The Circle of Life

Life in the desert is paradise right now. The temperature has stayed below 100 degrees and even though most of the wildflowers have dried up and blown away, there is still ample ocotillo, agave, acacia, beavertail cactus, and so much more in bloom. The Anna’s Hummingbird, Orioles, Costa’s Hummingbird, Verdin, Red-winged blackbird, Killdeer, Says Phoebe, Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and White Egrets abound. At night, the pond is filled with the croaking sound of frogs in full throttle mode and dragonflies zip around along the surface of the water. Bats come out in the evening, and this is when Callie gets very excited. She adores watching the bats almost hit the window but somehow manage to veer off at the last second. Her head swivels back and forth as they dart about right before her very eyes. The fragrance of flowers fills the air with a lovely scented perfume and the caterpillars that haven’t been consumed, feed voraciously on what vegetation is left. The Painted Lady Butterflies are so numerous, that if you drive around to take in the sites, they flutter by in droves that many, sadly, are then hit by cars. The circle of life is steadily moving toward the season of summer and soon it will be too hot to live in the desert heat again. Fortunately for us, we can escape the soaring temperature and drive to the beach where our RV is parked.

Callie gets so excited when she knows we are heading for the beach that she stands up in the car to look out the window and starts to meow loudly when she sees the RV. She loves being on the road and is especially fond of the ICON. It is something to look forward to when we have to escape again. We are planning on a trip up the coast to help a friend out who’s husband passed away and she is flying in from Australia to scatter his ashes in May. We will get as far north as Monterey to see the otters. We plan on traveling for 2 weeks. I have much to look forward to.

The Bonds of Friendship are Strong!

Callie has become so bonded to me, that when we are separated, she gets very agitated. I in return feel lost without her. Most creatures experience similar emotions as we humans do, and I am convinced of that without a shadow of a doubt. Animals that have to eat other animals may express less empathy as an emotion, but that is only due to the fact that they have to kill in order to eat. If they stopped to comprehend the act of murder they are committing and feel bad about it, they would starve to death. We, humans, have become so distanced from raising our own animals on a farm to butcher in order to eat, that we hardly recognize our packaged meat, chicken and fish as having once upon a time been a living, breathing, sentient being before it is unceremoniously served as a meal.

I am not a vegetarian and this isn’t about preaching the horrors of how cruel many farm animals are raised and the health risks of eating meat. I love to eat fish and chicken, but it does make sense for the overall health of our planet to stop raising cattle, chickens, sheep, and pigs on a massive scale for human consumption. And to get back to Callie, she wouldn’t think twice about killing a lizard, mouse or bird, but boy does she feel separation anxiety when I am not with her. She developed cystitis a month ago when we went skiing up in Big Bear with my sister from anxiety, and it now appears that she is prone to more and more stress-related illnesses as she ages. As a matter of fact, so am I!

Because we adopted Callie as a stray, we don’t really know for sure her exact age, but we do think it is somewhere around 11 years old. And because she is getting older, she is much more dependent on me than ever before to get through her day. I have had to train her to walk on a leash in the desert due to all of the dangers outside, and she does seem to understand that I am her protector when we are staying in this wild and arid place. When we are camped at the beach in the RV and Mobile Home Park, she is allowed to run free, but because cats are so territorial and love nothing more than to get into a catfight, I have watched her being chased back into the RV at a fast run with her neighbor in close pursuit!

The trade-off is that she is much more affectionate and certainly a lot sweeter than she used to be. I would also have to admit that Callie was quite a handful in her youth and has mellowed out a lot as she has grown older. The same might be true of me, at least the becoming more mellow part of it, I am not exactly sure about being sweeter though.

Today, Michael and I have taken the RV into Temecula Valley RV Service and Sales to have it worked on before our next summer travels. We had to travel from the beach to Temecula in separate vehicles, hence the topic of this particular blog post. Callie had hidden in the upper loft when we were ready to pull out because she loves life on the road and didn’t want to leave the RV. I had to abandon her then and follow behind in the car. When she discovered that I wasn’t in the passenger seat when she finally came down once the engine started, Michael told me she was visibly upset that I wasn’t there. She has to park herself on the dash when we hit the road.

Once we got there, I put her in the car with me and I hung out with her while Michael checked the Rv in for service. I can’t express enough the importance of maintaining your vehicle so that when you are out on the road you can have fun instead of experiencing a breakdown. Blowouts and engine failure are the opposite of fun to go through. It is best to be safe than to be sorry. We have learned the hard way. The three of us, Callie, Michael and I have been doing this for 3 years now, and the learning curve is getting easier, and familiarity, of course, makes it less stressful. But still, there is a lot to RVing that can’t be taught. You just have to get out there yourself and experience it firsthand.

