd forgotten i can see this from my home! Straight south just about the hills but huge and bright.
» M3, GC, Canes Venatici - High overhead and quite easy.
» M53, GC, Coma Berenices
» M64, GX, Coma Berenices - Just barely visible.
Up and down the south Lykken trail with Eddie. Not quite as warm today. Kept Eddie on leash as i thought there might be snakes out but we didn't see any.
12 new entries on my gleanings page.
Big loop around town this morning. From home north then east on Ramon, north on Gene Autry, west on Via Escuela, north on Farrell, west on Racquet club, north on Palm Canyon to Gateway, turn around and go south through town, east on La Verne, north on Navajo, west on Palm Canyon, north on Palm Canyon and Indian, east on Alejo, south on Farrell to home. Temps were under 100° so the ride was pretty comfortable. 21.5 miles.
Ride toll booth loop after work. 10.5 miles.
Canyon loop after work. 9.5 miles.
Hiked Shannon trail to peak and back. No doggy this time. Almost too warm for desert hiking. At the peak a colony of flying ants was swarming. Pictures of start of trail, closeup of sign, and looking back down over middle section of trail. I wanted to take a closeup shot of the ants on the peak but they kept swarming around my head so i gave up.
Ride Gene Autry loop going to and from work. 10.5 miles.
Hiked up the north Lykken trail from Ramon road to the Skyline trail junction with Eddie. Quite warm. Too hot for little dogs. Still some encelia blooming and some nice indigo bush that seems popular with the bees.
Andreas Hills loop after work. 12 miles.
Went out about 3:30am for a pre-dawn look at comet Schwassmann-Wachmann. The main C component very easy to find in Lyra with 10x42 binoculars. Also the B component was easy as well. Through the TV76 the C component shows a difuse head with a short tail. The B component is more compact with a very bright star-like head.
My snake, a three lined boa, was in an interesting position this afternoon.
Ride the Cottonwood canyon road from the park boundary north to the visitor center, out to the trailhead parking lot, looped through the campground, then back south to the nature trail parking lot where i'd left my truck. Quite a steep ride northbound but fun coming back! 17 miles.
Ride toll booth loop after work. 11 miles.
Happy St. Florian Day! Patron saint of firemen and brewers!! The poor guy was scourged twice, flayed alive, set on fire, and thrown into a river with a stone around his neck.
Switched my web hosting to GoDaddy.com today. 50 times the storage space (5GB vs 100MB!) for about a third the cost of my previous provider. Please let me know if you find any missing images or pages that don't work.
Departed camp fairly early. Took my time driving home via the park. Stopped along Font's wash this time north of S22 in the shade of a nice desert willow. The willow is just coming into bloom with lots of buds ready to open in the next few weeks. Arrived home around noon. Eddie did just fine. He got a bit warm at times but we know to seek shade. More photos here.
Sunrise at 6:02am. Eddie seemed to sleep well next to the tent in his cage all night. Today is "day without an immigrant day" but i doubt i'll notice out here. What i think were two western tanagers perched briefly across from my camp. Left camp about 9:10am leaving tent set up. Drove up through Indian canyon to the end of both forks. First the north fork then then south. Ocotillo is blooming nicely in the middle valley and also some very nice agave in bloom. Chuparosa is really going too. Also monkey flower in various washes. Desert Lavender too. Back on S2 about 11:10am southbound. Drive through Mtn Palm Springs. No one there. Still sorry they closed the north campground loop. Have fond memories from camping there in decades past. Finally saw one border patrol vehicle northbound on S2. Stopped on top of Egg mtn for a little break. Nice! Thinking about camping here tonight. Get good cell phone reception from here too. Checked voicemail and email. While i was sitting 4 Warthog A-10 jets made a pass coming northbound up Carrizo canyon then turning east just south of me. Drive through Bow Willow campground and dump some trash. Had lunch in the shade. Only two sites occupied. A pickup truck with one guy in the south loop that looks like he's about to leave and a motor home in the north loop. Continue on south and turn onto Mortero wash road. Crossed the railroad track then up the Piedras Grandes