The American coots, or mud hens, play at Vail Lake. Photo by Bruce Watts

It has been a very interesting week. First, I sustained another knee injury. This time, I injured my right knee. I was laid up for almost the entire week.

For two days, I could barely stand up and walking was a challenge. The pain index was hovering around 7.5 on the “10 being worst” scale. Sleep was near impossible as I couldn’t keep my leg from hurting in a straight or bent position.

I didn’t join the gym and I didn’t start to go for short hikes like I had wanted. Now my Pacific Crest Trail section hike is looking less and less likely. All because of a little patch of ice and a snow bank to step over.

Since I couldn’t really get around very well, I decided to go out in my truck and take some photographs. I was using a new Olympus E-P3 camera that I had borrowed from a friend and decided to give it a test drive.

I drove down Highway 74 past Mountain Center to the first turnout after the passing lane. Looking back toward Idyllwild you get a good panoramic view of the San Jacintos.

The plan for the next day, Sunday, was to visit my friend Christine Fogg’s place in Aguanga. From there, I planned to take wildflower photos at Anza Borrego.

My plans for an early start were thwarted by the Daylight Saving Time change as my phone did not change the time for me and I got up an hour late. I’ll get it right next year.

Since my friend found out that the wildflower season was a bust in Anza-Borrego, we decided to stay in Anza Valley and head east toward the sunrise. The sun was rising over the peaks with lacy white clouds lit up with silver from behind and dark foreboding lenticular clouds hovering over the shadowy hills. We spent about an hour shooting the sunrise

We then headed west toward Vail Lake with a quick side trip onto Sage Road. We passed a hawk sitting on a rock about eight feet from the road and we turned around to see if I could get a picture. He was still there but before I could roll down my window and turn on my camera he spread his wings and slowly lifted off and flew away.

Christine was excitedly screaming that I should get the shot of him with his wings outstretched but I was just too slow on the draw. For every photo shoot, there has to be the “one that got away” and this was a disappointment; it did, however, get me to keep the camera around my neck and ready to go.

We made it to Vail Lake where we had to pay a $10 per person “fishing fee” but we were already there and wanted to see the lake and take some photos. The highlight for me was hundreds of American coots, mud hens as I call them, in a large flock marching up the bank and then flying back into the lake at the first sign of danger.

I did some panoramic shots of Vail Lake that I planned to stitch together when I got home. I learned something new, you can’t stitch rippling water.