Tag Archives: photography

Saturday Adventures Continued: SOLC 2019 Day 10

Our Saturday adventures didn’t stop with the Super Bloom.  As we hiked back toward our car, still admiring the seemingly never ending beauty of the desert in full color, we started a bit of a “what if” conversation.  We knew we were done hiking for the day…but it was still before noon, why not continue exploring?

lrg_dsc02051

We’d seen signs for the Salton Sea as we drove towards Borrego Springs.  What if we just went further and explored the Salton Sea?  We checked out the distance on Google maps…it seemed a reasonable option, so we plugged it in, pushed start, and headed east.

We drove through more patches of the desert in full bloom, watching carefully for those drivers and folks with cameras who pull off the road suddenly, flipping car doors open without remembering that they are stopped on the side of highway.  We continued to drive, the view changing until it seemed we had found landscapes that time had forgotten.  Sparse vegetation, windswept columns and deep valleys reminiscent of the Grand Canyon surrounded us, I almost expected to see a giant dinosaur pop its head up and look me in the eye.  As we continued on, we found the hideaways of weekend RVers and their myriad dune buggies racing up and down self-made roadways.  Unexpectedly, the landscape changed again.  Were we seeing a mirage?  The blue on the horizon looked like we were seeing the ocean in front of us.  The Salton Sea is called an accidental lake, though apparently at one time it was a naturally occurring fresh water lake.  It is located directly over the San Andreas fault and is known as one of the largest and saltiest inland bodies of water.  (I cannot even begin to do justice to its history in this post, so if you’re interested, I encourage you to do some research–it’s super interesting!)

lrg_dsc02152

As we got closer, we realized that our navigation led us to the community of Salton Sea City.  We drove as close to the shoreline as we could and got close enough to take it its immensity.  We wanted to get closer–close enough to walk along the shoreline.  We tried Google again, this time trying the search word “beach.”  We had a couple of choices–one closer than the other.  We headed toward the closest one…Salton Sea Beach.  As we drove, we were hoping for beach access.  We were surprised when we drove into a small community and the navigation told us we had arrived.  Driving around a bit, we followed a road toward a shoreline where we found “No Trespassing” signs.  We realized we had not driven to the beach, we had driven to the community named Salton Sea Beach!  Frustration was building–surely somewhere there was access to the shoreline of the Salton Sea!  Consulting Google once again, we chose that other option and headed off toward the Salton Sea State Recreation Area.  Luckily, it took us mostly in the direction we would eventually head to return home.  But we were surprised when the exit looped us back in the direction we started from and were even more surprised when we realized we were on the opposite shore of the Salton Sea!

But we finally got that beach access we were looking for.  A short walk gave us a view of black necked stilts along with some familiar gulls.  Apparently the Salton Sea has become a migratory flyway for many birds–one that is in danger.  California’s water wars are most evident when it comes to the Salton Sea…the topic for yet another blog post.

lrg_dsc02151

My photos of this sea are not spectacular–the light was all wrong, the birds too far away. But the experience was worth the frustration and the strange driving routes through unfamiliar desert areas…definitely a Saturday adventure!

Super Bloom: SOLC 2019 Day 9

The desert is usually subtle.  Many shades of brown often characterize the plants and animals that live there.  Blending in is necessary for survival and adaptations for preserving water often mean staying small and skinny to prevent evaporation.  But when there is abundant rain in the winter, the desert can be a bit showy.  Super Bloom 2019 is underway!

We planned a desert hike for today, knowing that hiking would give us glimpses of the blooming desert while taking us away from more of the bloom tourists.  We got up and left the house early…appreciating the beauty of the sunrise as we drove toward the east.

img_9731

One of the perks of living in San Diego is that you can get to the ocean, mountains, and deserts in about two hours or less (if traffic cooperates).  We arrived in Borrego Springs before 8am and easily found parking near the Hellhole Canyon trailhead.

Many of the flowers were still asleep, tightly closed against the cool of the night.  As we walked, the desert slowly woke, stretching and unfolding in the gentle light of morning. Starting early meant having the desert mostly to ourselves, allowing the desert soundscape to fill our ears.  The caw of a bird called my attention to the hillside where I spotted a mama big horned sheep and her baby.  We watched and listened as they click clacked their way down the hillside.  I definitely envy their surefootedness!  A buzzing nearby had me turn my head where I spotted a beautiful tiny hummingbird sitting in a leafless tree. Painted lady butterflies played tag as they flitted from flower to flower to flower to flower. The trickle of water tinkled in the distance, growing to a burbling stream as we got closer to the oasis framed in native fan palms.  The outcome of abundant winter rain was in full view as we finally got to the maidenhead falls where water poured from over our heads into the running streams below.

