Mad Cow was the right title for the famous first round of Sock Madness - that first pair may be finished, but I simply can’t stop knitting. Now on the second pair, this time in shades of hot pink, very suitable for the sweltering weather out here in the deserts of So Cal.
The intensity of marathons like this does tend to take us novices by surprise. You might say loud and clear that you’re in it just for the fun, for meeting others, for getting unique and one-off new patterns, but once the thing gets under way, you find yourself knitting frantically as if nothing else in the world counted (and it doesn’t right then, believe me, it doesn’t). I knitted on the hoof -
I knitted while watching baby seal pups on the beach...
I knitted talking to those lovely girls having a SnB in the La Jolla cafe...
And each evening when we arrived at a new motel room, it wasn’t a shower or a rest or even dinner that occupied my mind, but GETTING ON WITH THOSE SOCKS.
In between, we did drive through some absolutely stunning scenery, the total opposite to that which I see around my home in Ireland, which is what travelling is all about, isn’t it? The contrast to lush green dampness was breathtaking.
This is coming through the hills down to Borrego Springs, an oasis in the dry desert where we paused awhile, wandered through wild canyons looking for roadrunners. Richard has a particular quest in mind on all trips, which is getting the perfect picture of this elusive bird. Ok, ok, so for you, if you live in So Cal, it isn’t elusive, it comes round to the back door for breakfast, does little dances on the lawn, even takes the kids to playschool and brings back the groceries when you’re busy for all I know, but for us it has always been maddeningly absent. We didn’t find it at Borrego Springs, although, since I’d finished one sock by then (knitting whilst your DH is driving is quite doable, I found to my surprise, especially on one long circular which lessens the chance of tiny breakable dpns dropped underneath your feet), we were able to photograph it in a really nice National Geographic-type setting.
As Seen On Flickr: first ever captured image of The Desert Sock.
When you’re used to grass growing seven inches every time you turn your back, and having to hack down brambles every day to get at the pond, the sparse vegetation of the desert is something of a shock, but all the more striking in its beauty for that.
We were headed down to Richard’s special destination, a place he has always wanted to visit, The Salton Sea. This amazing freak of nature, formed, as I recall, when the Colorado burst its banks and took a new route for itself back in the 1920s, is a vast salty sea in the desert which naturally attracts millions of birds on the flyway north and south in the migration season. Over the years it also attracted thousands of visitors, flocking to enjoy endless sunshine and sea, and built up quite a tourist industry with marinas, RV parks, the lot.
Only trouble is... industry came too, and with it pollution. Now the Salton Sea is - well, how does one put this nicely - a huge simmering dark brown mass of stinking putrid liquid. Dead fish bob in the wavelets until they decompose enough to sink and add to the thickening layer of goo. And the smell - well, suffice it to say that I can still get a waft of it in the car, from the dust, the sand, whatever got into the vehicle, a full 50 miles away in El Centro on the Mexican border.
It has a strange eerie beauty, and the birds are certainly here in great numbers - white-faced ibises, egrets, herons, gulls, white pelicans, all floating in great skeins (Skeins? Skeins? Should I wind them up? Have I gone five minutes without knitting?) across the glittering sky - but it is difficult to concentrate on holding the binoculars steady when your olafactory senses are being assailed by a 30-megaton strength of hydrogen sulphide.
The Mad Cow socks got finished, finally, down here in El Centro late on Tuesday night, and were duly photographed outside the Best Western, next to a cooling fountain amid pansies (that hadn’t been dead-headed in weeks, poor things, I did as many of them as I could to show I cared).
Nice and calming - but this is what the situation really looked like as I tried to balance on one foot, putting my shoes back on, as we dashed to get the image on to the computer and on to Flickr to qualify for the second round. Whew, this SockMadness is doing incredible things on my computer learning curve, never mind the short-row heels!
We’ve been driving up and down to Salton Sea since then, taking deep breaths of clean air before getting within scenting distance and gasping with relief when we leave again, Richard scanning for that elusive roadrunner while I knit compulsively on Mad Cow Mark II socks. When these are finished I’ll be able to swap them around with the blue ones, wearing one of each colour on each foot which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Show you a picture when they’re further on.
And that pesky bird? Well, eventually -
What a crackeroo. Worth waiting for. This one was so full of testosterone and territory guarding that he was scurrying round his stony boundaries and leaping up on every post to make sure no rivals were within reach.
Today we head back through the Borrego Desert and up towards Palm Springs so Richard can check out the Living Desert Wildlife Park (yeah, more roadrunners!) Then back around on the eve of St. Patrick's Day to a particular favourite place of mine, Julian up in the hills. Julian is cool and full of trees and the temperature drops sharply at night. Plus they are famous for apple pies and have a great secondhand bookshop. AND on Saturday morning my absolute favourite cafe there will be handing out green hats and shamrocks. Onward The Mad Cow Socks Take Two!