July 19, 2017

Volcanic Tablelands

"The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. 
It is the dust and blood of our ancestors.
Chief Plenty Coups
The Volcanic Tablelands
The southern migrations of our dear friends, Denise and Tim, were coming to an end...time to head back home to Alaska. But one last rendezvous was yet to be had. When pigeon post dropped off a cryptic message to us, "Zephyr and WeBegone tryst at The Volcanic Tablelands"...we were there!

I have to believe the Paiute came to literally offer homage to these volcanic bluffs and hidden canyons. I have concluded this as I sit upon their revered ground with the feeling of being close to a mothering power. It must have been soothing for their skin to touch the warm earth and for the elders to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet upon their sacred earth. 
I imagine their dwellings were built among the canyon walls and their altars were made upon the "Bishop Tuff". And as the Tablelands have inspired me, I am sure these lands soothed, strengthened, cleansed and healed their souls. Standing upon this hallowed ground, embracing the life-giving forces of our earth, I can see more clearly the mysteries of life and have a closer understanding to the kinship of the lives that surround me. 

Formed over 700,000 years ago by the Long Valley caldera, the Volcanic Tablelands lies just north of Bishop, CA. A rock climbing paradise, this vast volcanic landscape is a dazzling high desert jewel showcasing the imposing Eastern Sierra Mountain Range, a grandiose landscape reflecting a history of extremes. For a select few, it is also a magical collection of perfectly chiseled Paiute-Shoshone Indian petroglyphs...Native American rock art.
With over 12,000 acres to explore...you can easily find a secluded boulder to bathe yourself with solitude and mountain panoramas. Campsites, an empty turnout, are aplenty and very free for 14 days. But no water, dump or trash bins...so pack it in, bring it out. 
Our neighborhood offered boundless waypoints to hike to, immeasurable time to relax, endless reasons to celebrate and best of all, vast appetites to feast.

One of our favorite grilling choices is a California Cut Tri-Tip bathed in "Brenda's Hawaiian inspired marinade" for two days. It has such a distinctive taste, many are tempted to slice a piece right off my grill...and they do. Here is the simple recipe for those of you who yearn to join the "Sear and Burn Club".

  • 2/3 cup soy sauce (preferably "Aloha" Shoyu)
  • 6 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 diced garlic gloves
  • coarse black pepper
  • 3 lbs of Tri-Tip
Put your tri-tip in a ziplock bag, add all the ingredients, shake well and refrigerate. Turn bag over every morning for 2-3 days until ready to grill. I prefer to trim my own tri-tip...leaving a thin fat cap as it will baste the meat and adds some extra flavor. I pull my roast off the grill rare, at about 120ยบ, let it rest for about 10 minutes, slice it thin and serve.

Courtesy of Tim and Denise, you can stimulate your senses even more by perusing this wonderful piece, East of the Crest. They are awesome mountaineers, shutterbugs, videographers and Templars of the Order of the Tin Cup! Although we were sad to bid goodbye to these folks and their two huggie bears, Tuks and Lulu, we will always reflect on the many wondrous moments we had together and look forward to saying hello on our next rendezvous.
Notice our new pack member? Welcome our new little girl...Kiah!
Thanks Tim and Denise for the header, footer and the tri tip photos....masterfully done.

At Waypoint....Find It!

June 21, 2017

Saguaro National Park

"Together We Will"
Tohono O"odham Nation

There is no symbol more emblematic of the American southwest than the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, the saguaro cactus. Standing tall, their arms point to the heavens, as if in prayer to the universe for the light and moisture which they receive. The saguaro is renowned for the variety of fluky, all too human shapes it assumes...shapes that inspire wild and whimsical perceptions. The Tohono O'odham culture passed down beliefs that the saguaro cactus are actually the spirits of their ancestors, standing in the desert as watchful guardians, providing shade and protecting life-giving water. As I compare our own "fixed" paradigm of assumptions and rationale...I prefer the beliefs of the ancient ones, that all things are alive and spirituality is sought through intimate communion with the natural world.
We found that these monarchs of the Sonoran Desert are living monuments and a mirror of the past and examples for the future. In our walks through life, they remain steadfast and immoveable. And they truly are a reminder of the influence of our ancestors and that our true strength comes from the powers that reside within each of us. 
We spent a few days at a beautiful campground within the Tucson Mountain Park, Gilbert Ray Campground. After savoring the remoteness and peacefulness of the dispersed camping we experienced at Indian Bread Rocks, being part of an rv "neighborhood" created a brief jolt. But as we were surrounded by lush desert vegetation, a plethora of wildlife (each night we were serenaded by the local saguaro coyote tribe). Also, as there were countless distractions to explore within the Tucson Mountain Park, our tolerance level toward crowds was raised. 
One of our many highlights was actually a dream come true. Two of my favorite cravings in life broasted chicken and donuts, were found under one roof, behind one magical counter. When Imkelina first saw Queens Broaster Chicken and Donuts, I though she was joking...or it must be a mirage...or maybe I am on Candid Camera? But there it was and it turned out to be heavenly and worth multiple trips...surely a tease and brief glimpse of my afterlife. 
garden path of the Red Hills Visitor Center
Crested Saguaro 

We enjoyed another priceless national treasure. Saguaro National Park preserves over 91,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert. The park consists of two districts Saguaro West and Saguaro East, separated by the city of Tucson. Being camped close by, we were able to enjoy the scenic drives, trails and the beautiful Red Hills Visitors Center of the west district. We drove the scenic unpaved Bajada Loop Drive through the dense saguaro forest being treated to some very unique cactus and beautiful desert vistas. Prior to the heat blanketing the desert floor, we hiked the short Signal Hill Trail. The trailhead features a a historic CCC built picnic area that you would be hard pressed to find a duplicate. The short climb takes you to dozens of ancient petroglyphs more than 800 years old. As we were quite alone, we had un-intterupted time to observe with fascination and reverence these ancient carvings.  
nesting hummingbird in the Hummingbird Aviary
Cactus Wren nest in a Palo Verder cactus
yearning to be free

Burrowing Owl
Black Tailed Prairie Dog
Cambria Dog
Desert Loop Trail within the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
And finally, we did glance into the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I say glance, as we only spent the early morning to stroll the grounds before the heat and large crowds engulfed the grounds. Although we are not fans of contained wildlife in pens, we were told the Desert Museum rescued the majority of the animals they featured. The Hummingbird Aviary was our favorite. The trail system throughout the museum was well done, provided a complete description of the Sonora Desert habitat and highlighted endless desert vistas.
Although it was time to press the pause button on our little trip through the deserts of Southeastern Arizona, we coveted to end our trip with some "organic" boon-docking. So we headed to a waypoint that we had heard of from a fellow blogger, Technomadia, aptly named Saddle Mountain. Saddle Mountain is a landmark peak west of Phoenix in the town of Tonopah. The mountain peak which has a distinct saddle shape, summits at 3,037 feet with a few trails leading to a small saddle high on the ridge. The views from up there were spectacular. The whole area clearly showed evidence of volcanic activity. This was a perfect spot to end...and then begin our last leg to the Central Coast Hidey Hole.

At Waypoints 32.21999, -111.14129