Photography . . . Travel . . .

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Great Day in The Desert - With a Surprise at The End

I gathered up a few friends for a day of photography and exploring off-road in Anza Borrego Desert State Park last Saturday, March 24. The weather was cool and damp when we left San Diego, but cleared up after we passed through the mountains. By the time got down to the desert floor it was warming up, with just enough high clouds to give a really nice look to the sky.

We decided to try several trails that none of us had ever been on, so I pulled out my map and off we went. We started out by heading south in Inspiration Wash from County Road S-22. The wash starts out wide and sandy, then narrows considerably as climbs up to an overlook point. From there the trail drops down a narrow channel for a few miles until it opens up again near a large area of sand dunes.

The penguin started out as a Christmas thing a few years back. Then he started going on more trips, but was always falling over every time we hit a bumpy patch in the trail - until one day a couple of years ago Heather said something like "well, you have all that duct tape in the tool bag, just duct tape his butt to the dashboard". Why didn't I think of that?

Our little group at the high point of the Inspiration Wash trail. My Xterra, Mark's Frontier and Rae's Jeep.

The trail heading south from the overlook as it winds its way down.

Every now and then portions of the mud hills in the Badlands collapse. This large chunk of rock is sitting right in the middle of the trail. Luckily a bypass has been developed around it.

From a photographer's point of view you could not have asked for better skies on Saturday. This is the view looking back north towards the direction we came in from.

Towards the south end of the Inspiration Wash trail we found an area of large sand dunes.

Of course, sand dunes meant that Robert had to bring out the droids.

But, since they were not the droids we were looking for . . . they were free to go on their way.

(Yes, I do realize (now that it's too late to do anything about it) that R2D2 is moving backwards. Let's just go with the idea that he was keeping an eye on us as he moved away.)

We stopped for lunch under a group of tamarisk trees near the Borrego Sink, and then headed east towards San Felipe Wash. Along the way we took a little detour up onto a series of unmapped trails that run along the ridge lines south of Borrego Sink Wash a little before it gets to San Felipe Wash.

I guess I should get into at least one picture along the way here.

We stopped to check out a little patch of dried mud in the bright mid-day sun, and I thought this would be good spot to break out the fisheye lens.

We continued east in San Felipe Wash for a bit, then it was time to turn north into Hills of the Moon Wash. Hills of the Moon starts out wide and sandy, then gets narrower as it winds its way north through the mud hills of the Borrego Badlands and eventually gets too narrow to drive in as it gets close to the base of Fonts Point.

The trail is fairly easy in spots, with occasional collapses and bypasses. In spots it's quite narrow. Although this is by no means the narrowest section, it would not be fun to try turning around in here.

Eventually it got to the point where it looked like if we went any further we might be able to turn around at all. Here's Robert spotting as I back up to spot wide enough (sort of) to turn in. (My friend LaRee Brownell was riding with me on Saturday, and took these next 3 shots with my camera.)

To get back to pavement we went back to San Felipe Wash and took that south to Borrego Springs Road. We found some great scenery in the late afternoon light.

Our original plan for the day was to look for desert wildflowers - it is that time of year after all. Unfortunately, this has been a very dry year, and we didn't really find much at all. Once we were done airing our tires back up we decided to drive to the far north end of Borrego Springs to see if there were any flowers out along Henderson Canyon Road. In past years this one spot has always had flowers. On our way north on DiGiorgio Road I looked over to our left and spotted this. It's a giant scorpion. Of course we had to stop.

And of course I had to see what it would like from the perspective of someone about to be eaten by the giant scorpion. (I have to say, that fisheye lens does come in handy at times.)

As we were driving back south from Henderson Canyon Road towards town we spotted a large group of people just off the road, all with either binoculars or spotting scopes pointed off towards the high mountains to the north. We had no idea what they were looking at, the mountains were a few miles away. Much too far, it seemed, for them to be seeing any wildlife. Of course we had to stop and investigate. It turned out to be the Borrego Hawkwatch. They said they were waiting for the migrating Swainson's Hawks to show up. Lots of them. And they did. I only took a few pictures, which were not very good. I spent more time with my binoculars, which got me a much closer look. The hawks came in over the mountains in large groups, flew right over our heads, and landed for the evening in a cluster of trees just a block or so from where we were standing. The bird people said they counted 295 Swainson's Hawks that evening. I've never seen anything like that - it was quite impressive.

