Deer and snow, in Idyllwild

Male Deer // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

We usually don’t see much of the deer when it snows–they stay down in a meadow nearby. And we’ve got a lot of fresh snow right now, so I was surprised to see several of them in the back yard this morning.

This little male is about about a year-and-a-half old now, and once he was weaned he stopped coming as often as the girls in his family. So it was fun to see him, and see how his once-nubby little antlers are developing!

Mama Deer

Deer in Idyllwild

Mama Deer

Pregnant deer

Mama Deer

Pregnant Deer

Mama Deer

Yes, we have deer in Idyllwild! And Mama Deer is pregnant again. She’s not only wider across, but she’s spending a lot of time in our yard again, where she can safely rest, and not have to worry about dogs or tourists–a sure sign a baby is on the way. Soon!

Images in the Desert Valley Star

Desert Valley StarThe Desert Valley Star, in the Coachella Valley, published several of my images in their current issue, on newsstands now!

The Idyllwild Monument is set to debut in it’s permanent location, in the center of town, on November 8th. My images of both the monument and David Roy, the artist, are used in companion to a story that begins on page 3, and continues on page 21.

It’s a really good looking weekly publication – and it’s fairly new – it debuted in 2008. So pick up a copy in print, if you can! They also have the full issue available online at

related posts

>> Idyllwild Town Monument by David Roy

Idyllwild Monument in the Desert Valley Star

Desert Valley Star

More from Idyllwild

Just a few more images from Idyllwild last weekend….

Idyllwild RedwoodIdyllwild Wildflowers

I love this old redwood tree – it may not be as large as some of the giants up in Northern California, but it’s still massive – and beautiful. I also love the moss growing up the side. If viewed from the right angle, the redwood resembles a person with arms reaching up. It reminds me of the trees in fairy tales – not the scary trees that reach out and grab you – but the friendly good trees who are wise and kind, and shelter you from the elements.

And of course I have to include a few images of wildflowers! In idyllwild the wildflowers get a late start, since the elevation is so high, so they’re still going strong in the beginning of July.

Idyllwild WildflowersRedwood Tree in Idyllwild

Idyllwild Flowers

Lily Rock, Idyllwild, California

And finally, the obligatory shot of Lily Rock. When most people think of Idyllwild, they think of Lily Rock – or Taquitz as it’s sometimes called – depends on who you’re talking to! I’ve personally never made an image of it that really excites me. Maybe it’s because everyone who comes to Idyllwild feels compelled to photograph it? Maybe it’s because I’ve seen some really excellent images of it? Maybe because landscape photography is not really my forte, and a shot like this is best left to the professionals? I’m not sure why I’ve never quite hit it – but I can pretty much guarantee that I’m not done trying. Someday I’ll get it!

Idyllwild Town Monument by David Roy

I’ve been watching the progress on the Idyllwild Town Monument for a couple of years now as I drove by in my car, and yesterday I decided to get a closer look. The artist, David Roy, was busy working, but he took a minute to pose for me.

David RoyIdyllwild Town Monument

Idyllwild Town MonumentSign about the Monument

Gargoyles in Idyllwild

The entrance to the artist’s workspace is pictured above – notice the stone lamp posts and the Gargoyles atop each one – they’re wonderful! And funnily enough, they don’t seem out of place in Idyllwild…

David Roybear-statue

David Roy at work, and one of the many other pieces of his work, on the property.

Idyllwild Town Monumentdetail of wood carving

I wasn’t the only one stopping to look – the monument is a big tourist attraction. Note the guy with a camera up to his eye – I wasn’t the only one shooting photographs either! And in fact, the artist encourages it! For more on David Roy, see


Memorial Day Weekend

I am so proud of my Mom! She’s always appreciated my talent and the images I produce, but she never really got into photography herself – until today.

My Aunt and Grandma and Mom were all in the same place at the same time – it is Memorial Day Weekend, and Idyllwild is perfect this time of year, so of course I was going to do some spontaneous portraits! And then it happened, she asked if I wanted her to shoot a couple of me. Now my Mom has always been one who rations shots – whether it was film or digital. Growing up she’d shoot exactly one frame of each event – maybe two frames if you got lucky. And she’s always astonished at the number of images I take. And when I said yes, and handed her my camera, she was a little surprised at how heavy it was, and how hard it was to hold up and press the shutter at the same time. I had an 85mm 1.2 lens on it, so she wasn’t wrong, it was heavy, so I expected her to shoot maybe four or five frames, just to be nice, and then be done. But I was wrong! She ended up shooting 40 frames! She started a little slow, but before long she was telling me to tilt my chin, look up, and smile like I had a secret. I was laughing so hard, and loving it so much, I had a hard time following her directions. But she was patient with me, and kept at it, determined to get the perfect shot – and she did! She actually got a shot of me that I really love. And to be honest, most of what she got is good. I really do like the majority of the stuff she shot.