The desert is carpeted in wildflowers right now.  Yellows and whites stand near purples and pinks.  Splashes of red and brilliant white blossoms punctuate the view.  Ocotillos are just started to bloom, along with the barrel cactus.  The prickly pears will be ready in a couple of week, judging from the emerging buds.

lrg_dsc02060

The super bloom is just beginning and there is nothing like seeing the desert in its full color glory!  As the temperatures gently rise, the blossoms will continue to emerge.  If it doesn’t get too hot, the bloom may last through mid-April!  Today’s hike was perfect: a just-right physical challenge as we gradually climbed, scrambling up rocks as we approached the falls, like the sheep we saw earlier.  The weather was sunny, with coolish temperatures in the 60’s, and everywhere we looked, it was simply gorgeous!  It was a perfect Saturday adventure.

lrg_dsc02049

Snack Time: SOLC 2019 Day 8

It was windy today as I headed down to the beach.  Not ocean breeze windy, it was stand your hair on end windy.  I zipped my jacket up to my chin, grabbed my camera and set off down the hill.

The winds stirred up the whitecaps like frothy whipped cream and the surfers seemed to have taken the afternoon off. The skies were blue with billowy clouds in the distance.  I walked briskly, scanning the shoreline for interesting photo possibilities.

As I walked further south a bird caught my eye.  I watched the bird–seemingly in suspended animation–riding the wind current, but staying in place.  It seemed almost to hover high above me.  I kept watching and took a few photos, knowing that my lens was not powerful enough to really capture a good picture.  After watching it hover and adjust, and then spread its wings a bit further so that it caught the light just right, I realized that this wasn’t a gull or tern. This was a large raptor…an osprey!

lrg_dsc02018

I kept watching in wonder at the strength it must take to fly in place, when suddenly the bird appeared closer, and much larger.  I kept taking photos as the bird seemed to fall from the sky!  (I’m thinking of you and your duck, Molly!)

lrg_dsc02023

I continued to watch and snap photos as the osprey dropped into the sea and then rose…with something gripped in its powerful talon.  I watched it swoop and circle and rise, snapping all the way.  I continued to watch as it flew down the beach, fish in hand, away from the way I was walking.  I didn’t stop to look at my photos, but I was hoping I had taken a photo that somehow captured my experience.

A couple of miles later when I returned to the car, I was still thinking about the osprey and its snack.  I sat and looked through my photos–and gasped when I saw this one.  It’s far from perfect, but it does capture some of the magic and majesty I witnessed!  (All photos are unfiltered and unedited…for now!)

lrg_dsc02028

 

Things I Love: SOLC 2019 Day 7

Thursdays are my SDAWP day.  That means that I spend the day at UCSD doing my work as the director of the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP).  Inspired by Margaret Simon‘s list of things she loves in her slice the other day, I’ve been thinking about things I love about my SDAWP work.

img_9707

I love being on campus at UCSD.  I’ve taken so many photos of the library–it’s unusual architecture means it always makes an interesting picture.  This one was from this morning–I wanted to capture the billowing clouds to the east.  As I neared the library, I could hear music.  If you look closely you’ll see the people singing.  The acoustics of the cement building made their voices soar, those few people sounded like a concert…before 8am this morning.

I love the many opportunities I have to talk with educators across disciplines, across educational roles, across levels.  Rich conversations about access and equity, what constitutes success and how to bridge the instructional gaps that happen along the K-college pipeline for some students.

I have a love/hate relationship with writing grants.  I love imagining the possibilities and creating structures to support teachers and students.  I hate deadlines and the institutional hoops you have to leap through just to submit–and that doesn’t even ensure the grant will be awarded.  I’m deeply in the writing process of a grant right now…and probably should be writing that right now instead of blogging.  Wish me luck!

I love working with and supporting teachers.  I especially love talking educational pedagogy, best practices, and all things writing.  I love reading the latest research and thinking about both tried and true approaches and new ideas that I haven’t yet tested for myself.

