Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back to the Salton Sea

Today was a day in two pieces - a morning garden wander, and an afternoon shared (re)visit to the Salton Sea.

I started with a visit to the Moorten Botanical Garden. It's the home of many different varieties of cactus and desert plants. When I arrived just after 10 for a 10 AM opening, it was still closed. As I was peering through the gate the owner was walking by. I asked if the garden was open today and received a "yes, I'm just moving slowly today". I walked the garden paths twice, absorbing the many different looks of cactus. I saw remnants of water and sprinklers, so I asked if the spiky plants are watered. The answer? Yes; many of the cactus in the garden were not local to this desert. They are watered twice a week. Very interesting.

The afternoon was spent with a "meet in person for the first time" friend. After tossing around some local to Palm Springs photo locations we decided to head to the Salton Sea. We traversed the east side of the lake, stopping at several pieces of the Salton Sea State Recreation Area, wandering in other abandoned-feeling places too. A few clouds dropped in just in time for a spectacular sunset.

Thanks for sharing my day Lori Carey!

Tomorrow? It's a two plane travel day with an early start.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A birder's paradise

I wonder where the day went. I headed out a bit after 8 this morning, and it was after 5 when I walked back into my room. Hmm... I didn't cover that much ground, I just circled the Salton Sea. The lake is 35 miles long with a width that varies to a maximum of 15 miles. If I had just driven to and around the lake it would (should?) have taken a lot less time. I don't think I know how to stop looking around, finding interesting sights, and just stopping. Feeding my curiosity takes time!

It took me a while to realize the clumps of salt in the water reminded me of Badwater in Death Valley. The Salton Sea is second to Death Valley in terms of elevation. Badwater has the lowest elevation in North America; the Salton Sea is the second lowest.

I started down the west side of the sea, stopping first at the Salton Sea State Recreation area. A quick conversation with a volunteer in the visitor center fueled my wandering thoughts. I walked, I listened to the birds, I played with my camera. I drove a bit further, walked, listened, played.

A few thoughts from my wanders
...the Salton Sea is a birder's paradise. I was awed by the number of birds on the shore, one the water, flying, singing.
...the "beach" is incredibly hard for walking. There was sand far from the water; the close to the water piece seemed to be made up of shells or more likely little pieces of fish skeletons. Dead fish lined the edge of the beach; in some places they were also floating in the water.
...following unnamed roads based general direction and a gut instinct (instead of following the safe route of numbered roads) can be a good thing
...the Salton Sea is on my list of "must return to" places.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On top of the world

Denise was going to write today but then she said that words weren't flowing for her. I always like playing with words; I'm happy to write again! When we got to the high point of our last hike today, there were two other people there with us. One of them got a phone call, and I heard him tell the caller that he was "on top of the world". Denise & I were there too!

We started today by heading in the wrong direction to find the first trailhead. I told Denise she should look at the map before we started driving, but she didn't listen. it didn't really matter though; we only drove a few miles to the west when we needed to head east. The Fortynine Palms Oasis was waiting for us. We hiked up and up, then down to find the oasis. Just before we got to the end of the trail we could see the tops of tall palm trees ahead. Wow, what a contrast - from desert to tall green palm trees, fan palms, so green. It was an out and back hike, so we again headed up and up before turning downhill again.

I bounce along the trail in bare paws, but Denise wears hiking shoes. We saw two women wearing those funny barefoot running shoes - you know, the kind with toes, like this:

Denise doesn't think she could wear these on smooth ground, and these women were hiking on uneven and rocky terrain. One was on the Fortynine Palms trail, and the other on the Ryan Mountain trail. Neither of those trails were flat!

Before we moved on to hike up a mountain we made a quick stop at the Arch Rock Nature trail. That was a very short loop that started in the White Tank campground. Wow - those campsites were really tiny. There was barely enough room to park a car plus pitch a tent. There were lots of interestingly shaped rocks on that trail. It was a nice break between our long walks.

Then, it was time to walk up Ryan Mountain. The trail went up, and up, over rock steps in places, some smooth terrain, with quite a bit of uneven footing. Up, around a corner, up again, ending at the top of the 5th highest peak in the park. Of course the fact that we walked a mile and a half uphill meant that we needed to walk down for the same distance. That was a good end to our first (but not last) visit to Joshua Tree, a good hike, a feeling that we were on top of the world.
--- Rover

A change in lodging

After a full day's wander at Joshua Tree and a drive back to Palm Desert, I went to check into my hotel for the next three nights. There was a sign posted at the front desk saying that the power would be out from 1 AM to 6 AM (tonight) because of some work the power company had scheduled. Yikes!

