Wildflowers in the Desert: Borrego Springs, California – March 8, 2019

We have posted about the wildflowers in the desert before, but since this is possibly our last trip to see them for a while, we wanted to write about them again. It’s interesting to see the differences from year to year.

You can read about our previous trips in Borrego Springs, California: Wildflowers 2017 and Borrego Springs, California – Wildflowers.

Most of our trips to the desert include side trips. This year’s side trips were to Packard’s Coffee Shop in Ramona, CA, Dudley’s Famous Bakery in Santa Ysabel, CA, and Culp Valley Cultural Preserve right outside Borrego Springs.

We love Packard’s but we live so far away that we only make it there about once a year. The big blue box in the front is the reason we first visited because Josh and I are Doctor Who fans. We have never tried their crepes or baked goods, but we always buy some of their coffee. They are really great about updating their Facebook page with the baked goods they are offering for the day or week.

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Packard’s TARDIS is a Little Free Library. I think this is such a great idea!
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The front porch at Packard’s.

 

Dudley’s Famous Bakery was our next stop where we picked up five loaves of bread. With the size of our family though, five loaves of bread doesn’t last very long!

 

That is a LOT of bread. We bought four loaves and got one free. We were hoping the strudels were included in that but sadly, they were not. I had to tell my oldest son to go put the raspberry strudel back. I regretted that later, because I don’t think strudel is something I will ever attempt to make.

Our next stop was Culp Valley Cultural Preserve. We didn’t actually hike anywhere here but it was an interesting place to stop. It was neat to watch the shadows of the clouds move across the landscape. It was very windy here!

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We like to stop at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association Desert Nature Center near Christmas Circle to pick up a wildflower map before we head out to the fields.  The staff there are very knowledgeable and very helpful. They also have a nice gift shop. My rock hound son has picked up a few books about rocks, gems, and minerals there. For this trip, we purchased a wildflower guide and a guide to the sky art metal sculptures around town. The wildflower maps are always free and are invaluable to figuring out where is best to go.

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Usually, we head out to Henderson Canyon Road to find wildflowers but this year our main stop was Coyote Canyon. I think we were early enough in the day that it wasn’t too difficult to park close to the dirt road that would take us to the fields. For this trip, we walked east from Di Giorgio Road. The most prevalent wildflowers were desert sunflowers, sand verbena, and dune evening primrose. The colors were amazing.

We also stopped at a few fields east of Borrego Springs. Josh took pictures out there since I stayed in the van with our baby. I also was a bit of a wimp and didn’t feel like dealing with the wind.

 

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I think this might be my favorite picture that I took of the wildflowers.
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Desert Lilies
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Desert Chicory over Popcorn flowers
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Popcorn flowers have fuzzy stems. We saw a few of these plants here and there that had not bloomed yet.
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Chuparosa. This was taken by Josh with his iPhone. 
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Brown-eyed evening Primrose
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Dune Evening Primrose
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I think this is probably Dune evening primrose also. It’s just light pink instead of white.
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Sand verbena. There is so much of this blooming that you can see them from very far away.
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I think this is another brown-eyed evening primrose.

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Another type of blue heliotrope or phacelia. I love blue and purple flowers!
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A type of blue heliotrope or phacelia. I thought it might be canterbury bells at first but the way the flowers are clustered doesn’t look right.

While walking around by Coyote Canyon, we found a dry wash. Three of my boys were fascinated by the way the mud had dried in layers and broken with some of the edges curling up.  One of them even told me, “Mommy, this is much more fun that the flowers!” Doesn’t that just sound like a boy? I’m glad that they found something out on our walk that was interesting to them. They even wanted to take some of the layers home with us. Sorry, boys, you can’t bring any dirt home with you.

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weatherstation

We hiked out to this weather station and then headed back to the van. There were also some cryptic signs in this area with the words “Viking Block” and then a number. Josh looked them up and found out that they were in relation to a program for environmental protection.

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Of course, we had to visit our old friends, the scorpion and the grasshopper. We also drove by the serpent. The kids love seeing the metal sculptures. Hopefully, it will not be the last time we get to visit Borrego Springs.

