Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail...commonly called PCT

Today's afternoon hike is dedicated to one of Donna's BFF's, Kathleen...who had an emergency appendectomy operation yesterday. Kathleen has always been a "warrior queen" to Donna, and looked up to Kathleen for friendship and advice.

This mornings walk, was sorta brutal with its 25 mile per hour winds, and I really hate to be forced indoors, so I had to think outside the box for my afternoon walk.
I remembered that a starting point for the PCT was just outside the Whitewater Preserve nearly 5 miles up a canyon about 15 miles away and thought the canyon would block the wind. I was right...the winds were less than 5 miles an hour when I arrived.
Going north was the plan, trying to reach "Red Dome" a little further than 2 miles up the PCT.

Just a couple hundred yards from the parking lot I cross into the famous Mt San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. In the past, I had fantasized about hiking the PCT for days at a time and have done a few two or three day hikes...but the PCT is 2600 miles long! While it is not on my "present" bucket list, I see no problem adding it in the future. Kathleen is quite the hiker, maybe we could team up for a long PCT hike someday.

My first big obstacle was fording the mighty White River. At nearly 4 feet wide and 1 inch deep, I needed to worry about the rapid current carrying me miles down stream. Luckily, there was a wooden bridge to help me safely cross the body of water.

I may make light of the White River, but judging by its flood plain, I'd say it can be a monster under the right conditions.

Not sure if this very warm February is pushing the flowers out early, or maybe this is normal.

Looking back towards the valley...I was so impressed by its beauty.

Two miles up the canyon I finally came to the "Red Dome". It is striking, sitting all by itself on the flood plain. The ranger couldn't answer if this was part of the Morrison Formation... I was bummed that they didn't answer and an internet search offered no additional clues.
(My friend Sam, who is a geologist, informed me that the formation is Coachella Formation from the Miocene age)

This is your hike warrior girl!

I wanted this last shot to show the layers of sedimentation from millions of years of oceans depositing its microorganisms...then I noticed "OUR" girl looking down on!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Lower California Deserts.

After 25 years working in Las Vegas, when Donna and I retired, neither one of us wanted much to do with sand or cactus. 

This last fall I was reminded by my BFF Nona of how much we  enjoyed our stay in Desert Hot Springs, at the Sam's Family Spa and Mineral Hot Water Springs. Ok, I'll stop there for a month...well, almost three months later I am just now starting to  get ready to move to the beaches of Northern L.A. as I star to head home.

Here are just some of the highlights of my stay.

My first order of business was stopping in on Donna's girlfriends Christmas party. Lots of tears, wine, food and just great displays of love from these girls.

After being here for two months I was able to make it back up to Las Vegas to spread some ashes on Donna's tree, in Cornerstone Park, Henderson, Nevada where her girlfriends had a tree planted in her memory.

Making new RV friends and socializing.  

My friend Dave came up to spend the night.

Nona kept me company for New Years Eve plus Donna's and my anniversary...the next day.

 I had a wonderful day with Duane and family.

Catching up with past flames.

Making very sweet new flames.

Visits from family, sister Teri.

I've seen an abundance of signs from Donna here in the desert, either walking or sky gazing.

Never at a loss of being reminded of my baby.  

The sunsets and sunrises (when I can get up to view) are so dramatic...!

When the weather cools down, accompanied by a storm, it brings out such beautiful scenery.

Shortly after Donna's passing I realized that I was a wreck. High blood pressure, overweight and stressed to the max. Never having been considered an athlete, I found walking to be a very comfortable fit for me.

I am such a creature of comfort that I would walk the same highway, the same time and the same pace every day. I hit a roadblock with this exercise until my bestie, Judy, cautioned me to mix it up, change the route, change the time and for god sakes...get off the roadway.

Since I was pushed into expanding my exercise, I have a new love of the surrounding landscape.

 There are so many cool structures that people have obviously spent hours building. 

Someone used rocks to build a patio, on top of a hill, then sat this chair for all to utilize...a lot of time was spent here thinking about Donna's early removal from my life.

Continuing my hiking up the hill is such an emotional release.

I had been walking this canyon for weeks without getting to the very end of it... Finally, I talked to a hiker that had been the way up and she told me it was only a 1/2 mile further. I pushed on and did hit the "end of the trail". Unless you want to risk your life, that is the END! The polished rock behind me is a result of flash flooding.

