Zion River Resort-Part 2

Callie, Michael, Lara and I were all here in April of this year, but it was much too cold for Callie to get in long walks at the resort. Today we went all the way to the office and Linda, one of the front desk employees, came running out to take Callie’s photograph and to give her a package of treats. I give Zion River Resort 5 stars for everything from service, to the grounds, showers and the swimming pool and jacuzzi. We have met so many nice people here and will come yet again. It is ideally located to take the shuttle into Zion or over to Saint George for Snow Canyon and Pine Valley Recreation Area. The Kolob Reservoir is a must see also!

Our 1991 Tracker

Michael purchased an old 1991 GEO Tracker in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park from an original owner and we had our nephew, Ryan, work on it to get it ready for off-roading. We used to have a Baja Bug named Thumper that Michael stranded us on a sand dune once without water and we had to use our hands to dig ourselves out in 112-degree heat. I have not been particularly fond of off-roading ever since. But this Tracker is wonderful and even has a Kenwood Radio with Bluetooth mounted on the dash that plays Pandora Radio with our favorite Manu Chao and Bob Marley music blasting. I can handle most any situation with good music playing.

Yesterday morning we took it out on our maiden journey to the Kolob Reservoir to see how it would handle. I stressed emphatically to Michael that if we broke down or got stuck anywhere, I would not go out with him again. He behaved himself and the Tracker responded with grit and guts. One particular section of the road had been washed out and boulder hopping would have been our only choice, so we turned around and headed back the same way rather than frighten me again. I could tell that Michael was itching to test the very limits of his little jeep, but turn around we did.

We parked the car next to the shoreline of the reservoir and had a picnic and listened to the thousands of bees pollinating the fields of flowers while we snacked on apples and sunflower seeds and cookies. The wildflowers were out in abundance and the weather cooler at a higher elevation. The temperature in Zion is about 95 degrees but there is no humidity and the sky has wispy clouds sailing past and everything is fresh and alive. It looks like the water level is pretty low but the monsoon season is coming up and I think the rains will fill up the lake again soon. Angel’s Landing and Emerald Pools were washed out about a month ago and are closed to hikers, so the monsoon storms can punish the landscape with torrential amounts of water that causes flash flooding. We want to someday get a permit to explore the Subway, which is a beautiful hike that you can take but only with a guide. I hear it can take up to six months to acquire one.

So, thank you so much, Ryan, for doing such a fabulous job with Tracker. I feel confinement that it will handle itself admirably as long as Michael uses his head and behaves himself and thinks of the consequences before he takes the risk.

Callie doesn’t like being left behind from any of our adventures, but the Tracker doesn’t have air-conditioning and we need to have the windows down. She hangs out in the RV but gets several walks a day. She particularly loves going to the dog park when the dogs are not around. She acts like when she grows up, she wants to be a dog.

Rise & Shine

Michael, Callie, and I made it to Zion River RV Park after a 12-hour drive at 7 pm and it was a long day for all of us. Callie loves being on the road though and helps navigate on the dash as if her life depends on it. Yesterday’s adventure was just a tad bit too long though and I could tell she was wondering when we would get there.

When we finally did set up camp, which now includes disconnecting the Tracker, Michael and I quickly changed into swimsuits and dashed over to the hot tub to soak our weary muscles and joints before it closed at 9. Sitting for so long when you are a senior citizen makes you stiff and achy! The wisdom of aging is that you aren’t as restless and a long day of travel is just part of the overall scheme of things. The three of us really had a fabulous day and are now reaping the rewards of reaching a lovely destination.

The hot tub was divine and a quick BBQ of veggie and salmon burgers were grilled with Callie being fed her favorite Science Diet nuggets, and off to bed, we went. I woke up with my usual rise and shine energy along with Callie and we took a fabulous walk before all of the dogs got up. It is bright and fresh outside with a fragrant breeze rustling the cottonwoods. A delicious breakfast shall be served as soon as my exhausted husband wakes up. Michael is going to try and find out if we can get into the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and if so, we may head out again. If not, we will stay here and take the bikes out for a trail ride. I vote we stay put for a couple of days and check out the local mountain trails and of course, Zion!

Hitting the Road Again

Michael, Callie and I have hit the road again and will explore the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and possibly Yellowstone. This time before we get too far, we are having all of the tires checked. Blowouts are dangerous and no fun to experience. Better safe than sorry. Callie has jumped into place on the dash and away we go. We are also towing a GEO Tracker so that we have a little more freedom and mobility. I am looking forward to taking some awesome photographs and to have a fabulous adventure.

