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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

DESERT LIFE



We've always wondered about the Borrego Springs area in California. We found a quiet place to park on BLM land about 5 miles outside of the town. It's always nice to find free camping that is also clean and safe. Borrego Springs is a little oasis completely surrounded by Anza-Borrego State Park. We were amazed as we drove around the town to see the 130 sculptures by the artist, Ricardo Breceda. 



Me standing by the 350 ft long dragon

Our motorhome at Lost Dutchman State Park
We traveled to Apache Jct., AZ to be near my parents for a couple of weeks and have Thanksgiving together. We camped at Lost Dutchman State Park which is about a 16 mile drive from them.
My dad has Alzheimers so I was wondering if he would know us. He did, but said he hadn't seen me in years. He apparently remembers me as a younger woman because he wouldn't stop commenting how much older and bigger I looked. Otherwise it was good to be near and give some support. We'll return for another couple of weeks in February.
Dad and Mom
Brother Curt 
My brother, Curt, delivers lightweight RVs for Forest River out of Indiana. Now and then he will get trips through Arizona and my parents will meet him. He happened to get a trip while we were in the area. 


Dick in his element
Dick did a 80 mile backpacking trip along the first two sections of The Grand Enchantment Trail. His comment was "This isn't the best time of year for backpacking...it gets dark at 5 o'clock so you have to be in your tent for 13 hours." There wasn't much of a trail and he had to deal with being poked and prodded by everything that grows in the desert.


While Dick was hiking I stopped at the Superstition Mtn Museum. We pass by it when we stay at Lost Dutchman State Park. I love chapels and expecting to go inside to sit in silence I was surprised to find a statue of Elvis on stage and posters lining the walls of western motion pictures and television that were filmed in the area over a 45 year period, including "Charro" which starred Elvis Presley. 



We've been trying out several of the Escapees RV Parks in Arizona. The price is right for boon-docking at $5.00/night. Rover's Roost, located in Casa Grande, was pleasant most of the time but when the wind is just right you can hardly stand the smell. Down the road there is a big dairy feedlot consisting of around 2500 HolsteinsWe drove past the miles of cattle standing in mud (or manure) and it was so awful. Seeing and smelling this will make you rethink eating meat or dairy products. INTERESTING BOOK: MAD COWBOY by Howard Lyman

Ed and Dick 
The good news about staying the night at Rover's Roost was meeting up with Ed Trautwein, who happened to be there too. We enjoyed catching up. We met him several years ago while traveling in New Mexico and meet up with him now and then in our travels. 


The Finlaysons visiting us for an evening
We headed for Tucson to meet up with Nancy and George Finlayson who we hadn't seen since last winter in Florida. The next day we got out of our comfort zone - Dick went mountain biking with George and uncoordinated me went to a line dancing class with Nancy. After Dick saw George do a face plant he decided he just wasn't into mountain biking. The Desert Trails RV Park where they were staying had so many activities. One evening we listened to a blues group at the park - Angel Diamond and the Blues Disciples. 

We were all curious about Biosphere 2, a glass enclosed facility with 6,500 windows. So we drove north out of Tucson to take a tour. We arrived in a snowstorm. Dick's comment was, "I know what this place is, we're inside a big snow globe."
Biosphere 2 trip
Planet Earth is Biosphere 1 and Biosphere 2 is a research facility used to study ecosystem processes under controlled conditions. In 1991, eight people "Biospherians" were sealed inside for two years to test survivability and to see if they could develop and live in a self-sustaining colony. I just ordered the book The Human Experiment written by Jane Poynter, one of the Biospherians. She has also given a TED Talk if you want to check it out.

We are now in Benson, Arizona to be with Michigan friends, Diane and Dean Tobias, for Christmas week. We have been busy exploring the area - biking, hiking etc.... That's the reason I'm way behind on blogging. Not complaining. We always enjoy doing things with them.
Biking the Julian Wash Bikepath Youtube of the bikeway
Hiking in Chiricahua National Monument 
Visiting Tombstone



 Just some extras I couldn't leave out:
We had a short but sweet visit from Lisa & Carl, friends from home, as they passed through
Tucson on their way to Mexico. The picture above explains why!!!


Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone
Unique Rattlesnake bridge downtown Tucson




MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE DESERT!

BOO enjoying his Christmas tree









Saturday, November 14, 2015

HEADING FOR WARMTH


As I'm writing this, we are camped on BLM land just outside the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. We have beautiful weather and it's warm enough to leave the windows open at night and hear the coyotes. In my last blog we were traveling through Oregon.

We continued traveling down the beautiful Oregon coast to Tillamook and camped by this World War II blimp hangar...
...then we toured the Tillamook factory and had to try the ice cream that everyone claims is the best. (It almost compares to MOOMERS). It was interesting to learn the history of how this area became known today as the "Dairyland." Of course our campground had the aroma of cows to get used to.

As we drove south on hwy 20 around Oroville, CA., there were miles of ricefields filled with thousands of Greater white fronted geese or "Specks" as the locals call them.
In California, we traveled through the Redwoods National Park on our way to my sister's place in Foresthill. It's always nice when we reach her home. Pat and Kathy always spoil us. They let us park in their beautiful yard, feed us and drive us around. It's also nice to spend some time with my brother, Joel, and his family while we're in the area. Dick was even invited to go on a hunting trip. They would hunt and he would hike (in orange). After the hunters set camp in the Sierra's he hiked higher for a couple days to the Pacific Crest Trail in the Granite Chief Wilderness. 

Our camping spot in my sister's backyard.

BOO loved it when their dogs visited him at the motorhome.
My sister and husband.
My nephew and his wife enjoying their Willie boat. They announced in March they were expecting in June....
and the new boat was delivered on time.
My niece and her family excited about their new home.
My baby brother - so huggable! 
My nephew and his girlfriend


Again this year I spent the day with my friend Sally Drone enjoying a MET Opera in Grass Valley's DEL ORO Theater. Then she took me on a tour of Nevada City. I like downtown Grass Valley but Nevada City is even better with its beautiful 1800's architecture. (Sally - I wish I would have taken a picture of YOU)
The timing was right when we left my family. Two days prior they had significant snowfall in the mountains. We picked a good day to travel over Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mtns.

There is a memorial at Donner Pass to commerate those who emigrated to California from the east in the mid-1800s.  I highly recommend the book about the Donner Party - ORDEAL BY HUNGER by George R. Stewart.
We traveled to Reno, Nevada where we camped a night with Dean and Diane Tobias. Yes, we seem to be following them. We drove Hwy 95 south to Tonopah where we camped for a night and woke up to ice on our windshield. We were not happy campers and anxious to reach the warmth of Furnace Creek Campground, 196 ft below sea level in Death Valley. 
The ghost town of Rhyolite, at the NE entrance of Death Valley, was fun to visit. 
The above ghosts and "Ghost Rider" were sculpted 
by Albert Szukalski in 1984
The Bottle House in Rhyolite, built by Saloon owner Tom Kelly 
in 1906 at age 76.
It was a great time of year to visit Death Valley. Fortunately, we were able to get a campsite. Without knowing it, we had arrived the week of the annual 49ers Encampment. They were gearing up for 5 days of activities and the campgrounds were filling up. In the evening we could hear the old-time and western style music around the campfires. We had beautiful weather. Sunny skies are the norm but the day we left a storm was rolling in.


Many areas of the park were closed due to flooding. 
We did enjoy a 4 mile hike through the Golden Canyon.

I've always wanted to visit the Opera House in Death Valley Jct. I timed it right for a morning tour with this group visiting from San Diego.This Youtube explains a bit about it:  MARTA BECKET'S OPERA HOUSE


Marta painted her own audience on the interior walls. Amazing.
We had made plans to travel to Zion National Park in Utah, but the weather was getting colder. We headed for Pahrump,NV to the Escapees Park and then we would make some travel decisions. The temps were dropping into the 20's at night. We don't like dealing with cold weather. We looked at the map and voted to head south to warmer climate. We've always wanted to stay in the Anza-Borrego desert area east of San Diego. Our route passed by Tecopa Hot Springs, so we decided to check it out. As we pulled over on the side of the road, we noticed some walkers heading our way and asked them about the area. They recommended the RV Park where they stay. We normally don't stay in commercial parks, but when they told us about the 104 degree hot springs baths we decided to splurge and stay a night. Peterson's Tecopa Palm RV Park was well-worth the price of admission. When we were told we must check out the CHINA RANCH DATE FARM, and get a date shake, that was like icing on the cake. The Happy Hour lasted nearly 2 hours and coffee and donuts in the morning another two hours.  We became good friends with the couple we met out on the road. 

