A Nice, Long Visit With Friends and Family in Phoenix

Three weeks in one campground is a long stay for us.  It was nice to just hang out and enjoy leisure activities with friends and family in the Phoenix area (Cave Creek to be exact).  But before I get to all that, I need to fill in from where I last left you, which was in the Chiricahua Mountains.  From there, we headed to Tucson for a week of boondocking at Snyder Hill BLM.Snyder Hill BLM, Tucson AZ -  04

 

We did the easy hike to the top of Snyder Hill for this view.Snyder Hill BLM, Tucson AZ -  19Mike enjoyed a day at the Pima Air Museum.  He took many interesting pictures of airplanes (interesting to him anyway) but when I wait this long to do an update, I have sooooo many pictures to wade through.  Mike’s pics ended up on the cutting room floor.  Well, ok, here are two.Pima Air Museum, Tucson AZ -  07Pima Air Museum, Tucson AZ -  57Many people may not know that Tucson is surrounded by five mountain ranges (Rincon, Tucson, Tortolita, Santa Rita, and Santa Catalina).  In addition to the excellent hiking that this offers, there is also the beautiful Sky Island Scenic Byway to the top of Mt. Lemmon at over 9,000 feet.  From Snyder Hill on the southeast side of town, the drive takes a couple of hours allowing for some photo ops at several of the scenic pull-outs.

Sky Island Scenic Byway

Sky Island Scenic Byway

Sky Island Scenic Byway - 02We had packed a picnic lunch, but then we were seduced by the thin air and indulged in some fresh out of oven berry cobbler a la mode at the Cookie Cabin.  Yummmmm.Sky Island Scenic Byway - 03Sky Island Scenic Byway - 04

 

The Escapee’s RV Club annual Escapade Rally was taking place in Tucson while we were there, so we headed over to the fairgrounds to take a look.  We bought a few things from the vendor’s booths and that’s always fun.   Mike loves his new wheel covers because they are more pliable which makes them easier to handle.  And they have a deeper pocket over the top of the tire which makes for a more secure attachment.  We also bought a mesh sun shade panel that can attach to our large awning in case the sun is coming in from the side.  It will enable us to sit outside on those occasions when we are exposed to the setting sun on the patio side.

In mid-March we traveled up to Ben Avery Shooting Range Campground in Cave Creek (near Phoenix).  Mike’s mom lives with his sister Diane and her family in Cave Creek, so we love to visit this area as often as we can.  Plus, our friends Ingrid and Al were also staying at Ben Avery.  You must be a shooter to stay at the campground (Mike and Al both meet that qualification).  If you are a shooter, they offer great weekly and monthly rates.  They went out on several different days to shoot pistols, rifles, and shotguns.  Mike and Al were joined by Mike’s son and Al’s son, as well as Mike’s granddaughter for a day at the pistol/rifle range.  I could shoot them for not taking pictures that day.  OK, I guess that’s the wrong expression to use here.  Here’s a pic from another day where Al is coaching Mike on the fine art of ‘sporting clay shooting’ using Al’s really nice shotgun.

I was able to capture the shotgun shell ejecting as well as the clay target exploding.

I was able to capture the shotgun shell ejecting as well as the clay target exploding.  Mike had a fun day!  Al really knows his stuff when it comes to sport shooting.  Mike got a lot of great tips.

We enjoyed some hiking and happy hours, too.

Hiking Thunderbird Trail with Al and Ingrid

Hiking Thunderbird Trail with Al and Ingrid

Ingrid's perfect nachos

Ingrid’s perfect nachos

Mike whips up the Margaritas

Mike whips up the Margaritas

Spending time at Mike’s sister Diane’s house and visiting his mom was a priority for us. We went there close to every day and we have the extra pounds to prove it.  Diane planned big family meals with all the trimmings every night, including totally decadent desserts!  I don’t want you all to think that I’m a total slacker.  I cooked a few of the meals and contributed a side dish here and there, but really, Diane’s Italian heritage comes through loud and clear when her family shows up.  Mangia!  Mangia!

Mike’s son Sean and the kids drove out from Santa Clarita, California on our first weekend there.  Then his whole family came out again two weeks later for Easter weekend.  The grandkids really loved teasing Lucy into jumping in the swimming pool.  It didn’t take much to get her to do it, again and again.  Lucy loves children!

(clockwise) Mike, Sean, Keni, Diane, Glen, Perry, Cole, Nana, Brady, Kailyn, Linda

(clockwise) Mike, Sean, Keni, Diane, Glen, Perry, Cole, Nana, Brady, Kailyn, Linda

Lucy is thinking about it

Lucy is thinking about it

Lucy is airborne with front paws in dive mode.

Lucy is airborne with front paws in dive mode.

