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


  1. my husband and I read your post together, Lori

    and I cried when I saw the astonishment and sheer delight on your face when your owl guide answered your summons

    how wonderful ~ it is a beautiful world

  2. absolutely amazing! what a blessing.

  3. just beautiful and speechless.....
    xxxx Ale

  4. Lori on the plain...What a beautiful post. I just know how spritual your journey here with Chuck must have been as I felt it in every photograph. Your spirit guide happens to be mine too. I will post my experience with my Owl soon. Thank you for your kind words in your comment Lori. Its the reality of living in a place I chose to make a home on this planet. It is still my haven. Beautiful Africa~

    Have a wonderful day of knitting
    Lots of love

  5. It looks absolutely stunning. What a beautiful remote place. Thank you so much for taking me there. I love the emptiness and vastness of it all. The wildlife and the birds with their beautiful colours. And the owl, that must have been a truly remarkable experience.

  6. Beautiful story...I wish it to you.K

  7. I need a return to spiritual after our election day here in Italy...Your pictures are incredible! I follow you from the North part of Italy where mountains and sky are the same thing, but I can't take pictures like these...It'a pity.
    Go on please sharing your wonderful land with us!

  8. What an incredible experience Lori! I have goosebumps. Beautiful photos of your adventure too - the scenery is so beautiful as is the amazing wildlife. Bet you are still thinking and dreaming about the Owl. Mel x

  9. Thank you for bringing us along too Lori, it is all so amazingly beautiful, especially to this rain soaked, weary soul of mine.
    Please tell your Chuck congratulations on the hike, that is an awesome accomplishment.
    Now, please, do tell, what's on your needles?

  10. your travelogues are always so insightful and beautiful....I feel as if I traveled with you. Thank you.

  11. Oh what an amazing adventure. I love the blue birds. I too have American Indian blood and I love your experience with the owl. I have been trying to get an owl picture for a long time. I have some pretty amazing owl stories and I can relate to your experience in a it's hard to express words way. Once again your photography and writing are stunning and amazing.

  12. I once rounded a bend on a regularly traveled gravel road, searching for an answer to a Big Question, when ahead of me, sitting in the middle of the road was a great horned owl watching me. I came to an easy stop with the car, and that magnificent owl and I held gazes for a long spell before she/he took flight. It was so...power*full. I was moved to tears. Thank you for reminding me.

    Tumbleweed! Oh, to have tumbleweed tumbling its way across your path! There is just something so evocative about that.

    Gorgeous, transportive photos, Lori - as always.

  13. What a mystical, magical adventure you had Lori. And the white owl appearance was icing on the cake. Love the shots Chuck captured of your shock and awe at the sighting. xxoo

  14. What a wonderful trip, and such staggering pictures to remember it by.
    By curious coincidence, my daughter and I talked of barn owls all the way to school this morning. She wanted to know where they live, she wants to hear their 'eeek!' in 'real life', she wanted to know if they dont like torchlight (?!) and she wondered what different colours they were... So reading your story when i got home made the hairs on the back of my neck tingle!

  15. Wow, what an amazing adventure! I adore all the pictures!

  16. It does seem as if you have been chosen. What a gorgeous bird. Your amazement is palpable, Lori. What a magical place. I am adding to my list of places to visit. (And I love that you had such a cozy dinner - love guac and a bit of wine. Perfect)

  17. Beautiful! What a dreamy romantic adventure, I love the way birds and animals seek you out!!
    Just showed this to my husband, who did lots of 'oohing and arring'! he also commented that you have lovely hair, which is so not the kind of thing he'd usually notice!! made me chuckle.

  18. Oh my gosh, Lori. How amazing and wonderful. I dearly love owls, and I am fortunate to have them living in the woods behind me. But having one appear, just as I wish it? :))
    The perfect adventure. And I'm glad you kept the guac out of the knitting. xo!

  19. I think you're an owl whisperer, no wait an animal whisperer. You seem to find so many creatures on your outings while a camera is in your hand. I am so thrilled that you and Chuck found each other and have such grand adventures together :)

  20. Thank you for sharing your journey. Amazing.

  21. Goosebumps.
    That was truly amazing Lori- what a lovely journey- beautiful and so intuitive of your husband to continue taking pictures of you- loved seeing your reaction (while knitting)- You picked a lovely and rare animal to be your spirit guide- very fitting indeed.I love your camping in the truck with knitting, quac, beer and wine- sounds like a lovely date! The western bluebird comes here in april /may and stays for a while- neat to see where it migrates to over winter...we share a bird Lori :)

  22. I don't believe in coincidences , I suspect you don't either. I was totally transported by this post. With chills! Thanks for sharing it all.
    PS I love the photos of the big tumbleweed, the birds on a line, the glowing bunny ears--and your expression when the spirit guide owl flew over. What a world indeed!

