Friday, February 28, 2014

Southern California in February!

My sister, who is 16 years younger than I (we being the eldest and youngest of 5), currently lives in the foothills of the Transverse Mountain Ranges in southern California, about 60 miles east of LA. As her childhood caretaker when Mom worked, we developed a close relationship, despite our age difference. Later, she lived with me for a couple of years, and after starting my bead business, she regularly helped me sort, weigh, and bag beads at night. At times I noticed her beadlust was almost as great as mine.

Last week, I flew to CA, rented a car, and spent a wonderful week with her! These are my 15 favorite things (not necessarily in order, except for number 1) about the trip...

Being with my sister is at the TOP of the list!

bougainvillea on Dynasty Suites in Redland CA
I love the way the sunshine brought out the beautiful rose-red color of Bougainvillea.
This vine was all over the courtyard of the Dynasty Suites, where I stayed in Redlands, CA.

So many memories... They grew all along the side of my grandparent's home in Sutter Creek, CA. My brother and I decorated mud cakes and made ballerinas out of them!

 warthog sculpture at theLiving Desert Zoo
 It was way fun to be around my 12 year old nephew, Jackson!

Italian Cypress trees
New to me, I think these ubiquitous trees are called Italian Cypress.
 While the spires reach 60' high, the trees are only about 5' in diameter.

Coulter pine with pineapple-sized cones
 On a road trip into the Transverse Ranges, we saw trees with cones as big as pineapples!
I think they are Coulter pines.

desert fan palm, petticoat palm, at the entrance to the Living Desert Zoo
 I didn't expect to fall in love with trees in the desert, but here's another one
that caught my fancy... The desert fan palm is also called
petticoat palm, for reasons you can see.

Lion sculpture by Bill Secunda at theLiving Desert Zoo, Palm Desert, CA
 This incredible lion sculpture (click to see details!) is one of a whole lion family
located at the Living Desert, a zoo (a 5-star zoo in my opinion) in Palm Desert, CA. The "Dancing with Lions" sculptures were created by an artist named Bill Secunda from Pennsylvania.

bird feeding Australian Outback exhibit at Living Desert Zoo, Palm Desert, CA
The Living Desert currently features an interactive exhibit of Australian Outback birds.
For $2 a person, you can go inside the exhibit with all these pretty birds.
For $1 each, you can buy Popsicle sticks with bird seed on it to feed the birds.
After they get used to you, they land on your purse, your head, your shoulder... anywhere...
This one worked a long time trying to get nourishment from my earring. 

rocks along CA Hwy 38 between Yucaipa and Big Bear Lake
We drove out Hwy 38 from Yucaipa to Big Bear Lake.
Entranced by the rocks & rock formations, we stopped many times to take pictures.

rock formation along CA Hwy 38 between Yucaipa and Big Bear Lake
This was one of our favorite rock formations....
Can you imagine the various events and forces that caused this!

rock formation along CA Hwy 38 between Yucaipa and Big Bear Lake
This is another favorite rock formation. Behind it is a steep drop-off
into a deep canyon. I wonder how long before it topples?

succulents in the crevice of rock formations along CA Hwy 38 between Yucaipa and Big Bear Lake
Not only are the rock formations beautiful from afar,
but up close, they reveal lovely succulents like these!

Big Bear Solar Observatory on Big Bear Lake, CA
Big Bear Solar Observatory is one the world's larger solar observatories.
Click the link to learn interesting things about it.

Mazda 6, a good rental car!
 By chance, my rental car was a Mazda 6.
Spunky and nimble, I give it a rating of 4.5 stars!

There y' go... 15 favorite things, although, I'll probably look at all my pictures again tomorrow, and pick 15 more faves. It was a great trip! I took beading and knitting projects with me, but do you think I had any time to work on either? Nope... just didn't happen.

Oh, and more good news! While I was gone, this is what it was like back on San Juan island...

February snow storm on San Juan Island
 There's still snow in the ravines and on the tops of the hills (500' elevation), but I happily missed having to drive on roads like this. California sunshine was mighty nice!


