Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV

Our winter trip this year took us first to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. This is part of the Mojave Desert that extends into southern CA and northern AZ. It's a land of extremes in many ways, but especially in terms of heat and dryness and incredible plant and animal adaptations to survive these harsh conditions. Ash Meadows is a desert oasis and a place of magical lushness that supports some very rare species of pupfish.

Right away we found last year's Verdin nest in a mesquite. How cool! Now, we just need to see a Verdin...

A boardwalk winds you along the refuge's paths to help protect the local area from damaging wanderings.

The water here is very salty, but is hospitable to plants and animals that are adapted to it. Steve took a drink and he didn't find it too tasty. In fact, it incited a trip back to the car for some fresh water to cleanse his palate!

Little pupfish and dace call these clear, salty waters home thanks to people who worked very hard to restore this land from past abuses and a massive development plan.

Native People lived in this area as evidenced by signs left behind. We can so see why they lived here.

We watched a very short video (2 minutes) on the Devil's Hole Pupfish so it was just so, so cool to see where this hardy, very rare fish is surviving.

The integration of art and nature is one reason we both so love the desert regions of the U.S.

The Visitor's Center was oddly closed during our visit, but it's brand spanking new and beautiful - including the stone used in its construction.

Next stop, Death Valley National Park...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Eagle Optics - A Great Company

We just returned from our southern CA vacation to Death Valley National Park and Mohave National Preserve and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada...more on that soon (it was fantastic!), but for today see what awaited our return:

Yes, those are NEW binoculars! Steve bought me a pair 8x42 Ranger Eagle Optics' binocs many years ago and that company has an incredible service department and warranty, which we so appreciate in any company. We sent both our binoculars in a couple of years ago for cleaning and fixing, which they did...FOR FREE. Before our trip West I sent my binoculars in for another servicing due to lens' scratches, broken eye piece, etc. and when we returned I had a new pair of binoculars waiting for me....also FOR FREE.

The damages were not fixable and so they replaced my binocs with the current model. (I've experienced this level of service with only one other company: Patagonia.) We are so completely impressed with this company and had to share. If you are in need of binoculars, we couldn't be more happy with Eagle Optics and very much recommend them.

Also, if you love that little tile as much as we do here's a link to the artist.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Overwintering Black Swallowtail Chrysalis

A little speck up on the ceiling above our potting bench looked mightly familiar. Look right in the center of this photo along the line in the ceiling:

A climb up on the bench showed that indeed the little speck is an overwintering black swallowtail chrysalis! This past fall a full grown caterpillar climbed a long ways and found a very high, protected spot to overwinter. It made my day...a little touch of winter and spring combined. Just what is needed mid-February.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Soap Madness...New Explorer Bars!

I'm a floor dweller by nature so much of my soap calculations are done here.

It's even better when you have a warm fire and kitties to keep you company...

This particular day of number crunching was so intense I moved to a table...just for variety!

All of the calculations and headaches of pricing work out though when you have beautiful, super smelling soap as a result.

Western Mountains scented with lots of coniferous scents...

Campfire scented with incensy wood scents...

Eastern Forest scented with wood resin and oakmoss (a lichen)...

It's really, really fun coming up with these ecosystem inspired bars for the explorer in all of us.  They allow me to use less common essential oils and plants from different areas, which I absolutely love.

We will offer these bars online and at various events this year. We will update our online store at the end of the month and announce where you can find us as well. Until then, there's lots more number crunching and soapmaking to accomplish. Adios!