October 25, 2004

The Drive from Oregon to New Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:25 pm by diandy2004

You’re reading it right…we’re in New Mexico. We’ve spent the last 5 of 6 days driving 1400 miles from Oregon to get past mountain ranges and snow. Don’t get us wrong, we love playing in the white stuff, just not driving in it – especially in an RV.

Some of the highlights (g00d and bad) of our road trip included:

* Mt Shasta:  while driving south through northern California we came around a bend and saw a “mountain in the road”.  I assumed it was Mt Shasta, but we could only see the base under the clouds.  Then we realized it was “Black Butte”… after seeing all 14,162′ of Mt Shasta further down the road.

Black Butte

Black Butte

Mt Shasta

Mt Shasta

* Diane went for a run in Bakersfield after driving 305 miles.  It was necessary for me to get out after driving for that long, but running along pesticide-tainted cotton fields was not good for the lungs.  I don’t recommend it!

* After three days of towing Ele, we started to worry about her batteries.  So we purposefully detached before reaching our destination in hopes of recharging her batteries.

* Park Moabi in Needles, CA:  Getting charged a fee just for having kayaks on the roof of our car.  This was a one-night stopover arriving just before sunset with no time for fun…what a rip!

It probably would've been a pretty paddle, though...

It probably would've been a pretty paddle, though...

* Wind Farms – awesome.  This one was near Needles, CA:

Wind Farms

Wind Farms

* Gas prices finally dropped below $2 after leaving the state of California.  We’re almost back to our budgeted gas prices!

* We got to see one of the most unique home-made hippie mobiles – – a combination bus & VW van.  And, it’s name was “Spirit”!

Hippie Mobile

Hippie Mobile

* More snow in Flagstaff:

Near Flagstaff

Near Flagstaff

We also got to see signs of the bad weather in the different areas and states: snow, standing water in the desert, and flowing muddy water in the desert.

In Holbrook, AZ we took one day off from driving (the RV, that is) and played in the Petrified Forest Nat’l Park. Spent most of the day driving through the park and taking short walks to check out the stone trees and painted desert. It was quite amazing to see the colors that iron and manganese creates in the petrified wood and the clay dunes. I still love the purples and blues the most. Erosion continues to alter the landscape and bring more and more petrified logs to the surface. It’s a good thing more wood is being exposed considering a lot of the petrified wood has been stolen over the years.

* Our final highlight was to talk with Jim and Chris (Geeks On Tour) and learned they were driving from Santa Fe to Roswell.  They’ll detour to Albuquerque to visit with us.  What fun!

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October 15, 2004

Redwoods National Park, CA

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 7:18 pm by diandy2004

It was only 26 miles from Brookings to reach our next destination.  The BIG trees started on Route 197.  I was driving the RV and thought on some turns, where the trees were almost on the road, that I might lose a side mirror.  Our initial plan was to stay in a private RV park with hook-ups, but after driving through we decided to check out Jedediah State Park instead.  We lost our hook-ups, but got the big trees we were looking for.  We found the perfect campsite – nestled between 6 tall trees.

The Perfect Campsite

The Redwoods are actually protected by a combination of State Parks and National Park. Its a long skinny grouping of parks that encompasses the remaining 4% of old-growth redwood forest (of the original 2 million acres as of 1850) and runs along the coast. We stayed in Jedediah State Park which is in the most northern section. One day we traveled throughout the park driving the scenic Coastal Drive and Newton Drury Road, stopped to watch the elk cooling off in a pond near Davison Road, and hiked a trail through Lady Bird Grove.  We attempted a hike to Big Tree Wayside, but a “widowmaker” blocked our path.  A widowmaker is a fallen branch.  Considering the size of these branches, and the distance they fall, I wouldn’t question that they are lethal.

Redwood Bark can be 12" Thick

Ele vs. Redwoods

It’s rutting season for the elk so we had hoped to hear the males “bugling” and to see some territorial displays but it must’ve been too hot for them to fight over their women.

