Fabulous Friends Fabulous Days Fabulous Fun

Continued from this post:

As I wrote yesterday, Jeanne (my friend from Vermont) arrived on Monday, Labor Day, a very short time after Phil and Joanne left for Eugene.  I haven’t seen Jeanne since her wedding last year, when I traveled to Vermont to participate in one of the most wonderful weddings I have ever experienced.Jeanne at Rocky Point (2 of 4)

Jeanne has many friends in Klamath Falls, and it gets pretty crazy when she visits trying to fit everyone in.  Most of her friends are high energy, very physical folks.  Big time bikers, runners, hikers, and white water boaters.  Just like Jeanne.  Thank goodness I have a couple of decades on them as an excuse for not being able to keep up, not wanting to, actually.  I’ll settle for a flat water paddle and a long walk any day!

Jeanne at Rocky Point (1 of 4) Still, Jeanne made sure she had time for us, spending a couple of days and a night in the cabin.  After a nice walk in the neighborhood, we settled in at home for some of Jeanne’s favorite ribs.  I don’t think I have made them since the last time she visited, but I am sure glad that was her request.  Got the recipe from a local Rocky Point resident famous for his cooking.  Something about a few hours braising in pineapple juice and seasonings before they go on the grill with sticky sweet gooey sauce makes them fall off the bone tender and so tasty.  Yum.

Once again we pulled out the dominoes.  Jeanne and Alan found out while visiting us a couple of years ago that our domino game was one they actually liked, but  forgot how to play it.  Alan, now her sweet husband, actually bought her a set after they left here last visit.  Hopefully this time she will remember.

Jeanne and Sue heading north toward Crystal Spring The next morning dawned the most gorgeous, smoke free, bluebird sky day we have seen in weeks.  By nine Jeanne and I were on the water, launching at Malone Spring and traveling north to Crystal Spring.  

the sandhill cranes take off for usmalone spring to crystal spring The canoe trail is within the boundary of the Upper Klamath NWR, and parallels the steep eastern flank of the Cascade Mountains.  As you can see, it winds through the marsh, with lots of meanders.  The water is crystal clear, but filled with plants and fish and birds abound. 

Rocky Point to Malone Spring In this photo, from a larger perspective, you can see the upper part of the canoe trail in relation to our place in Rocky Point, in addition to Pelican Bay where we kayaked with Phil and Joanne, and the spring run to Harriman Springs where we took Judy and Phil and Joanne as well.  It is nice to have options based on how much time we have and how many miles our guests wish to paddle.  The run with Jeanne, (and the same run later with Jimmy and Nickie) is about 8 miles round trip.

crater lake I would have loved to linger at the spring, but we had only 4 hours to make the round trip because Jeanne’s friends were picking her up for another adventure.  Hiking down to the water of Crater Lake for an icy swim and the long steep hike back up were next on the list. I begged off this one, even though invited since I wasn’t sure my recently rebuilt innards could handle the climb back up the long steep trail.

After Jeanne left, Mo and I had a day to get the new wood stove moved into the apartments, finish up a few details, and buy groceries for the next round of guests.

I was so excited to have Nickie and Jimmy (The Intrepid Decrepit Travelers) send a text message saying they were heading our way and would we be home.  I had already practiced a couple of days of food, so I just did it all again for our new company.  Good thing we all like salmon!  The End of the Day (3 of 7)

They arrived on Thursday afternoon, and didn’t take long to arrange Tergel in the shop driveway, get her leveled with the slides out and join us for more make it yourself wraps and fruit.  I have found this to be a great way to do lunch for a bunch, laying out spreads, hummus, cheeses, veggies and several kinds of tortillas for everyone to put together their favorite.  Takes a lot of the pressure off!  

Mo took a break from our guests to try to catch up on getting the lawns mowed while the three of us took Mattie for a nice long walk along Rocky Point road while we chatted and got caught up on all the recent doings.  I was really impressed with Jimmy’s recovery and his strength walking after such recent knee surgery.  Way to go, Jimmy!