road to the end. Took a little break at the Piedras Grandes campsite then drove to the end of Dos Cabezas road. Nice little flow of water at the spring. Drive into Ocotillo for beer and ice. The gas station where i usually stop doesn't sell beer anymore. (!) I found a wallet on the table outside. Turned it in to the clerk. In retrospect i rather wish i'd not done that. The clerk looked a bit shady and i'd not be surprised if she kept the $20 plus cash inside. I should have kept the wallet and just mailed it back to the owner myself. Since they don't sell beer i crossed under I8 and found the 76 station on the south side of the freeway does sell beer. Hurray! For a minute i was worried i'd have to drive into El Centro. Drive back into park through the immigration checkpoint. I think when they saw i had a little doggy with me they realized i was harmless and waved me through. Stop at the Carrizo badlands overlook for a little break. I think i can see Toro peak from here but not sure. Need to verify. Back to camp at 3:40pm. Bit of high overcast this afternoon seems to be keeping temps a bit cooler. However my thermometer says 102° but somehow doesn't feel quite as warm as yesterday at this time. Sitting in the shade of the truck noticed a horned lizard over near the tent. Tried to catch it and was surprised it sort of lunged back at me when i tried to pick it up. Little guy is only 5" long but i've never had a lizard do anything but run away before! I really love this place. A few pictures from around my camp are here, here, and here. Just had cold food for dinner, sardines and canned peas. After dark walked Eddie down the road and back looking for sidwinders. Didn't seen any. The overcast from the afternoon seems to have gone so did a bit of stargazing just using the 10x42 binoculars. M3, M53, M104, M68, M83, NGC 5128, and bright Omega Centauri. Also the comet again.
Start of a two night desert camping/stargazing trip. Eddie is with me this time. We'll see how he does. Depart home about 10:15am. Bought gas at new Torrez-Martinez minimart. Gas cost $3.339. Ocotillos and palo verde in bloom along S22 in the northern part of the park. Stopped at my regular spot in Font's wash south of S22 for lunch at noon. Smoked salmon and vegetable salad. Continue on south taking the longer route through the Texas dip then west through the Narrows. Aqua Caliente store to find it closed and apparently out of business. Empty inside except for the old glass fronted refrigerators. Guess i won't be stopping here for ice and beer any more. Sigh. Took a little break in the tamarisk tree shade. Temp in the shade is a nice 91°. Arrive Carrizo valley site about 2:20pm. Warmish. Sit in shade of ocotillo for a while trying to keep cool. Temp is 98° at 2:30pm with a nice light breeze. Sunset behind the ridge at 6:15pm. After dinner walked down to S2 and back with Eddie. Just realized i haven't seen any Border Patrol vehicles or military aircraft. Usually i see a few. I did see one ranger vehicle near Canebrake. In twilight the crescent moon is close to the star El Nath (Beta Tauri). Mars is very near Mebsuta (Epsilon Gem) and Saturn is near the Beehive cluster. Fun to watch the Orion nebula set on the ridge with ocotillos silhouetted in the foreground. Canis Major and Sirius setting into Indian gorge. At 8:30pm still in twilight i can already see comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann low in the east in the Hercules keystone through 10x42 binoculars. Since the moon is up, and i was tired, went to sleep early and got back up about 1am. Temp 75°. Both C and B components of the comet are easily visible through binoculars. Through the TV76 they look similar with broad short tails. Unable to locate the G component however. Laying in the lounge chair scanning with 10x42 binoculars globulars M5 in Serpens Caput and in Ophiucus globulars M12, M10, M14, M107, and open cluster IC 4665.
Ride toll booth loop after work. 10 miles.
After work ride to the bike shop for a couple spare tubes, then up to the canyon toll booth, then back to the bike shop when i realized one of the tubes had a Schrader valve instead of a Presta. 12.5 miles.
As i was driving to work Monday morning i stopped by the airport and caught this departing shot of Air Force One.
Nice hike up and down the south Lykken trail with Eddie. Pretty clear day. After our hike we stopped by the airport and took this picture of Air Force One from the rental car return lot.
