Life at the Running Y

Life at the Running Y
Life at the Running Y

Friday, December 31, 2010

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.

 

 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

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)

Monday, December 27, 2010

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.

 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sunny day in the desert

 

Thursday_sun (9) Thursday_sun (15)  

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.

Thursday_sun (51) Thursday_sun (58)

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.

Thursday_sun (94) Thursday_sun (98)

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?

Thursday_sun (92) Thursday_sun (86)

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Desert Rain

Jumping cholla at Desert Hot Springs 2007

Joshua Tree 1-2-2008 12-33-31 PMRain in the desert is a good thing.  After months of drought, brilliant sunshine to a fault,  temperatures that can reach 120 degrees, I would imagine that local folks in the Coachella Valley are drinking in this storm and loving it.  I used to love the rain those long decades ago when I lived in Southern California.  I played in the washes as a kid, filled with wild rushing chocolate brown water, leaping among the boulders and pretending I was Davy Crockett in a storm.  I lived through all that somehow, and my daughter would gasp in horror if her kids tried the same thing.

I’m not so sure I will live through this storm, however, without some serious self talk.  It is raining just about everywhere in the west, or at least anywhere we could manage to get to in our eleven days of MoHo time.  It is snowing hard in Klamath, the power probably is out often enough to be a pain, and the satellite will no doubt need a bit of brushing to keep the channels up and running.  Here in the desert, we don’t have to shovel the rain.  We are somewhere new, seeing new sights, (through the rain of course) but new sights.

Miracle Hot Springs Pools Desert Hot Springs December 2008

DSCN0267 Yesterday we drove east through Indio, (in the rain) to visit the Oasis Date Farm.  We read a couple of reviews on the internet that made us laugh out loud.  If you find those reviews, read them for entertainment, but don’t let them stop you from going to the original.  The place was small, charming if not fancy, and I tasted at least a dozen kinds of dates and had a classic date shake.  I’m not sure just what I think of the date shake, but the date palms are beautiful, stately and graceful, with a history that goes back 5,000 years and a sex life that seems to need the constant intervention of dedicated date farmers to function.  I took a ton of photos, including a really cute one of Mo and Abby, and lots of graceful fronds against the dark skies.  We drove back west to the larger, more fancy Shields Date Farm and as nice as it was, we were glad to have experienced the Oasis, even though it was many more miles east.

 Blazing sun and cloudless skies Desert Hot Springs 2008 December

DSCN0283Our evening was filled with fun and friends and truly good food, sharing dinner with Laurie and Odel at the Fisherman’s Market in La Quinta.  I was surprised at the reasonable prices and the truly fresh seafood.  The menu was huge, with almost limitless choices, and I settled on a plate of Mahi Mahi, Salmon, and Shrimp, all grilled and teriyakeed to perfection.  Not quite Key West, but close. I took more photos. including a really great shot of Laurie and Odel.

The rain pounded all night long, and the thick dark clouds made viewing the full eclipse of the moon impossible, even though I was awake at midnight, at the time of the most shadow.  Yes, there are internet photos, my daughter took some great ones, other bloggers are posting as well about the beautiful night sky show.  That’s great.  Glad I didn’t take a photo.

This morning I went for another great long swim in the steaming pool, with rain falling on my face.  It was wonderful.  Thought about taking a photo of that as well, and almost ran back to the MoHo for the camera, fantasizing water level shots with the cloudy sky above the steam.  Sure glad I didn’t.  Later this morning, we drove over to the Sands RV Resort to play some great table shuffleboard with our friends and forgot to take some photos.  Good thing.

Clear blue skies in Joshua Tree NP December 2007

Joshua Tree 1-2-2008 1-37-15 PMThis evening, settling in to the twilight, I carefully took the SD card out of the camera, selected all the photos to move, and somehow hit a key, an unknown key on the LEFT side, NOT the delete key, and BLIP!  Gone.  Every single photo, just gone.  How the heck does that happen?  Of course, they are nowhere, into the ethers.  External stuff doesn’t delete to the recycle bin, we all know that.  I have no idea where they went, but they are truly gone. 