We had so much fun with dinner and conversation I completely forgot to take photos.  Guess that is a good sign. 

The next morning we were again up early to get out on the creek before the warm temperatures took over.  Sadly, the bluebird skies had disappeared and smoke from the California fires was once again muting the horizon and the distant mountains.Nickie and Jimmy on Recreation Creek (1 of 1)

Still it was beautiful out on the water.  Jimmy and Nickie have a tandem Sea Eagle, but opted instead to try our hard side boats.  It was just at the point of being a bit too long, but everyone did fine and instead of having to rush off when we reached Crystal Spring, we had the luxury of lolling around above the beautiful springs before taking our time going back downriver.

Nickie wants a photo of the wocus (1 of 3) The current is almost negligible, just enough to feel it a bit as you are paddling upstream, but not enough to really get you moving downstream.  Nature was good to us on this day because the afternoon winds never appeared.  Good thing there isn’t much current!  Mattie is new to kayaking, and this was only her third time out.  She is just a bit nervous.  For who knows what reason, she decided to jump right out of the boat into the water.  It was COLD, and I think she was quite happy that Mo was able to haul her back in within seconds.  She didn’t try it again.

at Crystal Spring (1 of 1) While floating around the spring, my phone rang.  What??  I didn’t even remember that it was on and certainly didn’t expect to have a signal. Sure enough my friend Marti, from Idaho, was calling trying to figure out how to get to Rocky Point.  I told her we would be there in a couple of hours and that hopefully she could relax on the porch till we arrived.

The End of the Day (2 of 7) When we got home, Marti was waiting patiently enjoying a book and the shady porch with her dog, Rueben.  Rueben was a very excitable dog, and we had no idea how he and Mattie would get along, but they were just fine, if a tad rambunctious. I offered the cabin to Marti and Rueben, and Jimmy and Nickie decided it was nap time in Tergel!

Understand, Marti is a river rat from way back, guiding on the Rogue River in years past, and running the Grand Canyon and so many others I have no idea about.  Still, I had offered to take her out in our lake kayaks, but after so many trips I felt a bit worn out.  The look of disappointment in Marti’s eyes when I started to beg off another kayak trip was enough to get me back in my boat once again that day for a second paddle down to Harriman Spring.

Marti on Pelican Bay (6 of 10) I got a good deal of paddling in during that week, for sure, and I loved it.

We had planned to go out to supper, down the road once again to the local resort, but everyone was so relaxed, and there was so much food left over that we decided to eat at home.  I marinated and broiled some chicken and made another fresh salad to go with all the rest of the goodies.  We feasted, laughed and talked until everyone just plumb gave out and meandered off to bed.

Saturday morning dawned smoky and warm, and I think Nickie and Jimmy were not happy about having to return to Nevada City and the huge Butte Fire smoke that was affecting their area.  Still, everyone was up early, sharing coffee and fruit before they buttoned up Tergel,  hooked up Smartie and headed down the road toward California and Marti continued her Oregon travels heading toward the coast.  The End of the Day (7 of 7)

This last photo might just give an idea of how much fun we have with these great friends of ours that we never would have known if not for RVing and blogging about it.

I think this may have been the busiest week I have experienced with company since my family reunion back in 2007.  It was so much fun to see everyone, but I must say next time I hope all our visitors won’t have to schedule during the same week.

 

01-14-2015 Refuge Days with Judy

Current Location: Imperial National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Yuma Arizona

It has been three days since we left the relative urban environment of the Coachella Valley to travel east and south.  The route is familiar again.  A short way along Dillon road to the east intercepts I-10 and once again we are traveling toward Quartzite, passing last years boondock site at the entrance to Joshua Tree, enjoying the reasonably smooth pavement of this part of the interstate.Imperial NWR with Judy (3 of 54)

