Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's been awhile

Yes, indeed, it has been quite sometime since I’ve  posted to my blog!  And, if there were an award for  ‘worst blogger EVER’ I’d definitely be top runner for receiving it this year!!   I’m hard pressed to offer a reasonable explanation for my sluggish posting. . . . . it’s not like I have made no attempts to write up a post of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing/seeing!!   I actually have several half-written posts (and even one or two that are about three-quarter complete).    I start off vigorously and then, get distracted or run out of time/steam and then seem to let that ‘chore’ slip to the bottom of the list/pile!   One day, awhile back, I was reading a Travels with the Bayfield Bunch blog in which Al talked about blogging lethargy (my term) and I could readily identify with what he was ‘saying’ in that post.  I was a bit relieved to then read the ‘comments’ to that particular post which were left by some of the followers of their blog indicating that erratic posting is an anomaly shared by many of us!  I've also read posts/comments in other blogs that 'speak to' the sometimes difficult nature of keeping the blog momentum going!   In any case, here I am once again - hoping that this time my effort will produce a rejuvenation of my blog.

Truth-be-told, there’s a good reason behind my renewed interest in getting back to my blog.  Before continuing with this though I want to say that I realize that the final paragraph of my last blog back in the spring said something about my heading up to the Napa Valley area to spend time with my youngest daughter and my favorite ‘gran-dog’, Havana.  I also mentioned in that post that I would be taking a bit of ‘down-time’ to think about some ‘stuff’ and try to make some much-needed decisions.  For this post, I’ll be skipping over the several months that have flown by since that blog post so that I can relate my recent mishap and current situation which is the reason I'm in a position to make a renewed effort with my blog.     
I’ve recently been ‘grounded’ as a result of a nasty fall a little over a month ago.  The damage?  A fractured proximal humerus (right arm/shoulder).  I consider myself very fortunate that the diagnosis wasn't much worse because it so easily could have been.   It's one of those scenarios where, in looking back you think. . . .  how dumb was that?!  I had just stepped down from my bedroom/bath area to the entry/kitchen area when I noticed that my outside door had closed over and I wanted to push it back open to let the sunshine in. I slid the screen door handle-slide thingy over and reached through to push the outside door open.  Well. . . . . . not only did my ‘pushing hand/arm’ go out, but my whole body went lunging out – yikes!! The general opinion of myself and the two people who immediately responded was that a number of factors must have been in place for this to have happened.  My foot must have been placed kind of half off that top landing when I reached to push and I know I wasn't  holding onto the neat little bar that is so conveniently placed to the right of that door jam for exiting from the top landing to the well step and then onto the top outside stair. The biggest factor in my opinion though is that I was rushing around and not paying attention to details. It’s true that it was an accident but, it was totally avoidable and I’m one immensely ‘ticked-off’ lady these day (at myself of course!!)  I spend at least a portion of my many long walks around Watertown, MA (where I’m currently staying) giving myself a tongue-lashing. Whenever I get to feeling sorry for myself that I can’t do this or can’t do that, I paint a ‘mental picture’ of giving myself the task of writing something like ‘You will remember to be more cautious’ a hundred times on the blackboard!!  Will I though??  I sure hope so! 

This little incident happened to me a mere three weeks into my Workamping  at the Campbellsville, KY facility for Amazon.   Since joining Workamper back in the fall of 2008, I've had a keen interest in heading to one of their facilities to give it a try.  When they contacted me last Spring, I decided that this would be the Fall to 'just do it'!   I got all the paperwork completed, increased my walking (as recommended by Amazon), arranged my summer schedule to be situated back on the east coast and even re-arranged my summer activity to start working earlier than my original start date of  late October.  I was  actually looking forward to trying this new (to me) type of work!!   

I arrived at the Green River Marina RV Park on Sept. 14th and started work at Amazon the week of Sept. 18th – the first week being a modified work week of 5 hour shifts. I was assigned to be a 'stower' and I was the only person in that small group of stowers being trained that particular week who was a total Amazon 'newbie'.  Most in the group had been in stowing in the past and knew the routine - a couple of folks had worked in other areas but were, at least, familiar with general Amazon routine.  So I had a pretty good situation, in that I could just look to one of them to point me in the right direction or give me a hand with my scanner, etc.   The rv park I was staying in had a really terrific bunch of fellow rv'ers/Workampers and we were looking forward to spending some good weeks together, getting through our work assignment but also having some fun social gatherings too.    By the time I had finished up my second week of full time shift (Sunday through Wednesday 6:00 am to 4:30 pm), I was feeling much less soreness and tiredness than when I had finished up after the first week.  After taking a day to actually rest and recoup, I was up early on Friday and raring to go do some sightseeing, walking or hiking and had found a state park (My Old Kentucky Home State Park) not too far away from where I was staying. After doing a few errands in the late morning, I came back to the rv to grab some lunch, water and talk with a friend there (Carol) to see if she wanted to go along to check out this park – hoping we’d find a good place to take our bikes to ride or, at least, to find another interesting place to walk around in.  As the old saying goes '. . . . the best laid plans. . !' 

