Desert bloom encore

Spectacular flowers in California’s Anza-Borrego Desert this spring were due to abundant rain and snow.

The images below are highlights of spring flowers seen in our last Airstream camping trip.

DSC_0168 Beavertail Cactus

DSC_0140 Beavertail Cactus & bee

DSC_0076 Cholla

DSC_0248 Barrel Cactus


DSC_0036 Palo Verde

Upon returning to our San Diego home, we were greeted by more flowers (seen below).

DSC_0010 Sunflower

DSC_0016 Stenocereus

DSC_0013 Old Man Cactus above Stenocereus

DSC_0023 Old Man cactus flower

Names of these flowers and additional flower images and information are presented in History Safari Expresso.

These wonderful California flowers reminded us that life triumphs over death and that there is still hope and time to nourish each other and our planet.  As Carl Sagan said, “A new consciousness is developing, which sees the Earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed… We Are One Planet.”* (Thoughts while looking for America*)

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Desert bloom and the Corgi Banner

Heavy winter rains and the deep Sierra Nevada snowpack have resulted in the official end of California’s epic drought* and an explosion of wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego desert not seen in many years, bringing more sightseers than the small town of Borrego Springs can handle causing traffic jams, restaurants to run out of food, and tempers to flare.  We avoided the crowds by returning to our favorite, peaceful, desert campsite at Agua Caliente County Park where we were greeted by the yellow blooms of the brittlebush

DSC_0143 Blooming Agua Caliente Airstream site

And nearby blooming creosote bush and ocotillo.

DSC_0049 Creosote & Ocotillo blooms

Early morning sun rays entering our Airstream Safari trailer reminded us to deploy the awning and sun curtain to delay the need to turn on the air conditioner.

DSC_0185 Morning in Airstream Safari

Chilled navel oranges are always a refreshing way to start the day, especially in the desert.

DSC_0254 Refreshing chilled oranges

Larry began the day by continuing to work on making a banner for the San Diego Corgi Meetup group that we joined last November after seeing the joy our corgis Mac & Tasha had while attending Corgi Nation Beach Day at Huntington Beach* last fall.  We and our corgis love the monthly, local outings that are fun and help our corgis develop their social skills.

DSC_0116 Larry making corgi club banner

DSC_0151 Larry setting up sun curtain

Larry, who also designed and made our sun curtain, designed the banner and cut out the fabric, lettering and pieces at home.  Then, while camping, he positioned, pinned, basted, and sewed the pieces while relocating the table under the moving shade around the trailer.

By mid afternoon, Larry and the corgis enjoyed the air conditioned trailer, while I continued reading Alexander Hamilton outside in the shade and breeze.


Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, was the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton.*


See and hear Lin Manuel Miranda perform “Alexander Hamilton” at The White House.*

DSC_0221 Agua Caliente campsite

We celebrated our last camping trip of the season with our wonderful neighbors, Bev and George, by flying the Human Rights Campaign* Equality flag.

DSC_0194 Bev & Geo, Bill & Larry

Before leaving, George took a photo of our corgis’ first viewing of the nearly completed banner!  Bev lovingly donated cotton balls for Larry to stuff the banner’s heart upon our return to San Diego.

IMG_0611 Larry & Bill, Mac & Tasha, corgi banner

The day after returning home, we attended the San Diego Corgi Meetup event, House of England Village Faire, and presented San Diego Corgi Meetup organizer, Geri, with their new banner!

HPIM3061 Banner's debut at corgi meetup

highres_459967678Seen right to left: Larry and corgis Tasha, Mac, Sidney, Sadie, and Rikki.                                  Photo credit: Geri S.

God Save the Queen… and the corgis!*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Encore videos: A Corgi Puppy Grows Up! (Great Gatsby the Corgi),* his Surprise Birthday Party!*… and How Corgi Dog Changed My Life*… and To Love Somebody.*


Springing into action at Agua Caliente

Our rooster crowed, “Awake,” and we heard his call to action and proudly flew the flag of the United States,* along with the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality flag at Agua Caliente County Park in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

DSC_0279 Agua Caliente County Park

Like Canada geese, Bert and Janie finally, after unexpected surgeries, winged their way south from Montana to milder climes and spent the day chatting, hiking, and feasting.

