Heading Home!

We are heading back home to Anza Borrego Desert State Park after a month of being on the road. We forgot to pack toys for Callie, so a thrift store bag and iPhone chord will have to do! The thrift stores in Monterey and Carmel are incredible. The Human Society Thrift Store, The Yellow Brick Road and Joining Hands help the homeless and animals that need to find a home too. Callie loved playing in the bag after we finished shopping.

The Sky is Falling- The Ravens are Calling

Callie has become quite the darling wherever and whenever she goes out on a walk with me and Lara! People are always fascinated that a cat can and will walk on a leash. She takes it all in stride though and tries to keep her cool in most situations.

Everyone walking a dog marvels at her calm disposition and the dogs cannot believe their eyes, ears and nose. The smaller ones always want to touch noses with her, and if they go about it in a smooth and controlled manner, she will allow it. Otherwise she lies in wait at the end of her leash, and I have to warn the owners that she will get the better of the dog if they get too close. Callie is wickedly fast with her claws and before she rakes the poor dog swiftly over the nose, she will let out a warning shriek that sends most dogs running in a blind panic!

But today we saw a different beast all together! This afternoon we had several ravens following us high up above in the oak trees and they would cackle and crow and make all kinds of clicking noises as they jumped from branch to branch. It was almost like they too could not believe that there was a cat walking on a leash below them. They both peered down at us intently and with keen curiosity, tried dropped acorns on our heads to see just how we would react to the taunting. I looked up at them in return and mimicked their sounds right back at them and that set them off even more. They flapped their wings and cawed even louder and flew off muttering to themselves about the impossibility of a cat walking around on a leash. This caused Callie to drop down into a fake crouch position, but because they were so much bigger than her, there was very little threat in her posture. I think the tables would have been turned if the ravens called her bluff and it would have sent her running in a blind panic.

We are having a lovely time staying at the Monterey Campgrounds again, and Callie has her favorite oak trees that she loves to rub up against. I wonder if every dog that has ever been walked on a leash in the area, has lifted its leg and peed on the trunks of these trees. She gets this weird look on her face and then drops and rolls at the base of the tree in total ecstasy and rubs her back and face along the base of the tree. And if owners neglect to pick up after their dog? Why she goes about burying all the exposed poop with dirt and dried leaves and you can tell that it bothers her that dogs are so sloppy and thoughtless. She is the most fastidious cat I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and can’t stand it when others are dirty and leave a mess!

So Callie and I will ignore the ravens that hop from branch to branch and taunt us high up in the oak tree. And I will let them wonder just how it was that I taught a cat to walk on a leash in the first place. It must be a first for these ravens to observe and for most people to witness too, but I believe that Callie has opened the eyes of everyone that sees her out walking to the distinct possibility that their cat too, could walk on a leash!

Fisherman’s Wharf

My daughter and I walked to Fisherman’s Wharf this afternoon from the fairgrounds- which is around 2.5 miles one way and meandered around the silly, touristy, trinket shops before deciding that we were in need of sustenance and decided that The Old Fisherman’s Grotto fit the bill.

We were seated right away, on a Sunday afternoon, and had a window seat over looking the west side of the bay. We watched kayakers taking lessons on how to roll completely under water and back up again, with pelicans, seals and jellyfish bobbing in the calm, blue, water. It was a lovely, cloudless day, and the temperature was only 67 degrees. I am still appreciative of the cooler days after having lived in the desert this past year and a half. Green is now my favorite color and I prefer anything to 110 degrees.

After we sat down, the waiter brought us delicious sourdough bread and water and we ordered lemon, chicken piccata, a poached pear salad and we shared a bowl of clam chowder. The food and ambience were delightful and we had a fabulous time.

I decided to take home more clam chowder soup for Michael, my husband, because it was so delicious. They stuffed half a loaf of bread in a bag for me too and I lugged it all the back to the RV and to the fairgrounds. I was pretty tired when I finally made it home! Nothing like working off a good lunch with a long, walk afterwards.

When we headed out this early afternoon, one of the F-14 Fighter Jets took off and 3 car alarms on the street started wailing simultaneously and on the return trip, a jet roared past us and then headed straight up vertically into the sky while twisting round and round like a rocket ship! What a show of technology and power! They are also really, really loud. It has scared Callie every time they have taken off. I won’t miss all of the noise!

