Carnival season in the desert

Carnival season is an annual period of public revelry traditionally beginning on Twelfth Night (January 6), and culminating on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), and is thought to have its origins in primitive times as a way of celebrating the new year, return of the sun, and rebirth of nature.  For us, it began in the Anza-Borrego Desert with gorgeous sunrises that make it worthwhile to leave a warm bed before the crack of dawn, quickly throw on clothes and scamper out of the Airstream Safari with a Nikon camera* in hand to capture the moment.*

DSC_0017 Desert sunrise

Larry had gotten up even earlier and was chatting with Monica from San Diego with her rescue dogs Gus & Bali (whom we have seen here on two other occasions).

DSC_0027 Larry, Monica with Gus & Bali

After my photo shoot, I dashed back into the trailer to get warm and brew coffee.*  I love the aroma of coffee steaming up from the filter and glistening in the morning sun. (They have a lot of coffee in Brazil per The Coffee Song sung by Frank Sinatra)*  (In the background of the photo below are homegrown Mexican limes from Monica’s garden.)

DSC_0047 Coffee steaming

For years we have enjoyed deliciously rich San Francisco Bay French Roast Whole Bean Coffee, available at Costco and made by the socially responsible Rogers Family Company,* who run their own coffee farms and mills. As the sun rose and the air warmed, I enjoyed this coffee, along with panettone (seen below)* and apple and orange slices at the picnic table festooned with carnival beads, masks, and Mardi Gras colors of purple (justice), gold (power), and green (faith).

DSC_0102 Panettone on Mardi Gras table

Venetian masks, such as the Commedia dell’Arte mask (seen above) re-emerged in 16th-century Italy and became the emblem of Carnevale di Venezia,* and allowed people to feel free and able to express themselves regardless of social class.  Carnival was outlawed by the fascist government in the 1930s and it was not until a modern mask shop was founded in the 1980s that Carnival enjoyed a revival.  “People dress up because they need moments of freedom,” says artist mask maker Sergio Boldrin.* (Enjoy the spirit and beauty of the masks and this season by viewing Mysterious masks of Venice masquerade*)

The jester character is the most popular costume for Mardi Gras.  Jesters often wear a motley costume of bright colors, especially the Mardi Gras colors, and a distinctive hat with floppy points with jingle bells.  Jesters are often seen laughing and holding a mock scepter.  (See The Jester; Court Jester or a Fool!*)  Larry enjoyed sewing jester style floppy points together for a costume collar for our corgi Mac.

DSC_0160 Larry sewing jester hat pieces

DSC_0201 Mac with jester collar

Meanwhile, I enjoyed another hike. This time I joined Monica for a hike up Agua Caliente County Park’s Desert Overlook Trail, which features views of the entire park and surrounding desert floor as seen in “It’s cooking up in the desert, again!

DSC_0176 Monica on Desert Overlook Trail

At sunset we lit on our festive wreath celebrating the return of the sun…*

DSC_0180 Festive wreath and sun

and enjoyed the Full Wolf Moon.*  Giorgia Fumanti: *Spente le stelle*

DSC_0185 Full Wolf Moon

The next full moon will occur on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar and will mark the celebration of the Chinese Lantern Festival,* the final day of the lunar new year celebrations.*  2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster.*  (See your Chinese zodiac horoscope prediction!)*

Encore song: Emma Shapplin – Spente Le Stelle*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Joyful air streaming into 2017

dsc_0024-bill-corgis-its-a-new-dayWe are so ready to charge out of 2016 and stream into a fresh new year with joyful possibilities. Yesterday, our Airstream smoke detector commemorated our 10th year of Airstreaming by emitting a death rattle just before its programmed death… the wonders of “smart” technology.  And in 2014, California passed a law, Senate Bill 745, with new requirements for smoke alarms sold in California.

Every new smoke detector sold and installed in California must come with a 10-year battery that can’t be removed!  So our 10-year old OEM Universal Security Instruments SS-775 smoke and fire alarm installed by Airstream must be replaced by an undoubtedly more expensive “smart” one.

