San Diego, Anza Borrego and Between. This was the last day of our Thanksgiving Day break and one thing i had not done was to finally get to test my Gigapan(tm) computerized spherical panoramic tripod head so since it was a beautiful Fall day it seemed like a good chance to do it. What I needed was either a scene that cried out for the kind of exquisite detail that a photo mosaic can deliver or a great panorama. The air was clear of haze and fog so the Cuyamacas to the east seemed a reasonable target location so by 11 am the little Montero was headed toward the mountains. Let’s review: the sun was out, sky was clear, it was warm in San Diego… so did I take a jacket? Of course not. So in the hills they call mountains here there was frost, some snow on the taller summits, and a strong unremitting wind that in the 37 degree F temperature made me truly miserable. So rather than set up the device i scurried out a few times to grab some shots.
This first shot was taken on the road to the Stonewall Mine and, looking north west across an old cross rail fence saw a stand of trees backlit by the sun. You can see the dusting of snow on the mountains in the left hand background.
Looking into the desert from an overlook near Julian it seemed likely it would be so much warmer down there and it was still early so the trek made a course correction and headed east to the Anza Borrego desert down the Banner Grade out of Julian. It was SO much warmer there — nearly 60. So even though the wind continued, it was now a warm wind. But nothing leapt out at me screaming, “PHOTO MOSAIC.” However near Ocotillo, CA there was a section looking south that was filed with Cholla. It looked like a cholla orchard. What a malevolent concept!
Backlit by the afternoon sun they looked rather pretty in a harsh kind of way. But Cholla are sometimes called “Jumping Cholla” and for good reason. No, they do not actually jump out at you but they are bristling with spines that stick to everything and can puncture nearly anything. It is actually part of their species’s insidious plan to take over the world by getting you (or some poor unsuspecting animal) to carry part of them now impaled to your body to a new place where they can drop off after inflicting the maximum amount of pain and then, when it rains again, propagate into a new plant. The spines are stiff and amazing: I once backed into one and found a spine had nailed my boot to my ankle and I had a most painful hobble back to the vehicle to find pliers to extract it. Here is a closer view so you can see the cluster of these spines.
What you can’t see in this shot are the tiny barbs that hold these fast into your skin like a harpoon. Once “jumped” by these cactus variants you suddenly have a very healthy respect for them.
However, nothing seemed to be fodder for the Gigapan so it was back to San Diego. Not a complete failure but not what I intended. Oh well, three more weeks and the long break will start. Maybe then…