  23. Beautiful story Lori. Just amazing! My heart just soared seeing the sheer glory in your expression.

  24. Such a beautiful post Lori!
    Thank you for sharing, something like this I need today as life is a bit of a struggle at the moment!
    I always look forward to your posts, and your beautiful posts!

  25. Lori, I have read this post three times now. How wonderful. What a wonderful journey, what a wonderful place and what a wonderful moment. Thank you for sharing it.
    I love that you leave hair and wool out for the birds too.
    We took a drive at the weekend and saw a beautiful male Hen Harrier... it swooped down, just a few meters in front of our car. It was a wonderful sight. Today my husband thought he would go back to the same area with our daughter Rosie. Don't get excited, he told Rosie, we probably won't see it again. Guess what.. they did! What a privilege. What a magnificent world we live in.
    Much love to you.

  26. Wonderful, magical, perfect. I loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. If you are selling any photos, I just love the one of all the birds on the wire fence. It would be perfect in my home. Can I buy one?

    LOVE the owl. :) Gave me chills.

  27. love this. thank you both, thank you.


  28. I loved this post, Lori, as I do all your travelogues, you have such a lovely way of telling the story. And the part about the owl was absolutely amazing it must have been for you at the moment when you seemed to conjure him up.....a moment to always remember.
    Thank you for sharing these special times.
    Helen x

  29. Life affirming post Lori
    I worried about Chuck and was so glad when he strode along the path.
    The sacred place feels that way even on my little screen~

  30. Wowww, that was moving, both emotionally and spiritually. How incredible! The photos were magical and full of an indescribable serenity. Gorgeous wildlife! And thank goodness your intrepid adventurer made his journey safely. I would have been so worried.

    Hugs to you.

  31. Lori - my grandma came to visit us as a bird, my dad visited as a hawk...I don't wonder who that owl was for you.

    This is an awesome post, beautiful beautiful beautiful

  32. i love the pictures from the inside of your car! it reminds me our travelling by car :-) Thank you for sharing your life moments with us!

  33. goodness, i love this so so much. seeing the surroundings, the landscape and the wildlife that is so very different from where i live is like a little escape for me. and the guacamole looks delicious! :)

  34. Oh Lori, how beautiful it all is! How beautiful you are. I am not surprised that the owl came. It was one sacred spirit recognizing another.

    Thank you dear heart for taking us on this thrilling, calm, peaceful, windy, delicious, amazing journey. Thank you!!!

  35. aaaaaah so much space and so much soulfood
    thanks for sharing

  36. I have tears in my eyes, friend. I am stunned by your bravery and the grace with which you were rewarded. I would have a hard time dropping my husband in the "wild" and meeting him 14 miles down the trail. You inspire me!

  37. Lori, my friend...You managed to take us along with you, again, but this time we shared your astonishment. What an incredible and affirming encounter!!! Honestly, that gave me goosebumps. And to see your expressions is priceless. What a beautiful creature...and I see a similarity with you and your long flowing golden halo, the shawls you wear that you often spread open on extended arms!
    Now, I must share some funny things with littlest has always had a thing about owls. He is nervous about them at night and dreams of them often. He has never encountered one for real...until three mornings ago when my husband was home, River woke up talking about an owl (not unusual). Well, Josh took them across our creek to the edge of the woods where our chicken coop is under construction. And wouldn't you know, a pair of mating pygmy owls sat atop a branch watching my family. (I wasn't there, but there are photos I was going to share on Friday). Apparently they cheep rather sweetly. Surely, this is his little totem, too? (And they are cute as a button, like Huckley)! Also, my Josh is so very much like Chuck...I wouldn't be surprised if they crossed lone paths on solo hikes in a remote area while their knitting wives waited their return. And lastly, and inconsequentially perhaps, we have the same white truck. Hee hee.
    Love to you,
    xo Jules

  38. Incredible story and I loved reading every bit and seeing the pictures, thank you so much for sharing.

  39. What a wonderful adventure, thank you for taking me along with you. Your photos are truly stunning, it makes me want to visit there myself - one day :)

  40. Lori, what a beautiful post, your photos are magnificent as always and how special to make this connection with the owl, this gave me goose-bumps!! Incredible!

