New Year’s Eve

Malta075Used to be this night was filled with promise, excitement, the deep seated idea that I should be doing something absolutely fabulous.  Reality, however, is that it turns out more often than not to be a quiet night at home trying to stay awake to watch the ball fall.  There are several times during the year when I feel the need to reflect.  The night of my birthday is important, reviewing the past year.  The night of the winter solstice to me is the real ‘new year’ when I know that the sun has reached it’s greatest distance.  New Year’s Eve, of course, is another one of those nights, another time for thinking about the year past, for remembering and reflecting.

I could write a litany of what we did this year, a summary of the trips, the travels, the fun times.  I could write about family changes and milestones, another litany, another list.  Instead, as this day comes to a close, I will attempt to think about what moments stand out most as something totally new and surprising, and maybe look back to see just what I learned this year, how I possibly grew a bit.  Who knows, by the time I am done, it may still be just a list of what we did and where we went.  I guess I’ll know more as I attempt to backtrack and see the learning tidbits buried beneath the stories. So for now, as the year comes to a close, I thought I would track down some sunset photos until I get around to actually reflecting.  It’s just a bit easier to do. The surprising thing about that little exercise was that I take a LOT more photos of sunrises than I do of sunsets.  Guess that shows what time of day I like most, I guess.

It was 11 degrees this morning when we woke up, and we waited for it to warm up to a balmy 14 before going outside to haul a couple of loads of wood to the back porch.  We are burning dry juniper this year and I love it.  It smells wonderful, and it burns hot and bright with a brilliant glowing color that feels as good as it looks.  In this area, we don’t have access to much hardwood, except for the laurel over in Medford that runs 200 a cord.  I’ll settle for juniper at 130. 

Day6_sunset New followers keep showing up on the blog, and if I missed welcoming any of you, Holler!  It’s delightful to read your stories and I am appreciative of the fact that you read mine.  I have said before that this blog was started just for me and for Mo and our friends and family, but as most bloggers know, the family doesn’t come around all that often.  Magic followers from the ethers of the internet keep me honest, keep me blogging, inspire me to write more thoughtfully, and in the long run, Mo and I will benefit from that when at some time down the road we return to the blog to review our lives.

Kenny and Angela  are counting down until they can become full-timers.

Sam and Donna have fun traveling in their fifth wheel, and have some great nostalgic photos of the two of them back in the 80’s

Dennis and Donna who travel in a fifth wheel as well, decided to return home in the snow a bit sooner than expected, but are happy to be there.

Judy had some really amazing photos of a hawk that she rescued with Emma’s help on Travels with Emma.

Dear Miss Mermaid had some interesting tidbits about goofy Florida laws for RV’s in Orange County.

Roxie and Annie over at the The Goodluck Duck made me laugh out loud.

Thank you to all of you.

 

 

Do I REALLY want to be here?

Rocky Point snow day (25) I swore I didn’t need to post another photo of snow at Rocky Point, but I was wrong.  After returning home from our desert travels on Monday afternoon, it was wonderful to be here.  At first.  The snow was manageable and home was so welcoming and comfortable once the fire was blazing in the woodstove and we warmed our achy bones with a dip in the hot tub under the night sky. 

Yesterday, however, was a different story.  The snow that came down on Tuesday was thick and soupy and it rained hard all night before turning to a deep fluffy powder by morning.  We woke to a windy winter wonderland of snow laden firs, and another round of plowing, even though Mo spent a good part of the day before on the tractor.

Mo runs the tractor, I do the shoveling and we often share the snow blower duties.  After two hours of shoveling a foot thick load of moderately heavy snow over a six inch dead weight of frozen slush, I was ready to move to Florida.  Mo could barely push the stuff around with the tractor, and spent nearly three hours out there trying to get our road Rocky Point snow day (32)cleared down to Rocky Point Road. Once again, I was the grumpy one.  Hmm, do I see a pattern here?  I was so sick of lifting heavy snow, trying to toss it, only to have the entire load stick to the shovel and jerk me around, that I just said, “I quit.  I am done. No more.”  As luck would have it, I had managed to get the most of the snow out of the way enough that Mo could get the plow in the rest of the way. 