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Family History: Jill Sheard

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by history. I like to read the stories of what people have done in the past. Even better, I like to visit historic sites and imagine what life would have been like for the people who lived there.

That interest in history has lead to an interest in genealogy. It is fascinating to place family members in their historic context. What did they do? How did they live? What part may they have played in the big events of the past?

I fully realize that most people do not have big parts to play in history. Most just live, work, and raise families. I am going to start writing some posts about some of those people in my family. I want to get what I know out there for other people who are interested in genealogy, and to preserve the past.

I am blessed to have people who have passed their genealogy work on to me. Most of it is on paper and needs to be digitized before it disappears. I also have a decent amount of older pictures that I would like online since they are fragile.

I don’t know if anyone else will be interested in this work, but having it on my blog gives me easier access to it later.


My first story is about my great, great grandmother. She was the mother of my mom’s, dad’s, dad.

Family history said that she was part Indian, and died when my great-grandfather ( William Earl Smith) was very young. William Earl was then abandoned by his father William Joseph Smith soon after her death. William Earl ended up being raised by some of his Smith relatives. He didn’t know much about his mother, so little was passed on.

Recently, my mom did a DNA test to see what it showed of her heritage. We know little of the Smith side of the family so we expected some surprises. The one thing we knew though is that some Native American heritage would be there.

We received quite the surprise when my mom received her results. There was 0% Native American, so how did family stories end up labeling my my great-great grandmother as an “Indian”? There also a couple of unexpected additions, namely a tiny amount African and a larger amount Eastern European.

Yesterday, I started out to clean my garage in preparation to move. In my garage, I found a box with pictures and family trees my mom had given me. For some reason I didn’t know it was there. One of the pictures was of my great-grandfather with his parents.

On the back is written the family story.

It says:

Great grandpa “Dude” William Joseph Smith

Wife – Jill (part Indian)

Grandpa William Earl Smith

Grandpa Smith was born in West Virginia and his mother died when he was very young and his father came to Tonawanda where grandpa was shuffled around and raised by his Grandmother Smith and Aunts and Uncles.

So the wording on the picture just confirms the family tradition. I did learn a little new information. My great-grandfather was born in West Virginia, and his mother was named Jill.

For some reason I decided to do a search on West Virginia genealogy and I got an auto fill of vital statistics added to that. The first link was to the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. That state has uploaded birth, death and marriage records to the internet.

I searched for William Smith and got 302 results. Smith is much to common a last name. I scrolled through the results, looking at a few promising names, then I found William Earl Smith.

Interestedly, my great-grandfather applies for a delayed certificate of birth 57 years after his birth. His birth certificate gave me a maiden name for his mother, Jill Sheard. Further searches on the West Virginia site showed no birth or death certificate for a Jill Sheard.

It is great to know more then I did, but now I have new questions.

  1. Did my great-grandfather get his mother’s name right? It was decades after her death and he was young.
  2. Was she born in West Virginia or did he just put that because he didn’t know?
  3. If she wasn’t Native American then what was she? Was that used because there was something else that was considered worse then that?

I am afraid that I will never fully learn about Jill Sheard. There really isn’t much information about her that I know. Hopefully, I will find more as I work on my family’s genealogy.

-Joshua

Pomegranate Harvest

Today while I was feeding the chickens, I noticed that we had a pomegranate split while on the tree. That is usually how I know they are ripe enough to pick.

I had a lot going on today, but I was able to quickly run out and pick them all.

We ended up with 56 pomegranates this year. I believe we had around 20 last year.

Many of them are quite large. I had my nine year old hold a couple near his head to see the size of them.

We have already juiced some of them to use in baking. We are going to make white cupcakes with pomegranate Buttercream frosting and chocolate Bundt cake with pomegranate juice in it.

Pomegranates are very messy when being juiced, and now parts of our kitchen looks like someone has been bleeding there.

We will try to get some cupcake pictures posted later.

-Joshua

Lego Weekend Build: Carousel

My last post was about the Booster Bricks subscription we bought our kids for Christmas. It is not just a box of random Legos though. The box includes challenges as well as an online Facebook group to participate in: weekly challenges, builds, and games.