Not the usual thing i put on my blog but president Bush is visiting the area this weekend. I went by the airport this morning and took this picture of one of the C-17 Globemaster transports that arrived a couple of days ago carrying secret service vehicles. There are currently 3 C5 aircraft on site. This afternoon Air Force One arrived with Dubya onboard.
Morning ride north on Farrell, east on Vista Chino, north on Date Palm (brutal headwind and the road is narrow and rough), east on Varner to Thousand Palms, then back west on Ramon. Hit top speed of 46 MPH on Varner with the tailwind! Kind of scary going that fast on a bicycle. 20.5 miles.
My second look at comet Schwassmann-Wachmann tonight at about 10:30pm. Quite a bit easier to see than two weeks ago. The C component seems a bit fan-shaped but hard to tell through the local skyglow. Fits in the same 30x field with Alphecca (Alpha Coronae Borealis). Could not locate the B or G components.
Ride toll booth loop after work. 10 miles.
Nice clear evening so took the TV76 out for a quick look at a few galaxies... M65 and M66 in Leo and M81/M82 and M51 in Ursa Major.
Ride after work to the indian canyons toll booth. 11 miles.
Venus and Uranus were within 20' of each other this morning. I went out about 5:40am but by then the sky was getting quite bright. Venus was easy to see of course but i could not locate Uranus in binoculars. Switched to the TV76 and at 30x was just able to pick out a little pinprick of Uranus. Would never have been able to spot Uranus without having Venus so close as a guide. I also saw Mercury using binoculars near the horizon and on the other side of the sky saw Jupiter near the wide double Zuben Elgenubi in Libra.
Nice hike up and down the Araby trail with Eddie. Bit hazy day but otherwise very nice.
Morning ride around town. 15.5 miles.
Nice through-hike going up the trail from Andreas Hills, crossing through the middle plateau, over Smoketree mtn, and down the Shannon. No doggy this time. Really nice day out and i was sort of surprised i didn't see many other hikers out on the trails. On the way down the Shannon i saw quite a few of what i think were Western Kingbirds (Tyrannus verticalis). Took a few pictures... Murray Hill from top of Garstin trail, pile of rocks on top of Smoketree mtn, Araby, Palm Canyon wash, and eastern Palm Springs from lower Shannon trail.
Nice hike up Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Really pretty clear sunny day. Nice barrel cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes) blooming and a big old cholla of some sort.
Short 8 mile ride after work. Nice to have so much daylight after work now that the time has changed.
Had my first view of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann this morning. Went out about 3am after the moon had set with the comet well placed high overhead in Boötes. Using the TV76 with 16mm Nagler (30x) found the comet after a bit of careful star-hopping. The comet was small and round and quite faint through my mag 4.5 or so backyard skies. Looked like a small galaxy. Seemed a little easier to see using 9mm Nagler (53x). From a dark site i'm sure this comet would have been quite easy and maybe even visible in binoculars. Note that i only looked for the C component of the comet. Recent reports put the B component as bright, if not brighter, than the C component!
Easy walk up Cahuilla canyon to the first stream crossing with Eddie. Nice calico cactus blooming as well as some Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua). Lots of white Forget-me-not (Cryptantha sp.) too. The grasses are becoming quite prominent as well.
Hiked from Rimrocks to Araby trail with Eddie. Nice sunny day. Flushed a nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) from its daytime resting spot. After coming down the Araby trail we walked home.
Quick hike up and down the south Lykken with Eddie. Starting to get warm.
