Lake Cuyamaca

The temperature is really heating up in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, so we decided to get away for the day and meet our RV travel partners, Fred, and Becky up at Lake Cuyamaca. It is less than an hour drive to the lake from our home, and the 110-acre reservoir provides natural air conditioning to the surrounding shoreline and kept the temperature at a comfortable 85 degrees. We sat around the table at the only restaurant that overlooks the water, and this eatery is famous for its chicken pot pies and fresh, fruit pies. You can be seated outdoors on a wooden balcony and hummingbird feeders hang from the eaves and Brewer’s Blackbirds wait patiently for you to finish eating before descending, somewhat mannerly, onto the leftover French fries when you get up to leave.

I pigged out on both the chicken pot pie and the Mountain Berry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped with whip cream that was then generously sprinkled with cinnamon on it for dessert. Fred and Becky had the veggie burgers with coleslaw and fries, and that too was fresh and delicious. All of the meals were served in a timely manner and were very delicious. Our waitress was good-natured and accommodating, and even filled up the hummingbird feeders so that I could take photos with my camera. I highly recommend going there because it is also a fabulous place in which to camp overnight in an RV. I have written about Lake Cuyamaca in past posts, so I won’t get into a lot of detail, but just wanted to once again reiterate what a nice place it is to visit and camp at.

The lake provides food and shelter for a variety of wildlife. Canadian Geese and Brewer’s Blackbirds, Acorn Woodpeckers, Red-winged blackbirds, and Great Blue and White herons can be seen fishing along the shore. There is also an elusive pair of Bald Eagles that nest there every year in the fall way up high in the branches of magnificent evergreens on the island. If you are so inclined, easy hiking and biking trails are also available and you can’t go wrong if you are looking for a great way to spend time outdoors and escape the summer heat. One can also rent a boat and go fishing or just enjoy bobbing on the surface of the water and checking out the wildlife.

On the way back home, just as we were heading down the hill at San Filipe Wash in Anza- Borrego, a handsome bighorn sheep ram, dashed across the street in front of the car and up and over the rocks. Michael slammed on the brakes so that I could take one photo of him before he disappeared. I was still in the passenger seat with my seat belt on and used Michael’s shoulder for a tripod. I was very lucky he stopped for just a brief moment in time to look around. What a magnificent beast. He was probably searching for water and looked very healthy.

We came back home to Callie sound asleep on her chair and it appeared that she didn’t miss us one bit. We are heading back to the beach tomorrow and had a very relaxing time in the desert.

A Rest Stop in Morro Bay

It feels wonderful to be parked at Cypress RV Park in Morro Bay after a month of being on the road with our grown up daughter and darling cat- Callie. We can look west to the rock and smoke stakes and can see a peak of the sunset if you dodge the buildings across the street. I saw the gentleman who fed the seagull and raven over the summer and we stopped by at Coast Veterinary to pick up an antibiotic and steroid for Callie.

Callie developed bronchitis last summer and it took 4 months for her to be properly diagnosed and treated and Dr. Stephens in Morro Bay was the one to finally get her well. Callie made it up to BC Canada and sailed on my brother’s catamaran called: El Fresca while enjoying a 7-week trip featuring one fantastic adventure after another. She has managed to stay well up until the fires in Santa Rosa, and the smoke became too much for her and she relapsed. We started her on the meds this evening, so I am hoping she will feel better by tomorrow. She is coughing and wheezing and feeling quite crummy, poor little thing.

We will stay here until we see that her health is improving and feel that it is safe to continue south to Anza Borrego Desert State Park where we live. If she doesn’t show improvement, we will take her back in to see the doctor.

But for now, it will be so nice to relax and bike, walk and rest in this idyllic beach town near San Luis Obispo, California.

*Callie is showing signs of improvement this morning.

Butchart Gardens

Michael and I spent our last day on Vancouver Island visiting Butchart Gardens. It was crowded but the flowers and gardens made it worthwhile! It has been many years since we last visited and at that time we arrived by Tom’s catamaran. Callie was able to sit back in the RV and spent the day napping.

