Time for a new house

Time for a new house
Time for a new house

Saturday, January 24, 2015

01-18-2015 Nevada City and Oroville and time with friends

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon

no snow winter 2 (6 of 6)Talking about the weather is silly.  There is no snow, there is no rain, there is no winter to speak of anywhere to be found in our part of the world.  Crazy.  The skies are cold but clear tonight.  The thermometer might drop a bit below freezing before morning, but c’mon…is this really what January is supposed to look like in Rocky Point?  no snow winter 2 (1 of 6)

It usually looks more like this around here in January.  

Happy New Year's EveBut with snow like that I would be shoveling and blowing the pathways and complaining about the ice on the driveway.  We were gone for three months in winter of 2014, and heard rumors that there wasn’t much snow then either, but it is surprising that the lack of snow is still persisting.  Water?  Snow pack? Drought?  Those thoughts lie in the background as we enjoy the moderately warm, snowless winter.  Maybe it will snow in April as it usually does.  Just in time for Easter.

Leaving the gorgeous sunny skies of the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree NP was tough.  I needed to be home, but that didn’t make the journey any more enticing.  As we approached the western slope of the Sierras crossing the Tehachapi Pass on Highway 58, we could see the thick blanket of gray brown smog/fog hanging low over the Great Central Valley.  Didn’t look a bit different than it did when we passed this same way two weeks ago.

I never tire of this view from Highway 58 toward the Grapevine The distance to Orange Grove RV park from Joshua Tree is a short 200 miles.  Of course we could have traveled farther, but why?  Why go beyond the waiting oranges!  I have to confess, I did take more than the loudly proclaimed one bag limit.  Signs everywhere said that limit would be “strictly enforced”.  I am sure they are talking to someone other than me, right?  Maybe the signs are for those greedy people who might try to pick bags and bags of the sweet things and sell them on the side of the road.  The sign wasn’t for me, the innocent little old lady from Oregon who just wanted an extra bag to share with friends along my route home, right?heading south_008DSC_0008

I remember blogland a long time ago when someone, can’t even remember who, “stole” oranges from a tree along side of the road.  Lots of moral lectures resulted from that little confession.  I am a good, mostly honest person.  Just don’t let me near your orange trees.

The park was about 1/3 full when we arrived, but by dark every single space was filled.  I would highly recommend getting a reservation if you are a big rig and intend to stay in the park en route or returning from the desert.  Seems as though the snow birds have found it and keep it very busy.

Once again we drove north along I-5 on a Saturday, leaving at 6:30 AM so that we could get all the way to the Grass Valley County fairgrounds before nightfall.  Just 370 miles or so, but that is still a long day for us.  The fog was thick when we gassed up at the Bakersfield Costco for a measly 2.06 per gallon for regular gas.  Who knows how long those prices will last, but we sure enjoyed them on this trip.

After a somewhat long and boring day traveling north, the fog lifted and we whizzed through Sacramento traffic onto the 80 and then north on Highway 49 to Grass Valley/Nevada City.  The two gold towns in the Mother Lode country of California are not far apart.  Our friends Jimmie and Nickie, are living in Nevada City, and in spite of their generous offer of driveway hospitality, we thought it would be smart to park the rig down the hill at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (47 of 49)It is a fairly nice park, as fairground camping goes, and in no time we were set up and on our way up the hill to Jimmie and Nickie’s lovely home on a lava cap ridge of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Just high enough in elevation to be out of the poison oak but not into deep long lasting snow.  Perfect.

Nickie told me that when they walked into the house, within minutes, they knew it was the one.  I had an experience like that once myself, when I stepped into my little bungalow in Klamath Falls back in 2002.  Within 24 hours I had an accepted offer and that little home now shelters my daughter and her family after some delightful years sheltering me.

