Birthday Celebration in the Gorge – February 2022

Winter camp south of St. George, Utah

Clifford and I are camped in the desert south of St. George, Utah, for this winter season. Although it is warmer than Montana, which is now our home-base and where family is, it is definitely winter in this very northwest corner of Arizona. There are some days when we can sit outside to play music, many days when I go for solitary walks, and days when Clifford sits outside to review Carnicom Institute research. However, there are nights that are in the low teen and days when all projects are done indoors.

Grateful for a warm place to spend cold days.

On my birthday we join forces with our friend David and a couple he met camping here at Black Rock, and we pick up more trash from the campsites and the parking area at Black Rock Road. David has arranged for a dumpster to be delivered and on the delivery day, other folks join in and a large dumpster is filled to the brim with all the trash we have picked up.

Waiting for the dumpster
The trash picker-uppers

Picking up trash wasn’t what I had in mind for a birthday celebration, so we watch the weather and wait for a forecast of a sunny day with mild temperatures. A few days later when the right conditions materialize, we head to the Virgin River Gorge, about ten miles away, for a picnic outing to celebrate. I want to go to Cedar Pockets, the campground in the Virgin River Gorge but it is still closed for repairs. So, we take the overpass to the other side of I-10 and drive up the dirt road to a spot that works for a picnic.

Finding a place in the Virgin River Gorge for a picnic

We pick up trash using our “grabbers,” before we set up a table and spread out the picnic.

Birthday picnic in the Virgin River Gorge

After eating, we play music – Clifford with his dulcimer and tongue drum and me with the fiddle, playing fiddle tunes.

Music in the Virgin River Gorge

While we are there, a woman who had stopped to walk her dog stops to chat because we are such an unusual sight, a couple fuddy-duddies having a picnic and playing fiddle music in the middle of the Virgin River Gorge. We exchange contact information before she goes on her way.

After picnic and music, Clifford and I hike up the ridge behind us, enjoying the sunshine on this winter day and the view of the mesa on the other side of the gorge from where we are.

A short hike in the Virgin River Gorge

The gorge is grand, rugged, and scenic and I am grateful that the weather cooperated to allow us to have such a fun outing.

The Virgin River Gorge is grand, rugged, and scenic
Hiking to a plateau on the picnic side of the Virgin River Gorge
The Virgin River Gorge is grand, rugged, and scenic
Hiking on the plateau near sunset

Later in February, Lori, the woman we met on the picnic day in the Gorge comes to play music with us, as she also has a tongue drum and was eager to play with us. So fun to have a new-found friend in the desert.

Lori and Clifford playing tongue drums

One other outing in February is to the town of Colorado City on the border between Arizona and Utah to have dinner with a friend and while we are there, we go to Maxwell Park for spring water and the opportunity to take photos of the red cliffs, which look to be part of the same geological formation as that of Zion National Park in Utah.

View of the red cliffs from Maxwell Park in Colorado City
View of the red cliffs from Maxwell Park in Colorado City

A new activity that is fun and engaging for me is experimenting with making creative composites using photos that I have taken on my walks as well as photos in my gallery. I like the process of using photos that might not be anything more than snapshots and coming up with an image that is creative and unique.  I call these images BeCreative. They are a good stretch for me from my usual documentary style photos.

BeCreative Rosemary
BeCreative Ivy
BeCreative Dried weeds
BeCreative Butterfly

In addition to playing music, Clifford always has a focus on the ham radio and improving the antennas. He is also using portable scientific instruments to do some research on a topic that is coming to his attention.

Daily I watch the sunrise and sunsets, finding great pleasure in the light and colors that are special at that time of the day.

February Sunrise
February Sunset

 

Meadow Valley – part 3

Globe Mallow at Meadow Valley Campground

Some days here at Meadow Valley BLM Campground are rather breezy to windy, just as it was in Arizona. I am trying to be more at peace with the wind, seeing it as mother nature’s “wild child,” talking to it as though to soothe a petulant youngster.

One chilly morning, 34 degrees, I walk down the road where I can catch the sunlight on the vegetation on the rock face. As I wait, the chilly wind nearly drives me back inside. Brrr….