Drove east on I10 and into the park via the Cottonwood entrance. Overcast skies and fairly windy day but since i'm not camping doesn't really make too much difference. Purchased a new yearly pass at the ranger station so i'm all set through the end of April 2007. (Price went up $5 to $30/year.) Drove through the trailhead parking lot (lots of cars) and looped through the campground. The entrance sign said FULL however lots of people must have left early as only about half the sites seemed to be occupied. Stopped along the park road a few miles north of the ranger station and walked cross-country a mile or so to Cottonwood well. Quite a large array of solar panels at the well site. Turned around and drove back south stopping at Cottonwood wash. Walked up the wash to the drop-off. Nice trickle of water through the rock crack however the water vanishes into the sand of the wash after a few feet. (Forgot to carry camera so no picture.) In the wash monkeyflowers (Mimulus bigelovii), canterberry bells (Phacelia campanularia), chia (Salvia columariae) are starting to bloom and bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) is in full bloom. There isn't much of anything blooming farther south on the open bajada yet. Stopped just outside the park along the aqueduct road for a lunch before driving home. Arrived home about 2pm after driving a total of 115 miles.
Some interesting lenticular clouds (altocumulus standing lenticularis) this afternoon. Photos here and here taken from my home.
I'd orginally planned a camping/stargazing trip this weekend. But high clouds have moved in so decided to stay home and go for a hike instead. Went up Cahuilla canyon to the second stream crossing this morning with Eddie. Besides the overcast sky it's a lovely day. Someone made a nice rock cairn near the upper boulder. Lots of bee activity in the desert lavender (Hyptis emoryi) as well.
Morning ride up to the Indian canyon tollbooth then loop around town a bit. 17 miles.
Hike up and down the Araby trail with Eddie.
Hike up and down the south Lykken trail with Eddie.
Clear bright sunny day. Fresh snow on mountains looked great from home just after sunrise. Went for an easy hike up Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Uploaded a collection of pictures to my PBase gallery.
Cold rainy day with snow down to 2000 foot level and i have a yucky head cold. Good day to update the gleanings page. Nine new items.
Quick little hike up to the middle Lykken trail from the Camino Descanso trailhead with Eddie.
Another nice hike today. Up the Shannon, across to the Wildhorse junction, back across the middle plateau and over Smoketree peak before coming back down the Shannon. Didn't bring Eddie this time. A bit of high overcast but otherwise very nice conditions.
Hiked the Lykken trail from Mesquite, up to the Tahquitz canyon overlook, then south all the way to Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Beautiful clear day. This trail offers some good views of Palm Springs however the traffic noise does get a bit annoying at times. Came across a nice rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata) crossing the trail. These are such gentle friendly snakes. They don't seem to mind being handled at all. Lots of barrel cacti and in Cahuilla canyon the chuparosa and encelia are blooming nicely.
Viewed comet Pojmanski for the first time this morning. Easily found using Fujinon 16x70 binoculars at 5:00am local time. I almost thought i could detect a very faint tail streaming upward from the head but i suspect that was more my imagination. My eastern horizon isn't very dark due to car dealerships a few miles away. Also took a quick look through my Tele Vue 76 but the binocular view was more pleasing.
More blue sky visible this morning and the air is clearer. Much prettier day today. Really didn't like that milky/hazy air yesterday. Pretty sunrise. Checked the wash for sidewinder tracks but didn't see any this time. Left camp about 8am and drove to the Pegleg junction. Parked and rode bike east on S-22 to the Ella wash overlook and back. 18 miles round trip. This is a good road for riding. On the drive home stopped at Coachwhip wash and just sat in the shade of a smoketree for a while soaking in the desert peace and quiet. Overall was a very nice little trip. I do wish the skies had been better for stargazing but otherwise no complaints! On the way home stopped and took a picture of the old Sundowner sign. Not much left where the Desser House Casino used to be.
Depart home at 10am and drive down to Anza-Borrego desert. Stop at my regular Truckhaven site just to check. There were a couple of people camped along the Truckhaven road (including one VW camper) but no one actually at my site. Went for a bike ride west to the Thimble trail junction and back. 13 miles round trip took a little less than an hour. Ride was just right. Not too strenuous but still a nice little workout. Drove on along the same route and then followed the western part of the Truckhaven trail stopping a bit east of Font's wash for lunch. After lunch continued on to Font's wash, north to the closure sign near Clark lake, turn around and cross S-22, then east up Short wash, a bit north on the Thimble trail, back to Short wash to Palo Verde wash, then up Ella wash to my regular site arriving about 2:50pm. I love this spot. But i do wish the air was a bit clearer. Very hazy today with high overcast. Won't be any stargazing tonight. The air was so clear a couple of days ago. Really wish this yucky haze hadn't moved in. Otherwise conditions are very nice with no wind and about 80° afternoon temps. Set up tent and spent a nice peaceful afternoon not doing much of anything. Didn't hardly see anyone else out on the desert today. I really wish the sky conditions were better. Oh well. But a good thing i just noticed is there doesn't seem to be any noisy offroad activity in the ORV area like there was the last time i camped here in October. Tonight is perfectly quiet. Dinner of Trader Joe salad and cup-of-noodles. For fun put a couple of red and green LED lights on the tent. Looks a bit like Christmas! Here is a closeup of the green light.
