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Indian Rock 3/23/09

 

Indian Rock was an interesting little location, that being in the middle of Suburbia. Looking at it from a distance, you would think of it as just some ordinary field, surrounded by a fence and in the middle of the suburbs. Well, that’s what it does look like from afar, but when you get closer, you find it’s a lot more than that. The truth is, it was once used as a women’s ritual site, where such fertility rites were performed.

The central rock of the site, defaced by taggers. Such a shame that people think they have to deface such sacred property.

The central rock of the site, defaced by taggers. Such a shame that people think they have to deface such sacred property.

The crowning rock is surrounded by ruins of what looks like a house. According to one of our guides, there was a house there at one time, but I guess it burned down or was torn down after it was abandoned. On the rock, there were a few pictographs, although the graffiti took away from that beauty. It really is a shame people think they just deface anything they want. It’s downright disrespectful and not to mention illegal (well, I’m not really sure about the illegal aspect of it, but I’m sure it probably has to be in some, if not all, jurisdictions). Still, it was truly an interesting site to go to. Who knew such a site existed in suburban Vista and the view was simply amazing. You could see all Calavera Hills (located in Carlsbad), Camp Pendleton (at least I think was Camp Pendleton), some nameless hills (I just called them Generic Hills, since there really wasn’t a name for them), and the hills overlooking CSUSM. 

 

The hills of San Marcos as seen from the rock. I was told it looks like a woman lying down. Look at it hard enough and you'll see what I mean

The hills of San Marcos as seen from the rock. I was told it looks like a woman lying down. Look at it hard enough and you'll see what I mean.

 The guides we had were very informative and gladly explained and showed us some the ecology and plant life of that area. Many of the plants were definitely native, but there were a few that seemed to have blown in and blended in with the area. One native plant, called stinging lupin was a plant that helped to clean up the area by enriching the soil and making room for other plants to grow. It was definitely called stinging lupin for a reason–it would sting you if you touched. Pretty plant, but stay clear if you don’t want to get poked. Also, another plant that I found interesting around here was the wild cucumber (no, this isn’t the kind that tastes good on those little tea sandwiches, it’s a wild, pointier version that’s rather toxic). This plant looked like nothing I’ve ever seen, but I sure thought it was kind of cool.

This is a cucumber pod. Looks like something from another planet, but it's actually from Earth. Don't eat it, it is poisonous.

This is a cucumber pod. Looks like something from another planet, but it's actually from Earth. Don't eat it, it is poisonous.

 

 

 

This was some of the stinging lupin. I wouldn't recommend touching it, that is, if you want to feel a slight burning sensation on your hand.

This was some of the stinging lupin. I wouldn't recommend touching it, that is, if you want to feel a slight burning sensation on your hand.

 

Our guides explaining the area and the many different plants to us. Truly an informative field trip.

Our guides explaining the area and the many different plants to us. Truly an informative field trip.

I must say that trip itself was really interesting. I think on this trip I saw a few more creatures around here than I have on previous trips (ok, so I saw more animals at the Wild Animal Park, but that was zoo, so it’s technically kind of different. You’re not actually seeing them in the wild. Here, there were a few more animals to see that were wild, not that the suburbs are all that wild…though I suppose they could be). It was still pretty interesting to see so many lizards and butterflies roaming around. 

I really enjoyed this trip immensely. There were so many different plants that I don’t think I’ve seen on other trips as well as more animal life, such as lizards, ladybug larva, and butterflies, just to name a few. This truly was a pretty cool field trip. 

 

A couple lizards were nice enough to pose for me as they sunned themselves on the central rock. There were a lot of these fellows running all over the place. I don't think I've seen so many lizards in one area at one time.

A couple lizards were nice enough to pose for me as they sunned themselves on the central rock. There were a lot of these fellows running all over the place. I don't think I've seen so many lizards in one area at one time.

 

Capturing butterflies is hard to do, but fortunately I was in the right place at the right time.

Capturing butterflies is hard to do, but fortunately I was in the right place at the right time.

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Rincon Trip 3/16/2009

Our trip to Rincon was pleasant, a little on the warm side that day, but pleasant nonetheless. I thought it was kind of fun to be getting down and dirty, planting some of the native plants for the reservation’s ethnobotanical trail. I really had fun participating in that activity because it really made me feel good to volunteer, helping out a community. I don’t really get many opportunities to do things like that. I also really enjoy getting myself in the dirt ( yes, I was one of those kids who loved making mud pies and just playing in the mud, sand, dirt, etc. when I was kid. I still enjoy that now.) They say dirt (or mud, but we didn’t really use mud) is supposed to be good for you, so I guess I did something…healthy? Ok, I didn’t eat the dirt (eww!), but I certainly dug around in it. I was happier than a pig in slophouse! (Well, maybe that’s a little too messy, but you get the idea). 

 

Toyon was just one of the many plants my group and I planted.

Toyon was just one of the many plants my group and I planted.

