Category Archives: desert
Well, it’s been a week since I’ve moved into my new home!
Yes, I had that exhale moment.
Still have a lot to do – but for all intents and purposes, we’re moved!!!
I’ve been adjusting to the longer commute, that just happens to be on a road they literally test vehicles on. No kidding – Ford brings their trucks covered in sensors and hauling tons of weight and drive up and down the grade. (Here’s an old article about this HERE.)
On the side of the road there are jugs of water that good Samaritans have left for struggling vehicles of the non-test type.
Regular commuters know that the air conditioning needs to be off for the majority of the trip, which, in triple digits can be quite taxing. And when I say taxing, I mean, sheets of sweat, wet undergarments and complete loss of electrolytes.
Once that hill has been taken though, it’s worth the while.
Let’s get onto introducing you to one of my neighbors.
I say neighbor, but, it’s more like … um … a land mate? Pet?
I’ll begin with our introduction.
I was sitting on the porch, enjoying a light breeze in the early evening. Rose bushes were rustling, pine trees pining. I had a hose running to water the length of the thirsty trees and looked over to check on the progress.
To my surprise, atop the picnic table was – well … take a look yourself.
I slowly got up and put my dog inside the house. I then calmly stated, “Um, honey? There’s a snake on the table.”
Now, I have been aware in my 15 years in the desert that the territory comes with desert creatures. I’ve had my run ins with an assortment of them. But, not a snake.
I’m actually quite fond of them. Had wanted one years ago.
But, considering our location, not all snakes want to be your friend.
My honey came out and we watched from a distance to make sure there was no rattle. Then, got a little closer to assess the head shape.
He went in as my fascination grew.
Snake (I’ve since named Yogi – because, c’mon, pic-i-nic table!) came closer. I grew braver.
And, closer still, into the rose bushes.
I followed Yogi around for a while, until it moved off into another lot.
I reached out and posted photos to a snake site. I was informed it is a non-venomous gopher snake, good to have around! I was also taught that if I needed it to scoot, I could spray it lightly with a hose.
I fretted a little about it interacting with my pup. I certainly don’t want to have my time outside or hers dictated by our new friend. Still haven’t quite worked that out yet. (Any advice is welcome!)
Following night, we were outside when my guy announced, “Your friend is back.” Sure enough.
This is such a low-key snake. I mean, you can literally walk next to it.
But, the issue of the dog. So, with Butters inside, I decided to try the spritz method. It worked. Yogi went back under the fence and curled up and cut its eyes at me. Had a look of complete inconvenience and indignation. To add insult to moisture, two sparrows alighted upon the fence and looked down upon Yogi. I entrusted them to keep watch.
SO! What to do, what to do?! I’m an animal lover so definitely harming one is out. Relocating it would be useless as it’s bound to be replaced by another – I mean, we have nothing but desert next to us and own 2.15 acres of it ourselves.
Must find a way to cohabitate.
I guess I’ll have plenty of time to consider just how to do that during my commute.
Oh. My. God.
Well Soupers, I can officially share with you that I am a home owner! With my partner of course.
It happened on May 25th. Close of escrow.
Our one year anniversary came on the 28th, one day before my birthday. Which, was almost eclipsed by our new official situation, but, not entirely.
Yeah, yeah, I see the dust too, I live on a dirt road, I can’t wash my car without coming home and being completely undone in that arena.
So hush. LOL.
I didn’t pack a thing. Not a thing. Because, I didn’t want to ‘jinx’ anything. (I lived to regret that.)
We’ve done runs up and down, and, let me share now that it will be a 40 minute commute to work each way – but, well worth it!
I didn’t completely understand the gravity of this situation until … today.
My honey is out-of-town to be with his kidlets, (who arrive on this month for 3 weeks! 🙂 ) and I went up today to water the trees and set up a shower curtain and take up my kitchen island. Ah. How relaxing. And, it was! While I was there.
Past week was spent juggling work, initializing utilities, cancelling current ones in the future …
Here’s us, the ‘public view’ of this experience.
(Obviously taken before he left town)
Aaaand, here’s me now.
I have learned that … A) I am getting what I deserve after dropping so many things on my parents after I moved!