I know, I know, I should be sleeping during those hours. I really didn't like the thought of waking up in the middle of night to find I had no power though. The hotel was handing out flashlights, but...

I asked if there was another hotel close in the area, and I was told that the Homewood Suites just two blocks away had rooms. My reservation was at a Hampton Inn, both hotels owned by Hilton. While I drove the two blocks, the desk clerk at the Hampton Inn called the Homewood Suites with information from my reservation. Ah, nice - the price I was quoted for my reservation at the Hampton Inn was honored here too.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meeting Joshua Tree

Denise was right when she thought that this trip won't be our last visit to Joshua Tree National Park. What a beautiful place!

Our first stop was at the visitor center to get some information on different trails for wandering. The person we were talking with kept pointing to photos in a book, and you know Denise and books, don't you? Yes, she bought a copy to take with us.

We spent the day wandering in the park, driving, stopping, walking, absorbing desert beauty. Denise thought we'd do a long hike and some short hikes. Somehow we ended up doing lots of short hikes; I think tomorrow will be a day for a couple of the longer trails.

We drove to Keys View, a high point in the park with views to the south. We could see the Salton Sea, the San Andreas Fault, and Palm Springs from there. I was riding in the camera pack but I kept the zipper cracked so I could see the view. The wind was so strong that Denise was having trouble standing still; I figured would have flown away if I had tried to walk in that wind!

Did you know that Joshua Tree National Park lives in two different deserts? We were in both the Mojave Desert and the Sonoran Desert today.

we walked the Cholla Cactus Garden nature trail late in the afternoon. There was a big warning sign at the trail entrance warning us not to touch the cactus. It looked spiky, but it appears that it is both spiky and prickly with the additional factor of having hooks on the end of the spikes. Here's a description from the brochure the park service provided:

Be on guard that you do not walk too close to the cholla cactus. At the slightest touch, the spines will penetrate your flesh and are extracted only with difficulty and pain.
The cactus spines were shiny in the late afternoon light, very pretty.

Tomorrow will be another Joshua Tree day.
--- Rover

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just a bit further...

We landed in Palm Springs in sunshine and warmth. The temperature was comfy, in the 70s. Denise was surprised that the airport is an open air place. There are pieces of buildings, but the secured central area is open to the outside air. Very cool.

Denise picked up the rental car, went out to the lot and turned right around to ask for a different car. Funny thing is, apparently Denise is the second person today who didn't want that particular car. I though it was a nice car but Denise said it was too big. The person at the Hertz counter thought maybe they had misclassified the car class; it just didn't feel like a mid-sized car. We got a Volkswagen Jetta instead. That works quite nicely, and Denise had a conversation about photography with two of the people working at Hertz while they were finding us a better car.

We headed north and a little bit west before turning east to head towards Joshua Tree. Just before we got to I-10 there were lots and lots of windmills. I just went looking for information and found a web page titled Palm Springs wind energy. The web page says that there are more than are 4000 windmills in the wind farm on the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass in the San Bernadino Mountains. Wow!

We ended our day in Twentynine Palms. Tonight should be an early sleep night. Tomorrow? We'll be wandering in Joshua Tree National Park.

--- Rover


Early morning, dark, pouring rain...

It was early enough that while there was traffic it was moving at a good rate of speed. I was lucky; there was enough of a lull in the rain that I was able to move from my car to the shuttle bus that would take me to the airport without getting soaked.

It's a two plane day, Boston to Dallas, Dallas to Palm Springs. I briefly considered trying to get a non-stop flight to LA then driving from there. I think that might have taken slightly less time than the two-plane hop, but with good connections I figured I'd stay in the air.

After flying for a bit over an hour and a half the pilot announced that we are over Ohio. The only other state I caught on the flight plan is Arkansas, one of the five remaining states in the country that I have yet to set foot in. One of these days I'll need to plan some trips to touch those states, hopefully in two sets of two plus a later lone state trip. This year? I suspect not, but you never know. I have quite a few vacation destinations jumping around my head right now; after I return from this trip I guess I'd better sort out the possibilities. I'm torn between a number of locations in North America, plus two possibilities in Europe. Acadia is a definite for one visit, probably two. One or more national parks in the west are calling to me. And...