Fortunately for me (not so much for her, though), Carol witnessed the whole falling mishap!!  She was sitting outside reading when she looked up and saw me lunging out the door straight to the grassy ground - narrowly missing the corner of the livingroom/dining slide!  She came running up toward me calling out not to move!  The couple in the rig on the site next to mine were just sitting down to have their lunch when they opened the slats on their window blind and the husband (Dennis?) looked over to see me lying on the ground so he came out and the three of us assessed my situation.  When I had the first dreaded realization that I was falling forward out the door, I tried to grab the railing but it was too late.  I then tried to break the fall with my outstretched arms  but it was my right forearm that took the hardest 'hit'.   I was abit stunned for a few seconds and then rolled myself over and that's when I felt the pain.   I had waited for Carol and Dennis to help me sit up and after a little bit, I said it was my shoulder.  When I tried to move my right arm it hurt and it felt like wobbly and disconnected.  Dennis said maybe I had dislocated my shoulder and that sounded pretty likely to me also.   I didn't want to call 911 because, though it hurt, I wasn't in excrutiating pain.  They got me to the ER and Carol stayed with me, helping out in so many ways!   I'm so very greatful to them and also to Carol's hubby, Ken for their help and support that day and in the days to come.  

At the ER, an x-ray was taken, a shot for pain was administered (the pain was starting to increase as time wore on), a diagnosis was determined and the Nurse Practicioner gave me a script for pain meds and a recommendation to see the Orthopedic doctor on Monday.   Carol and her husband, Ken drove me to my doctor appointment first thing Monday.  He gave me the unnerving news that, in his opinion, for me to regain full motion use of this arm, I would need surgery and it wasn’t a surgery that was done very frequently so there weren’t a lot of doctors who would be able to do it!   Huh?!!  Really??!!   I had actually formed the opinion over the weekend that the fracture wasn’t that bad because I really wasn’t in a whole lot of pain (as long as I kept the arm in the sling and was careful to not go bumping into door jams, walls, etc. and didn’t try to walk very far). I was in shock at this diagnosis and didn’t want to believe it.  When I finished up with the doctor, Carol and Ken took me to pick up a few groceries and got me back to my rv where I then made the requisite calls to each of my daughters to tell them about the mishap and diagnosis. 

I was leaning heavily toward going down to the St. Petersburg, FL area to be near my sister  (Cindy) to have the surgery.   She's retired and there's a wonderful group of fellow retirees there that I've gotten to know and become friends with.  My daughters each have full time jobs, a husband or significant other and busy lives.  Getting me to doctors, caring for me after surgery, driving me for followup visits and then physical therapy was not something I wanted to lay at their feet.  My sister and I felt that being down with her would be the better choice.   I was 'over-ruled' however, and conceded that, yes, New England was a good choice - Mass General, good doctors (including my primary care doctor who is located in neighboring NH) and a daughter available for any possible care decisions on my behalf.  My CA daughter (Nancy) flew into Louisville and drove down to Campbellsville to help me finish getting my rv ready for its trip to FL (thanks to my sister, Cindy and an angel of a friend, Donna).  I had taken some preliminary steps toward getting the rig ready and, once again, my fellow Workamper/rv'ers were so very thoughtful and helpful with things that I just couldn't or shouldn't do and in offering to be of whatever help they could when my sister and Donna arrived at the rv park to hook up the 5th wheel for the trek to Florida!  I sure was grateful, too, having my daughter accompany me on my flight(s) from KY to  Boston on Friday.  As can be so typical these days, there were flight problems and I'm sure I never could have handled changing the flight arrangements as seamlessly as Nancy did -- I probably would have been spending most of the day and night stuck in one airport or another!

