Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lake Cuyamaca, Julian, San Diego County

Lake Cuyamaca, Julian, San Diego County
One of the popular mountain retreats in San Diego is the historic gold mining town in Julian. Less than 40 miles from San Diego Bay, is the Cuyamaca Mountains which has the second highest peak in San Diego County, next to Warner Springs. The town of Julian, which is an official California Historical Landmark, is set in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Julian experienced a gold rush in the 1860s
Stonewall Mine- California's most productive Gold mine
( in 1893, $2,000,000 of gold mined in this site only with a 30 ft shaft - and that $2M was 117 years ago)
and while people were trying to wrestle gold deep beneath the Earth, another man in the name of James Madison brought a wagon loaded with young apple trees, and they flourished in the mountains. Today, the gold mines have been closed and is now part of protected archaelogical sites of CA State Parks, but the apple industry flourished.
Fallen Apples on the trail @ Lake Cuyamaca
Julian is now more famous for its apple cider and apple pie industry. Though the gold industry is now but a part of California's history, but every autumn, the oak leaves turn a crisp gold surrounding the closed gold mines.
The Gold are now in the Leaves
Historic Stonewall Mine Trail
I have never witnessed the Cuyamaca Mountains at its best, when its slopes were richly adorned with lush oak and pine forests. In October of 2003, someone got lost in the trails of Cuyamaca Mountains, he started a fire for rescuers to see him. Driven by Santa Ana winds, that fire burned out of control, burning more than 280,000 acres of land and claiming several lives. All of Cuyamaca, but the area around the lake got burned from the cedar fire. Sadly, the thick forest disappeared, except for those which surrounds Lake Cuyamaca and the forest closer to Julian.
Thankfully, the forest around the lake and Julian were spared from the 2003 cedar wildfire
Though I have failed to see the lushness of the forest in the Cuyamaca Mountains prior to the 2003 wildfire, but the serenity of this place continues to inspire me to go here maybe twice or thrice a year. Lots of wildlife can be seen early in the morning and late in the afternoon. It is fun to see wild turkeys strutting their stuff.
Wild Turkeys
Lake Cuyamaca is also popular for bird watchers. Ospreys, hawks, turkey vulture, and other migratory birds are often seen hovering above the oak and pine forests or silently looking for trouts on the lake. Deers are often marching in the meadows early in the morning or late afternoon as they move from the desert to the mountains. Lake Cuyamaca is popular for fishing, especially in autumn as the water starts to cool down. There is also 3.5 miles trail around the lake, and more than hundreds of miles of trails at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
Fall Curtain @ Lake Cuyamaca
What actually inspires me most each time I go to Lake Cuyamaca is being able to witness the sprouting of a new life after a scorching fire.

Leaves Growing Back on almost Charred, Burned Trees
Though it feels sad to look at the charred trees, yet it is also uplifting to see how life goes back in them. It is inspiring to see how nature takes care of our beautiful yet very delicate Earth.
Orchard Farm Near Lake Cuyamaca
A visit to Cuyamaca, reminds me of how we, just like nature, can pick up the pieces and move on with life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Progression of a Beautiful Day: MCAS Miramar Air Show

This was how our day started when we got up at 8:00 am last was a foggy morning, as most mornings are....
looking outside from our bedroom window
After breakfast, we went to see the MCAS Miramar Air Show, which of course could not start with thick fogs on the ground.
A safe air craft launching and landing requires a minimum of 2000 ft ground visibility, which we did not have at the start of day. The forecast said it will be sunny and clear, so everybody knew it is just a matter of time and the thick marine layer on the ground will be lifted off the sky.
Marine Air Ground Task Force Demo
While the visibility was not yet so clear, close to the ground maneuvers of the Marine Air Ground Task Force performed their spectacular special effects simulating air-to-ground explosions.
Marine Air Ground Task Force Demo
And then, slowly, nature revealed itself wonderfully when the sun slowly lifted up the fog on the ground,
to give way to a beautiful blue sky.
Red Autumn Leaves Against Blue sky
What does blue sky mean for an air show? It means clear visibility for the jets to bring in the show! So here goes! These jets flew very fast, it was not easy taking their pictures.
Canadian Snow Birds
(sorry, we took a long lunch break thinking it will take time for the fog to clear up, when we went back, we were at the end of the Canadian Snow Birds show )
Blue Angels ( Line Formation )
Blue Angels (Vertical Alignment)
Blue Angels 360 degree flip
Ribbon in the Sky by Blue Angels
And The Sun Sets, But the Show Goes On
U.S. Army Golden Knights
U.S. Army Golden Knights
Dan Buchanan's Special Effects Power Glider
We were not able to stay until the end of the show, which is the fireworks and spectacular Great Wall of Fire, for we wanted to beat the traffic, and we were running out of energy too, and so our cameras :) Well, maybe next year.
I love days that progress like this, starts with misty and foggy mornings, then, giving way to blue skies with nice clouds mid-day and end with a beautiful sunset.

