Under The Palm Trees

Out of the Sun (and in the Sun)

We’re having so much fun!


November 12th Volunteer Potluck Dinner

Outside of the Palm House…

Unexpected guests…

Wiley, the Coyote

A Tarantula Hawk…

Just so you know, tarantula hawks are the largest members of the spider wasp family of some 5,000-species strong that prey solely on spiders. And you guessed it, tarantula hawks prey upon the largest of all spiders, tarantulas. (sciencefriday.com) According to Justin O. Schmidt, author of The Sting of the Wild, “Stung by a tarantula hawk? The advice I give in speaking engagements is to lie down and scream. The pain is so debilitating and excruciating that the victim is at risk of further injury by tripping in a hole or over an object in the path and then falling onto a cactus or into a barbed-wire fence. Such is the sting pain that almost nobody can maintain normal coordination or cognitive control to prevent accidental injury. Screaming is satisfying and helps reduce attention to the pain of the sting.” (Yeppers, that’s just about the way our Preserve Manager, Ginny Short, explained it! Thank goodness this tarantula hawk was DOA.)


Thirsty Thursdays

We share some brewskis after “work” with Gregg, our neighbor and co-host, and Tyler, our aquatic biologist. Tyler is restoring McCallum pond to its natural state to provide the perfect refugium for pup fish.


Our Big and Little  Backyard

Sit back, relax, and enjoy as you scroll through the world we live in…

The Crescent Moon…

This summer I learned how to use the moon as a compass at one of the Summer Reading Programs in Port Orford sponsored by the library and organized by my good friend Cheryl, the Children’s and Teens’ Librarian.

Imagine a line connecting the endpoints of the crescent. Where this imaginary line projects to the horizon, points South. Therefore…

White-Crowned Sparrows identified through my binoculars… And yes, birdwatching is becoming a new hobby, but proving frustrating…

Cigar rings over Squaw Hill…

McCallum Trail and Moon Country…

Smoketree Ranch Trail…

Joshua Tree National Park in the distance…

A Cooper’s Hawk…

Approaching the Palm House Visitor Center from the Smoketree Ranch Trail…

Views from the parking lot…

The “Palm Monster from the Oasis Preserve”…


A White Christmas

On the lower elevations of the mountains…


The Stool Bus

The day the septic tank blew up…

These emoji are hilarious!


New Year’s Eve

Wiley the Coyote wishes us an “auld lang syne.”

And the year rides off into the sunset.

Farewell, 2019.

This Is Now…

When we arrived back at Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve on September 27th, this is what was happening under the palm trees…

Palm fruit started blooming.

Buddy and Bear were waiting for us.

And Gregg…

Sonoran Desert Spiny Lizard…

A rattlesnake dining on a Norwegian mouse…

Gregg and Tyler ride the new Preserve all-terrain work vehicle, the Kawasaki Mule.

Gregg’s son, Matt, hacks my iPhone to take a selfie with his Dad.

Matt’s girlfriend, Amanda, joins in…

Outside Tyler’s office/lab I snap this photo of dead palm trees. The one on the right is modeling the haystack look.

The Washingtonia Filifera, aka California Desert Fan Palm, displays its skirt and ripened palm fruit.

The palm grove surrounding Simone Pond…

The Indio Hills pushing upward between the Mission Creek Strand and Banning Strand of the San Andreas Fault…

A collared lizard…

The robins return!

This photo is dedicated to my grandson, Oliver, who shares the rareness of the arrival of these robins.

Spider webs captured in the morning light on the boardwalk…

A walk along the boardwalk wetlands…

A glorious morning sunrise painting the clouds pink and orange…

The long-eared owl returns to his perch on the palm trees along the boardwalk.

Nestled under the palm trees against the backdrop of the Indio Hills, lie our RV and Gregg’s trailer. You are looking at the San Andreas Fault, well, the best evidence of…


Hidden Palms tucked away…

No, water is not visible on the surface, but it lies 6-12 feet under the sand.

A scorched palm tree recovers its life because the crown of the tree has not been damaged.

We hike up onto a social trail on our way back from visiting Hidden Palms.

Beaver-tailed cactus…


Car Crash Canyon…

Pushawalla Palms…

Just look at the luscious palm fruit dripping down!

The Native Cahuilla ate the juicy fruit from the trees, mashed it into a pulp for fermentation, and ground it into flour.

Mineral-stained water trails show the evidence of water lying beneath the surface.

These straw-like tendrils reach down into the water source below to encourage the propagation of these indigenous California palm trees.

That Was Then….

When we left Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve on May 1st, this is what was happening under the palm trees…

A Cooper’s Hawk starts hanging around on the power wires outside of our RV. We named him Coop.

 audubon.org


A Long-Eared Owl stares back on the boardwalk.


