The Wapiti Campground

My days have been filled with so many wonderful activities, that the desire to write after many hours of photography, biking, hiking, and just plain fun, that I haven’t felt much up to it. Today I thought I would just focus on Callie and what a good time she is having, and when I feel up to it, write about all the wildlife I have seen and the adventures I have been on. Jasper, AB, Canada is an incredible place and the people have been so helpful and friendly and the wilderness, beyond breathtaking, that it will be difficult to leave. And if Trump is reelected, I may just move here permanently.

Pipsqueak is parked toward the end of a long parking lot with two rows of RV’s placed across and next to one another. Fred and Becky are to the left of us and we both face the Miette River that roars right past in a deep ravine within a forest of fragrant pine trees. The fast-moving rapids are many shades of blue and can be heard in a whisper from our RV window. Elk, for which this campground is named after, roam through the forest and calmly stroll past tents and campers, while the bull elks bugle their mournful calls early in the morning and later at dusk. It is a really nice campground with hook-ups so we don’t have to depend on batteries and propane. My only complaint is the tepid water when taking a public shower. It never gets to anywhere near hot enough, and you have to keep pushing a button for 3 minutes, and I am being generous here, worth of flow. The restrooms though are clean and heated, which makes for a better experience when trying to dry off in the cramped stall in order to get back to the comfort of the RV. The nights have dropped into the low 30’s and snow is expected Thursday and Friday, but yesterday it actually got to a balmy 69 degrees.

Callie is asking for several walks a day and the two of us can cross over to a grassy meadow right behind the RV that has benches and big rocks for her to climb upon. She loves being up high so that she can survey her surroundings and take it all in from a different perspective and a higher vantage point. She looks up at me frequently while walking by my side on her leash and I swear she has a huge smile on her face! The sun actually came out in force both yesterday and today in between mild rainfall and many wildflowers are still in bloom. Callie loves soaking up the warmth and didn’t want to come back inside today. It won’t be long though before summer is over and fall and winter hit with a brutal force. I can already see the aspens turning golden yellow that are sprinkled in between the pines on the mountainsides.

We will be staying in Canada for one more week before heading to Washington State. We plan on driving back down the coast on our return voyage. There is still so much to cover about elk, moose, bighorn sheep, magpies, glaciers and more, but it will have to wait for another day.

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.

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.

Rise & Shine

Michael, Callie, and I made it to Zion River RV Park after a 12-hour drive at 7 pm and it was a long day for all of us. Callie loves being on the road though and helps navigate on the dash as if her life depends on it. Yesterday’s adventure was just a tad bit too long though and I could tell she was wondering when we would get there.

When we finally did set up camp, which now includes disconnecting the Tracker, Michael and I quickly changed into swimsuits and dashed over to the hot tub to soak our weary muscles and joints before it closed at 9. Sitting for so long when you are a senior citizen makes you stiff and achy! The wisdom of aging is that you aren’t as restless and a long day of travel is just part of the overall scheme of things. The three of us really had a fabulous day and are now reaping the rewards of reaching a lovely destination.

The hot tub was divine and a quick BBQ of veggie and salmon burgers were grilled with Callie being fed her favorite Science Diet nuggets, and off to bed, we went. I woke up with my usual rise and shine energy along with Callie and we took a fabulous walk before all of the dogs got up. It is bright and fresh outside with a fragrant breeze rustling the cottonwoods. A delicious breakfast shall be served as soon as my exhausted husband wakes up. Michael is going to try and find out if we can get into the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and if so, we may head out again. If not, we will stay here and take the bikes out for a trail ride. I vote we stay put for a couple of days and check out the local mountain trails and of course, Zion!

Whitney Portal

Michael, Callie and I left Keough’s Hot Springs first thing Sunday morning so that we could try to get into Whitney Portal Campground for one night on our return voyage south to Encinitas so that I could have eye surgery scheduled for Wednesday.

We made the drive to Lone Pine and then headed straight up the road to the magnificent and really, one of a kind campground where hikers seeking to make it to the summit, camp. We met the host, Bill as we pulled into the campground, and he gave us campsite #4 which was literally next to the river that roared down the mountain on it’s rapid descent to the valley floor. It was like camping next to a waterfall, the sound was so loud!

