Southern California

San Clemente, a coastal city in Orange County, California. Best known for it’s state beaches, with their surf breaks and sandstone bluffs. Running along the coast, the Beach Trail offers sea views and green parks. Near T-Street Beach, long San Clemente Pier stretches out into the Pacific Ocean. Casa Romantica Cultural Centre and Gardens embodies the city’s original Spanish-style architecture. Caught it on a lovely spring day, the sunset was truly wonderful after a special fish supper.

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Sunset from San Clemente pier.

Lake Henshaw, a Reservoir in San Diego County, California at the southeast base of Palomar Mountain, approximately 70 miles northeast of San Diego, California and 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. A haven for wildfowl and local fishermen.

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The rough track down to Lake Henshaw from the 78

Hellhole Canyon is backed up against the San Ysidro Mountains just southwest of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center in Borrego Springs. Great view points and walking trails.

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Hellhole Canyon preserve yesterday. March 08 with a temperature of 80*
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California and Whale Watching

Arrived at Lake Elsinore, Southern California. Established in 1888, the city is on the shore of Lake Elsinore, a natural freshwater lake about 3,000 acres in size. A sprawling conurbation that completely surrounds the lake.

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Lake Elsinore from high up on the Ortega highway

Dana Point just a few miles south of Los Angeles a fabulous destination in Southern California that just about has everything for a marine adventure.

The harbor, with its marinas and eclectic boutiques, is a jumping off point for dolphin and whale-watching cruises. Surf waves roll onto nearby Doheny State Beach and Salt Creek Beach, which is backed by a grassy park. Trails wind through Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area, which has sweeping ocean views and an interpretive centre.

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Dana Point whale watching cruises from the marina

Went out on the 12.00 midday cruise this Wednesday, the weather was fine and calm with a slightly overcast sky, ideal for photographing the wildlife if your shutter finger and auto focus is quick enough. We viewed at least 2 large pods of dolphins, that’s probably in excess of 200 of these playful, lovable, intelligent and extremely fast mammals. Also had the pleasure of cruising along with 5-6 Grey Whales that were travelling north on their annual migration from Mexico to the Bering Sea.

Here are a few images captured from the boat.

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A pod of common dolphins of Dana Point, Southern California
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Dolphins playing around the boat

 

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Grey Whale diving

 

 

 

 

Vegas and the Valley of Fire

There are numerous places of interest in and around Las Vegas. We are bombarded with images of  a resort city famed for its vibrant nightlife, centered around 24-hour casinos and other entertainment options. Its main street and focal point is the Strip, just over 4 miles long. This boulevard is home to themed hotels with elaborate displays such as fountains synchronized to music as well as replicas of an Egyptian pyramid, the Venetian Grand Canal, and the Eiffel Tower.

Drive for 45 minutes North East along the 95 then left onto the 157 to Mount Charleston. Deserts can have green too, you know. Visit the beautiful green trees at Mount Charleston. It’s usually 20-30 degrees cooler up here. Before you hit the hiking trails, check out the interactive visitor center.

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Mount Charelston and some of the beautiful trees to be found on its slopes.

Just 50 minutes along interstate 15 from Las Vegas – Valley of Fire. World-renowned for its 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone, Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. A Visitor Center provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory and history of this area.

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The winding road from the visitor center
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A landscape from another world at the Valley of Fire, Nevada
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Sand and Rocks at the Valley of Fire

Kingman & Boulder City

Travelled north through Arizona from Quartzite to Phoenix then to Prescott and Kingman a broken journey of around 3 days. Kingman is a city in Mohave County at an altutude of around 5000ft. A stop off for those travelling from Calfornia or Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon and beyond. Famous for the Kingman Explosion also known as the Doxol Disaster which was a catastrophic boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion that accurred on July 5th 1973. The explosion happened during a propane transfer from a Doxol railroad car to a storage tank on the Getz rail siding near Andy Devine Avenue/Route 66. Firefighters Memorial Park is dedicated to those 11 firefighters who died.

