Scott/Sequoia National Park: 5/30 – 6/3/19

Scott returned to San Diego and spent part of May 30 at SunLand RV Resort catching on up his sleep as he had been up for 27 hours since leaving NJ.  He had roughly four days alone until he had to return to San Diego to pick me up.  He drove straight to Sequoia National Forest and boon docked just outside of Sequoia National Park.

C7BFEBB1-5DC6-4C17-85FB-2AC37CEBD19EThe weather was chilly, with daytime temps in the 60’s and low 40’s at night. On his first night there, he watched the sun set over the horizon.

57120EF9-E933-45A3-A60E-116023162031The following morning, he hiked up to Tokopah Falls on the Kaweah River.  He wanted to check it out before taking me there.  Here is a glimpse of his hike that day.

44735E86-3FDE-4BA9-AA0F-D1BADEB29790E0DF1A5B-5375-4E8C-ACBF-32903EB9F01DOn Saturday, he began a ten-mile round trip hike towards Heather Lake, but turned back less than two miles in due to snow.  See for yourself.

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358AC13F-50E3-4F48-B20A-AA5130D077E9Look closely at the picture below.  Zoom in for a chilling experience.  It looks like a fresh print.

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In one more day, our adventure together would start up again.

 

 

New Jersey: 5/15 – 6/3/19

I have realized that the cheapest flights either depart at the crack of dawn or arrive after midnight.  It is a costly headache to have to find a place to sleep in the middle of the night (especially in Los Angeles) than it would be to pay a higher rate to fly at a more reasonable time of day.  I will mention more of this later in the blog.

Our visit to New Jersey was a whirlwind for me as I pretty much never stopped.  It began with my mom’s 90th birthday weekend.  We had a family party planned with 22 people for dinner at Lieto’s on Saturday night.  

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This is what 90 looks like!!
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Mom and Siblings
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Mom and Grandchildren (missing Patrick, Paige, and Cody)
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Althea, Mom, Rose and Brother Bernie
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Mom and Danielle
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My honey and me

On her actual birthday, May 21, we took a ride to Barnegat, NJ, to see my brother, Jim, and Jeanette’s new digs in a beautiful 55+ retirement community about 15 minutes from one of my favorite places, LBI.  (I just may find myself down in that area someday.)  We enjoyed a seafood lunch on the island, and returned home that same day. 

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Jim and Mom
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Selfie outside of restaurant
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Mom and Stephanie

On Thursday, we went to Finnegan’s in Westwood for another birthday celebration with my mom’s brother, Bernie, and his wife, Rose, and my dad’s brother, Phil, and his wife, Dorothy.  Just another reason to celebrate my mom. 

9C05A647-7A64-41D7-9E3C-EF2A0BF56C11B9162940-CC11-4C33-8F5C-4D0502D202054C67BDFC-0EA8-40C2-A114-DA058EB78CB6On May 26, 2019, my daughter, Danielle, was the maid-of-honor in the wedding of her childhood neighbor and dear friend, Alexis.  Scott and I were invited to a Pre-Wedding Rehearsal party at Alexis’ and Arianna’s new home in Booton, NJ, on the Friday evening before the wedding.  It was great to see their digs and meet the rest of the bridal party and close friends.  The wedding took place at Rock Island Lake Club, a beautiful lake-front venue in Sparta, NJ.  It was truly a beautiful ceremony with a fun reception to follow.  Why is there so much food served at weddings????

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Ariana & Alexis

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Maid of Honor Speech

D414EAE2-6633-4149-9F40-8083255C468A37AD8257-5867-4CE5-A1F2-6299CC07ADFDMemorial Day evening was spent at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate my great-nephew, Marlon’s, 21st birthday.  Why didn’t anybody take pictures??  It was a fun evening.  

Scott and I were able to take one hike in Harriman, and I got to three yoga classes at Juluka, my training location.  It was a year ago this month that I completed my 200 hours to become a RYT, and it was wonderful to see my teachers and teachers-in-training again.  It’s a family that I miss and think of often during our travels.  I also crammed in doctors visits to get in my annual checkups – physical/mammography/body-skin check.  And, I was able to see my orthopedist to learn that I had a small tear in my ACL in my left knee. So much for being ski bums this past winter.  I went back to my favorite Physical Therapist, Jeff Grinkovitch, in Oradell for a take-home exercise program to strengthen my knee.  Thank you, Jeff.

