John's and Barbara's Travel Photos

Home is Where We Park it

photographic highlights of our travels

updated March 23, 2019

We retired in 2006 and moved to St. George, Utah. For the first eight years we traveled extensively in our 34-foot motorhome, and from 2014-2018 we traveled overseas extensively. Now we spend the summer in northern Idaho and the winter in Southern California. The last thirteen years has been a grand adventure. These are some of our travel photos with captions, with the most recent at top.


Where We Are NowWe're at our "winter home" in Borrego Springs, California -- an RV resort 90 miles south of Palm Springs.


The most recent photos are at top.
Start here if you want to see the latest, or read up from the bottom if you want to read consecutively from 2010.



Can you spot the flower? I'm always surprised to find a single flower so far from its nearest neighbor. Clark Dry Lake in the Anza Borrego Desert is in the background. Elsewhere the desert is overflowing with wildflowers -- and tourists. [March 13, 2019]


For the second time in two years the winter has been so wet that the desert around Borrego Springs is seeing a once-in-a-generation bloom of flowers. Flowers are everywhere -- and so are tourists who come to gawk and photograph, transforming the sleepy town with traffic jams, crowds, and lines to do anything. This shot was made at the state park campground. This meadow is normally bare dirt and rocks with the occasional hardy bush and cactus. [March 9, 2019]


Mudcracks on Clark Dry Lake near our winter resort in Borrego Springs, California. [February 27, 2019]


John presented his meteorite show-and-tell to a small audience at our winter resort in Borrego Springs as part of their "Return to Learn" series. A fellow in the back row is examining a lunar meteorite that is making the rounds. [February 24, 2019]


We don't have any of these in Utah. This is a marijuana farm in Desert Hot Springs. We're told the smell is quite something at harvest time. [Feb 11, 2019]



A recent hike in the Anza Borrego desert began by walking thru a culvert under a highway to get to the canyon on the other side. The culvert is about 8 feet high and the surface is clean packed mud from recent rains, so it was an easy walk. Here's looking back at the car. The photo below shows the reward -- a wonderful canyon to hike that is reminiscent of Utah. [January 20, 2019]


No -- John didn't ride far on this dirt road, although he'd very much like to. His rear-wheel-drive trike isn't suited for off-pavement rides. But it was fun to try it for a short distance. Maybe one day he'll get an electric trike with 3-wheel drive! [Jan. 2019]


John trikes around the resort and off into the desert almost every day. There are lots of cyclists in Borrego Springs and cars are courteous, leaving plenty of space when they pass. Many roads have a bike lane. (Dec. 2018)


While hiking in the Anza Borrego Desert John ran across this 1-pound cannon shell apparently fired during WWII when George Patton's army trained here for the invasion of North Africa to engage Rommel's Afrika Korps. The solitary ocotillo adds interest to the otherwise dreary landscape. [Dec. 20, 2018]


Mack Wesner offered John the use of his dome for the winter, so John happily moved in. His 5-inch refractor with perfect optics on a motorized mount is in the dome while his giant binoculars are in the adjacent small shed. So he's ready for a season of observing in style. [Dec. 8, 2018]



Only days before we arrived a mini-tornado destroyed John's observatory shed where he had kept his big telescope for seven winters. We were told the shed "exploded".  Fortunately we had not yet arrived, so we turned around and left the big one at home and brought a small telescope instead. The photos below show it in former years. So sad -- there goes a fine winter of wonderful observing with a big 'scope under a dark sky. [Dec. 3, 2018]


Three months after the loss of his broken e-bike in July, John got a replacement -- an electric recumbent trike. This isn't your grandmother's tricycle! The small and nearly silent motor is at the very front and the battery is behind John's elbow; the motor drives the chain and thus the rear wheel. It's both comfortable and fast -- and easy to balance. He's in front of our house and about to take off on a ride. [Oct. 2018]


In October we traveled to Las Vegas to attend the annual Center for Inquiry Conference where we heard some of our heroes -- among them Steven Pinker and Stephen Fry -- and had a short conversation with Richard Dawkins. Robyn Blumner, CEO of CfI, joined us. [Oct. 20, 2018]

Wildwind

In late September 2018 we were invited on a week-long houseboat trip on Lake Powell. It was a relaxing week in glorious scenery and with perfect weather. Click HERE for a 3 MB collection of the dozen or so best photos with captions. [Sept. 2018]

