Monday, February 25, 2013

on the plain

chapter one ~ parting is part of the adventure

(chuck and the start of the trail)

we left home at five in the morning, we were headed east for the remote carrizo plain national monument, in the california valley. we've returned to this place many times, but this time it would be different. i would be leaving chuck at a new (to us) trail, where he planned to hike in to the carrizo and i would drive our truck the rest of the way in where we would later meet...

this is a map of the carrizo, the southwest side of the red line is where chuck began his hike, he needed to go up and over the caliente ridge to reach the end. it was estimated to be approximately fourteen miles (only about three was maintained as a trail). we said goodbye at eight am, with the plan to meet at the selby campground a few hours (we hoped) later? on i went, alone, towards the entrance of the carrizo plain, towards...

solitude. it's one of the things we love most about this place, carrizo, which means grass in spanish, the wide open spaces. the solitude and the wildness

in the first two hours i saw just one other car. this place calls for driving slowly, stopping often. i searched for wildlife, birdlife and my husband up on the ridge. i listened to the wind, sometimes it carried a raptors call. in this quiet, i even heard tumbleweeds somersault across the road

house finches on a line

a peaceful gathering

my trusty traveling companion

 my other companion is out there somewhere...

pronghorn antelope crossing, maybe we'll see them...

 one of the most beautiful birds...

 sialia currucoides, mountain bluebird

i made my way to the visitors center where i checked in with our friend who works for the blm (bureau of land management). i told her of chucks and my plan and she laughed saying i got the easier end of the deal,
it would be a difficult hike

by now it was getting close to three o'clock, it was time to make my way up to the campground and wait for my adventurer

the road to the selby campground, the caliente range in the background (chuck will be coming over that ridge)

 a raptor on the hunt

i found the campground empty, no one else was here. after choosing our favorite site and beginning set up, the winds intensified and were most uncooperative for tent putting up time.  i was again thankful to be alone, although it is not easy wrestling with a tent flapping in the wind

well there was one observer, this lesser goldfinch watched me from a nearby tree. as soon as camp was set up, i spent the next hour birdwatching, knitting and waiting for chuck to arrive

such a pretty little bird with a beautiful sweet song, you can listen to it here

and a western bluebird! his breast is so rosy i thought at first he was a robin, but then he jumped down to the ground, oh that blue!

chapter two ~ reunion, telling tales and a windy cold night

 my adventurer. he made it up and over both peaks of the caliente range, covering the approximately fourteen miles in approximately four hours. after his various stops along the way, we arrived at the campground within an hour of each other

 the wind by now was so ferocious we took shelter in the truck, where it was decided we'd spend the evening. skipping building a fire or even a cooked dinner, choosing instead to snack on guacamole and chips, beer and wine  :)

it all worked, the day and the night too. my only real concern, as i was preparing dinner in the snug warmth of our trucks cab was keeping mashed avocado out of my knitting...

 we laughed... a laker basketball game, beer, chips, guacamole, wine, was a very good night

and luckily the tent did not blow away

chapter three ~ where things are sometimes not what they seem, and then sometimes they are

  a pair of raptors, red tailed hawks we think

 horned lark

 a coyote

 can you see?

there, that's better

 you are a good hider bunny

 but not that good. i see you. tee hee.

 hop hop

a ground squirrel

loggerhead shrike

chapter four ~ an inconsequential girl and the spirit guide 

 we had obtained a permit to visit painted rock, an important internationally recognized archaeological site

the interior of the rock alcove is adorned with many pictographs created by the chumash, salinan and yokut peoples over many thousands of years

having been here several times before we knew that there are sometimes nesting owls in these painted rocks

 we stepped softly into the sacred space, remembering it's history and that it's still in use by native american tribes. seeing no sign of owls, we stood in silence and then i thought i wanted to knit. it would feel like a way to contribute to the creativity, the art that is here. chuck thought it was a good idea, and he pointed out, there is native american blood in my family

 and so he began taking photos of knitting in the sacred space. i said to him, wouldn't it be wonderful if an owl appeared at this special moment? such peace and quiet, such spiritual serenity

 what happened next can only be described as fact, interpretation is up to you dear reader. no sooner had i wished for an owl to appear, a loud rustling flapping sound came from the direction i am looking, from over chucks shoulder

a small all white barn owl flew out of a deep depression in the rock, circled low over our heads, hovering, while slowly flapping her wings and then flew off behind me

we looked at each other, both our jaws dropped. we watched the owl circle further away, and then disappear

 i cried. we were both speechless. was the owl my spirit guide? how did it happen that moments after i wished for it to appear, it did. it didn't feel coincidental. i was overwhelmed

several minutes went by before i found my voice. let's step outside the sacred space and let the white owl feel safe to return. chuck agreed and we stood to walk out. at that moment he pointed look! a shadow flew across the rock face, we turned to see, she had come back and was circling us again. astonishing, it was a deeply moving, spiritual experience

 i can't explain why she didn't show up in the photos (as we thought, she is in two as a tiny speck), or why chuck even continued to take them, it must have been instinct, the photojournalist in him, but i am glad, they show the sheer delight i felt, and his face is reflected in mine, we both felt awe. when we hiked back out from  painted rock, we returned to the visitor~education center to tell them about our sighting. they were astonished, there has been no report of a white owl over the last several months. not any.

(photo from google images)

 where my spirit guide lives

 chapter five ~ the spirit in everything

 leaving the plains we found a herd of pronghorn antelope, one male and sixteen females. could this be my husbands spirit guide? we don't know. it is said you don't choose it, the animal, or thing, chooses you.
you only have to be open to hear

this magnificent manzanita tree we saw on the way home is certainly saying something too. what a world we live in. xxx lori