The sun eventually set, and we finally decided to head for home. It was one of our longer days out there, but we saw a lot of new places and things. All in all it was a great day to hang out in the desert with a group of good friends.

Click here to see more images from our day in Anza Borrego Desert State Park on Saturday, March 24, 2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Parade - San Diego - March 17, 2012

What could be better than a huge St. Patrick's Day Parade in sunny San Diego? Well, that didn't happen this year. Sure, it was sunny and pushing 80F on Saturday in lots of places  . . . like in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, Heather and I were standing out on the street in the cold rain and wind in San Diego, while the TV stations were all dusting off their Storm of the Century graphics for use on that evening's newscasts. What a change from last year! As usual, the firefighters lead things off - the 32nd Annual San Diego St. Patrick's Day Parade.

There were much fewer entries this year, and no problem finding parking or a good spot on the street to watch the parade from. Even though it was pretty cold and wet, we had a great time. A group of about 10 of us from our local photo club got together for this. We shielded our cameras with plastic bags and makeshift rain capes, and did out best to keep the water droplets off the front of the lenses (not always successfully). The only downside to all being in pretty much the same spot is that many of our pictures look alike. 

The local Corvette owner's club traditionally provides the cars for the special guests, but none of them seemed to want to drive with roofs off. This is as much as we saw of the Mayor of San Diego.

Quite a few of the scheduled entrants didn't show up, but it was good to see that many did. 

Our good friend Robert is driving this old 1966 Dodge Polara Sheriff's Department cruiser, his wife, also a deputy, is riding shotgun.

Even in the cold and rain everyone was having a good time.

This guy looked to be having the most fun of all. On the wet pavement he was able to do some great spins with those hard plastic rear wheels.

We even had our own private sound track for a while. This guy was sitting right behind where we were standing. He was pretty good too.

All in all it was a great day to be out. No matter what the weather is like it's hard not to have fun when everyone around you is having a great time.

Click here to see more images from the 32nd Annual San Diego St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2012.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Balboa Park San Diego

Heather and I spent part of the day today wandering around Balboa Park. There was quite a bit going on. We stopped in to check out the House of Ireland at the International Cottages - today was the day they do their annual Lawn Program, with Irish dancers and food. This year they had an Irish stew, which we followed up with a particularly good Bailey's brownie.

We found this on our way from the parking lot to the International Houses, and since it's green it will have to suffice, since I didn't get any pictures worth posting of the Irish celebrations.

While we were waiting for the dancing to get started we walked over to the San Diego Museum of Art to check out the two newest exhibits.

The exhibit with the sculptures from the Buddhist cave temples is very nicely done. It's only here until late May, and very much worth the time to see it. By the way, no photography is allowed in the special exhibit - as I was told right after I got this shot of the entrance.

On our way back to the International Houses we stopped in for a little walk around the Japanese Friendship Garden.

This is great time to walk through the garden, with the wisteria in bloom.

No matter what time of year you go to Balboa Park there is always something interesting to see.

Click here to see a few more images from Balboa Park in San Diego on Sunday, March 11, 2012.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Turtles and Tigers (and Some Other Animals Too) - San Diego Zoo

Partway down the Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo is a little grotto-like area that is home to several types of aquatic turtles and the Johnston's Crocodiles. 

The smaller turtle was climbing around on the back of the larger one. Very shortly after I took this next shot the little one slipped and wound up doing a back-flip into the water. He landed pretty much upside down, but then swam off as if nothing had happened.

The little Johnston's Crocodile didn't seem to even notice.

I got to the Malayan Tigers about 15 minutes before the scheduled time for the keeper talk.

The beasties perked up when they heard Rochelle start talking, knowing that might well mean some chunks of fresh beef heart were coming.

You can just see a chunk of the meat flying towards the tiger, look on the very left side of the frame.

I spent some time in the Hummingbird House too - here are the sunbitterns. They were busy building a nest.

This peacock was hanging out under a big tree across from the Flamingo pool.

The Malayan Tapir can do some cool facial expressions.

Click here to more images from this morning, Saturday, March 10, 2012 at the San Diego Zoo.

About Me

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.