Butch

On our way to Lake Powell we paid a courtesy call to the one-room boyhood home of private financier and adventure capitalist Butch Cassidy near Circleville, Utah. [Sept. 22, 2018]


We arrived home in Kayenta in mid-September to unaccustomed heat (102°) -- but our next trip is coming up soon, so we had to arrive early to prepare for it. [September 15, 2018]

moose

On the way back from the library our dash-cam captured this moment that gave Barbara a fright. There's no way to avoid a collision if the timing is wrong. Click HERE for a 6-second video. [July 31, 2018]

clay

fork

While cycling at our summer resort in Idaho, the frame of John's e-bike broke and spilled him to the ground. John landed on his chin in a blow that may have been harder than the one Cassius Clay delivered to KO Sonny Liston in 1964; John too was down for the count, knocked unconscious. Barbara took him to the emergency room in Coeur d'Alene where he spent nearly two weeks at a rehabilitation hospital recovering from a subdural hematoma which will take months to heal. Unlike John, the bike is a goner. [July 12, 2018]


This seldom-seen desert gray fox lingered on the edge of our driveway long enough for us to get our camera and "shoot it". [June 2018]


ship

Click HERE for photographic highlights of our May-June 2018 trip to Italy followed by sailing in the Adriatic Sea aboard the largest sailing ship afloat (3 mb).

Snow Canyon

In a photo snapped by a friend from England, Barbara surveys Snow Canyon State Park, just a few miles from our home. [May 2018]

polygs

Polygamists from a nearby community regularly visit our local St. George CostCo. The lady at right sports the traditional elaborate hair-do. Two of the ladies on the left are polygs -- can you guess which two? ... and what they're thinking of the third? [May 2018]

flower

Can you spot the flower? John is amazed to see only ONE blossom in such a huge area on this desert hike. Where are all the others? Here flowers are like animals -- you have to search them out and are lucky to see one. Actually this is the first; the rest will follow soon. [April 2018]

cataract

John's the age to have his elderly eyes fixed, and here he's waiting to go home following cataract surgery. Now the stars will appear brighter and sharper.  [April 2018]

duck 2

duck

Barbara noticed a duck nest under a bush at the campsite behind us and notified the camp hosts who recruited kids from the campground to cordon the bush with "duck tape" to give peace to the feathered mom. The sign says to keep back! [March, 2018]

welcome

We're here for the warm weather, and John especially likes desert hiking. But dark skies are a big plus too! [January 2018]

flowers

Where have all the flowers gone?
One year ago the desert was ablaze with wildflowers (scroll down to March 2017 for proof) and thousands of people came to enjoy them. The flowers are long gone but their dry stems remain, and it will take several years for the desert to return to its natural barren state. [January 2018]

wash

John hikes a few hours almost every day in California's huge and lonely Anza Borrego Desert State Park (he hiked 25 days in December). This is a typical view of the innumerable washes with their hard-packed mud surfaces for easy strolling. [December 2017]

camp

Our winter home in a RV resort in Borrego Springs, California, 70 miles south of Palm Springs -- the warmest spot west of the Rockies. This is our 9th winter here. [Dec. 2017]

Vietnam

In October and November 2017 we spent a month traveling in Vietnam and Cambodia. Click here for a rather long 29 MB travel diary with over a hundred photos.

plaque

John is now officially handicapped. Ironically he went on a 3-mile hike immediately after picking up this tag, but it was needed the following July. Be prepared! [Oct. 11, 2017]

forest

How many trees does it take to make a forest? John thinks six is enough in the high desert near St. George. [Oct. 2017]

Joshuas

John has been hiking amidst Joshua trees SW of St. George. The trees are interesting -- it's something different -- and the walking is easy. [Oct. 2017]