Callie spent a lovely day resting in the RV after watching the sunrise from the sofa and taking a nice, long walk with me. Her walks on the leash have improved daily and the fairgrounds have been a perfect place for her to explore all the horse stables and climb the oak trees. We are leaving tomorrow for Mariposa and will head to Mammoth Lakes next. Monterey has been a great place to park for one whole week.

Photographs of the Monterey Coastal Bike Trail

If you visit Monterey and are a biker or like to walk or jog, I highly recommend you take this fabulous, nicely paved trail that crosses from one end of Monterey to the other and can be continued all the way to Carmel. The old railway tracks were used to determine the route as it hugs the coastline. It is a good alternative to driving a car around the city.

And an afterthought! If you want to go out to a really good restaurant- The Sardine Factory has been around for over 40 years. I have been there twice and my husband, three times. It is one of our favorite, upscale restaurants and is located on Cannery Row.

From Stardust to the Mighty Oak Tree

It has been such a wonderful time here in Monterey, that we have decided to stay an entire week. The weather has been perfect and there is an endless supply of fabulous things to do and see. The County Fairgrounds are spacious, the bathrooms clean and Ray, our host, has been very helpful and accommodating. We have full hook-ups and are using our shower now after I remove Callie’s litter box. We have had the RV since December and are only just now using the shower! Everything must be done at its own pace and time.

My daughter Lara and I have been exploring the Fairgrounds and we came across some interesting murals and sculptures that are up against an art building that must offer art classes periodically. The murals are from an era when clowns and county fairs were very popular. You can almost feel the ghosts of 4-H and FFA animals: chickens, cows and pigs that have perished from another time, when agriculture was closer to the hearts and minds of all individuals. We have become so removed from the animals we eat, and from the soil that grows our food.

We are parked under massive oak trees that are protected and can no longer be cut down without city approval. I have mulled over the idea that when I die, I would like to be part of the new craze of planting a tree and your ashes are used as fertilizer. I love the idea of having a mighty oak sapling planted in my honor and supporting the young trees early growth with the nutrients used from my remains. There are too many cemeteries taking up much needed space, and too many people buried in them. I want to become a tree that provides much needed oxygen and gives something back to the earth. Why not? We are all made of stardust anyway! Let the cycle of life continue instead of being placed in a coffin after having been exhumed.

So I have let my daughter and husband know of my wishes- that I want to become a tree after I die. The only problem that I can foresee for the future, is where to plant me so that I don’t get cut down!

Monterey Fairgrounds RV Park

Yesterday afternoon we left beautiful Santa Cruz Upper Harbor for Monterey, California. We are parked at the county fairgrounds and are facing a golf course with horse stables behind us. Military jets are flying low overhead in the sky, and in formation and are frighteningly loud. The whole area shakes and the RV rumbles. Campers have raced to the tops of their RV’s to film the procession with their iPads and iPhones. My daughter watched while inside the RV as a fighter jet roared passed us. She could see the silver underside of the jet as it flashed by incredibly close. The RV shook and rattled as Callie crouched down low in fear and alarm and she looked at me with eyes wide open!

Warning- I am about to rant and rage against President Trump. If any of my readers are offended about anti- Trump rhetoric, I would suggest you not continue reading. I try not to interject my political views very often, but in this case, and with war drums beating, I feel no choice but to vent.

What a show of force and power to watch the fighter jets coming and going! It is really something to witness the incredible speed of these pilots that have gone through rigorous training and are now showing off their skills by flying overhead. And the fighter jets are extraordinarily sleek and streamlined and look so powerful and dangerous. But with Trump thumping his chest and ranting about “Rocket Man” and Kim Jong Un returning insults that Trump is a a demented old man, how did we get to this place? The thought of another nuclear bomb going off, or another WWIII starting up, fills me with dread and foreboding.

I am of the opinion that the Russian investigation is heating up and that Trump would like nothing more than to confuse and distract the attention away from HIM and on to other things. Like the NFL players just as an example that are kneeling during the anthem. Our first amendment rights protect exactly that! The right to protest peacefully about something that you believe is wrong. Racism is prevalent in this country and the backlash after President Obama held office for 8 years has been ripe with the hate and anger that has festered during his 2 terms. I am appalled and disgusted to say the least with the people that voted Trump into the Whitehouse and with Trump himself. He is a sick egomaniac bent on doing as much damage as possible to Obama’s legacy. Or worse, he is intent on starting another war, even though he himself had been excused from serving at least 4 times due to heel spurs.

