Sunday morning, Easter Sunday 4th April
Woke to a lovely, clear, sunny morning with birdsong echoing through the trees. Some species of crow or jay had been calling and being busy all Saturday and was up and at it again: I had tried to see them but they were constantly flitting in and out amongst the trees and they remained elusive.
Bad headache all yesterday and during the night, so filling up on anti-migraine painkillers every few hours: they were working but I felt very ‘spaced-out’.
I sat in bed amongst the pines and worked on my Music Harmony for half an hour before getting up. Friends’ son-in-law was downstairs making a cooked breakfast for everyone: poached eggs, pancakes, maple syrup, crispy bacon etc. We put the Easter choccies around the table and foregathered. A lazy breakfast, followed by sitting reading papers: I decided to go for a stroll in the neighbourhood and took my binos and camera. I found the woods consisted mainly of Oak, Cottonwood trees and Sugar Pines, as well as various other pines and conifers: they smelled strongly and beautifully in the sunshine.
Later a sudden flash across the road and a Woodpecker flew to a nearby tree and began to peck: very black back, white rump and red head, an Acorn Woodpecker. This made sense given the oak/pine woods on the mountain.
Yesterday I had noticed a lake steamer taking passengers and mentioned that it might be fun. I love any opportunity to get on water! Friends’ daughter said they had not taken this trip yet as during the summer the queues were such that they had never managed to get on. So this morning we set off down to Lake Arrowhead for both the steamer trip and the annual egg hunt for kids. Unfortunately when we got there the children all looked to be about four years old and 11 year old grandson did not fancy it!! So we just bought tickets for the steamer and then walked about in the sun waiting for the due time.
Friends’ son-in-law appeared with a box in which he showed off his booty: he had gone into a very up market chocolate shop one of whose windows was full of Toffee Apples. But not what I am used to: all different types and flavours. He had bought one: they had cut it up and packed it for him in the tray and he was sharing it around. To begin with it was a delicious apple: then it had been coated in soft caramel, then marshmallow, then chocolate sprinkles and finished off with crushed candied nuts. Absolutely gorgeous, a different species from your run-of-the-mill toffee apple! I toyed briefly with the idea of air-freighting some home in dry ice, but not really possible.
The wind was getting up and clouds were coming over the top of the mountain: indeed rain had been forecast for later on. We froze, even in the sun, as we lined up to get on board the boat. It was built to look like a small paddle steamer, but of course the paddle was only really for show, given away by the fact that its rate of turning and the speed of the vessel did not add up, and it ran on diesel.
However, the sun stayed out and we set off. I was hoping for some historical facts and we got a few: the lake was man-made. Originally this had been Little Bear Valley (Big Bear Lake is about thirty miles higher up and is a winter ski resort): by the mid 1800s the trees had been cleared from the valley and a dam was built in the 1880s, the valley flooded and Little Bear Lake created as a reservoir for the growing community of summer visitors in the local village.
By the 1920s there were problems with the dam, so the village and lake were bought out by a local association, a new dam built, and the village and lake renamed, Lake Arrowhead. As I mentioned yesterday the village was rebuilt in the 1980s and lakeside property has gone stratospheric price-wise, from about $35,000 then to a minimum of $1,000,000 now, usually in the area of $4,000,000.
We ended up having what can only be described as a ‘real estate’ tour of the Hollywood and manufacturing nobility, with properties from Trader Joe’s co-owner, a Construction magnate, others who I haven’t heard of but the US citizens recognised, plus Telly Savalas, Doris Day, Shirley Temple, Patrick Swayze, one of the Beach Boys and Liberace. The latter owned a couple of boats on the lake called Piano 1 and Piano 2. Nothing about the trees, wildlife or geology: not that I had high expectations but perhaps just the mereist passing mention?
Although the house styles were interesting and the surroundings lovely it became rather too repetitive and I thought that if I heard the mention of yet more houses costing $14,000,000 and lifestyles I could not even imagine, I would scream.
Back up to the cabin for lunch and packing up, both bags and house. The younger members of the party were leaving later but I was so headachey and friends were also ready to leave: we wanted to get down the mountain roads before the weather broke. Low cloud, steep drops and precipitous sides don’t go well together, and especially not when accompanied by rain and 60 mph winds as well.
We made the half hour trek down the winding mountain side: I tried to take photos from the car as there was nowhere really safe to stop but it was difficult to show the great height overlooking the plain below. I am putting up some photos but please bear with them. They are only for the really dedicated viewers amongst you!!
The car brakes on this car were shuddering all the time and smelled of burning so we were pleased to get down and be able to rest them when we hit the valleys: it was also nice to be warm again and amongst palm trees.
Of course we had to get through eco-Hell again: I always disliked wind turbines but now I am militantly against them, regarding them as spawn of the devil. So those of you who meet me in the flesh now and again beware before you applaud them! But to add perspective, just, I mentioned my antipathy, now huge, having driven through the desert wind turbines, and friends’ daughter said how they made her feel light and free. For once, I was stupefied and speechless.
Home again, unpacked and, of course, made tea. Only to be greeted with the news that an earthquake had taken place: 7.5 on the Richter Scale, with the epicentre only 75 miles away, followed in quick succession by two strong aftershocks. According to government earthquake sources:
Earthquake 4th April
Earthquakes struck along the California and Mexico border today. The areas affected by the quake include Mexico, San Diego and Baja California. …
7.2 Baja California, Mexico First Quake
5.3 Baja California, Mexico Aftershock
5.4 Baja California, Mexico Aftershock
So I was hastily given my earthquake training in preparation for more aftershocks!! Life just gets more and more exciting.
I was woken at 04.24 a.m. today 5th April by my bed shaking, but only for a few seconds. Otherwise, nothing else.
So an evening of unpacking, cooking and blogging to try to keep up. What next I hear you ask? Well, given the weather forecast, we are thinking of going to the Great Morongo Canyon Nature Reserve on Tuesday: it is an area of low, hot, wetlands close to the Marine Corps Air/Ground Combat Center in the Bullion Mountains. But is this wise? Watch this space!