Montana snow

What the hell? We avoid snow like the devil, but found ourselves driving through a minor snowstorm and then camping in the horrid stuff in central Montana while on the way home from Coeur d'Alene in mid-September. [September 15, 2017]

smoke

Forest fires fill the Idaho air with dense smoke and we're advised to "stay indoors and avoid breathing." Barbara is not wearing a mask just for the photo -- she and others are wearing masks all day and even sleeping with them on. Yes, that's the sun behind her. [September 5, 2017]

totality

On August 21 we drove south to near Boise to watch the total eclipse of the sun, and we had a great view in a clear sky of a truly spectacular event. This is Barbara's 2nd total eclipse and John's 3rd. Here Barbara is wisely using binoculars and John is wasting precious time unsuccessfully trying to take a photo with a hand-held camera.  [August 21, 2017]

resort

We spend the summers at our favorite RV resort near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and escape Utah's heat. Barbara swims a mile each day in the indoor pool. John hikes the resort's trails, swims, and cycles the dirt road that loops around while listening to podcasts. Our motorhome is at far right with a view of the meadow and a clear view of the sky for stargazing. [June 2017]

trail

We spent the second week of June at 8800 feet in the Kaibab National Forest just north of the Grand Canyon where John hiked sections of the Arizona Trail every day and then observed under an ultra-dark sky each night. [June 17, 2017]

wash

While in Kayenta in the late spring of 2017 John hiked most days. This neat little sandstone canyon is less than 2 miles from home. [June 7, 2017]


Viking

In May 2017 we took a three-week cruise up the Rhine and down the Danube from Amsterdam to Bucharest aboard a Viking longship. Click here for a 8mb pdf heavily-illustrated trip diary that is the compilation of emails I sent daily to friends.  [May 2017]



March

We "Marched for Science" in St. George on Earth Day. Advocating reality might have been necessary in the 13th century, but in the 21st? [April 22, 2017]



tahiti

In April 2017 we took a two-week cruise from Tahiti around French Polynesia. Click here for a 5mb pdf heavily-illustrated trip diary that is the compilation of emails I sent daily to friends. That's our small cruise ship at center.   [April 2017]

flowers

meadow

Two photos above: The fields are alive with flowers and it's hard to know where to begin looking at them because they're everywhere in the greatest bloom in more than two decades. [March 2017]

meadow

This is supposed to be the Mojave Desert, but it looks like a meadow! Heavy rain in Southern California has made the desert green like it hasn't been in decades. This should all be brown sand and dried mud with only bushes here and there sticking up. Most unusual! We expect an amazing crop of flowers soon. [March 1, 2017]

shoot

It's early February, and new life is appearing in the Southern California desert. This young shoot pushes aside mud cracks as it rises. Perhaps we'll see a wonderful display of desert flowers next month. [Feb. 5, 2017]

drylake

After a week of rain it'll take the desert some time to dry out. For John the road where it crossed a corner of Clark "Dry" Lake ended here. Accessing hiking areas will be a trick for awhile. The sign says "Vehicles Stay on Roads". Note the distant snow. [Jan. 2017]

Anza

It's been a wet January in California, so John stays out of the desert washes to avoid getting stuck in mud, and instead hikes the gently rolling uplands between them, where it's dry. It's great, easy hiking: up a hill, down a little valley, across a ridge; repeat -- with plenty to see if you pay attention. [Jan. 2017]


Egypt

In December 2016 we spent three weeks traveling in Egypt and Jordan. Click here for a 8 MB pdf heavily-illustrated trip diary that is the compilation of emails I sent daily to friends.



moon

No -- we haven't been to the moon. John bought a new camera largely to take better travel photos (Lumix DSC-FZ70) and has been testing it. This photo of the moon shows that the zoom seems to work just fine! [Nov. 2016]

lava

Ten thousand or so years ago lava flowed from the mountain at right down the valley at center (Snow Canyon State Park) and into St. George. This view back to the north shows how fresh and rough the lava is. Our house is at the toe of Red Mountain 1/4 of the way in from the left. It's a panorama, so enlarge it for best effect. [Nov. 2016]

Joshua

John hikes or cycles virtually every day when we're home. On this hot October afternoon he walked a disused road through a Joshua Tree forest midway between St. George, Utah, and Mesquite, Nevada. He thinks the road was a spur of the Old Spanish Trail. [Oct. 2016]




bison

Apparently bison were recently introduced to another meadow near the Grand Canyon's entrance station -- we've not seen them in years past. There are quite a few youngsters in the herd. [June 2016]

Kaibab

We spent the first week of June camped in our motorhome in a meadow at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Doesn't this look like an advertisement for RVing? [June 2016]



clipper

Click HERE to read the 72-page illustrated travel-log for our May 2016 trip to Greece and the Black Sea (6 mb pdf).