Lucy makes sure that Brady is ok

Lucy makes sure that Brady is ok

Glen gets some ribs going in the smoker

Glen gets some ribs going in the smoker

Brady ... just kickin' back

Brady … just kickin’ back

Diane's front yard confirms that it is Springtime in the desert

Diane’s front yard confirms that it is Springtime in the desert

Our fun little excursions included a day at the Cave Creek Rodeo and a day at a major league Spring Training game.

Cave Creek Rodeo

Cave Creek Rodeo

Cave Creek Rodeo AZ -  12Cave Creek Rodeo AZ -  42

Angels vs. Mariners

Angels vs. Mariners

Spring Training Baseball Game - Angels v Mariners AZ -  04

Ingrid and I enjoyed a day at the Sonoran Desert Museum.  Seeing all the possibilities that the desert offers in one place is amazing.  We both took so many pictures and it is absolutely impossible to capture all the beauty with just a few pics.Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  169Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  171Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  04Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  112Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  165Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  32

We were able to reconnect with some friends that we haven’t seen in years.  Jeff and Mike worked together before Mike retired.  After Jeff retired a couple of years ago, he and Elaine built a home at The Trilogy in Peoria.  Jeff and Elaine invited us to lunch at V’s Taproom overlooking the golf course at the Trilogy.  It’s a beautiful resort type of community with a plush country club and spa.  Very nice.  It was great to get together with them again after all these years.  Plus, we’ve been offered a room with a private bath if we ever feel the need for a vacation from our permanent vacation in the RV.  Thanks guys!  Love it.

Mike, Linda, Elaine, Jeff

Mike, Linda, Elaine, Jeff

And then my friend Debbie and her husband Dan invited us to dinner at their beautiful home in Paradise Valley.  The weather was perfect for enjoying their gorgeous yard and the full moon looked amazing over the glow of the outdoor fireplace.  We love spending time with them and hope to see them again soon when we visit Prescott.Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  04Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  26Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  19Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  22

Debbie, Dan, Linda, Mike

Debbie, Dan, Linda, Mike

We’re currently in Cottonwood enduring some pretty high winds.  This is a good test for our new weather station which measures wind direction, wind speed, rain, temperature in and out, humidity, and moon phase.  It’s especially fun to be able to accurately measure the wind speed and wind direction, but I told Mike that we’re going to look like the Beverly Hillbillies if we attach any more gadgets on the RV.  We’ve got the satellite dish, TV antenna, solar panels, bike rack, and now the weather station.

The new weather station is taken inside when we are driving.

The new weather station is taken inside when we are driving.

Well, that almost brings us up to date.  We spent a few days in Wickenburg before coming to Cottonwood.  But I will wait a few days before doing another post.  Cheers!

 

 

 

Chiricahua National Monument – Arizona

Hiking this place has been on our bucket list for many years.  A long, long time ago, Mike and I loved to go off into the wilderness for days on end with only the packs on our backs.  We had always wanted to go backpacking in the Chiricahuas, but somehow never did make it down to this southeast corner of Arizona.  We’re not as tough as we used to be and don’t desire to backpack anymore.  But we do love day hiking, and the Chiricahua National Monument ranks up there as some of the best hiking EVER!  All I can say is that we will most definitely be returning to the Chiricahuas next year.  We hiked about 16 miles of these beautiful trails over 2 days, loving every minute of it.

Chiricahuas -  02

Chiricahuas -  22 Chiricahuas -  21 Chiricahuas -  20 Chiricahuas -  19Chiricahuas -  17Chiricahuas -  16Chiricahuas -  14Chiricahuas -  13Chiricahuas -  12Chiricahuas -  11Chiricahuas -  10Chiricahuas -  09Chiricahuas -  08Chiricahuas -  07Chiricahuas -  06Chiricahuas -  05Chiricahuas -  03Chiricahuas -  18

Salud!

More of Southern Arizona – Buenos Aires Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, Tucson, and Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

“You gotta be bird people!”, he said through clenched teeth.  I looked quizzically at the irritated man standing in the middle of our campsite.  It was clear that he meant it as an insult.  This strange and uncomfortable encounter occurred while we were camping at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge which borders Sonora, Mexico in Sasabe, Arizona.  Here’s the story … Primitive camping (free) is permitted in the wildlife refuge but only at 83 designated sites which are scattered throughout the 118,000 acres of grassland and mesquite groves.  Most are small sites, but there are a few that can comfortably accommodate a 40+ foot RV like ours.  We were excited to score a very large, beautiful site for our week of vegging in the wide open boondocks.

Our Fantastic Site #39 at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Our Fantastic Site #39 at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Very soon after we settled in, we noticed a number of cars and campers driving past us to the campsites further down the little dirt road.  Before long, we got a knock on the door by a group of women politely informing us that the Womens Javelina Hunting Club were coming in for the weekend.  There would be 70-100 women with guns, many of them first-timers.  “Uhh, ok.”  They would probably be stirring up a lot of dust going up and down the road in front of us.  “Ok.”  They would be meeting at the main campsite (the one closest to us just down the road) for breakfast at 4:30 a.m. before they all head out to hunt javelina.  “Ok, thanks for telling us.  No problem.  Have fun.”