We were in Quartzite before noon, with the cloudy skies invading the desert to the west gone and replaced with varying levels of warm sunshine.  We gassed up at the Pilot at $2.06 per gallon with our .03 discount.  It is rather amazing to fill the tank of the MoHo with less than a hundred bucks.  We parked in the lot east of the station, with few semi’s parked there, thinking it would be OK.  We didn’t back in, but parked at the far end of the lot crossways.  No one was anywhere near us.  But by the time we got back from our short shopping foray, a big rig had parked in front of us, and while we sat there preparing to leave, another slid in even closer.  I think we broke some rule and did some quick backing up to get out of there before we were completely  boxed in.Imperial NWR with Judy (4 of 54)

Quartzite was the same as ever, windy and cool in spite of the sunshine, long rows of stalls with tons of stuff, and the tool store and bead store that we saw last year.  Mo didn’t find what she was looking for and there wasn’t a single thing that I needed or wanted.  A few items at the less than stellar grocery store reminded me that if you come to Quartzite, you should probably have anything you need already in your possession.

After a very short stop, we were again rolling south on Highway 95, past the Kofa Mountains and toward Yuma.  Temps were fairly cool, and some big black clouds in the sky to the south indicated that rain was either coming or going. Unusual in this part of the desert at this time of the year.

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Arizona side of the Colorado river, and the access road is at the huge Yuma Proving Ground.  We turned west, and were surprised that the road was unpaved a few miles before we reached the refuge.  The washboards weren’t too bad, actually not as rough as I-5 can be in parts of California.Imperial NWR with Judy (6 of 54)

The large puddle, however, stopped us cold.  In the southwest there is no way of knowing how deep the puddle may be, or how soft the roadbed is beneath the puddle.  We were in a quandary.  At the lower level of the wash where we were stopped, there was no phone signal, so I couldn’t call Judy at the visitor center to ask about the big puddle.

Instead, we unhooked, Mo turned around with the baby car, and I backed the MoHo up the road a few hundred yards to the intersection.  I was attempting to get a call through when a man in a golf cart showed up and offered to lead us across the puddle, insisting that it was perfectly fine.  We asked him to go first to prove it however, before we slowly crossed the scary puddle of water which turned out to be pretty easy.  Still, as they know in the Southwest, you never know about these puddles so better safe than sorry.  We later heard that Barbara, of Me and my Dog, had attempted to visit Judy that same morning, and the puddle made her turn around without even trying to cross in the car in which she and a friend were exploring. 

Imperial NWR with Judy (7 of 54)Seeing Judy again was great. We met last year in Anahuac NWR, so the meeting didn’t have the “new” thing, but was instead a happy reunion.   We stopped in at the Visitor Center since it was her work day and let her know we had arrived and then settled into our campsite with plans to meet for supper when Judy got off work.  Emma was as happy and excited as usual, but before long she settled down and enjoyed the company.  Judy’s site overlooking the pond is fabulous.  The view, the patio, the shady side of the rig stays nice and cool (I think that should be a good thing most of the time).  All the bloggers who weighed in encouraging her to move to the 30 amp site were right!  A good move.

Imperial NWR with Judy (12 of 54)After a great sleep in the silent beautiful desert, Judy stopped by in the morning to pick us up for the day’s tour.  Judy usually does the bird tours on Sundays, but she sweetly offered to do one this week on a Tuesday for us, and for John and Sharon from On the Road Of Retirement.

Imperial NWR with Judy (18 of 54)I have followed their blog for years, so it was delightful to meet them in person and share the morning checking out the ponds and birds on the refuge.

judysuemosharonNo telephoto along today to capture photos of the wonderful birds, but I do have to put a little bit fuzzy one up of the beautiful great horned owl that graced us with its presence and sat quietly in the tree in full daylight posing.  Imperial NWR with Judy (28 of 54)

I added some more birds to my list, with a favorite being the little loggerhead shrike, a bird who skewers his live food onto thorns to keep it in place while he eats.  Hmmm.  I also saw Say’s Phoebe, which without Judy around would have been just another little brown bird.  Nothing quite so wonderful for a non birder who likes birds than to go out with a real birder!