Scott returned to San Diego on Wednesday, May 29, while I stayed in NJ to attend my very first Bat Mitzvah for a young girl that I tutored for several years.  It was a privilege to see how she had grown and to witness how her determination and effort to overcome dyslexia while simultaneously studying Hebrew paid off.  She was amazing!  I was beyond proud of her accomplishments.  

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My date

In between attending the ceremony at the Temple and the evening gala, I made a quick trip to Valley Hospital to meet my second great-nephew, Luke Thomas Smith.  He was absolutely perfect!  Congratulations to the parents of boy #2.

336B47E5-388E-42A1-B4A0-A53B9710F39BD5801B87-1E5E-400F-A186-920AA2F11908My final event before returning home was an art show at Glen Rock Art Studio.  My goddaughter had won an award, and I was invited to the showing.  She is too stinking cute and becoming quite the little artist.  It will be nice to see how she develops her talent in the years to come.

132DCADB-E7FF-4615-9F02-4AF640FBCFDBThere were so many friends that I wanted to see during my short visit to NJ, but it was impossible to make that happen.  After one year of full-timing (living on the road), I am realizing that “home” is where Scott and the trailer are.  New Jersey is my hometown, but no longer my home.  It is now a place that I visit.  And, there is only so much one can do during a limited visit.

Scott returned to San Diego a few days before me.  His 8:25 p.m. flight out of Newark scheduled to arrive at 11:25 p.m, was delayed due to poor weather and overloading.  Overloading??  What??  They had to wait while they emptied fuel from the plane, and some people actually got off the plane, too.  By the time the plane was ready to take off, it would not have landed in San Diego by midnight, which is the cutoff for any incoming and outgoing flights.  Who knew this rule??  Thus, he had to fly into Los Angeles airport, and then take a two-hour bus ride to the San Diego airport.  This was a long night/day for him.  He was up for 27 hours.  

A few days later, my return flight was scheduled to leave Newark at 6:00 p.m. There were delays, and it was an hour later before we took off.  At least my plane landed in San Diego by 10:30 p.m.  Scott picked me up and we drove three hours just past Los Angeles.  There were several motels that I searched on google that had limited availability.  They all said the same thing.  “We only have two beds in a room or a suite available.”  A one-bed room cost from $89 – $125.  A two-bed room started at $135.  As it was, we paid $154 at a Super 8.  Highway ripoff.  Just saying.  We would only be there for about eight hours.  If I had gotten in a little earlier in the day, we could have driven the six hours to Sequoia National Forest to sleep in our trailer for free.  

San Diego, CA: 5/1 – 5/14/19

We After four days exploring in Joshua Tree National Park, we headed west on 10 to 86S to 22S to S3 to 78W to 79S to 8W to 5N and into San Diego.  We travelled past the San Felipe Hills, up and down winding roads with varying landscapes.  I love taking pictures while we are driving since I am pretty much always the passenger, especially when we are towing the trailer behind us.  Not only does it give me something to do, but I have become awestruck with the changing terrain.

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Orange Trees
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Flat, sandy landscape with mountains off in the distance
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Sandy- rocky hills and ravines
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Golf Resort in the middle of it all
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Mountains with lots of vegetation
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Eight-foot tall yellow flowering plant
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Driving through a rocky canyon
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Back to green vegetation
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Originally an Art Gallery – Now a Promotional Products Company (Nice Car)
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Lake Cuyamaca
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Welcome to the city of San Diego…Hello Palm Trees

Our home for the next two weeks was located between the two main highways in San Diego, Routes 8 and 5.  It doesn’t look that way from the picture below, but if you were here with us, you can “hear” the truth.

