01-18-2016 Traveling South

Current Location: Desert Hot Springs California at 54 F and clear

Dang.  Open Live Writer refusing to publish tonight, so I am publishing this baby on WordPress.  For all you readers who don’t like this one compared to the blogger version, at least here you get photos….

Bakersfield to Desert Hot Springs-13I can’t really claim the snowbird moniker, but somehow it seems that every year we manage to make our way south.  I think to be a snowbird, you might have to stay for the full winter season and only meander back north when the light and warmth return. Still, it is an incredible delight to slip away from all that cold stuff, the snow plowing, the crashing ice dams, the skating rink parking lot, and land gently back in the desert, with simply a light shirt on in the evening, and feet once again in sandals.  Ahhh.

We took our time this year, leaving later in January, and ambling southward slowly enough to spend some good time visiting friends. visiting friends-26 Mo and I met Laurie and Odel many years ago, when I was a brand new blogger and Laurie was one of the more well known bloggers in the newly minted rv bloggerland.  Later, long after Laurie stopped blogging and they sold their beloved rig Scoopy, we stopped in for a visit to their digs and they took Mo and I to Nevada City and introduced us to their good friends Nickie and Jimmy.  I love how these things work.  As I am writing this, I am remembering just how we all met, and I had almost completely forgotten the details. 

Visiting friends-37Sometimes these kinds of friendships come and go, but in this case, they are the kind that will last a lifetime.  When we get together, in fours or in sixes, it is always so much fun.  This time was no different.  Nickie and Jimmy invited Mo and I to dinner at their place in Nevada City.  The food was fabulous, what Nickie called “comfort food”, but oh my such deliciousness!

visiting friends-19Even better than the food, however, was the laughter.  Nickie has this wondrous inner child that comes out to play a lot, and makes me laugh till my sides hurt.  Mattie thought she was a kick as well, and the two of them slid around on the gorgeous hardwood floors until tiny Mattie knocked Nickie down, or at least that is what Nickie claimed.  So sorry, Nickie!!  I hope your bruises have healed.

visiting friends-27The “Big Plan” was for the six of us to meet the next day in Auburn for some yummy food, and then hike it all off with a great walk along the river and the waterfalls.  The only waterfalls were coming out of the skies, with big dark rain keeping us all inside.  Instead of hiking, the six of us sat together at a big round table at Awful Annie’s and ate and talked and ate some more.  It was great fun being together again.  We have hiked with Laurie and Odel, and with Jimmy and Nickie, but so far haven’t managed a hike with all of us.  That is on the agenda for sure.  What a fun bunch of people to know.  I feel so lucky. 

visiting friends-28Mattie made friends all around, but especially with Odel.  Did she ever love that guy!  I wish I had taken a photo of her looking at him with adoring eyes as he scratched her ears.  Mattie knows a good man when she sees one!

Our trip south this year was almost uneventful, with only a few tiny glitches.  Once again we had to get the rig over the passes, the only way to escape to the south requires driving those passes.  This time I was driving, so instead of documenting all the crazy stuff, I gripped the steering wheel as we rolled along on solid packed snow and glare ice with temps in the high 20’s and low 30’s.  Once again, getting over the Siskiyous was scary, getting past Mt Shasta was even scarier, and once again the ice didn’t clear until we reached the Pit River Bridge just north of Redding.  Sheesh~~ The only good thing is that at least this time it wasn’t actually snowing, but that ice was no fun at all. 

visiting friends-3Beale Air Force Base is just east of the I-5 corridor and Marysville, and only 34 miles west of Nevada City, the sweet little mountain town where Nickie and Jimmy live.  We decided to give the FamCamp a try and it isn’t a bad stop.  The campground is fairly isolated on the base, with long open views toward the east.  I was surprised at how full they were, and we were glad to have made a reservation.  $18.00 per night with full hookups isn’t bad, although the sites were muddy from all the recent El Nino rains.  Still, the gravel pad was level enough we didn’t have to put down the levelers, the power was adequate, and there was WiFi available, but I didn’t try it. My Verizon worked fine on the iPad, and I had no time or need to set up the computers or the MiFi.

visiting friends-7On the way to the campground, we saw an amazing airplane flying low and slow, circling above us.  I love that about staying at an air force base, lots of cool airplanes.  Found out later this was a U-2 plane, and that the woman pilot who flies them at Beale AFB is quite famous.

