Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Trip to the Mountains...

When we left this morning it was overcast and raining, so I didn't bother taking my camera.  That was a bad mistake on my part, as Cuyamaca and Laguna mountains were in bloom – flowers everywhere we went!  Bright red penstemmon were perhaps the most common flower we saw, and far more of them than we can recall ever seeing before in our mountains.

We started out by stopping for breakfast at the Descanso Junction Restaurant, where we both had a meal large enough to fuel us for the entire day.  After that, we headed north on Boulder Creek Road.  The creek was running higher than we've seen it before, and clear.  The ford's lower edge is shown at left – if you're familiar with the road, then you know that's much higher than normal.

We stopped there for perhaps 20 minutes, and I took a walk along the north side of the stream, upstream.  It was still drizzling, and the plants along the stream were wet, so I was soaked from my hips down.  I saw quite a few nice things along the way (below), and I came back smelling strongly of plant I walked through – not sage, but with a similar smell.

Then we drove on up to where the short cut to Eagle Peak Road branches from Boulder Creek Road, and took the shortcut.  This turned out to be a beautiful drive, full of wildflowers (especially monkeyflowers and a variety of cheerful, bright yellow wildflowers).  The streams all along the road were flowing higher than we've ever seen them.

Once we hit Eagle Peak Road, we headed north and saw something we never expected: a waterfall with water!  This is a fairly tall waterfall, 50 feet or more high.  There's a rough turnout where you can park and walk south along the bluffs for a great view.  The water was pouring over this falls, and in one spot the swiftly falling water was turned 90° to shoot out straight horizontally.  It's a most pleasant spot for a little sightseeing.

Then we kept on back up to Boulder Creek Road (where we bought some honey at a roadside honeybox), over the hump on Engineer Road to Cuyamaca Lake, then down the Sunrise Highway to the turn on to Pine Creek Road, down Noble canyon.  Along the way we had spectacular displays of many different wildflowers, most especially penstemmon, lupine, snow-on-the-mountain, and fireweed.  We also saw redbuds about to bloom – lots of them, right where we thought they'd all be permanently killed by the 2007 fires.  The wind had kicked up, gusting to 50 or 60 mph, and clouds were scudding by at this speed just over our heads.  This made for really interesting and fast-changing lighting effects that we greatly enjoyed. 

Here's our remaining crummy cell-camera photos...

Post Office's Last Gasps...

The U.S. Post Office's travails were entirely predictable – in fact, they were predicted, by a great many people including me.  The reasons are many, and most are easy enough to understand.  The simple fact that the Post Office has a half million union workers is almost enough to understand the entire problem.  If you're interested in the details, here's a great primer.  It focuses on the looming financial crisis, but along the way gives a very accessible description of the myriad ways in which the Post Office is in trouble.

The linked article talks mostly about various “fixes” for the Post Office.  The most important reform, however, isn't discussed: removing the U.S. Post Office's government-granted monopoly on first class mail delivery.  A dose of competition would result in great delivery of services that people were actually willing to pay for – and an end to the subsidization of the things people don't want (such as junk mail).

The challenge is that a half-million member union is a potent political force.  Their ability to make political donations means they can (effectively) buy off the politicians who might consider removing their monopoly.  So the reform I advocate isn't particularly likely to be implemented.  But I can dream, can't I?

Rain and Changing Plans...

It's the end of May, and we're getting more rain – most unexpected out here in the high desert chaparral.  We've only had a few tenths of an inch (about 5 mm), but that's enough to thoroughly wet down our yard and trees.  We were planning to burn our brush pile today, and to work more on trimming our pine trees.  The rain put the kabosh on those plans!

So we're switching to our backup plan: breakfast at Descanso Junction Restaurant, and a drive in the mountains.  Race and Miki will keep us company.  Woo hoo!