Of course, I had to move my truck out of the way first, (we store Mo’s Lexus and the baby car in the garage) and it was frozen solid.  I jerked and swore, and finally went inside to find the hair dryer to try to melt the frozen gunk all around the door seams.  Eventually I got the door open, and the frozen stuff removed enough from the windows that I could see to back the truck out into a spot across the road so Mo could continue to plow.

I decided to ease my grumpiness with a soothing daytime dip into the hot tub, of course I had to break some icicles and sweep off a bunch of snow to get into it.  Now remind me again, why do I love living in Rocky Point?  Oh yeah, it’s really pretty in the summer and the winter snows are gorgeous.

Rocky Point snow day (19) By late afternoon, the snow finally stopped, and Mo came back from her foray to the mailbox all excited, (at least as excited as she usually gets which is pretty low key).  She wanted to take me out to Rocky Point Road, which hadn’t been plowed at all during the entire day and looked wonderful.  The baby car has studded tires and four wheel drive, so it was great fun running around the neighborhood and checking out all the deep drifts, the snow laden forest, and the unplowed roads.  I jumped in and out of the car, snapping away, oohing and aahing at how beautiful the lake looked through the trees, how clean and white the snow looked, and decided that moving to Florida really wasn’t an option after all.Rocky Point snow day (17)

Hiking on Christmas Eve, and heading home

thousand palms canyon (4)thousand palms canyon (10) I ’m sitting at my desk once again at home in Rocky Point, with snow outside the darkened windows, a blazing fire in the woodstove, and all the glory of high def big screen television illuminating the living room down the hall. Seems almost impossible that two days ago I was feeling the warm sun on my body as I hiked through the Coachella Preserve in a pair of shorts.  In spite of many internet searches and phone calls, we never did find a dog friendly trail for Abby, so instead Mo spent the morning relaxing in the MoHo while I took off hiking with Laurie and Odel, who graciously offered to drive.  It was the first time that I have entered the murky gloom of a desert California fan palm oasis, and I was completely enthralled.  The hike through the palms was less than a mile, however, not enough to even touch the 10,000 steps that are the daily goal of my hiking partners.  Instead we opted for a 4 mile mostly ridge run through the desert. 

thousand palms canyon (15)  The trail offered magnificent views in all directions, and the snow frosted peaks of the surrounding mountains made everything look all the more dramatic. With temperatures in the mid-60’s, the hike was perfect, just a few short climbs to get the blood moving, and long strolls punctuated withthousand palms canyon (16) many stops along the way to talk about all the things that we don’t blog, aka politics, religion, and of course, all the other RV bloggers that we both read and enjoy!  Stopping at a particularly gorgeous overlook, Laurie commented that she thought the huge rift below us looked like a fault.  Bingo, Laurie!  That was the San Andreas Fault, bisecting the park, lying beneath us.  The fan palms are there due to the seeps and springs coming from the fault zone, and the fabulous warm waters of Desert Hot Springs are also a result of the active fault.  Lucky us!  Great hiking, hot pools, palms for shade, and no earthquakes!

Back in camp, Mo and I sat outside in the sun for a long time, until the lengthening evening shadows forced us indoors.  Once it was all the way dark, we strolled through the park, enjoying all the Christmas light displays and listening to the music drifting on the evening air.  With only two days of brilliant sun, and that luxurious hot water pool, the trip felt like a complete success, even with the crazy weather.

