A Perfect Day for Hunting

The sun was warm today, but the air was cool and breezy — perfect weather for hunting. Armed and ready to shoot, I went out to the desert with a group of hikers to search for . . . wildflowers.

It wasn’t hard to find what we were looking for. Lupine and coreopsis lined the road.

lupine

Goldfields carpeted vast swaths of land.

goldfield

Patches of poppies and chia sprung up on hillsides.

poppies and chia

And dainty cream cups soaked up the sun alongside poppies.

poppies and cream cups

Most of the time, the desert seems drab, with little color to break the beige monotony, so today was a real treat!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Looking For Life in all the Right Places

I went hiking yesterday, looking for life wherever I might find it,

and ended up on the shores of a lake.

This lake is actually a man-made lake with a drowned settlement at the bottom. Ironically, the once living town of Cedar Springs had plenty of water with abundant rain, spring runoffs, and a year-round stream, so the residents (first ranchers, then homesteaders, and finally townspeople) never expected to have water problems. But when the state needed reservoirs to store water for its ever-growing population, this shallow canyon seemed a natural location. And so the town with plenty of water was killed by even more water.

I didn’t think of that poor drowned town when I was hiking, of course. I just enjoyed the walk through the woods to the shores of the lake. It was a gorgeous day, and even the difficult footing, rivulets to cross on slippery rocks, and fallen tree trunks to clamber over didn’t dampen my pleasure at the stunning scenery.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

On the Trail Again

A couple of weeks ago was the first time I hiked a bit of the Pacific Crest Trail (five miles round trip), and it was an incredible experience. The trail was well maintained, no huge climbs up or down, even footing, gorgeous views.

This past weekend I hiked another bit of the trail (just a little over four miles this time), and it was a completely different experience.

Instead of parking by a lake and heading immediately into the mountains, we parked by a heavily trafficked six-lane highway, then took a spooky trip through a long, damp water drainage tunnel under the highway.

We hiked past an abandoned house, through a culvert under the railroad tracks while a freight train went by overheard,

culvert

across a small wooden bridge,

and then we finally got to a part of the trail that was easy to traverse.

After that flat part of the trail, it climbed steeply into the rocks,

but it was all worth while because of the stunning views.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Look What I Caught!

Three days ago, I turned off the computer and went fishing for life. It was a lovely day, sunny and warm with just a hint of coolness in the air. I accompanied a group of hikers on a trek along the fabled Pacific Crest Trail. Since the PCT (as it is affectionately called) stretches from Mexico to Canada, it’s impossible to traverse the whole of the trail in just a few hours, but we hiked a three-mile portion of it. (Three miles out and three miles back for a total of six miles.) The trail is narrow, but well maintained, which makes hiking it easy. Well, the level areas are easy. I hear that parts of the trail rise steeply for miles. Whew! That would be a hike indeed.

We started at this lake (a dam, actually)

And headed up into the hills.

I’m glad I didn’t spent this gorgeous day inside and online.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Spring in January

It seems strange that a time when the rest of the country is undergoing what must seem like eternal winter, here in my temporary abode in the high desert, spring has come. Yesterday was a lovely day, clear skies, still air, 80 degrees (just for a few minutes — it quickly dropped back to a frigid 78). Today was a bit cooler with cloudy skies and breezes strong enough to make me go chasing after my hat a few times, but still, the high of 65 was well within spring temperatures.

The forsythia are already blossoming

forsythia

And even a few narcissus are preening themselves in readiness for the glory of the coming days.

narcissus

There is a new moon tonight, ushering in a time of rebirth, so that even if you’re bundled up against freezing temperatures, know that spring will soon be peeking around the corner.

Until then, keep warm, enjoy what moments you can, and try not to be too envious of me in my weather bliss since that’s the only bliss in my life right now. (After ten days of cordiality and even friendliness from my dysfunctional brother, he is back in hyper mode, keeping me awake most of the night and making me as crazy as he is.)

I will use the power of this new moon to break free of the ties of bad relationships, liberate my mind, and hope freedom will follow.

Wishing you an early spring.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Things Are Tough All Over…

Even Santa has to downsize and economize.

Santa's sleigh

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Hollywood Treasures

I recently took a trip to Hollywood to search out secret stairs (Secret Stairs (Part I), (Part II), (Part III)) and found many other treasures. Some of these included:

A poinsettia that grew free and wild and unpotted.

A bird of paradise that looked as if it were about to take wing.

Trumpet flowers blaring their beauty.

Indian paintbrush coloring the hillside.

Balconies enough for an entire clan of Romeo and Juliets.

Castles in the air.

Tree trunks that looked as if they had been hand painted by a set designer for greater effect.

Tile work adorning the side of a house.

More welcomes than you can count.

