The past month has been a busy one in the desert, with lots of cycling, hiking, photography excursions, visits from friends, and a host of other activities. Rather than go into a lot of detail, I will just highlight some of the activities. As always, click on any photo to see an enlarged version.
In mid-January, a planned photo hike in the Whitewater Preserve and Rainbow Rock Canyon was thwarted when wild bulls wandering in the hills made hiking unadvisable. We did have a great walkabout in the valley along the Whitewater River though.
A couple of days later we went on a walking tour of the Movie Colony neighbourhood in Palm Springs. The tour was led by realtor and author Eric Meeks who has a special interest in Palm Springs celebrities and has written several books including a guide to celebrity homes. While views of most homes was obscured by high walls and hedges, it was very interesting to hear Eric talk about the homes and the history of the area as we strolled through the beautiful neighbourhood.
In the week that followed I joined my camera club for a morning visit to old town La Quinta, an area which offered a wide array of photographic opportunities.
A drive to Temecula occupied the better part of the day a few days after the La Quinta excursion. A stroll through the old part of town and lunch in one of the local pubs proved to make for a very enjoyable afternoon.
A few days later I spent an afternoon at the Salton Sea, exploring several areas and photographing birds. The sea is about 255 feet below sea level and was originally formed as an accident when a dam on a diversion of the Colorado River broke and flooded a low lying area. It took a couple of years to repair the damage and in the meantime a huge inland lake was formed. In the 1950’s and ’60’s the area became quite fashionable with holiday homes and resorts springing up. With nothing draining the lake and nothing feeding it other than the runoff from nearby farms the lake started to recede through evaporation. As the water level receded the salts and other minerals in the water became increasingly more concentrated, killing off most fish species. Today, the lake which is now saltier than the Pacific Ocean , has been pretty much abandoned by humans. But it is on the flyway of many bird species and is a great place to go to photograph them.
At the end of the month our camera club had an outing to the HITS Equestrian Park cancelled due to overnight rain. A small group of us went anyway and, despite the mud, were rewarded with some amazing photo opportunities.
The second day of February saw a return to Joshua Tree National Park to show off the park to a friend who was visiting us for a few days. I never get tired of this beautiful park and am always happy for any excuse to go there. On this day, I was impressed how quickly the park was greening up with he recent rains. We were rewarded with the appearance of blooms on a number of plants.
Two days later it was back to the Salton Sea, this time with the CVHC photo group. A group of 32 of us visited about 6 spots along the east side of the lake and saw a huge number of birds.
On Tuesday of this past week I was up and out of the house by 5:00 am to capture some sunrise shots in Joshua Tree NP. It wasn’t the most spectacular sunrise but I did get some decent shots. I then went on to hike to a couple of old mining mill sites. One was up above the highway through the park. It is visible from the road and about a 30 minute hike up the hill gets you to the mill. The other site, the Wall Street Mill, shares a trailhead with the Barker Dam trail. The 2 mile loop features an old windmill, abandoned cars, remains of an old dwelling, and of course the mill itself.
And in the midst of all the activity, I learned that one of my photos that I had submitted in the Photography Competition at the Riverside County Fair had won second place in its category (B&W Landscape). It was the first competition that I have ever entered so I was quite pleased with the news.
And that, in a very large nutshell, has been my month.