Saturday 7 January 2006

What a beautiful sunrise!

This morning I was up at 6:15 a.m. to get ready to go to the College of the Desert flea market. When I was coming back from taking Bib to the doggie park, this is what I saw so I got out my camera and took a few shots. While I was getting ready, I had the blind on the rear window open and across the back fence I saw a coyote standing there looking across the fence, maybe wondering if some little animal was out for his breakfast. Anyway he then wandered down into the trees. We've been warned about coyotes coming into the park so not to leave little animals unattended.

Lin, her friend, Judy and myself left for the flea market just before 8 a.m. and arrived about 8:30 a.m. It's quite an interesting place with booths set up like streets. We went our separate ways with plans to meet at the entrance at 10:00 a.m. There was quite a bit to see but I did manage to buy a purse, some strawberries, a grapefruit knife and an orange peeler. I've been looking for a grapefruit knife for about a month as ours is under the kitchen slide. I know it's still there because it's making marks on my kitchen floor every time we put the slide out and we can't figure out how to get it out. Anyway, we met up just before 10:00 a.m. and returned to the park. I then had something to eat, a long nap and then sat outside in my chair and read for a while. It was too cool for shorts so I put on long pants and sat under the overhang of the fifth wheel which was partially in the sun and it was warm enough then.

I just got back from a long walk around the park and took a few more photos.

Tomorrow the plan is to wash the RV. It's very difficult to find a park that will allow RV washing. Here you have to buy a permit for $5.00 and it's only good for that day so I hope it's not too windy or something tomorrow as it sure needs it. I also need to go to the laundry room and get some used dryer sheets. They are supposed to be great for removing bugs.

Another day in the life of a retired person in the deserts of southern California!

Friday 6 January 2006

Another Beautiful Day in the Desert!

Before I start on today's blog, let me bring up the benefits of Bulk Barn. In most of eastern Ontario we have a store called Bulk Barn where you can buy foods in bulk. This includes pastas, nuts, candy, dried fruits, flours of all types, dog treats etc. as well as spices. I miss Bulk Barn! I use walnuts on my cereal in the morning (they are supposed to be good for keeping blood pressure down). In the U.S. you can't find walnut pieces. You can get whole walnuts (at a price) but in a package like for making cookies. I don't want to have to chop them but guess I have no choice. There are probably bulk stores somewhere but I haven't found one yet.
Now to today - 82F, sunny, no humidity, tough to take! Took my time getting ready this morning so that by the time we were showered and such it was 10:30 a.m. I had planned to drive to the SuperWalMart for groceries so I left then and went to the one in Palm Springs. Gordon stayed behind and had planned to walk around the park photographing birds. I understand that the birds had other ideas. Anyway, went to Lowe's and WalMart and got home around 3:00 p.m. It's nice when I drive myself so I don't have to rush. When I got back I took a few minutes to read my book in my lawn chair and look at the sky. Just beautiful! This morning as I was on my way back from walking Bib, I met Lin (the female half of the couple that sponsored us as guests here this week). She asked me if I wanted to go with her and her friend to COD tomorrow. COD is a type of flea market only the things are mostly new. It's affiliated with College of the Desert and I understand it funds scholarships to the College. Anyway, 8:00 a.m. tomorrow and we're off! So, tonight will be an early night. Feature is a photo of Bib checking out the doggie park.

Thursday 5 January 2006

Today's Travels

Today we headed out for a drive going east on Route 111 through Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert and then headed up into the mountains. We didn't go too far as it's one of those mountain roads that although there's a guardrail, you're still very aware of how high up you are. After taking some photos of the cities below and the Salton Sea on the other side of the mountains, we headed south on Route 86 as far as Salton City and took some photos of the Salton Sea. Pictured is Gordon standing in front of the Salton Sea.

After our little trip we came back on I-10 to our RV and I sat outside in my lawn chair for a while and read, then had a nap and took Bib for a walk to the doggie park.

Oh, the life of a retired person......