It was obvious that we were occupying a premium site, right next to their hunting group’s main tent site, and they were hoping to scare us away.  She then told me that they were all sharing the many campsites along that road.  She said that people would be arriving late into the evening, would assume we were part of their group, and might set up tents in our campsite.  I told her that I would watch for such activity and that I would inform newcomers that we were not part of the group and send them on down the road.  Our conversation was very friendly, but I knew we weren’t reacting like she wanted us to.  She wanted us to be horrified at all this activity, and leave.  But we had already scoped out the entire area and we knew this was the only site that would accommodate us.  And it was a good one!  That evening, we only had one van pull in, but they left promptly when I apologized and told them we weren’t in the hunting club.

The next day is when Mr. Friendly arrived.  We had parked our car to block the entrance to our site (hint, hint).  He was in one car, and his wife in another.  They pulled around my car, driving through the brush, and parked right next to our campfire ring.  He jumped out of his car and started scoping out where he would pitch his tent.  I came out of the RV and said “Sorry!  We’re not part of your group.”  He just stared at me.  So I said “You’re with the hunting group, aren’t you?  They are just down the road a little farther.”   He paused, gave me a snarky look, and stated “This spot looks just fine to me.”

THIS is where he parked his car!

THIS is where he parked his car!

Ohhhhhh, I hate confrontation.  I just stood there with my mouth agape.  I said “You’re going to set up right on top of us?”  He squinted his eyes at me and snarled “Looks like a good spot.”  Then, suddenly his eyes got big, he threw his arms up, said “I’m outta here” and he quickly started backpedaling to his car.  His dramatic change of heart completely surprised me.  Then, I turned around and saw that Mike had come out of the RV to put a bag of trash in our car.  Mike hadn’t heard any of our conversation, did not know this guy was being a jerk, and didn’t even look in our direction.  He was merely walking the trash to the car.  It apparently scared the hell out of this guy.  Did he think I was alone?  Did he feel like Mr. Big Shot intimidating the little lady?  He shouted “You gotta be bird people!” as he jumped in his car (his wife hadn’t gotten out of hers) and both cars peeled out of our campsite.  So weird.  At first I didn’t get it.  I thought he was saying we looked like birds or something.  Mike suggested that he meant we were not hunters.  Ahhhhh, now I get it.  People come to the refuge to see the protected bird species, or to hunt the legal game.

We enjoyed the rest of our week, despite this encounter.  And the women’s group did not disturb us at all.  We did not hear any late night or early morning noise.  Their event only lasted a couple of days, then we had the whole place to ourselves again.3 Buenos Aires Natl Conservation Area Campsite 39

Hiking the Arivaca Creek Trail in Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge

Hiking the Arivaca Creek Trail in Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge

Next, it was back to civilization.  We planned 7 days of fun in Tucson.  Since many of the activities we planned were not doggie-friendly, we decided that we should pay for a hook-up site so that Lucy could have air conditioned comfort while we left her alone in the RV.  We booked a week at the Gilbert Ray Campground on the west side of Tucson.  Poor Lucy.  She couldn’t even go hiking with us there.  But, even so, we enjoyed our stay immensely.  The hiking and the sight-seeing was tons of fun.

A Beautiful Hike in Tucson Mountain Park (right from our campground!)

A Beautiful Hike to Wasson Peak in Tucson Mountain Park (right from our campground!)

A Fun Happy Hour with Al and Ingrid

A Fun Happy Hour with Al and Ingrid

We enjoyed an evening with Al and Ingrid, our friends and fellow bloggers from Live, Laugh, RV.  Ingrid prepared her very special nachos and homemade brownies.  We all pigged out (in our most eloquent manner, of course).

A Nice Sunset at Snyder Hill BLM Campground

A Nice Sunset at Snyder Hill BLM Campground

We Visited The Mission San Xavier built in 1783.  A National Historic Landmark.

We Visited The Mission San Xavier built in 1783. A National Historic Landmark.

Mission San Xavier

Mission San Xavier

Walking Around the Artistic Little Town of Tubac

Walking Around the Artistic Little Town of Tubac

We Did The Walking Tour Of The Tucson Historic District.  Very Colorful!

We Did The 2-1/2 mile Walking Tour (called the Turquoise Trail) Of The Tucson Historic District, Very Colorful!

The Old CourtHouse on the Turquoise Trail

Built in 1929, the Pima County Courthouse on the Turquoise Trail

High on our list of things to do was a return visit to the Sonoran Desert Museum.  We just love the beautiful setting, the variety of wildlife, and the Raptors in Flight demonstration where the birds fly inches over your head.  It’s so thrilling!  (We must be bird people!)

