Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A VERY SAD DAY FOR AMERICA - NATIONAL PARKS CLOSED

In an extremely sad and sickening turn of events, our government has finally lost its collective mind. Their moral compass is completely broken and their conscience is non-existent. Because there are so many agendas among parties (and none of them serving the American people), the government was shut down and our national parks and BLM lands closed. These closures include the iconic jewel of the park system, Yosemite.

Government Closes Yosemite as Google Celebrates the Park

I have lost any faith or hope in our government. Every branch of it is occupied by self-serving and selfish politicians who do a great injustice to the constituents they serve. I like to keep the tone of my blog positive, but this event is one that is not easy to ignore.

They have closed all the trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, the most-used trail system in Los Angeles County. Thankfully they have not given national park status to the Angeles National Forest, although any U.S. Government-related departments and any maintenance provided by them will close, along with any trails associated with them.

This is a sad day indeed. Although not without precedence (they've shut down the government before), it comes at a time when we should all be working together to pull ourselves out of the debt crises and not be putting government workers on furlough. Many in Congress seem hell-bent on destroying the American way of life, especially for the middle class and poor. A very sad day ineed.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A GLORIOUS MORNING, FULL OF CLOUDS AGAIN

Before dawn the clouds were merely gray puffs moving across the sky. The entire sky in every direction was full of clouds.

 But as the sun began to rise, the riot of color began, especially in the east. (Notice the wave clouds to the right, in the distance, above the three tree fingers.)

The waning gibbous moon made an appearance from behind clouds with the first blush of dawn on their cheeks.
  
The clouds toward the southwest catch the rosy-orange tone. It's amazing to watch the evolution of color in the morning sky.

In the west, the horizon is still pale violet and the clouds are still gray until the sun rises higher.

And I discovered a 'trick' camera setting  - solarizing effect!


I never tire of looking at the sky. There is always something new, something interesting, something beautiful to see. So the next time you're out walking, instead of looking at the sidewalk, look up! Enjoy the show that nature puts on just for you!






Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

KEEPING A JOURNAL - CAPTURING CLOUDS




Beginning behind the San Gabriel Mountains that I can see in the distance to the east, the sky is a bright, pale yellow. The next layer is a somewhat pale rosy-orange, that blends into a pale blue, and finally into a darker blue in the upper sky. The mountains themselves are a silhouette of grayed violet.

On mornings with clouds, there is often a riot of beauty, and depending on the position of the sun on the horizon and the type of clouds, it can be brilliantly colored in reds and oranges.

I usually shoot a lot of photos on such mornings and as a result, I have quite a 'library' of cloud images, and weather and atmospheric phenomenon. And for about 6 years I’ve been keeping small Moleskine journals (3.5" x 5.5"); for each day I start with the date, then add the type of weather, the temp, and humidity. I’ll also add any interesting astronomical events that I’ve seen, such as fireball meteors or conjunctions of planets with the moon, and interesting birds and plant life that I encounter on my walks. It is a wonderful way to start the morning and it provides me with an archive of information that I can refer back to, and relive these special moments.


 
 
 
 
 
  
 

Monday, September 23, 2013

LET YOUR "INNER KID" HAVE SWAY

"When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead."
--Ernest Hemingway
 
 
 
--Take time every day for something fun. Life is too short and opportunities too fleeting to squander on things that are not all that important. When you really stop and consider it, most of what we do every day is not life or death stuff--it's just stuff. Carve out some time for yourself, to enjoy something YOU want to do. Make it count. You only go around once on this beautiful, mortal coil.
 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

AUTUMN EQUINOX - CELEBRATING THE NATURAL WORLD


“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
-W.B. Yeats



Lose yourself…
In the play of sunlight on leaves;
In the pungent-sweet scent
Of sun-warmed pine needles;
In the music of water
Gurgling over smooth stones;
In the flutter of bird wings
Just out of sight;
In the mysterious cobalt blue
That enfolds the word at dusk;
In the bright mantel of stars
That God spreads over our heads.
Lose yourself.




(poem by Linda Navroth)

Friday, September 20, 2013

THE HOBBIT HOLE

I love walking in my neighborhood early in the morning. I see a lot of interesting things, some funny things, and some things that just catch my eye and make me wonder.

Case in point: I've walked down this particular streets many times and seen this house before. However, this morning it was overcast and gloomy and it made things look different and more mysterious. I had stopped to let Digby read some peemail on a tree, looked across the street, and saw this:

 
 
It was actually even darker than this--I had to lighten it up to see it well. From across the street the house is not visible at all--just the driveway, the immense amount of foliage and trees, and that dark 'hole' that seems to go back to a secret place. Looked like a 'hobbit hole' to me!
 
