Monday, December 29, 2008

A few new carvings

Eagle head cane Whale Bottle stopper

Well, Christmas has past and things have returned to normal. The Tuesday before Christmas I came down with a virus and was sick till Saturday. Other then that, things have been great here. I carved all the grandkids snowman ornaments for Christmas. The whale bottlestoper went to Matt and Beth. The eagle cane I made just because I wanted to make another one. The first one I sold, so I wanted one for show and tell. The bad thing I did was not taking pictures of all the things I made for Christmas. I got in such hurry to get them all done and shipped to the people that they were made for, that I forgot to get pics. I hope to get pictures of the them later. I am now working on things to put in the fair that is coming up in February.
The weather here has been a little on the cool side, high 30s at night, high 50s during the day. Today it got back up in the 70s. That's the way we like it. We have been hiking almost every day. There is a Great Horned Owl that is living in the grove a mile away. We go down there a lot to see of he is in a place that I can get some good pictures of him. We have been taking visitors out to view him when we get time.
Till next time
Duane and Louise

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Great horned owl

Ocotilla bloom
Snow on the mountians around us

Great Horned Owl

We went on a hike this morning and spotted a great horned owl in one of the plam trees. It was the first time we had seen an owl here. I have had a few people come in the center and tell me about where they had seen an owl, so we went looking for it. Along the trail to the grove where we saw the owl is the lone ocotilla plant. We think it was planted here years ago as it is not natural to the preserve. It had one bloom on it.
It rained all day yesterday, very different from the norm. The rain should wake up the desert and bring out more flowers. The big flower time here is not until February . The weather is cooler now, 40's at night, low 70's during the day. The mountians were covered with snow when we got up. Most of it was gone this evening.
Till next time
Duane and Louise

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We are back to work

Well it's back to work after our trip to Matt and Beth's. I led my first hike today. We went back to an area that most people don't hike to. The first pic is of the wall of the mud walled canyon we hiked into. There is a lot of erosion on the hill sides, really pretty cool looking . The hike was almost 6 miles in lenght. Louise worked in the center while I led the hike, her first day working by herself. She survived just fine.
The caterpillars are American Queens. They resemble Monarchs but are much smaller. The babies are the cutest in California! If you see them together you don't know they are siblings. Jack is a curly red head with bright blue eyes. Katie has a head full of dark straight hair and of course the usual newborn brown eyes. We'll have to wait a while to see if they start looking more like each other.
We are battling mild cold symptoms but otherwise are fine and busy getting ready for Christmas.
That's about it for now.
Duane and Louise

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Katherine Alice Buechter

Louise, Katie, Jack, Matt
Katherine Alice

All snuggled up
Here's the new little star on our horizon, grandbaby #6, granddaughter #3. Katherine Alice debuted this morning at 9:18. The first picture is Grandma Weezie holding Katie. Big brother Jack is giving her a kiss while Daddy watches. Everyone but Grandma was apprehensive about this because Jack is usually a little whirlwind around the house, but I knew he would be gentle with his little sis.
We are visiting here in Walnut Creek, CA for the week. We arrived yesterday afternoon, just in time to babysit Jack while mom and dad went to the hospital to have Katie. While we are here we will celebrate Christmas with them before heading back home. We left sunshine and warm weather, drove through fog for most of the last half of the journey, and are experiencing overcast skies and chilly damp weather today. Yuchh! But Jack is a pretty sunny fellow with his curly red hair and dimply toothy grin. He makes us laugh.
I guess that's enough for anyone who isn't family ( or maybe if you are!)
Louise and Duane