This is my son’s room …
We have what is called a Quonset hut which is HUGE! And almost all of the shelving is currently occupied by ‘Nic Barn’.
I’m sorry mom.
B) I kept too much stuff!
I am the Queen of nostalgia. Every card, every note, every memorabilia of an event I participated in! Because why? Is any one going to care after I pass? Is it the Holy Grail? NO! My sentimental things are bordering on MENTAL!
I had a hard time throwing these out! These are old food containers people! But, because my son wrote such sweet things on them, I kept them! I took a photo, because I’m still not over such things, then tossed. (With a little whimper.) You can understand what I’m up against.
C) This shit. And, I swear I said out loud to my DOG, “Where the fuck did I put the tape????” at least 20 times today.
I haven’t even started on my bedroom, which, of course, contains my ‘most special things’ AKA: pouring over stuff for too long and reminiscing and not getting anything done!
There needs to be a service. Someone who will literally just sit there and crack a whip when you’re getting tired, or taking too many breaks.
D) I will be SO happy when this is over and I get to read THIS and laugh. I so hope for that moment, while my back is killing me and my space is a disaster.
There WILL be a time, in the future when I’m reading this and will tell myself, “You did it!”
To say our hike Saturday had its ups and downs would be a pretty fair assessment of the adventure.
I was excited about where we were going for a few reasons, one of them being it was the place I saw my first tarantulas over 15 years ago. (Still very hard to believe this fair English native, then Central Coast California transplant has been in the desert that long!)
And if I’m being truly honest, I’ve only just started to appreciate it since I’ve begun hiking.
We’ll touch back on that in a while.
Anyway, I’ve been chomping at the bit to capture wildlife on my camera. So far, lizards, butterflies, burros, cattle and long-horned sheep – but my secret deep down wish was to snap a close up of a scorpion or an arachnid and yes, even a snake. Oh, trust me, the zoom lens would be the key there! I’m wishful but would also not like to trust my snake guards that we wear to such an extent.
We arrived at Grapevine Canyon and my first mistake? I wore a cotton t-shirt. (Why oh why do they give those away at 5K events? Cotton is not conducive to a comfy hike or run.) I am usually sporting wicking wear, and I’ll have you know that I’ve successfully completed all previous hikes sans sweat. So, that either means that I didn’t push myself hard enough or … seriously, cotton is not the ideal choice.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m the Queen of Tangents, you’ll have to bear with me.
I don my pack and my snake guards and … my gift from my guy, trekking poles.
Another tangent. When we return from hiking, he’s sore. He, with the Popeye calves. He who can not only put his hands on the ground in a straight legged position, but also touch his forehead to his legs. I, on the other hand, feel no pain upon return – nor the following day. (Also can’t do any of those things.)
This weekend? It hurt to squat to reach the toilet seat lol! ‘Leg day’ happened.
We started out past the tourists who were there for the petroglyphs and the waterfall.
Surpassed them and began our trek.
Me, clumsy and awkward with my poles. My honey a little frustrated because he’d put so much thought into buying them for me. And, no, it does not escape me that he bought them for me because he wants to spend time with me. It also doesn’t escape me that he bought them because he loves them and wants me to have the same experience. So, I felt like an asshole and here’s why.
The terrain he fell in love with them for was the Pacific Crest Trail, so not only was that ideal for that, but he had MILES to become acquainted until they were like additional limbs. Me? I’m trying to snap pictures, which meant holding them in one hand or putting them down, and it seemed every time I did that, he happened to turn around. I felt awful. A gift not being utilized as intended.
We carried on.
Now might be a great time to mention that my guy also has experience rock climbing. Serious rock climbing. And, after the birth of my son I was suddenly scared of heights. And we were high.
I say this because he was like a freaking mountain goat and I kept being told, “Stay perpendicular!” This, after a particular steep rock with nothing to cling to. Thing is about such a rock, once you’re half way up, you’re kinda screwed.
It’s either, A) Have faith in the experts and just keep scaling without looking down and pray you don’t fall to your death or B) Get chastised for wanted to be on all fours. OR C) F#@* this, I know my limits and THIS isn’t happening today.
Well, it happened.
I am not going to lie (again) I was terrified. Literally. What I wanted to do was that dramatic, “Go on without me … save yourself with this hike and I’ll wait.” What I did? I kept going.
