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.