Good Morning California Quail

Callie and I woke up to a covey of quail clicking and squeaking their delight about some kind of food made available from our next door neighbor. I don’t think anything was deliberately left out, but they found something that struck their fancy. I counted at least 20 birds pecking away right below the drivers seat. Callie had a front row view and contributed to the overall mayhem by making little squeaky sounds of delight of her own.

We are going to attempt to drive up to Eureka and check out the redwoods in spite of the unhealthy air quality. We are being besieged by fires all up and down the California coast and Callie has started to cough again. There are at least 17 fires burning this morning. They were somewhat contained on Tuesday, but dry winds have picked up again and fanned the flames. The smoke and ash is everywhere. I feel so sorry for California and the people and animals affected by this tragedy. I must admit that the coastal trees and grasslands look dry and unhealthy. Perfect conditions for wildfires.

For now, enjoying the quail below the window will have to do. These birds look healthy and happy and are relishing a lovely morning before all the campers wake up.

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.

Last Day in South Lake Tahoe

Tomorrow we are going to be pulling up stakes again and heading to Lassen Volcanic National Park. But only if we can find out if there are any partial hook ups for RV’s. The nights are dropping into the 20’s and it is just too cold for Callie when we don’t have heat on. She is coughing intermittently and we don’t want to see her get any worse. If Lassen isn’t our next destination, we will go to the redwoods. Our daughter hasn’t seen the gentle giants since she was a little girl, and the climate should be more temperate along the coast. It only got in the 50’s today in South Lake Tahoe.

Callie enjoyed a couple of walks today and is quite at home in this Campground. Most of the campers have left and it is quiet and there are more trees than Callie knows what to do with. She loves walking up to a tree and evaluating whether it would be worth climbing or not. Gray squirrels are busy stashing away food for the winter and barely take notice of her passing by. She is interested in them but because they are almost the same size as she is, chooses to leave them alone. The Canadian Geese like to head back to wherever they came from around 3:00 in the afternoon and you can hear them take off from the lake and start to fly back over the pine trees in a reverse pattern from the previous dawn. I wonder where they bed down to during the night?

We have really enjoyed our stay here at Campground by the Lake and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in camping in Tahoe. It is a affordable, well run, clean and except for the traffic along the lake, quiet. The campground closes in 2 weeks though for the season. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if snow falls with the next storm that passes overhead. You can feel autumn in the air and winter is right behind it.

We were never able to figure out if Lassen Volcanic National Park has hookups, and after much consideration- we have decided to go to Bodega Bay, or the redwoods in California because of the temperate climate! Nothing but the best for Callie Adorable!

Canadian Geese in South Lake Tahoe

Every morning when I take Callie for her walk at Campground by the Lake in South Lake Tahoe, I look up to the sound of Canadian Geese flying overhead and coming in for a landing on the lake. You can easily see the white at the base of their tails, like a beacon for family members to follow as they fly low, over the pine trees. They honk and make fun little noises to one another that sound surprisingly reassuring and comforting. It is almost like one goose is saying to the others, “hang a little to the right” while another says, “safe and clear on the left” while even another says, “slow down, don’t go so fast!” Others respond by answering back and forth until you hear them hit the water and then all is silent.

Can you imagine a family member being shot out of the sky and the impact that tragedy must have on the flock members? They are a family, and a bird shot out of the sky is a mother or a father, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, or worse, mate! I just don’t get duck and bird hunting. I am not a vegetarian, so I can’t really judge with a clear conscience. But if everyone could understand that it is a family unit being torn apart and destroyed, maybe it would make less sense to the hunters too!

Go to Sleep Little Baby!

Lara and I love to sing the Emmylou Harris song- Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby, song that was sung in – Oh Brother Where Art Thou, to Callie when we are trying to get her to sleep. Lara has a beautiful voice and mine isn’t so bad either! It works and Callie does eventually fall to sleep. The only problem is, that it works better in the morning, than at night! Smile!

We actually had a better night, last night, because Lara played with Callie by pulling the power cord to the iPhone. She chases it and pounces on it and tries to destroy it with her teeth. We really should drop by a pet store and purchase some toys for poor Callie. Walks alone aren’t enough for this charming and engaged, happy, little kitty. She is actually a joy to be around and is very sweet and is a darling. I am so appreciative that I have my daughter traveling with us though for one more week and that she and Callie have such a good relationship. I kind of think that Lara is her favorite pet human of all time. I can handle that. When Lara leaves again, Callie will return to me and I can once again be her slave.

GOOD NIGHT!