My MA daughter (Dianne) made some room rearrangements at her home,  converting her office back into a bedroom, retrieving her  queen-size bed from storage, ordering one of those neat chair type pillows for use in bed and a multi-purpose adjustable tables on a rolling platform (like the hospital bed tables).   She and I saw an Orthopedic surgeon at Massachusetts General on Monday morning.  More x-rays were taken and an evaluation of my arm/shoulder done.  This doctor's recommendation was a wonderful surprise (and a great relief) to me – no surgery!! 

The smile that lasted for days!
 He felt I’d made out better in the long run letting the fracture heal and then do a few months of physical therapy.   I was so relieved and happy to hear his approach that I smiled for several days after that visit!!   He gave me a simple exercise to do 3 to 4 times each day and scheduled me for another visit/x-ray in 3 weeks.  I saw the doctor again last week and he was pleased with my progress, answered some questions that I had (the most pressing one for me was. . . . can I now drive?  His answer: a resounding NO, not yet).  He also said I could start PT and found no problem with my waiting another two to three weeks to begin that. 

The reason for holding off the start of PT is that I want to do that once I return to Florida.  I’ve been itching to head OUT of New England since the October n’oreaster visited us here!!  It’s gotten colder and my daughter is now back at home full time and she works from home!!!  With the doctor ruling out my driving capability, I'm feeling even more 'antsy' to return to Florida.  My sister lives in Gulfport and I’ve been spending at least a part of each winter season down there with her – there’s always something to do, some sights to see or friends to get together with!   Since I cannot drive, I’m ‘captive’ to my daughter’s house and walks in/around East Watertown.  All of my friends in NH are still full time workers so, unless I have wheels to drive up to visit with them, I won’t be having much social contact while staying here.  That’s not a complaint by any means, it’s just a statement of facts as they are.  I did decide though, that since Thanksgiving is just around the corner and, my daughter, Nancy, and her husband are flying in to New England for that long weekend, I’ll wait until after Turkey Day to head outta’ here!! 

In the meantime, I’ve been keeping up with my walking routine – I'm just not able to do the mileage I had been doing prior to heading to Amazon but I did complete a 5 ½ mile walk last week!!  

Enjoying my 'bed chair'

I’ve also made good use of the 'bed chair'         
that Dianne purchased and read a few good   
books since arriving a month ago. 

It's been this nagging little voice in recesses of my mind that's really been bugging me the most though.  The one that's been 'poking me' . . . . with that little 'bubble' hanging over my head that says ‘what about your blog -- why aren't you using some of this time to get caught up on it?!"   So. . . . here I am again, ever hopeful that I'll actually become a regular (or at least more regular).   

Thanks to any and all of you out there in blogland that find this post and still have a smidgin of interest! 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

While ‘sitting’ in the Bakersfield, CA area a couple of weeks ago, I was pondering a suggestion my youngest daughter made regarding my travel route from southern to northern California. Her thought was to spend some time in the central part of the state as that is an area that I haven’t spent any serious time in (other than a weekend visit last spring in the Carmel and Monterey area). I wasn’t finding much of interest along Route 99 and my one day drive over along the coast between Santa Maria to just north of Santa Barbara didn't excite me.  So-o-o-o  I decided that a visit to the three National Parks, so conveniently located adjacent to one another, would be a good choice.  I’m happy with that decision (though I only ventured into two of them)and I enjoyed my visit but, once again. . . . I’m left ‘wanting’!! (One day I may expand on that comment more but not today).

During my visit, the weather down in the little town of Lemon Grove (where I was staying) was sunny with spring-like temps in the high 60’s to low 70’s.  Driving up into the parks to the 7600’ elevation level, the temps dropped 20+ degrees and often the view was ‘socked in’. The giant trees were quite visible and there were no crowds in any one location so that was a big plus! A couple of the roads that I had wanted to wander down were still closed to visitors – that was a disappointment but, perhaps I’ll have the chance to re-visit.

I arrived at the Lemon Grove RV Park on a Sunday afternoon. During the checking in process, the manager asked if I planned on visiting Sequoia NP and when I replied absolutely, she handed me a sheet of paper with the news that there was extensive road work underway on the road up into Sequoia. The info sheet included a schedule for the upcoming week (school vacation for many) and the following Easter holiday weekend. Weekday access to pass through the construction area was scheduled on the hour only. Prior to the school vacation week change, the access was every two hours! Weekend access through this construction zone was monitored via a stoplight at each end of the construction site and there would be delays of approximately 20 minutes. That piece of information motivated me to focus on getting my rv set up, pack a quick lunch and head straight up into the park to avoid the limited access on the upcoming weekdays – a move I had some regrets about a couple of hours later!!


