Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Friday, December 31, 2010

12-31-2010 New Year’s Eve

Used 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. 


  1. LaurieDecember 31, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Have a warm and cozy New Year's Eve, Sue (and Mo). Meeting and hiking with you in 2011 was great!
    I sure enjoy your blog - good writing, interesting ideas, and grat photos. Definitely a part of my blogosphere reading.


  2. LaurieDecember 31, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Oops, make that 2010! I'm getting ahead of myself again... but maybe we can meet and hike in 2011, too! :)


  3. Sue MaloneDecember 31, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    You bet we will, Laurie! I wouldn't miss it.


  4. Travels with EmmaDecember 31, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    Thanks for the shout out! Hope your new year is everything you want it to be. :)


  5. RickDecember 31, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Beautiful sunset photos!
    We are spending a quiet New Year's Eve in our 5'er and I'm looking forward to going to bed soon (it's only 8:30pm) and just reading a good book!!
    Happy New Year!


  6. ErinJanuary 1, 2011 at 3:43 AM

    May 2011 dawn bright and colorful .... it's still dark here on the East Coast, so I am waiting to see what the day brings as we start the New Year ... health and happiness foremost.


  7. Sam&Donna WeibelJanuary 1, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    Thanks for the mention on your blog, WE too are looking forward to the day Donna can retire and we can do some serious 5th wheeling.Hope to meet up with your someday. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.


  8. Al BossenceJanuary 1, 2011 at 5:07 AM

    We can't even remember the last time we ever made it to the midnight hour, New Year's or not. Just not the priority anymore like it used to be & we're both happy about that. All the best to you folks for 2011:))


  9. pidgeJanuary 1, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    Hope you have a great New Year!!


  10. Luci & LoreeJanuary 1, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    I love the way you write!! There is always something to ponder on.



Thursday, December 30, 2010

12-30-2010 Do I Really Want to Be Here?

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 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.


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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

12-27-2010 Hiking on Christmas Eve and Heading Home

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. 



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 with 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.


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.


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.   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.

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.


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.

  1. ErinDecember 28, 2010 at 4:12 AM

    "I love that part about RVing, the quick changes, the variety, and then the nesty safety of it all. No suitcases to lug around" ... all I can say is: amen to that. I don't think our travels will ever be completely rid of the fluorescent-lit front desks, but there will be fewer of them in our future :-)


  2. Al BossenceDecember 28, 2010 at 5:55 AM

    The magic of RVing is very much alive & well in your post. The permanent sticks & bricks folks will never understand this great part of life so many of us are fortunate to have, & are currently enjoying:))


  3. RickDecember 28, 2010 at 6:34 AM

    Great post, enjoyed reading this story. The desert area where you hiked with Laurie and Odel is one of my favourite spots in Desert Hot Springs as well.
    Glad to see you made it home all safe and sound and that your trip was a big success!!


  4. pidgeDecember 28, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    Great blog. Love the flowering Kale and I think cabbage. I think they are sooo pretty. I am surprised more people don't use them. Glad you reached home safe and sound with the two furkids.


  5. Luci & LoreeDecember 28, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    That is it, the 'nesty' feel of being in your own little space, with your own things. Good description.
    Love your pictures of the road....


  6. Sue and DougDecember 28, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    what a great post..felt like I was riding right along with you all!..bumps and more bumps!..glad you are all home safe and sound!


  7. Karen and AlDecember 29, 2010 at 4:00 AM

    That looked like an interesting hike. Glad your trip was so good and that you returned home safely.


  8. Sam&Donna WeibelDecember 29, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    Look's like you had a great trip, I like to eat anywhere in tee shirts and jeans.We just joined you so we look forward to your next outing, Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.


  9. KateDecember 29, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    "I love that part about RVing, the quick changes, the variety, and then the nesty safety of it all"
    As others have mentioned, that's the perfect phrase to describe the joy of RVing.
    If you don't mind, I'm going to add it to my email signature list.
    Keep on writing, you're doing a great job.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

12-23-2010 A Sunny Day in the Desert


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.

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.


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?


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. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12-22-2010 Rick is King!


Rick came to the rescue this morning with his comment on my last post with his great CNET download and instructions. 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!!  

  1. RickDecember 22, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Gee!! Thanks for your kind words!!
    But, as we all know and me especially, the real 'King' is still Elvis!!
    Sure glad you got your pics back so we could see them!


  2. ErinDecember 22, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Happy to read that you recovered your photos ... ain't technology great ... when it works the way we'd like it to :-)


  3. Four Windows with a ViewDecember 22, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    I'm so glad you were able to recover your pictures. I really like the first one on this post with the dark clouds and all the trees.


  4. Sue and DougDecember 23, 2010 at 7:43 AM

    yes Rick is the king!!..never mind Elvis!..


  5. PhyllisDecember 23, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    I think something's wrong somewhere... I notice I'm not following your blog anymore, so I hit 'Follow' and got "We're sorry, the site owner has blocked you from joining this site."


  6. Sue MaloneDecember 23, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    So sorry, CeiPui, I have no idea how this happens, as I haven't blocked anyone. I'll see what I can do.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12-21-2010 Desert Rain

Rain 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.


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.


Our 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.


This 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.

  1. RickDecember 21, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    I sure would like to be down there right now to meet you guys as well as Laurie and Odel - sure sounds like fun.
    You can recover all of those lost photos from your memory card too. I use a program called PC Inspector File Recovery and it works just great.
    I also wrote a blog about the process here
    You might want to give it a try and see if you can get those photos back.


  2. pidgeDecember 22, 2010 at 5:42 AM

    Looks so relaxing there. Do you ever use a USB cord with your camera? I have never lost any photos that way.
    I was going to suggest you contact Rick about photo recovery, but I see he has already contacted you.


  3. Al BossenceDecember 22, 2010 at 6:01 AM

    Sure hope you can retrieve your photos. I have never taken those chips out of my cameras since the day I bought cameras years ago. I always use a USB camera cord to transfer between camera & computer. Most people I know seem to pull the chips though. Just a preference I guess. Will be interested to hear if that recovery program works for you.


  4. Laurie and OdelDecember 22, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    I, too, use the USB cord to connect camera to computer. Getting the card in and out just seemed like too much work.
    A good photo of Odel and me? A miracle! :)
    Just one more day of rain, Sue...


  5. pidgeDecember 24, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    You are braver than me taking that tram ride. Heights are not for me, but you sure got some beautiful pictures today. Love the snow-capped mountain. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.