ADCA65EA-FDDC-45C1-A2F5-9F16DBCD851FWe are the first slot in Row A, which is just to the right of the Santa Fe sign in the picture above.  The light colored building #5707 to the left is the main office plus all of their amenities.  The pool and jacuzzi are in the front on ground level, and there are rental apartments on the second floor.  There is a large community room for cooking and relaxing.  In addition to a large kitchen with two separate ovens, it features a pool table, a ping-pong table, two bar-style tables with four chairs each, about six chairs and one flat screen television on the wall.  It’s a great place to practice my yoga.  Behind this recreational room is a new laundry room complete with ten washing machines and ten dryers.  There is also a small gym with treadmills, free weights, a few weight-strengthening machines, as well as a conference room that can be partitioned off for privacy.  Everything and anything we need is within a relatively short driving distance. It’s just very noisy compared to where we have been.  It is a major city after all.

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Home for two weeks

We were told by office staff that we need to be careful that our bikes don’t get stolen.  They have been having problems with stolen bicycles recently.  The bikes, as well as our new water toys, are now all locked and covered behind the trailer.

Our first day here we took a short drive to Mission Beach and took a two-hour walk along the Pacific Ocean.  It was breezy with warm temperatures, but it was a little too cold to be swimming, but just perfect for getting your feet wet.

B18E9BFF-E519-480C-8849-9A1E2CA8EB9BIt looks just like the Jersey Shore, doesn’t it?

9ECB9C22-1D9E-408A-BF1F-118174D72EBFLater, we met my nephew, Patrick, and his beautiful dog, Harley, for lunch at Fat Fish Cantina grill on Mission Blvd.  Margaritas and sea bass.  Yum!

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9F2AEB94-CBBD-46AA-9AD3-C1AAEF8ED1EAOn Friday morning, we decided to check out the trails at Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego.  No charge for parking or admission.

925A280B-4DD3-45E2-A412-13BCB6E89DE2.jpegIt was a series of rolling hills with multiple trails breaking off to offer varying terrain.  We chose the South Fortuna and North Fortuna Loop, a 6.3 mile trek with a 1,348’ elevation gain, that we completed in just under three hours.  It is outlined below in yellow.

577BA202-AC90-495B-9424-016765CF9CF6While it wasn’t crowded, it is obviously a popular spot for locals.  There are 24 trails that you can choose from, and you can decide if you want to get your heart rate up or prefer to take an easy stroll.   When we began the hike, it was mostly cloudy with quite comfortable hiking conditions.

693C7DE0-BEC3-49C1-8CA4-435009E08CC5The green hills slowly added bursts of yellow.

258EF641-08BB-45E4-8DE1-C4977ABDA326Beyond the stunning sea of yellow, you can see many homes built high on the hills.

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This bridge was donated by Troop 985, an Eagle Scout Service Project…brought back memories

In addition to the sea of yellow were spurts of other stunning colors.

CB758679-1A1B-48F2-86E2-CC8EE3579508B3CF84C2-EC17-4828-8AFC-CF3839C7B7FC

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4BAC8704-D969-428B-B489-8462A852BDC5Finally, we saw even deeper, darker yellow flowers with an orange center.  Simply beautiful!

ED63AB58-9360-4850-9CDA-A06B9206FDF1It was still a bit cloudy when we reached the first peak.

73AB5BD9-265A-4549-ABE4-9E515FA410C5
South Fortuna Summit

It wasn’t long before the sun broke through the morning clouds and we could feel the humidity.  We don’t know if it was smog or some sort of haze that prevented us from seeing the Pacific Ocean in the background.

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North Fortuna Summit

I felt really good today, even though my expression above clearly says something to the contrary.  My bronchitis is over and it’s time to get the lungs functioning better again.

Somewhat close to the end of the trail, there was a bicycle pump available for use.  We have never seen this on any hike before.  Maybe its a California thing?

18E19C8A-8595-4BF1-A495-6080685F2C07.jpegWe plan to go back and hike here again, as well as do some mountain biking, which is allowed on some of the trails. Goodbye bronchitis.  Hello climbing heart rate!

On Saturday, we took our second beach excursion to Windansea Beach, which is just south of La Jolla.  After the clouds blew away this morning, the sun was once again out and shining.  The air temperature was in the mid 70’s, which made for very comfortable beach weather.  We parked for free on a side street and walked one short block to the free beach.  If you zoom in on the picture below, you can see the surfers.