After showing my Golden Passport card at the Sequoia NP entry gatehouse, I drove up to the Visitor Center and then moved along to the first point of interest that was accessible to visitors at this time -- Hospital Rock (pictographs in red) with a short trail down through some
large boulders to a section of the fast flowng flowing Kaweah River

Then it was time to drive the construction zone. Here’s a quick shot of what the drive through the construction zone looked like. I’m sure glad I don’t have to work on this project!!

It was after I exited the construction zone that I noticed the drop in temperature and that there was still snow in the forest areas.   The snow level increased the further along I drove and by the time I reached the General Grant tree access area, I had the sudden realization that I had not thought thru this sudden visit up into the park.   I was wearing a short sleeved shirt, Capri pants and sandals.  I had no jacket and no other shoes to change into for the walk up to see the first of the largest Sequoia trees – duh!!   I did enjoy seeing the fairly large trees along the route I was driving.
It is difficult to ‘grasp’ the size of these beauties in the photos but they were BIG, impressive and beautiful to look at!   Clicking on the photo should increase the size.

I realized that I would have to plan another drive up here during the week after all so I decided to head back out.  This was the view while waiting for the green light to go back through the construction zone – showing the roadway I had travelled up into the Giant Forest -- several switchbacks along the route.

After making it through the construction zone unscathed, I was able to relax abit again and enjoy the vistas. 


A couple of days later, I drove into Kings Canyon via Fresno and Hwy 180 – avoiding the construction zone altogether. The drive out to the national parks through the central coast agricultural countryside was just so beautiful and peacefully serene!  I found myself pulling over to ‘commune’ with the scenery, cattle and horses several times. 


The weather for my second excursion into these parks was very similar to the first trip.  This time I remembered to bring warm socks and a good pair of sneakers along with clothes that I could layer as the temperatures warranted.  

I drove to both the General Grant and General Sherman trees. This time I took a few photos that includes some people (no one I knew). This helps show the contrast between us humans and these humongous trees! Click to enlarge the photo and you should be able to read the description.  If you're not able read the information, the first set of photos is the General Grant tree - the third largest tree (by volume) and the widest known tree in the world!  The next photos are of the General Sherman tree -the largest tree on earth  by volume!  It was very tempting to do as many other people were doing -- climb over the post and rail fencing to walk up and actually touch this amazing structure but the signage gave good reasons for not venturing beyond the fence so I just couldn't  do it!   

This was an interesting sight I came upon when walking up to the General Grant tree.   It's titled 'Fallen Monarch' and the signage makes interesting reading so I've included it among the photos.   I did walk through -- and it was quite roomy inside; even with other people walking through we weren't cramped at all.  In the photos, it looks like the cavity is quite narrow. I actually waited for the other folks wandering through this marvel to pass through so I could get a clear shot.  I think I should have taken at least one with people in it to give it true perspective.    


I think I mentioned earlier in the post the change in the weather up at the 7600 elevation in the parks each day I went up there. These photos show the heavy mist/fog at the upper elevation as I was leaving Kings Canyon in late afternoon, the low lying clouds and the snow remaining along the tops of some of the ridges in the Sierra Nevadas.   The last photo in this section shows the clear, sunny weather as I drove back down to the 1000 elevation level!

As I took the photo of the low lying clouds/snow (above), I noticed this craggy looking bush in front of me.  I loved the look of bushes and trees that grow in odd, but interesting shapes so I took a photo to remember this one!!   Then, across the way from this stop, I was amazed to see these trees and bushes growing out of the rock formation. 

After my second visit it became clear that I’d have to visit again another time to find better weather and access to more areas within these parks (including Yosemite). A couple of days later I moved along o Lathrop, CA to another Regional Park in the San Jacinto county system. The name of the park is Dos Reis. Though it’s located right off I-5 it is a quiet location about 1.5 miles down Dos Reis Road and at, what I would say is the far end of the ‘Delta’ area along a waterway (sets uphill) that provides boat access and fishing. It’s a fairly small park with full hookup sites that are level, have a covered picnic table, most have a fire pit/grill combo, full grown bushes and trees providing a semi-private area, lush, green grass. The bathrooms didn’t appeal to me but I rarely use the restroom or shower facilities at rv parks so, that was not a strong consideration for me. It was quiet, no bright lights shining at night. For $25/night, it was a little gem!!

