Hanging Out in Hemet, California

It's been a marvelous four days of relaxation since arriving in Hemet. The weather couldn't have been lovelier. We really needed to find some warmth and sunshine, and Hemet did not disappoint us.

The first order of business was to take Mike's truck to a car wash. It was filthy from our drive south in the rain, and then even more filthy from driving through mud puddles in Borrego Springs. Since I'm still determined to get my 10,000 steps each day, I went for a walk while the truck was at the car wash. Along the way there was plenty to see. For instance, whole hedges of blooming rosemary.

Do you remember the picture of Mt. San Jacinto from my post a few days ago? Here it is from the other side.

Turn your head a little bit to the right, and you see the mountain where my friend Lisa lives...at least I think that's where she lives. I know she'll let me know if I'm wrong. Lisa and I weren't able to work out a time to get together during this visit. It's mostly my fault since I had no idea how close we were going to be. Of course, our original agenda didn't include Hemet, and by the time we were able to work it out, Lisa had plans with her family. Oh well...better luck next time around.

I knew you'd want to see how they disguise cell phone towers as date palms in Southern California. 

I couldn't get a better picture of the plant in the next picture because these were big hedges that were trimmed so that all the blossoms were at the top of the plant high over my head. These are known as "Bottlebrush" in California, but I spent three years in Hawaii from second through fifth grades. In Hawaii, we called them "Pele's Tears". I tried to Google a reference for this, but could find none. That's what happens when you grow up during the 14th Century. In any case, in Hawaii, legend has it that if you pluck one of the red blossoms, it will cause rain. And since it rains at least a little bit almost every day in Hawaii, it always works. I believed it.

There has been plenty of time for embroidery. Recall that I needed to redo this block from Lisa's mother. 

I spent a few days on it, and finished it on Sunday.

Then, right away I started the next one submitted by Barbara L.

Here's Barbara's original block submission.

I haven't taken a lot of artistic license with these blocks, preferring instead to copy them as closely as possible to the original submission. For this one, however, I decided to add some color to it. It seemed pretty straightforward. I started it Sunday morning, and by day's end, it was finished.

So...let's see...what else is going on? Oh, I knew you'd want to see this sign on the neighbor's trailer next door. I think I should make a quilt like this, don't you?

And we never make a visit to Hemet without getting a burger at the In-N-Out just down the street.

We don't have In-N-Out near where we live, and we're not very happy about it. In fact, the first In-N-Out was just built in Oregon, but it's a full day's drive away. 

The kitties are doing really well. Yesterday I thought they might bump noses. Only the leg of a chair was between them. Otherwise, they ignore one another or circle around giving one another a wide berth.

Maggie has spent as much time on the catio as Smitty has.

They seem to have reached a comfortable truce.

We've been moving their food bowls a little closer together, although we still have some work to do on that.

It was rather warm yesterday, and this Oregon cat isn't used to it. He has his Oregon winter woollies on right now, and so he was exposing as much surface area as possible.

Thanks to Quiltshopgal for turning us onto Polly's Pies. When Mike's sister visited yesterday, we decided to have lunch at Polly's. I loved this little quilt hanging near the front door.

We each had a different burger, and then both apple and cherry pies were on sale for $5.99. Well. We couldn't pass up a bargain like that, now could we? We chose cherry, brought it home, and had dessert in the trailer. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

And that pretty well sums up the past four days. This morning we're taking off for Death Valley National Park. We'll be there for three days, and it's doubtful that we'll have internet while we're there. I've been surprised in a national park before, however, and so maybe this will be the visit when cell service and internet are available. I'm only telling you this so that if you don't hear from me for the next several days, you'll know why. There's wonderful hiking and sight-seeing to be done in Death Valley, and you can be sure I'll catch you up as soon as I can. Also, I'm still on the hunt for a quilt shop, but that probably won't happen until we start driving home. Even then, I'm beginning to wonder.

So there you go. And off we go. I'll write when I get to the other side.


Skull Rock Trail

We decided the night before that we would leave Joshua Tree NP on the day we took this hike. It was a relatively short 1.65 mile loop, and it started just a few yards from where our rig was parked in the campground. To give you some perspective, I'll show you a map of the hike from the sign at the trailhead, and I've marked the location of our rig with a red dot.

After we'd hiked about 3/4 of the way around the loop, we looked across the road where we could see our trailer in the campground.

For perspective, this next image was standing at the same spot, but not zoomed in.