Wednesday 4 January 2006

Back at Desert Hot Springs

We left Twentynine Palms at about 10:30 a.m. and arrived back at Catalina Spa & RV Resort about 11:40 a.m. after an uneventful drive, most of it was down the mountain. We were signed in and set up by 1:30 p.m. It was a beautiful sunny day here, around 78F. After we got set up we went for a shower and a dip in the mineral spring spa, then back to the RV. I sat outside for a while and read and dried off a bit. We stopped by to see the folks who gave us access to the park for this week on our way back from the showers. They had a whole list of places for us to go for photography so we’ll have to go and see some of these.

We’re glad to be back in this park as it is a nice one and it has cable TV but it’s packed now whereas when we were here a week ago there were lots of empty spaces. Now we have neighbours on both sides of us. They both came in today after we did so our back row is now full. We chose the back row for ease of setting up the satellite dish and it’s also close to the largest pool & showers.

Just planning a relaxing evening tonight.

Tuesday 3 January 2006

My Last trip to Joshua Tree National Park

Tuesday January 3rd dawned bright and sunny with very little wind, thank goodness. The power did go off once this morning but came right back on again. Amazing it didn’t go off in the windstorm yesterday but I’m sure glad it didn’t.

Last week when in Palm Springs I decided to splurge on some new sheets. The ones I bought last year were really nubby and uncomfortable so I decided to go for a higher thread count. I bought a 350 count and can you ever see a difference, these are much softer and more comfortable and much more generous in size. In the words of Martha Stewart, it’s a good thing!

Today we headed back into Joshua Tree National Park to see if we could find Arch Rock. When we were there last week we couldn’t find it but we persevered and today found it, photographed it and is now recorded for posterity. We also went to the Ocotillo (pronounced oh-koh-TEE-yoh) Patch but there weren’t many ocotillo and they have lost all their leaves and flowers - it is winter here after all. We also stopped at the Cholla (pronounced cho-ya) Cactus Gardens. We had been there last week and taken some photos.

After lunch, I went and got a few groceries in preparation for returning to Desert Hot Springs tomorrow. We’re returning to the membership park that we were at a week ago, this time as a guest of a couple we met at the Christmas potluck.

Gordon has gone to wash and vacuum the truck. After yesterday’s windstorm, it sure needed it!

Monday 2 January 2006

Windy Day!

Wow! What a day! We’ve had wind pretty much all day with gusts that according to my Weatherbug were over hurricane force at times. As you can see from my photo, there was a lot of tumblin’ tumbleweed going on around here and when I went outside this evening there iwas a lot more tumbleweed than there was this morning when I took this picture. The tumbleweed flew over the fence and gathered behind the RVs where the wind couldn’t get at them so there they sit. Other than the wind and some rain, it’s been sunny and mild today. Because of the wind, we didn’t venture out to Joshua Tree National Park today as there would be too much sand blowing around and there was also a big dark cloud hanging over the mountains so they may be experiencing some rain in the park.

So I took the opportunity to get the vacuuming done. Even being retired and traveling, there is still housework that has to happen.

Sunday 1 January 2006

The Year 2005 in Review

The year 2005 started out with us leaving our location at Lakeland, Florida and heading to the Florida panhandle for a few days. We stayed in Mexico Beach at another Passport America campground which is half price for members. The sand there is beautiful, silky and white! Mexico Beach is close to Panama City with mainly the Tyndall Air force Base in between.

From there we headed to Troy, Alabama and spent some time with a friend that Gordon had met through one of his camera forums. Jim and Wendy are Canadians who at the time were living in Montgomery, Alabama as Wendy is with the Canadian Air Force and was on training. We spent a nice day with Jim at the Montgomery Zoo taking photos and had dinner with Jim and Wendy at their house.

After Alabama, our next stop was New Orleans, Louisiana. While the French Quarter was fun and interesting, both of us agree that we won’t go back there. It’s a difficult city to get around in and very busy. We spent some time in Jean Lafitte Park but had to leave as we didn’t feel safe there. That was basically the feeling from the whole city and area outside the French Quarter.

