Gnomeland Security

Willapa Bay and the Bay Center RV KOA Park are a big hit for Callie and me. Callie and I were out on our morning walk when we rounded the corner and she was startled by a series of gnomes guarding a small corner of a vegetable garden. She stopped dead in her tracks and cautiously moved forward to check out these strange little creatures. When she was convinced that they wouldn't harm her, we continued down the pathway to our campsite.

Michael and I went on a bike ride along the bay and discovered a prolific patch of wild blackberries growing by the roadside. I dumped the water out of my water bottle and filled it to the brim with blackberries. We are going to have a bowl of berries tonight with our Tillamook old fashioned vanilla ice cream!

On the way back from our ride, we stopped off at the Bay Center Farms Seafood Store and bought fresh oysters, pickled salmon, canned, smoked albacore tuna and a fresh lemon with seafood sauce. Such abundance everywhere you look! I know it is summer and the sun is out! It can't be as green as it is here without weeks and weeks of rain. But for now, we are enjoying the here and now!

On Wednesday we are going to head to Port Angeles and take the ferry over to Vancouver Island. I have a brother and sister in law that live there. Tom Faue is an artist, as is his wife, Frances. It will be nice to see both of them again.

An Evening at Albee Creek Campground

After a lovely day of exploring the redwood forest, we settled down for a dinner of leftovers and a walk over to the apple orchard. Callie and I watched a young black tailed doe with her adorable, playful fawn and a buck showing off his antlers. He was rubbing them on the branches of the apple tree and wasn't at all shy about it. As he grazed, he would swing his magnificent head back and forth in a large graceful arch and the doe would stop to let the fawn nurse. It was an idyllic setting with the sun setting slowly in the west and the pale blond grasses catching the last of the golden light before darkness descended. Callie and I sat on a picnic table and listening to the sounds of jays squawking and people preparing their dinner over campfires. She has become very good at walking on the leash and usually can last about 20 minutes before wanting to head back to the safety of the RV. Once she is in the RV, she can watch all the activities unfurl through the front window while safely sitting on the dash. Real time big screen TV in action. Not a bad place for a cat to be!

Albee Creek Campground

Albee Creek Campground
(Or loosing hubcaps right and left)

After I had finished writing this morning, we got the brainy idea of checking in at the visitor's center to see if there might be a slim chance of staying at Albee Campground. It is the smallest of the three redwood campgrounds and everyone says it is the most beautiful with bears that scale the apple trees in broad daylight. Helen, whom we had met yesterday when we checked in at Burlington did us a big favor and called Regina, who worked at Albee, and she said that there might be a chance at noon. We decided to go for it and packed up quickly and headed over.

The signs posted on the narrow road to Albee Creek suggest that you not attempt to drive a motorhome or trailer, but we of course ignored the sign and instead paid close attention to all the pot holes in the road. They were everywhere, and they were deep and they were big. We went slow enough and Michael did a good job of avoiding the worst of them and we were able to get to Albee Creek Campground at 11:10, and in one piece. Regina said that it appeared that the guests in #29 had left, but she couldn't sell us the site until noon time. She asked us to park over in a meadow across the way and at noon to come back and she would let us know for certain.

While hanging out in the meadow, I decided to take Callie for a walk to hunt grasshoppers and when I looked back at the RV, what should I see but that another wheel liner ( or hub cap to me) was missing on the front left tire this time. Now we are missing the one on the back right and on the front left. I suppose it is proof that we are driving over treacherous terrain, but it does make the RV look less classy and more dirty. The beautiful chrome hub caps are gone and what is left is a blackened , filthy wheel.

We were able to check in, so after we parked the RV, we decided to get on our bikes and we biked the entire 5 miles one way all the way back to the 101 in hopes of finding it. We biked past a correctional crew working roadside and they thought they had seen a hub cap and 7 men that were hauling a log with chains along the roadside said they saw one too! They thought they had seen a hub cap on the left side of the road, and so we were heartened to continue the search. The hub cap the log hauling men had seen was for a car, and the correctional crew when we biked past them again on the return trip, said they had placed the hub cap all the back at the bridge along the 101. Maybe when we leave tomorrow we can check to see if it is our hub cap. We were too tired to turn around and go back the other way, so we continued biking back to Albee Campground.