Once we arrived at the campground, we started our regular routine to unhook the Tracker, only to discover that the battery had gone dead.  Mo is pretty careful about making sure the key is in the right position, but figured she must have turned it a notch too far.  We managed to unhook, turned the MoHo around and jump started the Tracker, leaving it running while we got ready to drive up the mountain to Nevada City.

Everything was fine, and after dinner when we left to go back down the hill, she started right up.  The next day she started up again, no problem, and we drove the back roads from Beale to Auburn and Awful Annie’s. There was no need to unhook the car.  After our wonderful time with friends and food, we headed down I-80 through Sacramento all the way to Lodi on the 5, a whopping 70 miles. 

Didn’t bother unhooking the Tracker because we settled in comfortably to our cozy pull through spot in row E at Flag City RV Resort.  It is a perfect one night stop, half price with the Passport America card, easy on and easy off, and cheap gas at the Love if we needed it.  The next morning, Mo tried to start the Tracker and sure enough, once again it was dead.  OK then.  Where is WalMart?!  As Judy probably knows from her extended stay here last year, it is right down the road about 4 miles.  Within an hour, we had a new battery, installed in the misty rain, and all was running well again.  No problems since.  I guess it was time for a new battery.

We have been really lucky so far on this trip with gas prices being so low.  I filled up in Grants Pass for $1.87. Mo filled at Beale for $2.21, and we filled yesterday at the Pilot on I-5 for just $1.99!  Looks as though things might be a bit more here in the Coachella Valley with the Pilot running $2.69, but hopefully our time in Arizona will make up for that.  I love GasBuddy!  My favorite App!

Bakersfield to Desert Hot Springs-9Once the battery was replaced and we were traveling down the 5, everything seemed to settle into place.  I think it takes a few hundred miles before it reallly feels like we are on the road, and that great feeling hit yesterday somewhere along the hills on the western side of the San Jouquin Valley.  Evidence of the drought has lessened a bit, with recent rains turning everything green.  Big signs are dotted among the fruit and nut orchards: “If water is used to grow food, is it really wasted?”  I found myself wondering about this a lot.  California is having huge water issues, with too many people wanting too little water.  If that water is used to let people in the valley have drinking water, which many of them don’t right now, isn’t that better perhaps than it being used to grow nuts for export?  Who benefits from that besides the farmer, certainly not the people who actually need food or water in California.  Lots to think about as you roll down that lonely but crowded asphalt ribbon along the hills bordering the Great Valley that grows a huge percentage of our food.

Bakersfield to Desert Hot Springs-7We spent the night last night at the Orange Grove RV Resort  just east of Bakersfield on Highway 58.  I think most every RV heading toward the desert must stay here at one time or another.  It was raining this morning when we got up, but the mist let up in time for us to get the MoHo washed at the free RV wash at the park.  Of course, there are the free for the picking oranges, sweetest ever, and this year the crop is especially sweet.  Add to that free coffee and free truly fresh and excellent donuts for the taking and staying there is a pretty good deal at $39.00 per night.  A good wash of our two rigs usually costs us at least $15.00 in quarters if we do it at a car wash.  And the oranges are priceless!  I just hope I have enough to last until we return by way of Orange Grove RV Park.  I need to stock up again before I get back to the land of grocery store oranges.  Ick!Bakersfield to Desert Hot Springs-2

The rain started in earnest by the time we were actually on the road and it poured all the way to the summit at Tehachapi.  On the down side, the rains let up, but the damage caused by the terrible flash floods that roared through Sand Canyon last fall was still visible.  By the time we reached the other side and the desert stretched out before us, the skies were opened up and the sunlight was gorgeous and brilliant.  Ahhh…..it is like the world opens up when the sun shines like this, and the desert vistas stretch out before me.  I really really don’t want to live in the desert, but I need it like I need light. I guess that is why I love RVing so much.  That inner need for varied landscapes, the desert, the ocean, the South,the Florida spring runs, the hardwood forests, the Red Rock Country, I wouldn’t want to have to choose to only be in any one of those places forever.  I couldn’t begin to choose which one to give up, which one mattered most.  No need!  I can have it all!

