naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)
I spent a bit of time scouring for these links, so I might as well collect 'em in one place so I don't lose 'em again, and share 'em with whoever might be interested... :-) (a lot of information on this site is in downloadable PDF files -- I've never visited the Franklin Canyon Park before, and hey, it's been used for a lot of film locations!

Speaking of which... enter your zip code into and search on the keyword "outdoor" :-) - there's a Burbank tasting room open Friday and Saturday evenings
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
I celebrated National Train Day 2010 by riding in the Silver Splendor car behind the historic Santa Fe 3751 Locomotive, from LA Union Station to San Bernardino's Bicentennial and Railroad Days, and then riding the Metrolink back to Union Station's own National Train Day celebration. What an amazing day!

I collected a bunch of information, links and brochures... )
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)

Southern California Sites

Death Valley Sites

Mojave Sites

Angeles National Forest Sites

naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
Note to self: If you have the opportunity to attend the Taste of Solvang weekend again, Just Do It.

Apparently this is a once-a-year thing that happens in March, and a friend and I stumbled right into it after deciding about a week ago that we needed to get out of LA this past weekend. We spent the weekend wandering around Solvang (which apparently means "sunny field" in Danish, and is about 140 miles west and north of Burbank), shopping, stuffing ourselves silly on wonderful food, and greatly enjoying the Saturday evening wine tasting room walking tour. All of the wine-tasting rooms on the tour were staggering distance from all of the local hotels, so no one had be a designated driver in any of the groups who wandered and mingled on the sidewalks and in the 14 different tasting rooms that stayed open late for us.

My friend and I didn't book ourselves for all of the organized Taste Of Solvang weekend activities, choosing instead the wander-and-explore approach to everything but the wine tasting. Though in retrospect the Friday dessert reception sounds like it would have been nice, there was absolutely no way we were making it out of LA in time for that, thanks to our crazy!busy! work schedules.

We stayed at the Solvang Inn and Cottages, which like many of the local hotels is walking distance from pretty much everything in town.

I am not a wine expert, I just know what I like. )

In conclusion, Solvang is kitschy and touristy and fabulous in that dorky-yet-pretentious way that some places are... it's a great place to walk one's feet off poking around into interesting shops, and has the most wine-tasting rooms in such a small area I've ever seen. Also, the drive up the 101 to get there is a fun drive, and the ocean beaches are lovely.

I was away from the internet for a whole weekend, which was strange and a much-needed decompression from work stuff lately.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)
The League of Professional System Administrators put on a wonderful two days of training in Phoenix. Great classes, great chances just to chat with peers, great food, and painless travel and lodging. Go LOPSA!!

And now I am home, and exhausted, but also very enthused, creatively brain-stormy, and really looking forward to going to work tomorrow.

Sleep now. Fun worky stuff tomorrow. Right!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (autumn bountiful harvest)
Congratulations to newlyweds Ben and Kendra! Welcome to the crazy wonderfulness that is we Shakal cousins-by-the-dozens, Kendra!

I now know for certain that various Shakal relatives are reading this blog and never commenting here...

*waves a special cheery hello to the Carmel and Sparks clans* It was wonderful seeing you in person again after all these years!

If there are other random relatives reading this, feel free to comment here or to email me. I'm not scary, I promise, and I'd love to hear from you. My email address is my first name @ my last name .org (because I'm... um... organized. Mostly.)

:-) And yes, I'm still working on the new family tree and discussions website. :-D I have high hopes for December and January.

OK, on to more travel news...

I will be attending the League of Professional System Administrators' training days in Phoenix, AZ, this coming Monday and Tuesday. I'll be learning more about Change Management, Disaster Recovery, Communication for IT, and Developing IT Policies. This makes me very happy.

If any of my sysadmin buddies are also going to be there, let me know, OK? If you want my cell phone number so we can connect easily in Phoenix and you don't already have it, drop me an email.

It is becoming more and more likely that I'll be attending my 15th high school reunion in Indiana near Thanksgiving. If any of the ol' CGHS Science Club or German Club or Academic Superbowl or Decathlon crew are going to be around Greenwood then, drop me an email -- it'd be great to meet for coffee or something if there's time.

I will be regretfully unable to attend the LISA 2006 sysadmin conference in Washington, D.C., during the first week of December. This is slightly depressing, because it's such an amazing conference. But maybe I'll be able to attend next year.

I'm going to be wandering around the downtown Burbank Fine Arts Festival on either November 11th or 12th. The last two times I've done so I had a great time. If anyone from the LA area wants to wander the festival with me, let me know... I'd love to introduce you to my new favorite coffeeshop in Burbank: Romancing The Bean. They make a green tea iced blended thing that's really wonderful.

There's a good site for gem, mineral and bead shows across the US at the Lapidary Journal and another one at that mentions some of the Santa Monica shows... If anyone wants to wander the Santa Monica bead show with me that's on November 18th or 19th, or the one that's on December 2nd and 3rd, let me know. I may attend one of them... but I don't know yet. Mmmm, beads and rocks... :-)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
I can never figure out quite how to start a new entry here when I haven't updated in such a long time... I'll try to at least mention the big events of the past few months.

The lovely contract sysadmin documentation job I began last spring has metamorphosed into a "real job"... I'm now part of USC's ITS department.

This has meant that I just couldn't manage the commute and time required to stay with the MSIS program at Claremont, though. I can't decide whether to think of this as a hiatus, a sabbatical, or a leave of absence from grad school.

Being laid off from Caltech formerly-ITS-now-IMSS last October sucked in a lot of ways, and removed certain possible paths from my life, but it did open others. It's hard to believe it's been almost a year.

It's a little bit of broken deja vu to be surrounded by Trojan iconography in cardinal and gold these days, since my high school mascot was a Trojan in red and white, followed by over a decade of being surrounded by Caltech hazard-orange and white.

It's autumn, which always means facing transitions and saying farewell to the past for me, but I seem to be in the midst of a soul-deep Must Simplify, Must Actively Transition With Intent phase than usual for the time of year.

I had an amazing, amazing time in July vacationing with my parents and backpacking with my father. I'm still in the process of organizing umptymillion photos and writing up a trip report from my handwritten journal entries. Gosh, the wild spaces of the Pacific Northwest are incredible. Southern California is far too dry and doesn't have enough trees by comparison.

My last remaining grandparent passed away this summer. It feels odd how family dynamics change and don't change as we all face these milestones in our lives. I was able to make it to rural Wisconsin for the family gathering for Gramma's funeral, and though it was a difficult time, it was wonderful to see everyone. Distances make everything so much harder.

