Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Bitter-Sweet Vacation in Southern California (April 2018)

Cambrian College Grapgic Design 
[definition - "pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret"]
Image - David Broberg
First the Bitter: I suppose this really starts with the world being turned upside down over the past two years since my last visit in early 2016. There has been a constant barrage in the Media of social unrest and combative ideologies claiming to have the moral high ground over the other side and the reality on the ground is that both sides being dead wrong. No wonder I previously lived for 20+ years in a rural mountain environment on the edge of wilderness where TV reception was lousy and summer thundershowers were the main entertainment on the covered porched. On landing at LAX, renting an SUV and driving south to San Diego, it was clear from the start just how far down hill California has really gone into the proverbail cesspit. First indicators of course were the deteriorating visual of the area's native vegetation as we drove along. Seriously the native vegetation has gone incredible down hill, despite all the smokescreening wildflower photos by the local SoCal non-profits who try and reassure their followers on social media that all is still well in Nature because it's so resilient in the face of mass degradation. Then in almost every major city we went through, there are literally 1000s of homeless everywhere. BTW, for everyone's information, Sweden is having the same cancerous pains as everywhere else, despite the propaganda to the contrary. Homelessness and increased crime are found everywhere. My hometown, El Cajon, is overwhelmed with homelessness and the culture has become over 30% Arabic speaking. Not that, that is a negative, but like many other immigrant migrations, the refugee peoples are finding that the grass hasn't been as green as they were first promised it would be in so-called progressive industrial secular nations. Same exact issues exist over here in Sweden, but you won't hear the Media uttering a peep about this. Then came the incredibly sad news of so many friends, family and former neighbours who either have gotten Cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons or have simply died. This later news hung over me like a dark cloud my whole trip, much like the cool dark clouds in the SoCal weather which characterized my whole stay when I was so looking forward to a striking contrast of warm hot weather with clear blue skies as opposed to the cold wet of the Scandinavian climate.
Gardening/Landscaping is my only real therapy away from Sweden  
(generally when I return, I need a vacation from my vacation because I work so physically hard)
Image - Mine 2018

Photo - Mine 2018
The Sweet The well known familiar looking plant above is called by a number of common names. Desert Bird of Paradise, Yellow Bird of Paradise, etc, but it's science listing is Caesalpinia gilliesii. This plant is native to Argentina and Uruguay, but has now naturalized in portions of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts in close proximity to inhabited areas. I've also seen it naturalize in some places around San Diego County in close proximity to urban areas where gardeners have installed it within their landscapes. One of it's amazing qualities aside from being a tough drought and heat resistent small tree or shrub, is it's magnetic attraction to Hooded Orioles. I'm not sure what's in the flower's nectar, but they love it. So it was pleasant to watch them spend a lot of time in my mum's yard at these small trees. Also pleasant to see them finally taking more interest in the native Fan Palms which have grown bigger, allowing them to gathering and harvesting of palm frond fibers for their perfectly woven nests. Maybe one day as the palms gain far more height, they will finally build their nests in these palms. They are shy birds and tough to get close enough for photos. The other long time favourite is the Mexican Red Bird of Paradise or Pride of Barbados whose science name is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Very heat loving plant and easily propagated from seed and once germinated, grows faily quick with the right care. I've often wondered why folks would purchase one at a nursery when germinating seed is so easy as is the care for this plant. Once innoculate with a healthy mycorrhizal fungal blend, just mulch once a year and NEVER feed it with science-based junk food from the local Home Depot or Lowes. Just leave it alone and carefully prune and thin it once a year like I'm doing above along my mum's driveway. Of course, the strict nativists won't like these plants, but I have no problem with them and neither does it seem the wildlife.
At least a sort of sweet surprise in Idyllwild California - Western Redbud
Photo mine in Idyllwild California 2018