Nickie and I have kept up our correspondence after meeting in person a couple of years ago…neither of us could believe it had been two years since we met, but it has.   Thank goodness for the blog where I could check out the original date of our delightful get together the first time.  Walking into their home is so comfortable and their hospitality is wonderful.

nickie and jimmie I have seen photos of their canal walk, and was delighted to have Nickie suggest that we get a bit of movement in before dinner walking the canal.  What a great place close to home to get in daily walks.  The water was a bit low, but I could see what a shady retreat this pathway would be on a hot summer day. 

Another walker took some photos of all of us together (thanks for this photo, Nickie), and the happy smiles on our faces just gives a hint at how much fun we were having. 

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (12 of 49)Later Nickie treated us to a wondrous supper of hand made spinach rolls smothered in her very own home canned marinara sauce, and a Caesar salad drenched in the fabulous dressing from the restaurant we had visited two years ago.  Fresh steamed broccoli and artisan bread rounded out the perfect meal.  Jimmie is so funny and friendly and kind, and he and Nickie are so much fun to be around.  I just love how they treat each other with such love and respect.  It is a joy.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (14 of 49) My favorite part of the evening was listening to the stories of how Nickie and Jimmie met and their travels and how they found their homes.  Flow!  These two definitely know how to live in the Flow of life at its finest. The best indication of the great time we had showed on the clock when Mo and I finally drove back down the hill to the MoHo.  It was almost 11 PM when we got to bed.  Geez!  We are early birds most of the time.

The next morning, with a brilliant sun bursting forth, we met again for a morning walk around the fairgrounds.  Nickie has a great sense of humor, although the wet bleacher seats weren’t exactly to her liking, but she wanted a photo in the bleachers, so I obliged.  Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (25 of 49)

I also got a kick out of taking pictures of Nickie herding geese.  She kept saying, “They love me!”.  I am sure that they did.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (45 of 49)We drove the short distance to Nevada City and a wonderful breakfast at the South Pine Cafe.  The food was incredible, and my choice was a lobster scramble with lots of mushrooms and avocados and Jalapeño Hollandaise!  It was even good when I ate the other half for breakfast the next day!  Once again, the fact that we were having a great time was evident as we lingered over our breakfast table long after the meal was finished.  Hard to say goodbye to such great people.

Of course, we had other great people waiting for us in Oroville, so we buttoned up the rig and took the back road from Grass Valley to Oroville via a road that I would NOT recommend, but it was fun. 

IMG_1217 The sun was brilliant in Nevada City, but by the time we dropped down the hill just enough to reach Oroville, the fog was again shrouding the landscape.  Spare me from California Valley fogs!! ick! That gray line you see on the horizon is the thick fog down in Oroville and the valley!IMG_1216

We camped once again at the Feather Falls Casino, not a cheap night by any means at $47 per night with no discounts.  Still, it was an easy hookup, a nice park that we like, and just minutes from Maryruth and Gerald’s home up the hill.  Readers know that Maryruth is my very best friend of more than 50 years.  It is always wonderful to see her and her husband Gerald, and to visit their home.

Maryruth has a new sewing machine and has completed more decorating projects in her home that I wanted to see.  After the look arounds, we drove down the hill again to her mother’s house, who has lived in Oroville for more than 50 years.  It was great seeing the family, people I have known and loved as my own family for all these years.

Later, Maryruth and Gerald took us to their friends winery, The Purple Line Urban Winery, right in downtown Oroville, and we sampled some great wines, including something called “Red Panties”.  We then ambled on to Papacito’s Mexican Grill and Cantina where I finally got my urge for some really GOOD Mexican food fully satisfied.  What a great little place with excellent food!  Their tortilla soup was the best I have ever had anywhere.

Once again we made it back home to the rig at a very late hour, proof of our wonderful time spent with good friends.  In case you are wondering where the photos are for this part of the visit, Maryruth did that thing when I pulled out the camera…”Oh Sue…Really?!?!”   So I put the thing away and didn’t take a single photo of our visit.  Only once, and only for you, Maryruth.  Next time I am taking photos!!IMG_1220

Because I honored Maryruth’s request, Instead of photos of Maryruth and Gerald and their wonderful home, the winery and the wonderful food, you get to see a photo of my daughter with her three little grandbabies, my youngest great-grandchildren. 

