Plenty of Time to get into Trouble!

Callie has finally recovered from her viral pneumonia. She had one mild coughing spell yesterday, but none the day before and we are finished with the antibiotic. It has been a difficult illness for her, but the joy of feeling well again is obvious. She has a spring in her step and wanted to rip out all the bark of every pine tree she came across on her morning walk here at Mammoth. Tiny chipmunks kept running in front of her and birds of all kinds were singing and flying from tree to tree. The sky is a deep blue with just a few puffy clouds in the distance. Apparently it snowed just two days ago, but you would never believe it from the mild temperature today and it almost feels like summer.  

Michael, Fred, Callie and I left Anza Borrego yesterday morning at 7am and made the heroic effort to get to Mammoth Lakes before sundown. Preparing for an RV trip is work. You have to be organized in your thoughts and have the energy and strength to load up everything you will need. You must grocery shop, get gas or diesel fuel, make sure the oil levels are good and the water tank has some fresh water in it.  You don’t want to drive around with too much water because of the added weight. We don’t have the luxery of leaving a lot of stuff in the RV in between our trips, because everything would melt. The temperature in Borrego Springs is expected to reach 117 this week. Thank goodness we made it to Mammoth and as I write about this blog this fine morning, it is a beautiful 75 degrees out with a low of 41 at night. 

We arrived in plenty of time to set up camp but unfortunatly the lakes are closed to camping because of massive amounts of snow still on the sides of the mountains. We were turned around at Lake George and Mary and finally at Twin Lakes we had to drive back into town and are staying at a local RV park called New Shady Rest which is at a lower elevation. It is beautiful here and we are parked under pine trees with Fred camped right across from us. *

Callie loved the drive yesterday and sat on the dash most of the way. She loves to look out the window and feel the sun on her face with the air conditioning blasting right below her. She really is jostled around quit a bit, and it is funny to watch her with her eyes closed and a content look on her face while appearing to be tossed up and down at a rapid pace. It looks like she is a baby taking a nap and her mommy is jiggling her to sleep. Her head bobs up and down and lulls her into a deep sleep.

We plan on staying here for a couple of nights and may attempt to go to Convict Lake next. It is at a lower elevation and may be open to camping. I have called but no one at the campground has returned my call as of yet. Sitting here in the RV with Callie napping after a long walk this morning is such a treat. People always comment on what an unusual sight she is, and I always tell them she is a D.O.G.- spelling it out for them slowly until they get it. It usually produces a hearty laugh and a response that you don’t see a cat being walked very often. She is really improving on her walking skills and we are going further and further and she respects my wishes to go one way when she would rather go another! We also went on a long bike ride with her sitting primly in the basket. Mammoth is very biker friendly and there are paved bike paths all over the town. 

 It is so wonderful to be here and I can’t wait to share all of the adventures that Callie and I will discover and experience.  We hope to travel for about 2 weeks; plenty of time to get into loads of trouble!

* The reason that the campgrounds around the lakes are closed is because of record breaking amounts of snow and the generator has broken. There is a concern of raw sewage seeping into the lakes.

A Heartfelt Thank You!

Dear readers and followers of my blog,

I just wanted to send out a heartfelt thank you to all of you who read my blog.

 I started the blog: TRAVELSWITHCALLIE with the encouragement of my daughter almost a year ago. It has been such an awesome experience to write and share photographs of my darling cat and the adventures we go on. She is such a good kitty and tries her best to behave like a dog. I can ask her to walk on a leash and to guard the RV. She hasn’t perfected the bark yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some day she does. She also understands the commands of sit, stay and come….that doesn’t necessarily mean she will obey them though. You can tell she knows what I am asking of her because her ears twitch and she hesitates before she decides not to do what I ask! When she disobeys, guilt registers all over her face and it pains her greatly.  If I have to chase her down, she will cower and give it up. I like that about her. She knows who is boss and that I have her best interest at heart. Disobeying is typical cat behavior so I try to be somewhat accommodating. Thank you dear readers for participating by reading my blog.  It means the world to me!❤️

The Return of River Cat

After another long day of travel, we pulled up to the Davis Dam Campground once again before the last leg of the journey home to Borrego Springs, California. It may be 104 degrees outside, but this evening we had a lovely stroll, walking along the banks of the Colorado River where common grackles swooped down on us in a display of absolute outrage that the river cat had returned! I don’t think many cats frequent the banks of the Colorado River, but the common grackles sure seem to understand that she is a predator and go after her mercilessly. They cackle and hiss and cluck and squeak their anger at a cat that is walking down below them.  We tried to ignore their onslaught for the most part, but when they got too close, I would  jump up high and throw my arms up in the air while hissing at them loudly. This would startle and annoy them greatly and they would rush back up to the trees to continue their verbal assault at a safer distance.  It was a fair enough game for both cat and grackle as long as I was there to even out the playing field. 