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Sunset Vista on Interstate 17 south of Prescott
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Golden Valley just north of Kingman, Arizona

Boulder City, Clark County, Nevada. It is approximately 26 miles southeast of Las Vegas.  Boulder City is one of only two cities in Nevada that prohibits gambling. It has a thriving historic area where you can wander around cosy streets full of antique shops, restaurants and gift emporiums.

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Boulder Dam museum and hotel. A fine building inside and out.
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Parked outside an antiques emporium in Boulder City.

 

The Salton Sea (West) & Sonny Bono

See the history of the Salton Sea from my previous blog. The west side of the sea is far more cultivated and populated even to this day.  The sea is dead to all but an abundance of birds and insects, the insects are an annoyance to the extreme, they get in your hair and all over the car in their millions.

The world famous Sonny Bono wildlife refuge is situated at the southern most point of the sea and all manner of birds, bats and butterflies can be found there. We were lucky today as a very large flock of say 1,000 odd snow geese were arriving for a quick stop and feed from there annual migration south from Canada and the North of America to Mexico.

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The beach at Salton City
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Palm Shores from the beach towards town a haven for water fowl
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Snow Geese at the Sonny Bono wildlife refuge

From Prescott to the Salton Sea

Left Prescott, Arizona on Sunday morning after the typical hotel breakfast of cereal, juice, sausage patty, scrambled a yogurt and coffee. Travelled south on the 89 through the Bradshaw Mountains on the way to Blythe in California.

The Bradshaw Mountains are a mountain range in central Arizona, United States, named for … Located approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of PrescottArizona, between the Agua Fria River on the east, and the Hassayampa River on the west.

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The highway winds through the Bradshaw Mountains
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Ruined building in the Bradshaw mountains

The Salton Sea

For centuries, the Colorado River periodically emptied into a body of water known as Lake Cahuilla on the northern reaches of the Gulf of California. The Salton Sea was created there in 1905 when the river breached a dike and flooded for two years, bringing farm settlers to the Imperial Valley in California’s southeast corner.

California’s largest lake by surface area soon became a desert playground.

More than 2,000 spectators witnessed five world speedboat records set in 1929, according to the University of Redlands’ Salton Sea Atlas. High salinity made boats more buoyant and, at more than 200 feet below sea level, barometric pressure improved performance. A 1951 regatta boasted 21 world records.

In the 1950s, the California Department of Fish and Game stocked the lake with sargo, corvina, croaker and other fish in a successful effort to draw anglers. Water skiing flourished.

The North Shore Beach and Yacht Club opened as the largest marina in Southern California. Celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, the Beach Boys, Jerry Lewis, the Marx Brothers and Desi Arnaz flocked to the lake.

The “Salton Riviera” rivaled nearby Palm Springs and attracted more tourists than Yosemite National Park.

Developer Penn Phillips led a speculative boom in the late 1950s, buying and selling thousands of acres on the lake’s western shores. He abandoned Salton City without explanation in 1960, leaving behind only a few houses, sewers, a serpentine layout of empty roads and street signs with names like Sea View Avenue and Sea Mist Place.

Tropical storms in 1976 and 1977 destroyed marinas and resorts, triggering a prolonged economic decline. Environmental catastrophes, rising salinity and a receding shoreline caused tourism to plummet. The economy rode the last housing boom and bust. New houses with red tile roofs that sold for up to $270,000 in Salton City when they were built in the mid-2000s fetched as little as $50,000 after the bubble burst and now cost in the low $100,000s.

Bombay Beach, a community that doubles to about 500 people during winter, has an apocalyptic feel. Utility poles and trailer debris that were flooded a few years ago are now exposed because the lake shrank. The main tourist draw today is the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge on the lake’s southeastern shores, which has about 25,000 visitors a year. Nearly all are bird watchers.

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Wading birds on the edge of the Salton Sea
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Deserted buildings at Bombay Beach
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Pelicans on the Salton Sea
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Ruins of the township at Bombay Beach
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Off North Shore