Owl Alighting

Owl Alighting (not a very clear pic, but I love it anyway)

Taking Flight

Taking Flight

In The Hummingbird Garden of the Sonora Desert Museum

In The Hummingbird Garden of the Sonora Desert Museum

We love it that Jane and Bob, our friends who split the year between their two homes in Colorado and Arizona, invited us to a great hike in Tortolita Mountain Park.  It turned out to be more than we all bargained for and we almost missed our dinner reservation!  We arrived at the Old Pueblo Grill parched, hungry, and sore.  The Grand Marnier Margaritas were the perfect medication!

Hiking the Wild Burro Trail in Tortolita Mountain Park

Hiking the Wild Burro Trail in Tortolita Mountain Park

Jane and Bob on the trail

Jane and Bob on the trail

The next day we were off to the Rodeo!

Jane and Linda at the Tucson Rodeo "Fiesta de Los Vaqueros"

Jane and Linda at the Tucson Rodeo “Fiesta de Los Vaqueros”

It Was Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  Lot of Pink Shirts on Everyone!

It Was Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  Pink Shirts on Everyone!

A Lot Of Action .. All Day!

A Lot Of Action .. All Day!

Dramatic Sunsets Almost Every Night

Dramatic Sunsets Almost Every Night.   I Call This One “The Eagle”

Our week flew by quickly.  Next up, Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area (1500 acres).  Over 20,000 Sandhill Cranes winter here and we were hoping to get there before they leave (usually by the end of February).  Not sure if the cold weather has played a role in keeping them here, but here they were!  And it was Amazing!

Camping is allowed for 3 days near the viewing platform at Whitewater Draw.

Camping is allowed for 3 days near the viewing platform at Whitewater Draw.  The viewing platforms are just a short walk away beyond the hay barn.

This Great Horned Owl Was In The Rafters Of The Hay Barn.  He Was Looking Right At Lucy!  It Was Scary!

This great horned owl was in the rafters of the hay barn. He was looking right at Lucy! It was scary!

Mike and Lucy at Whitewater Draw

Mike and Lucy at Whitewater Draw

The Sandhill Cranes spend the night standing in the shallow water.  They fly off at sunrise to go feed in the fields and return at sunset.  Usually they also return to the water in small groups for a mid-day break.  So one can view the cranes throughout the day.  However, the most dramatic viewing is sunrise and sunset when they flock in mass.  Jane’s pictures turned out better than mine, so I’m posting hers!  I tried to post a video of this, but I haven’t figured out how to do it efficiently yet.

Sandhill Cranes Flying (photo courtesy Jane Forster)

Sandhill Cranes Flying (photo courtesy my friend Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

It is not only an incredible sight to see, but the sound!  Oh my god, the sound!  Awesome experience.

Now, we’re off to explore the Chiricahuas!  Cheers!

Quartzsite, Yuma, and Why Arizona

01 Driving thru the desertWe headed out to the Arizona desert in mid-January, after our wonderful 2-1/2 month visit with family.  Our first stop was in Quartzsite for the big annual RV Rally.  The entire desert is covered in RVs.

01 Quartzsite BLM

It’s an enormous party and many RVs are clustered together in wagon circles.  You can shop til you drop, with aisle after aisle of vendors in the big tent set up for the rally, as well as acres of flea market style booths set up all over town.We walked through the big tent and bought a few little things, but we were more in the mood to just veg out in the desert.

02 Quartzsite Dome Rock BLM

We haven’t been living in the RV since Oct. 31, so we enjoyed just getting back into the lifestyle.  The only social contact we had was with Brenda and Hector of Island Girl Walkabout blog.  We were very much looking forward to getting to know them better after meeting them briefly last year.  We got together a couple of times over the weekend and we had such a great time!  I wish I’d taken some pictures!  Here is a picture of the 4 of us out to dinner that I snagged off of their blog.  They are so much fun and we can’t wait to meet up with them again.  Hector is an AMAZING photographer.  If you’ve never seen their blog, you should check it out.

Hector and Brenda

 

We headed down to Yuma to checkout the boondocking on BLM land off of Ogilby Road that Nina of Wheeling It blog wrote about.  We were out in the middle of wide open nowhere and we loved it.

03 Yuma Ogilby Road BLM-51We vegged out some more, hiked a little bit, enjoyed a few happy hour campfires, and got to watch our favorite TV shows.  Yep, you heard that right.  We caved in and signed up for Direct TV.  So now it doesn’t matter how far off the grid we camp, we can still watch the morning news shows with our coffee, and never miss another episode of Big Bang Theory.  AND we absolutely love our new solar panels which generate enough power to let us enjoy not having to worry about running the generator at all.

03 Yuma Ogilby Road BLM-2805 Yuma-Ogilby Rd BLM-American Girl Mine-4106 Yuma Ogilby Road BLM-34Lucy says “Let’s go for a nice long hike to the American Girl Mine Pit.  I’ve got my red boots on and I’m ready to go!”