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

View from the living room
View of the valley

Canyon view

Neato dragonfly
Aren't we just the most adventurous folks!!! Last Sunday we hiked the trail back to Moon Country. This is another mile and a half behind the McCallum Oasis. It's called Moon Country because the canyon is all rocky and not much grows there. When we got there we followed the flags up hill. We were picking out the proposed connector trail between Moon Country and Willis Palms. It leads up the side of the tallest of the Indio Hills. We toiled up the side of the hill and proudly stood on the highest point 1,308' above sea level. (We started from 650'.) The first view is to the north east. Sun City is to the far left and the mountains are the Little San Bernadinos and the southwest boundry of Josua Tree National Park. The other view is of a mud canyon. The fault action grinds the earth and rock upward. A chemical reaction changes some of this into mud. When we were done rubbernecking we followed the flags to the Willis Palm connection then struck off for home. We simply picked our direction and followed the easiest (?) way down. This involved zigzagging and following the downhill runoffs. Four hours after we started we arrived safe and very tired back home. The dragonfly was just waiting along the trail for a photo op. The quail are daily visitors outside our window. There is a fruiting palm there that attracts them. (Remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them.) We hope you enjoy living vicariously through our wonderful adventures.
Enough for now, Louise and Duane

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's been a while

Western Diamond Back
The Pond

View from the trail

View Across the Valley

View From the Top
We're back!!!! We finally got both problems fixed on the computer and are in back in business. While we were down we made a couple of excursions around us. One day we went to Big Morongo Wildlife Preserve. This is north and west of us, outside the western boundry of Josua Tree. This area is made up of the same mud, sand, and gravel as our area, but has defined areas of canyon, mesquite valley and boggy area. Very interesting. No pix from there, though. The pix above are, from the top my first rattlesnake sighting in the wild! I was so excited I hoofed it 10 min. back to the house to get my cameraman to record the historic experience for all the world to see. Actually I heard it first, and had to really look to see it. The next pic is of McCallum Pond at our oasis. The next three are the result of another of our excursions. This one was to the top of the San Jacinto Mts. via the tram. The whole trip was awsome! The tram was $22 apiece, but it went up about 8000'. The tram floor revolved twice around on each trip so everyone got a full view. On top was a different world--there was still gravel, mud, and sand, but there were trees. Mostly pines. There were a couple of paved walks around the buildings, but we opted for a wilderness hike. The hike took us down the side of the mountain to a valley, up the other side, along the top, down the side again and back up to the ranger station. From there was a short level walk then up the pavement to the buildings again. Total hike--about 5 mi. We of course were unprepared for the 40 d. temp change, and stayed chilly in spite of our exertions. But we survived, and had a great time. We saw one scrub jay and some other birds, but no other wildlife. Our third excursion was to the Salton Sea, but we took no pix this year. We were there last year, but not at migration time. This time the sea was full of white pelicans, blue herons, white egrets, all kinds of ducks. The shores were alive with waders like the stilts. We didn't think to bring the camera. Duh!! In the middle pic of the mountain top, if you look at the top of the rock (on the left) you can just make out the tram station. The station is a large complex of tram station and waiting room, two restaurants, a couple of gift shops, several viewing patios, and a theater. In the bottom picture, the white vertical lines are huge wind turbines (hundreds of them) at the wind farm down on the valley floor.
If you want to view these beauties for yourself, feel free to visit us. You can stay with us or there are several hotels/motels close by. We will be glad to play tour guide for you!
Basta por hoy!
Louise and Duane

Friday, November 21, 2008

On line again

We just got the computer back from the shop tonight. It seems to be working fine, I hope it stays working. I will do some picture editing tomorrow and post again tomorrow night if all goes well. We have been without the computer for over a week. The fan went out and I took it in the repair shop, they fixed it, brought it home, it just shut it's self down. Took it back to the repair shop, they had trouble finding what was causeing it to shut down. So far, so good, keeping my fingers crossed.
That's it for now
Duane and Louise

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Computer trouble

Sorry about not posting much lately. The fan went out on the computer and it will only run about 15 minutes and then shuts off because of overheating. I have ordered a fan and should have it any day now. I am going to install it myself, so, providing I don't destroy the computer, we should be back to publishing pictures soon. We have had a few days off and have been site seening the area. I have a lot of pictures to go through if only the computer would run long enough. I better get off here before it shuts off.

