At the end of our Yosemite post in December, we had mentioned spending the holidays with friends in the Tucson, Arizona area. While there, we visited Saguaro National Park – home of the nation’s largest cacti. The park is divided into two areas east and west of Tucson. We chose the east side for this visit.
We arrived in Palm Springs, California after leaving Tucson on January 3. We stayed in a residential neighborhood 2.5 miles north of downtown Palm Springs for six weeks in an Airbnb home - our longest stay in one location since we sold our home in April 2016! It’s our second visit to the warmth embrace of the Coachella Valley in the past year - last March we stayed in Indio, 30 miles south of Palm Springs.
Our time was spent getting back to our routines. Dennis went on long bike rides and I enjoyed walking and running the neighborhoods around our Palm Springs home. D’s mom, Mary Vee, spent 2 weeks with us and enjoyed soaking up the sun. While she was here, we revisited the Sunnylands Center and Gardens as well as Sunday polo at Eldorado Polo Club - Mary Vee had not been to them previously.
Temperatures were above average for a good portion of our visit. While we were expecting 70s with occasional 80s, we had a majority of 80s and even 90s - what was considered unseasonably warm! This made it difficult to get our walking/running/bike riding in early before the heat of the day; therefore, hiking was nonexistent for us due to the heat and desert exposure. We are normally early risers, but we found getting up an hour earlier allowed us to watch the sun greet the day, enjoy our coffee, and have a bit of quiet time sitting outside while it was cool.
On January 31, we had front row seats, so to speak, for the viewing of the phenomenal Super Blue Blood Moon. I wrote about my experience from our patio at 400 ft. in a post on my blog, It Is What It Is. Here, D shares his experience at 4,000 ft. – he drove up to Joshua Tree National Park for his viewing.
I was up at 2:00 AM for the one hour drive out to Joshua Tree National Park. We had driven out to the park the day before on a scouting trip to try to find a good place for me to head that night. I found a couple of likely candidates based on my software that denotes the night skies and where objects will be at certain days/times. Now you would expect a few other crazy fool photographers to be out and about at that time of the night for such an event, but as I drove into the park about 3:00AM it seemed that every wide spot on the road was packed with cars and tripods! Continuing to my pre-chosen spot however, seemed to drop most of the other sky-watchers. As I finally pulled into my first choice from my scouting trip, I found it to be empty. First one here! I setup the tripod and took a couple of test shots of the full moon (pre-eclipse) and the beautifully lit landscape with the full moon light creating an almost daylight scene. I continued to shoot the moon as it progressed through the eclipse stages and enjoyed the solitude of the desert night. Yes, while my spot had a couple of drive-bys, no one else stopped and disturbed the solitude. Oh, but as the eclipse went full, there was no shortage of sights and sounds...
- The jogger at 3:30 running through the park with bobbing headlamp and neon glow sticks tied to various parts of his body.
- The drums and chanting when the moon went full eclipse echoing from just down the road.
- The animals sounds from the ever darker desert as the light went from bright full moon to dark eclipsed moon.
All told I was in the park about 4 and a half hours shooting. It was a blast and a night I will not soon forget.
It’s always noisier when living in a city environment, but there was a buzz of constant activity around our Palm Springs home with pool people cleaning twice a week (every other home seems to have a pool), yard people once a week, and weekday traffic as our house was situated at a four-way stop and seemed to be a side street people used to bypass the busier roads. During most days, there was a constant hum of leaf blowers, and the rumble of airplanes coming and going from the nearby airport. All in all, we did just fine. Even when we heard a very loud commanding voice say, “Drop the gun. Come out with your hands up!” And again, “Drop the gun. Come out with your hands up!” We were getting ready to meet friends for sunset dinner. We had heard a number of heated arguments coming from the house behind ours, so we figured we knew what was going on. What did we do? We closed all the doors and windows and made sure everything was locked up tight just in case someone was on the loose. Then we went to dinner. You’d have thought we heard this all the time. I guess that’s life these days. But not to worry - we will continue moving forward living ours to the fullest.
Thanks for joining our journey.