On the bike ride back to Albee Creek, we visited the Rockefeller Forest which holds one of the largest concentrations of mature redwoods that are over 350 ft tall. It has more than 7 times the biomass- ( living or dead organic material) of any forest of similar size including a rainforest, in the world. They were incredibly majestic and one particular tree that had fallen over, was so long, it stretched out over the river bed and on up into the forest on the other side! It is pretty difficult to capture the grandeur in a photograph, but I did try to do a short video of one vertical tree and panned bottom to top to show how tall it was.

Tonight we have leftovers and all three of us are tired and happy. The stellar jays are numerous and noisy and the shadow and light that patterns the forest floor is beautiful. Callie is snuggled up on the top loft sleeping, and Michael is taking a nap on the sofa. Who could ask for anything more- other than 2 new hub caps!

The Burlington Grove

On Wednesday morning, we headed out from the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds to the Avenue of the Giants Highway. It is a magnificent drive that leads you straight to some of the oldest redwood groves left in California. Over 98% of these majestic trees were cut down in the 30's before humans came to their senses and established a sanctuary for the few remaining trees that were left standing.

We were able to get a campsite in the Burlington Grove and have #38 which is at the very end of the 57 site Campground. Albee Creek Campground was all filled up with only 40 sites and Hidden Springs has 154. We can only stay one night at a time and so if we can't stay at Burlington tonight, we may run over to Hidden Springs. The problem with Hidden Springs is that you are in a mixed forest with few of the old trees still standing within the campground.

Callie loved walking around as soon as we set up camp, and was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the tree trunks. She would look around in wonder and try to figure out which tree was best for scratching. Stellar Jays mobbed us and screeched overhead as they flew by in outrage at the sight of a cat. I do not see them harassing the dogs, so it is very personal…. It took Callie quite awhile to figure out which tree would suit her needs best, and I had to laugh at the expression on her face. She was wide eyed and her tail twitched spasmodically as she looked all around the forest. There was just too much to take in all at once and it left her feeling just a little disoriented. She is use to her beloved olive trees but these trees were just too massive and could not be climbed.

Michael and I biked over to the Founders Grove in the afternoon and walked among some of the largest trees left standing. The Dyerville Giant, a monster of a tree, fell during a particularly wild storm in 1991 and the gap it left is breathtaking. The million pound tree sounded like a train wreak when it fell and the impact when it hit the ground could be registered seismically for 10 miles away.

We had a fabulous dinner last night of BBQ steaks, baked potato, corn on the cob, Caesar salad and a lovely glass of Chardonnay wine. I lit candles that were given to me by my dear friend, Dolly and Callie is starting to improve already. What a relief it is to not hear her coughing all the time.

I got up early this morning to the banging sound of seed pods and cones dropping from a high distance smack onto the roof of our RV. There is a breeze up in the canopy of the tree tops and it looks like a storm is starting to develop. Yesterday was T-shirt weather, but today feels much cooler. When I took Callie for her morning walk, I marveled at the height of the trees and how beautiful the forest is in the early morning hours. No one was up yet except for the jays and the cute little gray, short eared squirrels that were dashing about in search of treasure. I did not see any large RV's and wonder if their is a size restriction at Burlington?* Our 24' Icon is so mobile yet comfortable for traveling and camping in. We are thrilled that we flew all the way to Huntsville, Alabama to purchase this used 2009 Fleetwood from Bankston RV. It is a family owned business and they represented the RV accurately.

We are loading up the bikes and will try once more to get into Albee this morning. If not, we have other suggestions from our good friend Fred and may try to go to Big Lagoon or Clam Beach. It is so dark and shadowy today, that we are going to try and seek a little more light.

*24ft is as long an RV as is allowed in the park. We are exactly 24ft!

