Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dry Docked in La Jolla

I spotted these boats tumbling off the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla this weekend. Isn't art great?

I'll have to check out the exhibits when I don't have along a 7 year old more interested in getting down to the ocean to see the seals, especially as I understand the building has a connection to an Irving Gill house built on the location in 1916.

At the same time, I'm going to have to check out why this mural on the adjoining building.

Looks like another outing coming up.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Who Needs Seasons?

One weekend you can be lost in the mountains of the Laguna,

the next walking the shore of La Jolla with seals in camouflage.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Foot in San Diego: Secret Canyon Revisited or What a Difference a Day Makes

Five of the "six missing hikers" returned this weekend to Secret Canyon, entering from the end of the 16 mile hike we were unable to complete after becoming boxed in a canyon by rain swollen creeks. We were curious, all except our kick boxer Wayne who felt he didn't need this corrective emotional experience and opted to a game of tennis. Two of our rescuers, Chris and Jessie, sister and daughter of Linda, and Linda's dog, Harley, joined us. They needed a corrective emotional experience of their own after that night of worry and searching.

I won't bore the reader with the beauty of the area,

or the beauty of the sunny day.

We found the spot where we spent the night spooned to conserve body heat as the temperatures dipped into the low thirties soaked by intermittent downpours, straw pallet still on the ground, and hung out for about an hour.

We found the overgrown left fork in the trail that would have taken us above the creek, hidden by a pile of branches and grasses grown up from the recent rains.

We found the "swimming hole" landmark we had been searching for,

and hung out some more.

Chrissy Cekander, one of our black belt karate kicking sheriff rescuers.

As a special treat Kathleen pointed out some native miner's lettuce that kept the nineteenth century gold miners in this area from getting scurvy, a trick they likely learned from the Indians.

A newspaper from the miner's day would had said about this outing "a good time was had by all". All life's traumas should find closure this easily.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On Foot in San Diego: Arrowmaker Ridge

Rancheros introducing themselves in Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981):
Don Diego: Don Diego from San Fernando.
Don Francisco: Don Francisco from San Jose.
Don Fernando: Don Fernando from San Diego.
Don Jose: Don Jose from San Bernardino.
Luis Obispo: Luis Obispo from Bakersfield.

Hiking Rancho Cuyamaca this weekend got me off to a good start for my spring project of locating and exploring the old Mexican ranchos of San Diego, and some good exercise to boot.

Hoping that this first trek since my "six hikers missing" would be uneventful, I joined twelve other hikers from The Gourmet Hiking Club, a group started fifteen years ago by six outdoor and food minded teachers, to hike up to Arrowmaker ridge in the Cuyamaca Mountains in eastern San Diego County. Kathleen and Wayne, two of the other "six missing", have come along for the hike. Kathleen, I'm not surprised - she's a Scot and usually up for any adventure or misadventure, but Wayne was not an experienced hiker before Secret Canyon and I wasn't sure we'd get him back out.

The Cedar fire roared through our hiking area in the very early morning hours of October 26, 2003. By the time it was contained the fire storm had burned 280,278 acres, destroyed 2,820 buildings and killed 15 people, the largest wildfire in California history. Seven years later we were walking the forest's destruction and rejuvenation.

Just off the parking area at trail head was the ruin of the Dyar house, built in the 1920's, burned in the fire and undergoing rejuvenation like the surrounding forest lands.

Rancho Cuyamaca has a checkered history as do many of San Diego's ranchos. The Mexican government began to distribute lands when they took over from the Spanish in 1821, and our rancho here wasn't granted until 1845, just before the Americans took over California in 1848. The Mexican governor, Pio Pico, was giving out land to his friends and family just before the cession of California to the US and gave 36,000 acres to his friend, Agustin Alvarado, who had never set foot in the Cuyamacas. Thing is, there were no maps or established legal boundaries for the grant, a guy he sent out to start a lumber mill to make some money for him got run off by those pesky Indians - the nerve of those Kumeyaay objecting to people coming in to take over their land - and Alvarado had to sell off the rancho piece by piece to pay the lawyer representing his case in US courts. More disputes arose when gold was discovered in 1870 on the north side of Stonewall Mountain. The bottom line is the rancho's ownership was divided and subdivided over the years. The Dyar family bought over 20,000 acres in 1923 and ten years later sold it to the sate of California. Oila, we have this beautiful Cuyamaca Rancho State Park! Lucky for us.

