April 19, 2004

Arizona – Williams, Flagstaff, Sedona

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 9:33 am by diandy2004

We’ve been debating our schedule now for awhile. We were considering shooting for the Grand Canyon, but the weather has been sketchy. We’ve been off and on on a daily- ,and even an hourly-basis at times. We decided to make a go for it. We drove from 29 Palms, CA to Williams, AZ in one day – 300 miles, 6 hours driving. Believe me, it was harder as a passenger then for Andy as the driver!  This was one of our rare, long driving days. Our initial goal was Kingman, but then time and weather allowed us to keep driving and driving, so we took advantage of it.

Main Street in Williams, AZ is right on ole’ Route 66 with old historic shops and restaurants.

We stopped in Flagstaff before driving on to Sedona (prior to visiting the Grand Canyon). We thought Flagstaff was adorable – quaint old city feel, with a young attitude. Lots of adventure/outdoors shops and funky cafes.  We needed to stop in order to get Andy’s backpack from Babbit’s.

Since it wasn’t going to be a long drive, and we had to stop in Flagstaff, we just kept the RV and toad detached.  Sometimes the convenience of two smaller vehicles makes up for the lonelier drive.  Good thing we did, too.  I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate the Sedona switchbacks with a tow making us 49′ in length.  It just so happened to be my driving day (for the RV) – whew!  I wish I could’ve enjoyed that view more…it was such a beautiful drive into Sedona, but it was too hard to sightsee while taking those s-turns.

Sedona is a classy, artistic and touristy town. The National Forest and the Red Rocks that surround the city of Sedona are stunning. You have views from every restaurant, shop, and home practically.  Our first stop after setting up camp was to visit the Oak Creek Microbrewery.  We sat upstairs on the second-floor deck soaking in the incredible views.

Andy at Oak Creek

Andy at Oak Creek

The hiking has been fantastic here. We hiked Huckaby Trail along Oak Creek one day.

Hiking Huckaby Trail

Hiking Huckaby Trail

Another day we made a loop hike by connecting Soldier’s Pass to Brinn’s Mesa to Jordan Trail.

Patterned Red Rock along Brinn's Mesa

Patterned Red Rock along Brinn's Mesa

Sedona is also known for “spiritual vortexes“, so one night we went to Airport Mesa and visited Inspiration Point just to see if we could sense anything.  Not on this visit, but perhaps this could be because I was with Andy (who thought he was looking for ghosts)?

Overlooking Sedona

Overlooking Sedona

Overlooking Sedona

Overlooking Sedona

After Sedona, we ended up stopping in Flagstaff again.  We had done some planning and preparations for our trip into the Grand Canyon (we’re hoping for a last minute backcountry permit) and realized we should have other gear with us – a backpack for me, hydration packs, walking poles, maps, food, and more.  Boy, was this an Expensive (with a capital E) shopping spree!  Yikes!  We better get that permit to make these purchases worth it!  Wish us luck!

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April 15, 2004

Desert Hot Springs, CA – San Jacinto, Joshua Tree

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:34 pm by diandy2004

We started heading east again since we’ve made flight arrangements to fly out of Vegas to visit Boca and Philly. We stopped in Desert Hot Springs to play in, of course, the hot springs.  The 10 pools and jacuzzis at the resort are naturally heated mineral springs of a variety of temperatures to choose from.  But we also stopped here to play in Joshua Tree NP and visit San Jacinto SP and Wilderness way up high above Palm Springs. Desert Hot Springs may not be a Palm Springs, but the mineral hot springs were wonderful and our campground (Sky Valley Resorts) was very pretty with Oleanders blooming, lakes, baby duckies, and mountain views. Actually, we had San Andreas Fault views – we were right there in the midst of the fault line.

The northwest section of Joshua Tree is a blast for boulder scrambling. Large boulders, with deep crevices. We crawled under, jumped across, and scrambled every which way we could to get up…then down. Lots of rock climbers visit this park. From Key’s View (at 5,185′) we were able to see all the way to the Salton Sea, Palm Springs, the San Andreas Fault and much more – we were so lucky to have such a clear day.

Boulder Scrambling

Boulder Scrambling

Skull Rock

Skull Rock

The New Jackie Chan

The New Jackie Chan

The Desert in Bloom

The Desert in Bloom

We had considered biking some of the roads in Joshua Tree, but for time sake, we drove and allowed more time for exploring and scrambling.

We actually visited Joshua Tree from two towns on our trip – the first was from Desert Hot Springs, and then we had moved to 29 Palms and toured that area of the park as well.

San Jacinto State Park was accessed via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. A beautiful forest high above the desert. Snow still laid in patches on slopes and between rocks. We’d love to re-visit this park with more time for exploring and maybe overnight camping. If you go, just the tramway ride is worth it – but do allow hours for hiking.  We had only given ourselves 2 hours which was not nearly long enough, in our opinion!

