Category Archives: Travel

Mt San Jacinto State Park – Part Two Of Three

About two weeks ago we spent a couple of days in Palm Springs and we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the top of Mt San Jacinto. Once there I took a couple hours to hike the Desert View Trail – I had thought that I was going on a 15-30 minute quick day hike (which would have been the Nature Loop) but instead took the longer, more difficult loop.

A bit more climbing after leaving Notch One. To show how unprepared I was, I didn’t even know how many “notches” there were. (Five.) I figured there would be spots to view the desert below (thus the “Desert View Trail” nomenclature, DUH!) but didn’t have any details. Ignorance is bliss and I was VERY blissful that day.

Notch Two looks back toward Palm Springs, visible between the trees. (Click to enlarge.)

Right next to Notch Two, just looking off more to the north, is Notch Three.

From here the trail has little ups and downs but is generally level-ish, but still a bit narrow and rocky.

I ran into a few folks doing the loop trail the other direction. (There isn’t a right or wrong way.) A few, particularly those with grade school aged kids, were wondering how much further they had to go to the top. I gave them what information I had. Inevitably, the kids always wanted to go on to the top, having no clue about what I was describing as far as their trail ahead and having endless energy to proceed. The parents were more skeptical, but all pressed on. (Been there – done that!)

Notch Four had the best views, looking north through the haze.

There were also places that weren’t “official” notches, but still had great views.

Along the little ridge tops there were always fallen trees and many that were split, perhaps by lightning. I remember enough of my Boy Scout days to know that if I heard thunder or saw lightning I would be putting it into gear to get off the ridge tops.

I also loved looking at these skeletal remains of these scraggly pines. (Bristlecone pines?) At this elevation, in an area that doesn’t get much rain, trying to grab a spot in the rock cracks, this isn’t a very friendly environment. It did its best, but I think it’s lost this fight.

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Mt San Jacinto State Park – Part One Of Three

I took a few minutes to start sorting through the pictures from the anniversary trip two weeks ago. I’ve mentioned that we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the top of Mt San Jacinto and once there I took a couple hours to hike the Desert View Trail.

From the upper terminal of the tram, you descend about 180 feet in elevation down a twisting, paved path.

At the bottom you find yourself in Long Valley.

Unlike the desert floor in Palm Springs, over a mile in elevation behind you, up here there’s a pine forest.

It’s a state wilderness park, so some of the trees are down and left that way, naturally.

After a flat and easy quarter-mile hike, the trail starts to get slightly more difficult, getting rockier, narrower, and rising a bit.

Stay on the trails! Not that you could get too lost up here (there are a fair number of other hikers) but because we want to preserve the wilderness areas.

The textures, the details, the sights are everywhere.

The trees are really tall and spectacular.

After going back up about 200 feet in elevation, you get to Notch One, where you can look down onto the desert valley floor below you.

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Where Does The Time Go?

It’s 23:55 and I’m still trying to hit deadlines…

Have a picture from Lost Wages.

Bellagio on the left (where we stayed on a previous trip), Caesar’s Palace (where we were staying this time) on the right.

Stories good and bad about both – but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Maybe.

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Complex Textures

High level perspective – a bit of worn and extremely weathered log from the Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Closer perspective – an almost infinitely complex, fractal-like surface formed by strictly random, natural forces.

Alternate perspective – part of the biological cycles of an infinitesimally small speck of a planet, third rock from the primary star in a semi-deserted, backwater part of a completely average galaxy, one of a few million billion trillion completely average galaxies, returning nutrients assembled together over a century or more back to the soil and the next generation of plants and critters.

Private perspective – stunning beauty “hidden” in the world around us, “hidden” only by the fact that 99.99% of my fellow hikers walking by don’t even bother to look, let alone see.

Personal perspective – getting this wrapped up in grokking a rotting log, using all five senses, and then feeling the imperative to share with everyone probably indicates to most that there was (or is) “mood enhancing” medicinal self-medication involved. Nope, just a natural high, that John Denver school of zen, getting in touch with the Universe on a very personal and intimate level.

Or it was oxygen deprivation from being at 8,500 feet.

Either way, it was the finest kind.

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The View From The Station At The Top

Riding up the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to the station at the top of the ridge near Mount San Jacinto Peak (the Peak itself is only reachable by a steep hike of several miles and 745 meters/2445 feet elevation gain), this is the panoramic view you get looking off the balcony and into the back country.

(Clickety click on the image to see it full sized)

The Peak at 3300 meters / 10834 feet is off to the right, behind those rocks and trees.

You can see several stretches and switchbacks on the ramp that winds down to the Ranger Station in Long Valley. The website says it’s about 100 feet in elevation, but I found a topographic map that says it’s about 55 meters, which is about 180 feet. That sounds like a much more reasonable figure to me.

