Monday, September 9, 2013

The View from Black Lava Butte

Looking south

Looking west

Looking north

Clouds/Sunsets - August

Some recent shots

On top of Black Lava Butte.

Photos - September 9

It started feeling like Fall this weekend.

The temperatures are cooling. The monsoons have been good - a lot of cloud cover all this week. Downpours a few miles away but just the threat of rain here - lots of rumbling thunder and a few drops. This afternoon it was cloudy and cool - perfect for a walk around the land after a hard day at work.

Every day I am so in awe that this is my yard.

Some photos from sunset and our hike earlier today.

Sunset tonight, view from our west porch.

Exploring our land today. Fall is in the air.

Exploring the boulders. Paul found one of the bobcat's dens - he saw a fleeting kitty paw.

A shot of our house from the boulders.

Amazing light today.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sunset in Smoke Filled Skies

We went for a walk tonight after dinner around the property. The skies aren't as full of smoke as yesterday, but it still looks strange. There is no more smell of fire in the air or ash falling like snowflakes, but all day the skies were still full of smoke, which changed the light and kept it cooler than normal. And made for an interesting sunset.

Dominican Republic

Some Scenic Byway photos from our recent family vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

High Desert Summer Skies

Out here in the Pipe's Canyon/Pioneertown, CA area of the Mojave high desert, Summer is the monsoon season and it means that we get lots and lots of beautiful clouds and breath taking sunsets with ever changing cloud play. The sky is beautiful all year round, but we really get the best cloud play in the Summer and Fall/early Winter (from what I've experienced so far living out here). Winter and Spring this past year brought a lot of cloudless skies. Me I prefer the clouds.

We have big sky out here and on some days the sky will be blue and full of white fluffy clouds. Some days we'll have partial or full cloud cover which provides a nice respite to the powerful sun. Some days the beauty of the sky is breath taking. I share below a few summer sky and sunset photos to give you the flavor.

Summer is also when we get our rain, or most often the tease of rain. When I moved out here I didn't know that the rain mostly comes in the summer due to the monsoons. We received more rain than I had imagined we would get out here, but it has been less than normal as the area has been experiencing drought conditions for several years now. We all hope it will pass. 

Having been here a year now, and spent some time visiting before we moved here full time, I feel like so far this Spring and Summer have felt and looked less dry than last year. While we didn't have the amazing Spring bloom that everyone talks about (and that I unfortunately have yet to see), I saw more bloom action this year than last. We also had that once in a life time amazing Joshua Tree bloom this Spring, which many scientists say is a reaction to the drought. I hope we will get a lot of rain this summer and winter (the other time we get rain, and sometimes snow).

Since we've moved into our new house that we built a few months ago we've had two big (but brief) rains and of course we've been out of town for both of them! That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it was a huge deal to me to miss that. Rain is so rare out here (and beautiful) that you want to be here to experience every second of it. It is a big difference from my past life on the east coast where rain, while beautiful, happens enough that it can become something you don't even pay attention to or just an annoying inconvenience. 

A few days ago we woke one morning to that amazing scent - the smell of moisture in the desert. Its like nothing you've ever experienced and the closest I can come to describing it is to have you think about the air - all around you - smelling slightly of burnt sugar. It is one of the most amazing scents I've ever experienced.

With that scent we were rewarded with an overcast day and a welcome respite from a heatwave, but only a few drops of rain. I worried about our solar system as we were experiencing our first non-sunny day since we moved in to our home which relies 100% on solar to power everything. But the system was ok. We didn't use a lot of power and the batteries recharged even with the cloud cover. Still, I would have appreciated some rain with that cloud cover.

While we only received a few drops of rain, not far from us folks were getting hit with pouring rain. This happens most of the time. We sit just to the west of a huge mountain range, part of the Sierras, with our closest mountains being part of the San Bernardino range, and storms get stuck over those mountains. Those mountains get the rain and we get to watch. By the time the cloud formations float over our way they have typically released their rain and broken apart. Sometimes they don't and we get rain...sometimes a sprinkle, sometimes a downpour, but most often we just get to experience that beautiful cloud show and, of course, that amazing scent.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hiking Black Lava Butte

We live at the base of Black Lava Butte. It is in our back yard. I stare at it as I lay in bed. The photo below is pretty much what I see at night. This is facing east. The moon rises over that butte and it can be pretty amazing sometime.