We then headed to Texas where we basically followed the Rio Grande after leaving the Gulf Coast. We stayed near Galveston, then on to Rockport which we thoroughly enjoyed. Galveston was an interesting city on the coast and Rockport is a smallish town on the Gulf with lots of water birds and a nice climate. While at Rockport we took a couple of side trips to Port Aransas which is on an island that can be reached either by ferry from the Rockport area or by bridge from Corpus Christi. The beaches there are beautiful and you can dry camp right on the beach.. This is a place we’ll definitely return to. Also while we were there, we decided to buy cell phones so we now have Verizon cell phones with a Corpus Christi phone number. On from there to the southern part of Texas on the Rio Grande. We stayed at San Benito, about 30 miles north of Brownsville (the most southern part of Texas) and about ½ hour from South Padre Island. We stayed in this area for nearly three weeks and it was cloudy the whole time. Just when we had planned to leave, it turned sunny and 90 F so we stayed an extra three days before moving on to Laredo, then Del Rio following the Rio Grande. Lake Amistad at Del Rio is also a very pretty area. On to Alpine which is a cute little western town in the Chihuauan Desert but in the mountain area of the desert. While in Alpine we took the 80 mile drive to Big Bend National Park. What a fantastic place! The scenery is breathtaking! So, we visited the local campground at Terlingua, just outside the park and booked in for a week. We had a great week there, probably the best weather of our whole trip as the sun shone daily and it was warm and very pleasant. It rained a couple of times during the night which is the way we like it. Terlinga/Study Butte is a small town that lacks many of the amenities that we’re used to, like supermarkets and WalMarts that we’ve come to take for granted. We then returned to Alpine and spent a week there before continuing on to Carlsbad, New Mexico to see Carlsbad Caverns. We spent a couple of weeks there as it is also near the Guadalupe Mountains which is another photo opportunity. While there we took the two hour drive over to Alamogordo to White Sands National Monument and Riudoso, which is a pretty little tourist town in the Sacramento Mountains. We spent the day in this area and returned through Roswell, New Mexico and no, we didn’t see any UFOs.

We started out trip back from Carlsbad following I-10 cross country and going north through Alabama, arriving in Ohio mid April to see the children and grandchildren. Two weeks after we left, a new grandchild was born. I guess we’ll get to meet her on our return trip in 2006!

Our return to Ontario on April 15th was too early! We stayed for the last 15 days of April at theThousand Island Ivy Lea KOA. It was cold and rainy for most of the time we were there but it had wifi and we thought the Rideau Heights park in Ottawa didn’t open until May 1st. We returned to Ottawa on May 1st and spent the month of May getting our affairs in order for another year. It was good to see Margie,John,Nick and Danica. It sure seemed like a long time. I also had a day trip with Margie and Danica to Westport, a small touristy town near Ottawa.

The month of June we spent at the Alpine RV Resort in Lindsay as Betty and husband, Garth have a cottage at Pleasant Point. Betty & I did some day shopping trips and she and I stayed overnight in Toronto one night and attended a breast cancer luncheon at the home of Betty’s long time friend, Diane. We also had lunch at Betty & Garth’s club with another long time friend, Bonnie.

We returned to Ottawa for another couple of weeks and to get more medical appointments out of the way, then to Kingston for an RV rally, then back to the cottage at Lindsay for Betty & Garth’s yearly cottage weekend for the family. We were joined by the DeJongs and Nick’s girlfriend, Becky. We again returned to Ottawa to finalize things there before heading out for the winter.

We left Ottawa on September 9th, my 57th birthday to head west through Ontario. We found we really liked the scenery on the east and northern parts of Lake Superior and plan to return there this summer to spend some time. On our way through Ontario we stopped at Whitefish, Wawa, Thunder Bay and Kenora leaving Ontario on September 18th. We drove straight through Manitoba and spent our first night outside of Ontario at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. We wound up staying three nights at the KOA campground there as I had never seen the prairies before. What interesting skies they have there! Then it was on to Alberta stopping in Medicine Hat for a couple of days. Medicine Hat is a pretty little city and if it wasn’t so cold in the winter, I could probably live there. It has everything you need and some very nice scenery. It claims to be the sunniest place in Canada and it was indeed sunny, although rather windy when we were there.

