Slice of Life – Classical Conditioning Wildlife Quest

2 April 2024

Today’s slice was born yesterday on a trip to Palm Springs. It’s a 45-minute jaunt down into the lower desert. We do it about every week or two for one appointment or shopping trip or another.

Part of the trip includes going through the Morongo grade, which is a mountainous section, just three miles or so long. There is no cell service, and a sign along the road tells us that there are desert bighorn sheep possibly crossing the road.

I’ve been coming to the desert, driving through this grade my whole life (first to visit grandparents, then my mom, and now because I live here), but I had never seen a big horn sheep in the wild until last month when I saw one, not on the grade, but in Joshua Tree National Park . I wrote about it for my Slice of Life on March 5 here.

Over the years, driving through the grade I have always glanced around the hills (when I’m not driving, of course), thinking I might really see one.

Then, lo and behold, for the first time, ever just a week after I saw one in the park, I saw more. This time there were two or three scrawny, thin, probably young sheep on one a cliff on the grade. I was so excited, but of course, my phone was way elsewhere, so I couldn’t get a picture.

Now, like Pavlov’s dog, I know those sheep are there, so on the last two trips down the grade, I have my phone zoomed in three times, and lying ready in my lap. Then I scan the mountains like a detective. I have yet to see another bighorn, but I keep looking for the reward of seeing these creatures in the wild. Yesterday, I wondered how long this classical conditioning reward would last in my wildlife spotting quest.

I took this picture to show you what the hills look like. No sheep yesterday!
Here are some bighorn sheep I saw at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert

Slice of Life 5 – Ryan’s Mountain #sol24

5 March 2024

Come with me on a hike. It is just a 3-mile round trip hike up Ryan’s Mountain and back, in Joshua Tree National Park.

Before the hike we need to enjoy some tea or coffee. I had my everyday tea latte with soy milk. (This is what I get for trying to empty the soy milk carton today before it was ready to be finished.)
On the way up the mountain

This is the first time I’ve seen a Desert Bighorn sheep in nature.
We made it to the top of Ryan Mountain, elevation 5457. My husband and I and my brother and sister-in-law.

Mt. San Jacinto
Mt. San Gorgonio

The views at the top are lovely.

There were so many rock stairs to walk up and now down; I am thankful for my hiking sticks.