Really? Why would you dump a couch out here in the middle of the's not like anyone is going to sit on this nasty thing!

I love looking at the different cairn's and how they are constructed. I assume this one may of been built by an architect.  

The owner of this cairn was really thinking outside the box...I loved it.

I will assume this was done by a middle child...with low expectations!.

Now this guy is just plain showing off!

I hope this is not my last desert blog, but if it is...I have gained a whole new appreciation of this valley.

Friday, February 12, 2016

High Capacity Wind Farms

First off, this is a subject my brothers, or son, should be doing because of their expertise in the field of electricity, I know so little about power generating...but here goes.
The Coachella Valley wind farm was the first in the United States back in the 1980's. The valley at one time had a capacity of 4500 units, there are now only 3200 units, providing much more power, with less of the harmful effects to our environment. 

These bigger 1 megawatt wind generators have each replaced 17 of the smaller and older 60 kilowatt turbine.

Nordex, is a German turbine manufacturing company that seems to be at the forefront of wind generators. They are building some of the biggest wind generators. This 1 MW turbine will supply all the electrical needs to over 700 homes.

While in Holland and Germany this summer, we saw many of these much larger wind turbines. They make 3.3 MW turbines and research shows they are working on a much larger 4.5 MW turbine, which will displace many of the smaller generators and reduce significantly, the harmful effects on the environment, such as bird kills.

Imagine just one mega watt producer that would, in effect, remove 30 or 40 of these smaller units?

This last week and a half, while going to Costco, I pass a field of 8...fairly big 1 MW units...and watched while they took apart the blades and then bring the "command center" (for lack of a better word) down for what I suspect is maintenance. It's easy to see the blade size by looking at the comparison of the trucks parked alongside. 

I had noticed in other turbine fields that there always seems to be a small radio tower (to the left) nearby. This tower is much too small to be an actual "radio" tower, but I surmise that it is a way of communicating to the turbines as in, which way to face or how much feathering of the blades is needed for optimum performance.
Green energy is welcomed in our world, but as a rebuttal, you really need to hear from the folks in Ontario, Canada who are none too happy with wind generators called, Down Wind.

I got this wonderful video from Donna's cousin, Shareon, on how wind generators are constructed from day one.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

High Frequency Radio Antennas.

While sitting here at Sam's Family Spa and Hot Water Resort, I occasionally look north and see on a mountain top, an array of radio towers with a building. 
My walking coach dictates that I, "keep it fresh", so a hike up there could be interesting. After getting some new hiking boots and fanny pack filled with bottled water, I'm off to conquer the mountain/hill in the morning.

As I walk the 1/2 miles from Sam's to my starting point I run into this! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!!!!
Security cameras, keep out signs and high radiation from radio waves danger notices, assault my eyes. There was a number to call on the radiation sign so I did and told the guy I just wanted to do some hiking. "By all means, go ahead, but stay at least 1/2 mile from the building on top or it will ""cook you""? 
I'm sorry, but at 67 I have nothing to lose. I have a wonderful family and friends that love me on earthbut on the other hand, I have Donna, who is waiting for me to join her... It's a classic win-win folks!

I can not was steep, and with much loose rock on the old construction road.

Every now and then as I hike up the road, I would look back in wonder, at the beautiful sight across the desert valley. One of those little green patches on the valley floor is Sam's Resort.

Finally, my goal is in sight. In the middle of a swale, between these two mounds, is the radio, microwave...about a 1/2 mile away at this point.

Ok, now I am getting a better view of it, and just by coincidence, it does seem warmer about now.

I may be little closer than the 1/2 mile I was warned about, but like I said, no downside for me.
Those are the weakest antenna I have ever seen, like something out of a Star wars warship.

My Fitbit tells me that it was 3 1/2 miles to get up to the top and I traveled up 121 floors, with each floor being 10 feet in elevation.

This I took at my base camp (that makes it sound soooo outdoorsy) and what do you know...that Fitbit is very accurate.

This photo is to prove to the many girls I love that...yes, I did take water.

And...yes! As embarrassing as it is, I have a "fanny pack"!

You just can't get tired of looking at scenery such as this... so beautiful.
Tomorrow... Flag Mountain, yippee.