Florian's 2008 stargazing/hiking/camping/traveling blog


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Tuesday morning, 12/30, Morning comet

Found comet C/2007 N3 Lulin low in the SE through car dealership skyglow at about 5am. Fainter than i was expecting. Couldn't see in binoculars at first. After locating in TV76 could just glimpse in binos.

Sunday, 12/28, San Clemente beach mini vacation - Photos

Drive to San Clemente via Lambs Canyon, Perris and Ortega Highway. Walk through town and out pier and back. Tacos and burrito lunch at La Tiendita. Really good and cheap! Beautiful bright sunny day. Can see Catalina. Stay at Best Western Casablanca Inn. Very nice with large clean room and two queen beds. $76 per night off season rate. Only problem is the very weak wifi signal. Keep losing connection. Walk to beach in afternoon with Wen. Relax in hotel room for a while. Very good dinner at Italian Cravings with a nice chianti. After dinner walk out on pier. On Monday had bagels for breakfast at hotel then walked to pier and back. Wen does a little shopping in town. Drive to Oceanside and walk out pier. Ruby's is too busy so have sandwiches at Pier View Coffee Co for lunch. Good! Drive home via hwy 76, I15, Lambs Canyon. 244 miles trip total.

Saturday, 12/27, Hike Shannon trail

Hiked Shannon trail, over Smoketree mtn and middle mesa. Cool and clear. Lots of holiday hikers on the trails today.

Monday, 12/22, Anza-Borrego camping trip, day 3 - Photos

My green air mattress went flat overnight. Got up about 6:30am before sunrise. Temp 46°F. Was expecting it to be colder. Breezy overcast morning with high lenticular clouds. Pretty sunrise colors. Packed up early and departed camp about 8am. Truck turned 77000 miles as i joined S-22. Home about 9:30am. 64 miles today. 156 miles trip total.

Sunday, 12/21, Anza-Borrego camping trip, day 2 - Photos

Solstice at 4:04am this morning but i slept through it. Sunrise at 6:46am. Overnight low only about 40°F. Not as cold as i was expecting. The ranger patrol plane circled my campsite this morning checking me out. Kind of cool. Haven't seen the plane for a while. Decided to spend a second night in same location. Left tent set up and drove to Solimar market in Salton City for ice, etc. Stopped for lunch at the Calcite canyon overlook. Can see my tent from here. Drove through Ella wash just to check my and then back to same Truckhaven site by 1pm. Temp at 1pm is 62°F and the air is more clear today. Can see Signal mtn which i could not see yesterday. Ranger jeep passed by about 1:30pm. Didn't stop. Just sort of waved and continued on westbound. Nice peaceful afternoon sitting in sun listening to NPR. Hearing a few motorcycles south of me off and on during afternoon. Not bad. By sunset they are mostly gone. This time of year we have 10 hours of sun and 14 hours of shadow. Sunset at 4:32pm again with temp 52°F. Venus is becoming very bright in the evening sky. Just caught glimpse of Mercury as it was setting. Sat outside until a bit after 7pm then retreated to tent. 28 miles today.

Saturday, 12/20, Anza-Borrego camping trip, day 1 - Photos

Anza-Borrego overnight trip to celebrate the solstice. Depart home at 11:30am. Arrive at Truckhaven site on the bluff west of my usual site at 12:48pm. Temp at 1pm is 56°F. Sun feels good. Explore some ancient trails just south of my campsite. Really neat. Seems that on most of my trips to the AB i'm always sitting next to truck for it's shade. Today i'm sitting in the sun to keep warm. Fell asleep sitting in the sun but a low flying plane along S-22 woke me up. Walked up to S-22 and back along an old jeep trail. Picked up a handful of old rifle shells along the jeep trail. Nice still calm clear afternoon. Bit of haze with moisture in the air from recent rains. Sunset at 4:32pm with temp 50°F. Very quiet and peaceful. No one drove by on Truckhaven all afternoon. Ravioli and sauerkraut for dinner. Didn't need to bring the TV76. Too cold and damp to use. Bit of stargazing with 10x32 binoculars... The Helix and below Deneb Kaitos 247 maybe/uncertain, 253 easy and 288, and 300 also visible. In tent by 7:30pm. 64 miles today.

Thursday, 12/18, Hike middle Lykken trail

Hiked up the middle Lykken trail from the end of Mesquite with Eddie. Pretty day with fresh snow on the mtns all around the valley.

Tuesday, 12/16, Hike Cahuilla canyon

Cahuilla canyon to the second stream crossing with Eddie. Was hoping there'd be some water in the creek after the rains but both crossings were dry. However the rock pools in the middle did have water.

Thursday, 12/11, Hike Cahuilla canyon

Hiked Cahuilla canyon to the small palm grove then stopped by my geocache (GC3D4) on the way out. Found the cache open and the container full of dirt. I cleaned it out a bit and put a rock on top.

Sunday, 12/7, Mojave desert trip, day 3 - Photos

Overcast skies after midnight kept temp warmer with 46° overnight low. Cool gray day. Depart camp 8:45am eastbound on Mojave Road listening to The Jesus Christ Show on KFI. Thinking the Mojave road is a bit boring. However i would like to camp along the road west of Cima road with view of railroad. Cross Cima road and visit windmill at Government Holes, a neat stone cabin, and Rock Spring. Join Lanfair road and drive south toward Goffs. Back on pavement Frank and Joey have to air up their tires. I probably waited an hour for people to air down and air back up their tires on this trip. Visit the schoolhouse museum in Goffs. West on Route 66. Pace a BNSF train for a while west of Goffs. 70 MPH max speed. Very light rain sprinkles near Essex. Stop at Amboy and eat sardines for lunch. Say goodbye to Frank and Joey and drive home via 29 Palms. Home at 4:40pm. 193 miles today. 418 miles trip total.

Saturday, 12/6, Mojave desert trip, day 2 - Photos

Got up to pee a little after 4am to see a very bright and prominent Zodiacal light cone in the east. Probably the brightest i've ever seen. Out of bed by 6:30am before sunrise. Overnight low temp 38°F. Sunrise at 6:52am. After breakfast Frank drives into Baker for supplies. Wait for Tom (with son Cameron) and Joey (with son Vinny) to arrive. After everyone airs-down their tires we finally depart at 10:15am. I don't air down my tires. Explore lava tube and Aiken cinder mine. Eddie is such a good doggy when we're out walking around. He stays with me all the time without prompting. I never have to worry about him. Tom breaks a coil spring and decides to drive home. Continue east on Mojave Road. Stop at the mailbox and have lunch then visit Marl Spring. Camp at a very nice spot at the NW point of the Beale mtns. View of Kelso dunes far off toward the SW. Sunset at 4:22pm. Venus and Jupiter look nice in the western sky. Nice cheery campfire. Canned pork and beans for dinner. In tent a bit after 8pm. 37 miles today.

Friday, 12/5, Mojave desert trip, day 1 - Photos

Mojave desert camping trip. Depart home 10:10am. 29 Palms at 11:20am. Some live fire exercises going on in the Marine base SW of Amboy. Amboy at 12:10am. Stop by tracks west of town and eat sardine lunch. Watch 3 trains pass. Eddie seems to like watching trains. Amboy cafe appears to be open but did not stop. Perfect bright clear day on the desert. Pass through Kelso at 1:30pm. Gas in Baker is $1.99. Back to Seventeen Mile point to camp. Arrive at 2:40pm. Park in sun just north of campsite until sun sets at 4:30pm. Frank Keeney (and daughter Elizabeth) arrive a bit after 5pm. Nice evening with campfire. Canned soup for dinner. Eddie seems to be cold. In tent by 9pm. 188 miles today.

Thursday, 12/4, Hike south Lykken trail

Quick hike up and down the south Lykken.

Tuesday, 12/2, Hike Theleman to Garstin loop

Hiked up the Theleman trail, across to Smoketree mtn, then down the Garstin. Removed the laser prism i placed on Smoketree mtns last September.

Monday evening, 12/1, Moon, Venus, Jupiter grouping

The moon, Venus and Jupiter formed a very nice grouping in this evening's sky. Here is a photo i took of the group through my neighbor's palm trees.

Saturday, 11/29, Hike Araby trail

Hiked the Araby trail with Wen and Eddie this morning. I would have asked Kai to join us but he doesn't get out of bed until about noon.

Wednesday, 11/26, Hike Shannon trail

Quick hike up the Shannon to Smoketree mtn and back. Nice after last night's rain.

