Spanish Broom- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 15

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

This may feel like cheating for three reasons.  First, it was not exactly a stroll, it was more of a drive. Second, it was not in the neighborhood, unless I could claim seventeen miles south from my house as neighborhood. And third and last, it’s not exactly a local flora.  This is an invasive species in California.  However these flowers captivated me so much along with the scenery that I hope my dear readers would forgive my transgressions.

Due to the stay at home restrictions we had been driving our cars very little now a days, using it mainly for grocery shopping once in two weeks.  Unfortunately one of the car’s battery died prematurely yesterday.  After a call to CSAA (California State Automobile Association) and getting a jump start, I was advised to take it for a long drive to charge the battery.  I chose to take a back road south of our home through the countryside.  Glad I decided to do that.  The two lane road goes through some low rolling hills and wooded areas with a few reservoirs by the roadside and couple of county parks.  Some seventeen miles south of our home, the beautiful vista near Uvas Reservoir County Park with its tranquil beauty was glistening in the afternoon sunlight.  I was afraid to turn off the engine, fearing that the car may not start again, and decided against a walk.  That did not stop me from enjoying the scenery from the roadside and nearly empty parking lot at the entrance to the park.

Can anyone imagine using these beautiful flowers as brooms?  Whoever gave that name must have a weird sense of humor.  Not the Spanish, I hope.

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tranquil and serene

lies the placid waters of the lake  

spanish beauties serenade

the entrance to take


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

A Walk along Los Alamitos Creek

I did a 8 mile walk along Los Alamitos Creek today.  It had been raining here continuously for last few days. Even as I am writing this post, the house windows are being rattled by gusts of wind. The constant drip drip sound of the rain on the roof is putting me to sleep.

Los Alamitos Creek is about eight miles long, originating in the Santa Cruz Mountains and flowing along the eastern side of Almaden Valley.  The creek joins the Guadalupe River after Almaden Lake. Los Alamitos Creek Trail along the creek is about ten miles long.  The creek becomes a trickle during summer but swells after winter rains.  I wanted to see the creek after the rains and was not disappointed.

As I started from my home, it was cloudy with the sun trying to come out from behind the clouds .28e63dac-bd6b-436e-816f-d5a6c5d0b956 The hills including Mount Umunhum in the west were hazy, covered in rain clouds.  The trail itself is well paved for bicycles, hikers and joggers with small detours that lead from the paved trail to the creek banks in many areas.  I entered the trail after walking about a mile from my home.

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Winter rains had turned the meadows near the creek bed verdant green. Trees, bare naked in winter, against the green meadows and a darkening sky was a sight to behold.c46fbf2c-d2cf-40ff-b804-80e8365237e1_resize

 

The creek becomes a trickle during summer but swells after winter rains.  I wanted to see the creek after the rains and was not disappointed. It was full with gushing waters and looked like a small river.5a7199c0-bb35-46d4-916f-d872776fe193_resize

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As I was about to return, the rains started. It was a slow drizzle at first but became a driving rain by the time I was about a mile from home. Then just as suddenly a huge gust of wind blew the rain away though I could still see the heavy rains on the hills.  I hurried home as fast as I could praying my tired legs would not slip on the wet pavements.  Though I was extremely tired after the long walk, my heart was full and satisfied.

Summer of 2017 – Part 3- To the Mountain

Continued from previous post : http://wp.me/p73yZZ-3n2

During our last hike on June 25, there was a discussion regarding the imminent opening of Tioga Pass on Hway 120 for 2017.  Tioga Pass, at an elevation of 9943 ft, remains closed to public during winter. Due to heavy snow during winter of 2016 – 2017, we were not sure when the pass would open for vehicular traffic.  We decided to keep in touch and visit at the earliest opportunity.  Fellow hiker, Rajiv , emailed on Tuesday night that the pass would open on June 28 and we should plan to go either on Thursday or Friday.  It was a short notice. I did not see the e-mail till Wednesday morning.  Quick phone calls and e-mails followed and we decided to go on Friday morning.