Keep Tahoe Blue with LimeBike!

The environmentalists have a good foothold on what it takes to keep Tahoe blue, and one of the neatest ideas I have come across lately is “LimeBike!”

This operation is still on a trial basis, but you can rent these adorable bikes that are parked all over the downtown area of South Lake Tahoe, for $1.00, per 30 minutes. All you have to do is scan with your smartphone a GPS route and then use your credit card or debit card, hop on the bike and take it to your next destination of choice within the city limits. How awesome is that? And the first ride is free, none the less! I am not sure what kind of a success story this will be, but the concept is wonderful and I hope it works out for the company. It is very good for the environment and even better for tourists walking around and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Lake Tahoe is incredible to look at and it is even more incredible when you are not inside a car whizzing by at 40 mph. There are paved bike trails along the lake and the neighborhoods due west are quiet and the streets have very few cars on them. We fortunately have our own bikes and do not need to rent a bike, but I can attest to the fact that it is fun to bike around this beautiful part of town.

On another note, Callie has been a wonderful RV companion and my only complaint concerning her, is that she sleeps all day and wants to play and eat at night. I have taken her on two walks today and hope I have worn her out just a little bit. I get the chirp and pat on my face at 2 am to check to see if I am really and truly sleeping. The answer to that, is that “YES, I really and truly am sleeping, CALLIE!” She doesn’t get it though! The joy she expresses at seeing me wake up is priceless, and that is putting it mildly. She immediately starts purring and chirping her cute little chirp and covering me with kisses. Even Lara is charmed by her and wants to help me out during night time duties. The RV is small though, and when one person is awake because of the cat, we are ALL awake because of the cat! Thank goodness she is just so darn cute! Otherwise she would be tossed right out, on her cute, little butt!

I went over to the front office and asked Ed if we could possibly stay through the weekend, and he kindly and most graciously secured B-9 for us through Sunday. This guy is incredible and the city is lucky to have him running Campground by the Lake with such compassion and cheerfulness. When I dropped by this morning, a young man was returning blankets that Ed had loaned him for the night because the temperature had dropped to 26 degrees. The poor guy was freezing. That was way beyond the call of duty and I told him that!!

The Campground by the Lake

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and it is the second deepest after Crater Lake in Oregon. The lake was formed about 2 million years ago as part of the Lake Tahoe Basin. It is known for its deep blue color and clarity and is a major tourist attraction both summer and winter.

The Campground by the Lake is a large, recreational area owned and operated by the city of South Lake Tahoe. It is covered with mature pine trees, and is really a campground by the lake. You literally walk across the street from our camp site, B-6 and you are on the street above the shoreline. Bike and walking paths are paved on both sides of the street and even though there is a steady thrum of cars on the road, the view can’t be beat and the location is perfect. There is a picnic table and BBQ pit for every campsite and some even have wood burning pits too. My daughter Lara and I just checked out the bathrooms and showers and the showers are part of the package deal. In many State and Federal Parks, you will need quarters for 3 minutes of tepid, water flow. These showers are free but I haven’t checked to see if the water is hot or not.

We arrived yesterday, late afternoon, after having driven from Lee Vining, which is next to Mono Lake, and we will be able to stay here for 2 more nights. If we want to stay longer, I will have to check in with Ed, the host of the Campground at 9am, to see if there are any cancellations. It would be nice to stay through the weekend if at all possible. The location of the campground is perfect and the sites are very spacious.

The nights have been very cold and Callie has started to cough again just a little bit, so we are leaving the heat on and trying to keep her warm and cozy. We think she has developed asthma after a 4 month bout of bronchitis during the summer that was difficult to get rid of. She is receiving a steroid cream that is rubbed in her ear.

For now, Lara has donated her coveted white blanket for Callie’s use. Callie can’t stand plushy blankets and acts like a cat has been skinned alive and made to donate its fur, if her paw so much as touches a plushy blanket. This is a beautiful, pure white blanket that can be folded into a pillow. It is Lara’s favorite blanket and it is quite the sacrifice to allow Callie to sleep on it. Lara wants to share in Callie duties and is trying to make my life a little easier. Callie can be quite demanding during the night.

We are going to go on a bike ride today, but otherwise just want to relax after 2 rather stressful days of traveling. It is beautiful out and the sky is a deep, rich cerulean, blue and the lake is a dark aquamarine. I am an artist and can throw around color descriptions that fit the colors that I see and paint with. Ha-Ha! The temperature is brisk and perfect for outdoor, aerobic activity.

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!