 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

01-15-2015 Joshua Tree Heaven

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon Current temperature: 45 degrees F and clear

Joshua Tree Morning (50 of 54)Can you see all the magical people in this pile of rocks?  Look close. 

When Judy (bird lady of blogland) and I were visiting, we talked about our blogging habits and one of the thoughts that came up was how important it is to write when everything is fresh.  Some folks are diligent about this, writing everything on the same day in first person present tense.  Others are the opposite extreme, waiting sometimes months to get back to a special trip with tons of information and magnificent photos.

Joshua Tree Evening (8 of 31) I fall somewhere in between.  If we are traveling, I try hard to keep up, but on almost every extended outing, I’ll get behind.  Such is the case today.  I am once again at home, sitting at the office window looking out through the forest, trying to slip back into how it felt to be camping in the dry sunny almost warmth of Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree Evening (14 of 31) Mo and I love to visit Joshua Tree.  In 2008, when we first brought the MoHo home to Oregon from Texas, we stopped for a a bit of exploring around the Joshua Tree campgrounds, and almost got ourselves into a tight situation on one of the Jumbo Rocks campground loops. 

Joshua Tree Evening (15 of 31) In 2013, even though we were camped at Desert Hot Springs, we spent some time exploring the National Park and loved every minute of it.  I made a mental note that we should try to camp in Jumbo Rocks campground on our trip south in 2014.  My planning wasn’t too great, however, since we arrived on New Years Day, and the campground, which has no reservations, was jam packed for the holiday.

We solved that problem with a terrific time boondocking outside the park just south of the southern entrance, within view of I-10. What a great way to see in the new year.

Joshua Tree Evening (28 of 31) This year, we saved our Joshua Tree time for last.  It was hard leaving Arizona after such a short time, but miscellaneous home issues required that we get back on the road north in short order.  Finally, after all these years, we managed a night of beautiful dry camping in the Jumbo Rocks Campground at Joshua Tree National Park.

I somehow expected that in mid January, after all the holidays were over, the park would be quiet.  While it was much quieter than last year, there were still many people exploring, and we were lucky to find a spot long enough for the MoHo when we arrived around 3 in the afternoon. With a short stop in Quartzite, I was still drooling over some of the new Class A rigs that we toured at La Mesa RV.  In spite of all that glass, and all that space, I still love tucking my little 26 footer into tight spaces in national parks, state parks, and forest service campgrounds.

Joshua Tree Morning (52 of 54) The campground is long, with winding roads and a few side loops, but the majority of sites are sized for tent camping.  Sites that are large enough for bigger rigs are built parallel to the road, and require some forethought and jockeying to settle in properly.

Joshua Tree Morning (51 of 54) We figured out that in order to get our slide out on the private side away from the road, we would have to park facing the opposite direction and accept the slight inconvenience of the doorway opening directly into the road.

It worked out just fine, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be any longer.  There were a few big rigs in some of the areas at the far end of the park, but I would imagine that they had to wait around to get a site big enough to accommodate their size.

Joshua Tree Evening (17 of 31) Both of us have always wanted to camp among the beautiful boulders, and with our windows opening up to a giant jumbled pile of wonderfulness, we watched the evening light shifting colors on the granite, and the next morning enjoyed the changing light of sunrise.

Joshua Tree Evening (6 of 31) The night was cold, with frost on the car when morning broke.  There were people in tents nearby and I was reminded of days camping in cold tents and warm sleeping bags, trying to keep warm making coffee over the fire.  Such luxury.  I snuggled back into the down comforter, enjoying the morning with no hurry to beat the sunrise.  I planned to hike, but I didn’t need to do it while the frost was still hanging around.