Le Papagayo

Le Papagayo is a local bar and restaurant that helps support musicians, especially blues singers. The venue isn’t perfect for performers because they are placed in between guests eating dinner. But it is an intimate experience and I believe that most guests book a reservation for not only the delicious food but to also hear the performers play.

When my sister Gayle turned 50 almost 13 years ago, and I still lived in Encinitas, we were fortunate to hear Steve White perform personally for 5 of my 6 sisters and my mother before she passed away from Multiple Myeloma. It was a joyous birthday party and Steve did a fabulous job of entertaining us while we sat down to eat Pacific Rim and French infusion delights. Francois, the owner was a personal friend of mine and helped make sure that the party was a huge success. I am one of seven sisters, and when my Irish Twin turned 50, it was my responsibility to create a birthday party for her. She did the same for me 11 months earlier at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and sisters are teamed up according to age. We are all in our 60’s now except for one sister, and when the oldest sister turns 70, we will repeat the process all over again. Sadly, Francois has sold the business to another man several years ago and has started a new life for himself in Florida.

Steve White died tragically of lung cancer about a year and a half after this memorable birthday party and he will be sorely missed. I painted a portrait of him as a gift for performing that night and presented it to him after the show. Last night Michael and I went to hear Joe Wood perform at Le Papagayo and was once again impressed by the depth and soul of yet another talented singer and guitar player. Michael and I met Joe who started a conversation with us because of his love for cats and after he had spotted me walking Callie on a leash. He was overjoyed to see me with her, and his usual shy and quiet demeanor became animated and happy at the sight of her. He opened up that he was a musician and that he was going to play last night.

This is what happens when I am out walking with her. Normally reserved individuals can’t help but express their amazement that I am walking Callie on a leash and how bold and proud she is to be out and about. She looks up at me frequently for guidance in how she should respond, and I try to stay calm and steady in return. She expects people to bend down and pet and praise her, and if they don’t, she will meow loudly and demand that they do so. Conversations go from talking about her to opening up about themselves.

So to get back to Joe, he is primarily a blues player and was once associated with T.S.O.L, which stands for The Sons of Liberty, a hybrid of blues/punk music style. He was taught the blues by an uncle who was in and out of jail and before Joe left home at the tender age of 13. Blues to Joe is primarily about women, heartache and a touch of heaven once in awhile sandwiched in between. His voice is deep and mournful and the lyrics, touching and painful. Just my kind of music. The one song that I listened to intently, which wasn’t written by Joe, was recorded for the movie – All the Pretty Horses by the novelist, Cormac McCarthy who just happens to be a favorite writer of mine. I have read every one of his books.

Joe was influenced by Jim Morrison and the Doors while growing up and his voice is eerily similar to Jims. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for as long as we would have liked to because we didn’t have a reservation and had to stand by the bar. It was enough time for me to identify with and appreciate yet another extraordinary blues singer that has lived the life that gives true meaning and depth to the word, BLUES.

Joe Wood performing at Le Papagayo

Eat, Poop, Play

When Eat, Pray, Love came out by Elizabeth Gilbert, I rushed to buy a copy and relished devouring it from cover to cover over several days of intense reading. I loved her easy writing style and related to her struggles and the joy of traveling while eating new and delicious cuisine. That being said, I rather think that Callie’s many travel adventures, dining on her exotic Venison and Peas Science Diet for sensitive skin and pooping in her litter box with a bellowing announcement each time she does it with her be here now attitude, is a fair comparison to this fine best seller.

Spending time with a cat in a 24ft RV with three adults requires full cooperation and one must be flexible and easy going in nature to get along. With our daughter, Lara visiting, Callie has taken it upon herself to wake us all up at the crack of dawn. Mind you, I am the only one who actually gets out of bed, but all three of us are woken up and then it is time for me to feed and walk Callie in the morning after my cup of coffee is finished. Callie knows when I have set my cup down and it is empty and she will start circling my legs and meowing ever so softly as she begs for a walk. I then snap on her harness and leash and away we go. When we return from all of our morning adventures, a delicious breakfast is served. Once the dishes are cleaned and put away, and the litter box is emptied and swept out, Callie takes another dump much to my dismay and with a triumphant meow for all to hear, she retires to the front seat of the RV for her siesta.

