Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Greetings

May the holidays, whatever ones you celebrate this time of year, be filled with joy, with reflection, with thankfulness.

Another year is almost gone. For me the year meant new friends and time with friends of old. It meant new places and a return to favorites. It meant the loss of my Aunt Aloha, my Dad's older sister and last relative on my Dad's side. It was a year of photography, working in Yellowstone, sunshine, storms, wildlife, good meals with friends, good books, good conversations, walks in the deserts and woods, and dreams of new travels.

Rather than reiterating the year, I invite you to scroll down through the blogs I've written this year. there are plenty of photos of everything from grizzly cubs playing, moose, Yellowstone in winter, scenes at Bodie, some of my favorite camping spots, some of my publications this year, and more. Just below this entry are the most recent blogs. The next page (at the end of this section, click on "older posts" which will take you into the summer in Yellowstone, and the page before that includes spring wildflowers, winter trip to Yellowstone, and storms in the desert last winter.

So, take a look. I just learned that you can enlarge any of the photos for a closer look by double clicking on the image. In order to fit the blog, the resolution is downgraded a bit, so they may not be spectacular, but it gives you a chance to see the photos larger and look at details you may want to see, things like claws on grizzly bears, details of reflections in Bodie windows, fields of flowers.

Since I rushed didn't take time to do a blog between the wildflowers of the desert and my arrival in Yellowstone, I would be remiss without mentioning that my cousin (actually our mothers were cousins so that makes us second cousins or cousins once removed or some such) and I celebrated her birthday on May 1 by staying in a delightful little hotel in downtown Benecia, CA. Both the rooms and the dining room of the hotel have been nicely restored and an added treat was the fact the first weekend in May is a big arts open house in town. Great fun. I visited Bryce and Lisa at their new place near Fernley, NV and then took Hwy 80 across....not the most exciting route. Loved the Loneliest Highway the year before, far more. But I did have a deadline!

Wishing you all the best in 2011.

Thanksgiving and south

In November I attended a conference of NAI, the National Association of Interpretation, in Vegas in November. The setting seemed incongruous for a group of interpretive guides, rangers, docents and related folks most of whom work in the outdoor, natural world or in historic sites. But, despite the setting, great conference, fun people, and I learned some new pointers and skills which should help me in my tours.

Vegas is close to Tecopa Hot Springs where I met some friends for Thanksgiving, trips to the baths, trips to the date farm, lunch at the off-the-beaten-track C'est Si Bon coffee house, and quiet desert landscapes. Just before Vegas I met a friend at Red Rock Canyon, one of the natural wonders and secrets tucked just a few miles from the neon and glitz. He wanted some photos of him with his home and toys. So, here is a photo of Piper Bob, in kilt with his bagpipes, his tiny home on wheels, his even tinier tow car, kayak, bicycle, with the great scenery as a backdrop. Met Bob and his brothers on the Grand Canyon float trip a few years ago and our paths cross from time to time.

I have a favorite route south from Tecopa to Arizona, with a few variations from time to time. This year I drove south, through Baker, and then onto the meandering, quiet two lane and not well paved, though paved it is, road which travels through a good portion of the Mojave Desert Reserve, part of the National Park System. The old train depot in Amboy has been restored and is a great visitor center on the natural and human history of the region. Trains, mining, survival, desert geology, and even a small coffee shop sitting at the U-shaped counter of the original train station.

I spent a night parked next to Roy's Motel, now closed, in historic Amboy, CA. This town was an important stop on the old Route 66. Now the only things open are the post office, and the tiny cafe\gas station and restrooms. And the cafe only has some cold sodas in the refrigerator, a pot of coffee, and some packaged cookies. But the town's owner hopes someday to restore the motel and cafe to its 1950's era,

From Amboy I meandered secondary roads to Joshua Tree National Monument. I practically had the campground to myself, especially the first night. That is probably because other people checked the weather forecast and knew the temps were going to drop into the mid-20s. Still, it is a great place. Here I am parked in Jumbo Rock Campground

Ended up on Ogilby Road, a free BLM camping area which is handy to Algodones, Mexico where I did my annual dental check up. Its great when the dentist smiles and says, "everything looks great." Visited friends in Yuma, and by chance as 4 of us were having lunch, I recognized people at another table I hadn't seen for several years. That led to a visit with them and an overnight on the cul de sac in front of the house they have built.

Today I am in Gila Bend, AZ. Why Gila Bend? If you have been here, you understand the question. This isn't exactly a destination site. But, for that very reason it is perfect for my purposes. There are no distractions and a good wi-fi connection. I will finish my holiday newsletter and get it sent before I head to a favorite desert spot near Ajo, AZ where Verizon doesn't reach and I cannot easily do internet related activities.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting published

This was a good year for publications. Two magazine covers, an e-book cover, a guidebook cover and an article. And I am off to a good start for 2011 with two articles awaiting early publication in the new year. Here is a composite photo of this years covers, spread on the gravel next to my motorhome.

The one in the upper left includes "Dilley Park," home of my cousin, Dick Dilley in West Lafayette, Indiana where I stopped for a visit last Fall. Here is Dick, with son Neil, and grandson, Reese, who was a delight. We had a great time getting acquainted.