Managing Multiple Sclerosis

~Guest Post By Chay~

After a year and a half in the nursing program, things are looking up. We are learning a lot about diseases, nursing diagnosis and interventions. As we inch closer to the end of the school year, study materials are becoming increasingly complex and hospital duties are more challenging. The patient’s cases are more acute and severe as we near the end of our training. We are assigned two patients and as part of our training we independently study their illnesses and present our findings to our clinical instructor during post conference at the end of the day.

In one of my clinical assignments, I was presented with a 42-year-old female, admitted with complaints of weakness and spasm in the right leg, difficulties with balance, fatigue and malaise. She arrived in the hospital in a wheel chair. She was incontinent and reported last bowel movement was three days ago. She also reported tingling and numbness in her arms and legs. One month ago she had noticed overall body aching and a loss of vision in the left eye that has since improved. The patient described other symptoms of being severely depressed, anxious, anger at her circumstances, and frequent crying spells.

Tests performed in the hospital revealed abnormalities in spinal fluid and MRI brain scan which were consistent with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects body’s central nervous system - the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. Autoimmune disease is when our body attacks our own cells. In this case the white blood cells which are meant to fight infection or disease attacks the body’s own cells. The attack causes inflammation in the CNS which damage the myelin sheath and injure the nerves . With MS, visual loss, paresthesias, weakness, fatigue, pain are some of the symptoms. In the late stage of the disease, most patients progress to some permanent disability. MS is not contagious and does not shorten the life expectancy of patients diagnosed with the disease. MS treatment is focused on reducing the severity and delay of progression. MS effect is different with each individual. Some patients experience the symptoms in the beginning and remain symptom-free for a period of time. Some may experience steady progression of the disease.

Medications used to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis are taken on a long-term basis. Interferons (Avonex, Betaseron, or Rebif), glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), mitoxantrone (Novantrone), and natalizumab (Tysabri) are approved for treating MS. Methotrexate, azathioprine (Imuran), intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) may also be used if the above drugs are not working well.

Steroids may be used to decrease the severity of attacks. Medicines to reduce muscle spasms such as Lioresal (Baclofen), tizanidine (Zanaflex), or a benzodiazepine. Cholinergic medications to reduce urinary problems. Antidepressants for mood or behavior symptoms. Amantadine for fatigue.

Physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and support groups may also help MS patients. Assistive devices to ensure safety and ease in moving around the home are often needed, such as wheelchairs, bed lifts, shower chairs, walkers, and wall bars. A planned exercise program early in the course of the disorder can also help. It is suggested a healthy lifestyle, with good nutrition and enough rest and relaxation. Avoiding fatigue, stress, temperature extremes, and illness. While no diet can cure or prevent MS, but a balanced, low-fat, high fiber Ms Diet promotes healthy bowel function.
~by Chay~

Monday, October 04, 2010

Thinking of Aspen

Aspen Trees Reflected on Lake, Bishop, California
It seems that time runs so fast these days, it is already October, and soon, December comes, and then the year 2011. I have been struggling with my time lately, it seems that 24 hours in a day is not enough :( So many things to do, yet so little time. Sometimes, I wish I am like the koalas, who have the luxury to sleep 16 to 18 hours in a day. However, then if I sleep that long I am afraid I will not be able to enjoy hiking, since there is only 6 to 8 hours left for me, and some trails require more time than that. Fall colors have peaked now in most places, I can just imagine the dreamy colors of the quaking aspen trees covering the rocky mountains.