Monday, 11/24, Anza-Borrego day trip - Photos

Day trip to the northern Anza-Borrego desert poking around the following areas: Truckhaven Trail, 17 Palms, Arroyo Salado, Ella Wash, Palo Verde Wash, Short Wash, Thimble Trail, Font's Wash and Font's Point. Some fucking assholes left a mess of a campsite where Ella Wash joins Palo Verde Wash with a ground fire and trash. (I picked up their trash.) They also chopped up a smoke tree. Crap like this really pisses me off. After lunch weather turning breezy and cooler with gray clouds moving in from the west.

Friday, 11/21, Hike Cahuilla canyon

Eddie and i hiked up Cahuilla canyon this morning. On our way we stopped by Maggie's and met her little doggy, Lemon!

Wednesday evening, 11/19, Space station pass

Very cool overhead pass of the International Space Station (ISS) with shuttle docked. Through the TV76 i could see a small object preceding the station across the sky which i assume was the escaped toolkit. Such fun!

Wednesday, 11/19, Hike Shannon trail

Up the Shannon trail, loop through middle mesa, over Smoketree mtn, and back down Shannon. Trail maintenance guys were working on the Shannon today. I run in to them a few times a year on various trails.

Sunday, 11/16, Single speed conversion

Converted my 14 speed Specialized road bike to a single speed by removing the large chainwheel and both derailleurs. I'd been interested in single speed bikes for a while and now i have one! Photo here.

Wednesday, 11/12, Hike south Lykken trail

Hiked up the south Lykken with Eddie and came down in the middle via Cahuilla Hills road. Nice loop.

Friday, 11/7, Hike Shannon trail

Lovely hike up the Shannon trail, across the middle mesa, then back down over Smoketree mtn. Intensely clear day. Gorgeous. The lower portion of the trail (actually the Henderson trail) has had some recent maintenance. Also saw some fresh bighorn sheep droppings about half way up the Shannon. I've never seen bighorn sign here before.

Wednesday, 11/5, Hike middle Lykken trail

Hiked the middle Lykken trail from Mesquite with Eddie. Bit cool and breezy.

Tuesday, 11/4, Obama wins

Barack Obama wins presidential election! I can hardly beleive it. It's been so long and i was an Obama supporter from the very beginning. I'm exhausted.

Friday, 10/31, Hike Araby trail

Hiked up the Araby trail with Eddie this morning. Lots of people hiking today too. I passed at least a dozen other hikers.

Wednesday, 10/29, Anza-Borrego camping trip, Day 3 - Photos

Border Patrol truck woke me up about 2:30am going by camp. It turned around in the canyon mouth and came back down then departed northbound. Had either a small coyote or a large kit fox visit camp at night. Just caught glimpse from tent and couldn't tell for sure. Up before sunrise again. Overnight low 68°. Sunrise at 7:08am. I've worn the same shirt for 3 days. Good thing it's a shirt i like. Sat in shade of truck for a bit enjoying a last desert morning. Probably won't be camping again until springtime. Feeling like i want to spend a third night. Maybe in the northern part of park. Pack up and depart camp at 9:20am. One last stop at Ella wash turnout before heading for home. Air quite hazy so decide against spending a third night. Lunch at Rincon Norteño in Indio. Gas is $2.69 in Indio. Home at 1pm. 128 miles today, 310 miles trip total.

Tuesday, 10/28, Anza-Borrego camping trip, Day 2 - Photos

Slept very well. Up early before sunrise. Overnight low temp 70°. Bike ride along S-2 between Bow Willow turn off and Vallecito Station. 26+ miles. 1 hour 50 mins on the road. Very little traffic on S-2. I think a total of 3 cars passed me. Back to camp at 10:45am. Change out of cycling clothes and wipe down. Relaxing in shade of truck. This time of year there is more shade next to the truck as the sun is lower in sky. Last time here was June and sun was much higher in sky. Kipper Snacks for lunch in shade of truck. Depart camp at noon headed south. Leave tent set up as i plan to return later. Bought ice at Texaco station in Ocotillo. Cost $3.50 per bag but i only had $3 cash. The clerk said no problem and gave it to me for $3. What a good guy. Gas at the Texaco is $3.39 but did not buy any. Was $4.47 when i was last here in June. Stop in shade next to Community Center in Ocotillo to call Wen, post to Twitter, and check email on cellphone. Immigration checkpoint along S-2 is manned and active. They asked where i was coming from. I said Ocotillo. Drove through Bow Willow and dumped cans. Campground vacant. Road was dragged recently so not too much washboard. Take a little break on top of Egg mtn. I should camp on Egg mtn someday. Mtn Palm Spring is also vacant. Back at campsite at 2:50pm. Nice that my tent is already set up. Southbound caravan of 4 Border Patrol vehicles on S-2 all slowed down as they passed by. I'm sure they were checking me out but they didn't stop. Temp at 3pm about 95°. Perfect in shade but a bit warm in the sun. Another nice quiet afternoon. Air not as clear as yesterday with a bit of haze. But still nice and calm. Love this place so much. I like being alone. Sunset at 5:14pm with temp 88°. Two packs of coyotes calling on either side of me while making dinner. Pretty cool. Macaroni and cheese dinner. Evening sitting under stars. Did not set up telescope. Went to bed early listening to Górecki's symphony #3. 46 driving miles today. 26 cycling miles.

Monday, 10/27, Anza-Borrego camping trip, Day 1 - Photos

Heading for Anza-Borrego for a two night camping trip. Depart home 10:20am. Almost drove off without telescope tripod. That would have been a problem for stargazing. Canned fish lunch at Font's wash at 11:40am. Arrive at my Carrizo Valley site at 1:30pm. Looks like there was a lot of water down the road/wash since i was here last. Water flowed across my camp area from the road. Sitting in the shade of my ocotillo is nice. Warm, but nice and still. One jeep went up the canyon this afternoon and came back down an hour later. Otherwise very quiet with no traffic. Took some pano shots around camp. Absolutely perfect afternoon. Warm, still, quiet, clear. I love with this place. Hard to explain just how much i'm in love with this place. Wondering when was the first time i camped here. Hummingbirds are active. Also a kestrel and a couple of shrikes. Sunset at 5:15pm with temp 84°. Perfectly calm and still. Beefaroni for dinner. Bit of a breeze came up after sunset but by 8pm was back to dead calm. Some stargazing with TV76. Skies were definitely darker from Desert Center last week. Walking down road at night saw fresh sidewinder track but UTL the snake. I like thinking there is another animal active at night nearby right now. 136 miles today.

Sunday, 10/26, Hike Rimrock to Eagle Canyon

Hiked with Eddie from Rimrocks to Eagle Canyon and back. First time Eddie's been hiking since before the hot summer. He had a great time but is pooped out now. Beautiful clear day. Perfect day for desert hiking.

Wednesday, 10/22, Stargazing near Desert Center - Photos

Depart house at 2:50pm eastbound originally planning to stargaze at Cottonwood. Decide to continue on a bit and stop at the Jeager reserve SW of Desert Center. Found a neat site in the rocks just north of power lines. Really great area. Lush ironwood and ocotillos. Not nearly as dry as Anza-Borrego was last the weekend. Cellphone reception too. Very pungent little yellow chinch weed (Pectis papposa) flowers. Sunset at 5:50pm. Temp at 6pm is 74°. I'm about a mile from freeway and trucks are fairly loud. I keep thinking i hear a train but sadly there are no trains here. Wish the Kaiser mine train was still running. Can see a couple of radio towers on Chuckwalla mtn. Doing stargazing and comet hunting with TV76. Comet C/2007 N3 Lulin uncertain. Low in the west and only mag 9. I think i just barely glimpsed it but not sure. Comet C/2008 A1 McNaught visible in 10x42 binoculars. Easy in TV76. Also nearby galaxy M107 just visible in binoculars. Comet 6P/d'Arrest diffuse and faint. Nearby IC 1459 just visible. Comet C/2006 W3 Christensen small and faint but definitely there. UTL comet C/2008 J1 Boattini near Polaris. Comet C/2006 OF2 Broughton also small and faint but i found it. Total of 4 comets seen, 1 uncertain, and 1 UTL. A good night for small comets! Sitting on rocks east of camp looking toward Desert Center and watching trucks on freeway. Checking email and sending twitter messages. Pretty cool. Beautiful clear calm cool evening under bright stars. Overnight low temp 56°. A bit chilly in the tent. Time to switch to winter bag. Drove 70 miles Wednesday, 66 miles Thursday, 136 miles trip total.

