February 28, 2007
Coachella Valley Hiking Club visited McCoy Springs. Compare their photo with mine. Theirs and mine.
Finally! Tonight during my channel surfing I've come across one of the great (only?) benefits of Adelphia being swallowed up by Time-Warner: high school wrestling from all the schools of the valley. It's great to see young men developing their self-confidence and athletic ability...while in close physical contact with another young man.
More Hike Photos
Photo by PSHiker.
We've had clear skies and high winds the last few days, but the wetter weather over toward L.A. hovers on our western horizon. This photo was taken heading west on route 111 toward Windy Point.
DHS City Council Candidates
The Desert Sun asks questions of all five candidates for the city council seat in Desert Hot Springs. This one is interesting:
Who are your top three advisers?
Karl Baker: "City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, Assistant City Manager Steve Mendoza and members of the general public."
Bobby Bentley: "My mother, a law professor and Lance Webber."
Scott Matas: "The police chief, the fire chief and city manager."
Ted Mayrhofen: "God - I pray a lot - and people on both sides of every issue."
Adam Sanchez: "Jaime Hertodle, many of the people in Bonnie Garcia's front office and my wife."
Something New For Our Highways
Each urinal bag is about the size of a regular wallet but much thinner, with a recyclable paper opening featuring a one-way valve, smartly connected to the bag containing safe absorbent material.
The absorbent material turns liquid waste into a non-toxic odourless gel that can later be neatly disposed off.
So, instead of seeing those plastic bottles with deep yellow liquid lying alongside our highways we can look forward to seeing non-toxic odorless gels lying alongisde our highways. A little discussion on the product's biodegradability (or lack thereof) would be nice.
I suspect this device is designed only for use by men.
February 27, 2007
Maybe everybody's already seen this, but a very funny (6:55) video from the ellen show.
Saline Valley Photos
Some nice pictures around the springs in Saline Valley, but what will catch your eye is the man in clothes!
The Bougainvillea Question
Our cold January weather had various effects on the vegetation throughout Coachella Valley. But there was no variation in the bougainvilleas: all were laid bare in just one night. Some of mine have started growing new leaves, but we all are waiting to see how many are simply dead. Some people, anticipating greater temperature fluctuations as global warming worsens, wonder if they should replace the bougainvilleas with something with a greater frost tolerance. But what would that be? Even if we get more frequent frosts, summer temps will still touch 120°. Should we import plants from Mars?
Some I've talked to are considering Arizona cypress, but that's not gonna give us color like a bougainvillea. But now comes this suggestion via the Desert Horticultural Society:
You might look at the rows of Sophora secundiflora that are growing in the parking lot in front of Bed/Bath Beyond and Target. They pruned them as trees.
I live in Cathedral City and my 8 foot shrub stayed nice and green thru the freeze. It is a nice deep green all year long. There is a gray leaf variety too.
It is starting to bloom now. The blue/violet flowers smell a little like lilacs. large clusters like wisteria.
The seed pods are interesting but poisonous. Plant is not messy. It is from Texas.
I got mine from Living Desert 4 years ago. Another oddity: It sets many bloom spikes the previous year and they open the following spring. So don't prune the plant in the fall or you may cut off twigs that will be blooms in the spring.
Shrub pruning would make good screening and tree type would look nice as stand alone plants.
You could plant some gray foilage like the evergreen shrub butterfly buddleja
marrubiifolia in front for contrast.
Bill Bulger, Master Gardener and Naturalist Living Desert
Here's a little more info on the Sophora secundiflora where we learn that it is hardy down to 10°(F)! Photos here.
Here's what the Western Garden Book has to say:
Naturally shrubby, but can be trained into tree with short, slender trunk or multiple trunks, narrow crown, upright branches. Blooms from midwinter to early spring, bearing sweet-scented violet-blue flowers in drooping 4-8 inch clusters reminiscent of wisteria. A white-flowered form is occasionally available. "Silver Peso" has silvery foliage. Silvery gray or brown, woody 1-8 inch long seedpods open when ripe to show poisonous, bright red, ½-inch seeds. If left untrained, makes a good large screen or background hedge. Thrives in heat and alkaline soil. Moderate water.
Casablanca in DHS
An article about Casablanca Studios in Desert Hot Springs and its founder, Leanna Bonamici.
Bonamici will be among a diverse group of women to be honored by American Pen Women at the Women of Distinction in the Arts luncheon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Thunderbird Country Club. The event serves as a fundraiser for scholarships for women pursuing an education in the arts.
Tickets are $65. Reservations: 760-346.8059
The website for Casablanca Studios and my photo of the building:
This past Saturday I joined some of our usual suspects to go along with Just Runs on a 4WD trip into Coyote Canyon in Anza-Borrego State Park. It was, I think, the first time I've been on a Jeep trip where we got to drive through WATER! Yeah, genuine liquid, flowing water. Right there in the damn desert.
We also got to see one of the biggest stands of ocotillo I've ever seen (makes Joshua Tree's ocotillo patch look patchy), and more Boy Scouts than I've seen since I was a young'un. There were a few different troops taking their different approaches to the canyon. In one troop, a Jeep carried most of the gear while the boys carried nothing. Nothing! Not even water. Accompanying them were a few men with backpacks, presumably containing water, food and first aid equipment.
Another troop looked like they'd just stepped off the cover of Boy's Life magazine, everyone carrying full backpacks, and everyone dressed as Boy Scouts.
My complete set of photos is here. Below are some samples:
Here's a Google satellite image pointing to the spot where we stopped for lunch, which was our deepest penetration into the canyon. Looking a bit south you can easily see the green, wet area we drove through.