Image Mine 2018
I purchased this Western Redbud from Lawson Valley Native Plant Nursery (1983), donated and planted this one gallon Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) which was about 10" tall, in front of the Kingdom Hall in Idyllwild California in 1983. It's amazing how large and wonderfully healthy it has become with little to no care. It's actually one of the few healthy living things in Idyllwild. I neglected to bring my camera from Sweden, so all photos are from my wife's phone. Most of the pines up there are sickly and dying. I've previously made mention of my conversation with former US Forest Service, Wildlife Biologist, Tom Roberts, back in 1983, who told me that one dat all the pines in and around Idyllwild would eventually die out and their best replacement would be Giant Sequoia (Sequoia giganteum). Well that doesn't seem to have worked either since all the Giant Sequoias in Idyllwild are in steep decline now. (HERE) is a 2009 photo in Wikipedia where the decline of Seqoias in downtown Idyllwild is evident. The newspaper there, Idyllwild Town Crier, however has written an article about the decline back in (2017) and appeared encourage by improved health, which may have come from the higher than normal rainfall after the drought the five years previous. But the Sequoias in that new Park (with restaurant now gone) didn't look at all healthy and vigorous when we were there. As of my visit in April, I'll predict next year that some will most likely be taken down. I've already posted about the massive old Ponderosa that finally had to come down in Fern Valley (HERE). On a bright note, La Casita, our flavourite Mexican Restaurant is still there with great food and atmosphere. Now look below here.

Photo was taken by Frazier Drake  (June 1, 2018) & publiched in My-Idyllwild

Thomas Roberts
More Bitter This is the worst photograph I've ever seen of Idyllwild, California. The entire ecosystem up in the San Jacinto Mountain is collapsing before our very eyes. Actually, this is what I saw on the ground while driving through all the community backroads and streets, but it becomes far more dramatic when a view is taken from a drone by Frazier Drake from Idyllwild Elementary School playground. You can clearly see at the bottom of the photo all of the Giant Sequoias are dying, not to mention 1000s of the Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pines. So much for everyone's Mountain getaway paradise. Garner Valley and Anza Valley are not much different just southeast of here. Tom Roberts was both right and wrong at the same time and that's doubly sad. Well, in a bit of an update, here is Thomas A. Roberts obituary from last year, November 27th, 2017 in I seriously do not know if there is even anybody left in Idyllwild California who would even remember Tom Roberts. Most of the people I remember from there are dead or gone elsewhere.
Okay it's official, you really can never go home again
Image is mine from 2012

Image Mine 2013
More Bitter Went for a visit on the way to Idyllwild and stopped by my old place in Anza on 60180 Burnt Valley Road and to visit two old neighbours. The first neighbour is a French couple from Paris who moved here before I left and they're doing fine. But the long time Anza postman, Charles Confer, isn't doing so well. He is bedridden and has a terrible time with Parkinsons. He was always such a tall strong man and well liked by everyone. He's so frail now. Standing at his place and looking back up the hill at my place, the property has been stripped of most all of it's native vegetation (Old Growth Chaparral) and numerous greenhouses have been installed for the purpose of growing Marijuana. It made me sick. They did leave all the pines, but the entire perimeter now is giant chainlink fencing with black heavy greenhouse shade fabric to prevent anyone from viewing inside the property. Some Asian investors from Los Angeles bought my old place and they have someone else living and caretaking the plantation now. Dobermans run loose everywhere. It's like some kind of military build up and fortress compound. Amazing how rapidly down hill everything has gone in California. After the amazing documentary "Weed" on Marijuana by CNN's Dr Sanjay where they showed the almost miraculous change effect of children with over 300+ epileptic seisures a week and no normal life or speech making complete turn arounds with a single dose or two of cannibis oil (not the THC junk that makes stoners high), I wrote a post about the amazing effects of the Cannibis Oil parents placed on the child's food. Three months ago I deleted that post because all manner of annonymous dope sellers were posting comments with their filthy website links to sell weed. So Colorado was the first State to legalize and others have dominoed ever since. 