Morro Bay Memories

I was right when I suspected that the benches overlooking Morro Strand State Beach were dedicated to loved ones passed. The bench that we always sit on when we reach the beach is dedicated to Jack and Darla Williams. I tried doing a little research to find out what had happened to them because they both had been born and died in the same year. I wasn't able to come up with anything. The view from the bench is a beautiful one and the bench is set a little off to the side. Thank you Darla and Jack, we appreciated a place to sit and contemplate life's journey while looking out over the water… I biked with Michael and my brother in law Eric two days ago and we had a fabulous time. We are heading north today to the redwoods if all works out as planned. Good bye beautiful Morro Bay.

Paradise Found

Today started out with a heavy drizzle and dense marine layer. Later in the afternoon, the sun peaked out and dazzled the waves with dapppled light that sparkled and glittered when the waves made contact with the shoreline. Michael and I did a 3 hour bike ride and once again we sat at our spot north of Morro Strand Beach. There are a series of benches dedicated to loved ones that have passed on, where you can sit and watch the pelicans go by~ 24 at a time. It was also warm enough for people to sun bathe on the sandy shore. Yesterday it was too cold!

Callie spent a quiet day in the RV but asked to go on a short walk so that she could find a place to sharpen her claws. She seems tired and weak but delighted to be out in the sunshine, so I let her hang out on our personal picnic table to  soak in the heat!

Biking in Morro Bay is a blast. It is a little difficult navigating the cars when you are biking in town, but once you get to the rock and head north, there is a lovely off road trail that meanders through and around Morro Bay High School. After the high school, you pass neighborhoods that border the protected sand dunes. It is really quite extraordinary and because of the mild climate, so much fun! 

Another Day in Morro Bay

Yesterday, Michael and I went on our bike ride to Morro Bay Strand Beach and watched horse back riders galloping along the shoreline, and otter mother’s nursing their young in the bay. The marine layer is thick and the weather cool and comfortable for outside activities in the middle of the day. Biking in the middle of the day is not possible in Anza Borrego Desert State Beach during the summer months. We had the most spectacular super bloom this spring, so I really have no complaints, but it is close to impossible to live in Borrego Springs during the summer. For that reason, we are on the road in our fabulous Fleetwood- Icon 24ft RV and doing our TravelswithCallie~ road trip. We plan on staying in Morro Bay until Tuesday and then head north again after that.

Sadly, Callie is still coughing periodically, and we are taking her back to see Dr Duane Stephens on Monday for a second opinion. He was the vet we saw on April 24th when Callie’s cough wasn’t getting any better with Dr LaPorte in Julian. Dr Stephens also diagnosed it as an upper respiratory infection and gave her a shot of antibiotic that was suppose to last 2 weeks. It did the trick, but her cough returned~ it returns several days after she finishes the antibiotic. It will be interesting to see what he has to say. Poor little Callie….in spite of coughing though,  she is enjoying her RV road adventure and would much prefer being here than in Borrego Springs with the swamp cooler blasting. Her lungs appear sensitive to abrupt changes in temperature, so cuddling up in her bed in the loft of the RV is a treat for her too!

Last night Michael and I went to visit my sister Elizabeth and her husband Eric in order to give them a painting of a black oyster catcher that I had painted about 3 years ago. I had it hanging in my beach condo but it doesn’t go with my desert living decor. She made a lovely dinner for us with homemade baked oatmeal cookies for dessert, and we laughed and drank wine, and had such a good time in their company. They have a beautiful house in Los Osos that overlooks Morro Bay, so the black oyster catcher will have a good home.

Today we are going to explore the wine country inland of Morro Bay…. Yay!

Beautiful Morro Bay

We arrived in Morro Bay yesterday around 4:30 to a 40 degree temperature difference! Can you believe it? We are in a state of shock and are feeling rejuvenated and tremendously grateful. The drive from Redlands takes about 6 hours and Callie hung out on the dash most of the way watching the world whiz by at 60 mph. She is still coughing periodically, but I didn’t have the heart to give her her antibiotics last night, opting instead to give her a much needed brushing, compliments Michael and dinner served in bed. She needed the rest. I will have to give her a full dose tonight. She loves it here, as do we!

Michael and I biked over to the rock when we first arrived, marveling at the moisture and coolness and then had happy hour and made a lovely dinner of fresh salmon and salad. I prepared the salmon with a George Foreman Grill and highly recommend it for traveling. It is portable and can be used inside the RV. After dinner, I fell into bed exhausted and happy. We all slept like rocks!!!!

