Flora and Fauna at Joshua Tree National Park

Here are a few of the wonderful and unique plants in Joshua Tree National Park.

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And here are some of the animals commonly seen in the park.

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I also saw desert cottontail rabbits, but they were too fast for me. There was one very large bird on a distant rock, probably either an eagle or a vulture.

And so it goes.

Paul

Posted in CA, Indio, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

On The Road Again

Leaving our house in capable hands we headed out on the open road again. At our first rest stop we saw our neighbors, Bob and Carolyn!

The four of us explored the tourism options of our fair state.

We stuck close to each other until they turned east at the Columbia River. We continued south to Rogue River, Oregon. It’s on of our favorite stops with a beautiful river, geese, ducks, and a couple of good restaurants.

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The second day took us through the northern half of CA. Mt. Shasta was clearer than we’ve ever seen it in the winter.

Our second night on the road was spent in Patterson, CA. The Best Western there is quite nice, but we didn’t see much else. The third day we slogged down the San Joaquin valley and into Los Angeles County, which was the longest and craziest part of the drive. There is a significant portion of the CA population who believe that cars must be operated at 85-90 miles per hour at all times regardless of speed limits, traffic, or road conditions. Signaling for lane changes or allowing safe intervals is not allowed. The object is to cut in front of cars so close that the back draft from their car sweeps the bugs from your windshield.

We arrived safe and sound in Indio. The Worldmark resort there is the largest complex in the entire chain. It has about 20 four-floor condo buildings, more swimming pools and hot tubs than I can count, a grocery store, a cafe, tennis courts, a small movie theater, a gaming arcade, and much much more. Here’s a view of it taken from a hill that we hiked behind the resort.

It had rained a good deal in January so we found flowers blooming on our walk.

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And broad vistas of the mountains that surround this desert valley.

Darkness descended quickly and I only caught this last glimpse of color.

Then it was time to play my ukulele.

Paul

Posted in CA, Mt. Shasta, OR, Photography, Retirement, Travel | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Eagles, Swans, Sunshine, and Fresh Air

Recently we took a day trip to the Skagit River Delta. This area was diked in the early 20th century and has become very rich farmland with lots of waterways. It is attractive to migratory birds of all kinds. Some of them stay for the winter.

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Mt. Baker looms in the background.

We like to hike the dikes and take photos.

What a glorious sunny day in January!

Paul

Posted in Photography, Retirement, Skagit River | 2 Comments

Christmas Lights

As our friends in western Washington know, walking to see the Christmas lights was not possible last evening. The same wind storm that hit the Seattle area came into Victoria just as we were preparing to take a night time walk. We chose the wiser action of sitting by the fireplace and reading.

Today we took a walk in the sunshine around noon. I’m still learning how to use this camera so we walked around the neighborhood looking for test subjects. There is an interesting custom here of hanging oversize ornaments in bare deciduous trees.

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We found this very unique sculpture in a front yard. These boots definitely were not made for walking!

Tonight we had another wonderful dinner at Il Covo Trattoria. Following dinner we walked downtown to see and photograph the Christmas lights. Here is a small sample.

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Even boats get decorated in the marinas.

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Now it’s time for bed.

Paul

Posted in B.C., BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Victoria BC | 2 Comments

Winter at Abkhazi Garden

No rain today and even a bit of sunshine. Therefore, this was the day for Abkhazi Garden. This little gem owned and operated by the Land Conservancy of B.C., is one of our favorites in Victoria.

We were not the only visitors.

Today was about color and texture as I experimented with my new little camera. I was looking for ideas for paintings.

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Tonight we will walk around the harbor to see and photograph the Christmas lights.

Paul

Posted in Abkhazi Garden, Art, B.C., BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Victoria BC | Tagged | 2 Comments

Rainy December Day in Beacon Hill Park

Today we walked from our condo on Victoria’s harbor to Beacon Hill Park through intermittent rainfall. The route goes through the James Bay neighborhood, an area filled with lovely Victorian homes and some marvelously designed new ones. However, the real gem is the park itself. We never tire of visiting Emily Carr’s home park. She loved the trees and so do we. It’s an ever changing view of birds, squirrels, deer, trees, ponds, and people.