  1. It looks like a wonderful trip. Your last photo is very similar to one I took in Nov. in Soda Creek BC. Another blogger in the Maritimes also had a similar photo. It's nice to see the similarities in this vast country of ours.

    1. I agree, Dolores... both the similarities and the differences interest me. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. Glad you enjoyed your trip. Now you know why I love southern California! So much variety here. You missed the rain which you probably don't mind but your sister is doing a happy dance about it I'm sure. I have one of those palms in my yard but I hate it. They drop seeds that sprout everywhere and are really quite messy. If you don't trim the petticoat rats take up residence. I had them when I lived in Arizona where it was too dry for all the sprouts and the trees didn't grow so fast as here because they are geared for desert terrain so don't need much water. I absolutely adore bougainvillea in spite of their thorns and finally found a way to include it in my yard as a forced tree! I wish I could find a cypress that only grows 8 feet high but that's impossible without it being a big bush. I haven't been to Big Bear but should someday as it's not that far from me; it'd be a long day trip is all. So, I enjoyed all your favorites! Hope you get back to see your sister soon!

    1. I really enjoyed reading your comment, Timaree! I wondered about rats in the petticoats of the fan palms, and it did seem they might be a bit messy. I also wondered about the Cypress holding up against high winds. Seems like they would fall over easily unless they have a wide, deep root system. I think Big Bear is a very special place and a special highway to get there... well worth the effort of a long day trip. If you go, be sure to buy bread for a picnic at the Village Bakery, which is along the highway on what is called Ant Hill. We got their walnut raisin, and it was fabulous! The also have some delicious looking pastries, but we abstained.

  3. Your pictures make me want to board a plane for Cali right now!

  4. Oh, so you were not there the day I saw your snow-covered isle from across the strait! I'm so happy for you that you were enjoying So Cal and your sister and family!

    1. Where were you when you saw our snow-covered isle, Vicki? If you ever get that close again, please do call so we can try to arrange a meeting... please, please!

  5. What a fabulous trip! Can't wait to hear more about it as these are all my old stomping grounds. Spent many a vacation at Big Bear Lake in my early youth & Ed and I have visited the Living Desert, too ... one of our fave zoos of all time.

    Got some rock I.D. for you [called Ed in to the computer to look at your pix]: the rock formation with the white stripes is what's called a combination of dikes and sills; the dikes are the vertical, white lines, probably quartz, surrounded by the tan rock of either granite or sandstone composite. The sill is the intrusion that cuts across the center horizontally/lengthwise and is some sort of magma, like a granite. Age-wise, Ed says the tan rock is the oldest, the white dikes the next oldest, and the sill is the youngest. Fascinating stuff, eh?! oh, and from me: the little succulent is a dudleya, probably the Chalk Dudleya, D. pulverulenta.

    Wonderful post, Robin, and best of all the good times with your sis & nephew!

    1. Oh, thank you Christi (and Ed too) for the great info about the rock formation, the dikes, sills, and intrusion... I'll definitely pass along that information to my sister. She had so much fun with the rocks that it rekindled an old interest of hers in rockhounding. She said she's going to check to see if there is an active group in her town. Hope she finds one! Also thanks for the "dudleya" name... I knew it was a succulent, but had no idea how to find out which one it was. Duh, should have known you'd know. I loved it down there enough to want to go back, maybe even spend two weeks. There are lots of roads marked scenic on the map that are calling me. Lunnette leaves for Palm Desert tomorrow... I'd like to be a stowaway and go right back. The sun felt great!

  6. Lovely post Robin. You certainly saw a lot of interesting things that I certainly never heard of. I have to mention that you look GREAT! So relaxed. The trip was certainly good for you. You should make it an annual event.
    xx, Carol

  7. Thanks, Carol... Yes, making this trip an annual event sounds GREAT!

  8. Hi Robin, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  9. Thanks!!!
    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog post


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!