It is the very birthday of the 100 year old Gigi.
Cousins, children, grandchildren, great and great-great grandchildren all around. And friends too. Gigi is pleased and gratified to tears.
My first baby niece, Tammie, radiates love. She lives and works as an ER nurse in Florida.
I feel extreme gratitude for her safe journey here to share the celebration and to see the cousin reunion. Just as Tammie was my first little baby of a sibling, Chris was her closest little cousin. As she and Chris hug and cry for the joy of it, she reminds him that she used to fly him around like an airplane with a grip on arm and leg.
|The Gigi with great & great-great grandchildren|
This is my precious niece, Tammie, delivering a monster hug to her mom, my darling sister, Marilyn. Big love.
Several days in January: The days full of family and friends slip by joyfully but we find that we have a certain longing for the big outdoors. Coincidentally we are kicked out of Diamond Jacks. There is a big group coming in for which the clubhouse suddenly needs a new hot water heater and other deluxe updates. Even though we are paid up through tonight, we are encouraged to move on. It seems a little odd, but we are happy to comply. We'll camp tonight in the Cleveland National Forest surrounded by trees and no other people. We promise ourselves that we will get the inadvertently retained bathroom key in the mail to Jack asap.
Here is a potent companion read: Mike Davis' No One is Illegal and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. Both seem appropriate reading for a visit to Southern California. Mike Davis's childhood home was next door to mine. His political, cultural histories of the area are excellent. Not cheery.
Today while searching for just the right table to hold the Gigi's new cactus and succulent collection, the very book for which i have been searching for ~5 years appears near the checkout cashier. Our search for the table took us to second hand stores. We didn't find the right table, but we did find new sun hats. It is in paying for the hats that Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde comes into view. I became entranced long ago with his Lost in a Good Book but had to return it to the library. I never imagined that i would loose the title and author, but have been searching my memory and Google ever since. It is a Thursday Next novel. Highly recommended if you are a reader of fiction and enjoy intrigue.
We travel from big over-populated city east on Highway 8 until we arrive at the Sunrise Highway. The drive is a steady climb to the top of Mt Leguna. My parents brought us here to play in the snow ever so many years ago. When there is snow on Mt Leguna (elevation 6,000 ft) it is clearly visible from the valley below.
Alex strikes up a conversation with a couple of guys at the Leguna camp supply store, and discovers that they have been in this family business for 75 years. During a recent snow storm there were 5,000 cars parked all over the place while people played in the snow. Some pickup truck drivers were filling truck beds with snow to take back to the valley for their kids rather than bringing the kids up to the snow.
The drive from the top of Mt Leguna to the desert floor is scenic and twisty. It is the Banner grade - and crosses the Pacific Crest Trail. Did you read Cheryl Strayed's book? I recall another hiker from ~20 years ago, one that Joyce Teague introduced me to. He was a young man hiking the trail to raise money for people in need of prosthetic limbs. I met him when he came to University of Michigan for either medical school or PT school...I think. He was young - and his determination to hike the distance from the Mexico border to Canada raised funds that helped a lot of people who may never have the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the physical challenge the way we do.
We stop by one campground, Tamarisk Grove. It looks inviting, but is close to the road in a sort of desert oasis next to a dry riverbed. The cost is $25/night, showers extra. More exploring is in order. After a stop at a fine* little Borrego Springs grocery store we head east into the open desert. The rules are that campers can be no more than a car's length off the road to protect desert life. There are numerous dirt roads trailing off into the desert that allow for pretty secluded, quiet camping. The Q is well equipped for this too. We roast ourselves in the warm sunshine until the sky gets orange, pink, and blue. Cost for this camping site = $0.
*Fine = they have my favorite pan dulce item: ginger pigs.
We're awake as usual as soon as the sun begins to create light in the sky. Today's journey takes us a mere 15 miles over rocky, bumpy roads to hike Rockhouse Canyon.
Our guidebook is about 25 years behind usefulness, but we attempt to hike to what we think is Rockhouse, hoping to see the very house as well as other former habitations. No positive ID, but the hike is really beautiful. Green is ever more present the higher we go in the canyon. It is a box canyon with boulders threatening any hikers who attempt to climb up and over.
Q is quite capable on these rocky roads.
And if the sun is setting, it must be time to practice ukulele chords.
The slow drive in & out of the canyon is on a road that has served the original indigenous people over eons. Reading Mike Davis' book makes me feel like continuously apologizing for being a descendent of caucasians who wreaked havoc on established communities of people who didn't feel like they had to declare ownership of land. It seems odd that we white people believe that we can own the earth.
During the night - big wind 30-40 mph rocking Q.
Animal sightings: desert walking stick, lizards, butterflies, hummingbirds,
Coyote! And the next day begins with big color:
Restoration day: day use pass for Palm Canyon campground = showers, new water pump and water tank refill. Alex buys me pumpkin bread from a baker who is knitting outside the grocery store. If you are imagining an older woman, re-imagine her young. Tonight we camp along the Blair Valley road on the way to hike to pictographs. The air is fresh and still laden with the post rain fragrances of the the dessert.