About Me

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Somewhere in the Mojave Desert, California, United States
Gazing into this abyss called Life and wondering.....what's next !?!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The bonding powers of nature...

Can you remember those pivotal times in your life when your parents did something with you that changed your perspective on life? I can but enjoying nature wasn't one of them. It wasn't that my parents didn't appreciate the great outdoors. I just don't think they appreciated it the way I have learned to. And, as a parent myself, I try to instill that appreciation and necessary respect for it with my own children. So far, I think I've succeeded.

The other day, my youngest son and I took a tram nearly 2 1/2 miles straight up San Jacinto Mountain....about 8,000 ft. above sea level. From there, we hiked one way, just over 8 miles to a state park near the town of Idllywild. I've done this hike 2 times before, the first time with my daughter - we discovered the 'shorter, easier' route quite by accident. It is also, to me, the most scenic route. I would do this one quite regularly if it weren't for the tiny problem of finding someone to pick you up at the trail's end and take you back down the mountain to your car at the tram station. 

Luckily, some wonderful hiking buddies obliged us with a trip down for the small price of sharing a well-earned dinner and warm conversation. The experience of sharing the day and the journey with my son was priceless. This was his first hike of this length ever. And I don't think it will be his last. It was fun to see how he marveled at the things that crossed our path that day... (Lucky him, he saw a bald eagle...!)

Here are a few snapshots of our special day together:


Fresh and ready to go....














                            The beginning part of the hike sported many of these protruding straight up from bare dirt. My friend, Virginia, said they were 'snow flowers' which grow right up out of the snow. Lucky us to still get to enjoy them for a bit longer...














Only 6.8 more miles to go! We had already gone almost 2 miles at this point - mostly up, up, up....

















Getting into his hiking groove...  It was nice to share the hike together yet have some quiet reflection of our own as well...











Lunch break and cooling off the tootsies at Willow Creek.  The soothing sound of running water is a treat for desert dwellers like us...












           More lovely, gentle things to see and smell along the trail..............

















Crossing Willow Creek, again, and encountering more up, up, up....

















        Ah, a more level path with shady spots and lots and lots of green.......  Last October, when I did this hike with friends, all these ferns were gone, leaving wide open dried up space under the pines. I love how the trail is defined by the richness of the green...














Love the name of this area. No, it doesn't stink like one.....












And more green to stroll through amongst the tall, stately pines....  Can't you just smell the freshness?











A welcomed sign. Almost to the end!














I love this shot. My son, contemplating the horizon and the view. In the far distance are several large man-made lakes and ranching/farming communities below. There is also the town of Idllywild, an arts community, nestled in the pines directly below us.











We had a very special day. One I'm sure he will remember and, hopefully, pass on to his own children - should that figure into his future.....

When one has time on their hands...

Hello dear readers,

As you can see, I've changed my blog design yet again. 'Why did she choose a coastal background scene, an Atlantic coastal scene no less, when she lives in the desert!?!?' you may wonder. Well, the reason is simple, to me anyway. My two loves, the ocean and the desert are reflected here....both offering expanding vistas not just for the eyes but for the heart and soul as well. Aaahhh.....breathing space.

I had a wonderful 8+ mile hike across the San Jacinto Wilderness yesterday with my youngest son. More on that, sprinkled with a few photos, later on....

Thanks for following and engaging me with your own thoughts and contemplations.

Namaste,
Diana

Monday, June 25, 2012

Solo Sojourns...

The other day, wanting to take advantage of still coolish temps, I took myself on a quiet little solo hike on the Ryan Mountain trail in Joshua Tree National Park.  I arrived at the parking lot around 6:30pm - not sure I'd have enough time to make it to the top and back before dark - I thought I'd give it an honest go and the weather was absolutely perfect - slight breeze, high 70's at the trailhead, skies that went on forever....

I was the only one there, well, human-wise anyway.  I used to hike alone all the time. Then, getting tired of conversations on the trail with only me, I started a hiking group back in 2009 - looking for kindred spirits to share the adventure with and perhaps going a little deeper into territories yet unexplored. Not a good idea to hike alone when you are 10+ miles into the desert wilderness on unfamiliar paths. Things can happen. So, nearly 3 successful and fun years of hiking with many new acquaintances covering many new miles of trails, I find myself, once again, hiking solo. Things happen. So, on this day, I realized just how much I missed my solo sojourns. No one to kvetch about how fast or how slow someone else is hiking. No underhanded snide remarks about who is better at what. No catty undertones. That part of hiking with the masses I do not miss... Don't get me wrong. There were many, many hours and miles of laughter, collective ooohs and aahhhs over the surprises and vistas discovered along the trail, silly stories, heartfelt sharing of life experiences, and our infamous post-hike picnics.... But, with any growing collection of humans over time, the personalities emerge - posturing happens, someone feels the need to undermine and the unraveling begins.  After some heartache over what to do, I closed that chapter; tucked away the warm, happy memories; and pointed my compass in a new direction.


