Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Am Woman, Hear My Story

Photo: Kyle Fitzpatrick / Los Angeles I'm Yours

When tasked to tell an LA-related story under the topic "Women," I couldn't help but tell one of my own stories – about myself – that hadn't made it into my blog yet.

After all, as a woman myself, I suppose any story would be appropriate for me to tell on a women-themed night.

But I didn't want to go on about romance or sex, both of which felt like a cliché. I wanted to tell a story about adventure.

Because I am an adventurous woman in LA, and although I start off this story alone on a road trip, I meet some interesting characters along the way.


Cactus Road


Thanks to Los Angeles I'm Yours for having me!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Forever Now

I am free again, so soon, so unexpectedly.

I was relieved at first. I'd been trying to make it work, but I was failing.

Then the hurt set in. Someone had to go, and that someone was me. Thrown overboard.

Then the anger set in. I was supposed to have some advance warning. It was supposed to last longer. I was supposed to leave, and not be left.

Oh no, not again.

...I didn't have enough time.
...I didn't learn enough.
...I didn't do enough.

People can make you feel so safe. They tell you how amazing you are. They tell you they love you. And then, so quickly, they change their minds. They give up on you. They pull the plug on you. You're what they thought they wanted, but they were wrong. Or they changed their minds. Either way, you're not what they really wanted at all.

And somehow, that's your fault.

So how do you move on? How do you let go of things not meant for you?

I've tried distracting myself with crying, sleeping, and swimming. A little tequila, a strawberry cupcake, and gentle yoga have all helped. Dealing with my personal business, heathcare, and finances took some of the pressure off.

Doing my taxes made things worse, almost unbearably worse.

I'm at the end of my rope, 
but I've still got the end of it,
I'm not off the rope yet.

It's important to find some way to believe that now isn't forever, and that there is some end to the despair (especially that which has plagued me since 2008 – essentially for the bulk of this blog). Whether that conclusion comes out of faith, or science, or therapy, or the occult – whether it's true, factual conviction or placebo-effect belief – the only way to be able to go on is to know how much farther it goes.

I know I must be dreaming. I am waiting to wake up. I am waiting for it to be over.

I am ready to get out from under this shadow planet, restore, and forgive.

When will then be now?

Soon...I hope.

Related Posts:
It Just Gets Worse
Not What I Planned
Changing My Rhythm

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Photo Essay: Red Rock Canyon, Mojave Desert

At the Southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Red Rock Canyon State Park (not to be confused with the Red Rock Canyon in Nevada or the one in the Valley) is one of those "anything goes" hiking destinations where you can meander aimlessly and climb rocks to your heart's content.

But I prefer a real trail, a bit of structure, so there are two options for me to explore the red and orange desert cliffs, the buttes that rise from the earth and served as landmarks for the 20-mule team freight wagons and any surviving pioneers who'd successfully crossed Death Valley.

For my first visit, on a blustery afternoon, I chose the Hagen Canyon Nature Trail, in the western portion of the park.

The scenery should look familiar to anyone who's seen Jurassic Park or any number of westerns that have been shot here.

It's usually a good destination for wildflowers, but after a dry winter, the show is not quite so spectacular this year.

The nature trail is an easily navigable loop...

...with an unmarked inner loop...

...but as long as you stay to the right, you'll find your way.

The trail leads you through a flat alluvial plain...

...surrounded by all of these rock formations...

...and crosses several washes several times, making the rock markings and cairns essential to find your way.

For those who like climbing and getting close to the rocks...

...access is more or less unrestricted.

I prefer to take in the sprawling landscape from afar...

...scanning the visual panorama...

...looking for wildlife but seeing none.

Had I not stayed on the trail...

...I might've missed the tiny blooms of spring...

...the park's other colorful outcroppings – these on the canyon floor, taking the form of petals and leaves.

Technically in the Mojave Desert, there are also also some joshua trees to be found...

...but mostly, you are surrounded by colorful geology...

...flowing in ribbons...

...ready to be climbed...

...and admired from afar.

Highway 14 runs right through Red Rock Canyon, splitting it in two, with nature preserves on either side of it. Now that I've seen the Hagen Preserve, I'll have to head back and explore the Red Cliffs. But the wildflowers won't last long...

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
How Much Farther Does This Go?
Photo Essay: Another Red Rock
Photo Essay: Robber's Roost Ranch Fake Ghost Town

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Photo: Feeding the Wild Horses

California is home to growing herds of wild horses, which you don't always get to see because they're generally spooked by passing cars and approaching people. I first spotted some actually not far over the border into Nevada, in Beatty near Death Valley, but I'd never actually seen any in my home state.

How did they get here? Once upon a time, there were wild horses that were indigenous to California, but, like the camel and mastodon, died off. But then the Spanish explorers brought their domesticated horses over, many of which ran away (in distress, because of disaster or perhaps just the desire to be free) or were abandoned. Never captured, the mustangs bred, and their descendants now roam many of our open spaces. Although they are generally called "wild," technically they're "feral."

They're a federally protected wild animal, so in order to control the growing population, the Bureau of Land Management has established a program to capture them, rehabilitate them, and offer them up for adoption. Usually to control an overgrown wild animal population, an area will open hunting season (for deer, wild boar, etc). This is a descent alternative to that.

If you're lucky, you can spot some mustangs on the China Lake Naval Base in Ridgecrest, CA (another gateway to Death Valley), but security is so tight there, it's unlikely that many would ever actually get to go. As large as it is, the base has actually shrunken in physical size over the years, and some of its former Navy-owned land has been converted into a BLM-operated Wild Horse & Burro Facility...

...where visitors can feed the horses carrots through the corral's fence...

...and even adopt one themselves.

I haven't spent much time around horses in my life – never having even ridden one –

...so I was a little nervous sticking my hand up in there with merely a baby carrot between my fingers.

At first, the mustangs don't notice you much, acting coy and looking at you askance.

But then one becomes curious to see what you've got, and approaches...

...and the others follow suit, nosing each other out of the way to get the delicious snack nugget.

You can try throwing the carrots over the fence, but their eyesight doesn't seem to help them find the food very well, even when it falls right in front of them.

They prefer to get up as close as they can and sniff what you've got, breathing hot on your hands, which are dangerously close to their giant chompers.

Some of the horses are surprisingly timid...

...and as they carefully approach...

...even a bit shy.

They probably see many people like you come and go, without taking them home.

But the hungry ones will bite the fence and fight each other to get to you...

...posing adorably...

...straining their necks...

...keeping an eye on you the whole time...

...smiling right before you pop that carrot into their mouths.

For me, it was scary to get that close to them, convinced one of them would get too excited and would bite my hand off.  Still, trying to be brave, I wanted to pay attention to them all, but some hung back and never approached me, never even getting a chance at a carrot. Others were repeatedly pushed out of the way by a stronger, more assertive (not necessarily aggressive), charismatic horse who knew how to get all of the carrots.

Unlike the horses off the side of the road, these mustangs are acclimating to humans, now eating domestic feed (hay), having gotten all of their vaccinations, deworming and blood tests. They seem to respond to my coos of "hi baby!" and "you're a beauty!"

And they seemed sad to see me go, when I moved on down the line to the next section in the corral, and finally drove off down the dirt road back to the highway.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Welcoming 100 Mules to LA After Walking the Aqueduct
Photo Essay: The Faces of Bonnie Springs Ranch, Old Nevada