My imagination and artist's eye seem to come alive on these morning walks. The exercise clears the mind of clutter and makes it more aware of all the infinite beauty that surrounds me, even in an urban setting. It is such a great way to start the day--better than reading a depressing newspaper!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WELCOME TO FALL!

After a late summer heat wave, we are finally starting to see a little cool down here in Southern California. I know I'll be kicking myself later, but I am glad it's getting cooler. In a few months, when it's in the 40s and raining when I take the dog out, I know I'll be singing a different tune! And that's always the way with the two main seasons, summer and winter. After a certain point, I get tired of the heat of summer or the cold of winter and long for the seasons to change.

The leaves on the sycamores are just starting to turn brown and curl up before dropping to the ground; they are the main leaf-changer in my neighborhood. The sweet gums, whose leaves turn a brilliant dark red, won't turn until almost Thanksgiving. There are a few maples in some yards, and they will start turning soon, too. The rest--the pines and other evergreens--will keep their needles for the winter. And of course the palms stay green all year.



A poet I've recently stumbled across, Mary Oliver, wrote a wonderful poem about this time of year:


Fall Song
 
Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back
from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere
except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle
of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This
I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.
Mary Oliver
(From American Primitive)


[Photo: San Bernardino National Forest, October 2011]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ADVENTURE

 
 
 
Adventure is a dish best served as often as possible.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

ENCHANTED BY NATURE


Sometimes I am enchanted just by being in the midst of Nature. Of feeling the breath of sun-warmed wind on my face; of hearing the rustle of leaves and the babbling of water over stones; of smelling the scent of pine needles and fresh-turned earth. There is magic everywhere I look; around every rock, twig, and log, over every hill and rise, behind every tree and bush. One only needs to look, SEE, and remain attentive and attuned to the invisible rhythms of the Earth; to feel, as delicate as a spider senses prey on its web, the great, deep, beating heart of the Earth.
 
 
 
 
 
 
[photo by Navroth / Bottom of Merrimen Falls, Lake Quinault, WA 2013]
 

Monday, September 16, 2013

A LITTLE AWARENESS GOES A LONG WAY

"Always be on the look out for the presence of wonder"

--E.B. White
 


Sometimes a sunset can be more than a sunset. There is more to it than the colors. There is the quality of light, the lapping of the lake water, the first frogs singing, and the smell of cedar mixed with damp earth. Seeing, feeling, and smelling--using more of one's senses--can enhance the experience and take the enjoyment to another level.



[photo by L. Navroth. Lake Quinault, WA. July 2013]
 

Friday, September 13, 2013

A LESSON FROM WATER



States of Being

 
   Stability is greatly
     overrated.
 Why would I ever want to sit
     still and smug as a rock,
     confident, because of my great
     weight, that I will not
     be moved?
 Better to be soft as water,
     easily troubled, with
     at least three modes
     of being, able to shape-
     shift, to mirror, to cleanse,
     to drift downstream,
 To roar when I encounter
     the rock.
 
--Luci Shaw

Thursday, September 12, 2013

WASHINGTON VACATION - Pt. 2. WOODS & WATER!

Back in July I had a wonderful 11-day vacation in Washington state to visit my family. I spent 4 days with my mother out on the Olympic Peninsula, which turned out to be a delightful time. We stayed at a cabin on Lake Quinault and did some hiking in the surrounding woods.

I had always wanted to go to the Olympics and visit the rainforest there. I'd seen photos and heard stories about it, but nothing prepares you for seeing it first hand. First of all, IT IS SO GREEN! Trees, mosses, grasses, and plants grow in tight proliferation. It felt very primordial to be on those woods and I half expected to see some giant prehistoric reptile appear. There were a few gorges, with rushing water and toppled trees, that reminded me of the movie "King Kong".


The forest there is truly remarkable, and there are several large trees that are over 100' tall. This giant spruce was actually 191' tall and thought to be about 1,000 years old. It was quite humbling to stand at its feet.

 
 
 
There were beautiful streams and waterfalls everywhere. It made me wish I had weeks to spend there, to take time to sit and listen to the voice of the water, really soak up the atmosphere and magic that seemed to be everywhere.

 
 
 

 
Woods and water - a truly spiritual combination. Nature at her very best!


 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DIGBY'S FIRST OVERNIGHT IN THE WOODS!

This past weekend I took Digby, my 5-year-old Beagle/Chihuahua mix, on his first overnight camping trip. I've been taking him on day hikes for the past year and he's grown to really love it. And on a couple of those day hikes I set up a day camp and hung the hammock. Digby LOVES the hammock! We get in, zip up the bug screen, and lay quiet to bird watch.