Bakersfield to Desert Hot Springs-14We stopped for lunch somewhere along Highway 58 before Barstow, where Mattie got her first taste of desert air and we opened up the slide and let the sunshine pour in while we made a nice lunch and took a bit of a break.  Mo drove the rest of the route, one of our favorites, from Barstow, down Highway 247, winding through the mountains down toward Yucca Valley and then down the big grade to Desert Hot Springs.

Bakersfield to Desert Hot Springs-17Every time we come here, I am reminded of the wild, craggy, rocky, mountainous land that makes up this part of Southern California.  It is so incredibly rugged, twisted and tortured by all the tectonic activity, all the faults that folded and uplifted and shattered the landscape.  The desert here is anything but flat and boring, it is a wild world and so beautiful.IMG_5570

With only four days here this year, we won’t be doing as much hiking as usual, but I will treasure every moment of my hot pool time before we continue east.

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01-11-2015 Other Doings in the Coachella Valley

Current Location: Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, near Yuma, Arizona

While swimming, soaking, and hiking in the warm winter temperatures of the Coachella Valley are high on our list of favorite pastimes here, we do manage to do a few other things as well.  For complex reasons, we decided to travel north and east through Yucca Valley to 29 Palms to check out the Marine base.  murals at 29 Palms (7 of 48)

It was a billboard advertisement that called our attention to the murals in the small desert town.  Murals are always fun to find, but in this case many of them were on north facing walls, making photography a bit challenging.  I suppose this might be to reduce fading on the paintings.  A few of the murals were done fairly recently, and one especially was interesting because the signatures indicated that it was completed in just a weekend in May in 2013.  Quite the project.murals at 29 Palms (28 of 48)murals at 29 Palms (25 of 48)

murals at 29 Palms (9 of 48)murals at 29 Palms (13 of 48)The mural on the Little Church in the Desert had colors that rivaled any I have seen.  It was quite dramatic.

murals at 29 Palms (23 of 48)This was my favorite, however, what a great sense of humor!

murals at 29 Palms (36 of 48)As we headed back west through town, this amazing fence caught our eye.  It was in a parking lot of a now closed Farmers Insurance building, and the building was just as creative, with walls and windows of rusted mine metal and old brick, even though the building was fairly new.

murals at 29 Palms (30 of 48)Although I don’t care to travel the distances that Paulette travels hunting for quilt shops in Southern California, there are two pretty nice shops in the valley.  On Saturday, with gloomy skies and needing a day of down time, we drove south toward Palm Desert and found both shops in the vicinity of I-10. 

Rick and Paulett_233As is usually the case with quilt shops, these two have entirely different styles and offerings.  In previous years I have found great patterns and fabric and made quilts when I got home from the goodies found here.Rick and Paulett_234

This time was no exception, as I added considerably to my stash, and bought enough fabulous batiks to make a quilt similar to a sample I saw in the shop that melted my heart.  Can hardly wait to get home to get started on it.  The colors are so gorgeous.

Rick and Paulett_221Sunday after our swim and leisurely breakfast, I drove the short distance to The Sands for a visit with Rick and Paulette. So nice of them to invite me for coffee and “dippers”, a Trader Joe delight that Rylie thought she should share as well.  Rylie was adorable, as usual, full of energy and such a sweet face. Rick and I have talked often about computer stuff, and I follow Paulette’s quilting blog, so we do have some things in common beside simply traveling in an RV.Rick and Paulett_222

Our days usually included a walk through the park, checking out the rigs and the people.  It was especially interesting to notice how many sites were empty this year.  Surprising considering the cost of fuel seems to have many more people on the road.  Even though we stay here most every year, we have never gone to any of the sales pitches, or actually figured out the ownership style of the park.  Who knows.  We aren’t buying anyway.