Image from Google Maps

Above is my former acreage and house presently turned into a disgusting Marijuana Farm where most of the manzanita and native pines have been bulldozed for the greenhouses and other side plantings. The disgusting thing about the legalization, especially for the kid's sake, is that during all the petitioning and activist movement towards legalization, all the recreational marijuana using stoners refused get on board unless their addictive recreational use habit could be included in the new regulations and laws. And it was all rammed thru with no real world forethought of things like dangers of driving under the influence, etc. Oh well, that place above and the photo below are no longer mine and ultimately none of my business. So they have the right to do with it as they will. But they did leave a few trees around the house.

Image Mine 2018

This is the view looking up at my old place from Burnt Valley Road at Jim and Margarite Saunder's old place. This view is looking west from the new owners (nice couple from Paris), place at the Geodesic Dome house on Burnt Valley Rd. The smaller Coulter Pines which were not visible from this spot when I left have now risen above the Chaparral (Redshank) and looking quite healthy with five and six years old growth of pine needles still hanging onto the tree and amazingly all that through the worst 4 or 5 years of drought the State has experienced. Through all the negatives I saw however, these native trees I experimented with (Torrey, Coulter, Jeffrey, Tecate Cypress and Aligator Juniper) are still successfully surviving with zero supplemental watering through all those years of horrible drought is a real bonus. Their success provides proof of the value of utilizing native Chaparral to provide hot summer period hydrological services by means of the natural phenomena known as Hydraulic Lift and Redistribution.
Nice Friday evening at Barrett Junction Cafe near Mexico
Image, Elisabet and Mum 2018

Image - Barrett Cafe
More Sweet Barrett Junction Cafe is quiet location away from the insanity of all the cities to the west in San Diego county. All points east from Barrett Junction Cafe on the Hwy 94 drive are Tecate Mexico and the Railroad Museum in Campo and eventually ending in the towns of Boulevard and Jacumba and then back to Interstate 8. The Cafe hasn't changed it's decor nor menu from the day of it's opening. It's like stepping back in time to the 1930s or 40s. I mean the Cafe counter and furniture still look early 1940s. It's loaded with antiques of all sorts, some of them for sale. In the old days it was more packed out on a Friday evening to where the overflow room in the large old military styled Quonset Hut was used more often than now. My wife and I took my mum there to get away from El Cajon. It was truly relaxing. We often vacationed in the past with a month or more to do things, but this time we had less than three weeks visit. So every day we had things to cram into our itinerary. But the Barrett Junction Cafe trip was perfect. Nothing changed.
"I wish there was a way to know that you're in "The Good Old Days" before you've actually left them.." Ed Helms

Image - Barrett Junction Cafe

Yup, Barrett Cafe's Menu's signature plate hasn't changed in decades one iota. And it's not just what is on the menu, but the flavours are exactly the same as I remember them from my very first visit in the 1960s. But it was nice to do something for my mum and sprucing up her landscape. Getting back to Sweden is always a let down weatherwise, but believe it or not  the weather every single day from May 1st to June 6th today has been hot and dry (temps - in the 80s F - 30C), with the except of one day of thunderstorms. The plants here in Scandinavia cannot take heat and they are so entitled (which requires life-support), because it generally rains almost every other day here and is most often cool or cold. They simply wilt and die in prolong heat with no rain, often with many of the forest trees dying. It's pleasant today, work has picked up incredibly, so hard to finish posts like I wanted. The Media over here is still pimping their usual lousy new reports. A recent Gaza Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony news video yesterday was posted over here in Europe, in which the school authorities in Palastine had the kids stage a mock military attack and hostage-taking play. I watched not even 30 seconds of the 5:00 minute video which was all I could stomach. How in all good conscience can mature adults do this with children ??? It's amazing and we keeping hearing about how things are improving and getting better. Yeah boy, "Peace and Security" just around the corner. So anyway, how's your summer vacation going ??? 😆😎