Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving in the Desert

This is really getting to be a habit. This is my 11th Thanksgiving in the desert near Borrego Springs, CA with my WIN friends. This year 70 of us celebrated together. It's quite an operation, beginning on Wednesday carving the precooked turkeys and hams.

Finally, on the big day, the servers get ready to dish out the meat, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.

There's so much food, we make 3 meals out of it.

There are also lots of pot-luck side dishes.

I think there's some turkey buried underneath there somewhere.

Bob provided after-dinner entertainment.

This area is know for lots of off-road vehicle fun, especially on this weekend. What looks like fog here is actually the dust from Ocotillo Wells, the big ATV/dirt bike area.

On Friday, Chuck took us on a hike to a nearby slot canyon.

We dropped down into the slot canyon, but then somehow missed the road to get back out. We walked a good mile down canyon before turning around.

But at least we all had plenty of water. That is water, isn't it???

Monday, November 23, 2009

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is one of my favorite California parks. On my way to Borrego Springs for our annual Turkey Day bash, I stayed two nights right outside the south entrance to the park. The hiking here consists of walking among Joshua Trees and rocks.

My favorite hike in the park is the one to Wall Street Mill. First off is the ruins to this pink house. Why pink? No one knows.

Nearby is the first of several old rusty vehicles. I just love rusty stuff! And one thing my new camera does is take bracketed shots like this:

This allows me to do HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures, that are made from different exposures of the same shot. It's supposed to look more like your eye sees it, with more detail in the shadows and the highlights. For more information, look here.

About a mile from the trailhead you come to the mill, the remains of a stamp mill operated sporatically by William Keys from 1930 to 1966 to process gold ore from his mines and the mines of others.

And nearby is more rusty stuff.

This one definitely needed some new tires.

Also along the trail, which used to be the road, is this monument, where Keys shot and killed his neighbor, Worth Bagly. It states "Here is where Worth Bagly bit the dust at the hand of W.F. Keys, May 11, 1943." It's hard to believe the Wild West lasted so long here. Keys argued self-defense, but was convicted. He was paroled from San Quentin in 1948, and later pardoned, when his friends intervened and provided more information about Bagly's threats and antagonism toward Keys.

Another good hike is the one to Barker Dam. Keys built this dam by enlarging a natural dam.

Apparently there is a lot less water here than in the olden days. I really don't think the "No Swimming" sign is necessary.

On the same trail is evidence of the earlier Indian inhabitants of the Joshua Tree area. Unfortunately, these petroglyphs were defaced by a movie crew that painted over them in order to make them more visible to the cameras. They're now known as the "Disney Petroglyphs."

One last stop was the Oasis of Mara. Since that's my granddaughter's name, I was interested in where the name came from. It was named by the Serrano, the first recorded Indian tribe living here. To them, "Mara" meant "little springs and much grass." Hmmmm....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This and That

I've been with the WINs a lot lately, and they like to do a lot of kayaking. Since I don't kayak, I've had a lot of time to rest and relax. Feels good, but not much good for blogging. So I thought I'd go back and post some stuff I didn't get in when I was busier.

Back when I was in Boulder Beach, NV, I took a little trip into Las Vegas. What amazes me there is that all the casinos look like they are anywhere but in the middle of the Western desert. Like New York City....




Or even on a Pirate Ship....

There are some new casinos on the Strip since I've last been there. One I really liked had a parking garage that told you how many spots were available on each level. What a great idea! (For all I know, lots of parking garages have this now, but it's been years since I've been in one.)

Also in Boulder Beach we were still shopping for Halloween. I just loved this clerk's Bolt-in-the-head. I asked to take his picture and he reluctantly agreed. I don't know why he was so hesitant. What did he think I was going to do? Put it on the Internet???

I've also been playing with my new camera. This was taken at our stop at Parker, AZ, from inside the rig with my 20X optical zoom. I thought I would need a tripod to use the 20X zoom, but it comes out amazingly sharp.

Parker always seems to have the most incredible sunsets.

Our group parked lined up right along the Colorado River, and enjoyed them every night.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Boys and Their Toys

The WINs have been working their way south along the Colorado River. At our Lake Havasu City, AZ stop, we ran into a model airplane show. These were bigger than other model airplanes I've seen, though.

Only 7 were allowed to fly at a time, being careful to keep the remotes on different frequencies.

When it wasn't your turn to fly, your controller had to be in the radio impound station.

Even with that, there were a couple accidents. Here the hospital boat picks up the remains of Big Blue.

At the break, this big boy got to fly.

It came down and hovered nose up for quite a while.

We next moved on to La Paz County Park in Parker, AZ, where they were having an extreme Jeep festival. Anyone who wanted to could try to climb up and over this van and two cars. This guy didn't make it on this try.

But eventually got over.

You would think that they could do a better job of parking...

I kept getting distracted by the sunset. I sometimes think that if you put a camera in my hand I suddenly have Attention Deficit Disorder.

Here's what the van and two cars looked like the next day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ANOTHER New Camera!!

Yup, I did it again. Seems like every year or so I get the itch. This one is, of course, another Canon - a SX1is. It does a lot of things that my Nikon D70 does, but doesn't weigh 17 tons.

I was impressed with the 10X optical zoom on my last new camera, but this one has a 20X optical zoom! Here's the wide angle view. (28mm in 35mm equivalent)

And here's the zoomed picture from the same spot. (560mm in 35mm equivalent)

It has a fast continuous shutter speed: 3.8 shots per second! I was able to capture the cannonball contest in the WIN Olympics - Nancy is shown here because she was the most graceful.

The lens focuses as close as 0.0 inches in the macro mode.

And one of the main reasons I picked this camera is that it can shoot in RAW format. I haven't experimented with it yet, but this RAW photo was taken at Rainbow Bridge with the Nikon D70. Notice how much more detail you get in the highlights and the shadows

Compared to the regular JPEG.

Here's the RAW one zoomed in.

Versus the regular JPEG.

It also takes movies, including HD ones, but I haven't explored that yet either.