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.

Burlington Campground X2

Michael, Callie and I stayed at the Burlington Grove Campground during the summer months, right before the disastrous drive over to Albee Creek. Albee Creek was a disaster because RV’s weren’t recommended on the pot hole filled drive over to the campground, and the sign stating as such, was spot on. We lost a hub cap and later had a flat tire and the cabinets in the RV came loose from the wall. This story is about Burlington though, and Burlington is a lovely campground.

We biked over to the Founder’s Grove yesterday and walked among the ancient redwoods. 98% of the redwoods were cut down before a group of environmentalists in 1932 stepped in and questioned the sanity of chopping down all these beautiful trees. Thank goodness for the foresight of these individuals.

Callie loves the big trees and keeps looking up in bewilderment at how to go about climbing one of these giants. She settled for hopping up on stumps instead. That just doesn’t seem so formidable to her. She also got to meet a lovely young boy by the name of Ocean who had to give up his kitten because his landlady was mean and he was very sad about it. Callie comforted him and I told Ocean when he grows up, he must remember Callie and rescue a cat just like Callie was rescued of his own. His whole face lit up at the idea and he walked away just a little happier than before. It kind of looked like his family had fallen on hard times and may have been living in their car. Ocean told me he had been very cold last night. What a sweet, smart and well mannered young boy he was.

The photo below shows a redwood that fell down in a storm and the inner rings date back to 920 AD.

The redwoods of today are ancestors to even more ancient redwoods that dominated the planet during the time of dinosaurs. We humans have only been around for a blink of an eye, but we have already destroyed over 98% of these majestic creatures. How is that possible? I love these trees and feel so honored to have had the opportunity to camp below them twice now in one year. Who knows when or if fire will consume them before I have a chance again? I can only hope that our current political administration will come to their senses and find value in our natural resources too- before it is too late!

Fires Raging in Santa Rosa

We left South Lake Tahoe and innocently headed to Bodega Bay, oblivious to the fires that were raging in Northern California. About the time we came closer to the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, we could see smoke billowing off to the right side and north of us. By the time we merged onto the 101 North, we received an evacuation notice that blasted over the phone and we took notice that most people on the highway were zipping by us and going in the opposite direction with their lights on. Soon, whole hillsides were engulfed in flames and smoke. Cattle were actually grazing in fields that had been recently charred and smoke was curling up gently all around them. It was so eerie to see the cattle walking around in burned fields with smoke and blackened grass. They weren’t even reacting, just ambling along quietly with young calves at their sides.

As we drove past Petaluma, the smoke became more and more densely thick and you could actually see flames! We also saw a sign that informed us that the freeway was closed up ahead and that we needed to find an alternate route. Because the smoke was so thick, we had made a joint decision earlier not to go to Bodega Bay, but to try and continue north to escape the pollution. By then, we were all coughing and our eyes were burning from all of the smoke. We were forced to get off though before we got to Santa Rosa and thought that maybe Salt Point State Campground would be clearer. When we drove through Bodega Bay, it was really dark with smoke and after another hour or so of driving north on the 1, we made it to our Campground.

It wasn’t any better at the campground though. Apparently there are fires burning all over and the entire coastline is smokey and the sun is tinged a blood red. We spent one night there and woke up to smokey skies and took the 1 to Casper Beach RV Park and Campground which is north of Fort Bragg this morning. The skies are still smokey and because we dropped by and had lunch in Point Arena, near Irish Beach, we watched the news and were horrified at the extent of the fires and the shear number of lives and structures lost. Horses and people and vineyards and a Hilton Hotel, and the list goes on and on. I am in shock and feel so bad for all of those that are affected. It is hard to imagine in this day and age, that fires can still swoop through whole neighborhoods and kill everything it it’s path. It was apocalyptic though! We were just at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds not more than 2.5 months ago.

We will be staying tonight at the Casper Beach Campground in Westport, and may decide to head back south again tomorrow. The skies will not be clearing up any time soon and we are miserable. Certainly it is nothing like what others have had to endure, but it is awful never the less.

I have a good friend, Catherine who I have written about concerning Anza Borrego Desert State Park and she lives in Petaluma and has been watching as rescue trucks have delivered animals out of the fire zone. Apparently a lot of horses have perished. She dropped by the Red Cross today and delivered donated clothes. I am so sorry for the fire victims. What a horrible thing to endure.

Mono Vista RV Park

We left Yosemite Valley yesterday afternoon after a feeble attempt to try and reserve a campsite. Yosemite Valley was so crowded though, that we decided to drive over to Lee Vining and check out Mono Lake. We drove through a beautiful snowstorm in Tioga Pass, and the temperature dropped to 20 degrees last night in Lee Vining.

We pulled into Mono Vista RV Park around 5:00 and were given campsite #40 at the end of the row overlooking the lake. It truly is a Mono Vista RV Park, and it really has a view of the lake! The sites are spacious and the showers are clean. 2 out of 3 of us had hot water in the morning because Lara only had lukewarm. The management was informed of the problem, and they gave her another token for an additional 5 minutes which we never used and returned it to the front desk upon check-out. The campground has a large laundry facility and I thought the grounds were kept up nicely and the overall experience was rewarding. Our site offered electricity and water which was absolutely crucial for overall comfort because the night was so cold.

It is a gorgeous, bright and sunny day with a cloudless, blue sky overhead. After a lovely walk around the campgrounds with Callie, we collectively decided to head to South Lake Tahoe. We were going to go to Mammoth, but because most campgrounds don’t offer any hookups, I was concerned about Callie getting too cold during the night. She has coughed several times and we are trying to keep her warm and comfortable.

