America, the cloudless

The late night flight United from Newark to Los Angeles was magnificent. There was nary a cloud from takeoff all the way across the country and just a few broken coastal high clouds over San Bernardino. Beyond that, America was in full evening wear, one sparkling galaxy of lights after another all across the country.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a flight where I could see the ground the whole way across the country. What an unexpected delight!

Flying is never an unbound joy, but last night it was a pleasure.

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Patch of the Month: Saddleback

If the California desert continues to hold secrets, it is not because they are hidden, but because they are ignored. As we ease into fall, the thoughts of our Scout troop naturally turn inland and towards the desert.

October through March offers the best season to camp in the deserts. Days are comfortable, nights are chilly but not arctic, and enough animals are active during the day to make hiking more than a long walk.

One of my favorite places in the desert is Saddleback Butte State Park, a modest, Joshua Tree-girt peak located in the heart of a triangle between Palmdale, Victorville, and Edwards Air Force Base. The campsites were mostly primitive, but there were toilets and showers, making extended stays possible.

We had originally planned to go in February of this year, but cancelled at the last minute. The winter had witnessed a parade of great storms roll through the state that effectively ended the long drought, but also spewed flash floods across the desert floors. Given that Saddleback was accessible only by roads susceptible to flash flooding, and that we were driving in at night, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and rescheduled for March.

It was the right call. Sharing our gigantic site with another troop, we enjoyed the weekend immensely. I picked up this patch at the interpretive center at the northwest corner of the park after a short hike up from our campsite.

No doubt we will be back this way.

Big Breakfast

Note to self:

Next time, before ordering a breakfast, check the calorie counts FIRST.

This California Omelette at Chicago’s Yolk tipped the charts at 2,000 calories, which I didn’t realize until later. Good thing I walked five miles today.

I’m looking forward to returning to the land of lower-calorie, lower fat breakfasts.