Till next time
Duane and Louise

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our boss, Ginny and Louise
Louise exiting Hidden Palms
The road to Horseshoe Palms
Near the top of the ridge
Horsehoe Palms from the ridgetop
Lizard molting

Hidden Palms (other end)
Hidden Palms
Hidden Palms
Hidden Palms
Ok, Ok so we posted more palms. The reason is to show how diverse the palm oasis can be. The palms usually grow along a sandy/stony wash, as this one does, but other bushes grow here too. There was a fire in Hidden Palms, so it is more open. In the pic of me walking down the road, look at the hill running from the base of the palms to the top. The pic of me near the top was taken on a footpath there, as was the view of the palms from the top. We visited these two oases today, on a 2 1/2 hr. hike. There was a cool west wind that kept us from overheating. Unfortunately that wind also brought in a lot of haze so the views weren't clear. The pic of Ginny and me was taken Wed. We were the lizard hunting crew for Tues and Wed. We were all sighters, Ginny was catcher, Duane photographer, and I was recorder and trash picker. The trash usually consists of cans and bottles (mostly beer) that people are too lazy to pack out with them. The rest of today will be business as usual. Duane will man the visitors' center while I work on embroidery and keep an eye on the parking lot for a couple of reasons. I make sure people don't get confused and wander into our living area (the trail to the center goes right past us), and I head for the center to help out if we get a lot of visitors at one time.
Basta por hoy (enough for now)! Louise and Duane

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Drive and Hike

Road up the mountian
A view of the Salton Sea
A stream in the desert
Waterfalls in the desert
Willis Palms
I know, I know, you've seen one palm tree, you've seen 'em all. That's pretty much the case around here. The palms here are from our hike today. We left late--8am. Because of the heat we need to be on the trail at daybreak--about 6:30, but we just can't seem to motivate ourselves that early. However, we are getting better at hiking in the heat. We made this hike in about 2 hours. That's pretty good for a 4 miler. Remember we are walking mostly on loose, deep sand. And did I mention that its hot? The daytime highs of 100+ or - are lower than the usual summertime highs of 115, but its still hot. We're not complaining, though. It beats being cold.
The first picture is our scenic drive up the Santa Rosa mountains on Saturday. We went up there to visit the town of Anza which spreads itself along a mountain valley. The local woodcarvers were demo-ing at a little festival there, so we went to join the ranks. The drive was worth it. Awsome! The second pic is from a roadside viewpoint near the top. We could see all the valley towns and the north end of the Salton Sea. The other two are from our hike today. This stream feeds the pool at our oasis and runs south through the Preserve, under the road, and along the other side before disapearing into the ground. The rule here is, if there is green, there is water. The oases are natural water. The towns are irragated.
Today was our first day of working. It was also the first day the center is open all day for the season. Duane slaved in the center (4 hours) greeting visitors and answering questions--for all 12 of them. Mostly he read magazines. I stayed in the house and kept cool working on my embroidery. Tough jobs, but...
Basta por hoy! Louise and Duane

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Great Lizard Hunt

Since our last post we have turned into field scientists. After a day off yesterday exploring the towns and running errands, we took to the sand dunes today to hunt for elusive fringed toed lizard, whose domain we are guarding here in the Coachella Valley. To do so we had to drive several miles west on I10, take a side street, park, and walk to the smaller dunes. We went with our boss, Ginny, the manager of the Center For Natural Lands Management here at the Oases. Our other companions were three guys from the state fish and wildlife. Armed with our desert hiking accroutrements, we walked across the highway and up the dunes to their study area. For three and a half hours we walked along the dunes looking for our lizards. When one was caught with the noose stick, it was measured and numbered on back and belly with permanent marker (which comes off with the next shedding). Its tail tip was snipped and preserved for future DNA testing, and two toenails clipped for futher identification. Of course all this info was recorded along with exactly where in the (scientists') grid area it was found. It was then released. Once caught they became docile and sat quietly for all of the above stated shenanigans. Once released they sped away as fast as they could, which was like a streak of lightning. These lizards and the snake in the pic were about the only wildlife we saw, excepting some grasshoppers and one teeny butterfly. We were pretty pumped about the snake. It was the first sidewinder we had ever seen in the wild. It was curled at the base of a creosote bush. We would have walked right past it but the sharp-eyed herpatologist in our group pointed it out. We saw tracks aplenty--kangaroo rat, coyote, desert fox, some kind of large beetle, various sizes of sidewinder, and of course lots of lizard tracks. Very interesting. About noon we knocked off. The guys went their way, while Ginny led us to her favorite local Mexican restaurant. While we ate, Duane and I soaked up information about the Preserve. That was it for us as scientists. Back home we are doing our things--carving and sewing Christmas presents.