07 Yuma Ogilby Road BLM-5008 Yuma Ogilby Road BLM-4909 Yuma-Ogilby Rd BLM-American Girl Mine-09

Yuma-Ogilby Rd BLM-American Girl Mine-18We spent a week on Ogilby Road, then went in to one of the RV Resorts in Yuma for 3 days (for free).  They were giving out coupons for this resort when we were walking through the big tent in Quartzsite.  No strings attached.  It was great!  It gave us the opportunity to leave Lucy in an air conditioned RV while we made a day trip over to Los Algodones, Mexico, to do a little shopping.  With a full hook-up site, I was able to do all my laundry and also take nice long showers.  We had Royal Flush come out and give our black tank a proper cleaning.  Then Papi and crew showed up to wash our car and RV for $45.  So we were all clean and shiny and ready to head back out to the dusty wilderness.

Next stop, Why, in southern Arizona.  This was another free BLM site we found on the Wheeling It blog.

23 Why BLM Campsite-02

The town of Why is a little blip on the map, but the nearby town of Ajo actually has some interesting touring.  We took a drive out to the old copper mine pit which was what supported this entire town for over 100 years.

12 Ajo Copper Mine Town-12

Every single ring of this pit had railroad track on it when it was operational.  We heard a lot of interesting stories from the curator of the Copper Mine Museum, an old fella that worked in the pit for many years.

13 Ajo Copper Mine Town-14

11Ajo Copper Mine Town-09

I couldn’t believe our luck that we were in town for the Annual Old Time Fiddlers Contest!  And it wasn’t just a local thing.  I heard introductions of Contestants that came from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado.  I’m sure there were other states represented, but those were just some of the ones I remember.  We heard amazing fiddling from young and old, men and women.  The oldest fiddler was 89 years old!  and good!  I got some great video.

17 Old Time Fiddlers Contest-10

14 Old Time Fiddlers Contest-0915 Old Time Fiddlers Contest-0216 Old Time Fiddlers Contest-12

We were camped only a couple of miles from the entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  We drove 20 miles through the park to the Visitor Center, then hiked to the Twin Peaks campground.  Then we drove the scenic 21-mile dirt road around the Diablo Mtns.  It was so beautiful.  We picked up the scenic drive guide and stopped at each numbered pull-out to read the paragraph about what we were seeing. 28 cactus species live here in the monument.  I am now a cactus expert.

This is an Organ Pipe Cactus…18 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument-Canon-26

19 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument-Canon-1420 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument-Canon-31

We brought a picnic lunch and stopped at this ramada to devour it.  It was a perfect day.21 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument-Canon-16I don’t know how he does it.  Ouch!22 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument-24

We enjoyed our visit to Why and now we’re ready to move on.10 Why AZ BLM campsite-06

 

Cheers!

On The Road Again After A Wonderful 2 1/2 Months With Family

Oh my gosh, I have to learn how to live in an RV all over again!  We have been completely pampered and spoiled for over two months at our daughter Kimberly’s house.  We’ve been there since Halloween!  So fair warning … This update will be the epitome of a proud grandmother’s photo album.   In addition to scheduling all of our annual appointments (of which there were many), our days were filled with family gatherings, grandkids’ sporting events, and just hanging out with the family.  It’s mostly pictures folks, mostly pictures.

As hard as we tried, with all the crazy work schedules (Lance is a firefighter captain and Sean is a police officer), we never got all the kids and grandkids together at the same time for our annual picture.  This one is as close as we got.  It’s missing Sean’s wife, Keni, who was sick that day.  She’s an elementary school teacher, so we can guess where she picked up some bug!

Kids and Grandkids (sans Keni)

Kids and Grandkids (missing Keni)

Here’s a family gathering at Sean’s house for Mike’s 67th birthday.  Mike’s sister Diane and husband Glen are included, but Lance had to work that day.  Oh weird, I’m wearing the same shirt.  Doh.

Mike's 67th Birthday Party (missing Lance)

Mike’s 67th Birthday Party (missing Lance)

This next picture is Thanksgiving Day at Kimberly’s with Lance’s family.

Thanksgiving Day with Austins

Thanksgiving Day

And, we’re all goofy, so we like to do the silly pose, too!

Family Papa Bday silly

Family Thanksgiving silly

This picture includes our eldest grandson Blake’s girlfriend, Holly.

The Family With Blake's girlfriend Holly

The Family With Blake’s girlfriend Holly

Our Christmas Card

Our Christmas Card

We failed to reach out and make dates with many of our wonderful friends and for that we are truly bummed.  We have a list of people we love and promised ourselves we would contact each one, but we let time get away.  Fortunately, we did get to see several of our besties!