I know, I know, it's pretty amazing to be able to fly across the country in a number of hours - but I'd love to be able to arrive in the blink of an eye. I can dream, can't I?

By the time the plane landed in Dallas the sun was shining. I briefly considered going for a walk outside. Walking inside along the concourse won out, no need to go through security again! It felt good to stretch my legs before boarding airplane number two for the just under 3 hour flight to Palm Springs.

Ah, a break, some walking, a quick bite to eat and it was time to board, time to fly. Plane # 2 of the day has wifi access with the first 30 minutes offered at no charge. Nice.

Posted from the air, somewhere over Texas to the west of Dallas

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flying? tomorrow!

One more day until our California escape! I just checked the weather forecast - it seems like temperatures will be quite comfortable, especially in comparison with winter temperatures at home. Yes, I already checked; Denise is definitely bringing serious sunscreen with us. She needs to be careful or she'll be as red as I am!

We have a pretty early flight tomorrow morning. It's my job to make sure that Denise heads to the right airport since we're flying out of Logan Airport, not Manchester. I really hope we are leaving early enough to miss Boston's morning traffic.

--- Rover

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Google+, Plus Extract, and...

I've been playing on (or maybe I should say participating in) google+ since the end of July. There are days when I post, days when I look, days when I interact with other photographers.

I usually check the daily top G+ photos published on's Plus Extract page each day. I've discovered some of the people I follow on Google+ via the daily tops. Out of each set of tops I find that only a subset appeal to me - but that's the nature of art, isn't it? It's worth checking the Plus Extract archives - if you're interested the selection for each of the last twelve days can be seen by clicking on the date on this page.

Another feature of Plus Extract is that I can request an extract of my personal top photos published on Google+ over the last two weeks. I've added a link to my personal "google+ tops" to the sidebar of my blog. To view the personal Tops that I requested covering January 9th through the 23rd, click here.

I think I'll keep playing on g+.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Buried in sand

On the beach, at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge... a splash of color, buried.

beach image, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Plum Island afternoon

Yesterday's snow moved away; today brought blue sky decorated with clouds, a cold morning with temperatures in the mid-teens. I decided to wait until it warmed up a bit, and I wanted to hit the coast when the tide was going out. Since high tide this morning was a bit after 10 AM I decided to leave home at around noon to head to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

It was a quiet day in the refuge. I don't think I saw more than 10 or 12 other people there, and the birds seemed to be hiding too. I had a good walk on the beach followed by a bit of a wander on the inland side of the refuge. Ah, there were some birds on that side, Canada Goose paddling around in open (inland) water. Much of what usually is flowing water was trapped beneath ice.

beach reflections, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

inland, some open water, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

More photos from today can be viewed in the gallery Parker River - 2012 starting with this photo and ending here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday snow

Ah, a snowy Saturday... The sky is still wearing gray, but the light snow that fell most of the day seems to have tapered off.

It was a good day for a walk in the woods.

snow falling, a tree-lined trail

A planned escape from winter

Oh look! Denise listened to the thoughts I sent her through my wishing stone! We'll be heading out later in the week for what will probably be a too quick trip to southern California.

Where? Our destination is two new-to-us locations, Joshua Tree National Park, and a visit to the Salton Sea. Exploring new places is always fun, and escaping from winter temperatures will be a big plus too. Denise sometimes gets frustrated trying to make cold fingers work with her camera; I know she's looking forward to some warmer camera play. Soon...

--- Rover

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No censorship!

I don't normally jump into politics here, but this is important.

If you haven't already, please tell your representatives that you oppose SOPA and PIPA. Censoring the Internet is a bad idea. Not familiar with the issues? Learn more here.

Tell Congress - sign the petition at

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Color relieves gray

A winter's day... we had a dusting of snow overnight, and today's forecast calls for rain and snow changing to all rain. That probably means the gray will stay.

I need color today; a flower from last summer brings a smile.

a splash of yellow, summer flower

Monday, January 16, 2012


The (very cold) air temperature kept me from camera play yesterday so I've pulled a photo from last March to share today.

Sanderlings skittering, quickly moving across the sand at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge... I remember trying to move with these very fast little birds, attempting to capture their movement.

sanderlings running

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Soup Sunday

A warm bowl of soup was just what I needed today.