I may be attending my 15th high school reunion in Indiana near Thanksgiving.

There's a possibility that I may be attending the LISA 2006 sysadmin conference in Washington, D.C., during the first week of December.

Every day is filled with so many little things, and big things masquerading as little things, and little things masquerading as big things... and still the wheel turns. It's been a doozie of a year.

Unrelated geeky question: is anyone using and/or and if so, are you in any way unhappy/dissatisfied with either one?
naturedance: this is me on a suspension bridge (me backpacking)

Dad and I had an adventure in May 2006…

  • Travel to Burbank (LAX Airport to LA Union Station "FlyAway Bus" Service, Layover in Union Station, Connecting with Adele, and then Union Station to Downtown Burbank commuter rail service via Metrolink)

  • Camping and Hiking Plans

  • Getting back to LAX after the hike

  • Trip Photos on Flickr

Travel to Burbank

LAX Airport to LA Union Station "FlyAway Bus" Service

The FlyAway buses pick up at every LAX terminal on the Arrival/Lower level under the green signs indicating "FlyAway, Buses and Long-Distance Vans." They depart LAX every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour during the time Dad’s flight should be arriving.

According to the FlyAway website, "Passengers traveling from LAX to Union Station, and who did not previously purchase roundtrip tickets, must pay bus fare upon arrival at the ticket kiosk adjacent to LAX FlyAway stop at Berth 9 at Patsaouras Transit Plaza. Payment for tickets is with cash only."

When in doubt, just ask the driver how to pay for your ticket, and be sure to have cash on hand to pay for the $6 roundtrip ticket to Union Station.

More information:

Layover in Union Station

This is the advice I gave to Dad…

The FyAway bus will drop you off at berth 9 (the little beige circle 9 on the map) in the open-air bus plaza. You’ll want to go down the ramp, stairs, elevator or escalator to get one level down from the ground level of the bus plaza down into Union Station itself, and you can do that in the center of the gray oval of the bus plaza, or in the half-circular dome in the building across the street from berth 3.

Once you’re in the half-circular dome, make sure you take time to enjoy both the dome overhead and the tiled floor beneath your feet; they’re really neat. Visible from the center of the domed lobby, looking north, east and south, there’s an aquarium, snack counter, and neat fountains if you’ve got a layover. There’s also a big mural to the west, up above the entrance of the tunnel hallway that goes to the trains and the historic part of the station.

The escalator and stairs to the southwest from the domed lobby go down another level to the Metro Red Line subway but unless you’re actually taking the Red Line to go somewhere, you don’t need to go down there, and there’s not much to see aside from the wall-mounted neon art piece near the escalator, which is best observed from the top-of-the-escalator level:

If you’re traveling by Metrolink commuter train, you’ll want to buy your ticket either from a machine on the north wall of the tunnel-hallway that goes westward from the half-circular dome. If you have trouble with the machine, you can get help at the Metro Information Center counter where there are also MetroLink personnel along the north wall of the half-circular dome. Be sure you’re buying a Metrolink ticket if that is your intent; Metro is not the same thing as Metrolink.

Once you’ve got your ticket and can enjoy the rest of your layover, you’ll want to walk down the sloping tunnel hallway westward from the half-circular dome past tracks 1 through 12 into the historical part of Union Station, which has really lovely architecture. That’s the gray hallway and the black-circled 1-12 on the map above.

At the other end of the sloping tunnel is the big lobby with comfy chairs, a newsstand, coffeeshop and a restaurant that’s usually open for lunch and dinner (though the lunch service was really, really slow the day we were there; we would have needed two hours for lunch at least).

There’s also an outdoor garden waiting area just south of the newsstand and main lobby.

More information about Union Station architecture and history:

If your layover is really long, you may want to explore historic Olvera Street which is outside and across the intersection to the west of the historic side of Union Station a bit, but it’s very urban; if you have lots of gear, it’ll be impractical.

Connecting with Adele

The morning of Dad’s arrival, I worked a half-day and took the USC shuttle bus back to Union Station at mid-day. We met up easily in the center of the bus plaza.

Union Station to Downtown Burbank commuter rail service via Metrolink

The Downtown Burbank stop is the one closest tomy home. For the schedule we used, this direct link might work: Or there’s and select the schedule for "Burbank Airport".

The we stopped at home briefly, finished the meal we started at Union Station, finished loading the car, and drove to our campsite for the evening.

Camping and Hiking Plans

We had been hoping to car-camp overnight at a trailhead and test the stove(s) Friday night. Saturday morning we were hoping to pack up the backpacks and hike in somewhere between 5 and 10 miles, and then trail-camp Saturday night. Then on Sunday morning we would hike back out and return to Burbank.

Trip Plan

If all is ideal, then we planned to head for the Chumash Wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest. We’d drive up the 5 freeway ~60 miles to the Frazier Mountain Park Road exit, take that westward for ~7 miles, and turn left at Lake of the Woods onto Lockwood Valley Road. The Chuchupate ranger station is ~1 mile along Lockwood Valley Road, on the left. We could chat with the ranger there if we got there by 4:30pm.

If we didn’t want to talk to the ranger or got there after the office closed, we’d go back to the Lockwood Valley Road turn and instead go west on Mil Potrero Highway through the town of Pine Mountain Club, to Apache Saddle. There we’d turn left onto Noroeste Road toward the Campo Alto campground, which is in the 8000s elevation.

So, where is this campground? Near the town of Pine Mountain Club, CA…

Yahoo! Map of Pine Mountain Club, CA

Google Map of Pine Mountain Club, CA

There’s a fairly detailed map of this area online at that includes the trails we’d be hiking.

There’s a wider-scale map of the whole southern portion of the Los Padres Natonal Forest at I had detailed printed foldy maps of the area for us and for my roommate who knew our trip plans.

When I visited Campo Alto on 5/13/06, there were still a few small drifts of melting snow tucked in some corners of the campground area, and very few campers. The daytime temperatures were quite warm especially in the sunshine, but the shaded areas were nicer, and as sunset fell there was a chill in the shade.

There is a webcam pointed at Apache Saddle: Eric Mack’s Pine Mountain Club/Apache Saddle WeatherCam. That pages has lots of weather information as well as archived time-lapse movies of the past six days of webcam images.

And about where we’d be on Saturday night… we could hike over to the Sheep Camp trail-camp for the night, or if we’re feeling good on the trail, we might go to Lily Meadows trail-camp. If we decide to stay at Sheep Camp, we might do a little side trip over to the Mt. Pinos Condor Observation Site if we have binoculars with us.