There were a good many plants that my group and I planted. Toyon was on of them and I think we planted that one somewhere near the middle of the trail, near the first bench. It was either the toyon or a plant that seemed to look like it.  We also planted the black sage, which I think is one of my favorite plants, simply because it smells quite good and just has a very relaxing scent.

Some of the sage my group and I planted. Has a very nice, relaxing smell. Kind of earthy, a little woodsy, and just all around pleasant.

Some of the sage my group and I planted. Has a very nice, relaxing smell. Kind of earthy, a little woodsy, and just all around pleasant.

After digging for awhile, it seemed like a good time to take break, and what better way to take a break, but to take a hike (by hike I mean a small stroll to the nearby riverbed. There wasn’t any water in it, but it was still nice little stroll). I enjoyed that little trek, since it helped me to learn more about some of the native and not so native plants that reside in our state. One of the non-native plants that I encountered was called mustard weed. Pretty plant, but I get the feeling that it wouldn’t really be that tasty on a hot dog ( I realize that was a pretty bad joke, but can you blame me? Mustard. Hot dog. Yeah, I realize that wasn’t one of my best.) Well, it was a non-native plant that I thought was pretty, but it was also pretty invasive and was one of those plants that needed to be controlled or removed altogether. 

 

This little beauty is a non-native mustard weed. Controlling plants like these encourages native plants to thrive much better.

This little beauty is a non-native mustard weed. Controlling plants like these encourages native plants to thrive much better.

The area surrounding the reservation was really awe-inspiring. It sure made the perfect backdrop for some wonderful gardening. The view itself was definitely beautiful, being surrounded by the mountains and hills. Sure it seemed isolated, but it was nice just being away from civilization for awhile. 

 

A view such as this really inspired people to work and the air was most refreshing indeed.

A view such as this really inspired people to work and the air was most refreshing indeed.

What I thought I was pretty neat about that area we all were in was that as we were digging and taking pictures was that you could look across the field and see the Harrah’s Rincon Casino. It seemed so out of place, as well as being the only real civilization from miles around. It seemed a little out of place and yet it was also very interesting and just kind of amusing in a way. 

 

Harrah's Rincon Casino, as seen from the Rincon Reservation.

Harrah's Rincon Casino, as seen from the Rincon Reservation.

I enjoyed the trip and really enjoyed getting down and dirty. As with all rewarding hard work, I was exhausted and partly achy, using muscles I didn’t really know I had. It was tiring, but totally worthwhile and I felt good about doing something like that. If the opportunity to plant something for a community, organization, etc., I’ll probably be there, getting grubby and just having fun.

Pechanga 3/9/2009

Pechanga was an interesting trip, which I really enjoyed. I really had no idea where it was ( I knew it was located way out in the boondocks and not any place really local). I didn’t realize that the Pechanga Reservation was located in Temecula (not that that’s a bad thing, I just didn’t realize we’d be out in Riverside County. I hadn’t really been there until that day.  I must say the view from where we gathered was absolutely breathtaking, albeit a little chilly and not to mention windy.

One of the many awe-inspiring views of the area.

One of the many awe-inspiring views of the area.

It was interesting to learn about cultural revitalization among the youth of the Pechanga tribe and how many of the kids of the tribe learn to make  a variety of grown-up decisions.  One of the most beautiful areas on the reservation was the Cove, which was the entry to the little village of willow huts, used for the cultural revitalization program they have in the summer.

The Cove was beautiful a part of the reservation

The Cove was beautiful a part of the reservation

Our guide, Willie Pink, was very knowledgeable about all the goings on on the reservation as well as many of the native plants that grow around here. I for one didn’t know about yucca having the similar flavor as that of pumpkin or sweet potato. I knew yucca was a native plant, but I didn’t know that it could be substituted for pumpkin in a pie recipe.

Our guide, Willie Pink, demonstrating how to prepare a willow reed for weaving a basket.

Our guide, Willie Pink, demonstrating how to prepare a willow reed for weaving a basket.


 
 
Yucca is a native plant that can be used for a pumpkin-flavored pie. Tasty!

Yucca is a native plant that can be used for a pumpkin-flavored pie. Tasty!

 

This live coastal oak is the largest I've ever seen at over 100 feet high!

This live coastal oak is the largest I've ever seen at over 100 feet high!

I think one of the most awe-inspiring things we saw on this trip was the Great Oak. That tree was quite large and the age is unknown and the size of it was immense. The tree itself is estimated to be anywhere from 500 to 2000 years old, possibly older. It just looked like that that kind of tree you’d like to climb, but doing so wouldn’t be a good idea since it would be disrespecting the land and its people, so it wouldn’t be nice or noble thing to do.

All in all, I found the trip to be very enjoyable and I really learned a lot about the area and how the tribal elders are trying to make their youth more active in reservation affairs as well as trying to revitalize their heritage and make them aware of their history.