Yesterday and today I hiked up there (yesterday with Paul, today alone). In fact do you see that tiny little line at the top of the butte, kind of in the center of the photo? That is me. Paul took this shot from our roof deck. We were trying to figure out the perspective. It is so wacky out here in this landscape. Things look closer than they are, bigger and smaller than they really are depending on the angle.

The photo below is looking off the east side of Black Lava Butte. You see the curve of BLB on the left, Flat Top Mesa on the right and the wash in between and further out would be Highway 247 and the Landers area.

Black Lava Butte is 4,708 feet above sea level. It is a long skinny curved shape butte, unlike its neighbor Flat Top Mesa which is right next to BLB but really wide. We climbed on top of Flat Top once and it felt like being in the east African savannah. As far as the eyes can see you are just in desert grass. Being on top of Black Lava Butte feels like being on the moon, but with plants. It is desolate, with lava rocks and dirt and scrub grass. There are quite a lot of Creosote bushes and surprisingly a few Joshua Trees and Junipers, quite a few Yuccas and some cacti every so often. We were up there a year ago and saw some swallows and a hummingbird. Yesterday and today I saw no sign of life. Its up there, just not easy to spot.

Below I am looking west off of BLB. That is our house down there. You can see the solar panels on the roof. The road to the left is Gods Way Love.

Another western viewing shot from atop BLB, looking more north. There are a few folks living way out there. Being on top of BLB you can see it all.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Road Trip Shots

Caught a few shots during last week's drive from California to Utah.

Southern Utah 
Virgin River Gorge - always amazing

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting Back into the Swing of Things...Life in Our New Home

I've been a terrible blogger these past few months. Life has just been too busy and has gotten in the way. Very little time and energy for picture taking and none for writing. Between all that was going on building and finishing the house and moving in plus work being busy - creativity was tapped out.

I have a lot of things in my head that I want to write about...that I need to write about, and I think I am getting closer to being able to do that and do it regularly. Until then, here are some photos from some recent walks around our property and "the neighborhood."

We moved into our house on April 14th. I can't believe we've already been here a month. We still have a lot of work to do on the house but the big things are done. The rest is cosmetic things. The things I love most about living here?

The absolute silence and tranquility. It is like living in a national park but without the visitors. We hear nothing but the wind, the occasional bird or plane. The crazy, changing weather and the fact that there is usually a very nice breeze running through the house. Since we've moved it its been kind of chilly, way too hot and all the way back to very pleasant - which it is most of the time. We had our first heavy rain, which we missed because we were up in Utah visiting family and getting the last of our things out of storage. Last night we watched a huge dust devil pick up and move across the land. Those things are so wild. And loud.

The wildlife. We throw out bird seed and all veggie scraps go out for cottontails and others. So now we have a regular group of quail, bunnies, scrub jays, ground squirrels, antelope squirrels (they look like tiny chipmunks) and others that come around. Almost every day you spot something fun. A road runner running by the bedroom patio door while I was staring out the window. A mouse climbing up the outside screen wanting to get in. Bats in the evenings. Some kind of shrew like rodent digging a huge hole in the ground right outside the door. Most of the time you can stand right near a door or window and watch. They don't see that you are in there and they are not afraid.

With the windows and large sliding glass doors open, sometimes, especially at night, it feels like we are luxury camping - because you are just there in the middle of nature, but you are in a comfortable bed with all of your stuff around you, not just sleeping in a bag on the ground. I love it.

We call this one Whale Rock.

Baby bunny sitting in a bush just outside our kitchen window.

Bunny taking a break in the shade. 
Creosote bushes are blooming right now.

Up the road - someone else's land.
Roadrunner Rut Road in front of our house.

Our house is tucked back there in the left corner. Perspective with size is always wacky out here. Things look huge and small depending on what is in your view. Sometimes our house looks like a tiny model. 

View out our large door like kitchen window.

This is my view when I am doing dishes. I love doing dishes. 
Walking up RRR road yesterday, way back.