Waiting for Sunrise
Cliff Basks in the Sunlight
Claret Cup Waiting for the Sun

However, the daytime temperatures have been in the 70’s, so no complaints there. I enjoy sitting out with yerba matte tea, having more time to read inspirational material since I don’t have internet to distract me with texting or checking email.

Sitting Out in the Sunshine

And then my laptop hard drive fails, so I can’t even work on projects like editing or writing blogs. This is not a happy event, but now I have even more time for reading and journaling. I contemplate the Buddhist Eight Noble Truths, as well as dwell on my own daily intentions of mindfulness, the  allowing of well-being, and surrounding myself with beauty. Well, this is certainly a place for that to be easy and joyful to accomplish. I also think about the Martha and Mary quandary I have faced for years. Here I have more opportunity to find a better balance between these two aspects of myself.

One of our projects is to make a mountain-man shirt for Clifford. I read (like reed, not red) the pattern and pin, he cuts and sews.

Working on the Mountain Man Shirt

The shirt turns out quite well and he wears it when he and I go for a longer hike up the drainage. We see a rock cairn in the wash at the beginning of the trail.

Rock Cairn in the Wash

The trail is rugged and wildflowers are abundant, including prickly pear blossoms seen for the first time in all of the walking about that I have done. Eventually we arrive at a spring where the landscape and dense vegetation force us to turn back. Great hike.

Clifford Heads up the Drainage
Dense Vegetation
Great Hike for an Old Lady
Intrepid Hikers Pause
Wildflowers Along the Trail
Canyon Walls
Prickly Pear Blossoms

.Besides the daily hikes, I look forward to sitting outside with reading material, my journal, and French press coffee, adjusting for sun or shade as need be. Lizards and birds, butterflies and ladybugs come to visit. Life is quite delightful and our allotted two weeks passes quickly. I am sorry to leave the rugged hills with their blooming shrubs and wildflowers, but we have Montana with family to look forward to.

Ladybug Visitor
A Visiting Butterfly
Saying Good-bye to the Rugged Landscape and Vegetation at Meadow Valley

Nevada Adventures Begin – May 2022

It is time for us to begin the journey north to Montana. Clifford and I spent the winter in northwest Arizona, staying longer than intended as we waited for snow and cold to leave northern Nevada. Well, the Ruby Mountains are still cold and very snowy, so a change of plans is in order. We will still go to Nevada, but stay to the east side, traveling north to Idaho on US Highway 93.

Time to Say Goodbye to Black Rock Road, Arizona

May 10th we say good-bye to Black Rock Road and pull out, traveling through a landscape of red and black lava west of St. George, Utah, before winding through juniper covered hills, crossing over the Bull Valley Mountain Range, and across a large  valley to Enterprise, Utah. Once past this farming valley, as we take a westerly direction, the landscape with its dead trees does not impress me. Our first stop in Nevada after crossing another smaller mountain range is the small mining town of Pioche.

Pioche, Nevada

Thanks to Clifford doing a little research, we find an RV park on the edge of town allowing a week stay by donation. There are no restrooms, but there is water and garbage cans, a big plus after months of boondocking. The RV park has about ten spaces and we are pleased to find a spot available. We get settled in without unhitching since we won’t be here long.

City RV Park on the Edge of Pioche

The next day, as I am interested in seeing the restored area of town with its museum and old buildings, I head toward the heart of town. While I learn a lot about the town, it is a cold windy day and everything is uphill from the RV park. The walk was stressful on my heart and I realize I must take better care. The following day is a day of rest and indoor projects. A couple days later when the temperature and wind moderate, Clifford and I go to the museum together. It is still a long uphill hike, but more enjoyable than my previous visit to the museum.

Nevada Club in Pioche, Nevada
Before the Days of Cell Phones
Pioche Museum Display
Pioche Museum display

The old Lincoln County Courthouse is now also a museum and we pay a visit there, learning that Pioche was a violent nearly lawless town in the 1870’s when silver mining was the rage. There is a Boothill Cemetery we’d like to see, but since we didn’t unhitch, it will have to wait, as it is too far to walk.

