Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dripping Springs Trail Maintenance

I left the house early on Saturday morning to meet Fred on the north side of Cleveland National Forest, on Dripping Springs trail for a trail maintenance camping trip.  He arrived on Friday morning and left blue flagging for those of us who were part of the trail crew.  

It is a beautiful hike.  The views of Temecula are incredible.  
One website reviewed the trail as "the best cardiovascular workout close to Fallbrook and Temecula".  

After reaching the campsite I dropped off my gear and then continued on the trail practically weightless for about 3 more miles to meet Fred and the rest of the crew that had already arrived.  

It was a total of 3,200 feet elevation gain before I found Fred, and we got right to work.  We cleaned up the trail so that it was walk-able but still appeared to be in the wilderness.  

Fred has to return with a crosscut saw to clear this tree from the trail.  

After a hard day of work we ate dinner, had some drinks, watched the sunset...

and enjoyed our surroundings.  

Our campsite for the weekend.  

Fred's trail maintenance crew.  

I look forward to exploring more of the Agua Tibia.  Camping in the wilderness reminds me what camping is all about.  Campsites are convenient but there is nothing like taking advantage of the Wilderness Act of 1964.  The Wilderness Act was designed "[i]n order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their national condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness".  Thankfully someone had the foresight to protect these lands, and that we are able to enjoy them.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Mataayuum is the Kumiai gathering in San Diego,  near Lake Cuyamaca.  The last time that there was a large cross border Kumiai event like this was ten years ago.  
I had the opportunity to volunteer as an interpreter.  
I felt as though I should have had to pay to be part of such an event.  It was life changing.  
I helped unwrap pieces of art and get this table set up and organized.  

These pots are not painted. The pottery is fired in a special process that involves placing them, wrapped in leaves, directly into a fire.   Incredible markings remain as a result.  Every single one is unique.  Every single one is more beautiful than the last.  

This woman made rope out of agave fibers.  I tried to do this and it was nearly impossible.  She was almost mad at me for not being able to.  
How quickly one forgets what it is like to be five.  

Agave fibers (which is an entire process on its own).

I spent most of my time on this rock with Norma and her sister Yolanda, from a Kumiai community in Baja.  We cracked and peeled acorns one by one in order to prepare them for consumption.  These acorns have been drying for two years.  It is quite a process because many of the acorns are moldy or discolored and are not edible, but you do not know until you open them.  Also, there is a skin on them which does not always come off easily.
 Kumiai people have been using this rock to grind acorns for generations (you can see one of the grinding locations right behind the first pile of acorns).  

I cannot believe that I sat on a rock that has been there for hundreds of millions of years preparing acorns with Kumiai women whose ancestors have been coming to this very rock for thousands of years.  

I gave some of the kiddos who wanted to help a job.  They had to make sure that no acorn skin was in the basket which was about to be ground.  

One of my favorite things about this event was the communication. The Baja Kumiai spoke Kumiai and Spanish, the US Kumiai spoke English and Kumiai, and the US citizens spoke English and some Spanish depending.  Together, with the potpourri of languages we made it work.  Together we were able to communicate, learning the process of their traditions, and their life stories.  

This woman was pulverizing clay that was brought to her as a gift from a woman whose great grandmother was Kumiai.  The clay was from the land that her mother used to use to make clay pots.  

Birdsong is men singing in unison, using rattles as percussion.  It is indescribable.  

I spent a lot of time with this Kumiai woman.  She was taught the method of basket making by her mother, just as she has taught her daughters.  This is what she does for a living.  She is able to continue making art because of organizations like the Community Museum of Tecate which helps to fund the community that she lives in, and sell her artwork.  She is so skilled.  She uses this knife to cut junko reed to make it more uniform, like someone would butter their toast.  It is so natural to her.  

After five and a half hours of labor and lots of help it was finally time to grind the acorns.  I did not see the next step because I had to leave but it involves soaking the acorns in water and then cooking them.  I asked if they typically do this at home and the answer is no.  It is too time consuming.  Throughout history Kumiai people have depended on acorns as a source of protein but now it is more convenient to make tortillas from maza flour.  

This area is so beautiful.  I had a once in a life time opportunity today to see how Kumiai people create their art, people whom have lived here for thousands of years.  
The world changes around them but they are able to maintain their traditional way of life, a way of life when people made a living making quality crafts.  
They can never stop doing this.  They can never lose their traditions.  
If artisans did not exist in the world it would not be such a beautiful place.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Infamous Green Flash

On this clear Surf Tuesday I saw something that I have been hearing about since I was a small child, the infamous green flash (not pictured here).  I have looked for the green flash for thirty years, and probably even claimed to have seen it a time or two but there is no mistaking it.  The green flash is real... the sun was green!
Here is how it works:  The sun emits every color of the rainbow.  Every color is made up of a different electromagnetic wavelength, in order according to their wavelengths from most energetic to least energetic they are: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.  As the sun disappears behind the horizon the light has to go through the thickest layer of atmosphere which refracts (bends) the light a lot more than it usually does (this is how sunsets are created).  As light refracts all of the colors get separated into the individual colors based on their wavelengths and since green is more energetic than red it refracts more and viola, the color green is directed right into your eye.  It only occurs on a very clear day with an unobstructed view of the horizon.  Many people associate the green flash with Hawaii (a trip prelude perhaps!?). 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tea at the Huntington

Happy (belated) birthday Marla!
A trip to Huntington Library with tea has been on the calendar for months.  
We waited for the perfect day; the weather was ideal.   

Tea isn't mandatory because there is so much to do at Huntington Library, but it is a fun addition to the day (and something that has to be tried at least once!).  

This family went out for tea with the agreement that they did not have to talk to one another.     

The botanical gardens take up 120 acres of Pasadena.  I am not that surprised that I have been a few times before but never knew about the Japanese and Chinese gardens.  This is the great thing about Huntington Library, there is always something new to see.  Marla noted that on their website they list the flowers that are currently blooming.  Every detail changes the experience.  

Do we make good statues?  

What about now?  More realistic? 

My sister's first trip to Huntington Library was a success.  We visited three museums and got plenty of exercise as we enjoyed the splendor of  mother nature.  
Happy birthday Marla!