  41. Such amazing photographs - stunning! It looks like you had quite the adventure.

  42. Quite honestly, if I could have one weekend like that I might be able to live happy and fulfilled by its memory forever:

    -to see such a variety of beautiful birds!
    -to spend it alone with someone who loves you and shares your interests!
    -to be touched and met in a special way and in a special place by Spirit!

    I'm so glad that *you* got to experience it, Lori. I can see in your words and pictures how much you treasured every special moment. <3

  43. Lori, I cried all the way through this post, first at all the wonderful birds and animals and then to see your surprise and wonder as you see the owl. Beautiful, magical post. Thank you. Love. xoxo

  44. This looks like such a wonderful trip! I love the tumbleweeds and the guacamole scene from the car - your knitting basket is beautiful and it looked like so much fun!

  45. Wow, what an incredible adventure! To travel together but apart, and then the guacamole and knitting, and then the wonderful brush with the white owl--magic!

  46. Aaah too bad, again I tried to comment on your blog and was kicked away! But I said something like, I can only nod to everything your readers say, they are all right! And I just love tumbleweed and owls (we had some in Rade, hooting at night), and bunnies and blue birds, and those grassy Carrizo plains. What a joy to see your pictures and read your lines. Danke, Lori!


  47. Oh, Lori....Your photographs are stunning, as usual. I especially love the bird photos. And, the area you were in reminds me so much of our home here on the Western slope of Colorado. Just beautiful!!!

  48. I loved everything about this post, Lori. Such a lovely area, gorgeous open spaces, beautiful photography, hiking and dinner sounds perfect to me. While we were at the bungalow in Sri Lanka, the kids set up two tents so they could sleep outside. They all worked together with their moms to put them up. Was so nice to see. There were about 12 kids with us ranging in age and they were all so sweet and helpful and the girls loved watching me crochet (I made many things for them but forgot to take pictures ... aahhh!). Those little birdies lined up on the fence are so sweet and all the wildlife images are fantastic. What a moment to be sitting in that sacred space to be greeted by a white owl. I do believe you have an extraordinarily blessed life. Best wishes and blessings, Tammy

  49. the birds on a wire were my favorite image. i'll think of them as i drift off to sleep.

  50. gorgeous!!
    love your photos and picnic in the jeep :-D
    being blessed by the white owl ~ magical ♥
    happy march xo

  51. hello
    thank you for sharing your adventure with us.
    I enjoyed the photos and words very much.
    So lovely that the owl gifted you like that!
    S.Calif. was my home for a very long time, so this brought back so many memories.

    thank you~

  52. Lori, how awesome!!! I have had many mystical moments with butterflies and dragonflies myself, Michael with a squirrel (heehee)... I wonder if those are our spirit guides? I've always thought of them to be loved ones from the other side. How awesome for you to have just had this experience. I hope it brought more meaning and clarity to your life. Transformative!

  53. I always feel as I'm with you on your incredible journeys--your story telling is just amazing. I know how you must have felt with the owl; for me it's the ladybug that guides me through life nowadays. P.S., I'm yearning for some guacamole!! XOXO

  54. beautiful storytelling and pictures, as always. i got goosebumps while reading of your experience. thanks for sharing, lori.

  55. Your photo diaries are always such a visual feast. My favorite this time, though, is the one of Chuck as he spots you waiting for him. Looooooove! :)

  56. Beautiful photos, what an amazing landscape. Love the inside the car picnic looked like a lot of fun :)

  57. Preciosas imágenes,,,un abrazo desde Murcia

  58. All I have to say is a long, drawn out WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!

    I was so moved by this post, especially the owl and your expressions. Thank you, Chuck, for capturing the awe of it all.
    I was nervous for Chuck hiking 14 miles alone in cougar country, and for you alone at the campsite. I love that 4 hours later you reunited and had beer, wine and chips in the truck! That's very, very cozy and romantic.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure. I loved every moment and every shot. Just beautiful♥


  59. Oh my goodness, I was ready to write a comment about your fabulous mini adventure in such a wonderful place, and then ... the owl! Oh Lori, the owl!

    You live a blessed life m'dear, cherish it x

  60. What an absolutely beautiful post. And the photos, oh my! Just so much beauty! Thank you for sharing it all with us Lori.

  61. Absolutely incredible! The story of the owl is so moving. I'm so glad for that gift.

  62. Hi dear Lori,

    We SO enjoyed this entire posting. Wonderful. In fact, BEYOND WONDERFUL. You know how much we love the Carrizo.

    Your owl experience, well, it touched us deeply.

    You and Chuck make a great duo.


    Sharon and Jeff


xoxo lori