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For those who like to keep track of such things: Jean says we did over 8000 steps today! Paul says we played music for over an hour today as well! We each have our priorities.

Paul

Posted in B.C., BC, Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Victoria BC | 4 Comments

Skagit Delta Day Trip

We got away from the city today with a day trip to the Skagit River Delta. Our first stop was La Conner for a waterfront walk and lunch. La Conner fronts the east side of the Swinomish Channel and the Swinomish Reservation the west.

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Lunch was at one of our favorite stops, The La Conner Brewing Company. They have a great selection of beers, but what draws us is their menu. It is always difficult to settle on a choice, but you can never go wrong.

After lunch it was time to walk off those calories. One of our favorite hikes is along the dikes of the Padilla Bay Shore Trail. This 2.5 mile (one way) trail is on the dike that separates Padilla Bay from the fields of the wildlife reserve. In the summer it is filled with songbirds and a few hawks. During this first week of autumn there were few birds. By the end of autumn it will be filled with snow geese, peregrine falcons, and eagles.

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We arrived at slack tide and watched it come in as we hiked the trail. The mud flats have interesting patterns. The views are of distant islands, but the water is so far out that they appear to be floating on mud.

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There is no doubt that autumn is here. Vivid colors mark many of the plants. The wonderfully diverse wild plants each put out seeds to ensure their species for another year.

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Late in the afternoon we drove to Bow Edison to visit Samish Bay Cheese Factory. They have their own dairy herd and produce cheese only from their own herd. The 5 year old gouda is unbelievable! Of course we splurged on a good round of it. And we couldn’t resist a small round of their Diablo, a fresh gouda spiced with jalapeno and habanero peppers!

Our drive home was easy since we were going the opposite of the commuters – into the city! What a great day!

Paul

Posted in Retirement, Travel | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Vancouver Island Adieu!

Although we have been busy hiking and I have been playing ukulele, I haven’t abandoned painting. Here are two small pieces (4×4) I did in the last few days.

The first is the next in a series of quick loose watercolors of couples. Each one has a specific gesture. I call this one The Proposal.

The second is inspired by a tree, vines and shrubs outside the window where I have been painting. I liked the textures and colors that have been in my view for a month.

Tonight we will be home!

Paul

Posted in Art, B.C., BC, Collioure, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Retirement, Travel, Ukulele | 3 Comments

Miracle Beach Again

Yesterday we returned to Miracle Beach. What a beautiful combination of beach…

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…and forest.

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We stopped for lunch at Salmon Point Resort. The restaurant was an unexpected delight. We both had salmon burgers – 5 oz. filets of fresh salmon with all the trimmings. They were wonderful.

Then we drove a little north along the coast toward Campbell River. We stopped a several seaside spots to take in the mountain and ocean views.

What a fine day!

Paul

Posted in B.C., BC, Campbell River BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Vancouver Island | 1 Comment

Return to Strathcona

Yesterday we returned to Strathcona Provincial Park.

We also returned to Paradise Meadows, but to hike some different trails than last time. This time we hiked to Battleship Lake via one side of the meadows and returned via the other side. The photos speak for themselves.

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Many things happen in a country where a major city (Toronto) has a motto: Diversity is Our Strength” and where the Chief Executive of the country uses that same phrase to describe the country. I have seen this printed on several t-shirts in the past month as well. One nod to diversity that we observed at Strathcona are trails adapted to the use of specialized “Trail Rider” wheelchairs.

These single-wheeled chairs require two attendants, one in front and one in the rear. They provide forward momentum, but the chair is balanced so it takes the weight. The chairs allow people with physical limitations to view this magnificent scenery. That is a commitment to diversity!

Paul

Posted in B.C., BC, Campbell River BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island | 1 Comment