As we drive into Borrego Springs, Scott (my intrepid Jeepster) told me that real estate people were trying to promote Borrego Springs as the next Palm Springs. Superficially, it looked promising. The mountains west of town looked as big as the San Jacintos and the town is completely surrounded by a huge state park, putting a real limit on development. We thought that with a longer runway and a casino, the town might be able to go big time. So I did a little bit of real estate searching just out of curiosity.
I'm afraid it looks like the prices are already up to Palm Springs levels. Here you'll find a listing for a 3 bedroom home with 3½ baths, 3,443 square feet on a lot that's between ¼ acre and ½ acre. Price is only $1,224,500. Maybe this is just an example of a real estate agent who doesn't know how to promote a property. There's no photo and no explanation of why the property might be worth so much.
On the other hand, something in a range more like we would see in Desert Hot Springs is this little 3 bedroom number for $249,000:
Sunday night I got to enjoy the Academy Awards on a really big high definiton TV. I have it on very reliable authority that all the technology on the household end was top line stuff. Not only that, but the host was quite gracious and the other guests were fun and thoroughly knowledgable on the subject of film, and the endless supply of deep-fried mushrooms helped me to maintain my stamina throughout the lengthy program.
The most fascinating aspect to this hi-def TV was being able to see all the flaws in the people in the background. I'm sure the theater audience included several professional assassins and deposed dictators.
But I have a question for those of you who are fully informed on the complex electronic route a high-definition signal follows from the cameras at the Kodak theater to the point where it appears in front of me and my mushrooms. I frequently saw artifacts that looked just like those one sees in JPEGs that have been excessively compressed. These artifacts would disappear in less than a second after they appeared. So it looked to me like a new image was coming in slowly, or in parts. It was especially noticeable when they displayed black text on a white background that was supposed to look like a typewritten page. For just a brief moment noise is visible in the white area near the black text, and then it's gone, giving us a very crisp image.
So if there's some caching or delay where might be likely to be happening? All along the way? Down there at the old Adelphia office on Palm Drive? On some bit of equipment along the way? Or is this an inherent part of high-def TV? Do they send a fast, compressed image first, followed quickly by a higher quality image?
February 26, 2007
Smoke It The Bear
More Protection Coming Our Way!
BTW, Mr. Myers is a Republican. Like you didn't already guess that.
I'll be leading another GOPS moonlight hike on Saturday evening, March 3. We'll be hiking the Bump & Grind Trail in Palm Desert. If you want to join in, meet us in front of Hunters on Arenas in Palm Springs at 7 PM. If you're not a member of GOPS, we'll collect 2 bucks from you.
A flashlight is recommended, in addition to all the usual desert hiking gear - but no sunblock.
Driving to Anza-Borrego on Saturday, we went to pull into that nasty gas station along 86S that's going to be the Torres-Martinez casino some day. Even though the place is fairly new (not much more than a year old, IIRC) it's got broken displays on the gas pumps, broken plumbing in the men's room, and is generally filthy. But the first thing everyone notices is that its driveway doesn't quite line up with the short access road to 86S, so you drive from pavement onto dirt, turn a little bit of an angle and then onto the pavement of the gas station.
Saturday we saw that the driver of a car transporter had failed to negotiate that little wiggle as well as desired:
February 24, 2007
In World War II the areas east of the Coachella Valley all the way to the Colorado River, plus large swathes of Arizona and Nevada were one great army training ground. Patton's forces were the most famous of the men who trained here. Their traces are still readily visible in the delicate desert.
Two years ago I took these two photos of Camp Rice from the air.
Yesterday I managed to get there on the ground. I drove a few of the roads. The block pattern was easily discernible, but being only 6 feet tall I couldn't see the overall layout, so I couldn't tell where I was within the camp. Some photos from there:
Here are plaques found along route 62 that mark the entrances to Camp Rice and Camp Iron Mountain.
The text on the Camp Rice plaque:
Rice Divisional Camp
Desert Training Center
California-Arizona Maneuver Area
Camp Rice was established at this site in the spring of 1942. It was one of twelve such camps built in the southwestern deserts to harden and train United States troops for service on the battlefields of World War II. The Desert Training Center was a simulated theatre of operations that included portions of California, Arizona and Nevada. The other camps were Young, Coxcomb, Granite, Iron Mountain, Ibis, Clipper, Pilot Knob, Laguna, Horn, Hyder and Bouse.
A total of 13 infantry divisions and 7 armored divisions plus numerous smaller units were trained in this harsh environment. The training center was in operation for almost 2 years and was closed early in 1944 when the last units were shipped overseas. During the brief period of operation over one million American soldiers were trained for combat.
The 5th Armored Division, nicknamed "The Victory Division," began combat operations in France in July 1944 and quickly gained a reputation for combat excellence, spearheading the Normandy breakout of the 3rd Army.
It was the first division to reach the Seine River, first to enter Belgium, first to reach and liberate Luxembourg, first to fight on German soil, first to plunge through the Siegfried Line. V-E Day found the 5th AD on the Elbe River 45 miles from Berlin.
Campaigns: Normandy, northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe.
The 5th Armored Division was the 1st unit trained at Camp Rice.
This monument is dedicated to all the soldiers that served here, and especially for those who gave their lives in battle, ending the Holocaust & defeating the armed forces of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan.
Plaque placed by the Billy Holcomb Chapter of the Ancient & Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, the 5th Armored Division Association, and in co-operation with the Bureau of Land Management, Indio Resource Area and the Vidal Maintenance Staton, Caltrans.
May 5th, 1991
Colorado River Aqueduct
Where it crosses route 62 at Iron Mountain. Google map here.