Our next stop was at Banff, Alberta where we spent a week. Our plans had been to meet Betty & Garth there as they were taking the Rocky Mountaineer through the Rockies however it turned very cold and started to snow and we wanted to get out of the mountains before the snow hit. Banff is a beautiful area and would be a nice spot in the summer. On we went through the mountains, quite an adventure towing a 38 ft trailer! Our next stop was on the north part of the Shuswap near Chase, B. C. where we also spent a few days in a nice little campground on Lake Shuswap. We were starting to get cloudy, cool days so after meeting Betty & Garth in Kamloops for dinner one evening (their Rocky Mountaineer tour made a stop there), we headed to Kelowna where we spent a few days, another very pretty area. We actually did have some sunny days there and did some touring around the area before heading west towards Vancouver. We stopped at Chilliwack overnight and had some very heavy rain. The scenery was beautiful though and we were sorry we didn’t spend more time there. From Chilliwack we headed to Surrey, B.C. where we stayed until our border crossing on November 1st. While there we met up with a photographer friend of Gordon’s and the two of them went shooting photos a few times. We also had dinner one evening at his house with he and his wife. Vancouver has some beautiful areas, one of which is White Rock near where we were staying with Stanley Park being another. Vancouver is very difficult to get around in. It has no freeways and a lot of bridges. We also had a lot of rainy weather. Little did we know then, that was only the beginning of our rainy weather.

We crossed into the US on November 1st and headed to the coastal area ending up at Copalis Beach, Washington where we spent three days, lots of rain! From there we spent about 1 ½ wks at Woodburn, Oregon where we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. We had some RV problems that required someone to come to the park to fix them so we stayed longer than we expected but it was a nice park and within walking distance of an outlet mall. We traveled over to the coast a couple of times and decided that we would stay at the coast for a few days after leaving Woodburn. So from there, we stayed for a week at Port Orford, Oregon, The scenery around coastal Oregon is truly beautiful. We took many photos. From there we headed into California and stayed a few days at Smith River, California which is close to Redwood National Park. The giant redwoods are truly a sight to behold however we were again plagued with rain so we headed inland and stayed a few days at Chowchilla, California which is about 40 miles north of Fresno. From there we spent some time at Yosemite National Park, saw the giant sequoias and also had a day trip to Carmel and San Francisco.

Then we were off to Bakersfield where we spent a week in Bakersfield smog. It’s a nice city but in the winter the smog from Los Angeles gets trapped in the bowl that is Bakersfield making it quite
unpleasant. From Bakersfield we trekked through Barstow and then west to the San Diego area. Traffic was horrid and it was not a nice drive but we arrived at our campground in El Cajon in one piece. El Cajon is about 22 miles west of San Diego and very convenient for seeing the city. We spent nine days there and spent a lot of time sightseeing, doing their 59 mile drive which introduces a newcomer to the city. We also went to the San Diego Zoo, Old Town and spent a lot of time along the coast watching the surfers and the ocean in general. The campground was a lovely one and while we were there we used Passport America which made it half price, still nearly $30/night.

While in San Diego, I found out that a full time RVer whose blog I read daily was at a campground at Desert Hot Springs that is for members only but she could get us in on a coupon for 5 days for $25. For this price we had to sit through a presentation for purchase of a membership at the park. It wasn’t a high powered sales pitch and we got through it without depleting our bank account. It is a beautiful park though and we are going back there for a week in January 2006 as guests of another couple that we met at the Christmas pot luck. We had a few quite hot but pleasant days here, lots of sun and even had some pool time. Definitely shorts weather! There were lots of little hummingbirds flitting around the park as well.

While at Desert Hot Springs, Gordon drove up to Joshua Tree National Park which was about an hour’s drive and he decided that he would like to spend some time there so we headed out to Twentynine Palms, a small town at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park and home to the largest marine base in the US. We’ve spent several days photographing Joshua trees, sunrises, sunsets and rock formations. This area is considered high desert. The days have been pleasant and the evenings cool with some high wind one day. We spent New Year’s at this location and that being said, this ends my blog for 2005.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! We’ve had a great year and are looking forward to the next year with some new and some old places in our itinerary….stay tuned……