These last few photos are of that regional park and the resident rooster who, surprisingly, made more use of his vocal chords during the afternoon/evening than at the crack of dawn!!  

I’ve now moved along to the Napa area .  I always experience one of those 'Ah-h-h-h-h moments (actually it lasts for several moments) as I turn off I-80 onto CA-12 (Jameson Canyon Road) heading toward Napa.  The countryside view along that road - and throughout the greater Napa/Sonoma Valley area for that matter - is one that I never tire of and enjoy immensely throughout my stay in the area.  I can truly understand why Nancy chose to return and make this area her home. 

I’ll be in this area for awhile – visiting but also. . . . .I’ve got some heavy decisions to make and need to ‘sit still’ for a spell to ruminate on my options/choices!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mundane Tasks but some fun stuff too!

I didn’t travel far when I left the small community of Shelter Valley out near Anza Boreggo desert. Just under a couple of  hours of driving landed me in another small community named Winchester, CA at another of Riverside County’s fine parks – Lake Skinner. I was up early the first morning to head into Temecula for groceries, etc. and to visit the Ford dealership to schedule my truck for routine
service and to address a couple of issues that I had been noticing. It’s a fairly long drive from the actual rv park and the gated entry road and when I looked ahead, what a delightful early morning surprise there were little hot air balloon shapes off in the distance – about 8 to 10 of them.  I immediately wished that I had been up and out even earlier to enjoy seeing them up closer.  

As I continued my drive toward the town, I wached as many of these balloons out of sight as they made their way back down to their landing spots. Then, I noticed this one just about to settle down further up the road I was driving on so I pulled into the winery to grab a quick photo.
My truck was scheduled for the next day (a Friday). They did most of the work I wanted done – I opted to wait on the tapping noise (my exhaust manifold) until I am set up close to where my other daughter lives north of Napa. After leaving the dealership, I went straight to a car wash to have a good wash after being out in the desert area for over two weeks – especially since there had been a few very windy days out there! As I started to drive away from the car wash, I immediately felt there was something wrong with the steering. I pulled into a Walmart parking lot across the road from the car wash and, after breathing deeply a few times, I realized that the cleaning crew had inadvertently moved the dial on the dashboard to 4 wheel drive!! Hmnnn. . . what are the steps to put it back into 2 wheel drive again??! Dig around in the glove box and find the manual, follow the instructions and all is well once again. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday that I was able to move along because of a hesitation/stalling issue with the truck (fixed) but I missed my scheduled appointment up in San Bernardino to have the 5th wheel ‘spiffied up’!! We rescheduled for Wednesday but, wouldn’t you know it. . . . the weather turned nasty for the rest of the week so. . . . more pushing out and staying over longer at the regional parks.

Looking north to the hills outside Glendale CA
When the rig went in for it’s ‘spa treatment’ on Monday, I packed a bag and moved into my daughter’s hotel room with her (in Glendale). That part was an extra nice treat ‘cause we knew that I would be moving along after I picked up the rv. We enjoyed an early evening on the ‘roof’ of a neighboring hotel hoping for a grand sunset. The weather was warm and the view into the hillside and mountains beyond was very enjoyable. Looking west at the LA skyline though -- not the evening for a sunset worth remembering – the skyline was thick with a smog haze!! No clouds that evening to give off a nice afterglow either. We did enjoy our drinks, food and conversation though. When we first arrived to the roof deck, Diane introduced me to a co-worker.  He highly recommended a visit to Griffith Park so that’s where I drove to Tuesday morning.

I had previously heard and/or read about this park but, had no burning desire to drive in from the Riverside or Chino areas to check it out. Too bad!!  I really had a very enjoyable late morning/ early afternoon there hiking up one of the trails there - The Mt. Hollywood trail!  Once I saw what the Observatory offered for evening programs, I wished I had come earlier my stay in this area.
There are a nice variety of activities located in Griffith Park, including 
the Gene Autry Museum
-- I would have liked visiting that and to have taken a ride on the big Merry-go-round!

The next afternoon, I drove my daughter over to Burbank for her weekly allergy shot. It’s in a very congested area with a multi-level garage for 
parking. I don’t ‘DO’ parking garages with my truck – always feel like I’m going to scrape on the concrete beams inside those places. I drop her off at the front door pull thru area and then go off to a neighboring street to wait for her text letting me know that she’s done and is on her way out. 

Over the weeks that I’ve been doing this with her,
I’ve waited in a few different neighborhoods. I came
upon this sight on our most recent excursion. . . .