tortoises

About once a year while hiking above St. George John stumbles on a desert tortoise. This day he found two. It's spring, so he imagines the big guy at left is telling his new friend what a nice soft carapace she has. [April 2016]


tank

John occasionally comes across wide tracks that cross terrain too rough for most 4WD vehicles and that (from erosion) were clearly made decades ago. He's pretty sure that these are tank tracks made by Patton's army which trained here in preparation for the invasion of North Africa in 1942. This set went up to a ridge that commanded a view of all approaches. He also sometimes finds spent ammunition. Of course, Sherman tanks are no longer allowed in the state park. [March 2016]


spring

El Niņo turned out to be a bust in the Southern California desert with little rain after early January. By late February plants are starting to bloom and spring has sprung. But it has been too dry to be a great year for wildflowers. [Feb. 24, 2016]

El Nino

We come to Borrego Springs each winter for the sun and warmth -- but El Niņo is making that rare this year. We're sitting in our motorhome in the rain in a nearly deserted resort while our telescopes languish in their "observatory" shed. Fortunately there's a good library in town. [Jan. 6, 2016]


NewZealand

We spent three weeks in New Zealand and one week in Fiji in December, 2015, and we kept a diary with dozens of photos which we emailed daily to friends. You can read it as a 5mb pdf by clicking HERE.


Mak

A new telescope! And John's 15th. This 8-inch Maksutov was custom made in Germany with optics from Russia and should give wonderfully sharp views of the planets and stars. It's our new travel telescope. (But it turned out to be too heavy and bulky for our RV.) [Nov. 12, 2015]


Parliament

[We spent three weeks in England, most in London, in the fall of 2015. Click HERE for a daily diary of our trip with dozens of photos as a 5mb pdf.]


Snow Canyon

One of John's favorite bike rides is on the path through nearby Snow Canyon State Park. It's super-scenic with an 1100 foot climb up and a quick descent back down. John hikes or bikes most days. [Oct. 2015]

eclipse

The St. George Astronomy Group, which John founded two years ago, turned out in force at a local public park to show a total eclipse of the moon to several hundred eclipse enthusiasts. Barbara took this snap just before sunset and before the crowd gathered. We watched the eclipse between clouds. [Sept. 27, 2015]


smoke

Multiple huge fires in Idaho fill the sky with smoke and hide the view of nearby hills as well as distant mountains, limiting our view to less than a mile, and the sun casts no shadows. This is the view from our motorhome. [August 29, 2015]

runner

Barbara runs/walks 4-1/2 miles and then swims one mile most day here at our summer resort! [July 2015]


Lava Falls

The highlight of our raft trip through the Grand Canyon:  The passengers on our raft watch as our companions drift toward dreaded Lava Falls. Everyone survived. Scroll down for more pics of the week-long trip. [June 2015]

camp

The view from our cots was world-class -- and the sound of the flowing river wasn't bad either. We've yet to unroll our sleeping bags. [June 2015]

J&B

A formal posed photo from the River -- a runner-up for our upcoming New Year's card. [June 2015]

bighorn

Bighorn sheep watched us go by. [June 2015]

happy hour

We camped on sandbars. Once the rafts were unloaded we set up chairs and enjoyed happy hour. Our cots are in the foreground. It was too hot for tents, and in fact we slept naked on top of our sleeping bags under the stars until the early morning hours.

river

Morning. Breakfast is done and it's time to form a line and load the rafts for another day of adventure. [June 2015]

raft

Our two rafts held a total of 29 passengers and three guides. The ever-changing scenery was fantastic as we drifted (motored, actually) down a river that was not lazy at times. [June 2015]

In June 2015 we floated on a raft through the Grand Canyon for seven days -- and had a blast. Temperatures reached 108° but the water was cold and our guides fixed great meals. The rapids were the best part, of course. John conducted three hour-long star-gazing sessions to a captive audience under very dark skies. A few highlights appear above.


Dawkins

In late May we attended the annual Skeptics Conference in Pasadena, California, hosted by Michael Shermer. The highlight was meeting and having dinner with one of our heroes, Richard Dawkins, at Michael Shermer's home. Richard tripped and banged his head two days earlier and was somewhat wounded -- but undaunted. [May 31, 2015]




minaret

In April and May 2015 we spent one month traveling around Spain and to Marrakech, Morocco. Click HERE for a daily diary of the trip with several dozen photos (7 MB pdf).  The photo above is the main mosque and minaret in Marrakech, both from the 12th century.