Ah well, I have entirely too many photos anyway, something like 43,000 just here on this computer since 2001 or so.  Who knows what I will find hiding there someday, but it won’t be photos of the Oasis Date Farm or Laurie and Odel at dinner.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Desert Modernism in Palm Springs

DHS_Trip_18 (8) I suppose that our foray to the local Wal-Mart in Palm Springs shouldn’t quality as a step into Desert Modernism, a new phrase that I just found to describe all the flat, square buildings around here.  I kept saying to Mo, “This reminds me so much of my ugly, cement childhood in the suburbs of LA. Lots of flagstone, flat roofs, square facades, dull colors.  The worst of Frank Lloyd Wright on steroids, surrounded by graceful palms.  As we drove down Gene Autry Trail I kept wondering why everything looked this way, why it all looked like we had stepped back into the 50’s.  The more we drove, the more I realized that all this squareness was actually on purpose.  Even new buildings, new apartments, had that “look”.  Hmmm.  Later, hunting desperately for a dog-friendly hiking trail in Palm Springs I happened on the phrase: “Desert Modernism”.  It’s real, and Palm Springs and the surrounding towns are very proud of it.  Palm Springs has the largest concentration of mid-century modern architecture in the country. I guess that explains it.  Maybe my escape from mid-century LA basin life many years ago to the rich northwest world of Craftsman and cabins ruined me for appreciating this particular style.

DHS_Trip_18 (12) But back to Wal-Mart. All I can say is “Ugh”!! The store here is so huge I couldn’t find the exits and the bathrooms were horrendous.  It’s sometimes really easy to catch the mixed up lists of needs at a superstore, but maybe not quite worth it.  Somehow I expected better in this upscale area.  The Wal-Mart we visited in Minnesota was pretty darn nice, and almost as big.  We won’t go to this one again, that is for sure. After adding to our supplies at this scary place, we continued driving along HWY 111, the main route through the desert towns here in the Coachella Valley.  Upscale is definitely an understatement here, and the El Paseo shopping area was not exactly the place I wanted to be in my denim shorts and Keen sandals.  As we sat in traffic among the Mercedes, Jaguars, BMW’s, Mo suddenly said, “What in the world is THAT car?”.  Turns out it was a Maseratti.  I don’t think I saw one in real life before.  We were glad we had at least washed the Tracker before coming to town. The rain held off all day but the skies were threatening, and our plan for the day was to explore the area, check things out, get our bearings. 

DSCN5984 Home at Catalina RV Park and Spa looked tremendously welcoming when we finally arrived, still frustrated with no internet connections, but at least Mo had the news and I decided to try out the swimming pool.  Our park has a truly wonderful pool, large and crystal clear, with a hot spa adjacent that is probably close to 104 degrees.  The night was chilly, with wild white clouds obscuring the moon and revealing it in turn, but I thought maybe the pool would be warm enough to swim, since it appeared that steam was rising from the water.  Ahhh!!  I was enveloped by a balmy 93 degrees of pure mineral spring water that is pumped from the parks own well at 130 degrees and cooled with fresh water to a safe level.  The large swimming pool has no chemicals, and neither does the spa.  All the water is naturally changed several times a day by the influx of fresh water.  Unlike many hot springs, this water is full of minerals but has no sulphur, another great thing since there is no bad smell at all.  I floated on my back and watched the moon and stars come and go amidst the clouds and let all the frustrations of the last couple of days slip away.

DSCN5982 This morning we woke to more heavy clouds, and threatening rain.  Reading about the Street Fair at the College of the Desert was interesting, so we took off to try out the local fairs.  By the time we got there, the rain was a bit heavier, but not so much that we couldn’t walk without umbrellas.  However, many of the vendors were giving up.  It wasn’t such a bad thing since the fair turned out to be just a tacky as many flea markets, and our only purchase was some great lettuce for tonight’s salad and some dates. By the time we got back home the rain was coming down hard in Palm Springs, but once again it was dry where we are camped. 

The park here is quite nice except for the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity. We paid the fee to supposedly connect, but the only time I have been able to actually get to the internet was before 6am this morning.  After six, all came to a screeching halt.  You all know how frustrating that can be!  Instead, as darkness falls, Mo and I are sitting here at the Starbucks in Desert Hot Springs, listening to Christmas music and trying to catch up on all things internet.  I am still searching for dog friendly hikes and Christmas lights.  Tomorrow evening is a real treat, when we will meet Laurie and Odel for dinner at the Fisherman’s Market in La Quinta.  The sun will come out eventually, I am sure, eventually.  In the mean time, all I can say is that I am glad I am not camping in a tent.

