Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Solitude of the Desert-Anza Borrego

It was Feb 11th when I was  playing catch up on my blog from the comfort of my friend’s living room in Palm Springs

Three of the many iron sculptures in Galleta Meadows, that we passed on our way to Anza Borrego Campground

 I just thought I should let you know- while we were at Anza Borrego  on February 9th we had no cell phone service anywhere in  the desert..  So my plan on calling to check if there were any electric hook up sites went out the window.  When we arrived it turned out the only sites available were non electric.  We only planned on staying one night since we had information on boondocking in this area.  We just wanted to check out the campground and be on our way.  We were surprised at how crowded the campground was with folks from California-we expected crowds-but more like snowbirds !  It was noisy most of the night but we enjoyed the beauty of the desert and knew we would be heading out to a quieter spot the next day.  We stayed at the Palm Canyon campground –it’s really pretty-sets in the canyon at the base of the mountains.  While it was in the 70’s during the day a nice breeze off the mountains made it bearable.

The Roadrunner who greeted us as we pulled into our campsite

You can't see it in the picture-but there were 2 very large families camping directly behind and adjacent to us-ahhh so much for the solitude of the desert !

We stopped at the visitor center the next day and Liz, the volunteer there gave us so much incredibly wonderful information about boon docking sites we couldn’t wait to get going.  As we were traveling the highway we were keeping our eyes peeled for mile marker signs for slot canyons that she told us to look for-somehow we missed them. (Probably while munching on our Oreos ! )

 We did see the sign for Coach whip Canyon which she had told us was a really nice hike.  We looked at the sandy road into the canyon, got out tested it and decided Ruby could handle it.  It was pretty well packed sand as long as you stayed where others had driven before.  We got about a mile ½ into the canyon and decided this was the perfect place to boondock.  We pulled off the main road just a little and set up camp.

No one else was back here-we had the entire canyon to ourselves-now this was our idea of desert camping.  We were surrounded by mountains and hills and had a great strong breeze cooling us off.  Hailey was a little confused-she’s never been in the desert before and was bewildered by all the sand and no ocean !  Once she got used to it she was occupied with all the new smells.


I had to get hold of my friends in Palm Springs to confirm we were coming but I was too deep in the canyon to get a signal on my phone.  So I climbed one of the rocky outcrops got a signal that kept cutting in and out and was able to let my friends know of our plans.

Once that call was made the phone was turned off and we sat back to enjoy our time in the desert.
I cooked up a little pork and chili verde along with black beans and rice-it was a perfect evening. We listened to the wind blowing thru the trees and watched the moon rise over the rocks.  Now this is boon docking!

Our hikes we took while here took us into a couple of slot canyons-in one a little Kit Fox went clambering over the rocks when he spotted us. We ran into a small group of hikers the next day,but other than them we never saw or heard anyone else.

The wind really picked up at night and it was mesmerizing to listen to it blow through the trees.  I woke up about 3 in the morning just in time to see a shooting star streaking over the rock I been on earlier in the day-what perfect timing.
I’m sorry to say we couldn't stay longer-but I had to be in Palm Springs to pick up a new phone being FedEx’d to me.  We took off late in the morning after another hike up the canyon-both hating to leave and both vowing to return again-soon, very soon.

 Birds at the Salton Sea

We made a detour to the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge at the Salton Sea-the sandhill cranes were supposed to be there now but we didn’t see them.  We did see lots of snow geese,egrets and some quail hanging around the visitor center.  I was a little shell shocked to discover this sweet little refuge is surrounded by California energy plants spewing something into the atmosphere.

We then headed on to a place I've wanted to visit for a while-Salvation Mountain in Niland, California.

 Leonard Knight landed there in 1984 and since then he’s been busy building his adobe mountain and tribute to God and Love.  It sits at the entrance to Slab City (a truly alternative life style).

 Leonard isn’t living there any longer due to health problems but his Salvation Mountain is being maintained lovingly by volunteers.  It might not be your cup of tea, but being an artist I loved seeing and feeling Leonard’s spirit in this place.  I’m glad someone is maintaining it-would hate to see this little slice of America Folk Art disappear.

 Just a brief view of Slab City-I didn't want to infringe on their privacy by taking pictures in their village

From Salvation Mountain and Slab City we turned towards Palm Springs.  We ended up staying at our friends place until the phone is delivered and some other things we ordered from Amazon.  Probably be leaving Palm Springs Wednesday or Thursday .  Haven’t figured out our next destination yet-all we know is that we need to be in Abbeville,LA on February 27th. By the time I'm posting this we discovered our next destination from Palm Springs-Joshua Tree National Monument.