I am now waiting in the car while Michael goes over the estimate of repairs that need to be done on the RV. Callie is resting comfortably on the front seat of the car while I write, and now that we have once again been reunited, we can both enjoy this beautiful day in Temecula. All is well and living once again is easy; at least for the moment it is. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Life in the Desert

With the Arctic Vortex blasting much of the United States, the Sonoran and the Mojave Desert are a seasonal paradise for many creatures including Michael, Callie and me. There was another lovely rainstorm last night and I am hoping for a super-bloom of wildflowers this spring. I have a pond behind the house that is a temporary home to Canadian Geese, Mergansers, Mallards, American Wigeon’s, a lone, lost Double-Breasted Cormorant that kept looking to the sky for his fellow travelers, a single, male Vermilion Flycatcher that I have affectionately named- Romeo, my darling Costa’s Hummingbird that I have aptly called, Sweet Pea, Say’s Phoebes, frogs that have just started to emerge from hibernation that are croaking out their romantic mating call, and of course the coyotes, desert foxes, and numerous predators that hope to make a meal of all of the above.

Callie has a ringside view of the scene playing out below her from a love seat that I have positioned by the window. She can watch bats swoop back and forth in search of insects at night and the ducks loudly quack and squabble during the day and even one lone male coyote that has as of yet failed to catch a bird in the late afternoon. When it gets chilly out, and it sometimes does, Callie makes short order of the lovingly prepared bed that I have made and crawls underneath all of the blankets when she gets chilled.

Wildflowers such as the tiny red chuparosa shrub are in full bloom already and this is the favorite food for Sweet Pea, the hummingbird. The Painted Ladies, a lovely butterfly which favor the golden yellow brittlebush are unfortunately often consumed by the flycatchers, and the bats and frogs attempt to catch the rest at night. It is quite the ecosystem playing out right before my eyes. It has really inspired my photography and the new Nikon D850 camera that my husband gave me for my 63rd birthday has improved my skills; I rarely take iPhone pics anymore.

We are moving the RV back to the Riviera possibly this weekend after having all the batteries replaced and the loss of hubcaps too! This particular RV seems to like to ditch them on the roadside along with blowouts that we have had with just about every tire. It must be a flaw in the design of the Class C and the fact that Michael has a hard time replacing them if there is still plenty of tread. The weakened sidewall is the issue and a gentle warning to all who RV, don’t be fooled like we have. Blowouts are dangerous and costly, not to mention the inconvenience and discomfort you have to go through in such an emergency. We also had the generator oil replaced and are now ready to park it back at the coast. I am looking forward to another adventure though soon and our first one may be to head up to Lake Cuyamaca or Agua Caliente if it is still too cold. Such is the good life of an aging retired couple and their adorable cat named Callie.

Badd Ass Catt

Callie is doing really well and has adjusted to a life in the desert that only allows her to be walked outside with a leash. There are just too many predators in this wilderness area that could harm her. She seems to know it and has accepted her loss of freedom and not to be able to climb her beloved olive trees. When we take her to the beach where we have the RV parked, Callie will be allowed to explore outside once again. In the meantime, I am taking lots of photographs and appreciating the abundant wildlife that either call Anza- Borrego Desert State Park home, or are just passing through.

Another Year has PASSED!

Yikes, the time is flying by so quickly. All is good with Callie and us. We finished a wonderful trip to Vegas to meet our daughter and to camp at Valley of Fire and Death Valley. Callie got a spooky, bright red, furry tarantula for Christmas and we are back home in the desert once again. It is a big, beautiful world out there in spite of the government shutdown. We hauled all of our trash out of Death Valley when we left and most people were doing the same. Happy New Year to all of you and may this year be filled with peace, joy, and happiness.

Joan and Callie

Peace and Joy be with You!

It has been a long time since I have posted an update on Callie. She is doing really well and loves this desert house with a view of a pond. She spends hours in the evening watching bats swoop back and forth and in the morning she has hummingbirds and a beautiful male Vermilion Flycatcher that is absolutely gorgeous. Coyotes head out in the evening to hunt and return when the sun starts to climb in the sky. We are planning on hitting the road again during Christmas and may go to Death Valley again. Thank you all for checking in and may the holidays be joyous and full of peace and joy. Happy New Year too!

A New Camera

I celebrated my 63rd birthday last month and my husband bought me a new Nikon D850. I have been practicing all day today and cannot believe how fabulous it is. My 500px photography site has taken up a great deal of my time lately but I just wanted my readers to know that Callie is doing well and loves it here. The pond is an ever-ready source of entertainment and she can sit outside on the balcony and lie in the sun. We will be heading to the beach on Saturday and will be staying in the RV for a couple of weeks. I have to go through eye surgery again and this time, I will take super good care of myself.