Imperial NWR with Judy (22 of 54)Judy taught us a lot, and shared fascinating information about the habits of some of the residents of the refuge.  We didn’t see the bobcat, but did see the log where she scratches.  We didn’t see the beavers, but saw the fascinating beaver trails crossing the road between ponds.  We didn’t see the coyotes or the burros, either, but got a kick out of the coyote and burro trails.Imperial NWR with Judy (25 of 54)

Later in the afternoon, Judy picked us up again, and took us to the northern portions of the refuge.  There are four overlooks, with views of the remnant lakes that connect to the Colorado River, and at the first one we found so many birds that even Judy was excited.

Imperial NWR with Judy (39 of 54)I added buffleheads and ruddy ducks to my list, even though I know I have seen them in our Klamath Basin refuge.  It makes such a difference to have a birder tell what they are.  I might actually remember now.

Imperial NWR with Judy (50 of 54)Evening was enjoyed with laughs and conversation on Judy’s patio, and probably the best BBQ chicken I ever tasted.  Judy called it New York chicken bbq and spent a great deal of time basting the pieces with a nondescript looking marinade that turned the chicken into a flavorful crispy skinned delight.  Never had anything like it.  Don’t forget to send me that recipe, Judy!

Painted Desert Trail (1 of 45)Wednesday Judy had arranged some kayaks to get the three of us out on the Colorado River, but with the very cool temperatures and the wind starting up early, we nixed that plan quickly.  Instead Judy drove us north again to the Painted Desert Trail, I think the only official trail in the Refuge.Painted Desert Trail (8 of 45)

The temperatures were perfect for the leisurely hike, a mile and a third winding around and up through the volcanic rhyolites, tuffs, and basalts of the 20 million year old landscape, topped off by river gravels from the meandering Ancestral Colorado shining with desert varnish.

Painted Desert Trail (10 of 45)We found some very interesting green rocks, carried down by erosion from the basalt flows to the north, but Judy made sure we didn’t pick one up.  The only place to gather rock is some distance north and east in the Kofa Refuge.

Painted Desert Trail (12 of 45)I learned finally which tree was the ironwood, and we talked a bit about how many different plants are called  “ironwood”.  Nothing was yet in flower, but the lime green of the palo verde trees against the rusty red rocks added plenty of color.  Again we saw burro sign and burro trails, but no sign of a live animal. Painted Desert Trail (27 of 45) This refuge is ambivalent about the burros.  They aren’t attempting to eliminate them as they are at Sheldon NWR, but they are also not doing anything to support them since they are feral, not a naturally occurring species. 

We had the entire morning and trail to ourselves, so imagine our surprise to return to the trail head to see so many cars parked!  Lucky us!  Later in the day we found out that there had been more than 100 visitors to the center that day, and the park was crawling with people, more than Judy had seen in her entire time here since October.

Painted Desert Trail (37 of 45)Home mid day, we packed up a lunch (don’t ever offer Judy a tuna sandwich!) and decided since we couldn’t kayak, we could take a few hours to explore the lower end of the Kofa Refuge in the Tracker.  With only half a tank of gas in the car, and a gas station all the way south in Yuma, we limited our drive to 3 hours and 100 miles.  We didn’t have to worry about the distance in the least.

Painted Desert Trail (38 of 45)We used up the three hours without a problem, but the condition of the road deteriorated enough that our progress was slow and we didn’t have time to actually get over MacPherson Pass to the other side.

Painted Desert Trail (42 of 45)The picnic was a stand up affair, with a little bit of wind protection from the car and entertainment provided by a long line of Jeeps coming back down from the pass.  After lunch, we attempted to continue a bit north, but were stopped by a drop off.  After careful examination, we decided against trying it.  Mo and I have done similar obstacles in the Tracker, but it was getting late and we had no clue how many more we might have to try and then still turn around.