If we don’t want to do that trail but do stay at Campo Alto, there’s another trail to out of Campo Alto to the Mesa Spring trail-camp instead.

Contingency Plan 1

Our first backup plan was to camp Friday night at Reyes Creek, southwest of the Chuchupate ranger station along Lockwood Valley Road some miles. The campground has a lovely creek flowing through it, but there were lots of campers there in the late afternoon of 5/13/06 when I visited. If we camp at Reyes Creek, we could hike the Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca trail to Upper Reyes or Beartrap trail-camps. Reyes Creek is in the 6000s elevation. This plan bridges the edges of these two maps:

Contingency Plan 2

Our second backup plan if for some reason one or both of us aren’t feeling well is to hike in Angeles National Forest, likely entering north of La Canada/ Altadena at Gould Mesa and then going to Oakwilde, Commodore Switzer, Bear Canyon and/or Millard. That’s on the Trail Map of the Angeles Front Country that we both have copies of.

Getting back to LAX after the hike

The Downtown Burbank stop is the one closest to home. For the schedule we used, this direct link might work:

Or there’s and select the schedule for "Burbank Airport".

If I’m headed to USC I usually catch one of the trains that departs Downtown Burbank between 6:40am and 7:55am depending on what my day’s schedule looks like, but we could take an earlier one or a later one depending on what time Dad needs to be at LAX. (Trains with "L" may depart up to five minutes early.) We bought Dad’s one-way ticket from Downtown Burbank to Union Station at the machine-kiosk at the Downtown Burbank station that morning.

I saw Dad to his FlyAway bus at Union Station before I hopped on my USC bus. Dad took the FlyAway bus from Union Station to LAX; they depart from berth 9 in the bus plaza every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour from Union Station. Since Dad bought a roundtrip ticket for that bus before our hike, he could simply use the other half of it to get back to LAX.

More information abou LAX:

Trip Photos

We ended up camping Friday night at Campo Alto as a storm blew through with a smattering of rain and tiny hail, leaving an amazing sunset just visible through the trees as we turned in for the night. We hiked in to Sheep Camp with beautiful weather on Saturday and set up camp there, and then hiked without weighty packs down to Lilly Meadows Camp and back up to Sheep Camp by evening, when the wind began to grow stronger. On Sunday we hiked under overcast skies through truly amazing wind back to the trailhead with a detour up near Sawmill Mountain, where it was sleeting a bit.

Feel free to browse my Flickr set of photos of this trip.

May 2006

May. 24th, 2006 12:00 pm
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)
Yesterday was rainbows-around-the-sun day... and condors soaring the skies day... and view across the valley day... and wildflowers meadowful and red red RED pine-root-flowering oddment beauty... and birdsong-filled dawn.

The day before was nervous anticipation and joyful happy greetings and trip underway and spatter of hail on the awning and sunset the color of fire. Life's pretty tough if you don't have a spoon. Same for comfortable shoes.

White feathers, white rocks, birdsong motivating me around the next bend, stones stepping goals on the hillsides.

Today was gusty gales and wobbly effort and joyous exhilaration and ecstatic joy. And more wind.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
Walking across campus this morning a combination of scents on the wind created such nostalgia that my breath caught. Fresh-cut grass, some sort of woodsmoke (it was chilly last night in Pasadena), and some sort of exhaust (there's construction going on in three or four places on campus), a misty rain from blue-grey clouds hanging close over the mountains to the north...

Suddenly I was at steam engine days, like when I was a child. I'm likely remembering a combination of shows in Wisconsin and Indiana, perhaps in Baraboo, Wisconsin, or perhaps Rushville or Rockville, Indiana... but there are events all over the place.

The little steam engines are really neat, amazing technology and all, but there's just nothing on the planet like the larger engines and threshing machines.

If you've never seen one, you cannot imagine how it feels to stand near a Phoenix Log Hauler when it rumbles past. These things were behemoths... picture a steam engine of the sort which would pull a full-sized train, but with caterpillar treads on the rear wheels and either small wheels or sled runners on the front. The earth shakes as it passes you, the sound vibrates deep in your chest, and the rumble of the engine is so very tangible as wood or coal is turned into usable energy.

Go to the Wisconsin Historical Society and click on the photo "Phoenix Log Hauler, 1914" for what one of them looked like hauling logs in the snow. The town of Wabeno, Wisconsin has a working Phoenix pictured on their page in its summer configuration.
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
I've spent enough time with my fingers entangled in yarn lately that it's appropriate I add an icon for my crafty posts.

Whee, yarn! Crochet and knitting and acrylics and cottons and wools and alpaca!

Oh, speaking of handspuns and textiles and things... I keep losing this link for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire... April 16-May 22, Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
Dad's coming out for Christmas a bit early for some mountain camping and backpacking, and I need these links someplace I can get to from anywhere...

To see the latest ten-day weather for Burbank, go here.

Here's the forecast for Pasadena.

I think I've found the forecast for Mount Wilson... if I'm right, it's here.

Also, there's a ski resort called Mountain High which appears on the Angeles High Country trail map... the forecast for it (and a snow report for the skiers and snowboarders) is here.

More useful links:
naturedance: Caltech GeoChem BS, former ITS staffer, and member of Blacker Hovse (techer geek)
(snarls at hotel internet connection, again)

I've been in Atlanta this week attending LISA 2004.

I was really sick the first part of the week, and so didn't get as much out of the early tutorials as I'd hoped. But the past two days have been really, really good. I found myself needing different things from this LISA than I needed from the two previous ones I've attended a few years back, but the past two days gave me much of what I was seeking.

Insurmountable nontechnical problems don't seem so overwhelming at the moment. I have some new tools and some plans for dealing with them, and that feels really, really good. I'm glad I came.

I think I managed to convey my respect for [ profile] yesthattom without fangirling. Possibly.

It was great to see Mike C. and [ profile] rowan_redbeard again.

Room service will deliver a nice selection of breads, crackers and chicken soup. This is a good thing. 24-hour high speed internet access in the hotel room is great, especially if it actually works consistently. Also? Glass-sided elevators in a 48+ story open atrium are Evil, especially if one is already motion-sick.

LISA 2005 will be held in San Diego. I will attend.

And now I need to have some lunch and give some family friends in the area a call to see if I can't manage to meet them for dinner. They haven't seen me in decades.