The other interesting tidbit about Jumbo Rocks is the generator rules.  Generators can be run from 7 to 9 am, from 12 to 2 pm, and from 6 to 8 pm.  Different.  We still had a good charge, even with our furnace running, but it was nice to top it off with an hour of generator time around 9 am before we took off hiking.

Joshua Tree Morning (7 of 54) The hike to Skull Rock from the campground is well marked, however it was easy to wind between the rocks from our campsite until we intercepted the trail meandering east toward the attraction.  At only 1.3 miles, when we found Skull Rock, we weren’t ready to quit, so Mo and I wandered around the boulders for a time, enjoying all the shapes and shadows of the crazy beautiful landscape.

Joshua Tree Morning (23 of 54) What a wonderful place! In all our years passing by this trailhead, we had never actually seen Skull Rock.  I had no clue until we almost ran into it that the famous face is very close to the parking area right on the main park road. 

Joshua Tree Morning (37 of 54) Joshua Tree Morning (30 of 54)This section of Joshua Tree is filled with fantasmagoric boulders that people young and old love to climb and explore.  It is almost like a giant jungle gym for grownups, or maybe not so grownups.  We saw some teenagers doing scary things on high boulders that made me wonder if this park has a high incidence of injuries and rescues. We everything from old folks meandering around the rocks to the aforementioned teenagers, to professional free climbers with some equipment, and other climbers with a ton of equipment.  Joshua Tree Morning (33 of 54)

Once again, we passed many sights on our way out that reminded us to put at least a week of dry camping here on the agenda the next time we travel south in the winter. Joshua Tree Morning (14 of 54)

As I was walking along behind Mo in the morning sunlight, I felt myself slip into a state of wonder that is a bit hard to fathom or explain.  I was just so incredibly happy, so very much in that moment, so high on the light and the rocks and the sandy trail in front of me.  I hope I can remember that moment at times when I am feeling low or bored with the everydayness of life in general.  Moments like that are rare and wonderful.  Most of the time I am in good spirits, but this was somehow different.  Call it Bliss, I suppose, I was there! 

Joshua Tree Morning (12 of 54) We had a wonderful breakfast, a wonderful hike, and a wonderful morning to slip under the belt before we had to leave the clear beautiful desert behind us and head west into the foggy dreariness of the Central Valley of California.  Only thing that made the drive tolerable was the anticipation of spending time with friends on our way home.

Joshua Tree Morning (46 of 54) Next:  Visiting Jimmie and Nickie in Nevada City!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

01-14-2015 Refuge Days with Judy

Current Location: Imperial National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Yuma Arizona

It has been three days since we left the relative urban environment of the Coachella Valley to travel east and south.  The route is familiar again.  A short way along Dillon road to the east intercepts I-10 and once again we are traveling toward Quartzite, passing last years boondock site at the entrance to Joshua Tree, enjoying the reasonably smooth pavement of this part of the interstate.Imperial NWR with Judy (3 of 54)

We were in Quartzite before noon, with the cloudy skies invading the desert to the west gone and replaced with varying levels of warm sunshine.  We gassed up at the Pilot at $2.06 per gallon with our .03 discount.  It is rather amazing to fill the tank of the MoHo with less than a hundred bucks.  We parked in the lot east of the station, with few semi’s parked there, thinking it would be OK.  We didn’t back in, but parked at the far end of the lot crossways.  No one was anywhere near us.  But by the time we got back from our short shopping foray, a big rig had parked in front of us, and while we sat there preparing to leave, another slid in even closer.  I think we broke some rule and did some quick backing up to get out of there before we were completely  boxed in.Imperial NWR with Judy (4 of 54)

Quartzite was the same as ever, windy and cool in spite of the sunshine, long rows of stalls with tons of stuff, and the tool store and bead store that we saw last year.  Mo didn’t find what she was looking for and there wasn’t a single thing that I needed or wanted.  A few items at the less than stellar grocery store reminded me that if you come to Quartzite, you should probably have anything you need already in your possession.