PART 3: June 30, 2017 : Friday: To the Mountain

As luck would have it, I had to remove one of my wisdom teeth,my first, on Thursday morning (narrated here :  http://wp.me/p73yZZ-3lD ). My wife was reluctant to let me go as I was in much pain the whole of Thursday.  Luckily the bleeding stopped late at night though I was having difficulty eating anything except liquid food. Boy, am I glad I decided to go.

Three of us were driving separately to our friend Amit’s house and from there taking his car  for the journey starting at 5:00 AM.  I decided to wake up early enough to take care of my tooth (or the open cavity ) and have some breakfast as I was famished from my liquid diet of the day before.  Though I started from home early enough for the 15 minutes drive to Amit’s house, in the dark and most probably due to lack of sleep, I took a wrong turn on the exit from the freeway.  Luckily the wrong turn led to a dead end to a small shopping complex and I realized my mistake before going on a wild goose chase. No harm done except for a few minutes of anxiety and frantic calls from my wife and Amit trying to figure out my whereabouts.  To make a long story short, we started about 20 minutes lates from our planned starting time of 5:00 AM.

Journey was uneventful.  There was not much traffic on the road to Yosemite National Park so early in the morning.  We reached our planned breakfast point near Oakdale and then realized that we were so early that very few establishments were open.  Thank God for the fast food restaurants.  We had a quick breakfast at a Burger King and proceeded towards Yosemite.  As I had to show some TLC to my lost wisdom teeth, I stuck to soft food only and had to forgo the temptations of Indian snacks.  We arrived the gates of Yosemite national Park quite early and took the left turn to HWay 120 towards Tioga Pass and arrived at Olmsted Point (8300 ft) around 9:30 Am.

Olmsted Point is visited by so many visitors every year and there are so much information available that it is an wastage of time blogging about it.  As the crowd at Olmsted Point was already sizeable and there were tour buses and tour guides busy explaining about the vistas, we decided to cross HWay 120 and hike up the mountain on the opposite side of HWay 120.

I am always amazed at the natural stone tile formation at Olmsted point.  Did humans learn about tile work from nature?
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As we started hiking up the mountain, people were thinning out.  Soon we four were the only ones left out there to enjoy the vista.  And what a vista was that.  We were rewarded with views of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Lake Tenaya and snow capped mountains of eastern Sierra.

A few  marmots were playing hide and seek and keeping company.
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Here and there were nature clinging to the bare stone faces of the mountain.  Flowers blooming at such high elevation and such barren place sang the resilience of nature.


After climbing up about 600 ft and hiking for an hour and half, we decided to call it a day as the fresh mountain air was making all of us hungry.  Lunch was calling and we still had to drive about 30 miles past Tioga Pass to Lee Vinings for our lunch.  Before the sun bore down on us with its full strength on a clear day at the mountain top, with a heavy heart we started our descent.  As we were descending, stone formations chiseled by millions of years of erosion,cold, heat, wind and water were visible all around us.

Thankful for nature’s bounty and realizing that a day trip did not do justice to our effort of a nine hours round trip drive, we started driving towards Lee Vining for lunch.  Myriads of water falls cascading down the hill side fed by molten snow filled our heart with joy but our empty stomachs were growling for food.  One last stop near half frozen Tioga lake and off to Lee Vining we drove.

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To be continued.

©All photographs in this post were taken by the author.  Readers are free to use with proper acknowledgement to the author.

Sunrise

Everything good and beautiful in nature is free to be shared.

Yesterday
My friend shared a picture
Beautiful sunrise over the lake
Wish I was there

Could not reciprocate
Our sun was hiding
Dark rain clouds
Ominous and brooding

Another day,another morning
Rain clouds are gone
Glorious sunrise
Bright and warm

Nature’s reminder
We may not all be there, but
Everything good, everything beautiful
Is free to share