Grackles scolding Callie for having the audacity to be a river cat!

Arches National Park

There is a reason that Arches National Park is so popular. It is a spectacular place to hike, bike, climb and to take photographs. Storms have been blowing through all week and the tail end of one left the sky strewn with gorgeous clouds. We hiked to Delicate Arch like a swarm of ants marching to the same destination. It was a little unsettling after having been camping in less populated areas. What a sight to behold though once we made it to the arch. I had to ask some people to please give me a moment to take a photo before they maneuvered under the arch. That is apparently the new thing to do, pose under these natural bridges and have someone take your picture. They were considerate and let me do so. I took many photos with my Nikon D70s*and will upload them when I return home. What a spectacular day of photography though. I feel like I took over 500 photos and am exhausted and happy. Callie loves every minute of it and it is fun to know we are hiking and she is enjoying a moment in the sun and relaxing with food, water, litter box and shelter at her paw tip…We may try to go to Canyonlands today.

* None of my Nikon photographs turned out. I didn’t check the settings again after the strenuous hike and they turned out too dark. This is a very good lesson to learn the hard way!

Michael and our RV….


Blowin’ in the Wind

Michael and I are starting to suspect that the wind is following us. I don’t mean to sound paranoid, but really, everywhere we have gone lately, it has been windy. We thought we were going to leave the wind behind when we left Borrego Springs. Well the answer my friend, is blown’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind- Bob Dylan.

We had another fabulous bike ride to Morro Strand State Beach this morning, and I love biking here. Even with it blowing like crazy, it is still beautiful out. The bike path borders the Snowy Plover nesting grounds and the sand dunes are protected too. You can only view the wildlife from a distance, and you cannot walk on the dunes at all in protected areas. The Snowy Plover lays her eggs in the sand and this has worked pretty good for them up until humans came along and trampled over their nests and crushed their eggs. It is only recently that the birds have been granted protected status during nesting season, but it is hoped that they will have a come back and flourish once again. They are so adorable to watch flitting and darting across the shoreline. Their legs appear to spin in a circle like a wheel because they run so fast. It would be an incredible loss if these birds chose to avoid our shorelines; or even worse, became extinct.

In spite of the wind, we managed to make it to Morro Strand and back with stops along the way to take photographs. The wind was howling and the sand was spraying and pelting me in the face when I tried to shoot a short video. You can hear the wind in the background and the camera is not being held steady because I am being buffeted so hard. Morro Rock looks so incredible from the north side and I love the way the dunes are patterned by the wind. The iceplant has adapted to cling to the sand, hunker down low, and conserve water in its leaves. All and all, it is an amazing sight to behold. I love the coastline as it becomes more and more wild the further north you travel. There are less people on the beach because it is too cold out for sunbathing. This leaves the shoreline less crowded with people and the wildlife left alone, to be wild…..

Jalama State Beach 

We left Tuesday afternoon for Jalama State Beach in Lompoc, California and arrived at 7:30 pm. The flowers along the roadside were spectacular. I think the yellow blossoms are mustard grass, which is an invasive species, never the less, it was extraordinary to see all the green and yellow! We were able to obtain a lovely beach front camp site right on the water. The winds have picked up throughout the week and yesterday was somewhat miserable. Today we decided to BBQ first thing this morning so that we could avoid the strong winds that are predicted again today. 

Jalama State Beach is renowned for high surf and windsurfing. Last evening we watched 4 windsurfers jump through the air and fly over the water and ride 8 ft waves. It was like watching a surfing movie. They were obviously pros. The humpback whales are also doing their spring migration back to Alaska from Mexico, and are breaching right out front of the camp site.

Callie has made all kinds of new friends, and loves to watch Michael work on the BBQ. There are starlings here who mob her when we are out walking, but I shoo them away with my arms. They are quite brazen and pick on her mercilessly. Her cough has returned, so we are medicating her with antibiotics again and can only hope for the best. It doesn’t seem to get her down though.

This morning we went for a walk to the far southern point, and tomorrow we head to Morro Bay. We are having quite the adventure and I am looking forward to hooking up with my sister Elizabeth in Los Osos….