It took some maneuvering and skill on our part to get the Icon leveled, but we eventually managed and ended up having a very relaxing day. Callie was able to take several walks along the river and we BBQed later in the evening. Whitney Portal is absolutely breathtaking and you have to be pretty fit and an experienced hiker before even attempting such a difficult hike. There is quite a bit of vertical and the switchbacks are ruthless. Michael wants to return and attempt it before the summer is out.

I was able to get us into the Riviera Mobile Home Park in Encinitas around 6:30 yesterday evening, and Steve the host who also happens to be one of the owners was helpful and very accommodating. They don’t allow pets in the RV section so I quite jokingly suggested that I flush the cat down the toilet! He laughingly said that it would not be necessary and put is in a spot where a mobile home is due to arrive any day now. You can have pets for some reason in the mobile home section but not the RV Park. We are going to try and stay for a whole week so that we can get a better rate, and because it is just so awesome here and to be close to our old stomping grounds.

I am a little nervous about the surgery tomorrow because my last pterygium was so traumatic for me. The procedure has had 25 years or more to improve upon so I should be in good hands. This one has grown so large that it has affected my vision- maybe I will be a better photographer when all is said and done!

Callie is within a mile of the Holiday Pet Hotel that she used to be boarded at a couple of years ago and in hindsight and in retrospect, staying there was very traumatic for her. She developed asthma from a cough that was improperly diagnosed that went on for 6 months or more and she has never really regained her health since her cough. Such is life though, and now that we have the RV, she gets to go everywhere with us and I will never ever board her again in a public facility. Now she is Callie, the dash cam cat that travels the world in her very own RV!

Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina is located above Bishop in the Eastern Sierras of California and has some of the most beautiful lakes that I have ever seen. We stayed at South Lake for almost a week and then moved over to Sabrina which is on the other side of the fork leading up to the campgrounds.

Lake Sabrina Campground was dry camping but the bathrooms were very clean and we had site number 16 that had a view of Bishop Creek and the snow-dusted mountains that cradled the lake. The mosquitos are bad but because we were there when a cold front had moved in and the first rain fell of the season, it wasn’t too bad for us at all. Not being right by the river helped too!

Michael hiked every day and I hung around because of an injured tailbone and I took Callie on walks and did a lot of photography. The rain came down hard several days with thunder and lightning, and the view was spectacular. White-tailed deer sauntered past our RV without a care in the world and Robins and Scrub Jays were everywhere. Callie loved it there because there were very few dogs and the fishermen were quiet and very respectful.

It only cost us $14.00 a night to stay there and it was one of the best places we have ever camped at. We have now moved over to the Keough hot springs right outside Bishop and can spend some time soaking in the mineral pools and relaxing before we have to go to Encinitas for eye surgery on the 18th. I am trying to get as much photography and writing done as possible before I am laid up. I am having a pterygium removed that has grown quite large and has now become a major surgery. I had one removed about 25 years ago and it was so traumatic, that I have held back on having the other eye done until it has now become absolutely necessary.

Nature

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This is a photographic compilation of some of my travels, not all with Callie, but with Michael for sure. He has been quite supportive all these years. He bought me a Polaroid camera when my daughter Lara was born 32 years ago, and I haven’t stopped since!

Creekside RV Park

Creekside RV Park is really next to a creek, a creek that roars like a river and is fed by beautiful, South Lake that has an elevation of 9,800 ft. Driving up from Bishop you make a jog to the left rather than head straight toward Lake Sabrina. When we left Virginia Lake on July 3rd, we were quite concerned about finding another campsite because of 4th of July, but Nick from Creekside, who also happens to be the owner’s son, had only one cancellation which he promptly gave to us, and we have been here ever since.

