Recapping the most memorable parts of our trip:
1) Elaine & I were riveted by the loads & loads of dune evening primroses in bloom around the campsite, to the point of plotting our own line of perfumes and skincare products a la 'Eau de Primrose.'
2) Later that day, when we hiked up to the top of Saddleback Butte, we found a tin can there holding notes from previous hikers. We left our own note there with the admonition to "stop and smell the primroses."
3) When I identified an unusual-looking bird near the campground as a loggerhead shrike to Chuck, he promptly replied that 'loggerhead shrike' would be a great name for a band. Go figure.
4) I heard my first great-horned owl just before falling asleep in the tent that night. The 'hoo hoo hoo' call was unmistakable.
5) On our way back to La Puente the next day, after we parted ways with Elaine & Chuck, Gil & I toured the Antelope Valley Indian Museum http://westernsojourns.blogspot.com/2011/12/antelope-valley-indian-museum.html. We also stopped by Alpine Butte http://westernsojourns.blogspot.com/2011/12/alpine-butte-wildlife-sanctuary-n-los.html which was supposed to be a good wildlife viewing area, and almost got stuck in the soft sand off road. Luckily, I had the brilliant idea to put our tent's ground tarp under the rear tires of our vehicle so that we could back up on to it. It worked, but it was an unpleasant deja vu of the time we got stuck off Kelbaker Rd. en route to Las Vegas.
The area is predominantly Joshua Tree woodland & creosote scrub, with the granite butte itself towering over the floor of the Antelope Valley at over 3,600 ft. In decent rain years, wildflowers bloom in abundance here.
3/14/98 Lots of Bigelow's Coreopsis (Coreopsis bigelovii) in bloom along Saddleback Butte Trail.
3/14/98 Desert Rhubarb (Rumex hymenosepalus). Saddleback Butte Trail.
Flora & Fauna: Joshua Tree woodland & creosote. Coyotes, kit foxes, jack rabbits, cottontails, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, badgers, skunks, sidewinders, Mojave Green rattlesnakes, desert tortoise, and birds such as golden eagles, hawks, owls, horned larks, sparrows & finches can be found here.
What we saw: Loggerhead shrike & European sparrows. We heard a great horned owl and many coyotes in the evening. Dune evening primroses (Oenothera deltoides), desert sand verbena (Abronia villosa), bigelow's coreopsis (Coreopsis bigelovii), filaree, buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.), desert pincushion (Chaenactis spp.), common fiddleneck (Amsinckia spp.), desert rhubarb (Rumex hymenosepalus), and Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) in bloom.