Sunday, March 27, 2016

Further Adventures in the Wild

As I documented last time, we've been going on hikes about every week this winter.  This week we added a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park to our weekly outdoor activities and it was a lot of fun.

I had read in the paper last Sunday that the Joshua Trees were in bloom and were very abundant this year.  Not having been to the park in about 20 years, and never having seen a tree in bloom, we asked some friends to go and drove up there last Monday morning.  We drove east to the far entrance to the park, entered there, and then drove diagonally across the whole thing, stopping when we saw something interesting.

This garden of Cholla cacti was impressive.

They were in various stages of bloom and were really pretty.  The color of the flower is not as eye catching as the Beaver tail pink blossom but I loved the pale green, delicate blossoms.

We passed some amazing rock formations and stopped to take photos of this one that looks like a skull.

 It was getting pretty windy but it was still nice, so we stopped for a picnic lunch and happened on some blooming Joshua Trees.  The blossom is the white thing on the end of the branch just off my left shoulder.  Sometimes you really have to look for them to find them.

We took a short hike near Barker Dam, a structure constructed by early cattlemen in 1900.  Now it collects whatever water is available to be enjoyed by the desert wildlife.

Walking through there, we came upon more trees and were able to study the blooms, which look almost like pineapples  from a distance.  The individual blossoms look like they don't really open in a showy manner, but grow a seed pod inside each one, which then falls.  In any case, it was interesting to see them up close.

This morning we decided to hike to the cross which sits atop a mountain trail here in Palm Desert.

 There were a lot of people and dogs out this morning, but we made it and then went down a back way, avoiding the crowds but coming out in a swanky neighborhood that's being developed.  They didn't seem to mind us walking down their road to get back to the trail along the canal that led us back to the car.  We found an oasis of green along the way and some flowers.

Very up and down today; my phone told me I'd gone 11,150 steps, 4.5 miles and climbed 63 floors.  I don't know how exact those numbers are, but it was definitely a climb!

And just for some more pretty, here's a photo I took on my walk through the park last Thursday.  I sent it in to the local TV station and they aired it on their evening news as one of the viewers' weather photos.  Cool!

Happy Sunday and Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Today's Hike

We try to go on a hike on Sunday mornings and today was a good one.  Here in Palm Desert the mountains seem to come right down to the road, so it's not hard to find a hiking trail near home.  The trails nearest us are very popular this time of year and get pretty crowded, so we usually go a little farther afield.  This morning we drove about 20 minutes away to the place I call my favorite hike.  You just park and pretty much start walking uphill, then decide whether to continue on a road to the top, or veer off in another direction onto a smaller trail.

Today we decided to go check out a new dam that was being built during the last couple of years and is finished now.  It was quite a project and now protects the main highway between all of the little cities here (Hwy 111) from washing out every time there's significant rain.

We struck out to the left and went around the side of the hill until we arrived at a vantage point above the dam.  Then we decided to see if we could get down into the riverbed itself and walk back that way, climbing back up eventually.  The dam is in the center behind me.

It was a bit of an adventure.  First, the desert was in bloom such that I've never seen before in this area.  I've hiked in Utah in the red rock desert and there are always flowers and plants along the trails.  Here, all you see usually is rocks and sand.  Not the most picturesque landscape.  We've had some rain this winter, and it was wonderful to see all the  green and other colors.


We walked quite awhile over the rocks (large and small) in the riverbed, looking for an oasis of palm trees that DH had seen previously.  All the way, we looked up at the high ridges overhead and the lack of obvious trails.  We're not rock climbers and it's been quite awhile since we've seen our 20s (or even 40s), so I was getting a little worried.  Just when we were about to turn back and retrace our steps, we found a little rock pile marking a trail up.  It was fairly steep but had enough switchbacks that it wasn't impossible to ascend.

I was annoyed to see this beautiful fountain grass blooming just beautifully out here in the middle of nowhere. :)  I've been trying to grow it in a pot for about three years, and my version is sadly lacking.

It's probably about time for me to give up and move on to something else!

All in all, it was a fun morning.  My phone app said that I'd gone 8217 steps, 3.4 miles, and climbed 29 floors.  It felt like we had earned our brunch of cinnamon french toast, bacon, and cantaloupe.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Playing Catch Up, As Usual

The trouble with waiting so long between posts is that there's too much to say so consequently I don't say anything.  As I go through my week, I take photos and write posts in my head.  Unfortunately, the ones I really like go to a quick Instagram post and never make it here.  Every so often someone (my sister today) will check my blog and let me know that it's way behind.  So here I go trying to catch up again.

The last post showed my newly spun blue and white yarn.  That yarn quickly turned into this pair of socks.  Knitting socks with handspun usually goes quickly since it tends to be a little thicker than commercial fingering weight yarn.  I'm happy with them.  I just did a regular vanilla sock with a Fish Lips Kiss heel.  I made these toe up to make sure I had enough yarn and reinforced my dislike of toe up sock knitting.

While we're talking about spinning, I spun a batt that I bought at Stitches West last year.  I separated out all of the colors and spun it as a gradient two ply.  It came out pretty fine; I got over 500 yards from 3 ounces of fiber.  And it's sparkly!

I've started making a shawl; A Certain Slant by Susan Ashcroft.  It's easy and the size can be made to fit any weight or amount of yarn.

I've taken a little break from baby knitting.  I went home in mid February for the shower and delivered all my gifts.  Since they're no longer secret, I'll give them their 5 minutes of fame.

Chevron blanket:  For an easy pattern I sure managed to mess it up a lot.  It came out very bright and soft, though, and is a good size for carseat or stroller.

Gramps sweater:  This is the cutest thing.  I only had one skein of the green yarn and a partial of the off-white, so I left off the pockets and elbow patches.  I like how it came out, though.  I used The Plucky Knitter Trusty and I really love this yarn.  It's a workhorse yarn, worsted weight and all wool but is soft enough and is great to work with.  I made a beautiful chevron gradient blanket with it last year and am working on a plain striped one out of desert colors now.

Baby vertebrae sweater:  Even though DH didn't get it, this sweater looked very handy because it doesn't really have a front.  I keeps the baby warm through his back and arms and leaves the front to snuggle with mom or dad.  It also avoids spills down the merino sweater front!  I used a sport weight sock yarn for this, one I had received in a club from Zen String years ago.

Another basic hat since I was warned that this kid might be extra big!

I guess that's it.  I might be working on some requested leg warmers....

Winter in the desert has been a trip this year.  It was extra cold for awhile (not "cold" per se if you know what cold is, but "cool") and then got up into the 90s for awhile.  It's cooled down again and we had a "storm" blow through...windy yesterday and a few sprinkles today. These clouds looked so cool yesterday morning!

This is what we usually see when we look outside:

 I'm feeling pretty lucky to be here since the Pacific Northwest has been a sogfest this winter.  When I was home last month it rained every day but one of the ten days. Raining or not, it's beautiful.