Upstairs Downstairs

We have moved into our rental property at Ram’s Hill because we haven’t been able to sell it and we want to simplify. Our house with the incredible sunrises at De Anza is now up for sale instead. We have the RV at the Riviera Mobile Home and RV Park stored in Encinitas and the goal is to once again go back and forth from desert to beach. When the heat is too much here, we will pack up and go to the coolness of the beach. And when the beach feels too cold and damp, we will pack up and head back to the sunny desert. I feel so fortunate and grateful for how everything has worked out. It hasn’t been an easy three years for me.

Callie under no circumstances can ever be outdoors without a leash snapped on here at Ram’s Hill. At De Anza, she could at least climb her beloved olive trees under supervision and after her playtime, she would come back inside willingly. Here, the coyotes and predators are so numerous, that she would be in grave danger if I left her alone for even a few minutes! A neighbor told us last night that a mountain lion was captured on his webcam being chased by a bobcat several years ago. There are huge owls, rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widows and the list of dangerous animals to Callie goes on and on.

Michael and I had the brainy idea this morning to move upstairs to the master bedroom since the heat has dissipated. We were trying to keep the utility costs low by staying downstairs. So I have been working all day today getting the upstairs ready for tonight. In the mean time, I am allowing Callie to hang out on the top balcony while I clean. She has an uninterrupted view of the pond, and tomorrow morning at dawn, I am hoping to watch the coyotes hunting from a different vantage point. She is safe in her element and I doubt owls could swoop down and get her because of the angle of the roof line and the rod iron fence.

The downstairs bedroom is going to be turned into Michael’s music room because he is an audiophile and it does his heart and soul good to take time off and have music blasting. That drives me nuts because I am basically an introvert and like peace and quiet. So Callie and I get to be upstairs with a fan blowing air for white noise, and he is downstairs with the stereo playing at full volume. I can feel the thump and vibration of the music through the floor but only hear muffled booms. After 41 years of being together, it is imperative that solutions be found and implemented in order to keep the peace. That way, the call for a divorce is kept at a safe distance and harmony can once agin be restored.

Are We There Yet?

Callie, Michael and I headed to the beach to hang out in the RV for a couple of days so that I could have a checkup on my eye after surgery; scar tissue has developed and I see double when I look to the left. The doctor wasn’t happy with the way it is healing and another surgery is scheduled for November 19th. I am bummed about it, but what can you do?

So we stayed for three days in the RV that is parked in Encinitas and then came back to the desert in separate cars. Callie came with me, and she is not accustomed to traveling in the BMW, so she was a little nervous and I suspect she thought she was heading to the Holiday Pet Hotel to be boarded. When we pulled into our neighborhood and she recognized where she was, she let out a yelp and howl of joy and relief and stood up in the seat and looked around with renewed excitement.

She loves it here and still can’t get enough of bat and coyote patrol. As soon as I feed her dinner, she races back to the bedroom to watch real-life Animal Planet. This morning, the coyotes came right into the backyard and were less than 5ft from the door. Callie didn’t see them, but I sure did. At least 3 handsome and quite large coyotes raced around the pond and then checked out the backyard thoroughly before scampering away in search of breakfast. They are very healthy and in their prime and Callie wouldn’t have a chance if they spotted her. They are also lightning fast and very bold, so I am just going to have to be really careful when walking her. I won’t go out until the sun is high in the sky, and will no longer walk her down by the pond.

Full Circle

I have finally arrived back home to my beloved Anza-Borrego Desert State Park but have moved up to Ram’s Hill Country Club. We are attempting to sell the beautiful house that I took all of the incredible sunrise photographs. Ram’s Hill has its own unique charm and as I write, I am listening to a chorus of coyotes howling and yipping off in the distance. I have a pond in the back of the house that attracts a lot of wildlife, so I am excited about the prospect of new photo opportunities.

Michael, Lara, Callie and I piled up most of our belongings into the SUV so that we could leave the RV in Encinitas and have the chance now to go back and forth to the beach and the desert. It can feel a little isolating in the desert and Callie can never run around free because of all the predators. I actually let her explore her surroundings at the beach with frequent checks from me so that she could feel a little more freedom. She loved it and stayed close to the RV.

Callie is doing very well and loved all the travel time. She has had so many experiences as a cat that it still amazes me how much she has learned about travel. She can watch the world go by as she rests on the dash, she walks with a leash along wilderness trails and will soon be put on a bike basket again to whiz along the roads and feel the wind in her fur.