I decided to try something new (for me), a sweet potato base. I started with about 10 cups of water, 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, a half of a pound of red lentils, and a pound of tofu. After about a half of an hour the potatoes were soft and my soup base was ready for the blender. After the blender gave me a smooth soup base, a little bit of spice and a lot of vegetables jumped into the pot - ginger, cumin, carrots, corn, zucchini, and portabella mushrooms. I simmered the concoction until the carrots were lightly cooked.

Ah, that was good! I had a big bowl of soup for dinner, lunches for this week, and some for the freezer for days when I don't feel like cooking. I think that base needs to be added to my list of must repeat soups.


Today was cold, as predicted by the weather wizard. Crisp, clear, cold, windy...

I waited until the temperature reached 10 degrees before heading out to walk this morning. The air was brrr! cold but for the most part I was warm. It wasn't until I was close to the end of my hour-long loop when I realized I should have pulled some fleece over my face. That chill disappeared quickly once I was back inside.

The forecast calls for a low of 2 degrees tonight, warming to the high 20s during the day tomorrow. After today I suspect that will feel balmy!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Funny, I can almost see a mirrored image here. The angle of the clouds and the angle of the waves don't match, but they draw my eye as if they do. The jump from rippled to smooth water is somewhat angled too.

ocean view, New Hampshire coast

A few more photos from today's very chilly wander can be viewed in the gallery New Hampshire coast - 2012 starting with this photo and ending here. More photos will jump into this gallery through the year; the newest photos will always be at the top of the gallery.

Replacing bridges

My wanders today took me to the New Hampshire coast and to Portsmouth, where I saw the (current) Memorial Bridge for probably the last time. Construction on a replacement bridge is about to start. The existing bridge has been closed to vehicles since last July, with the pedestrian crossing closed as of last Monday morning.

I'm fascinated by the replacement process. The three sections of the old bridge - the center lift span, and the north and south flanking spans, will be lowered to barges and floated to the old Quincy Ship Yard. Then the new construction begins. The design of the new bridge can be seen on the "New Memorial Bridge" page here.

I wish I could see the floating of the old bridge sections; unfortunately for me I'll be far from here on holiday on the days the floating is projected to occur. I'll be sure to watch the progress over the next year and a half though.

(original) Memorial Bridge, Portsmouth, NH

Friday, January 13, 2012

13 times 3

Today is Friday the 13th. Is that a good day for you, or a bad one? I suspect you'll be happier of the 13th is a good day for you because 2012 has three months where the 13th falls on a Friday. And, more than that - the Friday the 13ths this year are each 13 weeks apart.

Take a look at NPR's story Don't Like Friday The 13th? Then This Isn't A Good Year For You.


I need some color today, something brighter than a gray winter's day. Here's a splash of color from last summer.

yellow, daisies

Color behind color, pink petunias and...

Monday, January 09, 2012

Winter colors

This scene on the edge of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge wears green in the spring and summer months. On winter days without snow cover, the grasses are a golden color.

grass and reflections, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sunday's coastal wander

I was hoping for a repeat of yesterday's very unseasonable temperatures. I didn't get warmth, but I did get a day that I could use to satisfy my need for a coastal wander. The temperature hovered in the low 40s, the sky wore cloud decorations... ah, a good wandering day!

I headed to Kittery, spending the first part of my time on a road that passes through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. My second stop was Fort Foster, a Kittery Park that houses World War II era cement forts along with a beautiful path for walking along the water. Many of my fellow wanderers were walking with dogs, most unleashed. When I commented to one couple that their dog looked like he was wet they just laughed. Apparently he loves playing in the water!

lighthouse, viewed from Fort Foster, Kittery Point, Maine

More photos from today can be seen in the gallery South coastal Maine - 2012 starting with this photo and ending here.

Angled & straight

trees, angled & straight

Friday, January 06, 2012


I think I was lucky; I learned from a young age to look beyond the surface, to see. My mother is an artist, and I'm sure that it was her influence that taught me to appreciate the things around me. It's funny, we had a very recent conversation about that, and today the topic jumped at me once again.