F0784484-1A3E-447D-AB7A-A78E78061C5E.jpegThe water temperature was roughly 64 degrees, and it was only chilly when you first got in.  The surf was quite rough.  Right after I took this selfie, I lost my balance, went up in the air, and landed on my right butt cheek.  Luckily, I saved the phone from getting wet.  I am a nut.  I will probably have yet ANOTHER bruise.

895A4071-9A04-4B0B-9B6D-DA92F1351350There was a wedding taking place about 250 feet from where we were sitting.  I took a picture, but it looks like I missed the bride.  She was gorgeous!  I wonder what the odds are for good weather for a Californian beach wedding in May.

BBCCFE28-8D80-471E-810D-9E1B27EE6A42Scott braved the rough water much longer than I did.  I was happy on my blanket.

4E4329C7-6914-4004-89FD-DA49A4CF17CBWe walked back to our car, changed out of our wet clothes, and had a picnic lunch.  Then, we went back to the beach to sit for awhile and take in the landscape.

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E13D165A-2D69-4AE1-9752-FB279159AE79What a gorgeous day!  When we left, we passed many homes with meticulously landscaped front yards.  Albeit small, I really loved this setup.

8D5A389A-64D1-49EC-A409-16A44B395EFDLa Jolla Cove was our third beach to visit.  It is a small, picturesque cove and beach that is surrounded by cliffs.  The Cove is protected as part of a marine reserve; underwater it is very rich in marine life, and is popular with snorkelers, swimmers and scuba divers.  There were many group kayakers with guides as this is a popular spot for non-motor boat sports as well.

AD7387F1-D859-4431-BB8F-D06C779B2475It was a perfect day to be out on the water.  Although it was only in the mid-sixties, the bright sun felt wonderful as we rowed about, around, and through the cave.  We saw several seals taking in the sun, as groups of seabirds hung out above on the edges of the cliffs.  After two hours of frolicking, we headed back to shore.  I had only done this once before, and at that time I easily flipped my kayak over.  As I reminded myself to keep the kayak facing the shoreline to stay afloat, it took only a second for it to flip over.  I scrambled to catch my hat, suntan lotion, and YETI water bottle.  Now, I am zero for two for kayak landing. Scott got onto shore with no mishaps.  I had to wait on the boardwalk with the kayaks while he went to get the truck.  I was FREEZING!!!!  All of a sudden, that light wonderful breeze was ripping through my wet clothing.  My lips even turned blue!  It may be time to invest in a wetsuit.

Monday morning was cloudy and cool with the threat of rain.  We were trying to decide what to do. By 11:00, the sun began to peek out, and we took a ride to Black’s Beach near Glider port in Torrey Pines bluffs.  We were dressed to hike, not swim since it was only in the low 60’s.  This beach is best known for the great surfing, and a section of it is a legal nude beach.  We liked the idea of a 300-foot hike down to the beach, but you wouldn’t catch me carrying a surfboard with me.  These are die-hard surfers who have no problem carrying their board down and then back up the 300-foot cliff, and they are there wearing swim shorts or wet suits.  I felt a little uncomfortable seeing naked men walking along the shore.  Where does one look?  So awkward.  In the photo below, I am looking south.  You can see some paragliders in the background.  It looks so cool, but I have no desire to try that sport.

CC4B1AC6-3543-42D4-9485-DF40B46DBF06The next picture was taken at 200 steps up from the bottom.  It doesn’t look as steep as it really was.

34F9C8AE-8581-481E-9332-C6F0C38A4588Our next hike was El Cajon Mountain, which is a 10.6 miles lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lakeside, CA.

00A048CA-2AFB-4452-9F7C-898BF00E46F1 It is a mountain in the Cuyamaca Mountains, and is a prominent natural landmark in the East County of San Diego. The summit of El Cajon Mountain is at 3648 feet.  The mountain is almost completely surrounded by private property or and indian reservation, but the mountain itself is mostly within the Cleveland National Forest or the County of San Diego’s El Capitan Open Space Preserve. There are many different hikes and climbs up El Cajon Mountain, with difficulties ranging from a class 1 hike all the way up to a class 3 scramble.  All the climbs are difficult due to the considerable elevation gain.  The trail head is located within the community of Lakeside, CA.  We parked in the lot and made our way up a road to reach the trailhead.