So what's this hike all about anyway? The trail meanders through boulders, desert washes, and a rocky alleyway. There are signs all along the trail that identify plants, explain the geology of the Mojave Desert, discuss plant and animal relationships, and describe plant uses by early Native Americans. Eventually the trail leads to Skull Rock, an unusual monzogranite boulder that resembles a gigantic human skull. Okay, so here we go.

As I said in a previous post, the Joshua Trees are only one reason to come to the park. We think the giant rock formations are at least as interesting as the trees. Erosion has created some interesting rock "gardens" and shapes. One sign I read described them as resembling scoops of ice cream.

It was a nice interpretive trail with lots of signs describing what we were seeing. This one was especially interesting to me because of all the uses for this desert plant.

There were no flowering plants that fit the description, but I thought this next image might be the same plant. Just add flowers to those red stalks.

Just prior to reaching Skull Rock, we walked through a somewhat deeper wash and found lots of different kinds of trees and shrubs that were better able to grow where there was more moisture. Here's the Mojave Desert Oak.

It's leaves resemble a holly leaf.

Here's skull rock. Those depressions are caused by rushing water, and this being in that same wash, it makes sense.

I'm always amazed at the courage of plants that grow from solid rock against all odds.

We thought this might be the lair of some critter, but we didn't see any evidence of that.

And on we walked, marveling at the rocks.

The landscapes are vast, and it's impossible to really get a feel for how big things are without attempting a pano. Remember that you can make these images larger by clicking on them.

There's Mike heading on up the dusty trail.

And here's another pano.

This next image is another good example of the dikes I mentioned in my previous post. You can see a small ridge on the rock in the foreground. Look more toward the back in the shadow of the background rock, and you can see some larger dikes.

This is a Desert Pine tree loaded with pine cones. The birds, rats, chipmunks, and other animals forage for the seeds.

We marveled at some of these balancing rocks.

And here's an immense rock garden so typical of the area.

And that was our hike. We've done this one before, but we never get tired of the landscape in this area. The second time out was every bit as enjoyable as the first. But before we leave the hike, here are two windblown travelers. Why should our shadow selves get all the selfie fun?

We've been relaxing and warming up in the beautiful weather here in Hemet. the kitties are doing well, and tolerating one another better all the time. Mike's sister, Meredith, will be joining us here later today for a visit, and then we'll be moving onto Death Valley tomorrow.


Lost Horse Mine Trail

When I left off with yesterday's post, we'd taken a short walk out to see Arch Rock. We went back to the trailer, got Smitty out for a walk, had some lunch, and then took off for a much more challenging hike to see Lost Horse Mine. Our hiking book told us that the Lost Horse Mine operation was one of the most successful gold mining operations within the park. It seems Frank Diebold, a German prospector, initially discovered the gold strike, but it was Johnny Lang who was responsible for making the mine productive.

As the story goes, Lang was looking for a lost horse in 1893 when he came across Diebold's mining camp. Shortly thereafter, Diebold sold the mine rights to Johnny Lang and his father. Along with new partners, Thomas and Jep Ryan, Lang started up the Lost Horse Mine operation around 1895. Over the next ten years, they processed several thousand ounces of gold.

The existing structures I'm going to show you are among the best preserved mining structures within the National Park System. To read more about it on the National Park System website, click right here. For now, I'll show you the photos we took on this moderately strenuous hike. The hiking book promised us a 480-foot elevation change from the bottom of the trail up to the location of the mine, 2 miles in. According to the app on Mike's watch, the elevation change was more like 750 feet.

We first noticed this area in the image below where there is nothing growing. With the shape of the mountain being conical like that, we surmised that this might have been an ancient lava flow, but we have nothing to document that.

The hike took us up and up and up. It's always a good idea to turn around and look behind you and we noticed Mt. San Jacinto peeking over the hillsides in the distance. Here in Hemet, where we are now, Mt. San Jacinto towers over the city. I'll have some more pictures of it from the lowlands in another post.

Like I said, up and up and up...in fact, two miles of hiking up, and we were getting pretty tired when the mine first came into view. You can see it is still a long way off.

When we reached this point, we briefly considered whether we wanted to continue. In a moment of "well-we've-come-this-far-it-would-be-a-shame-to-turn-back-now" moment (wise or not), we trudged on. Besides, I knew Mike the engineer was going to love seeing all the machinery associated with this ancient gold-mining operation.

As we got closer, we came upon this piece of debris from a wagon (apparently). Our shadow selves wanted to get in on the act at that point, and so they took their first selfie of the trip.