Our friends for over 20 years and former next door neighbors, Larry and Mary, came to LA for business so we met for dinner at Duke’s in Malibu.  We really miss hanging out with these two.

Dinner with Larry and Mary at Duke's Malibu

Dinner with Larry and Mary at Duke’s Malibu

Ray came up from San Diego, so we got to have lunch with him and Mikey.

Lunch with Ray and Mikey

Lunch with Ray and Mikey at a brewery in Burbank

I’m so happy we connected with Connie and Lew and revisited our old hangout in Ventura Harbor.  A fun day and it went by too fast!

Ventura Harbor - We Kept Our Power Boat Here Before We Switched To A Sailboat

Ventura Harbor – We Kept Our Power Boat Here Before We Switched To A Sailboat

Connie and Lew

Connie and Lew

Celebrating All Of Our Wedding Anniversaries at Geoffrey's in Malibu

Celebrating All Of Our Wedding Anniversaries at Geoffrey’s in Malibu

Blake's girlfriend Holly is a dancer.  We attended one of her performances in Thousand Oaks.

Blake’s girlfriend Holly is a dancer. We attended one of her performances in Thousand Oaks.

Blake got his Driver's License.   Our car was borrowed a lot!

Blake got his Driver’s License. Our car was borrowed a lot!

Garrett Takes A Selfie With Mom After Getting His Braces Off

Garrett (14) Takes A Selfie With Mom After Getting His Braces Off

Linda Learns To Navigate The New Computer She Got For Christmas

Linda Learns To Navigate The New Computer She Got For Christmas

Papa Juggles Kailyn and Brady

Papa Juggles Kailyn and Brady

Paige and Papa play word games all the time.  He just can’t believe how fast she is!

Paige and Papa word games 3Paige and Papa word games 4Paige and Papa word games 5Paige and Papa word gamesPaige and Papa word games 2

 

Taking The Little Ones Out For Ice Cream Is Always High On The List

Taking The Little Ones Out For Ice Cream Is Always High On The List

We Got Some Exercise By Walking The Dogs Everyday

We Got Some Exercise By Walking The Dogs Everyday

But most of all, it was sports!  All of our kids are involved in at least one sport (Paige does several).  I love it!  I mostly take video of their events, but I managed to get a couple of stills for my blog update.  Lucky you.

Blake plays Varsity Soccer at Moorpark High School

Blake plays Varsity Soccer at Moorpark High School

Header

Header

Garrett Plays Baseball.  He is a freshman at Moorpark High School

Garrett Plays Baseball. He is a freshman at Moorpark High School

Garrett

Garrett

Paige plays soccer

Paige plays soccer

Posing With Her Soccer Besties After Winning a Tournament

Paige Posing With Her Soccer Besties After Winning a Tournament

Paige also plays Softball

Paige also plays Softball

AND she ran less than 7 minute miles in a charity 5k

AND she ran less than 7 minute miles in a charity 5k

Kailyn is our competitive swimmer.  She swims with the Canyons Aquatics Club

Kailyn is our competitive swimmer. She swims with the Canyons Aquatics Club

Thumb wrestling with Papa between races

Thumb wrestling with Papa between races

Happy With Her Race Results!

Happy With Her Race Results!

Brady (6) started Flag Football this year.

Brady (6) started Flag Football this year.  Here he is going for the touchdown!

After The Big Game With Brady

After The Big Game With Brady

When Kimberly isn't attending one of the kids games .....

Paige, Kimberly and I in the stands

In addition to all her kids games, she plays on a co-ed adult team

In addition to all her kids games, Kimberly plays on a co-ed adult team

Kimberly and Paige heading out to a 'boot camp' workout!

Kimberly and Paige heading out to a ‘boot camp’ workout!

As Mike and I were heading out the door to Quartzsite, Kimberly and Paige were heading out to boot camp.  And now I’m going back to eating less and working out more.  Mike and I both gained weight during our visit.  With a house full of kids, there were just too many good things to eat.  My resistance is low around all that temptation.  Sigh.

Thank you Kimberly and Lance.  Not only did you welcome us to live with you for months but you fed us, pampered us, loved us and catered to our every whim.  Love you like crazy!  We love and miss our entire family and can’t wait to see everyone on vacation this summer.

Anyway, here we are in Quartzsite, getting our sea legs back (or whatever you call it in an RV).  We’ll spend a few days here and then head down to Yuma.  We’re still putting our travel plan for this year together.  Cheers!

 

 

The Month of Many Lakes – Oregon-Nevada-California

Our fond memories of Ashland, Oregon, from our first year of full-timing in the RV in 2012 compelled us to return to this cute little town.  The Shakespeare Festival gave us even more reason to spend a few days here.  I clearly remember (and that’s not something that happens frequently!) how much we absolutely loved Ashland.  We even thought it might be someplace we could live permanently.  It had a special ‘vibe’.  But, I think that now that we are in our third year on the road, and I’ve seen so many wonderful, adorable, cute little towns that Ashland is now just one more.