murals at 29 Palms (40 of 48)Some people seem to have bought more than one lot, and just down the road from us in the lower park, an owner was installing landscaping, and gravel on one lot next door to his motorhome space.  It looked quite nice.  I was curious how long these owners are allowed to stay in the park, or if they have to leave as some of the other kinds of park memberships require.  However, I didn’t care to find out enough to sit through a sales pitch!

murals at 29 Palms (42 of 48)On another note, I learned again to make the trip to the upper park laundry rather than using the one in the lower campground near our site.  Once again, as in years past, I lost money in the machines with no way of getting a refund. The office was closed on Sunday, the machines are owned by someone offsite (according to the lone person around in the guard shack).  The only way to get back my 1.25 in quarters was to fill out some extensive paperwork and after the problem was resolved, they would mail the money to me.  Right…I never did ask if I had to pay for the stamp for that service which would have cut my return in half.

Traveling South_035The other minor thing to keep in mind at Catalina is the soft sand and uneven sites.  We put pads under the front levelers, but had nothing under the back ones.  When we lifted the levelers, the back one had sunk at least four inches into the sand.  Be sure to have supports for your levelers and plan on complicated leveling.  We have semi-automatic levelers, so can only manage two at a time, and it gets a bit crazy sometimes in these uneven sites.

Don’t want to end thoughts of our stay at Catalina Spa with negative stuff, however.  I still give this park a 9 out of 10 for one of our favorite parks to spend time in the winter.  The pools are the best part, and I will continue to come south for my allotted seven days as long as this park honors our Passport America.  I would NOT pay the regular price of $65 per night no matter how good the pools were!Traveling South_030

We left yesterday morning, traveling east on Dillon Road toward Quartzite and then south toward Yuma. 

Next: Visiting Judy and the birds at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

 

January 2 to January 7 Traveling South

Current Location: Desert Hot Springs, CA at 55 degrees F at 5 in the morning

We left the day after New Years.  I think we were both ready to leave earlier, but we did have a plan, and I wanted to watch the Rose Parade and Mo wanted to see the Rose Bowl Game so we decided to wait.  The weather at home was icy, with just a skiff of snow left over from Christmas.  There was nothing to plow or shovel, and the only real chores to be done were keeping the fire going.  Christmas Day 2014  (1 of 58)

Neither of us are likely to get bored, there is always something to do, but I did notice a bit of restive boredom building, as we made our plans to head south.  Call it hitch-itch or whatever…it has been a month since we had the MoHo on the road and we were both ready to go.  Christmas Day 2014  (16 of 58)

Christmas with family and friends at home

As we watched the parade, we again talked of taking an RV trip, one of those group things, where you get grandstand seats, a nice place to park, and visits to the float barns before the parade.  Might be the only way I’ll ever see the Rose Parade again, since neither of us really wants to mess with that whole traffic parking finding a place to stand thing.  When I was a kid, we would camp overnight on Orange Grove Boulevard sometimes to get good viewing spots. Maybe next year.

This year we watched from the cozy comfort of our home living room, where I spent most of the day taking down more of the Christmas decorations and packing travel food.  Now that the MoHo is stored in Grants Pass, we have to fit everything we take on our trips into the baby car for the trip over the mountain.  We laughed this time, wondering where Abby and Jeremy would have fit in the heavily laden car.

hooking up on a cold foggy morning at the cottageA night with Deborah at the cottage and when morning dawned foggy and icy as usual for Grants Pass this time of year we were off, heading south on the 5 for what has become an annual migration to Desert Hot Springs.  Sometimes we simply pass through on a trek more distant, sometimes like this time, we will stay in the southern deserts, but no matter how we do it, a stay at Catalina Spa and RV Resort always seems to be part of the plan.

map of the route to DHSWe have no fancy memberships, other than Passport America.  With our love of state parks, national parks, national forest and BLM camping and boondocking, it just isn’t worth the extra money.  However the PPA card gets us some nice half price benefits for our days on the road. Unlike last year, when Catalina was changing its management policies and we were only allowed two discounted nights, this year the policy has returned to allowing a week at half price, for us $32.50 a night is what we expect to pay at full price and we don’t pay that often! Still, the thought of those hot spring pools always draws me back. love the auto downshift in the MoHo

Siskiyou Summit, highest point on I-5 between Mexico and Canada.

