Bighorn sheep on Highway 74 October 2014

Bighorn sheep on Highway 74 October 2014
This big guy crossed the highway, October 2014.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Morning in the desert~SkyWatch Friday~072712

We had some monsoon clouds here in the desert last week and more are expected this next week.  I always miss the clouds.  We've had 5 days of absolutely clear blue sky.  That means low humidity, which is good.  However, clouds make the sky more interesting, even if they do bring moisture.  I noticed that Daisy, one of my outdoor cats, ran into the house every day last week!  I don't think she likes the humidity!  The other two outdoor cats disappear either into the garage or they sleep along our fence with the neighbors (between the two fences...where it is nice and cool!).  It will be interesting to see what develops next week.  To see more of SkyWatch Friday, please go to:

Who wouldn't want to be here?

I mean, just look at this!  I love this park, although it was crowded last Sunday.  The place was packed with screaming children and families.  I was up there for 5 hours, waiting for my family to show up.  They never did because the grandson wouldn't take a nap at home and he screams when they drive up the mountain road (his ears hurt...).  It was actually hot on that day, and I fell asleep in my camping chair for an hour.  I actually prefer to go up mid-week, when it looks like this, so that I can see the woodpeckers, blue jays, mountain bluebirds, and robins.  There was a red-tailed hawk screaming last Sunday, but I never spotted it.  Awww....the joys of summer.

I've been AWOL lately because I got involved with tracing my ancestors.  Our son started to work on both sides of our families.  My dad had originally done a lot of work on his English ancestors (his male line) and now I'm busy tracing the females (who are actually more interesting that the males!)...I found a male ancestor  on one of the female lines whose wife and three of their 13 children were killed during an Indian raid in Deerfield, MA.  He and two other children were taken prisoner and sold to the French.  They all made it home after a couple of years.  Then he remarried (having 11 children to care for....)  His second wife was then killed in another raid.  He remarried again and this one actually lived, although they had to go through another Indian raid in 1709. Another ancestor of mine was run through with sabers and left to rot in an English forest...sigh...Another one was the first Englishman to be beheaded in his town, which then became infamous for beheadings...sigh...What can I say? However, I did find several ancestors that were sheriffs.  LOTS and LOTS of Normans, but I did find one line that was actually Saxon and who managed to hang onto their lands after the Norman invasion.  It appears that my dad's male line were actually indigenous English (Vikings), but it also appears that they married into Norman nobility.  I've been working nonstop for about a week on all this stuff and I'm ready for a break.  Time to go up and work the horses!

If you are interested, here's a link to the Belden story:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hurkey Creek county park

Our son and girlfriend and their son (our grandson) and my aunt and a couple of our friends all met at Hurkey Creek county park last Sunday.  We ALL wanted to get out of the desert heat.  Today, we'll going back.  It is expected to be 114 degrees here in the desert and we all need another break.  Hurkey Creek apparently DOES have a creek (I'm going to go looking for it today unless I run into mosquitoes!)  The grandson, who is 3, enjoyed the kids' playground and soon went down the big slide all by himself!  He and I took a couple of walks in the park.  We found pine cones and a pretty flower for mama.  I showed him the woodpeckers and TRIED to get some photos of them, but it was difficult juggling him, pinecones, and my camera!  And, today I'm going to take my folding chair with me.  There were lots of robins in the park, too, and we enjoyed watching them.  I'm not sure if it will rain on us this afternoon, but thunderstorms ARE forecast for tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to our return!  All these photos were taken last weekend.  I'm always glad to spend some "outdoor" time with the grandson.  I'm teaching him about nature and how to respect her and understand her.  He's at a good age (he's 3...).  He enjoys going on walks now with Grandma and I'm always pointing out things for him to see.  We have fun together!   :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sunset in Deep Canyon~SkyWatch Friday~072012

 We had dinner last night with some friends who live at the end of Deep Canyon, in Pinyon.  They invited us up and it was so enjoyable to get out of the desert heat for an evening!  I looked up and saw the Milky Way.  This morning I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and saw Jupiter and Venus on the eastern horizon.  But, I certainly enjoy last night's show of colors.  I took a walk and found this dead pinyon silhouetted against the sunset.  SkyWatch Friday for July 20, 2012.  To visit SWF, please go to:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kestrel~World BIrd Wednesday~071812