Dick loved the rules of the private mineral baths: No shampoos, no lotions and nudity is required. Minerals pull the soaps out of clothing which degrades the water and everything flows out into the marsh.  
Because of Dick's history of fainting in hot water, I had to go with him every time.  

Happy Hour at Tecopa Palms RV Park. Commercial parks aren't for Dick. He was being a good sport and singing along. (yes, Evelyn, he's playing the accordion!)

Corvair Ultravan motorhome
We passed by this RV parked in Tecopa Hot Springs 
This sign was modest compared to some things advertised in Nevada

Next stop Borrego Springs.....


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU'RE HAVING FUN!

Wow - it's already been a month since my last travel update. We just left Washington and are now heading down the Oregon coast along Hwy 101. We've traveled this route many times but always south to north. The views are so much more spectacular going south. Maybe because I can see better riding on the shoulder side looking down on all the amazing views from the motorhome. 

Our campsite where I'm writing this blog and  only $10/nite. Can you find the motorhome?
While visiting Maggie in Seattle we decided we would stay on the less populated Olympic Peninsula. So the Escapee park in Chimacum, WA was the perfect place to stay. It would take about 2 hrs to her place by car and ferry. Plus it was only about a 45 minute drive to Olympic National Park so Dick could enjoy some backpacking. It was extra nice to be at the "SKP" park because TC friends, Dean and Diane Tobias were also staying there. They say we're following them because we met up with them in September in Glacier National Park where they were camp hosts. We love following them. We have so much fun together.

Dean and Diane Tobias

Diane fascinated with Dick testing out quick ways to cook an omelette with his backpacking stove.

Joan and Phil Richardson, more friends from home, just happened to be passing through Port Angeles so we enjoyed a few hours with them before they caught the ferry to Vancouver Island, B.C.

Enjoying the views at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park with the Richardsons
I really loved the town of Port Townsend, which was only a few miles from us. They still use all the old Victorian buildings dating back to the 19th century. It's as if you've stepped back in time. When I saw the beautiful Rose Theater in town and the movie A WALK IN THE WOODS was playing, we just had to go. The movie was great and the theater was amazing. Also, there was a wonderful farmer's market on Saturday mornings. We were told by a local to make sure we got there right when it opens and get in line for a croissant. Best he'd ever tasted since visiting France. We bought two to eat right then and two for the next day. We had no willpower and ate all four right then.

The Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Port Townsend


The little yellow front building in the middle is the Rose Theater and the building to the right is an extension of the theater with a restaurant below and the Starlight Room on the third floor with a beautiful view.


The Starlight Room looked fun. You sit in comfy chairs and you can even order food and drink while watching a movie. Maybe next year.





One day while driving through the Chimacum countryside we passed Egg and I Rd. I Googled it to find that this was where the farm was located where Betty McDonald lived. She wrote a humorous memoir about her life as a newlywed trying to acclimate and operate a small chicken farm with her husband. 



Visiting Maggie was always interesting. She took advantage of having our wheels and drove us around doing errands. We didn't care what we did we just enjoyed being with her. She is happy to be back in Seattle.
Maggie's boyfriend, Tom Wick, was visiting a week during the time we were there. So we had the chance to spend some time with him. This was his first time in Seattle and he loved it. His brother also lives there and they enjoyed being together. Tom had a job with Shoreline Aviation all summer in Connecticut and from now through December he's back working for them in St. Croix, V.I. He's working hard accumulating the flying hours needed to get his Captain's license and they're both hoping eventually he can get a job flying in Seattle.

Dick and Tom 

I love being with my daughter!
Maggie and Tom  

We had a few car problems which Dick can't wait to tell you about. He makes it very entertaining to say the least. 

"Transmission for My Birthday"

Yes, BOO is still enjoying our travels - we are on to California to visit family




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