This past weekend’s challenge was to build a Lego Carousel. Two of my boys, Matthias and Ian, worked pretty hard on it so I thought I’d post about it here.

For Christmas, we also bought our kids one of the largest Technic sets currently available: The Bucket Wheel Excavator. At almost 4,000 pieces, this is a huge set. We have to confess that we bought it mostly for the pieces. My boys used some of those pieces in their Carousel, which is why it looks a bit skeletal.

Matthias and Ian used a medium motor to power the Carousel. The gear assembly is pretty simple. The circular yellow pieces form a large gear.

You can see the gear and motor assembly inside the walls in the picture above. The switch is located outside the walls.

The Carousel sits on the small gear attached to the motor as well as 3 flagpole pieces that help keep the Carousel level but still allow it to rotate.

I was really proud of my boys for keeping at this build. They had no instructions and only a little bit of help from Josh. He helped them figure out how to downgear the motor so the Carousel wouldn’t spin too fast.

Here is a quick video of their Carousel in motion!

They didn’t mess with the design element too much but that is ok with me. I’m more interested in their learning the mechanics of it. Design can come later!

-Lynn

Learning About Science By Growing Radish Seeds: Day 5

I have fallen behind, and this is from Friday’s work.

On this day they used two of the small pots they made earlier. One of the little pots had 12 of the sprouted seeds put in it. This is to show the effects of overcrowding plants.

Another mini pot had 2 sprouted seeds put into it.

So far this has been an interesting experiment. I think it goes over many of the things that people do wrong when planting seeds. Ranging from overcrowding to water issues.

-Joshua

Lego Booster Bricks Box subscription

For our kids’ Christmas present, we bought them a 6 month subscription to a Box of Legos that is delivered once a month, usually near the end of the month. Lego Booster Bricks is opening their monthly service to new subscribers tomorrow so I thought I’d do a quick post about it.

Here is a link to their website and an opportunity to join their waitlist:

Booster Bricks info and waitlist

I will summarize the subscription here though if you’d rather get a quick overview and information from personal experience.

What is it? Booster Bricks is a monthly subscription to a Lego membership that includes a monthly box of Legos.

How many pieces are in the box? The box comes with around 250 pieces. Keep in mind that these are not usually new Legos. They are cleaned and sanitized though so they look almost new. The fact that the Legos aren’t new also means a chance of receiving rare Lego pieces that are difficult to find. You also receive at least one minifigure and minifigure accessories.

How much does it cost? You can choose a monthly subscription for $25.95/ month plus $7.45/shipping and handling, a six month subscription for $22.95/month plus $7.45/shipping and handling, or a twelve month subscription for $19.95/month plus $7.45/shipping and handling. We decided on the six month subscription to see how we liked it.

That seems like a lot of money for a box of Legos! Is it worth it? The interesting part of this Lego subscription is not just the box of Legos! The box also comes with building challenges for your kids. You can take pictures of their creations and enter them in a random drawing for even more Lego prizes. You also have access to Occasional Flash Deals through the Booster Bricks Club Facebook group as well as daily and weekly Lego build challenges and various contests with Lego prizes. We haven’t won anything yet but it is fun to enter the contests! You choose how much or how little you want to be involved.

Josh and I like that this is not a subscription to a Lego set but to a set of random pieces. This means our kids build using their imaginations instead of a manual of instructions. Both ways of building are fun though!

I am not sure yet if we will be renewing our subscription but most likely we will! We plan on posting more about our Booster Brick builds and boxes but I wanted to publish this before their opening tomorrow in case anyone wants to try it out!

Booster Bricks information

-Lynn

Learning About Science By Growing Radishes: Day 3. Light and no Light.

This is the third post about two of my children’s school science activity. They are growing radish seeds in a variety of conditions to see what happens. This is from Tops Learning Systems.

On day 3 they started an experiment to see how seeds grow with and without light. They put a seeds on a damp paper towel in a clear covered cup. One of the cups has been completely wrapped in foil.

The seeds will be in these cups untouched for 17 days. After which, the boys will see how these conditions affect the growth of the seeds.

-Joshua