Life-like Manikins in the Historic Lincoln County Courthouse Courtroom

In the morning, I go for a walk and find my way down into the pit next to the RV park where I take photos of a few wildflowers at sunrise. It is one of those places that could be made into a lovely walking park, if anyone cared enough to do it. When I am a rich lady……..

Sunrise from the Pioche City RV Park
Catching Sunrise at Pioche
Wildflowers at Sunrise
Evening Primrose Greets the Day

Our friend David had told of us a place he camped east of Pioche, so after staying a week at the RV park, having taken advantage of cell service to get caught up on email, blogs, and texts to family and friends, we head to Eagle Valley about 15 miles to the hills east of Pioche to find a place to camp. As it turns out, we find a small free campground, Meadow Valley Campground, just outside of Spring Valley State Park. The spots are small, probably designed for tent campers. We are fortunate that no one else is camped here, as it gives us the opportunity to park in the only spot big enough to accommodate our RV. Since we don’t know how long we will be here, we don’t unhitch, but get set up to enjoy whatever time we have. The rugged hills look like a great place to go exploring and we are pleased to have such a scenic setting as our home for a week or two.

Scenic Setting at Meadow Valley Campground

Meadow Valley – Part 1 – May 2022

After leaving Pioche, Nevada, in mid May, Clifford and I arrive at Meadow Valley Campground about 15 miles to the east. It is tricky getting Cougar (our RV) in place and set up because the campground is small, but we are pleased with the final results. As we are setting up, large black insects buzz back and forth like miniature drones spying on us. I am uncomfortable with them as they buzz so close, but after awhile I see that they are not aggressive and easily ignored. Now I am curious as to what they are, as I’ve never seen such creatures before. (Later I find out they are carpenter bees, the solid black variety.)

Meadow Valley Campground Access
Cougar Setup in Meadow Valley CG
Carpenter Bee on Lupine

What comes as a surprise to us is having no cell service at all, not even Clifford’s hotspot, which has worked everywhere for us. This means no texting family and friends, no checking email, no Duolingo and I will lose my streak of almost a year. Luckily, Clifford figures a way to send a message via his ham radio so we can let family and friends know where we are, since they won’t be hearing from us through the regular channels.

Our first day here is a day of exploration. The campground is at the mouth of a very narrow and rugged drainage, the wash dry now.

Narrow Rugged Drainage
Narrow Rugged Drainage

In the morning as sunrise rays reach the canyon walls, the rocky hillside turns a brilliant gold in contrast to the grey of the unlit areas.

Sunrise Sunlight on Cliff

Our site has inviting nooks to set up tables and chairs in the morning sunshine, and later the shade of juniper trees and pinyon pines will be welcome. I spot wildflowers here and there. I am eager to start checking out this place.

Globemallow Spotted Near Campsite
Cow Daisy at the Campsite

Beyond inconvenience of no cell service, this is one of the most engaging places we have camped. The mountain as it slopes down to this narrow drainage is incredibly rugged. I discover a rock-lined path leading out from our campsite and across the wash to relatively flat ground where more rock-lined paths lead to tent sites at the base of the mountain. Each site is tucked into rocks and trees.

As I walk, I discover more and more wildflowers, rich reddish-orange claret cup cacti, penstemon, globemallow, and many others that I am not familiar with. There is lupine next to our site and a yellow flower that looks like a snapdragon, which I learn is toadflax, that the black carpenter bees flock to in the evening.

Claret Cup Cacti
Penstemon
Globe Mallow or Apricot Mallow
Lupine Near the Campsite
Toadflax

What an interesting and delightful day this has been for me.

May Flowers in the Virgin River Gorge – May 2022

Views from Black Rock Road

Spring has arrived at Black Rock Road in northwestern Arizona where Clifford and I are camped. The acres of creosote that surround us are now in full bloom, the tiny yellow blossoms like sunshine sprinkled across the landscape.