We spent the first few days at Emigrant Lake.  The weather was very nice albeit a bit chilly in the morning.  I must say we are enjoying our solar panels immensely.  The lake, however, has a depressingly low water level.  And the ground is so thick with stickers that Lucy couldn’t go outside.  And then we couldn’t get tickets to the plays we wanted to see.

No water in Emigrant Lake, Oregon

No water in Emigrant Lake, Oregon

We got up early (early for us anyway) to go to the Farmers Market in Ashland.  Everything was fresh, organic and yummy, as expected!

Farmers Market

Farmers Market – We bought some of that organic raspberry jam

Farmers Market

Farmers Market – We bought lots of great produce

Farmers Market - You KNOW we bought some of these morsels!

Farmers Market – You KNOW we bought some of these morsels!

As we sipped our coffee and devoured our baked goodies, we noticed these gentlemen wearing tin foil covered helmets.

Tin foil helmets

Tin foil helmets

Then we noticed the additional protestors across the street who were worried about the government doing bad things to them.

A5 2014 Sept - Ashland - protestors

A7 2014 Sept - Ashland OR pirate protestor

I’m not trying to start a political debate here.  Just found it amusing.  Time to move on.

On the road south, Mt. Shasta in the clouds.

On the road south, Mt. Shasta in the clouds.

We made a long drive down to Lake Mead, Nevada to meet up with our friends Ingrid and Al (LiveLaughRV.net).  They were interested in buying the love seat/jack knife bed that we replaced with my new desk.  So we delivered it to them.  Hey, anything for a party!

View from our BLM campsite on Government Wash Road at Lake Mead, Nevada

View from our BLM campsite on Government Wash Road at Lake Mead, Nevada

Water levels are low at Lake Mead, too!

Water levels are low at Lake Mead, too!

Ingrid and I had a good laugh when we both showed up with the same tee shirt on!  We both had fallen in love with Moab Utah last year and ended up buying the same Moab tee shirt.  Birds of a feather….

Ingrid and I bought the same tee shirts when we were in Moab Utah last year!

Ingrid and I bought the same tee shirts when we were in Moab Utah last year!

Here is Mike and Al solving the problems of the world again.  You’d think they would have it all worked out by now.  Pictures are courtesy of Ingrid’s blog.

04 lakemead-069

05 lakemead-163

Time was running out for Mike and I to spend some time up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along Highway 395.  So we headed up to June Lake in the hopes of seeing the display of fall colors.  And we timed it perfectly!

View from our campsite #36 in Oh! Ridge Forest Service Campground on June Lake

View from our campsite #36 in Oh! Ridge Forest Service Campground on June Lake

Daily visitors

Daily visitors

08 2014 Oct - June Lake - P1010483 Deer in camp

09 2014 Oct - June Lake - IMG_0515

The weather was PERFECT!  About 80 degrees, perfectly clear sky, very gentle breeze, perfect in every way.  We took a hike up a mountain trail that gave us a great view of June Lake and Gull Lake.  It was quite a climb!  The thin air made it even more difficult.  Thought we were going to die.

View of Gull Lake from the Yost Meadows Trail

View of Gull Lake from the Yost Meadows Trail

View of June Lake from the Yost Meadows Trail

View of June Lake from the Yost Meadows Trail

There are so many interesting things to see and do in this area, that it is difficult to choose.  We had heard about a few fascinating attractions that we just had to see for ourselves.  The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve was established in 1981 to preserve the limestone “tufa tower” formations.  Did you know this lake is over 1 million years old?  The towers are formed as the calcium-rich springs flow up from the lake bottom.  The calcium bonds to carbonates in the water to form a type of limestone, which then builds on itself to create these towers.  As the water level of Mono Lake decreased, the towers were exposed and, of course, stopped growing.  It’s amazing (and sad) to realize how much water is gone from Mono Lake.  But the tufa towers were awesome to see.

South Tufa's - Mono Lake

South Tufa’s – Mono Lake

All of this used to be under water.

All of this used to be under water.

Mike was hungry and ready to find the place that makes the lobster taquitos that everyone raves about.  We found it in Lee Vining behind the Mobil Gas Station.  The lobster taquitos came with spicy black beans, a mango salad and broccoli slaw.  We also got a plate of their carnitas.  It was quite good!

Lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining

Lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining – Carnitas Tacos and Lobster Taquitos

With full bellies, we drove up to see the ghost town of Bodie, which became a State Historic Park in 1962.  It is now maintained in a state of “arrested decay”.  It was a wicked and lawless town where “killings occurred with monotonous regularity”.  In 1879, Bodie had a population of 10,000 people and 65 saloons.  It was described as “a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion”.  I love the “arrested decay” style of preservation.  Like it is frozen in time.  What’s left of it anyway.  You can wander around the empty streets and peak in the windows of houses and buildings and see the things that were left behind.  It was surreal.