And of course, the Hollywood sign.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Secret Stairs (Part III)

[Continuation of Secret Stairs (Part I) and Secret Stairs (Part II)]

The third and final leg of the journey to search for secret stairs in Hollywood took us to the Temple Hill neighborhood. There weren’t a lot of steps to climb (only 108 compared to the more that 300 in Whitley Heights), but there were many steep hills that could have used a few stairs to make the hike easier.

This is an area was once the home of various spiritual centers, including Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophists and the Vedanta Temple:

On Vine Way, we found this graceful and winding set of 47 easy steps:

snd these private steps:

We continued to Holly Mont Drive where we saw Hollymont Castle, once Barbara Stanwyck’s estate and now owned by pianist Derek Grey. We met a man who claimed to be Derek Grey’s twin brother, and he could have been, for all I know. He confirmed that the castle was haunted.

Across from the castle was a set of 61 steps that divided into two narrow stairways.

I was disappointed when the search for secret stairs ended for the day. I’ve never known that stairs could be so romantic. I’ve seen very few staircases in the past twenty years — there was no real need for them in the high flat areas I’ve lived, and whatever steps I encountered were banal, simply a way to get from one place to another. Now I will keep an eye out for stairways, and wonder about all who have set foot on those steps.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Secret Stairs (Part II)

[A continuation of Secret Stairs (Part I)]

Secret. There is something about the very word that rouses our curiosity, making us wonder what dire (or delightful) truths are being kept from us. Secret societies. Secret meetings. Secret codes. Secret stairs.

Secret stairs? I’d never even heard of such a thing until a friend invited me on a trip to search out some of the secret stairs in Los Angeles. Apparently, there are many secret stairways in steep hilly neighborhoods. In the days before cars took over the city, these stairs allowed people to get down the hill to schools, markets, and trolley cars. In fact, many of the houses in these neighborhoods had no other access to the outside world than these public staircases.

We saw once public stairways, such as these steps that now go up to someone’s back yard in Whitley Heights:

Stairs

We saw remnants of stairs:

We climbed stairs that meandered through a park,

old wooden stairs,

faux wood stairs,

painted stairs.

And we took these concrete stairs up to my favorite part of the hike,

this lovely secluded walkway.

There are so many wonders in the world, secret and otherwise, that it’s amazing we go about our ordinary lives without stopping more frequently to gasp at the awe of it all.

To be continued . . . Secret Stairs (Part III)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Secret Stairs (Part I)

A friend invited me to go on a trip with her for a “secret stairs” hike in Hollywood. Even though I didn’t know what the hike was about, of course I said “yes.” I have developed the habit of saying yes to anything anyone invites me to do, even if my first inclination were to hesitate or even say no, a practice that has led me to many wonderful places and activities that I would never even thought of experiencing. Even if I weren’t already primed to accept, I’d have gone — I’ve never been able to resist anything “secret.” There are a vast number of secrets in the world, including life itself, and being gifted with an insatiable curiosity, I try to ferret out those secrets, but considering that so many secrets are . . . well, secret . . . by definition, I wouldn’t know that they even exist. And there, in a few simple words, I was being offered a chance to discover a hitherto unknown secret.

Secret stairs. Even the phrase evokes feelings of adventure, wonder, mystique.

Apparently, there are many secret stairways in Los Angeles in the steep hilly neighborhoods that were built back before cars took over the city. These stairs allowed people to get down the hill to schools, markets, and trolley cars. In fact, many of the houses in these neighborhoods had no other access to the outside world than these public staircases. The stairs were largely forgotten until Charles Fleming published his book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles.

A friend has been doing all of the walks — 42 of them — and has finished all but the last few. The walk she invited me on was a combination of #36 and #35 in Fleming’s book. (It was such a lovely day, she decided to do two of them.)

We started out with an unplanned stop by a bit of sidewalk graffiti that seemed oddly appropriate:

Sidewalk Sayings

Our first scheduled stop was the historic Highland Towers apartments, where William Faulkner is supposed to have lived when he worked on such films as The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not:

We passed the Hollywood Heritage Museum, and walked up Milner to the first secret staircase — the Whitley Terrace steps, an L-shaped staircase with 160 steps.

Whitley Terrace steps

At about the ninetieth step, there was a landing with fabulous views of the High Tower residential area — not that I know what the area is, but it was an interesting sight:

High Tower Residential Area

I paused at the top to take a photo of the steps we had just climbed before searching out the next set of secret stairs in Hollywood. (Hint — the key to walking up huge flights of outside stairs is to stop periodically to marvel at flowers or take photos of . . . anything. That way you can catch your breath without having to admit that you have reached your limit.)

Whitley Terrace Stairs

To be continued . . . (But of course, you already knew I’d be continuing this saga since the title says “Part I” and you can’t have a “Part I” without a “Part II”.)

Secret Stairs (Part II)

Secret Stairs (Part III)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,403 other followers