So I have mixed emotions about being parked next to a military fly zone. I am in awe of the sinister beauty of these airplanes, but sickened to think that humanity has evolved this far, only to have two such sick and obnoxious leaders as Trump and Kim Jong Un in power at the same time. They should be locked up together and forced to duel it out on their own. Why drag the rest of us into their petty show of mean spirited and cruel force of wills? I feel like Trump is tying his horse to a fence. You never want to tie your horse up to an unstable barrier. If a horse spooks, it will destroy the fence and possibly injure itself and have to be put down.

Callie on the other hand is enjoying herself and hanging out on the dash. She was able to walk around the oak trees and horse stables and to pretend that she was a barn cat for a bit. Having shown horses in the past, it is wonderful to be in the vicinity of jockey quarters, show rings and stables. I can almost hear the whinny of my deceased, beautiful, chestnut, Arabian- Champagnne Flight, as he searched for me and I for him at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Time is flying by so fast. Here I am with a grown up daughter who use to show this horse as an 8 year old and a husband who is now retired, and we are now traveling around the country in our 24ft RV. It almost makes you feel old and wise. I wish I had an answer for the United States/ North Korea dilemma though. Now that would make me feel wise indeed!

You Know it is Hot when…

Michael, Callie and I now have the awesome company of our adult daughter joining us on our travels with Callie adventure. She has been going to school- non-stop for close to 27 years. She wants to do a little traveling before deciding what she wants to be when she grows up. She is an only child and a much loved one at that. There are pros and cons of being an only child, but not one that I can address because I am one of 8. So having her join us is an honor and we understand and appreciate her very much. Not every adult/child would be kind or mature enough to take on the task of an RV trip with a cat and her aging, crazy parents.

We left Anza- Borrego Desert State Park where we have lived for a year and a half now. It was a hot, Friday afternoon on September 15th and it was 112 outside. Trying to pack up the RV in the oppressive heat was a daunting task, and this time most of the work fell on my husbands shoulders. I have Bipolar Disorder and had gone on a binge for several days before the trip. Leaving the house to go on a trip has frequently been a trigger for me, and this time was no exception. Staying in bed in a fetal position is horrible to experience, and no fun for any of us! I am relieved to see it behind me and the four of us safely out the door.

Living in the desert is brutal during the summer months and that was the reason for the RV purchase last December. It is miserable to be shut up in the house all day with a swamp cooler blasting and no possibility of doing anything besides swimming outdoors. Even the pool was a tepid warm and not very refreshing to go in. Plus the sun is so harsh that it fries your skin within an hour. The reality of just how hot it has been hit home when I noticed that my fake, battery operated candle had melted down to a forlorn and sunken shape. The real candles that a close girlfriend had given me had liquified and none of the wicks were left on the surface. Cans of V8 juice had exploded in the pantry and needed to be cleaned up and everything was super hot to the touch.

So I am so delighted and so appreciative that we got out of there in one piece and will be traveling up the coast. It will be cooler along the ocean and my adventures with Callie will begin once again.

Desert Storms

Yesterday late afternoon, a storm built up in strength and power, with heavy, saturated clouds that formed over the San Ysidro Mountains. These rain saturated clouds then ominously fanned out and over the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, casting purple shadows over the desert landscape. We watched as bolts of lightening pierced the darkened sky, and sonic booms of thunder, slowly and laboriously, followed shortly afterwards. It was the perfect condition for a downpour. Behind the house and along the foothills, you could see that the storm was building up strength and moving in our direction.

First you get a whiff of the scent of desert plants being blown around haphazardy. Then the sky darkens and cools as it covers up the sun. Next, a blast of dry, hot, brittle, wind, sends debris swirling up all around you, causing you to close your eyes tightly as you quickly throw your arms up to protect your face. After that, big, fat, cold, raindrops start to fall as you take serious notice and run for cover. And with that, the heavens suddenly open up, providing life giving rain to the parched, dry, desert below. The smell of creosote suddenly fills the air and birds take cover and try to cling to tree branches that are being whipped around in a frenzied circle. Palm trees bend and give into the force of the wind, rather then snap and break in two. The olive trees out back seem to dance and twirl and fortunately are hardy enough to withstand the force of this storm.

We all hung out in the backyard to watch the drama unfold, and Callie showed no fear and was not afraid of the thunder and lightening. Even the rain didn’t seem to bother her too much. When the gusts sent sand and palm fronds, olives and dust her way in maddening swirls and blasts, she raced for the door to watch the storm blow past from the safety of the house. And just as suddenly as the storm arrived, it moved away, leaving a delicate imprint of solitary raindrops on the desert floor.