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Staying Ahead

Staying ahead of the aircraft – it’s a mantra when learning to fly. Flying with just one pilot, no copilot, something’s always happening or about to happen and to be safe you always want to be anticipating what’s next and being ready for it. Don’t react to what the plane’s doing, or the weather, or upcoming radio calls or course changes. Stay ahead of the aircraft.

Same thing in daily living is a good plan of attack. Whether it’s at the office, going hiking, going on a trip, or anything else. Stay ahead of the…whatever. Be proactive, not reactive.

That transition from “vacation” back to “normal” has had its challenges these last three days. My main feeling, particularly at work, is that I’m reactive, discombobulated. I need to get back to being proactive and recombobulated.

So, tomorrow. Work smarter, not harder.

Kick ass, take names.

Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

Use your clichés, they’re your friends.

And don’t jump unless you’ve got a parachute or a honkin’ big cable attached to your back. It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end.

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Long Valley Flowers

Last Saturday we were in Palm Springs. One of the things that I love to do but don’t do nearly often enough is hiking out in the woods and getting out into the wild a bit.

Outside of Palm Springs is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which goes from the desert floor (at about 2,600′ elevation and 110ºF+) to the top of San Jacinto Peak (at about 8,500′ elevation and 65ºF). At the station on the top there’s a fairly steep ramp that goes down about 100′ to the floor of Long Valley where there are a couple of short (0.75 miles and 1.50 miles) day hike trails. I took the longer, “Desert View Loop” trail.

Along the way I saw these flowers.

They really stand out!

No clue what they are. A Google image search found a lot of African flowers that are bright red and growing out of pine needle ground cover, but the closest I found for a southwest US setting was captioned “scarlet gilia, also called skyrocket.” That ‘s probably not quite correct, but it might be close.

Anyway, when I eventually go out on what I thought was going to be a 30 minute day hike over flat ground and instead spend two hours going 2.5 miles at 8,415 feet including two fairly steep trails going up a couple hundred feet and thin air with (STUPIDLY!! 🤨 Yes, I do know better 😫 ) no water at my age thinking in my poor, pathetic brain that I’m still 25 instead of 65, when that day comes and it finally kills me (I hope that day will be far in the future, but…), plant some of these on my grave. 😁



Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Flowers, Freakin' Idiots!, Health, Paul, Photography, Travel

Home Again, Home Again

It was an interesting foray back out into the “real world” and travel for six days in a time of COVID.

We were masked whenever we were indoors, and a lot of the time when we were outdoors. Other people? Not so much. In Las Vegas it might have been 25% to 33% or so masked in the casinos, about 2% or so outside, even in crowds. About the same in Palm Springs for the general public. In Las Vegas there’s a new mask order for employees, and about 99% of them were masked. I don’t know if there’s a new masking order for the Palm Springs area or San Bernardino County (Los Angeles County does have one) but it seemed that most employees were masked up.

My biggest concern is that the times when we were indoors and had to get unmasked were when we were eating. Of necessity, most everyone else (except the employees) were eating and thus unmasked as well. We’ll see if that bites us in the ass over the next week or two.

Finally, a potential sign of impending doom comes from my fondness for this, which was in the window of a very hoity-toity, upscale boutique in Caesar’s Palace, where I would walk by it a couple times of day:

They probably had someone putting in overtime to get my nose prints, finger prints, and drool marks off the glass.

It should be noted CLEARLY for the record that I do not know how to ride a motorcycle, I have not (to the best of my memory) EVER even been ON a motorcycle, and that even if I were to start to learn how to ride a motorcycle (which could happen, I guess) it would be extremely wise to start with a much, MUCH smaller motorcycle and work my way up with experience. A good analogy would be my flying – I have been trained to fly a small, single engine aircraft such as a Cessna 150 or 172 and no matter how much I might want to fly a P-51 Mustang or an F-14 Tomcat, there’s a serious experience and learning curve between here and there.

And yet… Drool marks.

No doubt signs of a long delayed and well earned midlife crisis, perhaps. Or serious, major league dementia.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Paul, Photography, Travel

Highs & Lows

Big highs today – finally got to go up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mount San Jacinto, then went for a hike.

The low was going to get a lemon-lime Gatorade out of the vending machine afterward and instead of the routine, standard, expected lemon-lime, getting this abomination from Hell:

There are some sick and demented product managers out there in Pepsiland. Just sayin’,,,

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Always An Interesting Place

It cooled down a bit (low 90’s) after sunset and we were out of other set plans, so I went out walking the Strip for a couple of hours.

(Embiggenate by clickenating, as always)

“Interesting” is a great descriptor of this place – in all of the many and varied interpretations of that term!


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