Four Sisters Come Calling

When I headed out for my early morning bike ride before the inferno kicked in, ( it is suppose to reach 113 today) I happened to spot four hen turkeys getting ready to jump over my back wall in search of food… Turkeys in Anza Borrego Desert State Park? Amazing! I have yet to see a tom- turkey, but the four hens today all looked the same age and are probably sisters.

Wild turkeys are omnivorous and will eat both animal and vegetable products. They forage as they roam and when moving along, one behind the other in single file, they peck at seeds and insects, looking up and all around in a constant search for danger and possible predators. 

This is the first summer I have witnessed turkeys in the desert, I also saw two hens about a month ago along Henderson Canyon where I shoot all of my wildflower photographs. I wonder if there has been a big spike in their population growth due to ample rainfall and the lush vegetation that followed this spring? Neighboring Julian and Ramona, at much higher elevations, and up in the mountains, are known for wild turkeys, but in the desert? These four hens looked healthy and alert, and they were obviously enjoying the bright, early morning sunshine. It hadn’t warmed up yet, and birds were singing and insects buzzing. I left them alone as soon as I shot a few photographs, and they headed back out into the desert in a slow and meandering way, glancing back at me often in silent, calm, curiosity.

Joe Hutto in The Sun Magazine- May-2017, issue 497, gives a wonderful interview in which he shares his experience with living for a couple of years with mule deer and again with wild turkeys. He has the utmost respect for these beautiful creatures, and developed long lasting relationships with some of them. It was quite an honor to watch these four hens obviously thriving in the harshest of climates, and looking out for each other- as only good sisters will do.

This morning on my bike ride with Lara and Michael, we saw many cottontail bunnies, jackrabbits, roadrunners, a hawk soaking in a puddle, one lean coyote and common grackles. Hummingbirds are still braving it out, along with quail. It is amazing that anything can survive in the summer heat. It will be 117 on Friday and thunder strorms are expected on Sunday. We are going to try and pack up the RV and head to the beach for a few days. Hope we can find a camping site!

Back in the Saddle Again

Having returned to Borrego Springs and neighboring Anza Borrego Desert State Park, you have to find ways in which to endure and stay sane while living in the inferno! Temperatures are hovering in the triple digits, but less than the 122 of two weeks ago. Thank goodness we were up in Mammoth during that heat wave….

Getting up early and going for a bike ride while it is still cool enough is a treat. It is still cooling off around 3am and if we hit the road by 6:00, we can get in an hour and a half bike ride, before the sun intensifies and we have to seek shelter in the house. We can only use the swamp cooler because of the high cost of air conditioning, so finding ways to play before being a prisoner in your house the rest of the day, is the only way to avoid going stark, raving mad. Nothing moves outside in this kind of heat, and I have joked that birds drop from the sky fully roasted when the temperature is over 115. Sadly, we saw a young coyote pup hit and killed on the road this morning, and he or she looked like she was bringing up the rear in a pack and killed before she had a chance to grow up. I adore the coyotes out here in the desert, with their sing song howls and yips, fierce independence, and ability to survive in such a hostile climate. This spring brought a lot of rain, and the jack rabbits and cottontails are prolific too! Such is the life in the desert and the balance that must ensue. A bumper crop of flowers and greens produces more small mammals which in turn feed the coyotes. The pack is the largest I have heard howling at night, but it will also be a long, hot, dangerous, summer for all the living creatures of Anza Borrego.

Michael and I had a fabulous bike ride and rode out to S22… Henderson Canyon is still partially shaded early in the morning because of the foothills, and we biked along the road that I have shot all my desert, wildflower photographs. Compare the diffence from the spring this year, to the summer time now! Everything is burned to a crisp, and the sand dunes only show the prints of tiny mammals and the wave patterns of the wind.

We have a couple more weeks in the desert, and then we are heading to the coast.

We dropped the RV off to be serviced after our bike ride, and Michael and I picked up 2 gallons of Tillamook ice cream to make the day even better!:)