So my Mom is now a photographer! Amazing things happen every day…

Vicki // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsSharon // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
My Aunt Vicki and my Mom, the new photographer!

Cheryl SpeltsGinny // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Me and and my beautiful Grandma

Memorial Day Weekend // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

And the three of them in front of the cabin. Doesn’t the yard look magnificent? It’s amazing when you think about how all that was under three feet of snow not that long ago.

Officially spring in Idyllwild

Pollen // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsSpring comes later up in the mountains. We still had snow when the wildflowers started appearing in the flatlands. And even within Idyllwild, spring came sooner in the downtown area, and later further up the mountain. The altitude change makes a difference in so many different ways… In late summer, when it’s cooler up here, we’ll be grateful for that difference, but for most of the last few months I’ve just been wishing spring would hurry up and get here!

Then this weekend, as I drove up the hill, everything seemed to be in bloom. Wild lilac that bloomed in March in Fallbrook, is at it’s peak right now up here – both versions too – purple and white! And masses of yellow flowers bloom around every corner. And the yuccas? So many of them this year! It’s a really beautiful drive right now between Banning and Idyllwild.

But today there was a brand new sign of spring – pollen! Yellow-green pollen from the oak trees is covering everything.

I grabbed my iPhone to take a photo of my car, when I saw how much pollen was on it – intending to just document it. But then I got into the way the light was reflecting off the shiny paint, and reflection of a rock wall, in the surface, and pretty soon I was more into the art, than in the documenting. Typical!

So yeah, that really is pollen, on the hood of my car – believe it or not. And if you don’t, come up to Idyllwild and see for yourself! It really is pretty up here right now – and cool!

Bay Tree Spring

I grew up in San Diego County, and although I’ve been coming to Idyllwild since I was a kid, I had never taken the road from Idyllwild to Banning. I’d gone from Idyllwild to Palm Springs, and from Idyllwild to Hemet, but I’d never taken that third route off the hill, through Banning, until last year. But since I found it, I love it, since it’s the most direct route to get to both Riverside and Los Angeles.

And on that route, just off the side of the road in a certain spot, there were always a couple of cars stopped. I could see some old rock work as I passed by – it looked sort of like a manmade wading pool or fountain, but I really didn’t know what it was. Then I heard someone talking about the natural spring on Highway 243 and it all made sense. Riverside county was known for it’s springs at one time – think about all the places named after springs – Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Gilman Hot Springs, Murrieta Hot Springs, etc. In fact, the hot springs were a big tourist attraction long ago.

Bay Tree Spring // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsBay Tree Spring // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

I had never actually seen a spring before, and I kept intending to stop sometime, but I hadn’t actually gotten around to it yet, and then yellow tape went up all around it. Then I read that because of all the snow we got this year, the spring had high levels of bacteria. Evidently as the snow pack melts, it carries contamination from animal waste, and that causes the bacteria level to be too high for safe human consumption. Okay, that makes sense. So yellow caution tape should keep people out – right? Well apparently not. A few people are evidently still drinking the water. I understand – spring water is usually pure, and definitely healthier than water that has been chlorinated – but in this case, those healthy natural minerals are offset by bacteria. Yuck!

Bay Tree Spring // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

But unfortunately, because a few people are drinking the water, despite the signs and warning tape, now the U.S. Forest Service is considering capping off the spring for good. We’re talking about a spring that has been there for decades – the stonework was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps – and it’s safe to drink from the majority of the year, but because it’s potentially unsafe for part of the year, especially after a lot of rain or snow, we may lose it forever? That just makes my head spin. Especially since there have been no reports ever of anyone getting sick from this particular spring. It’s true that the human body can handle some bacteria, and while the Forest Service may have determined that the contamination is too high, there are people drinking from it, and suffering no ill affects. I personally would not drink from it now – but if a few people want to ignore warning signs in three different languages and caution tape, and they aren’t getting sick, is that really a reason to permanently cap it off?

Bay Tree Spring // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

There is a sign at the spring, asking for the public to comment on the matter – nothing is decided yet about the future of Bay Tree Spring – the proposal to close it is just that, a proposal. If you would like to keep it open you can contact Heidi Hoggan, San Jacinto Ranger District, P.O. Box 518, Idyllwild, CA 92549 or email her at by April 20, 2009.

Why keep it open? Well for me, it’s a part of our history. And it’s unusual, and different, and fun. It would be sad to lose something that special. For others, it’s the healing properties of the water – when it’s safe to drink from, the water is oxygen rich and full of minerals. And for others, it’s just the best tasting water in Southern California. I’ve actually heard that from several people, and I do believe it because all the water in Idyllwild is great. Maybe someday I’ll get to try the water from Bay Tree Spring? I hope so!