(post this time dammit!)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
I'd picked Dad up from the airport on that Saturday, and he took Janis and I to brunch at the Market City Caffe which is walking distance from our place, which had a live string quartet serenading. Turns out they do that every Sunday, and we're going to have to do that more often!

Monday morning we packed the car, left Burbank around 10am and headed north, taking the 5 to the 99 to the 198. We stopped for Subway lunch and last-minute camping gear in Visalia, and when I tried to start the car outside of the Big 5, there was a loud BANG and a puff of smoke drifted out from under the hood of the car. Turns out that the battery caps had blown off and the battery was dead, dead, dead, but AAA has a battery replacement service running in Visalia which had us up and running again in less than 40 minutes. Yay for AAA, a cell phone with a good battery, and a Visa card!

We'd seen dust devils in the farmland plains along the 99, and the rolling hillside country along the 198 is just beautiful. I need to look up the history of Lemon Cove, because those little towns along there look really interesting. I want to know their stories, and the story of the little brick Edison Power building we passed. There was a bed and breakfast along there, too.

We entered Sequoia National Park by way of the Ash Mountain entrance on the 198, and stopped at the Foothills Visitor Center. Dad was still kind of deciding whether he was going to start his hike at Mineral King or at Lodgepole, but we'd be camping at Lodgepole and he needed to pick up his hiking permit from the ranger station there, so after spending some money for some lovely goodies at the visitor center (I need to write about the goodies separately... books and music and a membership in the Sequoia Natural History Association), we drove on along the beautiful winding mountain road to Lodgepole.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon Interactive Map

We checked in and got our introduction to bear-boxing all food and anything with a scent from the rangers, and then set up our tents in a lovely little campsite and heated up canned stew for dinner. Nothing beats hot stew for watching the sun set and the stars come out between mountain trees, especially accompanied by hot spiced cider. Rather than fussing with any of my camp stoves, we brought some of those canned heat things which worked like a charm. Until I have time to properly service my camp stoves and test them, I'm going to use the canned heat thingies for overnight carcamping trips.

I love my tent, by the way. Dad and I bought it a few years back after our trip to Rainbow Basin in the spring of 2000. We'd used my old tent that Dad had gotten for me used, and frankly, it had seen better days. I'd used it through college and it was getting tired. It flapped horribly in the wind, and it smelled funny. On our way back into LA from Rainbow Basin we stopped at REI and bought my new tent.

It's by Mountain Hardware, and the model is called something like "room with a view" -- it supposedly sleeps three rather friendly people in mummy-style sleeping bags, and it has a skylight. The skylight is screen in the tent, and clear plastic in the rainfly, so you can see the moon and the stars and the trees above you even after you've tucked yourself in at night. And there are plenty of little pockets for stashing your glasses where you can reach them. Even better than that, though, is how easy it is to set up, and how little noise it makes in the wind.

It's wonderful to fall asleep to the sound of light wind through trees and the rush of a mountain stream nearby, with starlight twinkling at you.

(With that image in mind, I think I'm going to sleep now. I'll type more later.)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)
I find myself wanting to record this somewhere where I and others can see it. I'm not really sure why. *shrug*

How I spent my summer )

And suddenly it's September 5th.

I need to eat right and take my vitamins and otherwise prepare for the sinus infection which I know will slam into me soon. It happens every time the students come back from everywhere on the planet and bring back new bugs to campus... I get a sinus infection. Doesn't matter if everyone else has a stomach bug, bronchitis, or whatever; for me, whatever the bugs are, I get a sinus infection. I've learned to mitigate the effects over the years. I've written down what works and what doesn't, and I need to take my own advice... I did know what I was talking about when I wrote it down! And I hate being sick, because it means I don't get to do things. Being sick is unplanned downtime, and it sucks. Exhausting myself or overexerting myself sometimes results in unplanned downtime, too, and that sucks... when I remember to schedule some downtime for myself, I'm a much happier camper. I go out of balance, like anyone does, and have to re-center myself occasionally, but it sneaks up on me unawares sometimes and that's annoying. I'm getting better about it, but I think it's an ongoing process.

Sometimes I feel like an axle, or a linchpin, or a nucleus. I have all these things spinning around me in irregular and sometimes amazing orbits, and as long as I can keep my own gyroscope balanced, as long as I can keep my own forces evening each other out, all of those things zooming around me can keep doing all their amazing things. In some ways, I go out of balance without all those orbits going on around me. But if I falter, if the center doesn't hold, all sorts of hell break loose all at once. And because I expect myself to be so capable, able to keep so many juggling balls in the air at once, when things go wrong, it's a whole lot of things that go wrong, and it feels like even more because of my own expectations.

It's funny. People at work probably only see me as a perfectionistic hermit sometimes. I don't show them even half of the orbits going on around me, and I don't want to share any more than that. My home life and my work life need to be separated in some ways for me to be me. A lot of my co-workers and former co-workers seem to have an extensive social life with people they know from work, and I used to participate in that somewhat. I'd like to a little bit now, but I can't seem to find a balance point; I topple into that social scene completely, or topple out of it completely. Still other co-workers don't socialize together outside of work, and I think that choice also colors how they are seen in the professional setting. I'm going to have to think about that some more over the coming months, I suspect.

I've been doing more writing lately. Trips do that to me, and nature-related ones especially. I've been less decisive than usual about sharing my personal writings online, and I think I'm finally just going to post things and have done with it. If you think my poetry sucks, just skim right by it, OK?

But first, I must foray out to the Montrose Farmers Market. Mmmm.
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)

Places you must see if you are in the Indianapolis area…

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)

Yeah, you read that right.

Yeah, Patrick Stewart was there, and he’s interesting. Yeah, Gates McFadden was there, too, and she’s a cool lady. And yeah, the vendor room was kind of interesting, and since it was my first Star Trek convention, the sight of Trek geeks in their/our natural habitat felt alternatingly comforting and like an opportunity for an odd anthropological study. And there were lots of other guests on days other than the ones I saw on Saturday. But none of those things would get me to go to a con, really. I’ve not really been a sci-fi-actor-attending-con-going kind of gal. Creation conventions haven’t been my usual stomping grounds. I’m a fan of Star Trek and lots of other science fiction shows and films, and I’m a geek, believe me on that, but I’ve not been that particular specialized kind of geek.

But, if you’ve read my Star Trek in my life entry, you know why I went.

At some point I need to thank Levar Burton for Reading Rainbow, now that I think of it, and I will probably end up sending thank-you cards to Denise Crosby, Marina Sertis, Gates McFadden, and Michelle Forbes. But that’s a story for another time.