By the way if you are ever in Palm Springs-stop at Lulu and sit at the bar (something we totally spaced)-Happy Hour practically all day and food and martinis half price.  Great food too-we had the Kobe Burgers-yum yum.

Happy Trails, good adventures and lots of magical journeys to all of you.

Silver Strand Beach State Park-Sunny Coronado California

Hello Happy Campers-we've arrived in San Diego-land of sunshine and crazy drivers –sorry to my California friends. We are on our way to Silver Strand State Beach on Coronado Island, just south of the infamous Coronado Hotel.  I’m having those lovely visions of beach camping, a glowing campfire at night, playing with Hailey at on the beach-you get the picture.  

Well unfortunately most of this is not going to happen.  Too many rules for us.  If you check in before 2pm you have to pay the day use fee along with the campground fee ($65 per day unless you have a discount pass).  Once you check in you have to be back to the campground before 7pm or you are locked out (that changes with the time of year but there is always a curfew).  No dogs on the beach-none, nada, not even on a leash-they are only allowed in the asphalt parking lot. No fires on the beach-only in your own fire rings-which you have brought with you in your class A big rig-because those are about the only folks who camp here.

Unlocking the gate so we can escape !

And you must be self-contained.  There are showers here and a sani dump.  The campground hosts are very nice.  But if you try to leave before 8am you will sit in a line until they unlock the gates to release you-seriously I’m not kidding. We used our prison-oops-campground as a base to explore San Diego and spent very little time at the campground.

We ventured out to Old Town.  Jim has never been to San Diego and I've promised to bring him back to explore even more of this beautiful city.  We had lunch at the Café Coyote-can you say stuffed to the gills and operating under the influence of their famous margaritas?

We met the best shopkeeper ever-Susan at the Mermaid Cove-I wanted to buy everything I saw in her shop-very reasonable and such beautiful gifts. My friend Linda would go crazy in this shop devoted to mermaids!  Jim my bookkeeper, kept me under control!   I did buy a “few” gifts for the condo !  I’m sure my brother in law Jorge is wondering where I’m putting everything in Ruby- we are just about filled to capacity.   For the rest of our visit we wandered through Old Town just enjoying the day and people watching.

Wild man before the haircut !

We discovered there is one place where dogs can be dogs and run like crazy on the beach.  It’s a beach just behind the Coronado Hotel all the way north along Dana Harbor Dr until you come to the Naval base entrance.  Hailey loved it-she ran and swam until she was ready to drop and then we headed back to the prison-er campground.

Doggie Beach 

Beautiful Coronado Hotel

Silver Strand State Beach is a great location if you want to sight see around Coronado or San Diego.  There is a little underground tunnel that takes you to the other side of the highway and you can catch a bus to take you into the city of San Diego or up to Coronado with all its cool little shops and restaurants. One of those little shops held me hostage for about an hour-LOL.  Called “Charisma”, it was a sweet little gift shop carrying all sorts of things that were just begging to be taken back to the condo.  Of course I couldn't disappoint-but I watched my pocketbook-I’m almost at the limit for the “condo gift budget”, and we still have all those cute little coastal shops to hit once we get to Alabama and Florida.  Guess I’ll have to get a job !

Well we are off to the desert -saying good bye to the beautiful Pacific Ocean-but only for now-we will return again.  Heading off to Palm Springs -need a house to have my new phone delivered to and my friends David & Sal were kind enough to welcome us to use their place.

Happy Trails, I wish sunshine and blue skies for all of you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mission San Juan Capistrano

We were kicking ourselves for not buying the bikes we wanted before we left Seattle.  Especially once we stopped at Doheny Beach.  San Juan Capistrano was only a 3-5 mile bike ride away on a beautiful bike trail.  Oh well, after we checked out of camp and had breakfast  at RJ's we drove to the Mission.

I was at the Mission when I was about 12 years old , many many moons ago.  Jim had never been here and he really enjoyed our visit. The swallows weren't there yet,not until March.  We were fortunate though -we beat 2 busloads of school children into the Mission !  Even with the school children this was such a peaceful and wonderful way to start the day.  These kind of places are always very spiritual for both of us and put us in a very good state of mind.

Enjoy the rest of the Scenes from The Mission at San Juan Capistrano-Happy Trails and peace to all of you.