If we were going to stay a month, I would imagine we would try out Sam’s Spa nearby, a place Nina and Paul enjoy.  Of course, The Sands is big and lovely with a golf course and comes highly recommended by Rick and Paulette who spend extended time there every winter.  For us, Catalina is perfect, with the lower camping area a bit older, sites not perfectly level made lumpy with sand, and older trees around, eucalyptus, tamarisk, and some kind of desert pine. It isn’t especially fancy, but it also isn’t crowded, with the trees and oleander hedges making the sites in the lower area feel much more private than those in the newer upper part of the park.  Without the need for 50 amp hookups, we have the option to stay here.Even Mt Shasta is shrouded by the murky air

Mt Shasta above the inversion caused murky air of the Scott Valley

We have traveled south many times, but often from our home in Rocky Point, going over highway 97 toward Weed, or from Brookings a few times where we stored the MoHo until we got the Grants Pass cottage.  We haven’t traveled south on the 5 from Grants Pass directly very often, and it is always a surprise to remember just how long a pull it is to cross the pass over the Siskiyou’s south of Ashland at the Oregon/California border.  On this crossing, it was icy at 31 degrees F, but Mo did just fine, and I never felt any slipping around at all. 

As we dropped down into the valley near Yreka, the air quality began to deteriorate, due to the strong cold air inversions plaguing most of the Oregon and California valleys.  The skies were dingy all the way south throughout the great state of California. 

Traveling South_004For people who like to travel around as much as we do, and who enjoy new experiences, it is surprising to me how comfortable we are with doing the same route and staying in the same places on this southward journey.  We took a bit of time to stop in Red Bluff to visit my ex mom in law, a dear woman celebrating her 91st birthday this month.Traveling South_005

The entire route is less than 900 miles, but we give ourselves time, spending two nights along the way.  My trucker kids would do that trip in one day! The Flag City RV Park along the freeway in Lodi is our preferred first night stop.  Half price here with the PPA card is $27 per night, and with cement level pull through sites, full hookups, free wifi and cable TV we like the stop.  Easy and fast and we never bother with making a reservation.  The nearby Flying J station has the lowest gas price around according to our GasBuddy app, so it is easy to fill up for the next day.  This time we also filled up propane, and while it was a buck more per gallon than it would have been in Grants Pass, it was a quick and easy fill right in the driveway of the park.

Morning dawned sweetly with temps in the 50’s, but the air was still murky with the inversion.  Interstate 5 south has been worked on repeatedly, and while last year I remember the road being fairly smooth, this year it seemed to have deteriorated more.  Of course, Stockton is always bad, with construction going on constantly for all the years I have traveled through that area.  With the MoHo jumping and bumping, I looked up the worst cities to live in the US and yes, Stockton is high on the list.  Sad.

The traffic on I-5 all the way to the Highway 58 turnoff toward Bakersfield was steady and thick.  I guess a lot of people were traveling back to Los Angeles after the holidays.  Truck traffic wasn’t as heavy as usual, but the line of cars ahead of us and behind us was solid, and if Mo got behind a truck it often took a bit of effort to get back into the fast moving traffic to pass. I’m glad it was her day to drive!  I took photos of the passing landscape, so beautiful in its own way, but missed having Jeremy on the dash.  So many photos of him sleeping away in the sunshine as we traveled south on this highway.

Traveling South_015We gassed up at the Bakersfield Costco at 2.25 per gallon, amazing for California, and continued east toward Orange Grove RV Park.  I learned last year when we ended up in overflow, that reservations were a smart idea.  Today proved to be so, and as we checked in with our reservation, rig after rig pulled into the big long driveways they have for that purpose.  Taking advantage of the free RV wash area, we got most of the road grime off both vehicles before settling into our full hookup site. 

Traveling South_012As many southward bound RV’rs know, this campground in an old orange grove comes with free picking privileges.  I know you can buy bags of oranges along the road for 5 bucks or so, but they never seem quite as sweet.  Probably brought up green from Mexico or something.  Nothing quite as sweet as ripe oranges directly from the tree.  Hopefully my orange stash will last long enough.  I always feel sad at the moment I slice and squeeze the last orange from Orange Grove RV.

