Friday, April 21, 2017

A Short Month


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Hard to believe our 28 night stay at Jojoba Hills has already come and gone. It was a fun month hanging out with good friends, and we had just about perfect weather.  Above are a couple of cacti found in the park, and below are Tommy (age 33) and Tammy (age 70), desert tortoises that belong to one of the members. Tommy loves eating roses out of your hand.


Besides pickleball, working out, a few more hikes, and socializing, Jim also has been setting up the new Asus computer which we bought last week. One of the hinges broke on our two and a half year old Dell, and after much research Jim realized trying to repair it was beyond his skill level.  It is still opening and closing, but from what he read this is not an uncommon problem, and eventually gets to the point where it gets stuck and the lid will not move. So he decided just to get a new one before that happens, and once he gets everything transferred over he will try taking apart the Dell to determine exactly what parts need to be ordered so he can attempt to fix it for a backup.

One day we hiked a few miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail just west of Warner Springs, CA.


It wasn’t the most scenic part of the trail we’ve hiked, but it was a good test for Terry and LuAnn, who were both wearing new hiking boots. We saw a few people out on the trail, one group of three who are attempting to thru-hike the entire 2,650 mile trail. It starts at the Mexican border near Campo, CA and ends in Washington at the Canadian border. They have a long way to go.




Our big wildlife sighting of the day was this tarantula hawk, a type of wasp with a sting that is said to be the most painful of any insect found in North America. Hope to never find out what that feels like.


Another day we took a drive 25 miles north to Hemet, home of friends George and Tina, whom we camped with in Idaho this past August. They took us on a lovely 7 mile hike from their house through the maze of trails in Simpson Park, joined of course by dogs Jessie and Jax. Jessie the border collie lives for hiking.


Jax, a long haired dachshund, was more interested in finding a cool spot in the shade.






We really enjoyed this hike, with quite a few flowers still blooming, and great views all around of the San Jacinto Valley and the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains.


To the left is Diamond Valley Lake, one of the largest reservoirs in southern California.



And Mount San Gorgino, at 11,500’ is the highest peak in southern California. It’s somewhere over there covered in snow.


On our last day we did one more hike with Terry and LuAnn, this time on the nearby Dripping Springs trail, which we’ve done before. It makes a 20 mile loop with the Wild Horse trail, but that’s a bit too long so we just went out a few miles and turned back. After crossing a creek, it’s a gradual uphill along switchbacks, with more good views.



Looking down over Vail Lake.









Although we don’t normally drive that far in one day, yesterday we traveled 300 miles to Glendale, on the west side of Phoenix, to get our propane leak checked out by D&R Family RV, the place that installed the propane line for our Kozy World heater back in 2010. Spent the night in their gated yard, and as I write this the tech has discovered two loose fittings. Now Jim has him working on wiring one of the 12 volt outlets on our dash so it runs off the house batteries instead of the engine battery. When we get finished here we’ll head back to McDowell Mountain for a week or so.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Day at the Coast



Thanks to Jim ordering a pair of shoes from REI that were too small, and not wanting to have to mail them back, we decided to drive 57 miles to the REI store in Encinitas so he could return them. Terry and LuAnn decided to join us, so we made it a day of shopping, lunch and a walk.


We love the Pacific coast, and this was our first visit to Encinitas, named by National Geographic as one of the 20 best surf towns in the world.  The surf was not very high that day but we did see some surfers out there.


By the time we got done shopping, with Terry buying hiking boots at REI, and Jim buying court shoes at Seaside Rackets, (sadly, nothing for the girls) it was time for lunch. Terry and LuAnn had camp hosted at nearby San Elijo State Beach, so they are familiar with the area and recommended the Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar, on Hwy 101, the main street of eclectic downtown Encinitas.. It was a great choice, as they have a large number of vegetarian and vegan items on the menu, and everything we had was excellent.