Elk Cooling Off in Pond

After putting 130 miles on the car that day-trip we realized that Jedediah offered some of the most beautiful old-growth anyhow, so the rest of the days were spent hiking and biking in the State Park. The redwoods are incredible – the can grow to 367′ tall and have bark 12″ thick. Andy measured one with a 67′ circumference. Our necks ached after days of looking straight up. But it was The Quiet in the forest that was so powerful. At times when you stopped hiking and just stood still the only sounds you could hear would be the ringing in your ears or an occasional “tweep” from a small bird. And if you met other hikers, there was a tendency to whisper your greetings. It was unnatural to hear voices or sounds of man when standing amongst trees ranging 200 – 1500 years old.

Andy Inside "Goose Pen"

A “goose pen” is a hallowed out tree (either from fire or disease). Farmers used to pen in their livestock in these trees. The fascinating thing, though, is that these trees are still alive.

We took a bike ride on Howland Hills Road.  It’s a packed gravel surface.  We rode about 12 miles on the road, and an extra 2 miles on Bald Hills Trail.  This was the perfect way to tour Howland Hills Road.  We think we would’ve missed too much if we drove it.

A Triple-Trunked Tree

Diane Inside a Downed Tree

Unfortunately we didn’t get much sleep our first two nights in Redwoods. The first night our LP alarm kept going off – we never figured out why but the only way we got it to stop was to shut off the propane at the valve. Knock on wood, it hasn’t happened again since. The second night we thought we had gotten used to the sounds of thumb-sized redwood cones falling on the roof of our RV (imagine rocks pounding on a fiberglass/plastic roof), but when branches started to fall we started to have visions of what damages could occur. Apparently the wind picked up during the night and knocked some dead branches loose. No damages occurred, but it was a fitful sleep.  So much for our “perfect campsite”.

Thankfully, these were the largest

Tiny Redwood Cones

We drove to Crescent City to run errands and tour Battery Point Lighthouse. Tours are available only at low tide because you have to walk across rocks to reach the island. This was the first lighthouse we’ve seen furnished. The couple touring it are living in it for 2 months as volunteer lightkeepers. That’s cool.

Battery Point Lighthouse

Another day we took a hike along Boy Scout Trail to Fern Falls.  The falls were small, but the hike was gorgeous.  Big trees, with the sunbeams breaking through, tons of mushrooms of all varieties, and the sounds of birds all added to the beauty of the trail.

Hiking Boy Scout Trail

What a beautiful place – Redwoods.

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!)

March 27, 2004

Winterhaven, CA – Algodones Dunes

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 5:17 am by diandy2004

During our drive from Phoenix into California we experienced winds of 20-30 mph buffeting the RV.  Gusts like this, when hitting the side of the RV, makes for an exhausting drive.  You must keep a constant tight grip on the steering wheel to make sure you don’t get pushed out of the lane.  It’s almost a workout, because when the drive is done your arms are truly tired from the tension.

Immediately across the border into California is a small town called Winterhaven.  We stayed here with the hopes of some more sand-sledding in Algodones Dunes (Imperial Sand Dunes).  It would’ve been too dangerous though because of all the dune-buggies, atvs, dirt-bikes, etc that were racing all around.  I’ve never seen so many, or such a variety of off-road vehicles before.  We started to consider how much fun everyone was having and looked around as to where to rent an ATV, but couldn’t find a place.  You may have seen these pinkish-beige dunes before in the movies – they filmed Star Wars here.

Algodones Dunes

Algodones Dunes

Boondockers at Algodones Dunes

Boondockers at Algodones Dunes

We did get to play desert golf, however, while were here.  Just imagine:  no green grass, sand for your “greens”, and rocks or desert pavement everywhere else.  We thought we played poorly before, you should have seen our scores here!  We were joking that it was the way to ruin a perfectly bad swing.  If you missed the ball, or even just topped it, the impact with the hard surface would jar your entire body.  But it was fun, and the course was humorous with each hole being decorated in a very unique style.

Desert Golf - Fore!

Desert Golf - Fore!

Golf Course Markers

Golf Course Markers

Golf Course Markers

Golf Course Markers

I know I’ve mentioned in other posts about some of the desert plants that I’ve learned about and found interesting.  Well, here’s two:

Ocotillo in Bloom

Ocotillo in Bloom

The Green Palo Verde

The Green Palo Verde