Hard Drive Meltdown at the Poppy Preserve

Poppy Preserve, Antelope Valley, CA ©David Gardner

We pulled into the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve on April 14 for a few days of poppy picturing. This was on a Monday after a couple of days of extremely rainy, snowy, windy days. It was perfect weather. Warm, sunny and just a little breeze. One of the docents here told us these conditions were rare. At best, they usually have stiff winds that come up just as the poppies begin to open. We arrived around 11am. The poppies were already open and people were out and about along the pathways. We took a 3 mile hike around one of the lesser used trails and it was very nice. Once we moved around one hill filled with poppies, it got much more sparse, but the varieties of flowers began to increase.

Poppies and Goldfield. ©David Gardner

Owl's Clover. ©David Gardner

In addition to the poppies, we now found Goldfield, Owl’s Clover, Lupine and quite a few other varieties blooming. I’m not sure why this path was not more popular. It is so much nicer to see a wider variety than it is to see just mass fields of orange. It is a bit more of a challenge to create interesting compositions, but more rewarding as well. This was also one of the longer trails and I’ve found it true that trails of more than about .5 miles tend to be far less peopled than those of longer distance. We hiked another path of about 1.5 miles after finishing the first and called it a day.

More Poppies & Goldfield. ©David Gardner

The next morning, we were again at the preserve – earlier this time. We arrived around 9 am. The poppies were still closed and it was decidedly more windy. We set off on another longer hike of about 4 miles to the part of the preserve that had masses of poppies blooming. As we hiked, the poppies began opening and before long we were wading through thick masses of orange blooms. A very enjoyable day, but quite a bit cooler with the wind.

But in many areas, non-native invasive grasses could be seen. These grasses begin growing before the poppies in spring and over time have overwhelmed the poppy’s growth. Whole areas of the preserve are being overtaken by the grasses and little has been done to avert complete takeover. The state is beginning to experiment with ways to deal with the grasses including mowing with the hope that this will give the poppies a head start. We will see.

Non-native grasses overwhelm poppy growth. ©David Gardner

Around the preserve. ©David Gardner

Later in the evening while I was processing the days images, the laptop began acting strangely. It would spontaneously shut down. I’d start it up again, and it would shut down immediately. So of course this was not good. I have my emergency tools with me – namely Disk Warrior and Disk Tools. Disk Tools found no problems, but Disk Warrior found big problems with file structure and missing files. After an hour or so, Disk Warrior had fixed the problems and I was up and running again. I decided I needed to back up the 20 gigs of images we’ve shot so far, just in case this was a harbinger of future problems. As I was moving from one part of the motorhome to another so as to get a better WiFi signal, the power supply for the laptop dropped from the shelf it was sitting on, and slammed onto the part of the open laptop where, underneath, lay the hard drive. CRACK! The power supply put two small dents in the laptop, but at the time nothing else seemed to have happened. I was researching some new locations on the web and was having no problems. The next morning when I tried to boot up to do the backups, I got nothing but the floppy disk icon with a flashing question mark, saying “Where da hard drive”?

The hard drive was trashed. I lost virtually all of the work Mary and I have done for the month. More than 20 gigs of images. I bought a new hard drive and had it installed, and since I am a beta tester was able to download another copy of Photoshop/ Bridge. My friend Rick helped a great deal by emailing me address books, web links lists and other files I needed to continue working. I was able to salvage a couple hundred images from our camera CF cards using another recovery program I have, so at least I haven’t lost everything. I have the bad disk and will probably talk to Drive Savers about recovering as much data as possible. They can work wonders where others fail – but for a price – so I am hopeful it is not a total loss.

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