Alongside the 101 going north near Ventura


Fanfare for the Common Man

On our RV trip to the Colorado River and to Mayfower RV Park in Blythe, California, Michael and I listened to music in the evenings by candle light. Callie seems to really appreciate the sound of music and always puts herself in a central position between the 2 speakers to listen intently. One night we had the pleasure of hearing- Fanfare for the Common Man by the late American composer, Aaron Copland and conducted by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. The musical work is only about 3.5 minutes in length but it packs a punch to the gut and leaves you with a sense of wonderment. How can someone create this? I am an artist and photographer but I appreciate music foremost. He is one of my favorite composers and he wrote this musical work in 1942, and may have been inspired after listening to a speech written by Vice President, Harry Wallace. World War II was still raging and people needed something positive to grasp and hold onto. The speech is about mankind and that this would be the century of greatness! The musical piece is breathtaking in its scope of rich melody and you feel a part of all that is good with humanity in spite of the evil that played out in Europe at the time the music was composed. Humans are still taking a horrible toll on one another and peace appears to be unattainable for our beautiful plantet and all the plants and animals that share it with us. When you listen to Fanfare for the Common Man, it will provide you an escape from reality and transport you to another realm and you too just might feel pride toward humanity. We have so much potential yet squander so much; but this short work of art is very powerful….*

I decided to title this blog post, Fanfare for the Common Man because of a flat tire we experienced in Ehrenberg, Arizona. When Michael and I decided to tow our boat back to California, I insisted on putting new tires on the trailer because I was concerned about a blowout in the middle of the Mohave Desert which would have made my life miserable. The boat and trailer had been sitting since 2013 and the tires were old back then, so we had 4 new tires put on in Bullhead City, Arizona as a safety precaution. When leaving the Mayflower RV Park, we drove across the river to the Arizona side in order to get cheaper diesel fuel. I believe we got the flat tire when making a U-turn at the gas station. As bad luck would have it, we ran over a large bolt, and as good luck would have it, I noticed because I had gotten out to help Michael navigate the busy gas station and just happened to glance back as air was gently being released from the back right tire of the boat trailer. Good luck also played a part in the experience because there just happened to be a Boss Tire Shop literally right next door. We raced over as the tire lost pressure and made it to the shop just as the last puff of air was released in the death throes of the brand new radial tire. Good Luck would also be with us again in spite of the bad luck because we had two wonderful guys named Chris and Eden assist us in putting on a new tire. The flat was not repairable and we did have to pay $141.00 for a new tire that had cost us only $70.00 in Bullhead City, but we weren’t going to complain. We both felt so fortunate that I had noticed the damaged tire in the knick of time and that we were within driving range of a tire shop. 

This leads me to my conclusion and as to why I titled this post, Fanfare for the Common Man. Eden, the older of the 2 guys that helped us out, shared with me his story about being married a second time to a wife who had 5 children of her own that was added to 5 children from his first wife. They then had a daughter together who is the youngest of the 11 that is now 18 years old who is getting ready to go to college and wants to be a child psychologist. Eden said that until this 11th child was born, there was no connection between the 2 sets of children. When she arrived it brought the family together as one. Eden couldn’t retire yet in spite of having worked all night and was exhausted because he wanted to help his youngest daughter with her school loans. None of the other children had expressed an interest in going to college. He was visibly proud of this daughter and his whole face lit up while sharing this story with me. His exhaustion melted away and he got in touch with how special he is for working so hard and making sacrifices for his wife and child. He helped put air in one of the RV tires and had a spring in his step when he finished the job. Chris actually was the one who changed the tire and when I asked for a valve cap, he brought me a fist full and enjoyed listening to me tell him that I was writing a blog about my travels with Callie. Both of them couldn’t wait to have their photo taken and were excited to be a part of the adventure and the story told. Having Callie in my life helps me to meet interesting people from all walks of life and my social anxiety is lessened having her by my side. People love hearing about her and they consequently let down their guard too. So here are 2 guys working very hard in a town that thrives on boaters and fisherman and agriculture. All 4 of us connected on a personal level because of my blog and this probably wouldnt have happened unless I had gotten out of the RV and told them about Callie. The experience of having a flat tire turned into a golden opportunity to write about it and all of us had a better time because of it. Rather than be upset about the flat, I chose to participate in a positive way that left these 2 guys happier for having helped us out. So if anyone reads this and happens to drive through Ehrenberg, Arizona, drop by Boss Tires and tell them you read about them and what great guys they were for helping us out! I may send a thank you note too! We did tip them for the effort and praised them for having saved our ass. It could have been so much worse!

We managed to get home a couple of hours later without any more mishaps and Callie is enjoying more and more the idea of hanging out on the dash and playing co-pilot. She is no longer shy at all about most new experiences and loves all the attention she gets from everyone while watching the world whiz by at faster and faster speeds. When we pull into gas stations, we always get a couple double takes and a good laugh when they see her proudly sitting on the dash. Her tolerance for new experiences is making the RV trip fun and exciting. My tolerance for new and exciting experiences is softening its edge on me too because she adds so much to the story line…

*Appalachian Spring is also beautiful!