I’d been hemming and hawing about whether or not I really wanted to go to the con for at least two weeks. I decided if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right, so I ordered a tank top with “ 50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can’t be wrong” across the front of it from Wil’s online store. I got a babydoll T-shirt with the Klingon Convention Trauma comic strip on it, too, for a friend of mine in case she might come visit for the weekend. That ended up not working out for various reasons, which left me hemming and hawing right ’til the last minute.

She and I both read Wil’s blog, and I wanted to thank him for creating it, as well as maybe find or create a present for my friend. I considered boldly approaching the autograph table and asking Wil saucily to sign one shirt in hand and one shirt on bod… but that’s not really my style, and I didn’t know if I could pull it off or how anyone would react. Besides, shirts get washed and even Sharpie marks fade on fabric, so that seemed kind of pointless. I thought about rooting around in my old scrapbooks until I could find the newspaper clippings from the week of the TNG premiere and asking him to sign them, or asking him to sign my DVD sets of seasons 1 and 2 that I’ve bought just recently. But none of that felt right, either… I wasn’t there to see TV’s Wil Wheaton, Wesley Crusher on Star Trek. I was there to see the Web’s Wil Wheaton, creator and writer of

Friday late afternoon I finally decided to go. So I puttered around a bit on the computer and made a gift for Wil and my friend and for me… some of my favorite blog entries from WIl’s blog, bound into a couple little chapbooks. And I wrote a thank-you note to Wil.

Then I got all nervous and couldn’t fall asleep, because I was worrying that I might make a big idiot of myself… Star Trek is just plain BIG in my psyche. Sigh.

Another friend of mine from work and I had been talking about what I was doing on Friday evening, and he’d been thinking about going, too. He’d been to Trek cons before, and I was feeling a little out of my element. I told him I was nervous enough about doing the autograph table thing, and would he mind if I did that part of the afternoon by myself. He’s a kind of shy fellow most of the time, so I’m sure he understood my nerves, and he was quite supportive about the whole thing.

So he and I agreed to meet up around lunchtime on Saturday. I’d spent my morning doing laundry and trying not to worry too much. I mean, if I go to a big place full of mostly strangers, and I make an idiot of myself, chances are they’ll never see me again and it’s no big deal. Right?

Picture me, all psyched up and headed out my apartment door to my first Trek con. Black boots, blue jeans, black belt, white tank top, black leather long jacket. I’d been cautioned not to piss off anyone dressed as a Klingon or a Romulan, and I had a guide, and I wouldn’t stay too long, just to talk to Wil a bit and give him his thank-yous, and maybe browse around the vendor area. Maybe I’d be OK after all!

We arrived at the Pasadena convention center and wandered into the vendor area but I recognized the voice coming from the far side of the curtain in the auditorium area, so we didn’t dawdle much and just found seats off to the side. We ended up catching about the last 3/4 or so of Wil’s show I think, I kind of lost track of time. I was really glad that my friend understood who I was there to see; he didn’t seem to bat an eye when I started whooping and hollering and laughing out loud with the rest of the audience (I’m usually more reserved at work!).

Wil’s stories about being on the TNG set were absolutely hilarious. He does great physical comedy… I’ll never forget his button-popping versions of The Picard Maneuver. After he tried buttoning the bottom part of his (familiar shade of red!) shirt the second time, a female voice chimed in from the audience, “take it off!” He handled that with a perfect response, letting us all know that the red shirt would be $200, and the black T-shirt underneath would be $500, and he’d be at the autograph table after his show. *guffaw* I honestly figured someone, or a group of someones, would go ahead with that, but by the end of the afternoon, he was still wearing that shirt. Maybe he wasn’t able to accept credit cards?

He also described how he learned the lesson “don’t drive a better car than the Captain.” [sorry, I just had to go laugh myself silly again thinking about it.] And yes, the young Wil Wheaton wanted Star Trek stickers to put all over his car to make it look on the outside and inside like a Next Gen shuttlecraft. You were a geek, Wil. So were we all. And I love the fact that you’re admitting to it, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with it at all!

By the end of the show, the whole audience was in stitches. People were guffawing out loud and moving right along, wherever Wil wanted to take ‘em. His tone shifted from nostalgia to hilarity to pure honest gratitude, that his stories and heartfelt appreciation of the fans’ acceptance were getting across to the audience. He was fairly open about some things that I can’t imagine a younger fellow feeling comfortable talking about. He ran out of time giving longish, touching, funny and wry answers to audience members’ questions who had lined up on either side of the stage, and most of the audience gave him a standing ovation. I know I was enthusiastically whooping and hollering and clapping, and probably startling the heck out of my friend…

And then the show was over, and we wandered back to the vendor area. We decided to see all of the tables set up inside the room, leaving the outside hallway for later. I found two bookmarks with little baubles on the tassels: one of angsty dead guy (Boromir) from LOTR with a little replica One Ring, and one with Luke, Leia, Han, and company with a tiny little pewter-looking Millennium Falcon. I was quite responsible and restrained in the vendor area. I couldn’t believe all of the various action figures that have been created for Star Trek, though. It seems like every time someone did a costume change, a new action figure was born!

We also wandered past the Nemesis costume display. I think I’m curious about Nemesis now, but that means I’m going to have to rent or buy the other Next Gen movies on DVD, because I haven’t seen Generations or Insurrection for a long while now. I wanted to wait until Wil got a bit settled at his table and expected a big line to form, and I didn’t want to hold up a bunch of people while I tried to talk to him. My friend wandered off and agreed to meet up with me later, and into the little line I went.

There were a few fans that he had obviously met or known before who were talking to him about things he’d posted to his website about, which was nice to see. But none of them had the logo gear on! Come on, Posse, how are we supposed to spread the word if you don’t advertise?!

It was really great meeting Wil. I think I managed to say most of the things I wanted to before he threw me completely off track with charming conversation, and we ended up talking about Caltech and all sorts of other things. He liked the gift I gave him and told me about his book… He’s putting together the seed money for printing it. I bought two photos each for my friend who couldn’t attend the convention and I, one of the idealistic and fairly naive Acting Ensign, and one of the badass Cadet Crusher. I always feel kind of sheepish asking for autographs, because I just know that actors in sci fi shows especially end up signing bazillions of them over their lifetime and it feels kind of pointlessly selfish to ask them to carpal tunnel themselves. I mean, I’ve met the dude now, and an autograph is just much more flat than a 3-D memory. It was really nice talking to him, and he persuaded me to hang around and to attend the evening show.