Wednesday, 10/22, Garstin trail hike

Garstin trail to Smoketree mtn. Took a panorama shot of the Desert Divide.

Saturday, 10/18, Anza-Borrego overnight - Photos

Anza-Borrego camping trip with Wen. Eddie stays home. Gas in Indio $3.16. Wonder if we'll see gas under $3 again. Lunch at Rincon Norteño in Indio on the drive down. Excellent! Arrive Ella Wash site 2:45pm. Quiet warm afternoon with very light breeze. High afternoon temp about 96°. Sunset 5:56pm. Perfectly calm and still. Evenings like this are why i keep coming to the desert. Walked along wash after dark looking for sidewinders but none found. No bats at night either. Enjoyed sitting under the Milky Way and talking before the moon came up at 9:30pm. 72° overnight low temp. Drove home early Sunday. 70 miles Saturday, 68 miles Sunday, 138 miles trip total.

Thursday, 10/16, Salton Sea camping trip, Day 2 - Photos

Nice night listening to a trains pass about once an hour. Went for a 25 mile ride along highway 111 in the morning. Good road with an okay shoulder for biking. Basically flat and not too much traffic. There are some big trucks but they seemed to try and give me space. Hanging out near the state park visitor center in the afternoon using wifi. Only problem is it's not free. Had to buy a 24 hour chunk of time from AT&T for $7. Visitor center is closed but since i've been here a few hours i got to talk to visitors and answer questions about Salton Sea. Kind of fun. Took hot shower at main campground. Ice and beer at Toro Loco Carniceria #6. (I wonder where #1 through #5 are.) Nice little market with a real meat counter. Corvina Beach campground about 3pm sitting in shade of my truck and watching trains. Listened to too much Christian radio today. Is making me stupid. Time to switch to NPR for some adult news. Today is hazier and just a bit warmer than yesterday. I want to swim across the Salton Sea. Doesn't look all that far. Sunset about 5:53pm. Sitting on picnic table watching the evening light and pelicans. Called Wen and Kai. I think i found Mars through binoculars low in the west. Not sure. Venus is bright and easy. A bit closer to trains tonight than last night. But that's a good thing. Dinner of canned pork and beans, crackers, and pickled onions. Nice overhead Milky Way from Perseus in the NE to Scorpius in the SW for about 30 mins before moonrise ruined it. Bright glow from Coachella Valley to north and Mexicali to the south. Set up tent on the beach. Drove 20 miles today. Biked more miles than i drove. That's cool!

Wednesday, 10/15, Salton Sea camping trip, Day 1 - Photos

Drove through Salton Sea state park main campground just to check it out. $17/night for tent site seems a bit high but there are tables and shade. Mecca Beach is also $17/night with tables and tamarisk trees. Corvina beach to the south has a few tables and no shade for $7/night. Very few sites are occupied. Continued south on highway 111 to Bombay Beach. The campground is closed but i assume is just seasonal closure and will be open in winter. Drove through the community of Bombay Beach. Very sad looking houses but there is a little market. Turn around at Bombay Beach and head back north. Stop for lunch along railroad tracks at Range Road crossing and wait for a train to pass southbound. Camp at Salt Creek campground for $7/night. Campground is open and exposed with a few picnic tables and outhouses. But it's nice right on the water and i have good view of Union Pacific mainline. Quite with looking across to Travertine Point, Santa Rosa mtns, Truckhaven area. Lots of pelicans in the water. Walked over to Salt Creek trestle to take a nice photo of northbound UP. Sitting on chair on top of picnic table enjoying the view across the sea. Beautiful sunset about 5:55pm. By 6pm counted 12 trains. Amtrak Sunset Limited southbound at 6:40pm. Some high wispy clouds and bright just past full moon. Set up tent and went to bed early listening to radio. Drove 78 miles today.

Tuesday, 10/14, Descanso/Lykken trail hike

Hiked up the Descanso trail to join Lykken, then south coming down via Cahuilla canyon. Walked back along Palm Canyon drive to where i'd parked. Pretty day and a nice loop hike.

Saturday, 10/11, Visit Kai at UCLA

Day trip to LA with Wen to visit Kai at UCLA. Bring food, chair, clothes, tennis racquet, etc. Kai's dorm is messier this time. Pretty clear day in LA. Have lunch at Corner Bakery (even though it's not on a corner) in Westwood and Ranch 99 market in San Gabriel on way home. Nice day. Was good to see Kai. 265 miles today.

Thursday, 10/9, New doctor

Appointment with a new doctor today for a check-up. I'd been feeling for a long time that my previous doctor just didn't listen to what i had to say. New doc i like. I think i'll keep him.

Wednesday, 10/8, Shannon trail hike

Shannon trail to Smoketree peak and back. Warm but nice.

Sunday, 10/5, Beautiful day

Beautiful day in Palm Springs. Bright clear skies with official high temp of 89°. Just perfect. Doors and windows open all day. Wish i'd had clear skies like this in Utah. And speaking of Utah i'm feeling a bit guilty after adding up all the costs from last week's road trip... $133 car rental, $263 for gas, and $235 for lodging/camping comes to over $100 per day. I really would have enjoyed a shorter camping trip closer to home just as much.

Saturday, 10/4, Back home

Spending the day sorting through photos and catching up with logs and blogs. Weighed myself and found i lost about 8 pounds this week! My solo traveling diet is basically canned sardines, crackers, breakfast bars and apples. I lost weight on my Death Valley trip back in May too. Maybe i should do more road trips!

Friday, 10/3, Southwest road trip, Day 6 - Photos

Very light rain sprinkles starting off and on around 2am. Not enough to bother anything. Got up early just as the stars, what few i could see through the clouds, were fading into dawn. Some lighting way off to the east over Colorado. Overnight low temp about 65°. Departed camp a about 7:15am. Stopped in Monticello and used wifi in Rodeway Inn parkin lot. Good wifi! Also stop at market for ice. Gas $3.94 in Monticello. Cool with very light drizzle. Not sunny and clear like yesterday. Heading south toward home. Decided not to go into Monument Valley. Lots of cars and there is an entrance fee. Last time i was here was with Larkette and i think it was basically a dirt road and couple of picnic tables. Also conditions are hazy overcast so not the best for photography. Lunch in Tuba City at a skateboard/cycling park watching some teen boys ride bikes. They are good! Somewhere around Flagstaff i decided to drive all the way home and not spend another night on the road. Gas $3.39 at Love's just east of Kingman. Lots of northbound BNSF trains on the mainline south of Kingman. Stopped along highway just north of Lake Havasu and ate something for dinner. Lake Havasu City is really growing. Lots of shopping centers and big box stores. Poor London Bridge. Drove over Parker dam back into California at 6:15pm. Continued home via hiw 62, 177 and I10. Heaps of eastbound traffic on hwy 62 and 177. Everyone headed to the river for the weekend. Was a fun trip. Really enjoyed myself. Just realized the only hot meal i had all week was dinner with Jon in Albuquerque. But that's fine, i like eating cold food. Got home about 10pm. 735 miles today. 2475 miles trip total.

Thursday, 10/2, Southwest road trip, Day 5 - Photos

I think the motel was full last night but i didn't hear a sound from anyone. Slept great! Departed motel about 7am and stopped at market to buy ice. Drove east from Monticello via Abajo mtn road. Beautiful fall colors and lots of deer on the road. Stopped at Newspaper Rock on way. A film crew was filming a segment for Discovery TV when i arrived. Got to Canyonlands National Park and had a campsite picked out and paid for all by 9:20am. Campsite 1A. Great site as it's separated from everyone and has a spectacular view to the east. Except for being along the access road it's as if i'm here all by myself. Went for a great hike from campsite south on Big Spring canyon trail then high slickrock trail over to Elephant canyon and back. Perfect warm conditions. Back at camp via the B loop trail through the rocks. Totally awesome hike! Walked about 8 miles total. In afternoon drove north to Big Spring canyon overlook and stopped at visitor center to look at topos. I asked if they had wifi access. No. But Death Valley does i said. They said yeah, and Death Valley has a swimming pool too. Funny NPS humor. Back to camp at 3:20pm. Watching people drive in late looking for a campsite. I feel kind of bad. I have this big site all to myself. I'd not mind sharing the site with some nice quiet people. Walked over to the ranger talk about pinyon-juniper trees. High thin overcast evening sky. Can see stars and Milky Way through the cover but not what i was hoping for. Disappointing. Otherwise conditions are perfect calm still. This really is a great campground. Must return sometime when the skies are clear. 69 miles today. 1740 miles for trip.