The aspen tree is the most widely distributed tree species in North America.
Huge Colony of Aspen Trees
The Aspen trees range from Alaska down the Rocky Mountains to California and Mexico. Utah and Colorado is home to the largest portion of the natural acreage of aspen in the World. Aspen grow in large clonal colonies that is derived from a single seedling, and spreads through roots. The root system of an aspen is long lived, up to several thousand years old. Aspen survive forest fires, since their roots are below the heat of fire, and new aspen trees will sprout after the fire burns out. Before, we used to have a weekend get-away last week of September to enjoy the beautiful colors of aspen trees.
Relaxing in the lake surrounded by Golden Hues of Aspen
However, this year, I am so struggling with my time that a weekend get-away to the rocky mountains is just not possible :( The nearest vacation I can think of is somewhere in November. There may be no more golden colors that time of the year, but well, I enjoy barren aspen clothed in snow too, and would enjoy snowshoeing too. This time, having seen from a co-teacher sandboarding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and snowboarding at the Rocky Mountains, I am looking at aspen rentals in Colorado. Sandboarding and snowshoeing, here I come :)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Port City

Post Written by MJ
Roger Browning hunting for rubies in Franklin, NC, in 2006, courtesy of MJ
I've never been a fan of cold weather.

Sure, I love the way the leaves turn various shades when fall arrives each year in West Virginia.
Little Beaver Lake, Raleigh County, WV by MJ
We have this giant of a hickory tree in the front yard whose leaves resemble spun gold when autumn is at its peak.
View from in front of our house -MJ
And it's always a treat to watch the scores of munchkins parading through Coal City in their scary, adorable costumes on Halloween, their tiny voices singing out in unison, "Trick or treat?" And then, of course, there's Thanksgiving Day. Enter that juicy roast turkey. Help yourself to seconds and thirds of cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, homemade mashed potatoes, other Thanksgiving delights. Fall can be such a magical time.

But, then, after fall comes winter, harsh winter. Dig out those thick coats from storage. Scrape all the snow off the car. Watch for black ice on roads. Try not to fall in the parking lot. Winter can be so dangerous.

"We need to move to a warmer place," hubby, Rog, said to me one chilly night a few days ago. We were seated at the dining table sipping steamy cups of Swiss Miss hot chocolate while leafing through the pages of a photo album from 2006. The page we were both staring at showed pictures from a trip we took to North Carolina that summer.

"Like North Carolina?" I asked.

"Exactly!" Rog said. "They have mild winters there. We wouldn't have to deal with as much snow and cold as we have here every year!"

We sat around the table for a long time that night, talking about the fun time we had down in North Carolina that summer. We had made the trip with high hopes of finding a ruby or two at Sheffield Mine in Franklin, and we were not disappointed. On Day 2 of our hunt, I stumbled upon a 47-and-a-half carat ruby and Rog found a 22 carat one, along with other smaller stones. We have the rubies to this day and plan to have them polished and cut into matching rings one day, whenever we get the funds.

"We could move to Franklin," I said. "Right next to the ruby mine." I was smiling, remembering the moment I had sifted through the mud and rocks in the wooden tray and spotted that purplish stone. "We could hunt rubies every weekend. Teyla would love that!"

"Better yet," Rog said, "We could move to the Port City, Wilmington. We would be close to the Cape Fear River, as well as the ocean!" We both love the ocean.
Wilmington, North Carolina, picture courtesy of
Today, I did some research on Wilmington NC real estate. You never know, we might actually move down there within the next few years if we keep getting winters like the nightmarish one of 2009.

I have always held in high regard companies that are locally-owned and operated, such as Century 21 Sweyer and Associates, a Wilmington NC real estate firm that has been serving the city and surrounding areas since 1987. I am positive it is pretty well-established, having helped customers find their dream home for the past 23 years. They just might hear from me one of these days.

I was watching the Weather Channel just a while ago. The forecast calls for temperatures to dip into the 50s and maybe even the 40s later this coming week. I dislike the sudden change in temperature - so nice and warm just a few weeks ago, shorts and flip-flops weather, and now I shiver in a jacket at night when I go out on the deck to look at the stars.

I was thinking today of how awesome it would be to live on or within driving distance of Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach or Topsail Beach, to be the owner of one of those beautiful Wilmington NC homes.
picture of Teyla courtesy of MJ Browning
I can almost picture Teyla happily building sand castles on one of the lovely beaches in the Port City. And we wouldn't miss the West Virginia winters at all.
~by MJ~