I met up with my friend again and I think I was babbling and kind of breathless and happy, but after a while I must have been able to hold a conversation because we talked about hanging out for more of the afternoon and whether or not he wanted to go to the afternoon show. I bought a bottle of water and we settled into the back row of the auditorium.

First we watched the charity auction… lots of people spent a lot of money. I decided that will never comprehend the allure of collector plates. You can’t eat off of them, you can’t stick them in the dishwasher, they collect dust if you display them, they’re breakable and we live in earthquake country. Whuh? I was astounded that the set visit trip to Enterprise went for like $4700. Wow, that’s a lot of money.

We sat in on Mr. Stewart’s and Ms. McFadden’s shows since we’d already decided to hang around.

Yeah, you read that right.

Yeah, he’s the Captain and all and of course the audience was bigger, and she comes across as really thoughtful and deep, but as far as crowd participation/buy-in/reaction, Wil did steal the afternoon show. The stories about Patrick Stewart’s Jaguar turned into a running joke of the afternoon, actually. Not that Patrick and Gates weren’t cool; they are both great actors and their presence simply commands a lot of attention. However, Wil pretty much had the crowd eating out of his hand by the end of his spiel from my vantage point on the side. Humor and physical comedy and pure simple Wil won the audience by effort rather than identity.

My friend and I wandered out into the hallway to the last of the vendor tables. I bought a Starfleet Academy mug, because one can never have too many mugs. I wandered by Wil’s table one more time later to confirm the time and location of the evening show. My friend and I met some other fans of the website, and took some photos for other people. That was kind of fun and kind of strange all at once. Then we tried to find our way out of the convention center. I’d already warned Wil and a few other Posse folks that I expected to be walking around in circles all evening, and it proved true when my friend and I got turned around twice and ended up in the parking garage. We stopped, trying to get our bearings, and who should come around the corner but Wil, rolling behind him a small suitcase with all of his con gear. He gave us directions, and laughed along with me about my living in the area for eleven years and never having been to the convention center.

My friend and I grabbed dinner and moved my car to be closer to the convention center, and then I found a seat in the middle of the audience, maybe the fifth or sixth row, just in time for the evening show.

The entire evening performance was so very, very wonderful. I’ve got to get myself a copy of that “Bed Among The Lentils” piece that Ms. McFadden did so entrancingly… part of Talking Heads by Alan Bennett, which I wish was out on DVD or in non-PAL VHS. The poetry she chose was nifty, too. I wish I had the name of the pianist who wrote the last two poems she read, they were simply amazing, kind of transcendent, enough to get lost just listening.

The comedian fellow was quite entertaining and I was amazed at the depth and breadth of his sci fi background. The whole audience laughed ’til our eyes watered or our sides ached at various points in his show.

Then it was Wil’s turn.

The mike adjustments trouble at the beginning was obviously a speed bump, but he incorporated it and just went with it, which was crafty. The G-rated version: “Yeah, sure, he can fly the Enterprise, but he can’t fix a microphone stand!” I’m kinda glad my mom wasn’t in the audience, though; she’d've made him eat soap.

He talked a little bit about what sort of mental and life place he was in a year ago when he created his website, and then he read some of my favorite essays. He started with Hooters, and then The Trade, and then Fireworks, and then The Wesley Dialogues, and he finished with Hooters Revisited. Most of the people sitting around me were breathless during significant chunks of the readings, just kind of hanging on his every word, getting carried along.

Wil seems to be at a more dynamic and interesting personal place than many of the other Next Gen actors right now, or at least, he seems more willing to open up about it online and otherwise, so he has lots of new material to say, and it’s from the heart. Trek geeks may be a lot of things, some good and some bad, but deep down, most all of them/us respond to that.

I had the privilege of thanking some people for something that really mattered and matters to me, and I am so glad that I took the opportunity.

I hung around after the show for a little bit and thanked him again. It’s so cool to see someone doing something they love, that makes their Mom proud, that reaches out to strangers and makes them friends. We all have issues in our pasts, and we can all deal with them, learn from them, take the good and leave the bad behind. Wil does so with wit and irreverence and openness that really impresses me.

A lot of what Wil writes about in his blog resonates with me, and probably with my generation in general. We’re to the point in our lives where we’re looking back on who we were before, what our dreams and our goals and our opinions of ourselves and the world were. And sometimes, what we see makes us feel bad, and sometimes makes us feel good. We reinterpret our experiences through the lens of a few more years of experience, and we’re realizing that fifteen years from now, we’ll look back fifteen years and thirty years and probably feel different than we do now about when we were teenagers… and how we are now. This doesn’t invalidate whatever feelings are of the moment, though, and dealing with that dichotomy, the invariable shifts in viewpoint that come from the first decades of adulthood is deep-rooted stuff. Wil writes about action figures, and teenaged angst, and Wacky Pack stickers, and wanting to feel accepted and loved, and Hooters girls. He writes about past dreams for the future, and coping with being smacked upside the head with the idea that you’re not where you expected to be. He writes about accepting, rejoicing in, celebrating where you are now.

And he’s so completely, and tangibly, thrilled that people like his writing, that both non-fans and fans of Star Trek are finding something vital and entertaining in his writing, that it’s reaching people. It’s wonderful to see an artist feeling that.

The past few years have put me in a place where his writing reminds me of important lessons. I’ve got a sharp memory, and sometimes that means I’m carrying around a heck of a lot more baggage than is healthy for me. I know better, but sometimes it’s easy to lose that perspective.

In letting much of the negative feelings about the past go, we may make room for many of the positive feelings from the past to return to us. It also frees us to enjoy the present, and hope for the future without becoming consumed by it. That’s the loudest message I hear when I read Wil’s blog. Own that, boyo.

Thanks for a completely awesome day, Wil.

One more thing: Wil’s first book is available, and it is excellent…

Dancing Barefoot

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)

My father and I had a magnificent 3-day trip from Los Angeles to Rainbow Basin, north of Barstow. This is my first go at a trip report of that weekend. I’ve put the photos from this trip into a set in Flickr.

Friday was spent going the long way over the San Gabriel mountains, driving up Osborne Street from the 210, past the wildlife waystation and the roadside info board about the San Gabriel fault, then taking the 14 and across the back side of the range and then up to Barstow. The second day we spent exploring the campground and doing the Rainbow Basin Scenic Drive, and then driving east to see the Calico Early Man Site and the Pisgah Cinder Cone. Sunday, we hiked up into Owl Canyon above the campground though rain moved in, and then we drove back to LA over the 15 through Cajon Pass in sleet and snow of the early evening, stopping at REI to shop for a new tent!