Callie has had many countless adventures since we started traveling in the RV for the past year and a half, and she has learned a variety of new lessons. Learning to walk on a leash has opened up doors for her that are not available to most felines. For example, with suggestions provided by my readers about her fear of other cats, I am praising the other cats that we run into on our walks now and I tell them how wonderful they are instead of yelling at them to stay away. Callie has picked up on my new and friendly tone and is actually calmer and less stressed out about it. She looks at them with curiosity and less fear and marches right past them without so much as a glance. Well, maybe a quick sideways glance, but there is no longer any hissing and screaming and she doesn’t seem nearly as panicked.

So our days are spent in much the same way as Elizabeth Gilbert’s were when she traveled to Italy, savoring the delicious Italian Cuisine as she studied the art and language of exotic Rome and met a sexy new man on top of it. Callie too has numerous suitors, eats so much that she has had to be put on a diet, and instead of praying for support, inspiration, and insight, she lives in the moment- right here and now.

The Leucadia Farmer’s Market

I have been to Farmer’s Markets before, and the usual fare is more about being artsy than real products right off the farm, but in the case of the Leucadia Farmer’s Market held at the Paul Ecke Elementary School on Union Street, the fruits and vegetables, fresh baked bread, local honey, Vegan products, savory jerky, and a variety of stalls serving delicious foods, left me totally impressed and hungry for more.

My daughter Lara and I walked from the Riviera Mobile Home and RV Park by heading south for several blocks on Vulcan Ave to the school grounds. The first thing I purchased, of course, was fresh strawberries. You can rarely buy sweet, bright red strawberries in the grocery store that are ripe and have enough sugar content; so we bought a 3 pack for $10.00. This is a little pricey, but an indulgence that I just couldn’t pass up. We then marched over to a booth selling fresh-baked, organic bread from Prager Bros. that is based in Carlsbad, and I chose a baguette. The baguette needed something to put on it, so we bought a sun-dried tomato and olive oil spread from Topnada that is produced in Vista, CA. Lara grabbed $1.00 worth of young carrots grown at a local farm and a bag of tea by Loose Leaf called: Body Balance from Oceanside that she was allowed to sample before buying. Everything was grown organically and produced locally, which makes this a very special Farmer’s Market.

You need to bring your own bags and with our goodies packed safely away, we headed to the student’s chicken coop to check out the egg-laying hens. The Farmer’s Market is held at the Ecke Elementary School, and this school features the most adorable mini-farm with a huge pumpkin that is still growing on the vine, sunflowers, rows of corn with a stuffed scarecrow staring down at you, a variety of squashes and vegetables, and of course, chickens. Children can go right up to the hens with their parents and call them by name. They have adorable names such as- Pepper, Petunia, Gladys, Marshmallow, Pearl, Thing 1 and 2, Sunnyside and Petunia. My favorite was Pearl. Pearl is a pale gray Ameracaunas, a breed that originated here in the United States and lays beautiful, green/blue eggs. How fortunate these elementary kids are to see where eggs and fruits and vegetables actually come from.

It was a fabulous way to spend the morning. The weather has been perfect, maybe just a tad bit hot what with the humidity, but so much better than the scorching heat of the desert. We have been swimming every day and relishing our escape from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for the summer. Life is good! We are not sure of what the next plan will be concerning our travels. We were told by a friend that Yellowstone is even smokey. Before we head out, we need to know that there are no wildfires burning out of control so that Callie doesn’t have another asthma attack. We have her stabilized once again, and I don’t want her to start coughing.

Cleaning out the WC

Callie is such a fastidious kitty and she takes it upon herself to REALLY, really clean her litter box after she has used it. Sometimes I catch her standing in the shower of the RV and reaching up along the walls and cabinets with her front paws. It is so funny to watch her grasp and drag a big pile of nothing to cover up her poop. This particular short video doesn’t do her cleaning duties justice, but I thought it was cute anyway.

We are still at the Riviera Mobile Home and RV Park in Encinitas, California and Michael and I love the temperate climate and the community atmosphere of this neighborhood. The park is ideally situated with restaurants and the beach is within walking distance. Steve, the manager is hard working, thoughtful and always lends a helping hand if needed. We have a beautiful pool to swim in and our daughter, Lara has been visiting us for a week. Next Tuesday we head to Yellowstone if all goes well.