So out with the old  and in with the new!  Swiftly streaming air swept away the desert dust and lifted our spirits.

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And when the wind stops.. there is peace, serenity, and a silent beauty…* and a sense of timelessness…

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And a joyful playfulness as exhibited by the Costa’s hummingbirds* visiting our campsite.

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Joyfulness was contagious as our corgis Mac and Tasha showed off their holiday outfits made by Larry!

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Our corgis are so looking forward to the new year when they can return to the beach!

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Our Safari basked in the morning sun after a wild night of wind and flying rain…

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And a beautiful rainbow gave us hope* that this will indeed be a happy new year…

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And together, we will bring joy back into this world!*

*This is a link to a You Tube video.

Wash, Wax and Corgi Day at the Beach!

While some are winterizing, we are washing and waxing our Safari Airstream travel trailer for the beginning of our fall-winter-spring camping season in the wonderful mountains and deserts of Southern California, popular with snow birds as far away as Bigfork, Montana.  A full report on how I wash and wax the trailer, along with a list of my tools, strategy, procedure, and the benefits, is seen in last year’s post, “Wash, wax and treat II.”

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Once again, I wore my “Ridin’ with Biden” hat, especially because I am on-board with his efforts to accelerate progress in preventing, detecting, and treating cancer with the goal of ending cancer as we know it.  As a retired RN, I appreciate Joe Biden’s passionate tribute to the nurses and all who fight cancer, as seen in the video, “Vice President Biden Delivers Remarks at the Cancer Moonshot Summit.”*

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Seven years ago, I had Mohs surgery to remove a skin cancer lesion from my face, so as the sun broke through the marine layer, I put on my trusty wide brim hat for better sun protection.

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Our annual washing and waxing the trailer was completed ahead of schedule, so we took a day off and rewarded ourselves and our corgis Mac and Tasha with a day at the beach!

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But it was not just any day, it was the 2016 Fall So Cal Corgi Nation Beach Day at Huntington Beach, California!

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One thousand people with their corgis flocked to the beach for a day of excitement and sensory overload!

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It is billed as the “THE BIGGEST CORGI PAWTY ON THE PLANET !!!

Corgis played in the surf and on the beach.

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Ryen, a popular vlogger, drove down from the San Francisco Bay Area with his famous corgi Gatsby* dressed as Batman for this event!

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And fans lined up to meet them.  See Ryen’s vlog, “How Corgi Dog Changed My Life.”*

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See Ryen’s video of the 2016 Fall Corgi Beach Day at Huntington Beach: 1,000 Corgis In Costume – World’s Largest Corgi Party!, Life After College: Ep. 516.*

By the end of the day, we were all dead… tired… but with wonderful corgi memories to dream about!*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Desert dreams of rain and flowers

I woke up from my dreams to grab my Nikon camera to catch the sun before it bore down on the Airstream Safari trailer, flowers, and bighorn sheep, as a heat wave broke over the San Diego area.

DSC_0307 Heat before sunrise

It was already warm even before the sun pierced the horizon of the Anza-Borrego Desert.

DSC_0321 Burning desert sunrise

Ocotillo leaves and flowers were shriveling up while back at camp, the trailer was making a valiant effort to keep cool by flying its sails and having all windows and vents open and numerous fans running. (See “Desert heat“)

DSC_0149 Airstream sails flying

By early morning an important decision was made to close up the Safari and turn on the air conditioning for our and our corgis’ safety and comfort.  Dogs can get hyperthermia easily as we found out when our corgi Tasha vomited several times late one afternoon, but quickly recovered the next day (See signs of heat exhaustion).

DSC_0010 Larry acesses desert heat

Before it got too hot, we chatted with our neighbors, Bev and George, who were thrilled to see a mother quail and four chicks again this spring (as they had in previous years).

DSC_0446 Quail and 4 chicks

George delighted in showing me the Desert Willow,* Chilopsis linearis ssp. arcuata, flowers frequented by hummingbirds.