PreTrip Planning:

I did quite a bit of research ahead of time for this trip, since getting Dad out here from Indianapolis happens fairly rarely. Not knowing ahead of time what Dad would be in the mood to see, I hunted down information about all sorts of things to do and see in the area. I’m the geologist of the family, Dad’s the botanist, and ;we both needed to get away from civilzation for the weekend to center ourselves. I brought along a pretty big binder of notes, maps, webpage printouts, and photocopies from books so that we could get information about whatever stuff in the area happened to interest us.

Please, please, please, if you are considering a visit to this area, do a bit of homework ahead of time and follow the rules. Take only photographs, leave only footprints… respect these areas so that others can appreciate their solitude and natural state, without trash, noise or damage to mar the view.


Owl Canyon Campground and Wildflowers

We rolled into the Owl Canyon BLM campground at dusk and set up camp. Coldcut sandwiches hit the spot!

Clouds threatened a bit, so we set up the tent, but slept out in the open under more stars than LA will ever see. In the chill of the morning, we warmed up over hot instant cereals and hot chocolate, then hiked around the campground a bit getting a feel for the place.

The campground is very tidy and quiet, with clean pit bathrooms and a water tap. We didn’t run into the BLM attendant, but other campers apparently had. There is a camp dog that has been living in Owl Canyon for at least three years known as “Hobo”, who will investigate visitors a bit but not let anyone near him.

As you can see in the Flickr set, there were not many people there overnight on Friday, just a trio of camper-trailers, one van-convertible fellow with a mountain bike, and a pair with about six dogs, who Hobo joined in play with. The campground lends itself to seclusion… though there is not much foliage anywhere, the outcroppings between the sites alow you to fantasize that there’s no one for miles.

We took photos of the slopes above our campsite, and the view from them to the pair camping with their dogs site.

I took photos of Dad hiking along the ridge between the two sites, and he took photos of me hiking up (having two cameras along is fun!).

The little whitish plants were all over near the campground, some with reddish flowers/berries, and some without. We still haven’t identified them (Dad’s botany background from college on the east coast did not include desert plants!).

Saturday morning, we drove out past the group campground and along Fossil Bed Road to the “scenic drive”. Those photos of the signs didn’t turn out too well thanks to the poor light, but you can sort of see on the map the area I’m referring to. When I get the time, I’ll either retouch the photos, or find a better map of the roads, trails and campground.


Dad’s interest in botany is what originally led us to plan a desert trip for this spring; he had hoped to see the desert wildflowers in bloom. However, this year, the show is not expected to be spectacular, since the weather patterns have not been conducive. We did see a few things in blossom, which we haven’t identified yet. The bladder plants in different microclimates were in different states of development…

And we haven’t figured out yet what the funny yellow-blossoming peapod plant is, either.

Rainbow Basin Scenic Drive

Saturday morning after our instant hot cereal breakfast, we drove out past the group campground and along Fossil Bed Road to the “scenic drive”. There were signs everywhere about the California Desert Tortoise, which are apparently very easy to mistake for speed bumps on the dirt roads, but we never encountered one.

The drive is a dirt road, mostly graded but with some rough spots which made us cross our fingers that my little Sentra would make it through OK. It winds through some beautiful sedimentary layers, and is one-way due to the narrowness and curves in the road. I would advise against driving this road if there had been recent rain; mud from the sedimentary mudstones and conglomerates which form some layers of the canyon would have made it treacherous for all but the most agile 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Dad liked a green layer that tends to weather into rounded boulders; he walked along the layer and perched up near the top of a promontory, which was pretty nifty.

Near the end of the drive is a parking area and plenty of wandering-around-room, which Dad was viewing from his perch. Somewhere in our photos are some other people wandering around in the upper right, if you’ve got very sharp eyes.

Once we got to the parking area, we also wandered around for a while. There were some families around the parking area (a pair of teenaged boys were perched on boulders listening to their walkmans and looking very bored; they were deaf to the thundering whisper of the beauty and mystery which surrounded them)… but as we ventured further away from the cars, we quickly became the only people we could see or hear.

Dad tends to quest for the high promontories, I tend to explore canyons. There were layers of grey, green, rusty brown, ruddy red, dark brown, nearly black… some layers were mudstone, others more coherent sandstone, still others conglomerate with interestingly colored cobbles. The sound of the wind calls to your soul in places like this.

Calico Early Man Site

We then headed east, first along the 15 to the Calico Early Man Site. I didn’t take pictures there…

I’m not sure if I believe Dr. Leakey’s findings about the tools and the dates assigned to the alluvial fan in which they are imbedded, and we didn’t want to make waves as an outspoken skeptics on the group guided tour, so Dad and I did the self-guided tour of the place. The visitors’ center does have some very well-done replicas of the tools, and it was neat to see that workmanship, whether or not I believe that their existence indicates the presence of Homo Erectus or Homo Neadertalensis in North America 200,000 (plus or minus 20,000) years ago. Some did fit eerily well into my hand, though.

I had done some research on the site during my GeoChem undergrad days, and had a paper describing how an analysis was done of the “possible fire ring”. Interestingly enough, the two pamphlets available for the self-guided tour mention that the ring of stones is still under investigation, even though the research paper I had was at least ten years old and fairly conclusive in its findings. Here is more information about the controversy:

Pisgah Cinder Cone

We drove south to the 66 and the 40 to see Pisgah Cinder Cone. It’s on mining company land, but you can drive up and park at their entrance. There seems to be a trail off to the left of the entrace from the parking area which may or may not lead to the cone itself, and a big NO TRESPASSING sign glaring you in the face, but Dad finally got the opportunity to walk on an identifiable lava flow. He didn’t go past the sign, just in the area beside it, by the way.

We returned to Owl Canyon campground Saturday night, and an hour after retiring, we were glad to have kept the tent set up, as it started to rain.

Owl Canyon Hike

Sunday morning, after a hearty corned beef hash breakfast, we headed up Owl Canyon. It’s beautiful hiking, but there are a few tricky spots to scramble up in the narrowest sections of the canyon. We were very glad to have sturdy hiking boots and warm layers of clothing!

The start of the trail is at the northernmost end of the northernmost cul de sac of the campground. 50 to 100 yards from the trailhead, you can either choose the gulley or a mesa. We chose the mesa, because Dad wanted to see the plants.