Later. Louise and Duane

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The nature preserve

Looking up through the palms

The pond in the desert
Gambel quail
One of the oases
Looking away from the oasis
Today we took a hike to the Indian Palms Oasis (last two pics). This is typical of all the oases here--hidden within folds of the canyons. We walked across the desert sand and rocks so we got a good workout on our two hour, two mile walk. After our walk we stopped by the visitors' center to listen to Barb talk with visitors. Having earned our keep for the day, we retired to our air conditioning for a cool off and a cold drink. The rest of the day we goofed off. Duane watched football. I worked soduko puzzles and sewed my latest project in the afternoon. Not much happened today. Yesterday we found the Michaels and a pretty good local pizza place. I am pleased to report that we got our furnace fan fixed. Duane was finally able to knock off all the mud wasp nest. Unfortunately, our other critters are still traveling with us, although their numbers are slowly diminishing (I hope). Every once in a while a black jumping spider will quietly rapel from the air conditioner, or a web weaver will slowly drift down looking for all the world like a dust mote. They are dispached immediately. The ant colony is taking longer. I devised a plan to hurry them along to the great ant hill in the sky. I put out a dish of honey. They make their way to it like miners to gold. They line up along the inside edge of the dish, their noses in the honey and their abdomens up in the air. There they stay until they are drunk. It is quite humorous to see them stagger away, so full they can't walk properly. Unfortunately for them, disaster always strikes. Yes another uneventful day here, where wiping out ants is a diversion.
More later. Louise and Duane

Friday, September 19, 2008

At Last!

Our new office
Our new digs

At last we are back on line. We have been having trouble with our net connection--we kept getting dropped. After several hours on the phone and computer with the tech, Duane got us straightened out. Now I can type away with impunity! Here we are at our new home for the next six months. We have enjoyed our travels on the way here, except for a rather sweaty night at the BLM at Quartzsite, but not it is time to get busy again. We arrived Friday and have been aquainting ourselves with the nearby towns that run along the valley along I10. So far we have made cursory explorations of Thousand Palms, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Desert. These towns all run together with town limits marked by the names of the towns on the bottoms of the street signs. So far we have found the closest Wal-Mart, post office, church, Barnes and Nobel bookstore, and all the quilt stores. We have our priorities, you know. Tomorrow we plan to fine the Michaels craft store. Alas, no Hobby Lobbys on the west coast! Tomorrow we also plan to start aquainting ourselves with the many hiking trails here at Coachella Nature Preserve. We visited with our neighbors and fellow docents (sounds classy doesn't it). Barb and Bob have been here 5 years and will be our trainers in the welcome center. They don't hike, so we will be on our own there until the guided hikes start in October. Meantime we are to aquaint ourselves with all aspects of the 20,000 acres of our new home. Our boss Jenny is the head of the Center for Natural Lands Management, the non-profit group that owns and manages this little oasis. There are several other federal and state managers. The preserve is part of the Sonoran Desert. It's hot now, but the evenings are cool and the days will start cooling off soon. For now we go out and about in the am and try to stay cool in the afternoon. By the way, the visitors center is directly behind the coach on the other side of those palms. We scoot through the gap and come out at the back of the center.

I guess I've bored you enough for now. Louise and Duane