John camped at Whitmore Wash on the rim of the Grand Canyon, hiking down to the Colorado River on a too-warm day (exhausting!) and then observing with his giant binoculars under a dark sky that evening. [April 2015]



balloon

Every few hours of hiking John comes across an aluminized Mylar balloon. It provided a few minutes of fun at some kid's birthday party in town, but now it'll decompose in the desert for the next decade or so. There must be hundreds in the desert. [March 2015]


weather

This must be why people spend their winters in the Southern California desert. This weather report is for February 5-9, 2015.

whale

We took a break from the desert in January 2015 to relax by the sea (quite a contrast!). We came to Maui to whale watch, and we weren't disappointed! [Jan. 2015]

Roadrunner

Most mornings Barbara power-walks 5 miles in the neighborhood adjacent to our RV park on quiet streets past modular homes and a golf course. [Jan. 2015]

hot_dogs

Every Tuesday our resort builds a fire and passes out hot dogs and s'mores to roast, and we always attend. We don't eat a single hot dog the rest of the year! [Jan. 2015]

market

John is active on the local Dark Sky Coalition while in town in an effort to preserve the desert's dark skies. This table promotes our mission at the weekly Farmers Market. [Jan. 2015]

solar

  We can't think of a better use for the desert where all is dry mud than to generate energy -- wind where feasible and solar elsewhere. If we took the billions of tax dollars we hand the oil companies to keep their profits high and put it into renewable energy, it would be a different planet. Borrego Springs is just beyond the solar panels. [Jan. 2015]

Fonts

John loves hiking in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and one trip took him up to the popular Fonts Point with its view of the badlands below and the community of Borrego Springs (green patches) in the distance below the San Ysidro Mountains. We'll be in Borrego Springs mid-December thru March. [Dec. 22, 2014]




Machu


We spent November 2014 in South America. John sent emails with photos to a small list of friends, and upon returning home compiled them into one 5 MB pdf file which you can read by clicking on SOUTH AMERICA.



eclipse

Last year John founded the St. George Astronomy Group to promote public astronomy, and this afternoon he, Barbara, and another member set up telescopes to view a partial eclipse of the sun from Unity Park in Ivins. John's big binoculars are at left and his 5-inch refractor at center; the third scope is out of the frame. [Oct. 23, 2014]

binos

A new toy! John is testing in the driveway his giant binoculars from Germany on their custom tripod, and he looks forward to many wonderful views of the Milky Way. [Oct. 19, 2014]

goblins

These are the goblins of Goblin Valley State Park. John did two ranger training sessions and two public night sky programs at this overlook under a very dark sky. [Sept. 2014]


goblin_camp

Mostly we've been "camping" in RV resorts, but at Goblin Valley State Park in central Utah we were in a more primitive setting where we had to rely on our solar panels for electricity. The Park Service invited John to provide a week's ranger training in night sky interpretation. [Sept. 2014]

dinner

One  nice thing about such river trips is that the guides set up camp and prepared the meals. Hells Canyon Raft provided gourmet food, which tasted great outdoors. [Sept. 2014]

raft

While floating down the Snake River thru Hells Canyon Barbara rowed the raft briefly -- very briefly, as it's a LOT of work -- while our guide fished from the back. We both tried the kayak which was great fun. [Sept. 2014]

Heyburn

John is back to hiking in a forest about 4 days a week (most of the year he's in desert) and he enjoys the novelty of shade. Barbara runs 4 miles most mornings and swims a mile in the afternoon. Resort life is pretty good. [July 2014]

Once again we spent the summer at our favorite RV resort near Coeur d'Alene. On the way home we rafted the Snake River thru Hells Canyon and spent a week at Goblin Valley in central Utah where John conducted ranger training in sky interpretation.



reindeer

We did get to see reindeer at North Cape on an excursion to the northernmost point in Europe. We learned that there are no wild reindeer -- the herds do migrate seasonally but they're all owned by somebody.



Crossing the Arctic Circle (marked by the monument in the right distance) southbound back to civilization and warmth.



The Norwegian fjords are as spectacular as they say they are. This is north of the Arctic Circle.



We didn't get enough of looking out the window as the scenery floated by. (And the food was superb!)

trollfjord

The highlight of our month-long vacation was a 12-day cruise from Bergen to the northernmost point in Europe, in the Arctic Ocean, and return. Our cabin on the return was a deluxe suite with bay window (marked with arrow) -- we came to enjoy the new and novel experience of traveling first class.