I got some photos to show the slope up to the mesa and the view across the gulley from the top of that slope, with Dad playing Sasquatch for scale.

We still haven’t figured out yet what most of the smaller plants are in our photos.

There were a number of big anthills, with lots and lots of industrious but fairly slow-moving black ants. Perhaps they speed up as the temperature rises during the morning? There were also a number of what looked like burrows near the bushes. Dad and I are not sure what makes them… could be desert mice, kangaroo-rat type critters, or perhaps burrowing birds or large spiders?

Some of the Joshua trees on the mesa had blossomed. The geometry of the leaning stalk and the sedimentary layers beyond caught my fancy.

On top of the slope which led back to the gulley were some technicolor lichen. The colors as I remember them are much brighter than these photos show, but I haven’t decided whether or not I want to retouch the color scaling on the images or leave them as is.

I took three photos to create a panorama taken from the top of the slope we went down to return to the gulley, but I haven’t Photoshopped them together yet. There are never enough hours in the day…

We headed up the gulley for parts unknown… the holes in the side walls of the canyon made us wonder if that’s where the namesakes of the canyon make or made their homes.

The canyon walls got significantly taller, and the cobbles and pieces of igneous rock imbedded in the sedimentary layers more and more interesting. The green color of some layers is from two different comtributing factors… some of the imbedded fragments’ parent material was very green, and the small bits of that same parent material appeared to make the green mudstone layers the same shade. Other instances of a darker green mineral appeared to be formed in cracks in larger pieces of rock. I took some closeup shots of the conglomerate layers since the rules of the area do not allow collecting.

The gulley turned into a gorge as the walls steepened and got taller. There is a cave on one side of the canyon, about a foot off the gulley’s gravel floor. We had a flashlight along, thanks to a tip from the van fellow in camp with the mountain bike, so we ventured in just a bit. The cave appears to go deep into one of the sedimentary layers, and we found a few ledges with rat middens which looked to be inhabited though not occupied. Feeling slightly hemmed in, we left the cave and continued up the canyon.

There were two really trickier places where the canyon narrowed to the point where we had to scramble up narrow dry waterfalls. Note to self: bring some rope and climbing clips next time just for safety, especially if mist or rain could be in the offing. Do not attempt this hike if the area has had or will have significant precipitation!

After the two really narrow places, the canyon opened up a bit again, to incredible views.

Every time we thought about maybe turning back, since we really didn’t know how far the trail/canyon went, we found something amazing just around the next bend to keep us going… I took a pair of photos to make a panorama of one of the more colorful sections.

One of the green layers looks just the shade of toothpaste!

A really prickly plant was quite at home in the canyon, as were a trio of large pheasant-looking birds which we startled coming around a bend.

In the steeper parts of the canyon, a hawk screaming got our attention. Far above us was a nest with one or two hungry little ones, and the adult watched us as we made our way along the canyon cleft below them. We were surely the aliens, and they the natives, as the adult took flight above us, soaring and then swiftly winging across the boundaries of our vision above the lip of the canyon.

About 1/3 of the way from the top of the canyon, it started to rain. The narrow gorge opened up to a basin which had not only the grey, green, rusty brown, and red shades which we had been hiking through, but also a purplish red, a blue-grey, and some dark nearly-black brown tones. Dad decided to head for one of the central and tallest promontories in the basin to get a good view before we would turn back.

I decided to investigate the above purple-red side canyon a bit, and Dad headed up the promontory to my right ahead of me, taking this picture as I returned to the fork where I had turned, heading up the trail following him.

One of our photos shows not only the trail we took to get to the promontory, but if you look carefully, you should barely be able to discern three tiny shadowy figures in the gravel bed about 1/3 of the way from the right side, about halfway from the top edge of the photo. They were three intrepid hikers who wandered far up the purple-red gulley on the right side of this photo, and when we headed down, they were enough behind us that we were already having warm lunch by the time they made it back out, looking cold, windblown and soaked. Ah, the benefits of wearing the right gear!

As we got to higher ground, the wind had really picked up, driving the drizzle horizontally, the cold air whipping between gaps in our clothing. I had passable rain gear along, and once I was bundled, I was fairly comfortable, though Dad told me I looked like a “drownded rat”!

There were four-wheel drive tracks along the rim of this basin, but we’re not sure where the tracks lead… they sure don’t go back the way we had come up! I’m trying to get my hands on some topo and geological maps of this region to figure that little mystery out.

We wound our way back down from the top of this promontory, where we had the best view (and oddly sandy walking, perhaps it arrived carried by the wind?) but also the most wind-driven rain, and found some shelter at the fork in the canyon near where we’d seen the little hikers in the distance. Dad posed with the most colorful combination of dark-green rock and bright-orange lichen we could find, and I got a closeup shot of the lichen.

As we made our way back down the canyon, we found that the rain slackened as we lost elevation. The sprinkling drizzle disappeared, leaving only a small trickle of water finding its way down the canyon to remind us to hurry back to camp. Side canyons contributed to the flow, but the trickle invariably disappeared into the gravel of the streambed, and as we hiked along, it would reappear again, fed by lower side canyons as they joined the main gulley. We were very glad that the rain was not heavier in any of the canyons connected to the one we were travelling in, as some of those narrowest parts of the canyon were tricky enough when damp, and would have been much worse to traverse had there been slightly more water flowing.

We made it back to the campground in one piece, and here’re the photos for Mom to prove it! Peanut butter and honey sandwiches while we waited for the water on the stove to boil.

We heated up the stove, changed into dry clothing, and enjoyed a chicken rice pilaf mix with canned chicken and corn thrown in. The wind was picking up, so we stuffed our gear in the car and headed home, taking the 15 from Barstow over Cajon Pass and into LA via the 210. Cajon Pass was gusty and cold, with blowing sleet and snow. There was a jack-knifed bigrig on the lanes going the other direction on the LA side of the summit, and we were glad to get down from that elevation as the sun broke through under the storm clouds as we got to the 210.

We stopped at REI on our way home since Dad now understands completely why I want a different tent. Dinner was at home; smoked sausages and sauerkraut from Schreiners while we sorted Dad’s gear and got him packed to head home. His plane left out of Burbank bright and too early Monday morning, and we got a first-hand look at that Southwest Airlines plane parked in the middle of Hollywood Way as well as the five news helicopters hovering humming like nosy dragonflies over the situation. His flight home was uneventful and I’m told that Mom and he had all of his laundry done 24 hours after his flight touched down. Wish I could say the same…

February 2017

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