I love that my doctorate didn’t pull me out of the classroom.  With my dual (or more) roles, I get to retain my expertise and credibility as a classroom teacher and stretch beyond my classroom to work county-wide, state-wide and nationally.  There is never a dull moment with my multiple hats balanced on my head.

And I love that on my way home I can stop off at Torrey Pines Reserve for a walk on the beach.  The cliffs at Torrey Pines are spectacular!  Today I chatted with a photographer whose camera lens was the size of a small child.  He was watching a mating pair of peregrine falcons, waiting for a chance at a perfect photo.  He patiently waited and watched, chatting with beach walkers as they passed.  I’m grateful to have gotten a chance to see the falcon–although my camera lens wasn’t able to capture it.  The view below is of a raven.  A pair of them were swooping and diving…and I’m sure I saw them carrying twigs or other nest building materials in their beaks.

lrg_dsc01989

The tide was low today so I was able to walk to the southern end and catch a glimpse of tons of hang gliders in the distance at the Torrey Pines Glider Port.

lrg_dsc01998

Don’t think for a second that this is a comprehensive list of things I love about directing the SDAWP…I’m sure I could go on and on and on!  I do love my work.  What would you include in a list of things you love today?

A Rainy Day Walk: SOLC 2019 Day 6

 

lrg_dsc01980-1

After the school day ended

and my flock of third graders scurried out the door

taking flight

to this activity and that

I alight on my usual perch

and descend

to the beach

for my rainy day walk

Raindrops and salty sea mist

run rivers down my face

as I breathe in and out

matching inhales with strides

dodging (sometimes unsuccessfully)

pools of sea water

Further down the beach

I find another flock

and they squawk welcome

then like my third graders

scurry and stretch their wings

flying into a rainy afternoon

©Kim Douillard

lrg_dsc01983-1

I Love Mondays: SOLC 2019 Day 4

I love Mondays.  Really.  There is something about the start of the week, a clean slate to write my life.  The fresh faces of my students, energized and eager after a weekend at home.  And this morning,  a rainbow guiding me on my drive to work!  A rainbow on a Monday morning commute has to be a good omen.

img_9645

In my classroom, Mondays are productive.  It’s the day I have the most uninterrupted time with my third graders.  We flowed from learning activity to learning activity, moving from engaged conversations about the right age for children to be left home alone to small group investigations creating geometric shapes from 4 triangles.  Recess times snuck up on us and the day was over in a blink.  My favorite kind of day in the classroom.

I ended my day with a mind clearing walk on the beach, matching the rhythm of my breaths with the inhale and exhale of the waves.  And as I reached my turnaround point, I found a message in the sand.

lrg_dsc01921-1

I love Mondays!

In Search of Light: SOLC Day 3

I heard the warning on the morning news show, yesterday’s rains caused urban runoff and increased bacteria count in our ocean waters.  Stay out of the water.  We still headed off to the beach for a low tide walk…in our tennies.

The clouds were heavier than I expected with no rain in today’s forecast–and much darker too.  We actually felt misty drizzle as we first got into the car.  But the beach was beautiful: low tides, gentle breezes, and yes, some people in the water!  Beach people are interesting and they come in all forms.  There are walkers and beach combers like Geoff, scanning the shore for bits of glass and interesting marine tidbits and picking up the many plastics that litter the beach.  There are surfers who seem to never heed warnings about the water.  And there are swimmers and waders, teenaged football throwers, the guy with the metal detector, the fishers knee deep in the waves as they cast.  But for me, my eyes search the beach for that perfect picture.

Gray skies make photo taking more challenging.  Colors fade away, making things look flat.  I’m no expert with camera settings, so I depend on my own framing and the serendipity of light and shadow to create interesting images.  I try to pay attention to changes in light…and always find myself drawn to shore birds.

As I wandered down the beach,  I spied a whimbrel (I think) out for a snack.  I crept close, snapping photos as I went.  But I also took a few long shots, noticing a break in the clouds and the white of the foamy wave tops creating a bright spot as a backdrop for the bird. Experts might call my photo overexposed, but there is something I like about this burst of light and the tiny bird visible in the expanse of the wide open beach.

lrg_dsc01888

Gray skies and high bacteria count didn’t keep me home and it certainly didn’t keep this little guy out of the water!  I got to stretch my legs and my camera skills to snap at least a few photos that were interesting.  And I got to enjoy the beach along with all the other beach people today.