So, on this day, off I set - up the rocky steps, on to the top for only a mile and a half or so.....












.....and up around the bend, greeted by a stately  juniper with its companions, a trio of yuccas....












 ....and up some more, around another bend where a juniper branch frames my view of the valley below and the setting sun...











Now here is where the sojourn gets "interesting".  I am intent on watching my footing on the rocky path at the same time I am enjoying the changing light behind me. A quick movement catches my eye. Snake! But what kind??  Fortunately, just a red racer, maybe 2 feet in length. Nonpoisonous. But can be feisty just the same. And they will bite. Time for a photo? Of course, I think. It was resting just under a sage brush, its head raised slightly "looking" up its intended path. The wind picked up, blowing my scent up that intended path as well.....the snake literally whipped its head around, beady snake eyes fixed on me, tongue flicking out to taste my enemy status. I know snakes don't really have 'expressions'. However, this snake had a very perplexed, "I'm-not-happy-you-are-there" expression. And while red racers are not venomous, they are very feisty and will chase you. Yes, chase. Like go for you and you'd better run because they aim to bite when they reach you - which can be very quickly. My choices were to run back down, continue up, or tumble down the side of trail - into a lot of scratchy, prickly things. I opted to not wait for the photo and ran (yes, ran) on up the trail. Whew! Heart pounding. Feeling kind of silly. It's just a little nonpoisonous snake after all. I am not particularly afraid of them but within those very brief moments, I let the snake have its way without the digital capture.


A different kind of movement catches my eye at my feet. If you look closely, you can see an oval-ish seed in the center of this shot. Attached to this seed is an ant, 1/4 the size of the seed. I watched it diligently carrying its payload across the trail and all the way over to the side where it began working on the ascent apparently towards where all its busy camarades were taking supplies for their colony. This trail was particularly active today!









And so.....up and on I go only to 'feel' another presence. Yes, another snake loosely curled under a rock outcropping.  This time a rattler. This time I don't stick around to ponder an iPhone snapshot. Heart pounding a bit faster I discover I have cell service so I make a Facebook post to let my local friends know where to look for me should I run into an unfortunate-for-me situation. At this point I decide that maybe it's not a wise idea to continue alone, light waning, visibility dimming - headlamp or no headlamp. Snakes like the warmth of the rocks at night and the possibility of these creatures slithering out to rest along my path to safety is highly likely. 




A favorite of mine, the red barrel cactus. Still has a 'bite' to it if you aren't careful but they at least pose nicely for pictures.....






Not enough time to make the top and back while safely navigating around the creatures whose home I'm attempting to tread softly on.... The view is still spectacular and the peacefulness, necessary.












The way home is illuminated for me by the Mojave light.....






More things are illuminated by this magical light.... a variety of the prickly pear cactus....






















Back to the parking lot just in time to watch the sun dip below the horizon....













On the way home, I thought I'd check out Key's View.... Again, I am the only car there......


The valley below begins to prepare for the night.....


.....as the quiet descends upon the rest of us.





And so the sojourn goes............


All images © Diana Shay Diehl via iPhone4. May not be reprinted or shared without permission.




Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer solstice rambling

Happy Summer Solstice! (Well, yesterday....got a little waylaid on the post timing...) I wish I had something quintessential summer to share with you but, alas, I was in a 4+ hour board meeting yesterday late afternoon until just after 8pm. My summer solstice celebration was spent watching the last rays of the solstice sun fade under the horizon as I was driving home, due west.  Ah well.............  A beautiful sunset is never lost.

And now for some creative rambling.........

A friend posted these inspiring words by the late British photographer, Sam Haskins, via Facebook which got me to thinking:




                                                                                                                                                         
In planning my outdoor sojourns, does my usual cup of tea, laptop, and a good hiking guide make me a qualified hiking leader? Or a writer?  Or a travel blogger? Or a rambling on and on about anything and nothing blogger?


And what about these tools from my earlier days of using film and disposables and skinny point and shoots and 3 megapixel camera phones... Were they really necessary to hone an artistic eye?


Now, my arsenal includes an antiquated Canon 30D (still love it), about 6 different lenses with varying expense levels plus a Lensbaby series, some simple post processing software with 2 Macs and a scanner (still don't own Adobe Photoshop CS anything and probably never will....).  Does any of that make me truly a photographer? An artist? Or do I just like gadgets to play with - with hopes to capture some memorable moments?