Wednesday, 10/1, Southwest road trip, Day 4 - Photos

Didn't sleep very well. I think Jon's cats have me a bit allergic. On the road before 7am. (Actually before 8am local time.) Gas $3.27 just north of Albuquerque. Cheapest gas so far. Buy coffee at McDonalds in Bernalillo. Head east on highway 550. Pretty scenery. Thinking i should have made this trip a bit shorter and just focused on Utah and not such a big AZ, NM, TX, CO, UT loop. Not that i'm not having fun. I'm loving it. But lots of driving. Take side trip to Chaco canyon. Someone spray painted on back of a sign THIS IS STUPID PAVE THIS FUCKING ROAD. I thought the road was in really good shape for dirt. Certainly better than last time i was here. Overheard some big (fat) woman that was driving a big (fat) new Suburban at the visitor center complaining how bad the road was. Such a whiner. Why even think about driving 20 miles down a dirt road if you're just going to whine about it being a dirt road? Last time i was at Chaco the road entered from the west. Now it enters from the east. Spend an hour exploring Pueblo Bonito. Hasn't changed much in 25+ years when i was last here. Just as spectactular and amazing as ever. Picnic lunch at visitor center. Canned eel. Drove through campground. Exposed but nice. The host and another camper have scopes. Continue NW on highway 550. Ship Rock looks so neat off in the distance from Shiprock. Highway 491 north of Shiprock used to be highway 666 but people kept taking the signs so they changed the name. I wish it was still 666. Gas in Cortez is $3.54. Highway 491 north of Cortez is very pretty grassy farm country. Horses and llamas and cows, oh my. Also row upon row of sunflowers. Now i know where sunflower seeds come from! Arrive Monticello at 4:10pm. (5:10pm local time.) Check into a nice little motel. Sit outside room using laptop and watch people come and go. Love little motels like this. Very clean room. So much nicer to have a non-smoking room unlike Alamogordo a couple days ago. Only problem is internet is a slow satellite connection. But at least i have internet and satellites are neato! 382 miles today. 1671 miles for trip.

Tuesday, 9/30, Southwest road trip, Day 3 - Photos

Free breakfast at motel. Not bad. At least they had hard boiled eggs. Heading north. Once out of the new motel row area Alamogordo isn't such bad a town. Tularosa reminds me of some of the little towns along 395 in eastern sierra. Visited the Three Rivers petroglyph site. Really impressive. I've never seen such an array of petroglyphs in one place. In Carrizozo there is little motel facing the railroad track. Wish i'd stayed there. Neat ropey lava flows at Valley of Fires rec area. Lots of long distance cyclists along hwy 380. Gas at a Conoco station is Socorro is $3.40. I always liked Conoco for some reason. East of Socorro visited the VLA radio telescope complex. It's very large! Seeing the VLA was on of my key goals for this trip. Did the walking tour and ate my picnic lunch. On the way back found by accident that Socorro has free public wifi in the central plaza. Very cool. Arrive in Albuquerque during evening rush hour. Haven't seen this many cars all week. Stay at my friend Jon's house. Mexican food for dinner at Little Anita's. The waiter asked to see my ID before he'd serve me a beer. Amazing! That hasn't happened for over 20 years! 335 miles today. 1289 miles for trip.

Monday, 9/29, Southwest road trip, Day 2 - Photos

My little trailer in Bisbee has a real coffee percolator. Not a modern drip machine with paper filters. Morning in trailer drinking strong coffee and updating blogs/twitter/flickr. Drove through old Bisbee and stopped at the old county court house. Really a sweet old town and quite vibrant and active. Departing Bisbee at 9:08am eastbound. Highway 80 north of Douglas crossing New Mexico border at 10:37am. Very little traffic. Wide open grasslands. Looks like "No Country for Old Men". Wildlife includes turkey vultures and grasshoppers. Huge amounts of big dead grasshoppers on the road having been hit by passing cars. And then i noticed that most every dead hopper was being eaten by another hopper. I didn't know grasshoppers were carnivorous. Freaky. I never liked big grasshoppers much. Now they really creep me out. And they smell bad too. Yuck. Crossed back and forth across the continental divide a couple of times today. All these back highways, both in AZ and NM, are very clean. (Except for the nasty dead grasshoppers.) I don't think i've seen a single can or bottle along the road. Hit over 100 MPH just west of Hachita. Go, little Forenza, go! Willie Nelson singing "On the Road Again" on radio. Perfect. Lunch at park in Deming. All the streets in Deming are either tree names (Olive, Ash, Maple) or mineral (Tin, Copper, Zinc) names. Gas in Deming is $3.47. Found my great-grandparents's grave in Deming. Naurdine and Sarah Boyd. Hit 100 MPH again east of Columbus. I love New Mexico highway 9. Just nipped through far western corner of Texas near El Paso for about 10 miles before returning to New Mexico. Back north through Las Cruces to Alamogordo. Alamogordo is all motels and fast food. Check into Motel 6. But then find out they don't have wifi or any internet access at all. Check out of Motel 6 (they were nice and gave me full refund) and check into Best Western next door. They only have smoking rooms available. Blah. But i take it and have a king bed and good wifi. 402 miles today. 954 miles for trip.

Sunday, 9/28, Southwest road trip, Day 1 - Photos

Leaving home Sunday morning at 8am headed for Arizona. Bit of a personal road trip. Stop at El Sol market in El Centro then I8 eastbound at 10am. Gas in Yuma at Love's is $3.45. Depart Yuma at 11:15am. Approaching Ajo a sheriff pulled out behind me. I thought for sure he was going to ticket me for speeding (I was doing 75 on a 65 limit highway) but after following for a while he turned off. Lunch at Ajo center plaza park. Most everything is closed or out of business around the central square. Sad. Last time i was in Ajo the restaurant was open and they served a great breakfast. Departing Ajo everything gets much greener southbound. Eastbound from Why at 1:56pm. Stopped to take a picture in front of Why sign. This is a very pretty highway. Green with beautiful saguaros and big chollas. Also tons of Border Patrol activity. Kitt Peak road at 3:20pm but the observatory closes at 4pm. Too late to drive up. Took a little break at some tables just east of Kitt peak road. I think i went through about four immigration checkpoints today. Gas $3.31 in Benson at 5pm. Highway south of Benson is lush mesquite and chaparral. Check into The Shady Dell a few minutes before 6pm. Staying in the 1954 Crown trailer. It's perfect. More than i expected. Drove 552 miles today.

Friday, 9/26, Cahuilla canyon hike

Hiked up Cahuilla canyon to the second stream crossing. (Dry of course.) Warm but nice. Last time i was here was on my birthday back in May.

Wednesday, 9/24, Garstin trail hike

Hiked the Garstin trail, loop through the middle mesa, and back over Smoketree mtn.

Saturday, 9/20, Kai at UCLA

Kai moves into his dorm room at UCLA today. Big step for him, and for Wen and me too. He'll do great. I think we did a good job raising him up, if i do say so myself. Kai, you were/are the best son that any parents could ever hope for. Love you always.

Friday, 9/19, Shannon trail hike

Shannon trail to Smoketree mtn and back. Saw a nice king snake on my way up.

Wednesday, 9/17, Desert trip, day two

Trains kept waking me up at night. But that's fine. Is why i camp here. Breezy morning and more hazy than yesterday. Amtrak Southwest Chief westbound at 7:15am about 5 hours behind schedule. Depart camp before 8am southbound. Drive side road to Cadiz dunes campsite. Try to find route through but all roads end up in soft dunes so return to main road. Main road is washboarded on northern section and then washed out a bit near Milligan from recent rains. From Milligan south road is much smoother. Drive home via hwy 62, 177, I10. Home at 12:45pm. 174 miles today. 460 miles total for trip.

Tuesday, 9/16, Desert trip, day one

Highway 62 through Twentynine Palm and Amboy road. Drive west from near Sheephole summit to the boundary of the Cleghorn Lakes wilderness. Take gas line road from Sheephole summit to Cadiz. Talk to a couple of gas company employees on the way. Lunch at Cadiz crossing and watch two trains pass. Both eastbound. Continue east on route 66 and I40 to Needles. Buy gas over the river in Arizona for $3.56/gal. South on I40 to river then back north and west on I40 the way i had come. Stop at Essex and Danby. Neither have good places to camp. Trains are really pretty south of route 66 in front of Old Woman and Ship mtns. Back at my Cadiz site at 5pm. Last time i camped here was Oct 06. Temp 96. Warm but nice. Fun afternoon/evening watching trains. The spur Arizona & California line is active and delivered and then picked up a short train. Sunset about 6:40pm. After dark some lightning in clouds far to south. Can't hear it. Moonrise a bit before 8pm. Wind came up at the same time. And ice is all gone too. Can see car headlights coming down Sheephole pass road. Had a cute little kit fox visit after dark. Put out a bowl of water and he drank some. Such nice little animals. 286 miles today.