The storm had stalled, backed up and stayed concentrated over the foothills behind the house. It put on quite a show for us at a safe distance. There was torrential rain for an hour or so, which prompted flash flood warnings to blast from our cell phones. I jumped in fright when the phone sent a shrill warning, but ignored the warning of course. In the morning when we got up, I discovered that the warning had indeed applied to us. Our street was flooded and fortunately the sand and mud was kept mostly at bay with sandbags and small retaining walls.

We live in the aluvian flood plain and are subjected to seasonal, flash floods. Most of the houses on our block have dealt with this before and have been built and rebuilt with potential, future, flooding damage as a distinct possibility. Only one house was damaged this time though. Our house did well and the rock barrier did its job to keep us safe and dry. Another storm is building again today but does not seem to be as powerful as yesterdays.  Such is the life in the desert. I love it.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is where I now call my home. The park is named after the 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and Borrego is the Spanish word for sheep. Big horn sheep run wild in this desert and I have photographed them while biking around the De Anza Country Club golf course. It is the largest State Park in California and has been my home for 2 years now.

I met Catherine Loustaunau while I was a 4th grader at Saint Francis de Salles School in Riverside, California. I was drawing a horse of course, and she came over to check it out. It was love at first sight because of a shared passion for all that is horses. We are now middle aged women in our early 60’s. She is a descendent of Juan Batista de Anza and we are still best friends. How amazing is that and that I should happen to live here now? We use to come to this desert park as children with my parents to play among the ocotillo, sage and brittle-brush and to camp over night in a Scotty trailer which was pulled by a huge Chevy station wagon we affectionately called~Charlie! Catherine is the youngest of 5 sisters and I am smack in the middle of 7. I have the awesome distinction of being the youngest of the “big kids and the oldest of the little kids!”

Because Catherine was so much younger than her older 4 sisters, she preferred hanging out with my sister Gayle and me while growing up. We spent many wonderful summers together enjoying such adventures like visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In the photo that was taken by my father, we are in our pre-teens. Catherine is on the far left of the photograph wearing a white T-shirt, I am next to her, and my sister’s Gayle, Janet and baby Jennifer follow on the right hand side. I also celebrated my 50th birthday in Anza- Borrego with 5 of my sisters. I feel a connection to this unique place and I have learned to cope with the extreme temperatures and harsh conditions of a truly magical desert. It is home for me now and I am blooming where I have been planted.

Callie has adjusted well to a new life in the desert too and knows she cannot run free anymore. She needs to be guarded over at all times because of owls, hawks, coyotes, let alone scorpions, black widows, rattlesnakes and roadrunners. Danger comes in many shapes and sizes and I am on the constant lookout in order to keep her safe. I can’t allow her to leave the confines of our yard and she cannot be left out there without supervision. To mind all of these rules is a tall order for a cat. She is a good kitty though and tries not to give me too much trouble.

Today a storm is expected and the possibility of rain, though slight, always brings drama because of the play of light and shadow, cast over the deeply lined Santa Rosa and San Ysidro mountain range.

My backyard is up against the San Ysidro foothills, and for two years now I have been photographing the sun as it peaks out from the east and reflects on the hills in the west. It is something I wake up to with delight and anticipation. I have witnessed rare pink rainbows and gorgeous molten sunrises. Every morning dawns a new potential for an awesome photograph. Today will be a good day for photography while Callie sleeps safely inside and on my bed. I will continue to update photos as the storm passes through.

Incidentally, we had light sprinkles, but no heavy rain. The temperature is a mild 90 compared to triple digits last week. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!

It did not rain!

How to Unpack with a Cat in the House

Callie will come running to the sound of bubble wrap crinkling, or tape being ripped while unpacking your belongings. She just cannot stay away. Boxes are a big draw too! If I go grocery shopping, it is the sound of boxes being unpacked that will send her flying in my direction.

Lara’s move is officially over and all she has to do now is unpack and make the front bedroom, her very own room. The fun will begin when she tears the tape off of boxes and unwraps precious items from their protective coverings. Bubble wrap must be chewed on and popped loudly by Callie, and tape ripped viciously from their sides. Lara will have to endure a cat’s curiosity about what is in each and every box, and have patience when she jumps inside to investigate. It can only be done in stages, and with enough time taken out to unstick tape that is stuck on Callie’s nose!

After an hour of exhaustive unpacking and with much licking of tape, Callie will take a well earned nap!