The drive to Tahoe was beautiful and the surrounding hills and mountains all had a dusting of pure white snow on them. The temperature was only in the 50’s all day, and autumn is definitely in the air. It took us about 2.5 hours to get here and we found an incredible campground called: The Campground by the Lake and we are settled into B-6. I personally believe we have the best site in the campground. The friendly host named Ed chose it for us and we can’t believe our good fortune! It is right across the street from the lake and is unbelievably large.

Because the site is so spacious and roomy, we were able to park the RV sideways so that we face the lake when sitting on the sofa. Our host was especially helpful and kind and made the experience of checking in without a reservation seem like a normal, everyday thing to do. We will be staying here for 3 nights and may stay even longer if we can. Supposedly the weekend is all booked up, but cold weather may keep some of the people that already made reservations, from traveling and they may cancel and stay home, according to Ed. We will keep our fingers crossed. It is aways advisable to have a campsite already reserved before the weekend rolls around. The weekends are when RVing can be a bit tricky. It is no fun driving around looking for a place to stay and finding everything is filled up!

The bike path is literally right in front of the campsite and there is another path across the street that follows the lake. Michael and Lara ended up buying her a bike at Walmart and we also purchased a 4 bike- bike rack for the RV. Tomorrow we will all try to go on a bike ride together!

Callie had an absolute blast on the front dash today and she jumps up on it as soon as the engine starts up. She is tucked into bed now after a nice dinner and we have the heat on because of electrical hook up. Who could possibly ask for more?

Yosemite Valley- Beautiful but too Crowded

We got up early this morning, skipped showers and breakfast, and left Mariposa in hopes of nabbing an RV site today in Yosemite Valley. With first come first serve being our only option, we put our name down at 9:00- we were #28- and headed out on a hike to Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake is a seasonal lake which was dredged in the past in order to keep the silt from filling up and clogging the water. Today, naturalists understand the importance of leaving nature alone and do not dredge it anymore. Because of this, the lake is more of a puddle due to the build up of sandy deposits. It still has spectacular views of gigantic rocks and the hike into the lake is now a paved bicycle trail. What little water that is left standing is still capable of reflecting the landscape behind it- hence the name: Mirror Lake. Yosemite is very pro-bike and rental bikes are available for individual use. Our daughter didn’t bring her bike, so we decided to hike in on foot.

We then tried to go to Bridal Falls, but because the park was so crowded, we couldn’t find any place to park, and because we couldn’t find any place to park, we decided to give it up and head to Lee Vining and Mono Lake. It isn’t any fun when you are battling crowds and noisy road construction the whole time. I was able to take a fair amount of photographs in spite of visiting the park for only 4 hours and I am very relieved to get out of there. We all left Yosemite Valley with headaches and people fatigue but are still glad we went. Someone else can have our spot if they are lucky enough to even get one.

The weather was perfect though and the leaves are just starting to turn golden and burgundy. Most of the campsites are closed already, and unfortunately, Yosemite had a very short season due to heavy snow pack last winter. We saw many road side, rock slides and repair construction was going on everywhere. A couple of weeks ago, El Capitan had a major rock slide, killing one British man, and injuring his wife, as it swept down the mountain and buried many cars in its path. Some of the bridges have suffered damage too. You could tell the construction workers were working overtime in order to get as much work done before the snow starts to fall again.

On our way out, we spotted a black bear rummaging around for grubs fairly close to the road. It brought traffic to a halt and some idiots were even getting out of their car in order to take photographs. I got a teeny tiny photo from the window of the RV. Driving over Tiogas Pass and Route 120, we hit a snowstorm. It has taken Callie a little getting use to when the windshield wipers have to be turned on! She toughed it out this time and didn’t jump down.

Who knows where we will head to next. We are road weary today and Lee Vining and Mono Lake will have to do!

Mass Shooting in Vegas- Autumn Leaves in Mariposa

Another mass shooting in America! When are we going to recognize that the NRA harbors home- grown terrorism. I am sickened by gun owners rights while health care for individuals is considered- a privilege!

We woke up this morning to the sickening news that there has been another mass shooting. My daughter lived next door to the San Bernardino terrorists in Redlands, California, she has friends that live in Las Vegas, and I have friends that live in Mesquite, Nevada. I am so disheartened and saddened that this country can’t override the choke-hold that the NRA- coal, tobacco and alcohol and other lobbyists have on the United States. When will enough be enough?

On a lighter note, Callie loved the drive to Mariposa and especially the dry, sycamore leaves at our campsite. We are staying at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds and it is a beautiful day filled with sunshine and crisp, autumn weather. The nights are dropping down into the 30’s. I must grasp at what lovely straws that I can during such troubled times. Having Trump for a president who has deep ties to the NRA leaves me feeling despondent.

I shall try to comfort myself with how fortunate I am to be traveling with a beautiful daughter, husband and the best cat in the whole wide world.

Callie’s Awesome Catwalks!

When I first started Callie out on the leash and halter, she would always stop, drop and refuse to go forward. It took a little getting use to, but once she realized she would be able to explore new places and have me around to protect her, she picked it up with ease. Callie now goes on a minimum of 2 walks a day, at 30 minutes per walk. My daughter is helping me out too and taking her for a walk every once in awhile. When Michael walks her, she pulls out of the harness and makes a run for it.*She treats Michael with just a touch of disrespect. When he is resting on the sofa, she runs right over him. We are working on that little habit of hers. She also shouts at Michael as if he is hard of hearing. Such a funny little cat she is.

*Cats can pull out of the harness by going backwards and tucking their elbows and shoulders in. If they start to pull backwards, let go of the leash and don’t create resistance. Speak calmly and try to relax your cat enough to continue moving forward.

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.