Friday, 9/12, North Lykken trail hike

Hiked the north Lykken trail from Ramon to junction with the Skyline trail. Warm but good!

Tuesday, 9/9, Santa Rosa mtn

Did some exploring in the Santa Rosa mtns with Eddie today. This is another of those local areas (like the Desert Divide) that i've not been to in many years. Drove up in the afternoon with plans to camp at one of the primitive sites. I was surprised to find the old cabin on Santa Rosa peak is no longer there. Only the stone fireplace remains. Doesn't look like the cabin burned. More likely the cabin had become a problem with squatters and was removed. Parked at the locked gate near the summit and walked up to Toro peak. Very clear day with great views all around. I love the views of the Anza-Borrego desert from the peak. Was very windy. Poked around some of the little spur roads looking for a nice spot to camp. However by 4:30pm the wind was very strong and it was getting cold so reluctantly decided not to spend the night camping and drove down to John and Jac's place in Pinyon Flats. Much nicer than spending a cold night on the mountain. I know Eddie appreciated it. Flickr photos here.

Monday, 9/8, South Lykken trail hike

Hiked up and down the south Lykken trail this morning with Eddie. Poor Eddie was too hot. Saw fresh bighorn tracks on the trail which was neat. The bee colony near the vista point seems to be inactive.

Tuesday-Wednesday, 9/2-3, Anza-Borrego camping

Early season overnight trip to Anza-Borrego. Camped at my regular Ella Wash site. Found some spent shotgun shells scattered around my site. Some rowdy slobs no doubt. Warm afternoon with high about 105° but fairly comfortable. Light breeze in evening. Spent the evening binocular stargazing. Neat that Venus, Mercury and Mars all fit within one 10x32 field. Slept in the open truck bed. The next morning i biked S-22 to the Pegleg monument and back to Calcite canyon overlook. 20 miles total. After my ride drove over to the visitor center but was surprised to find it only open on weekends during the summer. To cool off i spent an hour or so in the Borrego Springs library looking through desert books and using wifi internet. By 3pm or so i decided it was hotter and more humid than the day before so didn't spend a second night and drove home instead.

Monday evening, 9/1, Moon, Venus, Mercury and Mars

The young crescent moon plus Venus, Mercury and Mars were all within about 8° low in the west after sunset this evening. Using 10x32 binoculars i spotted Venus first and then a delicate sliver of the moon just as it was about to set. With a bit more scanning i picked up Mercury. Sky was still fairly bright and i'd pretty much given up on finding Mars. However after a while it finally popped into view just before disappearing behind the ridge.

Sunday, 8/31, Tramway hike

Hot humid day in the valley but up the tram it was bright and clear and cool. Hiked to Wellman's Divide then back via the high trail. Last tramway hike until next summer as my pass expires today. Great hike to end the season.

Saturday, 8/30, Araby to Shannon hike

Neat hike up Araby trail, across to Smoketree mtn, then down the Shannon. Light drizzle on the way up and a buffeting wind. Great fun!

Thursday, 8/28, Cedar Spring hike

Hiked the Cedar Spring trail from Morris Ranch road today. I haven't hiked the Desert Divide area since probably about 1980 when Larkette and i used to hike here a lot. Was fun but pretty warm. Lots of annoying gnats too which didn't help. Glad to see the cedars at the spring haven't burned in any of our recent brush fires. For some reason i was thinking if i followed the old unmaintained trail north from Cedar Spring i would rejoin the PCT but instead ended up out Garnet Ridge. Nice views but not where i planned to be. Note to self... Bring topo printout next time. Covered 8 or 9 miles total. Flickr photos here.

Friday evening, 8/22, Milky Way

I can actually still see the Milky Way from my backyard! Even with the new shopping center at 111 and Farrell.

Sunday-Thursday, 8/17-21, San Francisco on the train

Rode Amtrak's Coast Starlight from LA to Oakland and spent the week vacationing in San Francisco. As much as i love being out all alone in desert wilderness i also love the excitement of big cities.

Friday, 8/15, Garstin trail hike

Hike up the Garstin, over Smoketree mtn, and loop through middle mesa. Hot and humid but felt good to hike on the desert.

Wednesday, 8/13, Tramway hike

Hiked south from the tramway to Willow Creek divide then back across the high trail to Round Valley. Overcast day with a bit of light rain along the high trail. Quiet peaceful day in the mtns.

Tuesday early morning, 8/12, Perseid meteors

Between 1:15am and 3:30am counted 32 Perseid meteors from the backyard. A couple of them were very bright and long.

Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, 8/5-6-7, Camping at Boulder Basin

Wen and i camped at Boulder Basin again. Two nights this time. Site #34. Weather and temps were perfect. Low about 60° with highs in the mid-seventies. First night two other sites were occupied but the second night only one other site (a single man with a little dog) and the campground was silent. Had a small campfire both nights. Went for a short hike Wednesday but spent most of our time in camp reading and talking. Bright pass of ISS Wednesday evening low in the SE.

Sunday, 8/3, Tramway hike

Hiked from the tramway to Round Valley with Wen. Came back via the high trail. Really nasty muggy day in the desert but was lovely on the mtn. Probably should have stayed longer but came down on the noon car.

Saturday, 8/2, Evening planets

Found Venus in the evening sky from home for the first time this apparition. Also Saturn and Mars. Tried to find the new crescent moon but was UTL. Tomorrow the moon will be much easier.

Tuesday-Wednesday, 7/29-30, Joshua Tree camping/stargazing/cycling

Drove up to Joshua Tree on Tuesday afternoon expecting to camp at Cottonwood. However i found the campground closed for maintenance. Ack! I think they are resurfacing the roads. I ended up spending the night a few miles north along the Black Eagle Mine road. This is not an approved camping area. But i just parked along the road and was stargazing all night so technically wasn't camping. (I may have dozed off a few times.) The site is also darker than Cottonwood so that was really a bonus. Spent most of my time wandering around the Milky Way with the 10x42 Nikons and TV76 and enjoying the dark sky. Wednesday morning rode my bike along the main park road getting in 16 miles before driving home.

Sunday, 7/27, Tramway hike

Hiked from tramway to Wellman's Divide then back via the high trail. Beautiful day in the mtns for a hike.

Friday, 7/25, Home from LA trip

Home from a four day (three night) trip to Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. Visited Venice beach and Santa Monica on Tuesday. Wednesday morning dropped Kai at UCLA for two day orientation then Wen and i drove up to Santa Barbara for a nice romantic get-away. Great weather and really nice to be out of the desert heat for a few days. All together we ate Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Argentine beef, fresh seafood and drank micro-brew beers!

Monday, 7/21, Shannon trail hike

Hot steamy hike up the Shannon trail. Trail quite rutted in places from yesterday's heavy rains. Hadn't planned to hike all the way to the top but the breeze sure felt good on the peak!

Sunday, 7/20, Downpour and flood waters

Awoke about 6am to strong winds and heavy rain. Torrents even! The level of water in my pool rose close to 2"! Drove over to the Palm Canyon wash at Araby road and took this video of the flood waters. When the rain stopped i went for a bike ride, but the rain returned while i was out and i got pretty soaked. No harm done.

Saturday, 7/19, Tramway hike

Hiked from tramway to Round Valley via the high trail. Then north to Tamarack Valley looking for the old unmaintained trail back toward Long Valley. Took me a little while to find it. I remembered it started near a brown post campsite but didn't remember the name. Finally when i stumbled into the QUARTZ campsite i remember that was the name and quickly found the old trail.

Tuesday-Wednesday, 7/15-16, Camping at Boulder Basin

Spent Tuesday night camping at Boulder Basin with Wen. (Kai stayed home and had a LAN party with some friends. Eddie stayed home too.) Camped at the same #25 site as last year. Perfect conditions. Clear and cool, but not too cold, and very quiet campground with only two other sites occupied. BBQed steak for dinner then had a nice evening campfire. Wednesday morning cooked bacon and eggs then walked up to the Black Mountain fire lookout.

