Shy Beauties~

Hooded Oriole.
Acorn Woodpecker.
Most brightly plumed birds at The Holler.
They stand out.
And seem shy.
As if they sense,
they are almost too pretty.
Won’t let me get near.

Fly off with such fear.
Their beauty it seems is a burden.
Cheers to you from the Holler’s Shy Beauties~

Eden’s Calling You~

So step outside.
The path beckons,
leading you into the forest.
Inhale the clean mountain air.
Dip your toes into the cool, clear springs.
The air is perfumed with the scent of wild mountain roses,
and you pick some to bring back home, just a few, leaving most.
Wild artichoke are blooming everywhere.
If you were stressed when you arrived,
as you leave your heart is filled with nature’s peace.
Cheers to you from Mt. Palomar State Park~

Wikyo: Heavenly Stars & Earthly Fires~

The Luiseno native people who lived in the Mt. Palomar area for thousands of years called the mountain’s high point, Wikyo. Due to minimal ambient light pollution from civilization, the mountain offers clear views into space, with spectacular views of stars, planets and regularly discovered nebulas. The Mt. Palomar Observatory operated by Cal Tech is positioned at 6,100 feet above sea level in optimal viewing position.
The high points on the mountain also afford panoramic views across the valleys to the ocean, and two fire lookout towers, Boucher (seen here) and High Point are positioned at 5,438 and 6,140 feet respectively.
Here is the view from the Boucher Fire Tower to the sea. The Holler lies about halfway between. You can see evidence of the fire that almost burned the tower and you can see the flat blue ocean on the horizon.
The fire towers were originally built in the 1920′s, rebuilt in the 1940′s, and then abandoned and left to rot in the 1980′s. Thanks to the volunteer Forest Fire Lookout Association, 100′s of fire towers across the US have been renovated and reopened. The Boucher Fire Tower looks much like it did in the 1940′s. There are 2000 fire towers left in the US, with 1000 of them used for fire detection.
California is in an epic drought and I am very grateful these fire towers and their volunteers are on the job!
Construction began on the Palomar Observatory in 1936. It housed the world’s largest telescope from 1948-1993.
The 1000 ton dome rotates on two circular rails that glide very smoothly. (I saw this when I was a kid). The dimensions of the dome are remarkably similar to The Pantheon in Rome.
Five telescopes are housed here, the largest Hale is 200-inches (5.1 m).
Cheers to you from the spectacular views at Wikyo~

Givers of Life~

They sustain us
They take in poisonous carbon dioxide,
and emit pure oxygen.
These massive Canyon Oaks grow on western coastal mountain ridges.
Rare giant canyon oaks like these can reach up to 90 feet in height.
These giants are growing in Mt. Palomar State Park which lies about 35 miles east of The Holler as a crow flies at 5-6000 feet elevation.
The acorns created by these Canyon Oaks provided critical sustenance to ancient peoples.
The Luiseno people’s metates, or ancient acorn grinding holes, are unmarked, but visible throughout the park.
I added this as a late postscript. Check out the list of the world’s oldest living trees. Worth pondering:
Cheers to you from Mt. Palomar’s gentle, life-sustaining, giants~

On The Road Again……

Up in the montanas…..
Nobody here but us turkeys…….
You know we like to keep movin,
and now we are on Mt. Palomar watching the woodpeckers and waiting for the stars to come out.
This cabin was built by hand by the owner with local materials.
There are no people here at all which Jim says is spooky,
but I think is the whole reason for coming mid-week.
There is a huge loft upstairs for the the rest of the crew and a bedroom downstairs.
We’re hiking tomorrow and visiting the Palomar Observatory, so please stay tuned……
Cheers to you from empty (so far) Mt. Palomar (except of course for us, the wild turkeys, and the noisy woodpeckers)~

Arts & Crafts Mountain Retreat~


Every year we return to the same Arts & Crafts style mountain Inn in Julian California, often with family members in tow.


Julian is a charming mountain community about an hours drive from The Holler that provides access to the nearby, often empty mountains that we love to hike in, and explore.


Each year we stay in a different cottage at the Inn, each one uniquely decorated and fun to experience. We have been coming for eleven years so far and have stayed in eleven different cottages. Check out some of the cottages and the design talents of the owners.


All of the cottages have fireplaces, porches, and most have whirlpool tubs, all are most appreciated after long days spent hiking.


One of the owner’s is a retired designer and it certainly shows in the creatively decorated cottages.


Yummy free breakfasts are included and the Inn has free wi-fi and free dvd’s for rental at the main lodge.


We take advantage of special offers when we stay that include such things as discounted room rates, a free bottle of wine per cottage, free picnics, and free dinners. Our most recent stay included all of these freebies. I do love to save my pennies and search for and find discounts when I travel! Planning is part of the fun of traveling.


The owners have acquired wonderful antique art and collectibles over the years and these are on display throughout the Inn. Plein Aire art, Native American baskets and pottery, Arts & Crafts furniture, and antique western wagons are just some of the treasures you will encounter.


There is a stream on the property and wildlife and birds are constant visitors which is another reason I love the place. And no, I am not plugging or getting any free bennies from this post. The owners will have no idea I am posting, or posted this. They are retired after successful careers and seem to run this place as a labor of love, although I am sure they do seek to make a profit as well.


Their philosophy of life out here dovetails quite nicely with my own!
Cheers to you from the always relaxing Orchard Hill Country Inn~

California has It’s Faults~


Lots of ‘em too! This is the seismically active Laguna Salada Fault that lies about 50 miles east of The Holler. The ridge line is the uplifted side of the fault with rocks pushed up helter-skelter in a major quake millions of years ago. You are looking through the ridge line of the fault in this photo, into the rift valley below that was also created by this massive quake.


On the other side of the fault ridge line, the mostly empty Anza Borrego desert stretches for 100′s of miles into the horizon. These faults in Southern California are split offs from the huge San Andreas fault and create some amazingly beautiful geography. Just as with people, faults make things much more interesting……


It is estimated that this fault is capable of producing quakes between 6.5- 7.5 magnitude. It is quieter than the mighty San Andreas which is more actively moving to the north.


I love the boulders looking like some giant tossed them around, which is some ways, is exactly what happened.


In addition to earthquakes this area is also prone to wildfires. You can see evidence of the severe one that burned the entire area in 2007. You can also see mother nature at work and the regrowth that has occurred since the fire.


These powerful and potentially destructive faults, create much visual beauty. This formation looks to me like a crouching hawk. Take the Rorschach Rock test. What do you see? (I just added this question after reading comments!)

Cheers to you from Southern California’s many, interesting faults!