Surrounded by Blooming Creosote

Warmer days encourage us to spend more time outdoors, including a picnic at Cedar Pockets, the campground in the Virgin River Gorge, about 10 miles to the south of our campsite.

View of the Virgin River Gorge from Cedar Pockets

Clifford takes his kalimba so he can accompany himself as he sings while I hike down to the river. The trail is narrow and steep in spots, but it feels good to be outside and to the see the mesas from the river bottom vantage point.

Clifford Playing and Singing with Kalimba at Cedar Pockets
Views of Mesas from River Bottom
Virgin River

I am not the only one enjoying the river. A cow and her calves splash across the river. When the twins see me, they stop to stare like I’m an alien, which I am to them. Then in mirror reflection of one another, their heads turn to watch the direction that big mom is taking. So fun to see them, as I play a silly game, called Cow Game, with a couple family members, and today I win Cow Game!

Virgin River
Today I Win “Cow Game”

It is delightful to be near the river with views of the mesas all around, and the frosting on the cake is to find flowers – globe mallow and desert marigolds. Although Cedar Pockets is not so very far from Black Rock Road, it is a very different ecosystem.

Globe Mallow at Cedar Pockets
Globe Mallow at Cedar Pockets
Desert Marigold at Cedar Pockets
Desert Marigold at Cedar Pockets

While Black Rock Road vegetation is acres and acres of creosote, the gorge displays a greater variety of desert plants with Joshua trees and many types of cacti, including cholla and a blooming hedgehog cactus along the trail from the upper campground to the lower camping area where we are picnicking.

Hedgehog Cactus in Bloom Along the Trail
View of the Virgin River from the Trail

For weeks we have been talking about camping in northern Nevada on our way to Montana for the summer. We thought we would leave in April, but northern Nevada has been too cold and snowy, and now it is May and the place we thought we’d go — the Ruby Mountains — is still too cold and snowy. However, Montana is beckoning and it will soon be too warm here in Arizona anyway. So, we begin preparations to leave our winter home. Besides picking up our mail, we also take a day for errands with a picnic of sorts at the back of the laundromat, and Clifford brings the kalimba and sings. Who can resist a picnic and music? Not us, apparently. 🙂

Our friend David pulls out just a few days before our departure date. It’s been good having a friend as a neighbor for the winter. We wish him well and safe journeying. Very soon Clifford and I will also be saying good-bye to Black Rock Road. Although the Ruby Mountains and Ruby Valley are out of the question for us, still too cold and snowy there, we know other places are waiting to be explored.

Saying good-bye to Black Rock Road

Blossoms in the Desert at Black Rock, Arizona – April 2022

 

Arizona Desert at Black Rock

As always here at Black Rock Road where Clifford and I are camped, the openness of the land allows for great views of sunrise and sunset.

Sun Rising Through Haze

Since the setting of the moon is not at an ideal time for the best light, I have fun with photo editing to capture the essence of the moment.

Moon Setting Over the Mesa

Although I am not seeing many wildflowers except for the tiny filaree and the yellow blossoms of Mormon Tea, I am enjoying making composites of the rosemary in the window and the branches of the creosote that surrounds us.

Filaree Closeup
BeCreative composite – Filaree
BeCreative Composite of Creosote and Rosemary

But one day, it happens to be Easter, while walking up the rise to the west, I spot a small clump of globe mallow, its tiny reddish-orange blossoms making a small splash of color in the desert. I am delighted and over the next few days, I visit them often, taking numerous photos, some of which are then used for greetings to family and friends and for new composites.

Globe Mallow at Black Rock
BeCreative Composite of Globe Mallow and Rosemary
BeCreative Composite of Globe Mallow and Dry Weeds

One of the best things that happened this month was my daughter, Becka, replacing my old phone with a brand new iphone, the 13pro.  I am  having so much fun taking photos with this amazing device!

Ladybug on a Desert Marigold
Clockweed at Black Rock

As the month goes on, Clifford and I both continue our projects, and we discuss our departure date. We had planned on leaving in April to travel to northern Nevada to camp for awhile before heading on to Montana. However, northern Nevada is cold and much snow remains in the area of our intended destination.