On Top of the World (or at least Palm Springs!)

On Top of the World (or at least Palm Springs!)

Keep in mind that Palm Springs is at an elevation of 2,643′.  The Tram tops out at 8,516′ and the San Jacinto summit is at 10,815′.  Pack some extra clothes for comfort.  The temperature dropped from 60 to 40 degrees in the two hours that we hiked near sunset.

April 10, 2004

Silverado, CA – Flowers and the Coast

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 8:32 pm by diandy2004

After San Diego we headed northeast to Silverado Canyon area.  It wasn’t a long drive but it did get us closer to my sister’s house so we could play in her area for a couple of days.  On the drive we stopped at Carlsbad Flowers Fields to stretch our legs and enjoy the flowers.

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Carlsbad Flower Fields

The campground we stayed at, Black Star Canyon Ranch ( in the Cleveland National Forest), provided us with the natural setting and scenery we were craving after our stay in Campland.  The flipside was now we had no cell phone service, poor TV reception, and no internet.  There’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?

Ironically enough we also got to see Geri and Dick T. (all the way from Florida on vacation). We went to breakfast with Geri and Dick and Geri’s twin and her husband. Just imagine two Geris!! Talk about identical twins, I almost got confused who was who! Just kidding Geri.

My sister Karen took Andy and I touring along the coast to see tidal pools, cliffs, and even an arch. The Pacific Ocean is beautiful, but nothing like the Atlantic. One funny joke we’ve heard so far about the Pacific is that it’s not really an ocean – just a glacier that melted. So of course, there was no diving or kayaking here for these warm-weather folks.

Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast

Karen and Andy Enjoy the View

Karen and Andy Enjoy the View

There was so much more we could’ve done during this visit – biking, hiking, kayaking Newport Back Bay – but it was time to move on. I’m sure we’ll be back again some day.

April 7, 2004

San Diego, CA

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 8:30 pm by diandy2004

The drive to San Diego took us over summit passes of 4,190′, past huge boulders, and through some pretty towns. We arrived in San Diego and got to see the Pacific Ocean on March 28th!  Woo-hoo!   We love San Diego. Especially the Mission Bay area. We stayed in Campland on the Bay for 10 days. The campground is not much to speak of – it is basically a parking lot and you occupy about 2 parking spaces.  Barely enough space for your rig, a picnic table, and for some unknown reason a fire ring (of sorts).  But you’re right on the bay with a biking path and the beach nearby.  For the first two days we didn’t drive at all – what a relief! We biked everywhere we wanted to go…through Pacific Beach and around the Bay and to the Ocean.

Andy Bikes Past an Old Favorite

Andy Bikes Past an Old Favorite

We kayaked around Mission Bay and checked out the penguins at Sea World from the water. We even checked out the condos in the area and realized that San Diego is not an option for us at this time – 1600 sf condo for 1.5 mil!! Granted, it was on the Bay with great views, including Sea World’s fireworks, but….

We toured Cabrillo National Monument (to see tidepools and the lighthouse). The original lighthouse hasn’t been used since 1891 because it was built too high up. The fog and clouds would obscure it. So a new lighthouse was built about 100′ below the original.

Cabrillo Lighthouse

Cabrillo Lighthouse

We got to see my sister Karen and her husband Craig while staying here in San Diego. We hiked in Mission Trails Regional Park – which just reopened since last year’s fires.

Craig and Karen in Mission Trails Reg. Park

Craig and Karen in Mission Trails Reg. Park

On another day we met my sister at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The aquarium is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen – artistic display tanks, interactive displays, and the fish actually seemed healthy.

Karen and Diane Gobbled up by a Shark!

Karen and Diane Gobbled up by a Shark!

A Seal Pup on the Beach

A Seal Pup on the Beach

We had considered kayaking the La Jolla Caves while we were here, but the size of the surf changed our minds.  We did, however, get our road bikes out for a ride.  We enjoyed the Silver Strand Bikeway along Coronado Island (starting at the Ferry Complex) to Imperial Beach.  And, on impulse, we signed up for the Coronado Bridge Liberty Run.  We were pretty impressed with our times considering we weren’t running 4 miles very often these days AND the run was up and over the *big* Coronado Bridge (the bridge offers a 200′ clearance in the channel).

We enjoyed our week in San Diego, but we were getting antsy to move on and find a campground with more natural beauty and some elbow room.  We decided to move closer to my sister’s house and stay in an area called Silverado.

(Added Note on Dec 2008:  I was re-reading my journal and had to laugh that we made a note that we had to pay $2.09 for gas in CA.  Considering that we’ve recently been paying $4/gal this year, I found my concerned comment quite humorous!)