Christmas Day 2010 We planned to drive on Christmas, hoping for light traffic and good weather, and we weren’t disappointed.  Christmas morning was beautiful, with so little wind that the mighty windmills were still for the first time since we have been here in the desert.  Traveling I-10, to the 210 through Pasadena (close to my birthplace in Sierra Madre), then to I-5 and over the Grapevine was completely uneventful, except for the ker-thunkety ker-plunkety road sounds that frustrated Jeremy more than any of us.  No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t settle down in his usual spot on the MoHo dash.  The road surfaces in California in many places are very old and very tired, and nowhere more so than on these major interstates.  My truck driving daughter says they are some of the worst highways in the country.  I would agree, especially after just returning from Florida where turnpikes and road fees make for some highways as smooth as butter and as well lit as a videogame.  Ah well, eventually the I-5 smoothed out a bit, the rain stayed north of us and we made our way to Coalinga.  I spent some good phone time with each of my four kids scattered around the country, and talked with friends here and there as well.  Just exactly what I would have done on this day if I had been back in Rocky Point.

Christmas Day 2010 (3) Near Coalinga we passed the Harris Ranch, a huge complex of restaurant, store and inn, with an interesting history.  Mo spontaneously said, “Hey, how about a steak!”.  We parked in the huge lot to the west of the complex and decided to see if it was possible to get in for dinner.  To our surprise, we didn’t even have to wait.   Christmas Day 2010 (11)Did you ever eat a 32 dollar steak in a tee shirt??  It was totally comfortable, with some folks in diamonds and glitz, and others fresh off the road as we were.  The service was fantastic, and the steaks were all natural, no hormones added, grass fed beef.  I had a glass of knarly oak old vine zinfandel that was an experience to itself.  I wouldn’t want to drink that wine alone, but with dinner it was perfect.  I swear I could taste the dirt beneath the old vine in that glass. The ambience was lovely, with a huge old fireplace blazing brightly, Christmas music in the background, and twinkly lights everywhere.  Turned out to be the perfect Christmas dinner for us, and I didn’t even have to cook a thing.

Christmas Day 2010 (20) Back on the road for one short hour of hard driving rain and wind before we found a little KOA at the San Luis RV Resort near Gustine, where we had reserved a space by phone earlier in the day. The site was pull-through, and it just took a few minutes to hook up in the rain.  We lit the flameless candle, turned on the flickering snowman, pulled all the shades, and were suddenly in our own little heaven, safe and warm, watching Christmas shows till bedtime.  I love that part about RVing, the quick changes, the variety, and then the nesty safety of it all.  No suitcases to lug around, to fluorescent lit front desks to deal with, just pull in, plug in, and you are home.

We spent the once again sunny Sunday morning driving to Redding along I-5, again just out of reach of the hardest rains until we landed in our little boring Redding RV Park along the freeway.  There was enough time left in the day for a quick trip up the hill to Mo’s uncle living in Shingletown, so we made a quick call and left for the hills.  Uncle Don was a World War II pilot, and then a commercial pilot, married to his sweet Maxine for many decades.  Maxine left the world a couple of years ago, and Uncle Don is on his own now, and doing absolutely great for a man in his 80’s.  We had great fun visiting and listening to airplane stories, and playing with his little Boston Terrier, Spike.  Down the mountain in the dark, and before long we were again safely tucked in to our little haven.  We spent our last night on the road for our big cross country trip here, and now we are here again.  I would imagine we might use this park quite often, since it is just a mile or so down the road from where we store the MoHo. At $15.40 cash only with the CampClub USA card, it’s a deal.

Christmas Day 2010 (21) This morning was easy.  We found a place to fill the propane, and a great self service car wash big enough for the MoHo to get her all cleaned up for a few weeks in storage.  Have you ever heard of a coin car wash that takes credit cards??  It was great, no quarters clinking away and no bells beeping.  We just washed till we were done and paid the bill. $7.25 a steal for sure! By eleven she was tucked away in her berth and we were on the interstate driving north toward Klamath Falls.  Somehow that last 150 miles seemed soooo long.  For one thing, we were in the baby car, not the big cushy leather seats of the MoHo, and the cat couldn’t figure out where to be and the dog thought the cat was in her space and wasn’t happy about it.  Jeremy, who is really a sweetheart most of the time, reached around the seat and slapped Abby for no good reason at all.  Reminded me of a couple of kids in the car fighting for space.