Sunday, 7/13, Tramway hike

Hiked from tramway to Round Valley then back on the high trail, and then since i didn't feel like i'd walked long enough, i walked back to RV again. Tram seemed pretty quiet today. I went up on the 9am car and there were maybe 10 people total on-board. Little bit overcast kept temps nice and cool. I brought my rain parka just in case but didn't need it.

Tuesday through Thursday, 7/8-10, Camping at Mt. Laguna

Wen, Kai and i spent two nights camping at Mt. Laguna this week. This is probably our favorite family campground. The meadow is so nice and during the week the campground is very quiet. We got our favorite site #15 right on the meadow. Weather about perfect but with some surprise rain early Thursday morning about 1am! (Just light sprinkles and not enough to be a problem but we sure weren't expecting it.) Wednesday morning i hiked the PCT for a 6 mile loop. Had nice little campfires both nights. Moon approaching first quarter but Tuesday i stayed up late after midnight enjoying the summer Milky Way. Some photos are in my flickr photostream.

Friday, 4th of July, Tramway to Saddle junction loop

Loop hike from tramway, over Wellman's Divide, down to Saddle Junction, then back via Willow Creek. (Link to map.) Nice to see Willow Creek still has a good flow of water. Last time i did this same loop was in 2002. Took me 20 minutes longer this time to hike the 12 miles. I figure as long as i can hike 12 miles and feel good then i'm doing okay. Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday night, 7/1, Cottonwood campground

Spent the night at the Cottonwood Spring campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Site 26B in the upper loop. Lower loop is closed as the park service is removing the wooden campsite bumpers and replacing with large boulders. Nice clear warm night. Temp at sunset was 92°F. Visited with a nice family from Switzerland just starting a 3 week driving/camping vacation of the south-west. They were amazed how hot the desert is! Brought both the TV76 and 16x70 Fujinons but didn't really us them much. It's just sad how bright the skyglow has become in the park.

Thursday, 6/26, Tramway to Wellman's with Kai

Hiked from the tramway to Wellman's Divide and back with Kai. This was our annual father/son hike. Kai doesn't really care much for hiking but he will go with me once a summer. Photo of us at Wellman's Divide.

Sunday, 6/22, Tramway to Mt. San Jacinto

Hiked from the tramway to Mt. San Jacinto peak. First time to the peak this year. Beautiful day and delightful company.

Friday, 6/20, Happy Solstice!

The solstice occurred at 4:59pm PDT this afternoon. Yay! Went for a 12 mile bike ride this morning to celebrate. It was pretty hot. High temp for the day was 117°. Hottest day so far this year. I did spend a couple hours in the library to cool off and use the wifi.

Tuesday-Wednesday, 6/17-18, Camping/biking in the mountains

Wanted to get out of the desert heat and do some biking so drove up to Barton Flats on Tuesday. I was originally planning to camp at the main Barton Flats campground but the fee is now $25/night. So went over to the South Fork campground where the fee was just a bit better at $20/night. (Even camping is expensive now.) Camped in nice shady site #8. Went for a short 6 mile bike ride in the afternoon then just relaxed in camp. Was surprised how cool the night was with low temp about 42°F. I was a bit chilly in my tent as i only had my light weight desert bag. Wednesday morning rode the Jenks Lake loop for a ride of 10+ miles. I had planned to spend two nights but decided to save the $20 and drove home Wednesday afternoon. Pictures on my flickr photostream.

Monday, 6/16, Biking again

Went for a 8 mile bike ride around town this morning. I realize that's not very far but i haven't ridden for over a year. It felt good to ride again!

Sunday, 6/15, Tramway to mini caches

Hiked from the tramway to both mini cache one (GC272F) and mini cache two (GC29A8). Made a nice loop. Pretty day. I should have stayed longer. High temp at home today was 114°F.

Thursday, 6/12, Shannon trail hike

Quick hike up and down the Shannon trail. Just went to the point overlooking Smoketree ranch. Too hot for a very long hike.

Sunday, 6/8, Tramway to Wellman's Divide

Hiked from the tramway to Wellman's Divide and back along the main trail. Nice day in the mtns. Self-portrait at Wellman's. Ran into Eric and Angela. I somehow had a hunch i'd run into them today.

Monday-Wednesday, 6/2-4, Anza-Borrego camping trip - Photos

Two night camping trip to the southern Anza-Borrego desert. Drove down through the park to my regular Carrizo Valley campsite arriving about 2:30pm. Clear and warm with temp just under 100°. Would have been almost perfect except for the wind. On the other hand the wind kept me from getting too warm. Set up shade awning for a bit of sun protection. The wind did settle about 7pm for a very nice evening. Relaxed in camp Tuesday morning using space blanket for shade. In the afternoon drove the Mortero Wash road and had lunch near Piedras Grandes. Popped up the Mortero Palms and Dos Cabezas roads and then looped through Ocotillo for ice and sodas. Back at my campsite tried to set up the space blanket again but the wind destroyed it so just sat in the shade of the truck. Tuesday night the wind shifted to the south and increased in strength. Got colder too. Left camp early Wednesday morning and drove home through the park the same way i had arrived on Monday. Conditions in the northern part of the park even worse with blowing dust and sand, very hazy, and high overcast. Nasty. Good time to go home.

Saturday, 5/31, Cahuilla birthday hike

Today is my birthday! (Yay!) What better way to celebrate than to go for a desert hike? Went up Cahuilla Canyon to the second (dry) stream crossing. Nice warm sunny morning. Here is the birthday boy(d)!

Thursday, 5/29, Garstin/Hotdog/Theleman loop hike

Had planned a simple loop hike up the Garstin and back down the Theleman trail. But it was such a nice day for hiking i decided to include a little side trip up Hotdog Hill. Great day for the end of May.

Tuesday, 5/27, Visit to the dentist

Had to have a crown replaced. Here i am waiting for the dentist and looking into the light. My dentist is Dr. Ray Sumabat. I really like him.

Monday, 5/26, Bee removal

My neighbor had a bee hive inside the wall of her garage. I watched Javier from killerbeeremoval.com as he opened the wall and removed the colony. Photos here. Was fascinating. And the bees seemed really calm. I was just wearing shorts and got right up close to take pictures yet the bees never bothered me. I think it would have been really neat to replace the drywall with a sheet of clear glass so we could watch the bees.

Sunday, 5/25, Murray Hill hike

Great hike up Murray Hill this morning. Came up the north side from Rimrocks. Here i am at the top. It got a bit overcast and was actually a bit cool when i was on the summit. Round trip took 2 hours 40 minutes.

Friday, 5/23, Rain!

Didn't last long but it rained pretty hard for a bit this afternoon. Here is what my pool looked like. Today's high temp was only 71°F. That's 42 degrees cooler than Monday's 113° high.

Wednesday, 5/21, Middle Lykken hike

Middle Lykken trail from the end of Mesquite to where the cross used to be. Not nearly as hot today. Only about 78° when i was hiking.

Monday, 5/19, Warm day

Warm day for the middle of May. High temp was 113°F.

Sunday, 5/18, Shannon/Araby loop hike

Hiked up the Shannon trail to Smoketree peak, then across the dip and came down the Araby trail. One word: HOT. The high temp for today was 110°F.

Thursday, 5/15, Little Morongo Canyon and Covington Flats - Photos

Interesting little desert trip today up Little Morongo Canyon to Yucca Valley. I've never driven through this canyon before. Road was in good shape with some fairly steep sections at the north end. From Yucca Valley i drove out the Covington Flats road to Eureka Peak and back before driving home. I was out about four hours. Fun little trip.

Wednesday, 5/14, South Lykken to Descanso trail loop

Loop hike going up the south Lykken trail and coming down via the Descanso trail and walking back along South Palm Canyon drive. First time hiking with my new Walmart boots. They seem pretty good and can't beat the $21.83 price!

Sunday, 5/11, Tramway to Round Valley and Hidden Lake

Bought my summer tramway pass today (price is up to $60 but still a bargain) and went for a nice loop hike to Round Valley then across on the High trail to Hidden Lake. Lots of water in Round Valley creek and still some snow in shaded areas. Hidden Lake was not as full as i was expecting.

Thursday, 5/8, Death Valley camping trip, Day 4 - Photos

Drove home from via Trona, Kramer Junction, Barstow, Lucerne Valley and Yucca Valley. Total driving for trip was 740 miles.