After a very short stop, we were again rolling south on Highway 95, past the Kofa Mountains and toward Yuma.  Temps were fairly cool, and some big black clouds in the sky to the south indicated that rain was either coming or going. Unusual in this part of the desert at this time of the year.

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Arizona side of the Colorado river, and the access road is at the huge Yuma Proving Ground.  We turned west, and were surprised that the road was unpaved a few miles before we reached the refuge.  The washboards weren’t too bad, actually not as rough as I-5 can be in parts of California.Imperial NWR with Judy (6 of 54)

The large puddle, however, stopped us cold.  In the southwest there is no way of knowing how deep the puddle may be, or how soft the roadbed is beneath the puddle.  We were in a quandary.  At the lower level of the wash where we were stopped, there was no phone signal, so I couldn’t call Judy at the visitor center to ask about the big puddle.

Instead, we unhooked, Mo turned around with the baby car, and I backed the MoHo up the road a few hundred yards to the intersection.  I was attempting to get a call through when a man in a golf cart showed up and offered to lead us across the puddle, insisting that it was perfectly fine.  We asked him to go first to prove it however, before we slowly crossed the scary puddle of water which turned out to be pretty easy.  Still, as they know in the Southwest, you never know about these puddles so better safe than sorry.  We later heard that Barbara, of Me and my Dog, had attempted to visit Judy that same morning, and the puddle made her turn around without even trying to cross in the car in which she and a friend were exploring. 

Imperial NWR with Judy (7 of 54)Seeing Judy again was great. We met last year in Anahuac NWR, so the meeting didn’t have the “new” thing, but was instead a happy reunion.   We stopped in at the Visitor Center since it was her work day and let her know we had arrived and then settled into our campsite with plans to meet for supper when Judy got off work.  Emma was as happy and excited as usual, but before long she settled down and enjoyed the company.  Judy’s site overlooking the pond is fabulous.  The view, the patio, the shady side of the rig stays nice and cool (I think that should be a good thing most of the time).  All the bloggers who weighed in encouraging her to move to the 30 amp site were right!  A good move.

Imperial NWR with Judy (12 of 54)After a great sleep in the silent beautiful desert, Judy stopped by in the morning to pick us up for the day’s tour.  Judy usually does the bird tours on Sundays, but she sweetly offered to do one this week on a Tuesday for us, and for John and Sharon from On the Road Of Retirement.

Imperial NWR with Judy (18 of 54)I have followed their blog for years, so it was delightful to meet them in person and share the morning checking out the ponds and birds on the refuge.

judysuemosharonNo telephoto along today to capture photos of the wonderful birds, but I do have to put a little bit fuzzy one up of the beautiful great horned owl that graced us with its presence and sat quietly in the tree in full daylight posing.  Imperial NWR with Judy (28 of 54)

I added some more birds to my list, with a favorite being the little loggerhead shrike, a bird who skewers his live food onto thorns to keep it in place while he eats.  Hmmm.  I also saw Say’s Phoebe, which without Judy around would have been just another little brown bird.  Nothing quite so wonderful for a non birder who likes birds than to go out with a real birder!

Imperial NWR with Judy (22 of 54)Judy taught us a lot, and shared fascinating information about the habits of some of the residents of the refuge.  We didn’t see the bobcat, but did see the log where she scratches.  We didn’t see the beavers, but saw the fascinating beaver trails crossing the road between ponds.  We didn’t see the coyotes or the burros, either, but got a kick out of the coyote and burro trails.Imperial NWR with Judy (25 of 54)

Later in the afternoon, Judy picked us up again, and took us to the northern portions of the refuge.  There are four overlooks, with views of the remnant lakes that connect to the Colorado River, and at the first one we found so many birds that even Judy was excited.

Imperial NWR with Judy (39 of 54)I added buffleheads and ruddy ducks to my list, even though I know I have seen them in our Klamath Basin refuge.  It makes such a difference to have a birder tell what they are.  I might actually remember now.

