Sunday, July 06, 2008

Curing Desert Deficit Disorder

On the Fourth of July, we took a family trip to Joshua Tree National Park. It was a new moon and a mild 100 degrees, so the conditions were perfect! After locating a good camping spot, we set up our tent and settled in...

In the photo below, Hikaru is surfing the channels on our big rock TV. The reception quality is often poor and only the movie was Rocky VI, but that's not the reason why we came to the desert...

We wanted to make sure that Hikaru wasn't coming down with NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder). Daddy was exhibiting some of the symptoms, including anxiety and depression, so we were a little worried. The desert has plenty of good "chi" to heal the spirit, though -- a good prevention for NDD.

As you can see in the photo, the accommodations were exquisite. Hikaru and Daddy are taking it easy by relaxing on the comfortable sofa -- it was hard as rock.

Daddy cooked a wonderful gourmet "combo" dinner of hot dogs, pasta, and soup all mixed together. Yum!

We also prepared some boiled eggs and onigiri (rice balls). Hikaru enjoyed eating the eggs, and liked to crack the shell open.

As the sun set in the evening sky, the rocks turned from bright orange to deeper shades of red...

And finally we could see the stars! In the big city, we can only make out only the brightest stars and planets (due to light pollution), but under a clear desert sky without streetlights, the universe appears in its full glory.

This was Hikaru's first time camping and sleeping outdoors. He had a difficult time falling asleep at first, but we all did OK. After an hour, Hikaru and Mommy were both snoring away soundly while Daddy did some stargazing and listening to the coyotes howling.

In the morning, Hikaru and Mommy peer outside from inside the tent. By the way, we did check the big boulder (in the photo above) to make sure that it wouldn't rock and roll over us in the middle of the night. This photo below is of our camp site...

After breakfast, we took a short hike. The photo below is a typical scene in Joshua Tree National Park -- big rocks, beautiful blue sky, and Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia). Do they look like the trees drawn in Dr. Seuss books?

Hikaru still rides in his baby backpack, but hopefully in the coming years he'll be able to climb and negotiate all the rocks by himself.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Walk in the Park

After a long stressful day at work, it's wonderful to take a walk in the park. LA has a cozy population of 4 million people, but we're fortunate to have a large city park nearby -- Griffith Park with 53 miles of trail.

Yesterday evening I went for a hike with the "hiking club". I really needed to "de-stress". As the sun turned orange over the hills, there were some wonderful trail views. But it was also just fine to see this urban sprawl from a distance rather being immersed inside it.

This view above overlooks the busy Golden State Freeway and the city of Glendale with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. However it's possible to make a quick turn on the trail, and in five minutes there's no more roar from the freeway, and no more city -- it's quiet. (Click on the photos for a larger image.)

The above sort of looks like tangle of barbed wire behind the backdrop of mountains. In the photo below we walk back in semi-darkness illuminated by the lights of the city.