How’d you like to have bought a house on this street way back when only to learn that the major electrical lines would be built right in your backyard (literally). And this wasn’t the only street these lines ran through – yikes!  Click on the photo to enlarge it to get the full effect of these side and front yard giants! 

I picked up my rv on Wednesday afternoon. A bit too late to consider starting my drive north so I went back to the regional park in Riverside. Along the way, I noticed that the braking system was not functioning correctly. Looked down to find my controller completely blank – yikes! Fortunately it was an easy drive to the rv park so I wasn’t overly concerned right then. Thinking forward to the next morning, however, I realized that there was no way I could start out without resolving this new issue. I went out to ‘fiddle’ around with the controller and the electric connection to the 5th wheel and thought I could detect a dim background light on the tiny screen but it was such a bright day, it was difficult to tell. Then I did some research online to see if I could find any discussions about issues with brake controllers in general and my brand in particular (Tekonsha P3). I ended up calling a couple of the smaller rv repair facilities in the general area – ended up driving over for them to test it. The controller was working fine – they put me on their Monday morning schedule to have a look at the connection and the 5th wheel.

Grumble, grumble, grumble. . . . not much else I could do!!

Monday morning as I was finishing the hitching process, after plugging the connector to the back of my truck, I decided I would try re-connecting the brake controller in the cab.  Wahhhh-laaaah, it’s working – I’m smiling cautiously.    A quick call to the rv repair facility and a confirmation that there’s nothing more they would do at this point and I was off heading north.   This wasn’t without a large chunk of apprehension though as I was going to be driving up/down the dreaded ‘Grapevine’ section of I-5 and it was my first time ever on that section of I-5 to boot!!  I don’t think that driving up I-15 would have offered anything less trying (climbing/descending) though.  When I was driving out in the fall of 2009, I had a lovely stay in Desert Hot Springs prior to heading north to visit with my daughter up in the Napa area.   I had a great deal of ‘angst’ about driving on I-5 back then and actually did a ‘dry run’ one day about mid-way through my stay in the area.   The road surface was atrocious and just shook my whole truck around so I got off at some point and started looking over my map for alternative routes.  Finding none in the area I had dropped off in (Burbank?), I did a bit of sightseeing in the area and went back to the rv park.  

I decided to stick with secondary roads for my trek north of LA and mapped out a route which I know started on SR 62 heading NE then I think I took 247 N to 58 which brought me to the 99.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find the road surface on the 99 much better than the section of the I-5 I had driven. As I was moving along on the 247 I found myself driving a slow steady grade over the 247.  It was slow going and I, along with a b’jillion tractor trailers, were in a line chugging along up, up, up.  Looking off to the side back down at where we had started the grade, it was abit unsettling.  As we were about to ‘crest’ the climb and start the descent, all traffic came to an abrupt halt. I was still on the incline and, boy oh boy, that was another first for me. Those deep breathing exercises helped me remain calm.  Here’s a shot of I took while sitting there waiting for the road to clear up ahead -- looking back at where I started the climb up -- wish I knew the elevation and grade of that road.   I think they should add that feature to our car/truck dashboards!!

Back to the trek from Riverside to Bakersfield last Monday. I couldn’t remember where I read the infamous ‘Grapevine’ started/ended. There was a time or two as I drove that I thought I was approaching it but when I finally did get there, I knew it for sure. My biggest concern was cresting and starting down the other side. The brake controller did a great job. I did pull off shortly after leveling off on the other side to take a break and fill the gas tank for the remaining journey. I could smell the brakes on the 5th wheel so decided to pull over to an out of the way section for a bit of a longer break – not knowing what might lay ahead. And that gave me the opportunity to call the rv park that was to be my destination for this trip as they hadn’t yet gotten back to me to verify whether they had a site available for me (unfortunately, I’m a last minute or fly by the seat of my pants traveler these days!!)

When I got back on the highway, I realized that I was very close to Bakersfield so I just pulled nto my second choice destination park - Bear Mountain RV Park.  They offered me a special, 3 for 2, and I couldn’t pass that up! Tuesday I made the drive over to the coast without the rv to check out a few parks over that way – thinking I might spend some time between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. . . . if I could find an  rv site that would accommodate the size of my 5th wheel and the price wasn't beyond my pocketbook.  That little ‘trek’ cost me around $100 in gas so I decided I’d take another 3 for 2 to help offset that cost. 