I think it's time to stop buying gadgets and perfect what I own. Antiquated or not.  All of this is thinking out loud for me as I ponder,  'What do I want to really do with these efforts? These things? The experiences so far? Where do I want to go with this?'

Some say that heartfelt intentions create paths to get you to your destination. If that is so, and I believe it to be, then some of the opportunities presented to me in my 53 years of living have certainly shown me the intentions from the heart and soul have been heard.  It's been a fun journey so far. Let's see what the next fork in the road presents.......

Enjoy these long summer days and cooler starry evenings.........


All images ©Diana Shay Diehl


Monday, June 18, 2012

Then and now

Still feeling nostalgic for my east coast summer sojourns. I know, somewhere in my archives, that I have a very similar shot from maybe 35 or so years ago. The view is pretty much the same. The polaroid patina no different than a slight treatment in post processing on a digital shot taken barely a month ago.

This is a quintessential Atlantic beach scene....except this happens to also be the western facing shore of the Gulf of Mexico - Gulf Islands National Seashore to be exact. Still east coast in my book. I love how the powdery sand drifts against the fencing with seagrass delicately growing along the ridges and slopes. This scene was there back then and remains for now. It speaks of lingering by the seashore, wandering aimlessly in body and mind while the spirit renews. Summer.


















 2012 ©Diana Shay Diehl / Gulf Islands National Seashore





Thursday, June 7, 2012

7 June 2012

A different kind of horizon.  Way up over our heads, this is a snippet of what's going on up there. Pretty incredible when you think about it - humans "flying" from Point A to Point B. In the time it takes me to drive to Santa Barbara, California from my house, I can be clear across the United States.... on a completely different coast next to a completely different ocean. Thousands of miles covered in mere hours. What's not to be in awe of over that?

Lofty views.... somewhere over Texas.












What do you suppose is going on in the shot below?

Another view from over 30,000 feet..........


 2012 © Diana Shay Diehl

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

5 June 2012

Sand and sky....

 2012 © Diana Shay Diehl / Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

Monday, June 4, 2012

4 June 2012

"C'mon o'er here! Look here! C'mon in! Beer's cold n da music is loud!"

An interesting experience of walking the French Quarter in New Orleans is having people from the various bars that line the streets try to entice you in to their particular bar. And they are not rude or obnoxious about it at all. In fact, there is a genuine, friendly and jovial air that isn't necessarily stemming from the libations poured inside. New Orleanians are just plain nice people.

This guy didn't mind me taking his picture, even though I didn't want to come in. What you don't see is another guy who kept ducking inside the doorway just to the right of this shot. He, too, was trying to get people's attention for his friend but went to great lengths to dodge the click of my shutter. Wonder why...? I'd love to hear the stories of those who brave this life in the flood, tornado, and hurricane ravaged city along the waters of the Mississippi and the Gulf.....

Next trip. I ask more questions.


2012 © Diana Shay Diehl

Sunday, June 3, 2012

3 June 2012

City living....downtown New Orleans style at dusk.  I believe this particular area bordered on the Warehouse and French Quarter districts....

2012 ©Diana Shay Diehl

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2 June 2012

This is definitely an east coast site that I have missed in my 25+ years now living on the west coast.....

I don't know of any places along the California coast, in particular, with fencing like this. We definitely don't have this fine powdered, pure white sand. Did you know that much of the sands of the Florida beaches come from weathering of the quartz in the Appalachian Mountains? They are washed into the rivers that flow into the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Fragments of shells, limestone, coral, and organic matter will give beaches different colors and textures but it's the pure white powdery stuff - like fine sugar - that is nearly pure quartz crystals.

I chose to 'antique' this particular shot. The actual version is pure white with a slight blue tinge due to the reflection of sky and turquoise waters.  Either way, this is nostalgia for me...

2012 © Diana Shay Diehl / Naval Air Station Beach, Pensacola, FLA

Friday, June 1, 2012

1 June 2012

AWOL. That means, in military speak, absence without leave.....

Yes. That has been me from this site of late.

So here is one of many photos as to why.  I've had a glorious few weeks - part of which was spent with my daughter in Florida - celebrating yet another milestone towards her Navy career.  I think this particular shot might be from her hand - with my camera (but I can't be sure as both of us were snapping away, sharing one lens....pretty sure this is her...) - as I was meandering down that path towards the Gulf of Mexico on the grounds of the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida......

2012 ©Diana or Aubrey Shay Diehl / NAS. Pensacola, FLA