Traveling south to Desert Hot Springs

DHS_Trip_18 (16) Rain in the desert is often lovely, except when I have dreamed of blue skies and warm sun and planned a major MoHo run south to find it.  We have had snow and dark skies in Klamath for several weeks now, and my week in Florida was challenged by 20 degree weather.  A long trek to the Coachella Valley should be the remedy.  I think the weather forecasts show a bit of a break next Thursday.  Last night, however, the skies were beautiful, with soft shades of pink and rose among the gray, cream, and yellow lit clouds.

DHS_Trip_18 (2) A quick run south, leaving behind the cold and snow of Rocky Point, is only possible because we decided to store the MoHo in Redding this winter.  Enclosed, insulated storage isn’t cheap, and we tried for the smallest unit possible.  We also decided to forego winterizing thinking that the temperatures in Redding rarely drop below freezing.  The water tanks were all empty and the lines emptied out, but we didn’t do anything else before parking in mid November. It was with a bit of trepidation that we opened up the big sliding door.  Everything turned out just fine, with the trickle charger keeping the battery charged up and the house batteries were still even on 12.6.  We brought along a couple of gallons of water to fill the tank and everything worked just fine.  Although next time when we pull into the storage spot we will have some pink stuff in the drains, at least.

DHS_Trip_18 (5) See that gorgeous sun in the photo above?  The trip over Mt Shasta on I-5 to Redding was gorgeous once we left the icy freezing fog behind in the Klamath Basin and Highway 97.  Little did we know that was the last time we would see brilliant sunshine for a long time.  I am still waiting.  By the time we got to our stop over point in Lodi, the rain was coming down hard.  We hoped to get to the desert with only one overnight stop, requiring 400 mile driving days.  By the time we reached the Flag City RV Resort in Lodi we were worn out. We shared the driving duties, but it still is a very long haul.  Flag City is really nothing more than a reasonably comfortable stopover, with perfectly level cement pull through sites, and full hookups including fast Wi-Fi and cable.  I have no idea what else the park offers because we didn’t care in the least.  The MoHo was stopped, and everything we needed was right inside our cozy home.

On Friday we thought our trip to the desert would be about 8 hours of driving so thought leaving at 9 would be just fine for a 5 pm arrival.  We didn’t factor in the hard, driving rain, or the plan to take HWY 58 through Tehachapi rather than brave LA traffic.  As dark fell on the desert we still had 90 minutes to go before reaching our camp.  We took 247 south from Barstow rather than drive through Victorville and all the traffic there as well. It’s a narrow road with lots off ups and downs, but oh soooo beautiful.  It looked like a lot of BLM land, open and free, and in the coming desert twilight it was all I could do to keep from begging Mo to just head out into the desert and boondock. 

DHS_Trip_18 (7)When we finally arrived at the Desert Pools RV Park, I remembered again why we try to never,  never, never land after dark.  Everything was strange, the night person didn’t have our reservation, and offered to let us stay for one night only “off the road”.  Somehow I had messed up the reservation (they don’t take them) and instead I opted for the “just come in and talk to the hosts and you can stay for two days”.  Dumb.  Of course, the fact that the park had recently disconnected their cable service wasn’t exactly a good thing either.  After a long day on the road we at least wanted Wi-Fi and TV.  Otherwise I would be back boondocking in that gorgeous desert!  Mo is a little bit easier about these kinds of things than I am, and I wasn’t much fun to be around that night I am sure.

DHS_Trip_18 (6)In the light off day, the park was every bit as ugly as it appeared the night before.  The pool was small and brown as were the three spas. We took the dog for a walk and everyone was just so dang friendly!  The night host came up to us and urged us to stay, saying the park was “so much fun with a lot going on”.  I guess we aren’t very social, because that actually sounded just awful to me.  Although the hot cinnamon rolls in the dining room were pretty good. 

