Spring Break

After a challenging March, it was a joy to get out of town and unwind.

Big Bear

Marlene’s boss very generously offered us his cabin for free for the weekend, so we drove up on Friday and stayed till Monday.

Big Bear 2
Manzanitas outside the cabin

I spent part of the time finishing my work while Marlene read and watched “Arrested Development”; the other part we spent exploring the area. We had good beer at Big Bear Brewing Company, good Sichuan food at Dynasty, and good Indian/Nepalese takeout from Himalayan. We also went down to the lake and watched ducks for a bit.

On Monday, as we were getting ready to leave, the winds picked up. We finished our packing, drained the water pipes, and stopped at the Vons before heading down the mountain.  Marlene got this picture of the snow on the hillside as we were leaving the Vons parking lot.

photo

Black Rock Campground

The winds remained strong as we moved from mountain to high desert along Routes 18 & 247, and kept on as we somehow set up camp and pitched our tent between two Joshua trees. Not sure if we could build a fire or even light the propane stove, we had a simple dinner of sandwiches and bunked down early. We did get a peek at the gorgeous night sky when we left our tent to use the bathrooms just after nightfall.

The wind howled through the night; the weather report posted outside the ranger station said that gusts of up to 55 mph were expected, and I believe it. I slept in my hooded sweatshirt, hood on, and could feel the cold from the wind blasts on the parts of my head and face that weren’t covered by cotton or beard.

Tuesday morning, however, though not windless, was much calmer, with wispy clouds. We woke up at about 6:30, after dawn, when the sun had not yet risen behind the ridge to our east, and the campground was bathed with understated early light.

We had breakfast and coffee, then went over to the Nature Center, where we bought a water bottle for Marlene and a copy of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire for me.  We went for a short hike along the High View Nature Trail and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and reading.

Around 5, we realized that our single bundle of firewood wouldn’t be enough to keep a fire going, so I drove into Yucca Valley for more.  Unfortunately, almost as soon as I got back, it started to rain!  It rained for an hour, but we (mostly Marlene) managed to keep the fire going.  After the sun went down, it was still cloudy, but the quarter or so of sky that was clear was brilliant with stars.

We broke camp on Wednesday morning and headed to Desert Christ Park.