Our favorite route into the Springs is not the one recommended by Google maps, but we ignore their suggestions and travel west into Barstow and take 247 south through the Lucerne Valley, Johnson Valley, and into Yucca Valley, where we then travel down 62 into the Coachella Valley.  I am always amazed at the rugged landscape, the range after range of faulted and folded mountains formed in marine sediments that have smashed into the continent from far lands.  I do have a love hate relationship with my birth state of California and I am always reminded of that when we come south. 

The smell of the southern deserts, the sharp line of the mountains unimpeded by vegetation against the sunset, the twinkling lights of desert cities, all remind me of childhood years long gone.  I am glad they are gone, but also glad that I have the chance to come back and enjoy the best parts of what I remember about living in Southern California.

Traveling South_028Driving south on Corkhill Road toward the resort is almost like coming home.  The familiarity feels nice.  Back again to that dichotomy between something new and something familiar, I guess there are good parts to each.  Within minutes we found a nice spot on 11th street, backed up by nothing but the dog park area, and with no one beside us on the south for two spaces, it feels fairly private.Traveling South_018

I am just a small street and a few steps east of my favorite pool in the world, at least the warmest.  My favorite might still be the infinity pool at the Dusit Resort in Chiang Rai Thailand.  But it is a lot easier and cheaper to get to this one!Traveling South_025

Within minutes of arriving, I checked Facebook and found a note from Betty, another RV blogger, all concerned that no one by the name of Sue Malone had checked in. Nope, it was Mo who checked in, and not with her nickname!  I asked for an hour or so for us to get out the chairs, and sure enough Betty bopped right into our site right on cue.  Bopped is a good description for Betty.  She is a sweet, delightful, happy woman who chatters along so comfortably that it is easy to enjoy her company.  We visited a bit, took some photos, heard some great stories, and then Betty bopped back to her place to prepare for their early morning departure for Arizona.  Nice to meetcha, Betty!

Traveling South_021Traveling South_020We have a week here at the resort, before our travels will take us south toward Yuma.  In the mean time, we hope to catch some of the hiking trails that we haven’t done in the past.  Many trails around this area are not dog friendly.  We miss Abby so much, but are not ready to get another dog, so this is the year to hike all the dog unfriendly trails that we can find.  The weather is with us, the skies are clear and the temperatures are perfect, without the famous Desert Hot Springs winds anywhere in the predictions.  It will be a good week.Traveling South_031

1-3-2014 It has something to do with the light

Desert Hot Springs 62 degrees F this evening and high thin clouds with a sliver of a moon

Whitewater Canyon Hike (10)I guess because I grew up in Southern California there is something about the color of the light that touches me down deep.  I certainly wouldn’t want to live here all the time, but when I visit, memories surface and I feel as though I am in very familiar territory.  I slip back into feelings and impressions I had when I was a kid, nameless, the memories are nothing solid, but the sensations are interesting to experience.  Wordless, really, and yet I keep trying to put it into words somehow.

It felt that way early this morning, as Mo and I swam in the hot springs pool at 5am, watching the stars and the many airplanes in the dark sky going in all directions.  We had the place to ourselves until 6:30, a surprise, because usually there are early risers slipping into the hot water long before daylight.  The water in the adult pool in the lower part of the park where we like to stay was a comfortable 95 degrees or so, and the hot spa was 104F.  Hot enough to soak out any left over aches and pains left from sitting around too much in the rig.

Whitewater Canyon Hike (9)As much as we enjoy coming to Catalina Spa and RV Resort, it is getting to be a bit more difficult.  The park is a membership only kind of place, and while they honor our Passport America card, they now limit our stay to only 2 nights. Otherwise the rate is 65 bucks a day, more than either of us wants to spend, no matter how nice the pools are.  The new rules will let us stay here for 4 days for a mere $45, if we spend an hour listening to a spiel for purchasing a Coast to Coast membership, and this would be our home park.

Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailWe are a bit too rambling for that sort of thing, though, and our road trips include state parks, national parks, boondocking, and lots of other kinds of camping than a Coast to Coast membership would provide.  Not a good use of money.  So who knows if we will come back again.  Today we went over to Sam’s Family Spa, a place that Nina seems to love, but it seemed a lot bigger and busier and the pools aren’t open all night as they are here.  That is my favorite thing.  I love slipping into a silent hot pool in the middle of the night and swimming under the stars.

Later this morning, when we emerged from the Tracker at the Whitewater Preserve ranger station, that light thing hit me again really hard.  Adding to the light was the fragrance of sycamore trees and cottonwoods along the riverbed that almost made me feel that I was 9 years old again.  My daddy used to take me on hikes into the San Gabriel Mountains that looked and felt very much like these mountains around us at the base of the Mt San Gorgonio Wilderness.

Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailNina and Rick have both talked about hiking Whitewater Preserve with their dogs.  Finding dog friendly hikes in Southern California is only second in difficulty to finding dog friendly beaches in Florida.  I was happy to have a new idea for something for us to do that would be fun on our only full day here in Desert Hot Springs.Mo on the Whitewater Canyon Loop Trail

The hike was a perfect Southern California hike on a perfect SoCal day: warm, a light breeze, and brilliant, brilliant sunshine illuminating everything around us.  I stopped in at the ranger station first to get a handle on the trails and a young man at the desk gave me a thorough and very practiced talk on where to go and what to follow.

switchbacks on the Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailWhat I didn’t realize was that we would be hiking along a very small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail,  the PCT, subject of a great book I just read called “Wild”.  The PCT meanders along the Cascade crest not far from our home in Rocky Point, and Mo and I have hiked bits and pieces of it when we climbed McLoughlin and hiked in the Sky Lakes Wilderness.  The cute little guy behind the desk said, “Gee, you could walk home from here!”.  Hmmm…maybe not.

The 3.5 mile loop that we hiked today was definitely enough. I am a bit soft from an autumn full of quilting and not enough snow shoveling.  The switchbacks weren’t too difficult on the way up and neither of us were huffing and puffing too terribly, but the knees definitely need a bit of work to handle those downhills.  Thank goodness for hiking poles I guess.

Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailWe spent about two hours actually hiking and some more time just sitting by the bubbling water letting Abby play before we ambled back to the parking lot.  There are lots of hikes in the area,  a couple of easier ones, and several more strenuous 8 mile one way hikes that followed the PCT for a great distance. 

With a light breakfast and no lunch in our bellies, I was glad that we needed to slip into Palm Springs to buy a missing printer cable on the way home.  I just knew there had to be ice cream somewhere in downtown Palm Springs, and with a little bit of help from google we found Lappert’s Ice Cream.  My oh My!  I had some kind of Kona coffee thing with fancy chocolate in it.  The place had lots of Hawaiian themed goodies, and something called Donkey Balls.  Hmmm….I did ask about that, and they are macadamia nuts coated in chocolate.  Just like the ones from Maui, although I didn’t know they were called donkey balls. 

Who takes a Segway into the mountains?

only in Southern CaliforniaWe were happy to get home in late afternoon.  Dealing with Palm Springs traffic and people isn’t exactly fun, although seeing Palm Springs in the daytime was kind of nice.  Most of the time when we are here we only go there in the evening for the street fair.  Once back home we settled in to do money stuff, and Mo was very happy to have our little working Canon printer along so she could print out needed documents. 

I said, heck with that, I am going for another swim!  With only two days to enjoy the pools I don’t want to miss a minute.  I walked a bit more distance to the upper pool, supposedly the nicer one.  It was a bit cooler and a bit bigger, but there were a lot more folks around, since it was getting close to time for the “all you can eat” spaghetti supper. With just an ice cream lunch, it started smelling pretty good and I walked back home to start of the Weber and made some yummy pork chops and rice with a salad.  Much better than spaghetti from a community pot I think.

I swam last night when we arrived, at 5am this morning, and again this evening.  I will be in the pool again tomorrow before dawn as well, you can bet on it.  We are heading to Gila Bend and Tucson tomorrow, still not sure whether we will stop in Gila Bend for the night or just press on to Tucson.  All depends on how we feel.  Gila Bend FamCamp isn’t that great and Tucson is fabulous, but who knows.