Wild Animal Park 3/6/09

When I heard about the field trip to the Wild Animal Park was excited. I hardly ever get a chance to go there, and I was really looking forward to it. I had a friend who I know would love to go (I pretty much twisted her arm to go. Well, not really, since she was already pretty willing to tag along.) We got kind of a late start, hoping that we’d make it on time. Travelling from the coast wasn’t too bad and blazed down the 15 south, battling traffic all the way, and pushing my RAV4 to her limits (well, not really her limits, but sure gave her engine a little work out. Thank God for excellent gas mileage!) For a Friday morning, why so many cars? Sure didn’t make a lick of sense to me. 

We made it to our destination a couple minutes late. We got our tickets and mingled around until we were able to go on our tour, which I must say was most interesting indeed. We hiked up a long hill to the very top of the park. I don’t think many people even knew about the native plant garden up behind the park, probably because no one wants to hike up that far and who can blame them, it’s a pretty steep climb.

 

Brittlebush is a native plant. Funny name, but doesn't really look all that brittle.

Brittlebush is a native plant. Funny name, but doesn't really look all that brittle.

The above image was from one the many plant species that are housed there. Brittlebush is a native plant and extends down into Baja California. Another interesting plant I encounter was bladderpod. It too has a funny name, but is also an interesting plant. Capped with yellow flowers and these little pods, that look like bladders, it’s hard to be unable to identify this unique plant.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one interested in this plant. This bug seemed right at home on this flower.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one interested in this plant. This bug seemed right at home on this flower.

 

 

 

There were also a good many plant species that I had no idea even existed in our area. It was fun to learn about many of the native plant species around here.  For instance, I hadn’t really known about how many of the plants were utilized by many of the Native Americans around here. I’d heard of yerba, but I never really knew what it was used for. Maren, our guide, was very informative, telling us how important it is for us to protect our environment and how conservation was very important for the well being of our world.

I think it was the first time I’ve been to that region of the park. I’ve usually done the basic and probably more well-traveled areas of the Wild Animal Park, but I think this was the first time I went to farthest part behind the park. My friend said it reminded her of being at sleep-away camp. She used to be a camp counselor for the Girl Scouts and while she said it was fun, she decided to pursue other interests. 

There were so many interesting plants and the whole tour (well, trip) was really interesting. I was very glad I went, learning more about the native plants and what they were used for.

A local resident of the Wild Animal Park.

A local resident of the Wild Animal Park.

 

I believe cat claw is used in medicines and vitamins.

I believe cat claw is used in medicines and vitamins.

I have to say her work is very different than most photographer’s works I have seen. She addresses the issue of loss and death, giving it a form instead just an image with her photography. She seems to address the idea of death as a form of art in a way, making the concept of mortality seem tangible, instead of making it seem so etherial and mysterious. Furthermore, much of her work just seems to address the many aspects of life, such as childhood, family, joy, sadness, suffering, and even death. The way she orchestrates her photographs just seems so real and puts such realism that I don’t think has been seen for some time

Quiz Pictures

tree-3b2tree-3ctree-4bcollage-2

veggie-sign

 

First off, I have to say that the trip to Tierra Miguel  was rather enjoyable. The drive, although long, was fairly pleasant (and thankfully no one asked me “Are we there yet?” Otherwise, I’d have to make them get out and walk if they did…..just kidding! I would not have done that). It was interesting to learn about organic farming (and sample some of the goodies). I think one of the most interesting aspects of this field trip was the size of the farm. The farm itself is only about 10 acres, which I found interesting since I had always been under the impression that such farms were much larger and were about the same size as some of the commercial farms. 

 

Part of the farm on a lovely, Monday afternoon

Part of the farm on a lovely, Monday afternoon

 

There was a lot of tasty organic goodies to be had and that would be the first time I tried kohlrabi. Kohlrabi, as I learned, looked more like a purple rutabaga and tasted just like cabbage (not chicken, like so many things supposedly do. If veggies ever start to taste like chicken, I think that’s the time to examine what I eat a little more carefully) Pretty vegetable, but kind of hard to sink your teeth into. Still, that didn’t stop me from eating it (although the hint of dirt left much to be desired and probably added a little extra flavor).

 

It may not look like cabbage, but it tastes like cabbage. This is a shot of me holding the kohlrabi.

It may not look like cabbage, but it tastes like cabbage. This is a shot of me holding the kohlrabi.

 

Located in scenic Pauma Valley (that’s P-A-U-M-A, like the catchy little jingle that the casino with the same name uses in its radio ads. Only this wasn’t the casino, and there wasn’t any gambling, which is probably better for one’s mind and body. Fresh air is better than casino air any old day, if you ask me).  The view and the air was simply wonderful. A quite pastoral community not too far from Palomar Mt. (actually, Palomar Mt. is only about 26 miles from Tierra Miguel.) Looking across from the farm, you can get a great view of the mountains and may even hear a coyote or two in the evening. 

mountains-at-sunset

All in all, I would have to say that I enjoyed my trip to Tierra Miguel and would love to go back there again. Of course, no trip anyplace is complete with a few “souvenirs,” as a reminder of where you’ve been. So, of course I got a few vegetables to take home. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have any way to carry them, but figured out a camera bag makes for a good carrying case.

 

veggie-bag

My "souvenirs" of a wonderful trip. Could also be considered a buffet in a bag.