Our physical bodies turned around so we could see how far we'd come.

Believe it or not, we were still standing upright when we finally reached the mine. It was worth the trip, believe me. Check out those big wheels and remember them. When I get around to the front, you'll be able to see how big belts wound around this apparatus and hauled gold from the mine.

To the left of the image above, you could see the mine shaft, which is pictured below. We estimate it to be about three feet square. I was holding the camera lens through a big chain-link fence, which folks had, nonetheless, pried apart to get closer and look down the hole.

Recognizing ourselves to be mortal, we stayed safely outside the fence. Mike climbed up a little higher to get a look at what he believed to be a winch.

This next image shows the mine from the other side, and those are cyanide settling tanks. I don't know the function of cyanide in gold mining, and so I can't tell you any more than that.

There were two rock structures above the winch. They were lined with concrete in order to hold water from runoff.

Here's a shot from below the mine. You can begin to see the crushers in front. They resemble large pistons.

Below, you can see another large wheel that would have held a belt and connected to the other wheels I've already mentioned. There was yet another broken wheel beyond that one, but it is in shadow in this image.

Here, you can see a better view of the crushers. There are ten of them, and I believe that is what accounts for its description as a "10-stamp" mine.

I'm sorry I couldn't get a better image of the sign. Like I said, I was shooting through a chain link fence.

Here's what it says: 

Operated intermittently between 1893 and 1936, the mine produced over 9,000 ounces of gold for its operators. Dutch Frank Diebold is credited with the original discovery of the claim, which he sold for $1,000 to Johnny Lang. Johnny reportedly first came upon Dutch's claim while looking for a lost horse, hence the current name.
The mine workings consisted of a 500-foot shaft, an early 80-foot adit, several slopes where the vein was followed, and at least six working levels. Major tunnels were developed at the 100-, 200-, and 300-foot levels. The shaft was sunk next to the quartz vein from which the ore-bearing portions, or shoots, were mined. Remnant mill features include the the large crushed ore storage bin, the 10 battery stamp mill, two rock walled water storage tanks, and portions of engines and compressors. This reasonably well preserved example of mining technology has been nominated to the National Historic Registry of Places to help preserve it for the enjoyment of future generations.

And after that, we went back the way we came, thankfully, downhill all the way from here. I stopped to take this next picture because of the little cactus growing out of solid igneous rock, against all odds.

As we drove the short dirt road back to the main highway, we stopped to take this picture of the veritable forest of Joshua Trees, growing thick as the hair on a dog's back (as my grandfather liked to say). It might be hard for you to see in this image, and so you'll have to take my word for it. It was like a jungle of Joshua Trees.

After that, we took a short drive out to Keys View lookout. We've been here before on a day when the wind just about blew us over the cliff. Unfortunately, I was shooting directly into the sun, and it was a hazy day to boot. And yes, it was just as windy as the first time we visited.

Here's a better image taken on our last visit back in January of 2008.

This is what I said about it in my old blog, Ribbon of Highway:

I had several articles about Joshua Tree and each of them mentioned having to travel back to the view multiple times to see it without the haze that sometimes masks the scenery. When we arrived there it was frigidly cold with sustained winds of 30+ miles per hour and gusts up to 60 mph. It was difficult to stand up in such winds and I found myself staying well clear of the edge of the canyon to avoid being blown off the cliff. 

And if you just can't get enough of my pithy and witty repartee, you can read the blog post from our previous visit to Joshua Tree National Park right here.

From there, the day was drawing to a close. We had good light heading back to our campsite, and we stopped along the way to take a picture of the rocks where the campground is located. I'll show you more of that in tomorrow's post when I tell you about the Skull Rock Trail.

After such a long uphill trek, we were pretty tuckered out. It was good to get back to the trailer and this pretty sunset.

Fast forward to today, and we're spending the day relaxing in Hemet. We came south to get warm and dry, and up until arriving in Hemet, we've been anything but. The weather was, of course, terrible as we drove south to Borrego Springs. Even after arriving in Borrego Springs, it has continued to be chilly enough that we've needed outerwear of some kind to stay warm. We decided to come to Hemet because we trusted it to be warm, and we have not been disappointed. It's nice to be in short sleeves, capri pants, and sandals, even if it is just for a few days before we take off again for Death Valley.

I'll have more for you tomorrow, and then we'll be caught up to the present. There have been no quilt shop visits thus far, and frankly, no quilt shops to speak of. There is one a little bit north of us here, but I've been there before. We'll keep looking, however. You can count on that.