I took my friend Sue out to Fobes Ranch Road on Saturday.  She had never been there before.  I was hoping we'd see a red tailed hawk soaring out over the meadow.  Instead, we came upon this little guy.  When we first drove out to the meadow, he took off, but on our way back, I spotted him up on the same fence post and I drove VERY SLOWLY toward him.  I actually took these photos from my driver's seat position.  The passenger side window was open and I zoomed in on him!  :-)  Isn't he adorable?  We also have Kestrels down here in the desert.  We additionally have a Cooper's hawk who terrorizes the neighborhood and all the mourning doves were huddled up on the telephone wires this morning (and not eating), so I went out to investigate and I heard and saw the Cooper's hawk.  World Bird Wednesday for July 18, 2012.  *** Apparently World Bird Wednesday is no more.  It is now Wild Bird Wednesday and here's the link:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Saturday's rain~Our World Tuesday~071712

On our way back down the mountain Saturday, my friend Sue and I stopped several times along the road to take photos of the rain on the mountains.  You know, living in the desert, we "desert folk" just LOVE the sight and smells of rain!  I especially love to see it coming down on the Santa Rosa mountains along Deep Canyon.  Our World Tuesday for July 17, 2012.  To visit OWT, please go to:

Monsoon days

We've had 3 days of monsoon weather.  Actually, in spite of the humidity, it's been WONDERFUL!  It's a break from the cloudless days and hot temps (119 degrees) which we had for a few days.  I took these photos on Saturday, when a friend went with me up to the horses and we brushed all 5 of them and gave Quad a bath.  Believe it or not, that morning there were only a few clouds in the sky.  By noon, the thunderheads were gathering over the mountains, and by 2:00, when we left to drive home, there were isolated rainstorms all around the mountains.  We actually drove through Garner Valley to look for red-tailed hawks (we found one!) and by the time we were heading back down Highway 74, it was covered with water from a downpour.  It was so nice and refreshing to smell the sage and pines!  Thunderheads formed yesterday, but we didn't get any rain in the mountains or desert and today it is clear again.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Desert rain~SkyWatch Friday~071312

I woke up early Wednesday morning and glanced outside to see clouds in our desert sky coming up from the Gulf of California.  This is an annual event here in our desert~the monsoon.  Arizona and New Mexico actually get more rain than we do, but we've had some bad flooding during the summer months.  Not so for the last two days.  We actually did get rain last night and everything smells clean and fresh!  I wandered out with my camera Wednesday morning to take this photo.  Believe it or not, sometimes rain like this doesn't actually make it to the ground.  It evaporates on the way.  Thunderstorms and a flash flood watch are in order today, then the storm clouds will move away from the valley.  SkyWatch Friday for July 13, 2012.  To visit SWF, please go to:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hummingbirds~World Bird Wednesday~071112

Cathy, the ranch owner, is a bird breeder and she also feeds the hummingbirds who live on the ranch where I board my horses.  She says all of these, except one, "Mr. Grumpy", are babies.  The parents have flown off to parts unknown.  I counted a dozen of them one morning.  She has several feeders which she fills daily.  It's fun to just sit and watch them.  Yes, there is one adult male who chases off the others who get too close to "his" feeder!  I enjoy their antics and they are now so tame that Cathy can walk right up to the feeders and the babies don't fly away.World Bird Wednesday for July 11, 2012.  To view WBW, please go to:

Around the ranch

You know, I don't often post photos of the horse ranch where I board my horses and I really should!  I spent a morning last week just walking around, observing all the other animals there.  Rabbits were out feeding on the hay pellets dropped by the horses and two ravens were awaiting their turn.  The lizards were out sunning themselves and doing pushups and the snake lizard nearly gave me a heart attack!  He's HUGE! (4th photo down from the top).  There are about a dozen baby hummingbirds buzzing around the 4 feeders, which the ranch owner has to fill daily.  There is a family of quail up there, but they mostly stay in the bushes. I hear one of them every now and then and yesterday a woodpecker was busy pecking something. There are numerous rabbits who also feed on the dropped horse pellets and I just sat and watched them one morning.  They quietly and cautiously moved among the horses' feet, but not once did the horses scare them.  There's a family of ravens who live on the ranch, along with the quail, doves, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds.  Oh, and some very noisy scrub jays live there, too.  I'm always finding lizards out by my feed and tack room and one morning, while I was cleaning out my tack box, the cutest little white and brown mouse popped out.  I screeched at it and it screeched at me and ran off!  I DO have to be careful because I've had snakes pop out of the owners' tack room, right where the water faucet stands at the corner of the building.  Fortunately they've all been non-poisonous, although last summer she did find the marks of a sidewinder rattlesnake down by the aviary.  I have also found a snake skin by one of the horse's feeders and I took it home and nailed it on our front gate!  I enjoy my early morning visits to the ranch, but it was hot up there yesterday...about 93 degrees.  We have thunderstorms forecast for Thursday and Friday and I'm hoping to get some pics of the thunderheads which are moving up the valley.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Old building

This old building is not far from where I found the owl on the road.  I've investigated it before, but I may have to go back for another look today.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Barn owl

My goal this summer has been to find and photograph an owl.  There's a little burrowing owl who perches up on a water tower down by my school, but I've wanted to find one out in the wild.  So, yesterday I took a short drive out in the country by my horses, since it was still early, and saw something sticking up in the road.  Thinking that it was the mate to the shoe I just saw, I kept going.  I went down another road and saw a hawk up on a telephone pole, but something nagged at me to turn around and investigate that "shoe", so I did.  Turns out, it was a freshly-hit barn owl.  And, yes, it was dead.  I thought it might be alive because its wing was moving, but it was just moving in the breeze.  I pulled over to investigate it and was amazed by the delicate and beautiful feathers.  I took a stick and moved him off the road, not wishing him to be run over any further.  Poor thing.  I wonder if he was out hunting for his owlets. Each baby requires 6 mice per night.  That's a LOT of mice!  The author of "Wesley the Owl" estimates that she bought 28,000 mice for Wesley during his life at $1.00 each!!!   What's really strange is that later that afternoon, after my nap, I drove out to COSTCO and found a book called, "Wesley the Owl", which is written by a gal who took care of a barn owl for nearly 20 years!  She got him when he was 4 days old (apparently he was the weakling of the bunch and was found abandoned on a trail in the San Gabriel mountains with a permanently-injured wing) and he imprinted on her.  She had to take him everywhere with her because, as she was told, "There are NO owl babysitters!".  He slept with her every night and so far their adventures are hilarious.  I'm learning a lot about barn owls just from reading her book.She got him in 1986, before stringent laws prevent a person from keeping a wild animal like an owl.  She did take him to work at the lab with her and at this point in the book, he is losing his baby feathers and learning how to stand on a perch.  As you can tell, I'm enjoying reading this book and I'm sure I'll be posting more about owls as I continue into it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fire on Highway 74

There was a small (2 acre) fire up on Highway 74 a couple of days ago.  It must have been far off the road because I didn't see any sign of it going up the mountain or coming down yesterday.  Thank goodness it was quickly put out!  Phew!~I  did notice yesterday that someone has closed off my favorite dirt road (see pics). I don't know if the forest service did this or who did it.  Frankly, I'm glad because that road is very narrow with a lot of vegetation.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Desert Sunrise~SkyWatch Friday~070512

I had to run out early July 4th to buy cat food because I had 3 hungry outdoor kitties LOOKING at me, begging to be fed, and I was out of cat food!  So, off to Vons I went at 6:01 a.m.!  I'm glad I was out that early and saw this early sunrise.  It turned out to be a beautiful monsoon day here in the desert...only 100 degrees, which is cool for July 4th.  SkyWatch Friday for July 6, 2012.  To visit SkyWatch Friday, please go to:

More fog pics

I just can't get enough of the fog!  I may take a morning and drive back next week!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Hubby and I drove home yesterday from San Marcos to Palm Desert.  We went out 78, caught 79 in Temecula, and were followed by fog until about Aguanga.  I pulled over and hopped out of the car to take this photo.  Apparently I awoke a sleeping husband who wanted to know if we were home yet!  And, we awoke to RAIN this morning in the desert.  It's monsoonal rain, coming up from Mexico and the Gulf of California and thunderstorms are forecast for today.  I'm hoping to drive up Highway 74 along Deep Canyon and take some photos.