DSC_0109 Bert & Janie, Larry & Bill

The following day, we drove up to Borrego Springs and visited our Airstream friends Bob and Theresa at their beautiful home.  Ten years ago, we took our 2007 Airstream Safari on its maiden cruise and followed Bob and Theresa in their Airstream Classic to our first trailer camping experience in Borrego Springs, California!  Over the years, Bert, Janie, Bob, and Theresa have joined us for desert hiking and feasting!

DSC_0237 Bob & Theresa, Bill & Larry

My breakfasts consisted of Larry’s homemade pumpkin bread, cool apple and orange slices, and reading material.  He calls it Hagrid’s pumpkin bread because it’s made from a pumpkin similar to those seen just outside Hagrid’s hut in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  These large and unusually shaped pumpkins are called Mexican Sweet Pumpkins (Calabaza de Castilla), that he bought at local Latino markets, poached and made into pumpkin bread (pan de calabaza).*

DSC_0040 Breakfast & HRC leaflet

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open,* honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.  HRC’s Buyers Guide helps consumers to find and choose businesses committed to workplace equality before making purchases.

After breakfast, Larry donned a plague doctor mask that I have worn at Renaissance faires (and while camping in the forest) in preparation for a surprise visit to the park’s supervising ranger.

DSC_0049 Larry as plague doctor

“Yo soy el doctor de la peste,* and I’ve brought Hagrid’s pumpkin bread as nourishment to feign off the plague.”

DSC_0058 Pumpkin bread for Maggie Tull

Agua Caliente County Park Supervisor Maggie was delighted to receive Larry and his pumpkin bread and happily shared it with the staff!  We returned to our campsite and Larry continued on his sewing projects…

DSC_0271 Project time for Larry

DSC_0072 Larry sewing HRC appliques

while becoming energized and redirecting energy toward positive change as we both stand indivisible…*

DSC_0032 Y'all means all (HRC shirt)!

Because y’all means all.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Haunting echoes of Moonlight Canyon

Delayed by unexpected surgeries, writer/outdoor photographer/Airstreamer/snowbird Bert Gildart and Janie finally arrived in the warmer climes of California’s Anza-Borrego Desert to enjoy hiking, biking and overall renewal.  Last week they visited us at Agua Caliente County Park and Bert couldn’t wait to put on a camera backpack and carry a tripod onto the Moonlight Canyon Trail where he has photographed bighorn sheep.

DSC_0124 Bert Gildart in Moonlight Canyon

We entered the canyon from the east where its shady, steep granite walls hold onto the night cold, so a ways in, Bert enjoyed sitting on a boulder and soaking in the warm rays of the rising sun (to drive the cold winter away).*

DSC_0134 Chasing the chill away

A few moments later, Bert forged ahead and set the pace, while looking for suitable subjects to photograph, saying, “When I choose to photograph something, I like it to be better than the ones I have previously photographed.”

DSC_0197 Bert on the hunt

As we rose out of the canyon, the trail became steeper and the sides were lined with granite detritus as we stumbled upon elusive Ghost Flowers that thrive on gravely slopes and sandy washes.  The pale cream flower is translucent, sometimes hard to see, and is the basis of its name.

DSC_0198 Ghost Flowers on Moonlight Canyon Trail

Bert and I quickly went to work photographing this treasure trove of Ghost Flowers.  The last time I saw these flowers here was 6 years ago!

DSC_0203 Bert shoots Ghost flowers

Bert scrambled up loose granite to get another shot.

DSC_0219 Shooting ghost on sliding granite

Upon finding a suitable subject, Bert got serious and set up his tripod.

DSC_0186 Bert's Nikon on tripod, Ghost shot

He asked me to pull out two hand-held strobes from his backpack and showed me where to hold one of them as he held the other and took the picture.  Bert explained he sets the camera’s shutter speed to 250th of a second (which makes the flowers look motionless, even in a breeze) and sets the aperture at f/32 for maximum depth of field.  The two hand-held strobes, overwhelm ambient light and produce a dark or black background (Photographic artistry of Bert Gildart).  See Bert’s article and photos in his March 8 posting, “Ghost Flower.”