Our original plan was to spend six days at the Catalina RV Park and Spa, so we called them hoping for a chance to come in a day early.  Success!  With great relief, we packed up and didn’t even bother to hook up to drive the half mile back to the Catalina.  Through the gate and immediately we could see the difference.  Even though this is a very large park, with spaces fairly close together, there are trees and shrubs between sites, and while our site is on packed sandy dirt, it isn’t so bad that we couldn’t level the rig without blocks.  The cloudy, threatening skies were breaking here and there with a bit of lightness, so that helped my mood a lot as well.  Thank goodness!  Our plan now is to spend the day adjusting to the local area, do some driving around, and just try to catch up a bit. Wi-Fi is still an issue, but hopefully I can find a spot somewhere around to actually get on the internet.

 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ocala

Ocala_Bel (13) Something magical happens to me when I am in Ocala.  Even though the population of the city is close to 100K it still feels like a small town.  Often when I come here, the weather is wonderful, an incredible respite from cold and snow.  This time I seem to have hit the coldest possible weather, with predictions for the low 20’s tonight and even colder temperatures possible in the next couple of days, with highs in the 40’s. I am leaving on Wednesday from Tampa, and the temperatures predicted for Thursday are back in the 70’s.  Ah well.  I am not really here for a vacation, I am here for my friend.

Ocala_Bel (17)In the five days that I have here, I hoped to be some help to my friend who has been dealing with some health issues. So I am here, driving her to the grocery store, taking her to the parade, where she did a great job walking from the side street parking to the main drag in Ocala.  Yesterday I took her for a drive through the gorgeous back roads along 225A, the secret pathway through miles and miles of horse farms with homes almost as big as the incredible stables, with driveway gatehouses that could house a homeless family or two.

Ocala_Bel (29) But back to that ‘thing’ that happens here in Ocala.  The Ocala parade consisted of almost three hours of floats full of kids involved in every possible activity available, with gymnasts, and dancers, and singers, high school and middle school bands, and so many “miss whatever’s” they needed a dozen cars to carry them all. Ocala calls itself the horse capital of the south, and there was no lack of fabulous horses and horsemanship exhibited in the parade.  Small town stuff at it’s best.

Somehow, here in this town, I find myself slowing to a crawl.  I listen to birds and watch the light play on the leaves.  I watch the skies change from gray to sunny back to gray and sit on the porch watching the rain. Ocala really isn’t a destination, there isn’t much here for a traveler passing through, there is bad traffic down on “200”, there is crime and racism, and grinding poverty amidst huge wealth.  Just a few minutes north of Ocala is Anthony, a bucolic land of open space and huge oak trees where John Travolta and his wife have built their home and life.  John drops into the local Publix now and then and Bel sees him at the meat counter. And everywhere, the trees.  Huge live oaks dripping with moss, and spindly elms so thick you can’t walk, and everything in between.  I love the trees in this part of Florida.

Ocala_parade (7) Today a neighbor of Bel’s invited us to a Christmas Chorale at her church on the “other side of town”.   Another neighbor stopped by yesterday with a small new space heater, worried about her in the cold.

I thought maybe while I was here I could write about Silver Springs with all the Christmas lights, or possibly go out to Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest and write about the Technicolor turquoise waters, trying to find adjectives to describe them.  Instead I am lying low, listening to Bel talk about her life, watching the 3 TV stations available, going to church, watching the birds, and playing with the cats.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

From 36,000 feet

Picture 001 At the risk of seeming horribly provincial, I just can’t resist making a post from the sky.sitting here with my laptop open, crammed into a seat so tightly that I can’t get the lid all the way up.  I’m on a Delta flight and I have a wireless connection.  Amazing.  Of course, I can’t turn my phone on, but I can post to my blog?  Ah well, no laughing allowed here.  This is a photo of me taken with my webcam on the laptop.  Of course, there is an adorable girl sitting next to me who will NOT be quiet for even a minute.  I’m hiding behind earplugs while she flirts with the cute guy next to her.  This may seem like a completely irrelevant post, but really, for most of us, isn’t technology shifting and changing exponentially?  Blogging from the air.  I think someone else recently did this as well, Jeanne, I believe, on her way to Tucson.  Now if we could just figure out how to get the computer all the way open so we can see the screen and type at the same time when the person in front of us has their seat reclined.  Too funny!

Monday, December 6, 2010

View out my window today

I have another follower! It’s so much fun to follow the wonderful conversations out there in blogland, especially those that have some link to the amazing world of RV life.  Welcome!  to Jeana, from the Seattle area. Right now she is flying off to Tucson to find some sunshine and after spending a very large chunk of my life in the northwest, I know how that feels!