Yesterday evening we headed to Chuck and Angele’s house and they made us a delicious dinner and we reminisced about the old days. Chuck is an artist too and a long time friend of Tom’s. Angele, his wife, is a compassionate nurse and loves to travel around the world. Angele cannot stay in one place for more than 4 months! She has traveled all over the world with Chuck and by herself. It was so wonderful spending time with them. We were able to park our RV in their front yard and because it is only a 20-minute drive to the ferry lines. This helped us a lot for the next leg of our journey.

This morning we woke up to the delight of Callie, and with the help of an alarm, in order to get to the Black Ball Ferry line at 4:30 am for our ride back to the United States. Tom and Frances, David and JoAnne and Chuck and Angele were so good to us. We will miss Vancouver Island.

Time to head south though in order to view the solar eclipse! Central Oregon is our next destination. We will stay in Washington a couple more days though. The smoke has cleared from all of the forest fires and autumn is in the air.

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We have arrived!

What can I say except that Callie has taken to sailing better than I expected? We are currently anchored at Burgoyne Bay…. off of Saltspring Island.

We had a lovely evening of wine and Bob Dylan and this morning we are moving Alfresco because of low tide. You don’t want to anchor in eel grass because this is where the herring lay their eggs.

It is a beautiful morning, quiet and serene and a flock of Canadian Geese flew by information, heading out to wherever they go for the day. Frances told me that this is a flock that lives here in this particular bay. We are the guests.

Looking for Trouble

Callie is going to become a sea cat! May she grow sea legs and stay safe!

We are heading out this afternoon to go sailing in the bay! My brother Tom and his wife Frances are taking us sailing on their catamaran- Alfresco. They confided in me that their cat Gypsy did indeed go overboard once while walking across the boom. She fell into the water below and had to be scooped out by a net.

This reminds me of a story about Callie when we first moved to an upstairs condo in Encinitas, California. Callie was left unattended for just a couple of minutes when I sensed that she wasn’t around and went frantically looking for her. I checked upstairs and downstairs and all around and could not find her anywhere in the condo. Surely she didn’t go over the balcony I thought to myself?

I ran to the balcony and looked over the glass barrier and calmly observed that an umbrella had been knocked over and was lying on the ground. Glancing around further, I spotted Callie in the bushes below entertaining the thought about getting into a catfight with a neighboring white Persian called- Snowball. I immediately yelled at her and ran out of the condo and down a flight of stairs to rescue poor Snowball from having her eyes scratched out! Callie is the sweetest cat around dogs and people, but she absolutely despises cats. She even detests cats that are minding their own business and staying in their own territory. Callie had been known to run down tom cats a block away from the house when she lived in Redlands, California.

The distance from the balcony to the top of the umbrella was maybe 10ft and it had to have twirled violently before Callie released her claws and went flying out and across the yard. I wish I had seen when it happened! It would have been pretty funny once I knew she was safe, but scary enough for her because she never attempted it a second time.

So keeping Callie safe and out of harms reach will be a little challenging for me. Gypsy has to stay on the float house while we sail, but that won’t keep Callie from looking for trouble!

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!

On the Road Again

We left Davis Dam RV Camp this morning and after stocking up with food and propane in Bullhead City, we took the round about scenic route through Parker to get to Mayflower RV County Park in Blythe, California. Michael has a 19′ VIP motorboat that we haven’t used since 2013 and we want to try a new area to boat in. Maybe I can teach Callie to enjoy boating on the river. Katherine’s Landing at Lake Mohave is where we have boated for 15 years and now that I am getting older, I do not want all the sun, action and party atmosphere of the lake. So, we headed out around 9 am and didn’t get to Mayflower Park until 3:30. It took quite a bit longer than we expected but it was still fun, much more beautiful and Callie is getting very comfortable traveling in the RV. She is actually enjoying short bouts of resting on the dashboard even while driving down the highway. I love it! Mayflower County Park is better than expected and practically empty. There is a private boat launch and more of a retirement RV and family park than the river.  It is a mild 89 degrees with a slight breeze and we are parked under massive eucalyptus trees. Callie gets to feel lots of grass under her feet for the first time in quite awhile. A park full of grass. You can’t beat that… it is also very quiet except for the sound of birds!