Painted Desert Trail (45 of 45)It was important to get Judy back to her site on time, since she was the hostess of a gathering of refuge volunteers and she had 20 Chicago hot dogs to prepare.  At five, the volunteers gathered to visit and enjoy the dogs and chili and some salads provided potluck style and talk about the different refuges where they have volunteered.  It was an interesting perspective on a lifestyle that is considerably different than some full time RVrs.  Painted Desert Trail (41 of 45)

Our three days here in the Arizona desert are coming to a close.  I can’t believe how quickly the time passed and how wonderfully quiet it has been here.  Lucky Us!! It isn’t easy to take time away from working for Judy to show folks around, so I don’t take her generosity for granted.  What a great lady, who gives so much to the refuge world.  Lucky them as well. Imperial NWR with Judy (15 of 54)

Today we travel north again for some off-grid time in Joshua Tree. 

 

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

 

From the Heart

“It shifted from being written directly to my family and friends to something with more explanation and less from the heart, if you know what I mean. “ “paying too much attention to the reader community and not enough to my own preferences. “

DSC_0006 Words this morning from a trusted friend brought me up short. I know the feeling, and I fight it sometimes.  Case in point: my last post and this one.  There is enough going on around here that I have some things to write about, some life to share, and yet I found myself liking the way the last post looked so much that I didn’t want to upstage it with a new one that wouldn’t have those photos of my pelicans.  Now just how silly is THAT?!  Mo said, “Well, why don’t you just put the pelicans up on the header photo?”  Yeah, ok, I’ll do that, and yet the thoughts behind why I didn’t want to write a new post were still somewhat interesting to me. Sounds like I may be slipping into what this friend described in that last sentence I quoted in the first paragraph!

the lily in the cabin bed My Goal: write from the heart.  Write about stuff, explain stuff, but keep the heart in it.  Write as if I were writing to a trusted friend.  Of course, some stuff I wouldn’t even write to a trusted friend so I won’t write that part in here.  Those parts are saved for private journals that even my kids will never see. The good thing about this goal is that when I go back and read (and I DO go back and read my own blog), it will be entertaining and fun, and will help me remember not only what I saw and what I did, but how I felt about it.  At least that is the goal.

the hedge rose, blooming here at Rocky Point Personal journals, on the other hand, can be incredibly depressing to read later.  I journal a lot when I am angry, depressed, or just plain falling apart.  Not fun reading.  On another note, I don’t seem to have a lot of personal journaling going on now as I did when I was younger.  Life is less full of angst and worry and frustration.  I guess after 66 years, it is about time, right?

I think especially of this kind of “from the heart” writing when I think of Sherry’s story of David’s journey.  I have mentioned them often enough that anyone who reads my blog has probably found theirs. Good news today with 8 million stem cells in his collection!  Then, again from the heart, Laurie Brown’s eulogy to her Dad. Semi-True Tales of the Road has been one of those that stands out so far above so many of us that it is hard to see it wind down a bit. The only blog I read for years, I still always watch for a post from Laurie. Many folks mentioned her great campground reviews, but when I think of Laurie, I think of great food stories, seriously funny moments (aka Desert Hot Springs), and the clay oven. 

Merikay and Craig walking down to the docks from Rocky Point Resort Speaking of bloggers, last week brought us another blogger meet-and-greet treat, with Merikay and Craig visiting our world.  They spent a long time hiking the trails of Crater Lake, many that Mo and I who live an hour away have never traveled.  Then they camped a couple of nights right here in Rocky Point, giving us the chance to get Merikay and Craig out on Recreation Creek in the kayaks. 

OK Merikay, you can do it I love showing someone how much fun it is to get out on the water in a kayak and this was no exception.  We had a perfect day with water smooth as glass for our morning adventure.  Getting into a kayak for the first time can be a bit daunting, and once out on the water, it sometimes takes a few moments to get used to that wiggly feeling.  Within a short time though, that feeling goes away and your body settles into the balance much like it happens on a bicycle.  We had a nice, short paddle for their first run, and I do hope they will try it again.  It is such a great way to get up close to the birds and feel a silence on the water that is hard to find any other way.

A little benefit of blog meet-and-greets are the photos!  Loree has photos of Jeana on her blog since they met up as Loree traveled east, and we got a great photo of Loree on Jeana’s blog as well.  Now isn’t that just fabulous?!  Somehow the photos that others take of you are quite a bit different than the ones you might put up on your own blog.

