16 June 2017

Struck by Beauty

Is it possible to forget how beautiful a place is?
 Driving over Sonora Pass, the heater blasting to keep my little engine that could nice and cool, I didn't think that I was gonna want to drive this route again. Until I started the descent and found myself looking at a vast expanse of rolling hills and sandy-colored mountains, the scents of sage and rabbitbrush swirling in and out of my open windows. I found myself facing a landscape that made my heart sing with the beauty that quickens the soul. It was a feeling akin to the one I felt atop the Red Mountain Fire Lookout, except that this was coupled with a distinctive sense that I was looking at my home.
 When I reached the Highway 395 I was practically giddy. Following the contours of the Walker River, so familiar with where I needed to downshift, which corners I could take faster than the others, which hills would require me to downshift, where the turnouts were so I could get out of everybody else's way while I soaked in the beauty and the scents and the feeling of home.
 North of Reno, I started to enter the less familiar Northeastern Sierra. The hills and mountains alike seem less dramatic, more rolling and inviting, yet just as beautiful. Lenticular clouds dotted all over the sky like UFOs. I had to wonder if maybe a good number of sightings were people unfamiliar with the clouds seeing them under-lit by city lights or some similar effect.
If you want to see the better sunset, sometimes you have to look east. I discovered this last summer, and I saw it played out in vivid color on my drive home. My camera doesn't do it justice, but all the pinks were so much deeper than they seem in this photo.

It feels good to be home, even if for a short visit. It feels good to know that this area is my home, full of beauty, with my husband and our little house, our quirky first-year garden and the cute little towns to explore. I finally feel like we're in the right place.

Here's to the Wanderhope.

Until next time!

31 May 2017

Spring in the Mountains

It's been mercifully cool. The snow is thick in the lower portions of the high country. I am content to pedal my bike up roads closed to cars until their upper portions are deemed free of snow and downed trees are logged out for the summer. I survived my first busy holiday weekend, and I am pleased to say that I haven't yet settled on a singular question that gets asked too often. I think it a good sign. Perhaps it's just the questions of when roads will open, but you can hardly fault someone for asking that, it is an unusual snow year after so many easy winters. 

I went for my first hike of the season yesterday - around Pinecrest Lake, and up and down the spur trail for Cleo's Bath. Or is it Clio's? No matter. It isn't very bath-like at the moment, but I could see under the raging river how it would make a most excellent swimming hole... perhaps I'll return there in late August and see what it looks like. That trail was much more of a scramble than I anticipated and definitely tried me out. Overall, the roughly 6 miles took me 3 hours, and I felt like I was trying hard. I suppose I'm a bit more out of shape than I expected, and perhaps still adjusting to the altitude somewhat (though that should be straightened out by now). Of course, I did hit the trail after a day of work, so that may also account for some of my lackadaisical pace. Afterwards, I changed into my swimsuit and waded out into the lake. I let my knees and feet soak for at least fifteen or twenty minutes before jumping in and rinsing the sweat off the rest of my body. The water was cold, especially since it was evening and cloudy. 

The housing is so-so. A nice, modern building with few problems, but not surrounded by nature, no picnic tables to invite outdoor hangouts, and in response to my saying that I don't drink much, one of the guys turned to the other and said "I'll get her going" as if I was a windup toy that they were going to pull the string and watch me go. Disgusting. On top of that, it's a 10-mile drive to my work each day, and 10 miles back. They put us down here because we were supposed to work at the ranger station just a few more miles down the hill, but when we got here they said maybe that'll only happen sometimes, and then yesterday they said it won't happen at all. So all told I'm considering making a request to move to the housing up the mountain. Either the Pinecrest, where I will be able to walk to work, or the Strawberry, where I will be right next to the Stanislaus River and able to fish or swim as I like once the water levels go down later in the season. The only real bonus to being here, as far as I can tell, is that I have limited cell service in the parking lot, and I am only a short drive or ride down the hill to the nearest reliable wi-fi. This will be handy next week when I start school, but aside from that, and the slightly higher rent (which would be balanced out by not having to drive?), I don't see why I couldn't be happier up the hill. 