River Rat- I Mean Cat!

Callie, Michael and I made a dash for the river and Davis Camp 4 days ago to get away from an incredibly destructive windstorm in Anza Borrego. Our pool is filled with sand again and the house has its share of sand dunes forming along the inside of doors and windows. The wildflowers are all gone and the only traces of caterpillars are dark stains on the roads where they tried to cross and were run over by cars from all the people viewing the flowers. The hawks have moved on in search of other food sources and the desert has returned to its harsh and arid self. The wind is what disperses the seeds and pollen for yet another year, but it is a little disheartening to watch and miserable to live in. I feel for all the wildlife that have been experiencing the super bloom and enjoying the abundance of life giving water and plant life it produces. It has been the Garden of Eden and has returned to hell once again. At least Callie is healing after an upper respiratory infection and mild ear infection so we decided to make the great escape and run away for awhile.

The drive to Davis Camp RV Park was easy and we set up camp right alongside the river. The RV is angled sideways so that we can watch the boats and jet skies zoom by and the sun sets behind the hills on the other side of the river. We unfortunately did not escape the wind but the good that has come out of it is that the wind keeps the temperature cooler.

Callie loves it here. There are a pair of Mallard Ducks that waddle right up to the RV and Callie has placed herself on the dash as sentinel and can watch them undetected while her tail thwaps and thunks and twitches spastically! You can just tell how much she would love tasting duck on the menu. The Common Grackles, a starling like bird swoop down and harass her with screeches and clucks while on our walks, so I have learned to keep a close eye out from above.  They mob her in groups of about 5 and you can tell they know she is a predator because they don’t do it to the dogs. She has a lovely spot of grass right on the shoreline that she lies in and watches the boats and the same pair of ducks go by. The Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino boat chugs by every couple of hours and people wave at her. There are not many cats hanging out alongside the river. 

We are at the base of the dam and the water level is high and the current very strong. Coots, a small duck like bird have learned to use the fast moving current to their advantage and fly to the base of the dam and then float backwards at incredible speed. When they see a good food source, they dive down into the water and then pop up and zoom backward until they are far enough down river that they are forced to repeat the process all over again. On the other side of the river there is the river walk and bikers and joggers race along in the shadow of the hillside. The summer heat hasn’t geared up quite yet, so it is still possible to be outdoors in the middle of the day.

Michael is becoming an awesome BBQ cook and we are preparing 5 course meals with dessert and a glass of wine while the sun sets behind the hills. The RV is perfectly suited for the three of us and I have no complaints. It is a 24′ Fleetwood Icon and it is plenty big and I am so glad we didn’t purchase a larger one. It is mobile but roomy enough for all three of us to have our own special place. Callie has the dashboard, I get the table and Michael has the sofa. 

At night we sleep above the cab and it is quite a jump for Callie to make it up to bed. Her need for several nighttime feedings has been a problem until I set up a tray on the sofa for her to nibble on during the night. Callie has to ask permission to eat for some odd reason and so instead of climbing down the ladder twice a night to assist her to the back bathroom where her food is during the day, I can now give her a gentle shove off the bed and after landing on the sofa, voila- there is her food. She crunches on 5 or 6 kibbles and then jumps back up on the bed to continue her night of staring out the window. She does her best to be quiet, but sleep evades her most of the night. In the morning when I am ready to start the day, Callie is sleepy and settles down on the dash for her turn to nap until the sun gets too hot. She then has the top of the sofa with the window open which provides a nice breeze in the middle of the day. You cannot take the nocturnal out of her. 

My dream of travels with Callie have become a reality and I am so appreciative that it is turning out so well for all of us. Callie is an intelligent cat and needs a lot of stimulation. Michael and I wanted to travel and have her be a part of the equation. Not every cat could handle all the excitement and activity. As much as Callie loves the river though, we will be heading up north again next. I am tired of the arid desert life and hungry for green foliage and cooler temperatures. Our friend Fred will probably be ready for another adventure too!

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