Bodie - State Historic Park

Bodie – State Historic Park

A ghost town now

A ghost town now

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The school house

The school house

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The drive up to Bodie was beautiful, too!

Fall colors all around!

Fall colors all around!

16 2014 Oct - Bodie - IMG_036377

 

Devils Postpile in the Ansel Adams Wilderness is another National Monument that we wanted to see.  The column formations were formed from basalt lava which flowed here 82,000 years ago and fractured by a glacier passing through about 20,000 years ago.  Subsequent earthquakes felled many columns that now lie fragmented below the postpile.

Devils Postpile

Devils Postpile

Oh, the forces of nature!

Oh, the forces of nature!

We continued hiking past Devils Postpile to the 101 foot Rainbow Falls.  Then we took the 95 steps to the bottom of the falls for a better view (and enjoyed a picnic lunch down there).

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

23 2014 Oct - Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls Hike - IMG_0527

The hiking opportunities in the Mono Lake Ranger District are endless.  We enjoyed as many as we could and we will definitely return to this area again for more.  The hike to Parker Lake required a 2-mile drive on a bumpy dirt road to get to the trailhead, but it was worth it.

Parker Lake Trail

Parker Lake Trail

Arriving at the beautiful Parker Lake - 4 miles roundtrip

Arriving at the beautiful Parker Lake – 4 miles roundtrip

Now we were ready to take on a more difficult hike.  We knew we just HAD to complete the highly recommended 8-mile hike through the Virginia Lakes.  Again, we had perfect weather.  And again, we were gasping for air when we got to the steep climbing part at the summit.  Wow, this thin air really makes a difference!  But, I’ll tell you this was an amazing hike.  It ranks right up there with the best of the best in terms of beauty.

Driving to the Virginia Lakes trailhead

Driving to the Virginia Lakes trailhead

This hike rewarded us with beautiful lake after lake along the trail.

This hike rewarded us with beautiful lake after lake along the trail.

We're climbing now.

We’re climbing now.

Rock scrambling is required to reach the summit at over 11,000 feet!

Rock scrambling is required to reach the summit at over 11,000 feet!

The view from the top!

The view from the top!  The trail passed all of those lakes.

With our endorphines generating at maximum output, the return hike was a breeze.

With our endorphines generating at maximum output, the return hike was a breeze.

Enjoying lunch and the beautiful view.

Enjoying lunch and the beautiful view.

Breakfast at the popular Silver Lake Resort Cafe on the June Lake Loop was a great way to begin the celebration of our 23rd wedding anniversary, and a great way to wrap up our visit to June Lake.  Everything was perfect!

Celebrating our 23rd Wedding Anniversary at June Lake

Celebrating our 23rd Wedding Anniversary at June Lake

Cheers!

The Oregon Coast

We got lucky … the weather was perfect on the central Oregon coast!  We had a couple of weeks to kill while our new office desk was being built at Elite RV in Harrisburg, Oregon.  So we headed to the coast to explore Florence, Waldport and Newport.  We dry-camped at casinos and marinas (because we can now that we have solar).

1 Lucy poses on the beach

6 Lucy and Mike on beach

2 Lucy in the air at beach

3 Lucy wants to be carried

8 Lucy runs up dune

9 mike and lucy

14 lucy on beach

We sighted whales several times from the various look-out points.  We even took a whale-watching boat trip.

Whale 1

whale 2

Whale 3

So excited to get the tail even though this one was so far away.  I was on the shore.

So excited to get the tail even though this one was so far away. I was on the shore.

This whale is named Scar and she is with her baby

This whale is named Scar and she is with her baby

Scar and Baby

Scar and Baby

The whale's head

The whale’s head

We camped at the Newport Marina for a few days during the harvest moon.

Harvest Moon over Newport Harbor

Harvest Moon over Newport Harbor

Yaquina Bay Bridge with Newport Marina in background

Yaquina Bay Bridge with Newport Marina in background

When the fog rolls in...

When the fog rolls in…

Many of the buildings in Newport have murals painted on the sides.  Here are just a few.

Mural 1 Mural 3 Mural 2

 

We got in some farmers markets, seafood eating, hiking, shopping, touring and just enjoying the beauty of this little slice of heaven.

Lighthouse 3 Lighthouse 2 Heceta Bay Lighthouse

 

Hiking Cape Perpetua

Hiking Cape Perpetua

Beachtown 3 Mike and Lucy at pier in Florence OR

Campsite Bird Coast Sand Birds Coast 8 Coast 7 Coast 6 Coast 5 Coast 3 Coast 2 Coast 1

Our campsite at the Marina in Waldport

Our campsite at the Marina in Waldport (near Florence)

Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest remain on our travel plans for the future.  We will be back!