Imperial NWR with Judy (50 of 54)Evening was enjoyed with laughs and conversation on Judy’s patio, and probably the best BBQ chicken I ever tasted.  Judy called it New York chicken bbq and spent a great deal of time basting the pieces with a nondescript looking marinade that turned the chicken into a flavorful crispy skinned delight.  Never had anything like it.  Don’t forget to send me that recipe, Judy!

Painted Desert Trail (1 of 45)Wednesday Judy had arranged some kayaks to get the three of us out on the Colorado River, but with the very cool temperatures and the wind starting up early, we nixed that plan quickly.  Instead Judy drove us north again to the Painted Desert Trail, I think the only official trail in the Refuge.Painted Desert Trail (8 of 45)

The temperatures were perfect for the leisurely hike, a mile and a third winding around and up through the volcanic rhyolites, tuffs, and basalts of the 20 million year old landscape, topped off by river gravels from the meandering Ancestral Colorado shining with desert varnish.

Painted Desert Trail (10 of 45)We found some very interesting green rocks, carried down by erosion from the basalt flows to the north, but Judy made sure we didn’t pick one up.  The only place to gather rock is some distance north and east in the Kofa Refuge.

Painted Desert Trail (12 of 45)I learned finally which tree was the ironwood, and we talked a bit about how many different plants are called  “ironwood”.  Nothing was yet in flower, but the lime green of the palo verde trees against the rusty red rocks added plenty of color.  Again we saw burro sign and burro trails, but no sign of a live animal. Painted Desert Trail (27 of 45) This refuge is ambivalent about the burros.  They aren’t attempting to eliminate them as they are at Sheldon NWR, but they are also not doing anything to support them since they are feral, not a naturally occurring species. 

We had the entire morning and trail to ourselves, so imagine our surprise to return to the trail head to see so many cars parked!  Lucky us!  Later in the day we found out that there had been more than 100 visitors to the center that day, and the park was crawling with people, more than Judy had seen in her entire time here since October.

Painted Desert Trail (37 of 45)Home mid day, we packed up a lunch (don’t ever offer Judy a tuna sandwich!) and decided since we couldn’t kayak, we could take a few hours to explore the lower end of the Kofa Refuge in the Tracker.  With only half a tank of gas in the car, and a gas station all the way south in Yuma, we limited our drive to 3 hours and 100 miles.  We didn’t have to worry about the distance in the least.

Painted Desert Trail (38 of 45)We used up the three hours without a problem, but the condition of the road deteriorated enough that our progress was slow and we didn’t have time to actually get over MacPherson Pass to the other side.

Painted Desert Trail (42 of 45)The picnic was a stand up affair, with a little bit of wind protection from the car and entertainment provided by a long line of Jeeps coming back down from the pass.  After lunch, we attempted to continue a bit north, but were stopped by a drop off.  After careful examination, we decided against trying it.  Mo and I have done similar obstacles in the Tracker, but it was getting late and we had no clue how many more we might have to try and then still turn around.

Painted Desert Trail (45 of 45)It was important to get Judy back to her site on time, since she was the hostess of a gathering of refuge volunteers and she had 20 Chicago hot dogs to prepare.  At five, the volunteers gathered to visit and enjoy the dogs and chili and some salads provided potluck style and talk about the different refuges where they have volunteered.  It was an interesting perspective on a lifestyle that is considerably different than some full time RVrs.  Painted Desert Trail (41 of 45)

Our three days here in the Arizona desert are coming to a close.  I can’t believe how quickly the time passed and how wonderfully quiet it has been here.  Lucky Us!! It isn’t easy to take time away from working for Judy to show folks around, so I don’t take her generosity for granted.  What a great lady, who gives so much to the refuge world.  Lucky them as well. Imperial NWR with Judy (15 of 54)

Today we travel north again for some off-grid time in Joshua Tree.