Google Earth image of our hike on the Whitewater Canyon LoopWHITEWATER

Got an email tonight from Texas warning of possible weather trouble in the vicinity of Fort Davis, so spent a bit of time re-checking routes and weather and fuel stops.  Nope.  Don’t want that low fuel thing to get us when nights could be in the teens as we get into Texas in a few days.  When I planned this trip, I knew that the weather could do anything and everything between Oregon and Florida, so hopefully we are ready for whatever comes our way.

 

Ships Passing in the Night…errr….Evening

walks_002DSC_0002If some of these photos look a bit familiar to you, it might be because Mo and I decided to end our Desert Hot Springs trip with a visit to the Palm Springs Thursday Night Street Fair.  Today while catching up on blogs as we drove north on I-5, I saw Rick’s post about attending the same street fair.  In fact, he even took a photo of the restaurant where we were having dinner!  Unlike Rick, I was too overwhelmed with the crowds and the shops and the booths and the smells to remember to take many photos. I can’t believe we didn’t run into each other there, but then again, there were a LOT of people, and lots of doggies as well.

walks_022DSC_0022Our trip was a whirlwind, spent mostly driving back desert roads, and we didn’t decide until yesterday that it might be a good idea to eat Mexican one more time before packing up the rig for our early morning departure today.  I also wanted to see the Marilyn Monroe statue that has been highlighted on more than a few blogs lately.  We parked and walked and finally found it, right downtown in the very middle of the street fair.

In the past, we have had great meals at two Mexican Restaurants on this main drag, so decided to try Macarena’s for something new. Even though we were told it would be a half hour wait, within minutes my phone rang and our outside table was ready.  It was great having good food, a happy hour marguerita, and a good people watching spot in the middle of all the action.

walks_024DSC_0024In addition to all our desert drives, we managed a bit of relaxation while in the desert, and I swam and soaked in the pools every single day but one.  Love those pools.  We also walked the park, walked the surrounding desert a bit, and drove to La Quinta so that I could spend some time in a great quilt store, Monica’s Quilt.  Of course, I came out with a bag of gorgeous fabric and some new patterns.  I also got directions to the Quilter’s Faire in Palm Desert, hidden in an industrial area behind Wal-Mart and came away with another bag of fabric and a couple of good looking patterns.  Ah, Stash!  gotta love it.

Thursday_sun (9)[11]We decided to just make a beeline for home with only a one night stay in Lodi at the Flag City RV Resort.  This meant leaving this morning at 6:30 so that we could travel the lovely sunrise route north on Highway 247 to Barstow before turning east to cross the Tehachapis on Highway 58 to Bakersfield.

I was a bit bummed about not having time to stay one more night at the Orange Grove RV Park because I finished the last of my tree ripened oranges a few days ago.  I decided to take a chance and call the park, and sure enough the owners were friendly and wonderful and said, “Sure, just come on in and get a picker and pick yourself a bag.  No Charge”.  How is that for good advertising!  We pulled into the park and spent just half an hour picking another big bag of the incredibly sweet juicy oranges to take home with us.  Ahhhh.

Capture trip homeDriving into Bakersfield was dramatic as usual.  Looking down on the smog line from the elevation of the pass was intense, and once down in the valley the smog didn’t let up, ever.  We drove a good 250 miles through dingy smoggy air, all the way from Bakersfield to Lodi.  I had to go digging for eye drops.  I drove the first half of the trip through gorgeous, empty, clear desert, and Mo got the second half up the Five.  I think I got the better end of that deal!  We covered 496 miles today and settled into our spot here in Lodi just after five pm, in plenty of time to warm up the leftovers from last night’s great dinner at Macarena’s.

Tomorrow just under 400 miles and we will spend the night back in the Grants Pass Cottage.  Both of us are excited to see the new roof that was completed while we were gone, but neither of us is particularly excited about returning to cold weather.  It has been a great reprieve, and a wonderful two weeks of mostly warmth and sunshine.  Lucky Us!