We set off with a clear, cool morning through what would become a familiar sight, dead trees and regrowth,

coming to a meadow cleared for ranching in the old days.

At one end of the meadow stood the "grandfather tree". Mike, the group leader for the day who knew the trail, told the story that when the rancher was clearing the meadow, an Indian elder came to him to ask to have the tree spared as it was significant to the tribe. It was left standing and when the Cedar fire came blazing through, the fire split around it and the tree was left unburned.

We passed dead trees still standing like statues after seven years, a preview of what was to come farther up our walk.

Many stronger trees were surviving with new growth, odd looking with their blackened trunks and limbs.

We scrambled up rock formations,

uphill to a mesa through vast burned out areas that won't recover for another 50 years,

leaving the trail to cross this high meadow, looking for the site of an ancient Kumeyaay village on the ridge.

We moved up the ridge across fallen trees into dense brush,

finally coming to our destination at the outcropping of rocks at the top of the ridge,

where a nice floral tablecloth was spread and each hiker brought out his/her prepared dish for a delicious luncheon. Hence, the name of the club. We had gourmet sandwiches, a cheese log, various desserts, peach Schnapps. I think I could get used to this, forget the trail mix stuff.

Scattered across the rocks were mortar holes for grinding acorns and wild buckwheat, and on the ground myriads of broken pottery shards, remnants of past lives on this outcropping.

I found this tree, nearly back to its old shape but unable to discard the old limbs, like a divorcee and her ex.

Jillian spotted what appeared to be a carved eagle on an upturned root with a tree branch Indian headdress.

The cloud mist had moved in while we ate our lunch, and followed us down the mountain.

A mystical ending to a mystical day on Arrowmaker Ridge.

Burgers and Maps - Two of My Favorite Things!

While we're waiting for Kathie to tell us how her hike went yesterday - I know she's returned because she commented on that last post! - I'll tell you what Kelly and I had for dinner last night and relate it to yet another map. I love maps! Why didn't I become a geographer? Or a cartographer?

Anyway, after washing all of our sheets and blankets and actually getting some work-work done, I stopped by the pet store, Target, and Lowe's on my way to pick up Kelly. She'd had a long day taking care of post-op neurosurgery patients at the hospital where my entire family (of 3) works.

"Whaddya want to eat?" I asked her.

"I don't care," she said and lay back against the carseat to rest.



We drove to Five Guys to pick up our cheezburgers to take home. In a daze, she ate - probably without tasting - and promptly fell asleep on the couch with one cat on her lap and another propped up against her from the arm of the couch.

So what kind of map can possibly relate to such an exciting evening? I found this on the Floating Sheep blog that is my new love. Check out Texas and Oklahoma - it looks like someone spilled cornflower blue paint there! I mean, Sonic's ok but what the heck?!? And how interesting that Dairy Queen is more predominant in - what is that - Minnesota and Montana? No surprise that Jack in the Box has a hold on southern California...

Speaking of which - Kath, you'd better get back to blogging and give our two readers a rest from all the excitement on this side of the continent.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just Rambling on a BreeZy Spring Saturday Morning

Last evening, Kelly picked me up from work and we decided to stay home and eat a frozen pizza. (Well, it wasn’t actually frozen when we ate it, but you know what I mean.) It seemed the right thing to do since:

· Number one, I had just committed to almost a thousand dollars of work on my fifteen year old Explorer which Kathie has nicknamed “Queen Mary”. Why do I keep an old SUV? I drive six miles round-trip to work Monday through Friday so the QM's cost in gas really is pretty low for a gas guzzler; I figure $1,000 in car maintenance and repairs a year is inexpensive compared to car payments, and I’ll keep thinking that until the big one hits - $3,500 for that new motor I’ve been putting off buying until the old one blows up.

· Number two, the pizza was cheap at two for the price of one at FoodLion. Palermo’s Primo Thin pepperoni pizza...not horribly bad for frozen.

Rambling on...I promised myself I would get up early this morning and get some work-work done. I did get up early but I’ve frittered away the morning reading some of Blogger’s blogs of note – and washing our bed linens. I guess the morning hasn’t been a total waste, then.

Snacking on cold pizza, I happened to stumble upon this hilarious blogpost and map relating pizza to guns and strip clubs in the US. I love this blog! Do you suppose the bloggers are really as young and cute as their photos?

OK, OK - I'll get my work done now.