But enough musing, it's time for pictures! I apologize for the lack of quality, I apparently had adjusted my camera to low-quality for some reason awhile back and didn't think to check the settings before I got going. I only figured it out once I got on the computer, so these are all small and you can't really zoom in or they just get blurry. But I have over a dozen different wildflowers, most of which I'm fairly certain of the identity and a few which I'm questioning. If anyone else knows, feel free to clue me in.
Pinecrest Lake from the dam site

California Broom (?) Or else it looks like some sort of mallow, but I wasn't sure on this one.

Applegate's Paintbrush and Mountain Misery

Bumblebee on a Blue Dicks flower

Western Sagebrush Lizard (?) and California King Snake

Hartweg's Iris - my first time coming across one of these as far as I can remember!

This one is a mystery - I'm thinking either Lobb's Nama or Jacob's Ladder... anybody else have a guess?

Harlequin Lupine

Mountain Pride - one of my favorites

More lake views

The CCC marked this trail with arrows spray-prainted on the granite


These little guys are Whisker Brush <3 td="">

Young leaves on a California Black Oak (or some other variety... they intermingle a lot)

Cleo's Bath

Granite Gilia 
Mountain Jewelflower - this was another first! It looks like a miner's lettuce that forgot to stop growing...

Slender Cinquefoil - we had cinquefoil growing throughout our lawn in Crescent City, but I never did see it bloom

Some captured snowmelt (I'm guessing) made a nice reflecting pool above the lake

Another lake view

Sierra Currant and Common Scouring Brush

False Solomon's Seal

This was another new one, but I think it's a Golden Brodiaea, also called "Pretty Face".

I thought this was my favorite, California Hesperochiron... but now that I look closely I don't know what to make of those blue lines... perhaps it's an Alpine Gentian? or a Baby Blue Eyes? I need to look into that...

Sierra Currant flowers

Until next time!

06 April 2017

The unmoved movers

That would be us. We've put in one application and innumerable phone calls, and still haven't gotten anything solid lined up for housing near our new jobs. It's wearing me out, and it's certainly not something I want to talk about, but it keeps getting thrown in my face that we're leaving - either by watching all my friends prep their gardens for summer or by people telling me I don't care about the community because I'm leaving. They both hurt in different ways. I mostly hole up and work on projects. I have done a little in the garden, in spite of myself, on the sunnier days.

It's finally starting to get somewhat sunny and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. I've tried to get out in it as much as possible, whether it's doing yoga on the lawn, walking on the beach, eating meals on the porch, or soaking it in while I read my homework in a lawn chair. My gym card certainly isn't getting much use, and I'm not being terribly active I'm afraid. But I am trying to get things done. I've gone through all of "my" drawers in the house, sorting what to keep/donate/throw away. I've taken multiple boxes of things to the thrift store.

I've also been working on a few projects for friends. I've got a knitting project halfway through for Jack that I ought to finish up, and a nalbinding project underway with one of the nalbinding needles that Jack made me for my birthday and the Icelandic wool yarn that he gave me too. We are talking about going to Iceland for Christmas this year. We'll see how much money we're able to save up this summer.

School is going well - my last small paper was turned in last week and now I've got the rest of the month to work on my final paper for this course. I'm debating whether to take American Revolution and Federalist Era (which I know sadly almost nothing about) or Borderlands (a sort of historical geography type course, a corner of history that I'm very interested in) over the summer. I've got until the end of the month to decide for sure.

Alright, that was a bit of a cluster of thoughts all rolled up into one, but that's kinda how I'm feeling right now. The never-ending house hunt has definitely got me down. Things would be so much less stressful if we didn't have this giant question mark looming over us all the time. We have a couple friends from South Africa on their way here. We'll be picking them up in Medford on Monday and hosting them on and off for the next couple weeks (they'll be visiting some other friends in the middle too). I knit them each a pair of slippers, which I'm excited to give them. I didn't sew up the backs on the mens slippers though because I'm not sure if they'll fit! I wanted to be able to add on if needed.