The drive to the coast, over SR 166 toward Santa
Maria, was delightfully relaxing and enjoyable
once I passed through the small town of Maricopa. There were a couple of fairly steep grades to drive over but everything was so lush and green and the view of the cattle and horses grazing so peaceful!  I was so wishing I’d happen on an rv park or campground that I could haul the 5th wheel over to and stay for awhile! None to be found along the way though.

When I arrived at Santa Maria, I drove to the first rv park I wanted to stay at over that way only to find that, it backs up to a highway (the 101) and the site fees are more than I would want to spend so I rejected that idea and moved along to a second one located south in Buellton – same scenario! 
A drive along the coast highway was next on the list of things to do and that was neat. As I drove south from Buellton, I noticed three state beach facilities with camping. I pulled into the third one -- El Capitan. The guy on duty gave me a map and brochure and said I could drive through to have a look. I liked it a lot – especially the 6 or 8 sites in the uppermost section of the park; they  
have a wide open view of the ocean.

Unfortunately (for me), those sites are limited to self-contained rigs and this section is located in a parking lot setting actually. As I drove through the rest of the park, I found a few sites that I felt would accommodate my 34’ rig but I’d have little to no room left over and the access road into the park was too thick with low hanging tree braches for me to consider. If or when I find a smaller unit, I’d definitely go back to this or one of the other parks I passed on the way down -- Refugio or Gaviota (which have a
30’ length limit).

Not a whole of sightseeing or attractions in the Bakersfield area.  A visit to The Park at Riverwalk was a wonderful respite while staying in that area. I’ve enjoyed a couple of energetic walks and an extended bike ride on the Kern River Pathway bike path.

Since I started to write this post, I've decided to skip trying to stay over toward the coast and I moved along up the 99.  I stopped in a little town named Lemon Cove – just a few miles east of the entrance  to Sequoia NP and then up the road a few more paces in Chowchilla - about a 45 minute drive to the entrance of Kings Canyon NP.  I'm closing in on Sacramento and the Napa area! 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A welcome visit

I was out in the Anza Borrego Desert area about one week when my youngest daughter called to say that since she had some time available before starting her new job, she and Havana (her black lab mix dog) would come down for a visit. It was a 10 hour drive for her (coming from the Napa area) and she arrived at about 1:00 am on a Friday.  After sleeping in a little that morning, we got ready and set out to find a place to go for a hike where we would be able to bring Havana with us. Nancy had done some research and found that, while the state park system doesn’t allow dogs on their trails, the county park systems do. With that in mind, drove down the road to Agua Caliente County Park.  I was delighted about that because there is an rv park there also and I wanted to have a look at it.  We were stopped short when the ranger at the gatehouse told us that dogs were not allowed on the trails in/around their park because it was part of the Anza Borrego Desert.  We were sorely disappointed but did take a few minutes to walk around the rv park and read some of the info on the kiosk near the little amphitheater they have there. I like the park and would definitely stop there for a stay if I’m in that area again.  The ranger was nice enough to call over to a regional park in Julian and verified that we could take Havana with us on a hike over there.  We decided to do that hike but on the way back up the road, we diverted off onto one of the many pull offs because we noticed that there were dirt/sand roadways leading into various hiking trails. The ranger back at Agua Caliente did say that Havana could be walked (on leash) on those roads. It wasn’t as exciting as hiking into the hills but we got a good 4.5 to 5 mile walk in doing that.

The next day, my other daughter (the east coast gal working on an assignment in Glendale, CA), picked up a rental car and drove down to spend an overnight with us.   She arrived around 10:30 – 11:00 Sat. and we readied ourselves to head over to do a hike on the Oasis Loop in the Anza-Borrego Desert S.P.  Apparently, we parked the car in the back end of the lot – near the section of the hiking path that is more difficult?  It was labeled alternative path or loop.   I started back down the parking lot to ask the ranger at the booth where the start to the Oasis loop was but the girls kept calling me back saying we could just go the alternative path.  So-o-o-o off we went!! 

Up, up, up over rocks and in between boulders. I was very thankful for the many hikers coming down this path  
(he-e-ey.... wait a minute here; how
come everyone else is coming down this path?!?)   Never mind. . . . at least it’s giving me time to catch my breath and gulp down some water!  Of course, I had to stop to check out the few (very few) wildflowers that we found along the way.  It was disappointing that the
floral display was so dismal – I had hoped to see the desert in full bloom but that was not to be this year.  We made the climb up to the Oasis and while Dianne and I stayed on the east side of the running brook, Nancy took my camera and made her way up into the Oasis itself. It does look like a
 refreshing place to be and I could imagine that the folks living in this area all those years ago made good use of this respite from the summer heat. 
It was an  easier walk down --following a brook and the grade   was more of a slight slope. We were stopping along the way to enjoy the setting and still searching for any signs of spring wildflowers.