I posted the photo below on Google+ for the theme "Four Seasons Friday", sharing a photo showing off the current season. I chose this photo even though it is from last year, choosing to interpret "current season" as winter. To me that says snow. My photo was accompanied by the text

The ground here is still bare, so I've grabbed this winter photo from the 2011 winter season. This was a magic day... the ground was covered with snow, the air went from totally socked in with fog to a light ground fog. I was very glad I had a camera with me on my morning walk.
I got an almost immediate response from +Gib Goff, another google+ participant:
I guess I'll never understand how creatives can go for a simple walk and see such beauty, while others scowl and never see past their noses. Do they not see it, or just not realize it?

Sometimes I wish I was bionic with a little itsy bitsy camera mounted in my eye - for that split second when I see that one, beautiful shot. Then snap, it's captured, to share.
I can't tell you how many times I wished for the same thing! Sometimes I can capture an image to share, sometimes it is captured as a memory.

What about you? Do you see the world around you?

Thanks Mom, for teaching me to see!

Winter's bare branches with the added magic of ground fog

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Top 10 images of 2011

Just because...

Selecting my favorite 10 photos out of all of the photos that I took last year was definitely an interesting exercise. It was a time of looking back, of allowing myself to be drawn into the images, of seeing what I liked and thinking about what I might change if I could shoot the image again.

In date sequence, here are my favorites from last year.

Magic in reflecting clouds, Wells Reserve, Maine

Magic in reflecting clouds, Wells Reserve, Maine

Snow & sand, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport, Massachusetts

A quiet January day at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport, Massachusetts

Moody sky & reflections, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Moody sky & reflections, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Pools of water at the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine

Pools of water, rocks, ocean, at the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine

Lupine or false blue indigo? At Stephens-Coolidge Place, N Andover, Massachusetts

Lupine or false blue indigo? In the gardens of Stephens-Coolidge Place, North Andover, Massachusetts

A simple summer flower, at Stephens-Coolidge Place, N Andover, Massachusetts

Simple summer flowers bring beauty, at Stephens-Coolidge Place, North Andover, Massachusetts

Patterns in clouds and reflections, Eastport Peninsula, Newfoundland

Patterns in clouds and reflections, along the Eastport Peninsula just outside of Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland

Late day light paints rock formations, Bonavista, Newfoundland

Late day light paints rock formations along the coast, Bonavista, Newfoundland

Near the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine

Near the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine

Just after the sun slipped behind the mountains, Death Valley National Park, California

Just after the sun slipped behind the mountains, near Badwater in Death Valley National Park, California

These photos are collected into the gallery Top 10 images, 2011. If you'd like to view them as a full screen slideshow, click here to jump to the gallery, then click on the slideshow button.

Moon shadows

It's a cold, clear, and windy night. The air temperature was 17 degrees F (-8 C) with the wind constantly blowing, playing music in the trees. As I walked I noticed that I was followed by two shadows. One was thrown by lights from the houses, the other from the moon shining high in the sky.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Canada Goose standing

I was following a trail around a small pond when I saw some Canada Goose standing on the ice. I moved off of the trail, trying to be quiet as my feet crunched through a carpet of dry leaves. Somehow I managed to get close enough to peer through brush and bare branches; the geese stayed standing.

Canada Goose

More photos from my close to home wanders today and Saturday can be found in the gallery Winter 2012 starting with this photo and ending here.

Taste treat

Ah, strawberries... my preference is for local berries, but that season is quite short (and long past). I will buy berries year round if they look good and smell good This week's strawberries from Florida are oh so good!

This morning's taste treat was strawberries and Cara Cara oranges tossed with yogurt and topped with a bit of All Bran Bran Buds cereal to add some crunch and a bit of fiber. Yummy!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

January warmth

The calendar says the season is winter, but today's weather felt more like late fall or early spring with temperatures warming to the low 50s. The morning sky wore pure blue, adding cloud decorations as the day wore on.

It was a good day to visit the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, I know, it's always a good day at Parker River!

I started on the ocean side of the refuge, walking, listening to the ocean, wondering why there were no birds playing on the beach. Ah, I see - the birds are all on the salt marsh side. There were large flocks of Canada Goose seeming to stand on water since there was a skim of water covering ice. There were some trees loaded with birds, some robins, lots of black feathered birds.

Here's a quick view of the ocean and inland sides of the refuge.

ocean side of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

inland side of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

More photos from today can be found in the gallery Parker River - 2012. This will be a running gallery for the year, with newer photos at the beginning.