And the psychosomatic part of it is that if a hand is held out, you tend to suddenly become invincible without putting too much weight on said hand. It’s just the knowledge that someone has your back and is there to assist that tends to erase a majority of the worry.
Okay, so now I’m up. And ‘height’ phobia cracks in. I swear, I couldn’t even count how many times I heard, “This part is steep, but after this! It evens out.”
I always want to impress my guy, I also always want to live.
We kept going.
And, OH. MY. GAWD.
The day was perfect. The juxtaposition of desert meets … rustling trees … meets water? lol, was awesome!
An egg … I didn’t touch.
Crunching on leaves was bizarre!
Look easier than they were to navigate – but I nailed it. Thought of the Olympics and wanted to do a back flip and land it – then remembered I couldn’t even touch my hands to the floor straight legged lol.
The rustling tree. Was breezy for a bit. (Thank goodness for my pits lol! Remember, cotton … not conducive.)
Just … beauty in everything.
Zoomed in – this was my elephant rock.
This was my heavy-headed person resting their forehead on the peak.
This was freaking AWESOME! The curves get slimmer and slimmer to the point that yes, (OH, Yay!) You have to climb out of it. I think this, and the slides back down due to complete water smoothing (imagine a rock slide!) were my favorite parts.
We ended our hike on a flat rock and chatted.
Here’s where I touch on the beginning.
“And if I’m being truly honest, I’ve only just started to appreciate it since I’ve begun hiking.”
I said to my honey at one point, “You’re really good at a lot of things, but I’m just a beginner.”
And as we sat on that rock, he apologized for any impatience. But, the truth of it was that he was NOT impatient. Or, I didn’t read it that way.
He pushed me for sure – seeing things in me I didn’t. Seeing me capable and cheering me on the whole time. Mostly during our exit when I took a total (on purpose) slide down a steep rock – and it was fun!!!!!
He doesn’t coddle me. But, he does pay attention, even with his back to me. (Dad eyes in the back of his head lol!) And always has just the RIGHT way to encourage me to be a better version of myself.
Extras! Me the next day with my burros! (With the right gear on, but we ended up napping at his home. lol!)
This was Sunday, and we violated a mine – NOT ON PURPOSE!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s for sale! And, um, saw this a little too late.
Lastly, some fun pics.
Wait!! Wouldn’t be complete without those trekking poles. xxxx
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Let me know what you want to see more of!
Started the day out with pancakes at ‘our’ restaurant. It’s riddled with black and white photos of Laurel and Hardy, Shirley Temple, old movie sets and Charlie Chaplin. Plus, evidently, very large cups of orange juice. I didn’t hear my guy’s drink order, but when a ginormous odd-looking cup arrived at our table I asked what it was. Turns out it was O.J. Remember ordering orange juice and it came in a thimble? That justifies my confusion and I immediately coveted it. I know, I know, ‘Thou shall not covet …” But, I think that only applied to a neighbor’s wife? Maybe not, but I coveted all over his drink and into a straw and away from my iced tea.
We are so lucky to have SO many locations at our disposal. Almost makes up for those 120 degree summers.
I’ll just start sharing photos and mumble on about them eh?
First pic – (and I took my ‘good camera’ which, while quality was better, I couldn’t really see what I was capturing due to sun on my preview) We had a storm ahead (and a part of me hoped it arrived, although, I don’t think my backpack is water proof and I had my phone in my pocket tracking the hike).
Me trying to be ‘artsy’ even with a good camera, nothing compares to the actual view.
I was truly hoping for ‘wildlife’. And to be honest, if I heard a rattle, I’d be grabbing my camera versus carefully avoiding the source of the serpent sound. Also waiting the moment I turn over a beautiful rock, and find a scorpion under it that will stay still for a National Geographic worthy pic! I mean c’mon! I’ve had them in my home a dozen times, WHEN am I going to see one in the wild?
Pi or Stonehenge? You decide. But, as you’ll see in the next pic, was located right next to a mining excavation.
We didn’t go in this one. My guy had already explored it on another hike and there wasn’t much to be seen.