The campground is clean and spacious and because it is family owned, they make every attempt to accommodate most of your needs. We keep extending our stay due to the heat wave down below and so far they have managed to find a way to allow us to stay. There is a well-stocked store, small fishing pond for children and South Lake and Lake Sabrina are a draw for many fishermen. The wildflowers are also out, but so are the mosquitos, but if you remember to put repellant on, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Two days ago, we made the intense 5-mile bike ride up to South Lake and it took us 2 hours to get there and a roaring 20 minutes to return. It was steep with a 2,000 ft verticle grade that left us wheezing because of the high altitude and me cursing most of the way because we forgot to bring along mosquito repellent. Whenever we stopped to catch our breath, the mosquitos swarmed us and they were not deterred by simple swats of the hand. They would rather die than be forced to fly away and were incredibly persistent.

Once we made it to the top though, it was well worth it. The lake was surrounded by receding glaciers and evergreens and the fresh, brisk air, a reward after the grueling climb. Hikers come from all over to hook up with the Pacific Crest Trail and the series of lakes are supposed to be spectacular. The wildflowers, such as the apricot mallow, lined the roadside as we huffed and puffed up the hill, and the temperature couldn’t be better. Once we caught our breath, we walked around and I took photographs and we admired the view, and when it was time to head back down, Michael checked our brakes and away we went as fast as 45 mph. We were smoking and it was a thrill, to say the least. We went so fast that I was concerned when a blast of wind almost knocked me off of my bike; that and the ruts in the road were cause for alarm. Once we pulled into Creekside though, we laughed at the thrill of the experience. The rest of the day we spent totally relaxed.

Callie isn’t able to walk around as much at Creekside because of all the dogs; she misses Virginia Lakes. At Virginia Lakes, she had a large forest range to walk around in and one evening, a deer raced right past the front of the RV while she was hanging out on the dash and it made her jump up and stare at the passing creature. She is doing very well though and is happy as can be to be traveling in the RV. It is going to be a sizzling 114 degrees in Borrego Springs tomorrow. Thank goodness we made the great escape.

Virginia Lakes

Virginia Lakes is actually a whole series of lakes that you can hike up to that are spectacular. The campground across from the cabins that are rented out on the lake side of the street are fabulous and as senior citizens, we were able to get a site for dry camping that was only $11.50 a night. The bathrooms were clean, even if they were very rustic, and our camp host, Kelly, loves her job and tries to be as helpful as possible. There is no phone or internet service, so you have to get off the grid.

We stayed for three nights and the second day we hiked to Frog Lake. Michael carried all of my camera equipment on his back, and I traded out the macro lens to the telephoto or the wide-angle lens at least a hundred times, and he was a good sport about it. The hike had some vertical climb to it but was well maintained and worth the effort.

We made it up into snow in July and came across an adorable, and very fat Marmot who looked to be having a fabulous day, basking in the ample sunshine next to a lovely waterfall. The wildflowers were blooming in a profusion of color and the mosquitos weren’t too bad. It was a beautiful hike and I was able to take lots of photographs.

Heading back down the hill the 3rd day, we had planned on trying to get into Tuolumne Meadows, but the smoke in Mammoth drove us away. It was the day before 4th of July, so we were fortunate to nab a spot at lovely South Lake right above Bishop.

Callie is having the time of her life and I created a nice bed for her up on the front driver’s seat. At night I cover her up with a blanket so that she stays nice and warm.

Baby Kestrel’s at Lake Washoe

I have shared that I, with the encouragement of Michael, am getting out my Nikon D70s camera more often now because it is better and I am able to use a telephoto lens on bird and wildlife. I also have a macro lens for flowers which is out of this world. When staying at Washoe Lake, there was a family of kestrels and the fledglings were just learning to fly. The parents would ask the babies to fly from one cottonwood tree to the next to strengthen their wings and force them to work before offering them the reward of a meal. They complained mightily about the injustice of it all, but the parents were persistent. As personalities go, one sibling was larger and more precocious than the other and the photograph of this baby should be compared to the one looking at me with an expression of, ” You want me to do what!”

After Washoe Lake, we went to beautiful Virginia Lakes and I took incredible wildflower photographs and a marmot that was hanging out by a waterfall. I will post them later. We are now at South Lake right outside of Bishop because of the fires in Mammoth. The smoke was so bad and so thick, all three of us were coughing and hacking. It is nice and clear and cool up at South Lake. We are staying at Creekside RV Park and did the 2000 ft vertical climb to the lake this morning. Wow!