Finally Mt. Baker Emerges From the Clouds

After five days we awoke to sunshine and warmth. It was time to go up the mountain. Artist Point is one of the most beautiful scenic places we have ever visited. It never fails to take our breath away. Mt. Baker is the erstwhile star of the show.

However, we love Mt. Shuskan that lies to the east. It looms in your face saying, “look at me!”

Jean conquered a nearby rock to get a better view.

It was a perfect day!


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Looking Closely

I love to look closely at various natural things. Here are a few of my favorites from the Nooksack River trails.

Although late in August, many flowers and colorful berries may be found.

Each walk was an opportunity to find new delights.


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34 Years Together, 33 Years Married!

We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary with a trip to the North Cascades. Mt. Baker is one of Washington’s gems. From the lush rain forest of the foothills to the alpine tundra above tree line this area is a paradise with something interesting around every corner.

Unfortunately the first 5 days of our stay were grey and wet. Therefore, rather than venture into the alpine territory where the view would be limited, we spent our days hiking in the forests along the Nooksack River. The water ouzels entertained us and the river provided the soundtrack.

No phone, no TV, and few people. It was a quiet oasis during these trying times.


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Big Four Mountain

Since the pandemic we haven’t traveled away from home much. However, we have gone on some short day trips. I decided that those should be recorded on Travels With Picasso.

We took a day trip to Big Four Mountain today. The river has bypassed the bridge so the ice caves are not accessible this year, the the views are wonderful. We ate lunch in the meadow, did some sketching and painting, and then hiked in a loop to the Stillaguamish River. Despite the dry weather there are some nice flowers. Of course I can’t resist artistic closeups of the beauty of nature.

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Keys View

We took a brief trip to Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park. That is, if a 5 hour trip can be so called. You see, Keys View is only 12 miles from our condo – as the crow flies – but it is 80 miles by road. We ascended from sea level to 5,200 feet. As we remembered from past visits the view is spectacular!

Our condo is behind the hill near my right elbow…12 miles away.

As seems to be the case everywhere we travel, humans love to leave a personal mark. These stone sculptures are always interesting and much more ecological than other types of graffiti.

The road to the mountaintop goes through the most one of the most impressive joshua tree forests in the park.

No trip into this park is complete without the ever present rocks.

With shadows lengthening we head down the mountain.


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Lazy Days and Dates

We have been a bit lazy the last couple of days. Doing lots of reading, sitting outside to enjoy the warm fresh air, writing and playing music, painting, and taking the occasional stroll. We have begun to take nighttime walks on the golf course cart paths. They are unlighted, but we have our cell phone lights if necessary. The stars are amazing and no one else walks out there! Daytime walks have been around our resort and they provide some interesting things to look at.

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This afternoon we decided to visit a local tourist attraction, Shields’ Dates. This date farm, roadside stand, and cafe have been in the same place since 1924. We watched the introductory video: The Romance and Sex Lives of The Date. Then we spent a short while in their gardens.

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Of course we bought some dates to attempt to duplicate the marvelous date/bacon skewers we had a Arnold Palmer’s the other night. We’ll let you know how they turn out!

Where ever you go in the Coachella Valley the mountains watch over you.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring.

Good night!


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Happy Valentine’s Day

For some of you this is a day early, for those on the other side of the world it’s right on time. We decided to go out to dinner (a rarity for us) to celebrate our love. However, to avoid the crowds we went out on February 13.

We chose Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant in La Quinta. Although Arnie as been dead a couple of years, the restaurant continues the tradition of serving many of his favorite dishes and some fantastic new ones created by their excellent chef. We began with bacon/fig skewers and tomato burrata salad, then progressed to sea bass with forbidden rice. Both were accompanied by a wonderful malbec wine. Dessert was butter cake surrounded by fresh berries and whipped cream accompanied by a glass of port. Each dish exceeded our expectations! What a fine evening.

Our daily walks continue to be close to “home.” There are beautiful desert mountains

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and some interesting flowers that bloom a little more each day despite the lack of rain.

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Morning doves sing to us every morning.

The reflections in the many ponds around our complex are stunning.

What a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and to spend the month of February.




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Joshua Tree Painting

We have been lounging around the resort, taking morning walks, reading, playing ukulele and painting. I’ve also been working on developing some jazz chord progressions for Home Cookin’, the duo I’m in with Julie Jacobs.

Today I’m posting a brief description of the development of my latest painting. It began with trips to Joshua Tree National Park. These magnificent plants would be unique in any environment, but in the stark high desert they shine. Another astounding feature in the park are the rock formations. I decided to capture both in one painting.

First came some sketches to try to decide on composition and values. Here are two I did in preparing for this painting.

The next steps are drawing on the canvas with minimal paint and lines to indicate shapes and placement. I used an 11×14 canvas board and burnt umber paint. These are water soluble oil paints. After that sketch I then scrubbed in some minimal colors to indicate values and create a tone on the canvas. These are scumbled so thin as to be semitransparent. I used a little heavier paint on my point of interest – the Joshua Tree!

The final phases are coloring and finishing. Here is the final product.

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Indio Days

We begin each day with a walk around our condo complex. We are surrounded by a golf course with badland hills in the background. The condos surround a central area with several ponds with waterfalls and ducks, two swimming pools, a lazy river for floating, four hot tubs, two kiddy pools, a recreation center, a cafe, a small store, and lots of flowers.

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This afternoon we took a nice walk at the Coachella Valley Preserve. This wonderful area includes a unique desert oasis and many acres of surrounding scrub desert. The walk descends into the heart of the palm grove surrounding the spring and then climbs out into the open scrub desert.

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Because the palms are so dense there are marvelous contrasts of light and dark as the sun peaks through the palm fronds.

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Jean stopped to do some sketching. You can just see her head above the sagebrush.

We saw little wildlife. The birds are not as abundant as last year when the rains filled the oasis. Bees are not active due to the lack of flowers. However, the lizards skittered around our feet.



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A Cold and Windy Day

Despite the weather forecast we headed out to Joshua Tree National Park. Last year at this time the flowers were beautiful. However, there has been less rain this winter and the flowers are later. The ocotillo are not blooming, so I asked my own flower of a wife to stand by the ocotillo.

Alas, the cholla didn’t provide blossoms, but the back lighting of their sharp spines was quite nice. Tip for those visiting the area: do not touch or inadvertently back into a cholla!

The vistas are always dramatic in Joshua Tree National Park.

And, of course, the park’s namesakes are always on display, at least for a few more decades. They are endangered by global warming.

For those who are interested  the temps were around 50F in the park, but the high winds brought the wind chill down to about freezing. Back at our condo it was 65, but the wind chill made it feel like the 40’s.



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