Now comes my favorite part! Went down into a river bed that is obviously a water source for desert animal dwellers. Plenty of scat and prints to prove that. Yes, it did dawn on me that we were literally delicious things walking through an area that many predators visit for protein. But, the naturally washed rocks and amazing terrain trumped those thoughts.
This rock reminded me of a fish. A fish that evidently has a stick up its nostril. LOL!
Snake stick, attacking a rock. We did have to jump down into some brush from quite a height and MY rock was checking all brush for snakes. I had snake guards on (he didn’t this time) so I so unselfishly said, “Just go!” I know. I’m a giver.
A storm was threatening the entire time – but, did not come to fruition.
A vein! With vugs.
“Life, uh, finds a way” Said in my best Jeff Goldblum voice.
Okay, he stops for rocks, I stop for close up shots of flora and fauna.
The colors in this rock was unreal! Again, better in person.
Where we came from to flat land.
A wall that once contained something to do with mining.
This guy continued to watch us for what seemed like forever, protecting his family. Bless his Burro heart. x
The family. When I took this photo, I only saw the darker burros. Was happy to discover the other two after downloading.
A thick stringer!
Almost back to the car.
The local gold mine. It’s for sale for $2,500,000. We were going to offer 2. lol.
We did not disturb.
Pay dirt! Sitting RIGHT THERE! We still did not disturb. Although, during the hike, one side of my jacket may or may not have been hanging VERY low due to there certainly NOT being any rocks in my pocket. 😉
We ended the day with a stop at a pub after burning over 1,300 calories on the hike!
AND! That ended in a Snakebite. The only kind you want!
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY ALL MY ‘SOUPER’S’
“Honey if I get restless
Baby you’re not that kind”
Turns out – I’m a very restless person. I took an ENTIRE day off from work to just BE.
To be a human being instead of a human doing‘ and … survey says …
I got bored.
It didn’t pan out. (Miner joke)
Speaking of … here’s us FINDING gold.
Well, I wasn’t the entire time.
I got up at 5 with my honey and gave him a lunch I had made for him the previous night.
Then, I had the luxury of ‘sleeping in’. I am not one to usually be able to sleep after waking, but after countless nights of nightmares and tossing and turning, I slept. I slept hard. It was scrumptious.
That Saturday had consisted of us panning pay dirt AND me braving Karaoke!
I was awful. And Christopher didn’t know the song – thus the handing over the mic.
But, awful in a way that you were proud you displayed yourself and lived through it.
I DO warn you, I can NOT sing. So, go there with that knowledge.
AND stepped off of the stage and got a full applause because I just DID IT and knew I was awful but kept going and kept dancing and didn’t care. lol! (Thought of you Betty – and how much you’d have given anything to be alive and sing badly)
I can sing in the shower and the car. 😉
Next morning, I was so tired. We stayed up way past our bedtimes after being home and he sang (better than I ever will) and played guitar (better than I’ll ever try to). But, I got up, and got hiking. Feels SO good to be out there. Especially good to share it with someone I love.
Here’s a few pics, and honestly, they’re getting less and less the more we go because I’m focusing on us and not capturing ‘us’.
After yesterday’s hike, we went to a buffet and I gorged myself into having what I call a ‘food baby’ lol.
I’m thin – when I ‘gorge’ I look like a tick. Not THAT thin, ‘healthy’ but, ‘need to quit eating buffets or my existing clothes will not fit and I can’t afford a new wardrobe’ We then went home and napped – because – Walking Dead premiere!!!!!!!
The nap was more delicious than the food! We both slept, full as could be and spent! Woke refreshed and ready to go back to bed if that makes any sense.
Bottom line, I had an amazing weekend and it’s always hard to say ‘bye for now’.
I wished, at some point today, between horror movies, snacks and washing the dog that I was hiking with my guy.
I remembered the moment he put his arm around my waist while we were walking, I remember going off into another direction of our path because something interested me.
AND! Bonus. Here’s the gold we found, plus an amazing sunset that I didn’t get around to posting.
Overall, honestly? One of the best weekends of my life. I not only over-indulged, but completely under-indulged and I have decided, life is amazing. Period. I could be out in a shack and chopping wood and panning for gold and singing AWFULLY forever lol!
“And nobody told us
‘Cause nobody showed us
And now it’s up to us babe
I think we can make it”