DSC_0020 Later that afternoon I invited Merikay and Craig to the house for supper, along with our closest neighbors, Wes and Gayle, our Tucson friends who live here in the summer. We had appetizers on the porch, dinner inside at the dining table, and dessert back on the porch, all accompanied by a few different wines supplied by each of us.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially since hostessing a meal is a favorite thing for me to do.  I was having so much fun I forgot to take photos of the table, the food, and my guests.  I guess that is a good sign.

Fourth of July was wonderful.  I do love the Fourth, not for any particularly patriotic reason, but for its ability to bring up happy childhood memories and to create small town joys. As I spent the morning making potato salad and meltingly perfect chocolate cupcakes, I remembered my foster mother, who loved all holidays and taught me to appreciate them with huge church picnics, decorations for everything, and always always great holiday food.

2012-07-04 Veterans Park Celebration (48) With Melody and family in town, Mo and I drove in for the celebrations.  Klamath Falls once again scheduled the holiday parade for 5 in the evening, ending in Veteran’s Park, where the fireworks were scheduled to go off at ten pm when it is finally dark here.  It is much nicer to have a later parade and only have to drive to town once.  When the parade was in the morning, it was harder to figure out what to do with ourselves while we waited for the fireworks twelve hours later.

Kevin and Elric for the sheriff's department This time, the parade was nice, but I still wish we could get more marching bands to come. There was only one.  Parades need music!  There were lots of red white and blue decorations, however, and the Shriner guys in their little cars always make a parade seem like the real thing. Of course, seeing my son in law and my grandson representing the Klamath County Sheriff’s department was a treat.  Kevin is a reserve deputy, and Elric got a big kick out of being in the cop car in the parade.  UhOh. Elric is now Xavier, but I keep forgetting.  I have no clue why teenagers think they have to change their names, but I am trying to get with the program. Seems to me that Elric is enough of an interesting name, but n-ooo-ooo. He has to make it more interesting! He is 13.  What can I say…

yum2012-07-04 Veterans Park Celebration (96) Hillary/Axel (remember that other name change I mentioned in the last post?) spent most of the time between the parade and the fireworks volunteering for the face painting booth.  Terrible me, I can’t remember what the booth was promoting, but it was some sort of socially redeemable venture, I am sure.  We had fun watching her and as the evening wore on, the line grew exponentially.  Word was getting around that she was painting some fairly radical faces, unlike the typical butterflies and such.  Well, with a name like Axel, who would expect butterflies anyway?

By the time the fireworks started, we were all starting to get fairly chilled, but the bugs weren’t out this year so that was a blessing.  Why don’t I remember that even if it is 90 during the day, the air will require sweats, jackets and even gloves by ten pm.  I hate to say it, but when the fireworks began we were pretty disappointed.  It may have been because of the high winds that evening, but once again the big booms couldn’t seem to rise above the trees lining the lakeshore at Veteran’s Park. 

2012-07-04 the Fourth It made for some interesting photos, especially with the full moon rising right where the big fireworks were exploding, but it also made for a few unhappy folks hanging around all evening waiting.  Next year we may just give it up and go check out the fireworks at Lake of the Woods, closer to home for us, but not part of that small town Klamath thing that we love. 

I guess the small town Klamath thing means there isn’t enough money for a big town fireworks show. 

Day Trip to The Slabs

Salton Sea Day_118It is five am and I have been awake for awhile now, who knows why. We have been traveling for the last few days, choosing to follow the coastal route through California north from the desert.  We have taken our time, ambling north at a rate of about 250 miles per day, taking advantage of Military Family Camps and Passport America to park for the night in reasonable comfort.  As usual, when I can’t sleep, I thought perhaps I could write about something with a bit more depth than I am inclined to write later in the day when real life is closer than my dreams.

Salton Sea Day_119For many days now, I have been thinking about what to write about Slab City, otherwise known as the Slabs.  It is easy to post the photos, to write about the physical reality of the place.  Many folks on the road in this part of California have done just that.  The physical reality of the Slabs is simple.  It is located in a wide open part of the desert east of the town of Niland that has little to offer except simply space.  On a section of state land that once held the Camp Dunlap Marine Training Center, there is now a free boondocking oasis for RV’rs of all kinds.

