Loren and I started this week still visiting our dear friend in Orange County. We went for a picnic at Laguna Beach, then visited Wyland’s studio where I immediately recognized his wall art as what I had seen on a building in San Francisco. That evening we joined our friend and her daughter for a local theatre production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Hilarious! Before bidding our friend farewell for now we went on a local morning walk to see blooming wildflowers in the area.
We then had a delightful lunch date at a restaurant in Temecula with cousins. Afterwards we had coffee and ice cream at their home in Murrieta.
We camped that evening at Dixon Lake before a memorable Day of Meditation at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Deer Park Monastery. Exiled from Vietnam years ago, Buddhist monk, nicknamed Thay, is known for his mindful teachings. In the Dharma talk by one of the nuns, we were advised to be Mindful (Smrti in Sanskrit), Concentrate (Samadhi), and to be open to Insight or Wisdom (Prajna), as well as to Stop, and, Look Deeply. Loren and I hiked the peaceful grounds together after the silent lunch. That afternoon we drove by a road named “Sunday Drive,” then were enthralled under a blue sky, over green clad mountains, across green grassy meadows, and through green dressed canyons. Umm!
Loren and I then visited Anza Borrego Desert, the largest of State Parks. I understand Borrego means Big Horn Sheep, who make this park their home. The only ones we saw were through a researcher’s telescope, because, with the heavy winter rains, they can remain high in the mountains for water for now. We camped three nights in our van – two at “primitive” sites, the third at a campground with no showers. We slept under a vast array of stars, more visible due to the low light pollution of the desert. It was hard to sleep the first two nights due to a persistent, fierce whipping of wind, that, besides the irregular patterned sound, frequently rocked our van all the long nights into morn. In the morning we drove around Galleta Meadows to see several metal art sculptures.
While staying at the park we had three wonderful day hikes. Two were led by a volunteer naturalist, Ted, who was a wealth of information with a fun sense of humor. On the first hike in Tubb Canyon I wore three layers under my coat the whole time to keep warm, as we were at a high elevation. On each of the hikes, including Palm Canyon Trail and Hellhole Canyon, we saw desert oases. Beautiful!
And there is more! We arrived for the week after the peak of the “Super Bloom” of Brittle Bush, still vibrant and plentiful. In addition we saw an incredible variety of blooms:
Acacia (Cat Claw)
Blue Dicks (Wild Hyacinth)
Brown Eyed Primrose
California Evening Primrose
Disodea (San Felipe Dogwood)
Dune Evening Primrose
Jumping Cholla (Teddy Bear)
among more that Ted had named that I did not capture, can you believe that long list? We also learned about the “not willow” trees: Desert Willow and Seep Willow. As well, we heard the calls of Canyon Wren, Desert Wren, Mockingbird, and Scott Oriole. Finally, we saw several of the large Sphinx moth caterpillar. A memorable three days!
Seeing the Sand Verbena reminded me of a Haiku that I wrote at Monterey Bay many years ago:
Pink and Yellow Sand Verbena
Claire Adalyn Wright
Pink and yellow Sand
Verbena is Vera, with
Ben in between her!
On our drive to Kingman, Arizona Loren and I stopped at the Salton Sea, drove through California’s Mecca – who knew we had such a place here, and, along Box Canyon Road where the Sonoran and Colorado deserts meet. We reminisced along this stretch of an Indian Reservation over similar drives we have had through Titus Canyon in Death Valley and Burr Trail Road in Utah years ago. Box Canyon Road is a great place to ride bicycles, but since we do not have our bikes, we went for a mid-morning hike!
Once we crossed the state line into Arizona we drove over the old London Bridge that spans the Colorado River in Havasu, then we drove to the nearby California border to pick up Route 66 near Needles. We had a stop at historic Oatman, Arizona where wild donkeys roam the period street representing life during the early settlement of the west.
In Kingman we visited both their Route 66 Museum and Mohave County Museum, drove past houses with both our namesakes on the National Historic Register – Williams House built in 1887 and Wright House built 1912, then ended our time in Kingman having a pleasant conversation over coffee with a Kingman local who is a friend of a friend of ours from Lower Lake, California.
We finished out this week with me taking a safari ride through Keepers of the Wild Animal Park in Valentine, while Loren relaxed and snapped photos of passing trains on Historic Route 66. Oh, and I should mention how I accidentally locked the keys in the van, where Loren’s spare key was also locked. From the generosity of 9th generation residents of Ash Fork, Arizona who tried to help, we waited two and a half hours for roadside assistance from Prescott to arrive. While it briefly snowed, the 10 year old daughter of our helper made some snowflakes from scrap paper to entertain us all!