Now here we are, all settled in at home.  The car is unloaded, the laundry is running, the dog is sleeping at Mo’s feet and the cat is sprawled out on the back of the sofa.  Just like we never left.  Amazing to me how that happens.

 

Sunny day in the desert

 

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Finally! When the sun does come out, it is as though I can breathe the light.  I am a light addict, I know.  Mo says often, “Quit worrying about it, you can’t change it”.  I want blue skies, maybe a few puffy whites around, and 75 to 80 degrees or so.  Isn’t that why we have an RV?? I am certainly not complaining about our gorgeous day today, however, not one bit.  We started out with a swim around 4:30 am in the 24/7 hot spring pool.  If you can’t sleep in this park, just go swimming.  Funny thing, by 5:30 there were some other folks showing up.  Crazy, I know, but it sure felt good on the bones that are tired of all the rain.

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Today instead of hiking, we decided to try out the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. Knowing how quickly after a rain the skies can get hazy, I was glad that we left early in the morning  and beat the crowds.  We heard many languages spoken on the tram and in the visitor’s centers, and even had a great conversation with a local Palm Springs resident who was sharing the great tourist attraction with visiting relatives.  I think I’ll just link to the tram information since the hour is late and I am a bit worn.  Lazy? Maybe, but why rewrite it all?  Sometimes people tend to avoid touristy attractions, but often they are attractions for a good reason. The quick, slick, smooth ride from the desert to the snowy mountaintop was breathtaking, and worth every single penny.  Maybe it isn’t something you have to do more than once, but I wouldn’t have missed it.

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We capped off the tram ride with a great long walk through some wide open desert along the flooding wash north of Palm Springs.  Sadly, almost all of the nice hiking trails in this area are not dog friendly, with even leashed dogs prohibited from the trails.  We wandered off into the desert toward the huge windmills that fill the valley, unencumbered by rules, people, or anything else to bother us except the ever present desert garbage.  I just don’t get the garbage thing, but it seems to be strewn everywhere, huge piles of household trash, shoes, books, hangars.  Abby didn’t care, and we didn’t either as long as we just kept looking up to the gorgeous skies and brilliantly shadowed mountains capped with fresh snow.  It was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk.  The garbage of humankind can be ignored I guess, if you try hard enough. Is it somewhat strange that all this garbage and all this opulence are just a few hundred yards apart?

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After our walk, we wandered around the back streets of north Palm Springs, checking out Elvis Presley’s honeymoon house and other idyllic homes on soft quiet streets. In spite of all the road closures, we managed to find a route west of the valley that took us through open countryside and avoided another tiresome stop and go run down busy highway 111 through the palm towns. I took a ton of photos today, tried to delete as many as possible, but just couldn’t resist the magnificent vistas of desert sky and mountains.  If you want to look, the rest of the photos, including shots of some of the flooding, are here.

DHS Trip-44

Rick is King!

IT King Rick to the Rescue! (link to Rick’s help)

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A great photo of Laurie and Odel at dinner at the Fishermans Market

_SCN6001 _SCN5996Rick came to the rescue this morning with his comment on my last post with his great CNET download and instructions (linked above).  What a great guy.  I have to say this wouldn’t have been possible without my small purchase yesterday after Brian, the IT dude here at Catalina, hooked me up with a Wi-Fi booster.  At first I was skeptical, but seeing my signal go from 1 to 11 with the simple addition of this little baby was great.  I was able to download the software in a flash and with Rick’s clear instructions, in no time I had my photos back.  Yes!  So, maybe they aren’t the most fabulous photos in the world, but they are mine, and the Oasis is about 40 miles down the road in a direction we certainly didn’t want to do again in all the rain and flooded roads around here right now. THANK YOU RICK!!  

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