Salton Sea Day_125At first glance, entering the area is somewhat shocking, depending on your point of view. Folks who come here seeking refuge because they know about the culture will feel welcomed and safe. Mid America types of RVrs in their big rigs coming here for the first time might be overwhelmed by the apparent lack of any sense of beauty or order. Boondocking types who seek wide open empty spaces might think the place is much too populated. Boondocking types who love the Quartzite atmosphere of daily social gatherings of like minded folks will love it. 

Salton Sea Day_127We had no plans to boondock in the Slabs, but I wanted to see it.  Occasionally I read about folks coming here with their thoughts and experiences, but my view of Slab City has been forever altered by the writing of just one man.  Randy, of the Mobile Kodgers, let me see this place with completely different eyes than I would have ever seen on my one afternoon drive-through. Randy’s blog isn’t your everyday blog of the typical RVing full-timer.  Much like Debra in Bisbee, Randy says things that might make some people a bit uncomfortable, but he tells stories like few people are willing.

Salton Sea Day_136Instead of simply gawking, Randy makes the effort to dig in deep and get to know a place and the people who inhabit it.  I think it is because of Randy’s blog that I have been unable to actually write about Slab City, knowing that I can’t come close to expressing what Randy has found and the stories behind the trash and the once homeless lost people who have chosen to live there.  If you have an opinion of the Slabs and haven’t read Randy’s blog, check it out and learn something.  I surely did.

Salton Sea Day_146After a bit of a disappointing drive around the Salton Sea, we saw a sign for Niland and Salvation Mountain.  Mo had no idea what awaited us, but I told her that we needed to go there and see it in person.  We took the gravel road east and in a short time the multicolored painted mountain appeared.  Salvation Mountain is a story of it’s own, again Randy has written about the artist in depth, in ways you might not find on websites telling the story of this amazing piece of crazy folk art.

Salton Sea Day_144I cannot even come close to writing about Leonard Knight the way that Randy has.  Here is his story about the creator of Salvation Mountain.  It was with awe and respect for all the different people in the world that I walked through the nearly psychedelic interior of the hill.  We walked past great piles of paint buckets donated by every major paint company in America into one man’s vision of the message of God’s Love.

Salton Sea Day_156Deep inside we found four young folks and their dog, taking photos, and they asked me to get a shot of the four of them.  They were friendly, open kids, who had driven from Tucson to spend New Year’s Eve at Slab City.  They looked at me when I asked why they were here with surprise, as if I should know that the New Year’s Eve party at the Slabs was something not to be missed.  While one young woman casually rolled a joint, they told me that Slab City was a dummied down version of Burning Man, only it lasted all year long. 

Salton Sea Day_134There are no police here, and rules of any kind are conspicuously absent, an important feature to folks who choose to come here and stay. Dogs run freely, rigs range from huge Class A’s to ancient trucks covered with folk art. There is a library and an internet café, tucked away in old buses or tin shacks behind cape verde trees.  There is trash everywhere, and much of the trash has been converted to art. 

Salton Sea Day_129In the midst of the dusty dirt roads, we suddenly realized that an airplane was landing in front of us, and like the other trucks driving around, we pulled over to the side of the road to let it land.  The pilot of the small plane taxied up to his big Phaeton, greeting some fellow campers.  No rules.

Salton Sea Day_142I am pretty sure that Mo and I will not ever choose to boondock here.  Our vision of boondocking is more on the level of wide open and silent, like the area behind the Alabama Hills in California, or the Top of the World Highway in Alaska. We have parked in Quartzite, but not during the high season, and our idea of fun socializing is more often one couple at a time rather than big gatherings of happy hour get togethers.  Still, I am so glad I got to see this place, had the chance to walk inside Salvation Mountain rather than just look at photos, had the chance to watch a little plane land on the dirt road, and to see the myriad types of shelters that so many people call home.

I am glad there is a place like this in the world for those who choose to be there.