Sunday, April 24, 2011

APRIL 2011

Finally it was time for the wildflowers to start flowering! Of the succulents the Yuccas and Agave were first followed by the Barrel and fish-hook Cacti, the Prickly Pears and finally my worst enemy, the Cholla! I ran into this thing a couple of times and I swear the bugger jumps at you from a distance! Its spines are a huge pain to get out. Sadie can vouch for that too!


Than fields of purple verbena and yellow desert sunflowers arrived and the brittlebush and Ocotillo put on a good show of their own.

Look at the size of this Ocotillo!


Over the winter we got acquainted with the oldest living plant (how does 11,000 years sound like!),
the creosote bush, that flowered with the tiniest yellow flowers who turned into cute puffball seeds and the desert acacia or catclaw that the Indians called ‘tear blanket’ for a good reason! At our campsite they are overgrown with mistletoe and the Americorps students helped us get rid of some of it.


It was finally getting much warmer and we’re enjoying the fabulous sunsets sitting outside the RV on our patio bundled up in a fleece blanket.

     James finished one more project, a projector screen at Agua Caliente.

After I helped him painting one evening we finally make time to enjoy the hot springs over there! About time! I thought we would be in them all the time but somehow we never got to it. Part of it might be that this campsite is much, much busier than ours and attracts the ‘rowdy crowds’ with lots of screaming kids and noisy campfire-evenings.

We are very glad we ended up at Vallecito which is more visited by tent-camping nature-lovers, ‘birders’ and retired couples.

Well, all good things most come to an end they say and so did our stay here in the desert. I am sad to leave this beautiful place and our wonderful neighbours but at the same time excited to move on and explore new territory!
We had one last potluck and campfire. Joe finaly gets to make his famous chili in the dutch oven, yumm, and we had a few workampers over from Agua.

Joe and Deanna leave a week before we do and we are glad to go soon too because the place is just not the same without them.
It's like we lost part of our family, we're going to miss them so much!

Our next job will bring us to the coast, a place I’d been longing for for some time now. I can’t wait to see the ocean again!

After a minor setback (a flat tire on the day before we’d leave which resulted in a mad dash to El Centro on a Sunday to get the thing fixed) we left Vallecito on Monday the 18th.

We didn't have far to go because we were invited to stay 2 nights for free with a complementary round of golf at Sky Valley resorts in Desert Hot Springs since we had expressed interest to camphost here next winter.
After an easy and uneventful 100 mile drive, except for the 2 howling cats in my car, we set up camp at this beautiful resort. Unfortunately we couldn't unhook since the landing leg that got bend when we pulled into Vallecito could not be straitened out and had to be replaced. We ordered a new one that we are picking up along the way north. Fortunately they have some very large spaces here!

After settling in and getting some groceries we checked out the very relaxing hot spring pools! Ahhhh,….the good life!

We really enjoyed next day’s golf too especially since we had not played for such a long time.


We added another day to our stay since we needed to bide some time in order to pick up the landing legs who wouldn't arrive until 2 days later in Tulare.

The next leg of our trip brought us via San Bernardino, where James had to drop of some plans, to Pyramid Lake.
Everything went smoothly until we ran out of diesel! We stranded on the (right) site of the freeway on the Grapevine, just short of the crest of a hill and as it turned out not even ½ a mile of the nearest gas station exit on the other, downhill, site. If we only had made it to the top we could have cruised right on to there!
Oh well…... A ‘dry’ diesel engine turns out to be a bad thing and it took us a couple of hours to get it started again, eventually with the help of a mechanic from the gas station. Fortunately we still have the Subaru so we could drive to and from the exit and didn’t have to walk!

'The Grapevine'

There we are, smack in the middle

The next day we headed for Mariposa which turns out to be quite a drive. We also lost quite some time picking up the landing legs in Tulare after been sent on an enormous detour during rush hour by our GPS! At least the legs were there!
We set up camp on a nice level grassy field at the Mariposa Fair Ground’s campsite. Cheap and not a bad place and right at the road that brings you to the entrance of Yosemite National Park which was our reason for stopping here for a few days.

Shortly after arrival we discovered that part of the sewer pipe of the RV had come undone. No big deal, we ‘just’ need another ‘connector’! Off course there’s no such thing to be found in the village the next morning so James custom makes one. Handy if you’re good at improvising! He also put the new landing legs on after which we are able to unhitch again. Nice!

The following day we spent driving the most scenic western entrance way to the park, the ‘one way loop road’ which brings you through Yosemite Valley along one side of the Merced River to Yosemite Village and then back to the entrance following the other side of the river. A lot of the ‘famous’ views of the park are visible from this drive and will take you less than a day to see with time to walk around in the village, visit the visitors center and stop whenever you want to make pictures and take in the incredible beauty of this place.

The weather was OK for this early in the season, overcast but no wind which makes it rather nice to walk around. Because of it being spring time there’s lots of white water in the river and at the rapids and falls.   

Yosemite is best known for its waterfalls and the spectacular granite cliffs and domes found within the park. Perhaps the most famous sight in the valley is the granite monolith of Half Dome; a mountain whose sheer face and rounded top looks like a giant stone dome that has been split in half. The imposing vertical face of El Capitan is legendary among climbers.                            

Yosemite Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the world at 2425 feet (782 m) and Bridal Veil fall is an equally impressive one. 
We have a wonderful day, this surely is an incredible beautiful place or to quote John Muir: “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter”


From here we head to Nice on Clear Lake via Modesto and Sacramento and through the Cascades’ mountain range. It’s a very nice drive, a little windy and up and down but the road is very smooth, wide and has lots of low traffic lanes and turnouts and the truck has no problem with it at all.

The lake is enormous and gorgeous, it reminds me of the Italian lakes, with lots of flowers and cypresses and cute little towns along its shores. We found a beautiful and affordable campsite right at the Lake and decided to stay for 2 nights.
We used the next day to drive around its perimeter which was a little farther than we thought but it sure was beautiful.                                               

And than we’re finally off to the coast! We drove to Eureka the next day and celebrated my birthday with smoked salmon and some good beer in an Irish Pub at the harbor. It was great to take in all the familiar ocean views and smells and feel the salty air on our face.

All of next day we had glimpses of the ocean on our left while we were following the 101 through beautiful pine and redwood forests, rolling back country hills and small seaside towns. We’re crossing the California-Oregon border and after driving through Crescent City and Brookings we arrived at our final destination, Turtle Rock Resort at Gold Beach, our ‘home sweet home’ for this summer.


We’re warmly welcomed by Kachina, the owner, and given directions to our site with the instructions to settle in for a few days before reporting for ‘duty’ on Friday for an introduction by the manager.

Our site looks OK accept for the rather run down motor home next to us and no view at all of either the creek or the ocean. Oh well…’s level and large, both our vehicles fit and there is a nice grassy area behind us, bordered by tall green bushes with no neighbors at all. We will learn later that this is really one of the best sites for being out of the ever present cool wind and having a lot of sunshine and also a lot of privacy.