DSCN5883Today I am working at home, a much nicer locale than the office in town with it’s dim, fluorescent lights.  The cat is curled up in his favorite place while I am working. Can you tell that is a cat in there? I am in my pajamas, and at the moment it is lunchtime.  Looking out my window I see huge pines and firs, and deep snow.  Mo is again out trying to plow the deep, slushy stuff that is the result of warming temperatures.  I’m having lunch, taking a break, and thinking about my upcoming trip to Florida.  I am partly excited, and partly not so much.  Flying isn’t what it used to be, and from what I have been reading lately, might be even less fun during this holiday season.  Cheap fares seem to require several flight legs, and the old days where I could jump on  a plane in Spokane and fly directly to Orlando are long gone.  This time I will board in Medford just after 8am, and after three jumps, will land in Orlando at 10 PM. Ocala is still a good 90 minute drive from Orlando, so I will probably be lucky to get in at midnight after picking up the rental car. The trip home a week later will be even worse, with stops in Cincinnati and Salt Lake before finally arriving at Medford, again just before midnight. Big Sigh, the price of a cheap ticket.  

Did you know that it’s not really ‘cool’ to love Florida if you are a Westerner?  I think many of us out west think of Florida as that strange, flat place epitomized in Miami Vice, full of fast cars, fast boats, pastel high rises, and way too many people.  I used to think that way, of course I had no experience with the state at all.  In 2000, a very dear friend of mine went back to Florida to care for her elderly parents.  During the first few years after she left, I traveled to Ocala several times to help her deal with all the   logistics required, and I found out that Florida wasn’t anything like I imagined.  I fell in love.  I fell in love with skies that swirl in circles with big puffy white clouds, with rain that fell so hard you had to pull over to the roadside and then blink into brilliant hot sunlight minutes later. FloridaI fell in love with north central Florida, that world between the Emerald Coast and Gainesville, south to Ocala, on the limestone backbone of the state.  I fell in love with the most gorgeous horse country in the US, with miles of black rail fences and grand estates. I fell in love with palms and oaks and pines in the same forest, with palmetto understory filled with snakes and alligators, with giant grasshoppers that looked like some sort of Technicolor cartoon, with springs so crystal clear you can see the gar 200 feet down among the swirling eelgrass. Yes, parts of Florida are horrendous, but the north-central limestone spine and the magical isolated northeast coast from Apalachicola to St Petersburg are an amazing wonderland of complex wilderness and beauty.

More storms are predicted here for the next few days, although it seems that it will bring lots of wind and rain to much of the area, and maybe not so much snow as we have had recently.  The skies are becoming more gray by the minute, and the thought of velvet, warm Florida air is so seductive.  Who knows, some of the bloggers that I follow down in the south say things aren’t really that warm and velvety right now, and my friend Bel sent a little text note saying, “Bring mittens”.  Hmmm. I’m trying the carry-on only way of traveling this time as well, so we will see how that works out!  If it’s really that cold, I think I will have to wear lots of layers on the plane.  That could get interesting at the security checks.  How many jackets and shirts, and scarves can I take off quickly while I am trying to get my shoes off and my computer out of my backpack? I’ll let you know.

DSCN5882Someone recently asked what what I was knitting, so here’s a shot of it.  I bought this hand-dyed wool, thick and thin yarn in Silverton, Oregon when we camped near there last spring.  There are so many sweet little yarn shops desperately trying to stay in business in these small towns, some of them truly wonderful.  It requires that we take the time to purchase our goods directly from these little shops if we want to enjoy all they offer.  I know how easy it is to buy online, but when traveling I always try to buy something special at the local yarn shop.  I am a fairly new knitter, maybe the last 5 years or so, and sometimes I miss things I shouldn’t.  In this case, the two skeins of very special hand dyed yarn looked identical until yesterday, when the bright light of day revealed that they weren’t exactly alike after all.  So my project is now a bit weird, with one end of the scarf just enough different than the other end to look off.  Sigh. I think my sister won’t mind too much, since she took one look at the hat at Thanksgiving and said, “I want that!”  Hmmm.  I hadn’t planned on giving it away, but how many wonderful yarn things do I really need anyway.  Awful person that I am, the imperfection makes it a bit easier to give up.