Toward the end of April, the morning inspirational reading is a passage from Thich Nhat Hanh on Aimlessness. “Your purpose is to be yourself. Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just be. Just being in the moment in this place is the deepest practice of meditation.” This wise advice so perfectly matches my quiet time in the mornings and my solitary walks in the desert.

Dried Weeds in the Wash

Happily, by the end of April, even though we are not yet leaving, both indigo bush and creosote bushes begin to bloom. I have never seen an indigo bush before, so the brilliant purple is a delight to me, while the tiny yellow blossoms of the creosote bring a blush of gold to the desert. Warmer days allow us to spend more time outdoors.

Indigo Bush at Black Rock
Indigo Bush Blossom
Creosote Blossoms at Black Rock
Creosote Blossom Closeup

Life is good and we will wait for the right time to leave Black Rock.

Black Rock in Spring – April 2022

Our Nomad Cougar in the Black Rock Road Desert of Arizona

Here it is April, spring in the desert, windy, and Clifford and I are camped at Black Rock Road in northwest Arizona.

Clifford and Carol at Black Rock Road, Ariona

April 1st, a great start to the month is the poem “Bones” by Mary Oliver, which I write out and add my comment for the day’s journal entry, as the poem speaks to me as I walkabout the desert.

I am on the lookout for wildflowers, but so far not many to be seen, except for one clump of desert marigold in the wash.

Desert Marigolds in the Wash

Morning quiet time is precious to me and sometimes I am up in time to catch the very moment of the rising sun before I make coffee and don warmer clothing for sitting outside.

Moment of Sunrise

As often as I can I sit outside surrounded by creosote with a view of Pine Mountain to the north and mesas all around as I enjoy the morning coffee and write in my journal.

Pine Mountain to the North

Our monthly trip to Littlefield to get our mail is a delightful trip through the Virgin River Gorge. Most people take this curving route through the gorge at interstate speed (I-10) not even aware of the magnificence they are rushing past.

Virgin River
Virgin River Gorge

We go on a couple of outings with our friend David. One trip is to a ranch out in the boonies west of St. George. We see views of the gorgeous red cliffs along the way and we have a good time exploring the ranch, which has come up as a possibility of a winter camping spot next year. It’s a bit remote for us, but not impossible.

Red Cliffs of Southwest Utah
David and Clifford at the Ranch in the Boonies

The next day we go to Colorado City, a small town on the border between Arizona and Utah, as there is a fresh water spring there that is worth the journey.

Cliffs at Colorado City, Arizona
Spring Water at Maxwell Park, Colorado City, Arizona

It is exceedingly scenic, both on the travel to the town, as well as swinging by Sand Hollow State Park on our way back to Black RockRoad. I do love outings for the scenic value, and I’m really glad to have such good water to drink.

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah

Shortly after these outings, my sister Nancy and her husband Dick come for a visit on their way back to Montana after visiting our brother Rollie and his wife Tata in southeast Arizona.

My Sister Nancy

It was a long haul for Nancy and Dick and I am very happy that they were willing to go out of their way to visit us. We don’t have many visitors all winter long, and while Clifford and David are great fellows, it sure is nice when I have another gal to talk to, especially a sister type gal. Nancy and I have coffee in the morning and go for long walks in the desert in the afternoons.

Carol and Nancy at Black Rock, Arizona

All too soon they head back to Montana. Good-bye until summer, but in the meantime, I will continue my meanderings, watching for the coming of wildflowers.

Still at Black Rock, Arizona – March 2022

From the journal on March 1, this is the quote from my planner: “Tune into your inner guidance even when things are going well for you.”  Well, that sounds like good advice to start the month!

Clifford and I are camped along Black Rock Road in the very northwest corner of Arizona. This has been a good spot for us this winter and fortunately it has not been too windy. But, as is typical for the deserts of the Southwest, the wind starts to blow in March, so there are days when we are outside less and involved with inside projects more.

