Monday, October 18, 2010

Wet Doggy Morning...

This morning I woke as usual at 3 am, and stumbled out with the dogs for their morning walk.  It was foggy outside, with very limited visibility.  Everything was soaking wet from a night of drizzle (and we recorded 0.17 inches of precipitation, so it must have been nearly continuous all night).

The three field spaniels were all about the smells, enhanced greatly by the wet ground and air.  For our entire morning walk, those three brown noses never got more than an inch from the ground. 

Race, our border collie, was another matter altogether.  He couldn't care less about the wet ground and air.  For him, it's all about the pine cone.  He rushed out (off leash) when I opened the door, and scampered under the pine trees until he found a nice, freshly-fallen cone.  At one point he reluctantly lifted a leg to pee – reluctantly because this broke his concentration on the most important thing: staring at the pine cone, waiting for me to kick it.  I kicked it, and he happily chased off after it, boring through the mist like a bullet.  Once he caught it, he ran around the yard for five minutes of sheer joy over his pine cone victory.  Then he dropped it on the driveway and stared intensely at it, waiting for me to kick it again.

When it was time to come in, Race continued the pine cone game until he realized that I was about to go inside.  Then you could almost see the gears turning in his little head: “Uh oh!  We're about to go in!  And I need to poo!  I better go do it right now!!!”  And off he goes, running at about 100 miles per hour up the hill to his favorite spot under some manzanitas, poos in record time (the field spaniels can take up to 3 or 4 minutes at this, but Race is done in 10 seconds, tops).  Then he zooms even faster down the hill and up to the door, waiting to be let in.

Mornings just wouldn't be the same without the dogs...

Wetness in the Mountains...

Yesterday Debbie and I were planning to do a little four-wheeling in the valley just south of Corte Madera.  But as we got ready to leave, we noted that it was drizzling out, and threatening even more rain.  Since parts of that route are steep and rocky, and potentially difficult when wet, we decided to change plans.  Instead, we drove up the tiny little road from between Guatay and Pine Valley up to Laguna, paralleling the Nobel Canyon trail.

This drive brought some most unexpected scenery.  The clouds were moving from the coast inland, but as we drove up to Laguna we were in front of them.  As we got to vantage points where we could see to the west, we could see the clouds pouring through all the low spots surrounding Cuyamaca's three peaks.  The views were particularly nice as we drive north on Sunrise Highway approaching Cuyamaca Lake – glorious vistas with dramatic, moving clouds and mountains.  People were stopped all over the place to take photos (and naturally, I didn't have my camera!).  Truly beautiful.

Then we drove past Cuyamaca Lake and up Engineer Road (between Middle Peak and North Peak).  We took this west across the gap, and down to the intersection with Boulder Creek Road.  As we traversed this gap, we entered the clouds, and the vistas changed completely.  Most of the time we could see a few hundred yards, but sometimes when the clouds were thick, our world shrank to 100 feet or so in radius.  There was drizzle the entire time, and everything outside was completely soaked.  The colors and textures of fall in the chaparral were all changed from the stark, sun-drenched dry hues we're used to; instead, everything was in soft light, as if seen through a romantic photo filter.  All colors were subdued, the saturation reduced by the mists.  Most colors were darkened by the dampness.   The brown buckwheats were deep reddish-brown; the gray tree trunks almost black.  The color that stood out the most was the green mosses, awakened by the moisture.  We greatly enjoyed the views as we drove south toward Descanso.

American Kestrel
The best part of all, though, was something neither of us had anticipated.  The raptors that are normally soaring through the skies about the chaparral were all grounded by the mist.  Well, “perched” would be more accurate.  Debbie was spotting them at what seemed like 10 foot intervals, sitting up on top of burned pine tree skeletons, looking made.  Around one turn we got a particularly pleasant surprise: a small falcon sitting about 20 feet high in a tree right next to the road!  I passed it before I could stop, so I backed up until I was right next to it – and for a minute or so, it sat there staring us down.  It was an American Kestrel (as in the photo, which is not mine). After that, it flew to a tree perhaps 50' away, and we were able to view it for a little longer through binoculars.  Finally it left in disgust.  What a beautiful bird!

At the end of our delightful little trip today was the Descanso Junction Restaurant.  As it was Sunday night, that meant the fried chicken special.  As always, it was great.  Afterward we turned homeward, very content with our afternoon...