From there we walked a few blocks to the meditation gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship. Encinitas is known as the "Flower Capital of the World" because of its extensive collection of unique nurseries and gardens, and is also the world's leading grower of poinsettias.



What a beautiful, peaceful place.


And I got to pet a cat.


Lovely koi ponds.


Hope they aren’t lunch for the cat.


The flowers were just gorgeous.

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As were the views of the Pacific.



After seeing the coast from above, we walked another couple of blocks to a park with access to the beach down a steep set of stairs. That’s Jim at the top responding to a text message.


View from the stairs.


We spotted these two guys working on shoring up the bluffs. It looked like tedious work having to do it while hanging on a harness.



I heard a man telling his two young grandsons that when he was a teenager they would come and go to the beach on this set of now closed old stairs.


A little glimpse of some high dollar real estate on top of the bluffs.



Except for some traffic slowdowns on the way home, as by the time we left it was nearing rush hour, it was a very pleasant day. We really liked what we saw of Encinitas and would like to go back and spend more time there.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Happenings at Jojoba


All is well at Jojoba Hills here in southern California. We’ve been playing pickleball most mornings, doing some strength training in the fitness room, and also getting in a couple of nice hikes. Terry and LuAnn have been most hospitable, and we’ve also visited with some Lazy Daze friends who are members here, Andrea, John and Linda, and Pete and Frederika. John helped Jim diagnose a possible propane leak, which seems to be coming from our Kozy World heater. No more propane smell since we disconnected it, but it’s something that still needs to be checked out. I also visited with Judy, former writer of the the blog Travels With Emma, whom many of you know. She seems happy here in her retirement from wildlife refuge volunteering.

We spent four nights down in the boondocking area then moved up the hill to a real site, a pleasant lot with nice shade.


John and Linda have a beautiful view from their site by one of the ponds.


One day we took a 40 plus mile drive to Escondido for a hike to the top of Bernardo Mountain, 7.5 miles round trip with close to a thousand feet of climbing. It wasn’t too bad except for a few steep spots, but it warmed to the low 80s before we got done, and then we missed a turn coming back down. Luckily we were using the BackCountry Navigator app on our phones and found our way to the car. On the way home we stopped for a very late lunch at an interesting restaurant, The Yellow Deli, located in rural Valley Center, in the middle of nowhere. I failed to take photos but we sat outside by their pleasant gardens.

The first mile of the trail is paved and runs beside I-15, then passes under the interstate. Terry and I were in speed walking mode to hurry and get away from the traffic noise.


Soon we were on a dirt trail passing by Lake Hodges and the longest stressed ribbon bridge in the world.


A few wildlife sightings.




Flowers were plentiful.




The trail goes by some very nice houses.


We even had a little shade and a stream crossing.



Nice views on the way up.





Jim, Terry and LuAnn at the summit, happy that it would be all downhill from here.


Another day we hiked in the Beauty Mountain Wilderness Study Area, about 13 miles from Jojoba Hills. LuAnn’s friend Jane and her cute border collie Pippa joined us for a 5 mile loop hike. There are lots of trails in that area and we’d like to go back and do a different loop another time.

Lots of nice rocks and the flowers were even better than at Bernardo Mountain.








We took the Culp cut-off, but maybe next time we’ll do the Tule Peak.


Looking down into Culp Valley.



I learned a new tree, the redshank or ribbonwood, and it’s pretty obvious where both names come from.


Jane and pretty Pippa.


Although Pippa just wanted us to hike or throw a stick, she was very patient and well behaved when we stopped.


Happy hikers Terry, LuAnn, Gayle,  Pippa and Jane. A good day on the trails.


We have more hiking planned, a day trip to the coast, and of course pickleball. Yesterday I did my first Zumba class, a great workout but it just confirmed how uncoordinated I am. The pool and hot tub felt really good after. I think we’ll give Tai Chi a try tomorrow for something different. Jim’s getting burned out on hiking so it’s been nice having some other alternatives.