Wednesday, 5/7, Death Valley camping trip, Day 3 - Photos

Up early to watch sunrise. While i was trying to make morning coffee my campsite was overrun with bees seeking water. Had to pack-up early and move down the road to get away from them. (The next day i found a dozen (dead) bees inside my water jug.) Swung through Furnace Creek for another wifi hit then drove to Beatty to get gas. $3.65 gas in Beatty compared to $4.79 at Furnace Creek made the side trip worthwhile. Drove back across the valley through Stovepipe Wells and stopped at the Emigrant campground to enjoy the view. Just a place i really like somehow even though it's right on the main road. Continued west across Towne Pass and up to the Darwin Falls area and hiked to the lower falls. Camped at Panamint Springs where they sell gas for $5.27! But the campground is only $15 with shade, showers and satellite wifi. Very strong wind came up about 6:30pm and lasted until after 9pm.

Tuesday, 5/6, Death Valley camping trip, Day 2 - Photos

Nice comfortable night in tent. Thermarest and green air mattress combo very nice. Decided to not try the difficult Mengel Pass route to the south-west and drove back out the way i'd come. Thought about taking another dip in hot pool at Warm Spring but decide not to bother. Explored a neat little talc mine tunnel a couple miles east. Rejoined the Westside road and headed north. Parts of road are smooth and nice. Other parts are very bad washboard. Stopped at the Furnace Creek store for ice and used wifi at the visitor center. Drove back south on the Westside road to Trail Canyon and camped about 4 miles up the road. Had a lovely warm afternoon with panoramic view of Death Valley.

Monday, 5/5, Death Valley camping trip, Day 1 - Photos

First day of a 3 night Death Valley camping trip. Drove up via Yucca Valley, 29 Palms, Amboy, Kelso and Baker. Entered the park via the south Harry Wade route then headed up Warm Spring canyon. The road was rougher and slower than i thought it would be. But i did stop at the spring and enjoyed a little dip in the hot pool! Continued into Butte Valley and finally arrived at Stella's cabin about 6:30pm. I was pretty worn out by now. However the beautiful view and the interesting cabin made up for it. The cabin was tidy and in good shape but i decided to sleep outside in my tent to avoid any hantavirus issues. Cool clear night with the sounds of feral burros and coyotes in the valley.

Saturday, 5/3, Shannon trail hike

Shannon trail, over Smoketree mtn, and loop middle mesa. Could see helicopters doing water drops on a few of the remaining Apache peak fire hot spots.

Wednesday, 4/30, Garstin trail hike

Fast hike up the Garstin trail to get a look across at the Apache peak fire. The fire started yesterday afternoon along the Desert Divide. Looks like the fire is staying south of Antsel rock. I had been thinking to hike the PCT along the divide this spring but since Apache spring is probably gone now i doubt i'll do the hike. This image is looking across Palm Canyon wash toward the divide. Antsel rock is to the right where the smoke starts.

Monday, 4/28, Anza-Borrego overnight and comet Boattini - Photos

Spent Monday night in the Anza-Borrego desert camped along Truckhaven trail. Nice warm afternoon with intermittent light breeze. Not the best conditions for stargazing with haze and a bit of high overcast. I was however able to see comet C/2007 W1 Boattini to the south in Crater as hazy patch through 10x32 Leica. Looked about the same through the TV76 at 30x.

Sunday, 4/27, Araby trail hike

Quick hike up and down the Araby trail. On my way down i passed a woman going up that said there was a rattlesnake off the side of the trail a few switchbacks down. I tried to find the neck but no luck.

Wednesday, 4/23, Shannon trail hike

Up the Shannon trail, over Smoketree mtn, across to the top of Araby trail, loop through middle mesa, and back down the Shannon. Felt like i could have walked all day.

Sunday, 4/20, Garstin trail hike

Morning hike up the Garstin, over Smoketree mtn, then looped through the middle mesa.

Thursday-Friday, 4/17-18, Some desert exploring

Did a bit of exploring in a local area of the desert i don't often visit east of the Salton Sea. A few of the places visited were Corvina Beach, Fountain of Youth Spa, Niland, Ted Kipf road, Algodones dunes, Chocolate mtns, Salvation pass and Salt Creek. Spent the night camped at the southern end of the Orocopia mtns just outside the wilderness boundary with a beautiful view of the Salton Sea. Friday morning continued north up Salt Creek and the Bradshaw trail. Drove the Amy wash loop stopping at both the metal and wood houses then took the Red Canyon Trail through to Maniobra valley.

Wednesday, 4/16, North Lykken trail hike

Lykken trail from end of Ramon. All the lupine from a month or so ago have gone to seed. But i was pleased to see the city finally allows parking at the trailhead. Parallel parking along La Mirada was a pain.

Friday, 4/11, Short Skyline trail hike

Climbed up the old Skyline from the trailhead near the end of Alejo. This is the way i always started the trail when i was younger. Now there are a couple of houses where the trail used to go but there is a very steep route around them to the main trail. Hiked up as far as the warning sign then came back down the Museum trail. The Museum trail is horrible. Poorly designed and very steep. It's sad this trail is the first introduction to desert hiking for many people.

Tuesday, 4/8, Metrolink to Oceanside

Just for fun rode the Metrolink from downtown Riverside to Oceanside and back. Had lunch at Ruby's on the pier. Nice comfortable trip with trains exactly on-time both ways.

Sunday, 4/6, Shannon trail hike

Up and down the Shannon trail. Didn't pass anyone else on the trail today. Perfect. Quite different than the 100 or so people i saw on the Bump-n-Grind trail a couple days ago!

Friday, 4/4, Bump-n-Grind trail hike

This morning i rode the bus to Rancho Mirage and hiked the Bump-n-Grind trail for the first (and probably last) time. Walked up Magnesia Falls road to the old trailhead. A sign said this trailhead was no longer in use but the route was easy to see across the wash. The main trail is actually an old dirt road and gets lots of hikers and dog-walkers. I must have passed 100 people (and dogs) going up and down. Too many people for my taste. I came down via the new trail that ends behind the Desert Crossings shopping center which is a nicer route and less used.

Wednesday, 4/2, Amtrak to LA

Rode Amtrak's Sunset Limited to Los Angeles and back with my dad. Was my gift for his 80th birthday. Here is the train arriving at the Palm Springs station. Got on the train just in time for last breakfast call. In Los Angeles we walked from Union Station to Chinatown for lunch. Train was an hour late each way but otherwise we had a great time!

Tuesday, 4/1, South Lykken trail hike

Hike up and down south Lykken trail.

Sunday, 3/30, 10 mile walk

Felt like hiking today but couldn't think of where to go. So i just started walking from home. Ended up walking for almost 3 hours and covered a 10 mile loop through town. Was fun but my feet are sore. Walking on sidewalk/pavement is harder on the feet than trail hiking.

Friday, 3/28, Rimrocks through hike

Hiked from Rimrocks through to the Shannon trail. Nice warm day. Came across this rattlesnake on the trail. First one i've seen so far this season.

Wednesday-Thursday, 3/26-27, Camping at Cottonwood Spring - Photos

Wen and i drove up to Cottonwood Spring in Joshua Tree National Park on Wednesday afternoon. Arrived a bit after 4pm to find almost all sites occupied! But we did find a site and enjoyed a very nice afternoon and evening. Clear and calm with great stars. And even though the campground was full everyone was well behaved and pretty quiet. The next morning we hiked the Mastodon Peak loop trail before driving home.

Wednesday, 3/26, Middle Lykken trail hike

Hiked Lykken trail from the end of Mesquite to my Tahquitz Overlook (GC2569) geocache.

Saturday-Sunday-Monday, 3/22-24, Another Anza-Borrego camping trip - Photos

Another trip to the AB with Eddie. This time met up with Kevin and Angie whom i know from their flickr photos. Spent Saturday night camped here along Rockhouse canyon road. Kevin got stuck trying to turn his trailer around so we just spent the night in situ. Fortunately was a very nice spot and a lovely calm evening. Stayed up late eating BBQ ribs (thanks for sharing!), watching the moon rise, and talking around the campfire until midnight. Kevin did eventually get extricated the next day. Eddie and i spent a second night camping along Ella wash by ourselves. Camping with friends is nice but being alone is also very good.

Friday, 3/21, Shannon trail hike

Hiked Shannon trail, across to Wildhorse junction, back to top of Araby trail, through the dip, over Smoketree mtn, and back down Shannon. Starting to get a bit warm but was really great to be outside hiking in the sun today.

Monday, 3/17, Araby trail hike

Araby trail to my Araby Hope (GC9FD) geocache. Bit breezy but nice and clear. Removed a 2x4 cross someone had set up nearby.

Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, 3/11-13, Anza-Borrego camping trip - Photos

Eddie and i drove down to the Anza-Borrego desert on Tuesday morning via Hwy 86 and S-2 entering the park through the south Ocotillo entrance. Drove through Bow Willow campground to find 5 tent sites occupied and 3 large motorhomes in the north loop. Met up with Jim Doss and camped in my regular site along the road to Indian Gorge. I've know Jim online since 2001 from geocaching and flickr but this is the first time we've actually met in person. Nice guy and we have similar casual camping styles so we got along well. Did a bit of stargazing after dark and just enjoyed a very comfortable still quiet evening. Jim departed the next morning and Eddie and i hiked over to Mtn Palm Spring campground and back. Spent the rest of the day just relaxing around camp in the shade of an ocotillo. Breezy evening with a bit of high overcast so didn't do any stargazing. Thursday morning we drove up through the gorge to the "Y" and then headed for the north part of the park. Drove up Glorieta canyon and had a nice, albeit windy, mid-morning break. Looped through Borrego Palm Canyon campground and the visitor center. Lots of people out enjoying wildflowers. Stopped in Galleta Meadows then headed east on S-22 to have lunch along Font's Wash. I was hoping to spend a third night camping but with the pretty much constant wind decided to drive home. Besides, Eddie was tired.

Sunday, 3/9, Cahuilla canyon hike

Cahuilla canyon with Wen and Eddie. Something is making me sneeze today.

Thursday, 3/6, Theleman/Garstin loop hike - Photos

Parked at the foot of Gastin trail then walked through Andreas Hills and went up the Theleman trail. Crossed the middle mesa then came down the Garstin. Really nice loop. I usually do this hike going the other direction so was a nice change today. The encelia is rampant!

Tuesday, 3/4, Palm Canyon through hike - Photos - GPS track

Palm Canyon through hike from Pinyon Flats walking north toward Hermit's Bench. Started hiking from the locked gate south of Asbestos Spring at 7:50am. Had planned to follow Dutch Charlie canyon down to the main trail but instead took a route about a mile south which worked out fine. Joined the main Palm Canyon trail at 9am and headed north. Beautiful day. As my elevation decreased the wildflowers increased. Arrived at Dry Wash for a noon lunch break. Didn't see anyone on the trails until i was about a mile from Hermit's Bench. Took the Victor trail over to Fern Canyon then just walked out on the Alexander trail. Arrived at the Bogart Trail bridge at 2:36pm and took a little break in the shade. Out of water and out of sunblock. Walked along the dike to Barona Road and then home. Arrived home 3:36pm. GPS says i walked 18.5 miles and took me 7 hours 46 minutes.

Sunday, 3/2, South Lykken trail hike

Quick hike up and down the south Lykken trail with Eddie. The Encelia is really looking nice.

Friday, 2/29, Local desert day trip - Photos

Amtrak station, trains at Tipton Road, Whitewater Canyon, Dillon Road, Fan Hill, 1000 Palms Canyon Road, Varner Road. Hurray for leap year!

Thursday, 2/28, Araby trail hike

Nice hike up the Araby trail with loop across the middle mesa.

Tuesday, 2/26, Corn Spring and Bradshaw Trail - Photos

Desert day trip with Eddie. First stop was Corn Spring. The palms are looking a bit ragged. But the campground is maintained and there was even one site occupied. Drove west a couple miles to Aztec Well before turning around. Back on the old highway continued east then followed the trail through Government Pass. I've never been through this route before and the road was a bit rough. Banged my read bumper going through a couple of wash-outs but made it through to the Bradshaw Trail okay. Followed the Bradshaw back west to Salt Creek then north to I-10 and home. Great day on the desert with lots of wildflowers. (See photo link.) Wore out poor Eddie on some of the bumpy roads. I was a bit tired of the bumpy roads myself by the end of the day.

Monday, 2/25, North Lykken trail hike

Hiked the north Lykken from Ramon with Eddie. Tons of wildflowers. Need to bring camera next time.

Sunday, 2/24, Rainbow

Pretty rainbow this morning from home.

Saturday, 2/23, Cottonwood Canyon wildflowers - Photos

Wen and i visited the Cottonwood Canyon area of Joshua Tree National Park this morning to check out the wildflowers. They are going great guns! See photo link above. Drove home via Painted Canyon and had lunch at Teresa's in Indio.

Monday evening, 2/18, ISS and STS dual pass

Nice nearly overhead pass of the space station and shuttle this evening from southern Calif. The two craft passed from NW to SE passing zenith about 5:52pm local time. The shuttle preceded the station by about 10 with the station being maybe twice as bright as the shuttle. Pretty neato!

Monday, 2/18, Cahuilla canyon hike

To commemorate my first day of temporary* retirement/unemployment Eddie and i hiked up Cahuilla canyon to the second stream crossing. No water at the crossings but there was a bit of flowing water through the middle rock pools. Lots of wildflowers too. [*Wen says i need to go back to work next year.]

Saturday evening, 2/16, Spy satellite

Nice nearly overhead pass of USA 193 tonight. Picked it up in the SW at about 6:32pm local time. Went into shadow just past zenith.

Saturday, 2/16, Dim Sum - Photos

Day trip with Wen and Kai to San Gabriel to visit Wen's mom. Great dim sum lunch at 888 Seafood then shopping at Mitsuwa and Ranch 99 markets. Fun day. See link above from some pictures.

Friday, 2/15, My last day at The Desert Sun

I started working at The Desert Sun on March 18, 1974. And today was my last day. Just shy of 34 years. It was fun but it's time to leave.

Sunday, 2/10, Shannon trail hike - Photos

Warm sunny mid-winter day. Perfect for a desert hike. Went up Shannon trail, over Smoketree mtn, then looked through the middle mesa before coming back down Shannon.

Saturday, 2/2, Middle Lykken trail hike

Hiked Lykken trail from the end of Mesquite to my Tahquitz Overlook (GC2569) geocache with Eddie. Verified the coordinates and left some stickers. Some high overcast and a little bit chilly. Picture of Eddie at cache and a pic of Eddie stuck in rocks waiting for me to come back and help him out. I was sorry to see the Sahara mustard is coming up again this year after the rains. Some info about why this is bad is here.

Saturday, 1/26, Shannon trail hike

Shannon trail to peak and back. Ran much of the way down.

Wednesday, 1/22, Cahuilla canyon hike

Quick little hike up Cahuilla canyon with Eddie. Lots of green going on!

Sunday, 1/20, Garstin trail hike - Photos

Nice day for a hike up the Garstin, loop through middle mesa, over Smoketree mtn and back down the way i came. I was full of energy and did a bit of trail running as well. Ran into Maggie from the newspaper on my way down. They were headed for my Flag Over PS (GC2165) geocache.

Monday evening, 1/14, Comets still

Two binocular comets still visible in the evening sky even with the nearly first-quarter moon. Comet 8P/Tuttle now in Cetus found with a bit of star hopping. Like a small nebula in the 10x42 binoculars. Overhead comet 17P/Holmes very near to Algol. Almost didn't see it at all but once i remembered reports of its large current size and knew what to look for it came into view as a very large diffuse patch.

Sunday, 1/13, Shannon trail hike

Spectacular day! Clear and warm. Hiked up the Shannon with Wen, over Smoketree peak, then looped through the middle mesa. Encelia are all leafing out and grasses are coming up. The lone ocotillo along the trail also has fresh leaves. Absolutely gorgeous day to be outside on the trails.

Thursday, 1/10, Araby trail hike

Had a mid-week day off so went up and down the Araby trail with Eddie. Haven't done much hiking yet this year. Been cool and rainy for the most part.

Wednesday-Thursday, 1/2-3, Queen Mary - Photos

Went for a little mini-vacation to the Queen Mary in Long beach with Wen and Kai spending Wednesday night on-board. Was quite fun. The ship is interesting to explore and weather was okay even though rain was forecast. At night tried to do a bit of stargazing from the aft deck. Could see Mars, Orion, Canopus and not a whole lot else. No chance of either of the two brighter comets. But i was pleased to see as much as i did. I had my Leica 10x32 with me and used them a lot for terrestrial viewing. Photos here.

Tuesday, 1/1, New Year's Day hike

Quick New Year's Day hike up and down the south Lykken trail. Took this smiling self-portrait. Happy New Year everyone!

Past year's blogs from 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001

Thanks to Lokesh Dhakar for his Lightbox script for image popups


© Florian Boyd