One of our projects is making new aprons for me.  I pin and  cut, Clifford sews. Good teamwork and in a few days, I have two pretty new aprons.  Clifford is also keeping on with his scientific research, despite the limited space to work.

Fabric for a Sewing Project
Sewing Underway
A Finished Project
Scientist at Work

The early days of March are spent picking up trash from around the parking lot at Black Rock exit and from the campsites along the road.  It is hard to believe how trashy humans can be, but also really great that a group of us have gathered to work  together to return the desert back to a better state of being.

Desert Cleanup Project Manager
Desert Cleanup Crew

As it has been for the past months, I find delight in watching the changing colors at sunrise and sunset, enhancing the scenic desert setting.  Pine Mountain looms to the north, other mountains are more distant.  Mesas range from very distant to within walking distance.  Some chilly mornings, I am tempted to go back to bed for its warmth. I guess peeking out the door to witness the sunrise doesn’t help with the indoor temperature, but oh the joy of seeing the sun the very instant it crosses the horizon.  It means I am alive and that light and warmth will fill the day.

The Moment of Sunrise
Colorful Sunrise

Midway through March, I realize that by running up to the ridge to the west, I can  get a shot of the full moon as it sets.  What excitement I feel catching this moment and later it is fun to use photo editing to make birthday greetings for a friend and a granddaughter.

Worm Moon setting over the mesa – BeCreative

Spending time editing photos for my BeCreative series is a fun indoor project  for me on the chilly or windy days.  Letting go of the rules and experimenting is a good way of breaking old habitual ways of seeing.

Setting Moon and Rosemary – BeCreative Composite
BeCreative photo of our tea kettle
Sunflowers and Rosemary – BeCreative Composite
Rosemary and Autumn Shrub – BeCreative Composite

Once a month we go to Littlefield about 20 miles to the south to pick up our mail, making the journey through the Virgin River Gorge. This is always an inspiring drive as the highway wends its way through the rugged and majestic mesas with occasional glimpses of the Virgin River.

Virgin River Gorge

I go walking most days unless it is too windy, and Clifford occasionally goes on much longer  hikes by himself.  One day we hike together to the top of the nearest mesa with hot tea and snacks in our backpacks, an actual outing! The view is quite vast and down in the basin we can see a couple of dots – our RV and our friend, David’s 5th wheel.

Hiking in the Black Rock Desert
Clifford Leads the Way
Picnic Atop the Mesa

We contemplate the timing of our leaving, as I want to be in Montana by mid June to rendezvous with my daughter, Becka, but as we watch the weather, our tentative destination in northern Nevada is still much too cold and snowy. We will stay put for the time being and  enjoy each day as it comes to us here in Black Rock Arizona.

Late Afternoon Light on the Nearest Mesa

 

 

 

THE NEW YEAR – JANUARY 2022

Nomads in the desert

It’s a relief to leave 2021 behind. For many people it was a year of changes, including health challenges and life style adjustments. This was often related to covid-19, but for us it was selling the CI lab/homebase in Monticello, Utah, and becoming full-time nomads, living in our 24-foot Cougar RV. Thanks to a friend, also a full-timer, we found Black Rock Road in northern Arizona in the late autumn of 2021. We began settling into into a lifestyle and routines, while not totally foreign, were different in that there was no longer a homebase.

Happy New Year – January 1, 2022

Now it is January 2022.  Clifford and I are busy with our projects and we especially enjoy sunny and calm days when we can work outside. Whenever possible, I sit outside with my morning coffee and my “stack:” books and journals that get my day started in an uplifted way. I make the daily intention of well-being, beauty, and harmony. Observing sunrises and sunsets, I find beauty and harmony, as well as on my frequent walks in the desert. 

The rising of the sun
Sunrise from the east-facing window
Sunset on Black Rock Road
Cougar at sunset

On my walkabouts, my favorite place to walk is in the wash with its ruggedness, as I make my way through boulders, gravel, sand, and vegetation. 

Walking in the wash
Walking in the wash

Pine Mountain to the north of us is highlighted by morning and evening colors, but can stand alone as the impressive feature that it is, particularly with a fresh coat of snow. I never tire of gazing at it through our north-facing window. 