After snapping a few more photos (that's me peeking throught the palm leaves in the photo on the right), I was looking up into the hillside surrounding  this area to see if I could spot any  Borrego (Sheep) up on the rocks/cliffs.   Next thing I knew, my left foot tripped on a rock in the pathway and smash I’m flat out on the ground – took the wind right out of me!!   We took a minute to assess what if any damage I had done.  Bad scraping with a little bit of bleeding on the left leg/knee area; both elbows scraped; left wrist/hand bruised where I tried to break my fall.  The most uncomfortable area, however, was my left side breastbone/rib area.  I must have hit the heaviest on that area – it’s taking the longest to heal.   No visible signs of bruising in that area – it’s all inside!!

We finished off the walk with me repeating the mantra – keep your eyes on the pathway; don’t be looking up and around!! 
Back at the rv the girls got a campfire going while I made dinner for us to share out around fire. It was a mild evening and we stayed out there chatting until the fire died down and then went in to cleanup the kitchen, etc. 


We had a nice morning together and before we knew it, it was time for Dianne (on the right in this photo) to head back up to Glendale.   

Good thing I have a long snout!

Nancy, Havana and I decided to head back over to do one of the hikes that we noticed when we were on the dirt/sand roadways a couple of days ago up to some Pictographs. It was a relatively easy trek and we continued on past the Pictograph rock where we found  a lovely narrow little canyon-like setting. At the end of this, the walk ended with a very steep cliff and lovely panoramic view of the valley below.

After resting here for awhile and taking a few photos, we started our walk back to check out the Pictographs – pondered what story these drawings were telling and then followed the path back out to the truck. 

On our walk out, Nancy mentioned that she had the feeling she might be getting sick. She had noticed that, since arriving down in the area, she thought her mild allergies were starting up – thinking that it was something blooming down there. But, now she thought it was more than that. Sure enough, she woke up Monday with whatever it is that is going around – a bad cold or some sort of flu with a cough that just won’t go away. She was down for the count that day and Havana and I only stepped outside long enough to let her do her business because there was a really nasty windstorm blowing through. 
Thankfully, the wind blew itself out of the area at some pont durng the night. We spent a good part of the next day sitting out in the sun and throwing ball for Havana so that at least she’d get her exercise for the day! And, yes, Dianne came down with whatever it was that Nancy had within a few days. For each of them, the nagging cough has lingered on.  I escaped with just a mildly scratchy throat and feeling extra tired for a day or two!!

Nancy drove back up to her place toward the end of the day on Wednesday. She left here around 5:00 pm and stopped in Temecula at a couple of stores before getting on I 15 around 7:30. By that time of night, most of the commuter traffic was gone so she got through the LA area without any delays. The rest of the way she said she pretty much had the road to herself. The best part though, was that when darkness falls, Havana finally settles down and will be content to gnaw away on a big rawhide type bone before falling asleep. Much as we love Havae, she’s a terrible traveler – whining and howling and spinning around in the way-back of the SUV.

 When I arrived out in that more remote off the grid area, I had discovered that I could send a text message via my Yahoo email account – through the chat and im tool.  I had tested it the week before Nancy came down and she was able to reply with a text and it came right through to the im window on my email account!!   So, that was the communication tool we were using on her drive down and back. I woke up around 3:30 am Thurs. and checked to see if she had sent a text message. I didn’t find one so I sent one to her. While I was waiting for her to reply, I clicked the refresh button and found an email from her saying that she had gotten home around 2:30 and she was sending the email before heading to bed. She cut a few hours off her drive by leaving late in the day and driving at night. I was happy that she was at home and in her own bed, etc. It’s so hard to be sick and away from home!

All in all, I enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere out in the Anza Borrego Desert area and it was a wonderful treat to have both of my daughters and my ‘gran-puppy’ come for a visit! After almost three weeks out in the Anza Borrego Desert area, it was time for me to move along . The truck needs a service visit and the rv is going in to V.I.P. in San Bernardino for a good exterior cleaning/waxing, etc.  (found thanks to Laurie and Odel's very positive recomendation last December).