Hiked Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Bit cool with patchy sun/clouds. But very pretty day. Lots of other people out hiking today too.
Short ride around town. 11.5 miles.
Gleanings page updated with some new items.
Rode east on Ramon to Thousand Palms then north-west on Varner. Very nice wildflowers along the lower south slope of Edom hill. Mostly sunflower and sand verbena. Continued on to Palm drive then back south and looped through town. Beautiful day out. 31.5 miles.
Hiked the Araby trail with Eddie. As we were coming down we passed 14 horses (with riders) going up! Horses are messy. Yuck!
Afternoon ride around town. 19.5 miles.
Just looped around town a bit. 20.5 miles.
Started the day with a hike up Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Since i've started cycling again i hardly go for hikes. Cycling is a better workout however so that's a good thing. Eddie had a good time running up the trail and it was nice to be out walking on the desert. Bit hazy but otherwise nice. After the hike i went for a ride heading west throught town then north to Vista Chino, east to Date Palm, south to Highway 111, and back home via Cathedral City. 20 miles.
Rode south on 111 to Monterey, north on Monterey, west on Frank Sinatra, north on Bob Hope, west on Dinah Shore to home. Only part i don't like is the Dinah Shore bridge over Whitewater wash. Too narrow and too many cars. 25 miles.
Rode north on Highway 111 past Windy Point to the Whitewater road and back. Highway 111 out this way is really quite a nice ride... smooth road and wide shoulders. Glad the wind wasn't blowing. I was surprised to see water from Chino Canyon flowing under the highway. 25 miles.
Haven't done much stargazing lately. Not exactly sure why. I just don't like being out in the cold these days/nights. I did take a quick look at Saturn tonight throught the Tele Vue 76. The planet is adjacent to the Beehive cluster in Cancer. Also peeked at Mars which is quite a bit smaller now than the last time i looked.
Rode out Roman east to Thousand Palms oasis and back. Nice ride although traffic through Cathedral City is annoying. 28 miles round trip.
Got off work a bit early so took a short ride up and around the canyon area before it got too dark. 10 miles.
Chilly morning ride north on Indian avenue. I'd originally planned to loop through DHS but was too windy with blowing sand in the wash so turned back before reaching the freeway. Loop back through town to Murray Canyon, Toledo, east Palm Canyon to Rim road, Araby, Farrell, and back home. 21.5 miles.
Hiked up and down the south Lykken trail this morning with Eddie. First time i've actually gone for a hike this year! After the hike went for a ride north on Palm drive to Varner road, east to Date Palm then south to Dinah Shore and back home. 23 miles.
Nice loop ride around town. 13.5 miles.
Drove down to the Anza-Borrego desert this morning with my bike. Driving in along S22 noticed there were a lot of other cyclists on the road. Stopped at the Calcite canyon overlook and talked to a couple riders. Seems today is the annual Borrego to the Sea ride! I rode from the Calcite canyon turnout west on S22 to the Pegleg junction, turned around and rode back east to the park boundary, turned around again and back to my parking spot. Total riding distance of about 26.5 miles. I really wasn't expecting to have so many other cyclists on the road but it was sort of fun.
Debating if i should blog when i go for a bike ride. [I guess i will be blogging rides. Sorry if they bore everyone.] Went for a nice 16.5 mile ride around town this morning. Happy New Year everyone!
© Florian Boyd