Pine Mountain
Pine Mountain at sunset

I also begin employing Segment Intending, which means for each activity of the day, I make an intention of positive results, of seeing what I want to see. This helps with my walkabouts, finding beauty in the landscape that I might otherwise overlook. 

Backlit dried desert vegetation
Cholla

Music continues to be a fun activity. Clifford and I play UK folk songs together almost daily, and he is expanding his singing repertoire with a selection of pop songs, bluegrass, country, celtic, and more.

Carol playing fiddle in the desert

I still edit for a couple of authors and I spend time editing and sharing photos most days, as well as writing blogs of our journeys. Domestic chores and errands are a part of our days, including trips through the scenic Virgin River Gorge on our way to Littlefield to pick up our mail.

Virgin River Gorge

We are grateful for quiet and privacy we enjoy here, as well as the scenic aspects of this spot of Arizona desert. It is a good place to spend the winter.

Peaceful winter home

 

Wrapping up the Year – December 2021

 

Clifford and I are dispersed camping in northwest Arizona at the invitation of a friend. Many days are sunny and warm enough for us spend time outside. It is always fun to sit out when Clifford is playing and singing. Inside or out, I enjoy a good cup of French Press coffee as I go through my “stack,” as I call my journals and inspirational reading material. I have gained insights that would have been helpful to have learned fifty years ago, but better late than never, as the saying goes. Valuable insights have led me on a path of greater happiness in just being where I am and appreciating being alive to enjoy the beauty that surrounds me.

I enjoy a good cup of French Press while writing in my journal

Even though I was dismayed to see no trees when we first arrived here, I have grown very fond of the creosote “forest” and the play of light on the mountains and mesas. With so much openness, I am always observing the sky, watching the variety of clouds and colors that come and go. Sunrise, sunset, and stormy days are most interesting.

Creosote “forest” at sunrise on a clear morning
Almost blocked by clouds, the sun makes an appearance on a cloudy morning

Some days the cloud progression is quite enchanting:

Mesa to northwest in early afternoon – December 24
Mesa to the northeast in late afternoon – December 24
Mesa to the south at sunset – December 24

Sunsets frequently put on a show:

Mesas to the northwest at sunset on Christmas Eve 2021
Sunset on Christmas 2021
Sunset reflecting off snow on Pine Mountain to the north – December 26

I walk most days unless it is too windy. The wash is my favorite place to walk because of its ruggedness, boulders to gravel to sand, but some days I hike up the sides of the mesas that are not too far away.

Walking in the wash with a view of Pine Mountain to the north

When I hike up the mesa, photos taken from that vantage point reveal the vastness of the land.  We are not hemmed in with buildings, utility poles, streets. It is a good place to be. I guess it helps that Clifford and I are introverts by nature and we appreciate the quiet and privacy we have here.

Cougar (our RV) in the distance
Our campsite with a snowy mountain to the west as the backdrop
Our road almost leads to nowhere

Photos on my walks are shared with family and friends as well as posts to Facebook photo groups, which I find uplifting and worthwhile. There are many people who are seeing what is beautiful in the world and I am happy to contribute to this positive awareness.

We and our neighbor pick up trash that has been strewn about by people coming into the parking lot off the exit and trash left by some campers. Hopefully our actions will prompt others to be more mindful of the importance of caring for our environment.

Clifford: Behind the scenes, Clifford’s non-profit is becoming more active with plans to get the website updated and active again.  Sewing is a handy skill that he employs as often as need be. Sometimes we hike together and occasionally he goes on longer exploratory hikes by himself.  Always, his ham radio is a commitment he takes seriously. And music, music, music – a new life direction that had been put on hold during the years of active research.

Clifford sewing utility bags
Hiking with Clifford

Mid December brings much colder temperatures and late December is a time of celebration with the winter solstice, our anniversary, and Christmas.

The last day of the year, a rainbow appears over Cougar.

A good omen
A single ray of light from the setting sun on December 31, 2021 brings a glow to the mesa to the northeast.

And thus we wrap up 2021!