Ginny, our Preserve Manager, rescues a barn owl near the boardwalk…


Peter Cottontail, outside of our RV… He visits us every evening after all the cars and people leave the parking lot.


Leapin’ Lizards! These guys love the warmer temperatures and hot sand.

Where’s the rest of my tail?

A desert iguana…

Zebra-tailed lizard…

This one does push-ups.

More desert iguanas. They love munching on creosote bush leaves.

A desert spiny lizard…

Jeff finds a rare leopard lizard.


A rattlesnake slithers through our campground.

Very cool!


Caterpillars munch on Brown-Eyed Primrose…

… before they turn into a White-Lined Sphinx Moth…

butterfliesandmoths.org (courtesy of Gary Walton)

…that flutters like a humming bird.

   butterfliesandmoths.org


An Arizona Blister Beetle lunches on Lupine.


The last of the super-bloom…

Brittlebush on the Pushawalla Trail…

Fiddleneck…

Cheesebush starts blooming.

desertwildflower.com (courtesy of S. Sampson)


Creosote explodes.


Mesquite fuzzes out in yellow.

Dyeweed blooms purple.

A pretty bush in shades of pink…

Mary, Frank, and I look for the last of the Desert Lilly and find it on the Smoke Tree Ranch trail.

Gilia…

White Rhatany and Skeleton Bush…

Woody Bottle-Washer…

Fremont Boxthorn…


Donna the Docent’s “portal to another world”…

Can you see it now?


Goodnight, moon…

Goodnight, Thousand Palms Oasis…

See You In September

I still have a few entries to post about our 7 months at Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, but we are getting ready to hit the road again and I want to stay current with our travels. So, I will journal about our daily adventures as we drive to Colorado to visit Jernigan Land and backdate the rest of of my posts about the Preserve when I finish writing them.


Bye-Bye, So Long, Farewell…

Today is the last day of the 2018-2019 Coachella Valley Preserve October 1st through April 30th season. The glass half empty — we are leaving tomorrow… the glass half full — we are coming back!

Lots of hugs have been exchanged with once new acquaintances who have so quickly become family, and what a wonderful family we have here! We will miss you. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and experiences with us. We learned so much and enjoyed our role as onsite hosts. Thank you for loving us as much as we love you…

Goodbye, Thousand Palms Oasis…

Goodbye moon, rising over the valley…

“Where Can I Go To See The Wildflowers?”

That is the Question…

… most asked by the constant stream of visitors coming and going on the Preserve.

Since most folks have never been here before and will probably never return, we recommend the signature trail to Simone Pond and back with a short detour to Vista Point before heading back.

However, less crowded and just as aesthetically appealing hikes are across the street. Both the Pushawalla Ridge and Wash Trails are lined with blooms and planted bouquets of color.

Today, however, Jeff and I explore the trail alongside Bee Mesa, parallel to Thousand Palms Canyon Road.

WOW!

Desert Rock-Pea…

Jeff and I think this is some kind of Sun Cup…

Nipple Cactus…

Gilia…

Skeleton…

White Phacelia…

Lavender…

Desert Dandelions… pure yellow

Five-Spots… unopened they look like rose buds

Desert Trumpet…

California Evening Primrose… a tall sparse plant with yellow flowers

A Painted Lady Butterfly resting on Pincushion…

The trail cuts through the super bloom field of yellows, purples, and whites… eye candy!

Desert Rock Daisies, White Phacelia, and Purple Phacelia…

A close up of White Phacelia…

Heartleaf Primrose…

More Gilia…

Purple Mat… a belly plant because you have to lie on your belly to get a good pic!

Broadleaf Gilia… beautiful, but sticky and stinky

Yellow Plumes


On our way back we run into our Preserve Manager, Ginny. She’s on a hillside pulling these invasive weeds…

en.m.wikipedia.org

Mediterranean Needle Grass or stipa capensis is native to the Persian Gulf and is an annual grass now found in the Coachella Valley of the Sonoran Desert. It is now becoming so widespread in the Palm Springs area that it is becoming a serious fire hazard to the California desert ecosystems. The sharp florets of the plant can injure animals and may attach to their fur as a dispersal mechanism, thus decreasing the abundance of native wildflowers. (cal-ipc.org)

So we start pulling these suckers and stashing them into trash bags which we carry out to the Pushawalla parking area for Ginny who will pick them up in her truck.

Upon returning to our RV we discover these sharp needles stuck in our shirts, shorts, socks, and shoes. So we carefully remove each one and properly throw them away instead of allowing them to disperse and propagate.