DSC_0179 Bert uses hand-held strobe

The Ghost Flower, Mohavea confertiflora, has 5 ragged-edged lobes with maroon speckles and a maroon blotch at the base (Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers).  These marks resemble the female bee Xeralictus and operate as floral mimicry (sign stimulus) to the male bee, which enters the flower and pollinates the Mohavea (Wikipedia).  (Below are my Nikon D40 images.)

DSC_0154 Ghost Flower, Mohavea confertiflora

DSC_0191 Ghost Flowers, Moonlight Canyon

Visiting these Ghost Flowers renewed our spirits and strengthened our bodies.  Thich Nhat Hanh reflects this in his meditation “Flower Fresh.”*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Happiness in the cool mountains

California desert temperatures are now routinely in the nineties and above, so we and our Airstream Safari chilled out in the oak, pine, and cedar forests in William Heise County Park, 4200 feet above sea level, in the Laguna Mountains that intercept clouds and rain that would otherwise reach the desert areas.

DSC_0009 Wm. Heise Co

Daytime mountain temperatures were in the seventies and we made a point of closing the windows well before sundown to keep the trailer cozy during the evenings, but each morning, we woke to trailer temperatures in the fifties.  Since we were doing non-hookup camping here, we routinely turned on our Mr. Heater Portable Buddy at 5:45am and ran it for two hours, which brought the temperature up to 68-70 degrees.  By then, sun was streaming into the trailer as I savored hot coffee, NPR’s Morning Edition,* and summer reading.

DSC_0028 Coffee and summer reading

By the afternoon, sun was illuminating our homegrown Alstroemeria flowers on the other side of the trailer and had restored our Lifeline AGM batteries back to 100% via our two factory installed solar panels by mid-morning.

DSC_0057 Vista view & Alstroemeria

Mule deer and wild turkeys reside here, along with a plethora of wildlife, which quickly accepted us as part of the local milieu to the extent that at times we felt like we were in a Bambi movie.*

DSC_0153 "Luna Gobblegood" turkey

DSC_0054 Spotted towhee

DSC_0147-2 Acorn woodpecker

Spotted towhee (left),  Acorn woodpecker (right),  Merriam’s chipmunk (lower left) and Steller’s Jay (lower right)

DSC_0253 Merriam's chipmunkDSC_0043 Steller's jay

The goldspotted oak borer* continues to kill trees, which are cut down and its chips provide a natural mulch.

DSC_0075 Larry, Mac & Tasha on chips

As long as dogs are on 6′ leashes, they are permitted on trails here and our corgis love hiking on the Cedar Trail with its lovely oak and cedar trees and benches.

DSC_0081 Bench on Cedar Trail

During our 5-day stay, we had time to work on projects. Larry is seen below making one of four mid-19th century shirts (based on Saundra Ros Altman’s: Past Patterns, #10) for my work at a historic house museum.

DSC_0194 Larry making period shirt

DSC_0197 Larry's sewing (close-up)

DSC_0172 Larry's outfit for Howdy Doody


DSC_0404 Wm dressed for Whaley House

Three years ago, Larry made a new outfit for my Howdy Doody doll that I had as a child.  (The Howdy Doody show started the year I was born, 1947.)

Just before our trip here, I learned that Robert Y. Allen was the creator of the famed Howdy Doody face, was known as “Grandpa Bob” in the nearby town of Julian, died at the age of 99, and is buried in Julian’s Pioneer Cemetery.  So I brought Howdy Doody to pay his respects to Robert Allen on May 19, the anniversary of his death.  His grave marker is just a few steps away from Marshal South’s grave.

DSC_0208 Howdy visits Robert Allen's gravesite

With happiness in our hearts, we returned to camp with one of Julian’s famous apple pies* and celebrated life in the cool mountains and time with Howdy Doody.*

DSC_0246 Bill, Howdy & Julian apple pie

*This is a link to a YouTube video.