*

*
Surfer, Encinitas

Monday, June 26, 2017

Borrego reprise


If you want to tell me that we were certifiably insane for going out to the desert when the temperatures were hovering around 119˚ you certainly won't get any arguments from us. But if you will allow us to explain perhaps it will be more understandable.

It was Stanley and Tracys' 41st anniversary and they were going out to celebrate at Casa Del Zorro in Borrego Springs on our recommendation.

They had made the reservations ages ago and we had done the same, not knowing that we would all be ensnared in a severe heat wave.

And besides, there are ample swimming pools and the air conditioning is quite good, right?

We actually had a great time. We had traveled with the pair before, to Death Valley and knew that they could take the heat. But to be honest, you would have had to dump a truck full of ice in the pool to get a refreshing jolt at these temperatures.

My Leslie can wilt on occasion but she is smart and knows how to pick her spots. We all did just fine. Just don't put your hand on the pool railing at 120˚ or allow your bare feet to touch the pavers and everything will be copacetic. My palm and feet are still a bit cooked but then I have always been a slow study.

We had a nice couple days away and I experienced a touch of kismet. For the second time in a row, I went out to the Tamarisk Grove, in extreme heat and looked for my old friends, the long eared owls. I snuck in to the closed campground and walked every tree but no luck. Two trips around the grove, just to make sure. I was even wearing my lucky owl shirt, the same one I had on when I found the long eared owl but unfortunately no dice.

I did come across an eagle feather. And a minor league epiphany. I had the thought that in photography, art and life, you get what you get. In the words of the bard, Bobby Z, nothing was delivered and maybe Mick had it right too, you get what you need. But wishing and hoping only goes so far. You what you get. And I had struck out.

So I drove back to the hotel, the temperature pinned at about 122˚ and cooled off in the room for a minute. And within a second or two I get a call, the owl was right outside my door on the Washingtonia filifera palm tree. Who knew that they delivered? The owl came to me!

And sure as shit, here was a beautiful owl, staring like a cheshire cat, not 10' above my head. Wow.

As it turns out this is not a long eared owl like I captured last time, it is a great horned owl but like, who cares? It's my novel, it's still beautiful and the cosmic timing was incredible.

Now I want you to know that this was not taken with my fancy new nikkor 400mm 2.8 fl, there was no way I was going to let that extremely expensive piece of machinery melt in the desert. I took it instead with the Sigma 150-600mm C and the Nikon D810. More than adequate for the job. Rarely use the combination, if ever, usually needing the reach of the crop sensor on the D7200 but the resolution and image quality is actually better this way.

Beautiful raptor. Might have had its eyes and talons set on a tasty looking chihuahua by the pool. I guess there are two owls living at the resort and I did a little further research and eventually discovered their specific pad location.

Haven't really had time to go through my shots but I think I will be very pleased. Owl was going through a strange panting ritual at one point ,maybe it was hot too and this allowed it to respirate? Not sure what it was. Lots of nice birds out there, saw a few hooded orioles, possibly an indigo or lazuli bunting.

We had a nice dinner with our friends at Carmelitas, Leslie's chili verde was simply the best I have ever tasted and my mole was its normal superb self.

Ate at Carlees the second night, chicken artichoke pizza. Also quite awesome.

On the way I took this shot of a kid walking in front of a dilapidated building and thought that the patriotic motif was quite synchronous.

The stuff that comes unexpectedly down the pike is unfailingly more interesting than the stuff that you plan for.

Had breakfast at Casa Del Zorro one morning, corn flake encrusted french toast which is pretty crunchy wonderful. Afterwards we checked out all the cool Nixon and Agnew material in the lobby, after all this was a Copley hotel.

I got up at 5:30 this morning and drove with the sunrise in tow over to Palm Canyon.

I hiked part way up the desolate trail hoping my owl fortune would rub off onto bighorn sheep but no luck. You get what you get. Very hot, didn't have adequate water and didn't really feel like dying out in the desert with the keys to my van in my pocket. It would have created a lot of serious problems for Leslie getting home, among other things.

And then I thought, hey, she will still be in bed for another hour, I will drive the 28 miles one way out to the Salton Sea and no one will be the wiser (turns out I slammed the door and she had been up since 5:30 too. Sorry.)

I had met an emergency room doctor from Irvine who was taking a mental health break in the desert on his 400cc scooter and he had drove the particular route the day before. It was new to me.


And he was talking and worrying about proper tire pressure in this kind of heat, fearing a blowout from the heat expanding his tires.


And driving out there in nowhere, without much water or even my phone which I had forgotten in the room, you do kind of think about mortality a little bit. I was way out in Ocotillo Wells, how many days would it take for them to find what was left of my rotting carcass? Passed through some serious badlands this morning.

Ran across an interesting monument to the artist John Hilton, who I occasionally handle. Who knew?



I hit the Salton Sea at the Western Shore, half way between Indio and El Centro. Yacht Club Rd.

Another shattered sort of a place, a real lake of a mistake. Quite tragic. Boulevard of broken dreams.
Returned eventually, mostly in one piece.

Had a last dip and came home. Even in this same heat I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat.

The desert is good for you, it gets you in touch with something deep inside. To desert to the desert offers just desserts.


Happy anniversary Trace and Stan. Let's do it again!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Respect Robert. You're a true Desert Rat...max

Anonymous said...

This is really good! Owl photos! My cat who is a Tortie has the same owlish eyes and expression.
When I was 20 I rented a house in Ocotillo, south end of Borrego. Did a lot of zen, lived with my dog, hiked and rode my bicycle under the full moon. Didn't speak to anyone for days sometimes. About twice a month my Portuguese girl friend and some other friends came out from San Diego to visit.
You're always sending me something that stirs me emotionally. Thank you for sharing!
The Blast is inspirational...

Anonymous said...

Love the Salton Sea color study! Incredible. The owl's intense expression cracks me up. Love those eyes!

Anonymous said...

Great Horned Owls usually hide out in the daytime. Amazing how the animals somehow find photographers for their photo ops.....
But just as timely as the owl shots is the American Flag shot! That's a great shot.
Good work.