We're back safely. I loved the wide open spaces, but i don't quite feel the draw to go to Nevada anymore: we have plenty basin and range to explore in California. (Although there is opal mining in Nevada....)
It's funny: we are both hermits, but i delight in the solitude of being away from suburban crowds, whereas Christine craves being in our home. When we hit traffic in the Bay Area after days away i was cringing at the closeness of all the cars. I routed us up dirt roads up past 10,000 feet: Christine worried and cringed then.
She still had a good time, i should note: we're just so different in some ways: capacity for being away from home being one of them.
I missed taking photos of the Mono Lake tufa under a blood red sky by about ten minutes, but i got to enjoy it as i drove to the tufa. I was in the last three barreling vehicles, leaving a dust trail to the sky, to get to the tufa at dawn. It was a delight to be out at that hour though. I suspect i will be most pleased with the osprey photo.
Our tent cabin in Keough Hot Springs was delightful: the bed was far more comfortable than the squishy-sagging thing in Lee Vining. We napped in it midafternoon, the shadows of the cottonwood leaves dancing across the glowing canvas. Jack rabbits were hanging out in the grassy lawn as we walked back from our evening ablutions (it was NOT a rock with a stick on top, as i had second guessed). In the morning we were awakened by the crowing of the California quail. I slightly regret not getting into the hot springs in Keough: some other time, i hope.
So much reminded me of New Mexico: hot springs and volcanic tuff, pinyon and sagebrush. The hot springs in New Mexico weren't improved and walled in. On the other hand, hiking up to them with flash lights and seeing all the signs about the creepy crawly germs in the water wasn't exactly delightful.
We didn't spend time at the Mule Days. I was fascinated to see that there are Western Mule Dressage competition, Mule hunters and jumpers. We did drive up Fish Slough north of Bishop to find very few flowers in bloom. All in all, it was not a particularly good trip for flowers as we only had incidental stops planned at the right elevations.
My post to Calphoto, the mailing list which shares flower and leaf display information:
Hwy 120 near Don Pedro: stands of clarkia from the highway side, up into the hills. Hwy 120 from Yosemite entrance to Crane Flat, dogwoods booming in the woods. Woodland flowers blooming 6000' to around 7500'. A quick pull-over netted four different species, several in abundance. Some lovely displays in the granite boulders. Snow melting in the woods past 8000'. Certainly didn't see many flowers past Olmstead Point. Tuolumne Meadows was just beginning to green up: lots of ground squirrels (we wanted them to be picas so badly) and frolicking yearling deer, and matted old grass. I found one tiny wildflower at the Nunatak nature trail, _Eriogonum incanum_, frosted buckwheat, and the battery died on my camera (all the spares in the car). Didn't do the whole nature trail as i'd walked through several snow banks in my birkenstocks, but i couldn't quite tell where the trail resumed on the snow bank that i finally decided i shouldn't hike over. There was a chorus of frogs singing around the higher pond.
South of Mono Lake seemed dried up. Found a great place to get sunset photos of bristlecones at 10000'. White Mountains, again, had roadside flowers above 6000', but no displays. Fish Slough had blooming wild roses, but not much else in floral displays to speak ove. Great worn tuff!
Mono Lake, South Tufa, had lots of _Phacelia bicolor_ var. _bicolor_ (sticky yellow-throats) growing in broad spreads under the sagebrush. The boardwalk on the south 395 access had indian paintbrushes -- not sure whether two different varieties or if there was just variation in the orange and red.
In the Jefferies pines on 120 south of Mono lake, there were carpets of _Mimulus nanus_ var. _mephiticus_, foul odor monkeyflower. My spouse had gotten weary, and i had used up her patience for impulse stops. That area must be fabulous after a good year. This year you can observe how just a slight difference in accumulated precipitation can make a dramatic difference. The east side of pines and the sides of the roads had blooming mimulus, presumably road run-off and the shelter from the pine were enough to help. Still, between Mono Mills and the South Tufa turn off there were some lovely carpets in the woods.
At sagehen summit on 120, lupines, again, by the side of the road.
North of Mono Lake on 395, the landscape was lush and green, aspens freshly leafed out. At Sonora Pass, it's still winter. Taking 108 west, lots of _Sarcodes sanguinea_, snow plant, in astonishing red on the roadsides coming down, mostly east of Strawberry if i recall correctly.
Yesterday was fairly productive as i used my dungeons and desktops plus pomodoro technique* to start getting things done. I did go through old photos, trying to free up room for new photos, but
i'm going to have to get a new harddrive as the partition where i keep the photos has pretty much filled up. The amount of time to free up a couple GB compared to the cost of getting a TB drive makes it clear what the right choice is.
Of course, i'll soon need to get new backup drives.
I slept in yesterday, so didn't spend time on social media. I think i'm feeling about ready to dive back into sharing with others again.
* i've numbered lists of the things that need to get done in no particular order, and a timer set up with long work blocks and shorter work blocks and little rests and transitions. I generate random numbers, pick the listed thing, do it until time runs out, and move on.