On this trip we went to Mt. Pinos and I found a campsite that had pretty well-spaced, small diameter trees to hang the hammock from. It was a fairly warm day, perhaps around 77-degrees. There was a slight breeze blowing off and on, but not strong enough to keep down those pesky black gnats. Those things bedeviled and tormented us all day! But we managed to persevere until evening,w hen we finally crawled into the hammock and zipped the bug screen against them.

The hang job on the hammock wasn't pretty, but it did the job. I had bought some new MSR Groundhog tent stakes and wow--they work really well! MSR Needle stakes weigh less, but the Groundhogs have more surface area to dig in with. A tarp on the ground made a nice floor mat. And of course, the new zero gravity lounger makes a wonderful place to sit and relax, read, enjoy the birds.



I took one of his toys, "Blue Baby", and he seemed very happy to have it.



The night was very quiet--all we heard was the sound of crickets, which I found very restful. The wind died down around 11 pm and no longer set the tarp rustling. The stillness was nearly absolute.

Digby is a good little camper and he kept me very warm all night! Better than a Nalgene bottle full of hot water!

 
 
This won't be the last overnight trip for my little pal! He really took to it. And it's fun to have a dog along on trips like these.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WASHINGTON VACATION - PT. 1

I spent 11 days in the great northwest visiting my family last week. I'd promised my 83-year-old mother an 'adventure'--she just recently put my 91-year-old father in a nursing home after caring for him mostly by herself for the past 5 years or so. His mobility and health issues worsened, so she had to make this difficult decision. But now that she wasn't tied down, she needed a long overdue vacation.

So I planned a 4-day road trip around the Olympic Penninsula of Washington, a place I'd never been and my mom hadn't been in more than a decade. I figured (and rightly so as it turned out) that it would be scenic and far enough away from her usual routine that it would be a real adventure.

We rented a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was the perfect vehicle for a trip like this. It seats you high, is comfy for long drives, has 4x4 for dirt and gravel roads, and got fantastic gas mileage.


Our first day was spent driving from Bothell to Lake Quinault. With a couple of pit stops, it took us about 4 hours. We stayed at a cabin with a lake view at the Rain Forest Resort Village. It was very pleasant, clean, and the beds were super-comfy.

  
When we arrived it had gotten quite warm--about 85-degrees. We checked in, unloaded, and while mom rested a bit, I went down to the lake and waded for a while. The water was warmer than I thought it would be, so I stayed in for about an hour.
 
We ate dinner that evening at the Salmon House Restaurant across the street. Had flank steak, backed potato, and steamed veggies--wow! Was it delicious! Afterwards we walked back to the cabin. It was about 7:30 pm by then, but it was still very light out because we were so far north and near the coast. Mosquitoes precluded out sitting out on the front porch, but you could hear a loud chorus of frogs singing down by the lake.
 
 
 I went to sleep that night listening to the frogs.
 
 


Thursday, June 6, 2013

NEW YEAR'S DAY HIKE - PLACERITA CANYON


I decided to get a jump on the New Year by going on a day hike at Placerita Canyon. This area has always been one of my favorites, but I've largely ignored it lately because it's become so busy. I mean, it's great that a lot of people are getting outdoors and taking their kids, but I relish a tad more solitude when I go out in nature. This day was pretty nice; there were quite a few folks there, but spaced out enough that it didn't feel too crowded.



I started out on the Manzanita Peak Trail, thinking I'd do a little summit. It starts out pretty easy, but then got really steep, with some pretty tall steps to surmount.




















After getting past those, the trail tucked into heavy shade and was extremly muddy from recent rains. I picked my way around a lot of it, but when the trail got steep again--and still muddy as well--I decided to err on the side of caution and head back down. I can summit Manzanita another time.

When I got back down, I decided to warm up with some coffee and a snack at the day use picnic tables. It was quite chilly and very windy, so a brew sounded good.
















After my little break, I headed out to the Walker Ranch Trail,which goes 2 miles back to an old homestead. The wind blew hard back in the canyon and made it so one wanted to keep moving and not linger in the shadey areas too long.

I made it to the 1 mile marker, and was feeling too sweaty and chilly to continue, so I turned around and hiked out.




All in all it was a nice day out and it felt good to get some exercise in the fresh air.

I MISS MY BLOG!

After Blogger changed the way we can load up photos, forcing us to upload everything to a third-party site, I was so miffed that I quite posting here. But I've missed it and I've had so many cool adventures since the last post. I'll have to figure out if I want to go through the hassle of the picture posting...again.

But it now appears that I once again have the option to upload directly from my computer, so here we go again!

Digby and I have been on some great hikes, I went on a pretty gnarly winter backpacking trip, and I got into hammock camping. Look for future posts on those.


Digby and I on our day hike at Switzer Falls--he really got into the stream crossings. What a little champ!