DSC_0015 George & Desert Willow

DSC_0083 Desert Willow flower

The spring desert wildflower season is now winding down, but the Desert Agave, Agave deserti, looked triumphant with its yellow flowers on tall spikes, as I hiked the Moonlight Canyon Trail.*

DSC_0051 Desert Agave flowers

Although bighorn sheep are known to eat agave and other cacti such as hedgehog cactus, they seem to prefer to eat softer textured plants when available.  As the desert vegetation begins to dry up, the bighorn sheep have been seen coming down off the nearby protective mountains and hills in search of food near the campsites.

DSC_0195 Bighorn sheep grazing in campground

After their campground picnic,* they retreated to a nearby hill to rest and talk.

DSC_0303 Bighorn sheep resting

As I gently, quietly, and slowly approached, some of them seemed to recognize me from my first closeup encounter with them five years ago.  The 14 sheep in this herd, positioned themselves to detect danger from any direction, yet seemed perfectly relaxed during my 40-minute photo shoot.

Agua Caliente Bighorn sheep herd (14)

For me, it was like a dream… and a fitting way to say “Goodbye” until we return next season when the cooler air, rains, and flowers return.  I waved to them as I left them to dream of rain and flowers in the desert sand.*

DSC_0111 Red Torch Cactus

Red Torch Cactus, Echinopsis huascha  (Near Agua Caliente Regional Park Entrance Station)

*This is a YouTube video.

Polar Safari Holiday Express

DSC_0043 Polar Safari Express arrives

The corgis and I were cozy and enjoying the warmth of the early morning sun rays streaming into our Airstream Safari trailer as Larry, bundled in a parka, was mesmerized by birds feeding by the Palo Verde tree and the changing glowing colors bathing Whale Mountain.  A windy, cold storm had just passed through and brought ice to our dogs’ water bowls.  (Baby, it was cold outside.)*

DSC_0107 Sunrise & wildlife gazing

I ventured outside just in time to hear Larry say in a low voice, “Bill… a coyote!”  I looked across the park road and saw a very healthy, well-fed looking, beautiful adult coyote staring at Larry.

DSC_0110 Adult coyote, Agua Caliente

The coyote then took a look at me and went down through the creosote bushes followed by an adolescent and two pups.  The next morning, word spread throughout the campground that someone’s Chihuahua was off leash, chased something near the Nature Trail, yelped and then disappeared, which illustrates why San Diego County Parks require dogs to be closely attended and on 6-foot leashes!

As the sun rose, our campsite warmed and more wildlife emerged, such as the Hairy woodpecker pecking on our Palo Verde.

DSC_0178 Hairy woodpecker on Palo Verde

We brought along our birdseed feeder, but forgot to bring the hummingbird feeder, so we made our own, a wire-suspended glass tumbler filled with nectar (1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of water) and topped with plastic flowers and a red piece of plastic that attracted the Anna’s hummingbird.

DSC_0361 Anna's hummingbird, rock tumbler

By late morning, the festive sun lit up our holiday table display.

DSC_0311 Winter holiday table

One of the items in this display is an Airstream-shaped pillow covered with a metallic silver lamé fabric that is now eight years old and shedding tiny silver particles that can be seen on the beaded palm tree trunk in the above and last photo of this post.  One of these silver specks landed in Larry’s eye, which resulted in a 4-hour visit to our local emergency room for removal upon our return to San Diego.  The pillow has now been retired!

Agua Caliente County Park had its own seasonal display in the form of Sweet Acacia, Acacia farnesiana, yellow flower puffs.

DSC_0293 Sweet Acacia, Agua Caliente

The days are now short and the nights have grown long but brightly lit up with our holiday lights.

DSC_0279 Camp night decorations

I especially enjoyed gazing in awe at the peaceful beauty of our hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah)…*

DSC_0255 Hanukkiah

… and thinking about what’s really important and beautiful in this world (real love).*  At this time of year, I also like to revisit the words and last sentence in Chris Van Allsburg’s book, The Polar Express,* “Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”

DSC_0303 "the bell still rings for me"

*This is a link to a YouTube video.