CCE547A1-8F7F-476A-B0B3-BAF26711B5C3Most of the trail was dirt covered and surrounded by luscious greenery.

B3BF9104-1FD8-4461-9120-6F79C81F0CC3The flowers were also in bloom, and the smell of lavender was ever present.

B04D5C45-336A-4E52-A7E4-021A750E4DFE703DEEE4-3F0E-4636-990E-C01F9691049CFBF38D28-5E8F-459C-B0AF-5FCF873F0407Luckily, it was overcast throughout the entire hike.  It would have been uncomfortable with the sun as there were no shady spots.  At times, the clouds were engulfing us.

0002EB98-2C53-4853-AA56-BCD0021F664BThen we came upon a most unusual sign, which we have never seen while hiking.

A87253E4-6366-4C79-938E-9DA3A1A2D2C4I actually thought about turning around since it would not be just going back down, but rather down and up and down and up.  This was a tricky hike.  We continued on another two miles until we reached this sign.

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At this point, we were so close to the summit.  The terrain became narrow and rocky.  We made it!

AF8D160E-D737-42DC-B626-EC57756CB14DScott noted that the boulder behind us was the true summit.

767B57AF-BAD0-49F4-B109-10252F06F36FHe wanted me to join him.  This was my reaction.

09B66C0A-3AAE-470E-B129-ADA87114E957It took of just over five hours to go 10.5 miles.  Total elevation gain was 3,616 feet, even though the summit was slightly higher than that number.  I was very tired, but I felt really good when it was over.  We need more of this in our daily lives.

No cooking that evening.  Better to spend it with my nephew again.  We dined at The Fish Market Restaurant, Top of the Market, at the San Diego bayside.

6711E71A-1A20-41B2-8BC4-910EF2B4F210We walked around outside after our meal and took in the sights.  We saw the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military and the Kissing sailor statue also known as Unconditional Surrender Statue.

A3A13A04-2A40-4AD4-85E5-F2A9691FB4DAEABE7622-1206-4CA2-A11E-F12E341122F6The next day we became tourists with an old army buddy of Scott’s that lives in San Diego.  Charlie picked us up and our day together began with lunch at George’s at the Cove, a famous seafood restaurant overlooking La Jolla Cove.  The seals were playfully barking below to my delight.

97C7BD61-CB2D-4AA9-BACE-50561A5BBAFDOur next stop was Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Park which offers great views of the city.

AB8FBE80-A954-4852-AB51-84FE06C5B34201649B34-BC81-4888-A552-FCEB13E97826We got back in the car and drove to Seaport Village.

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7F1306F0-7404-4F86-8C27-B4233C1C677DCharlie pointed out various famous locations as we continued our tour.

53F5A545-E630-42D1-9EA2-C2679D96CFEEI had no problem being a back seat passenger.

9796449D-3724-45E6-B284-F13B33546E67Thursday, May 9th, was Scott’s 56 birthday.  He enjoyed a home-made Italian dinner of Bow Tie Pasta with sautéed vegetables and sweet sausage, finished off with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Yummy!

52805229-84C5-492B-BEE9-B05E495A0A64His birthday gift was a map of the United States National Parks.  Now we can track our progress.  Red pins reflect 2018 park visits, green pins are for 2019 park visits, and the white pins represent places we have skied.

ADB127C5-678A-4CF6-919E-899277F28151We couldn’t leave San Diego without going to the San Diego Zoo.  One of the highlights of the day was this very silly orangutan who entertained the humans.

 

We were lucky to get up close to a Grizzly Bear who was preparing to eat.

EDE8D8CB-C50A-4E6F-AD3D-415248ABA2B647A22EFE-11FD-476C-B060-AB914E29D556F83765B5-B69C-4C0F-A1C8-5128433D4E31My favorite animal, the monkey, entertained the humans as well with their acrobatic stunts.  Here are some babjust hanging out and contemplating life.

778111EA-6868-4D7F-9485-912051D8B227Since walking around the zoo all day in cool temperatures wasn’t enough, we went home to take a quick nap, shower and then headed over to the Civic Center to see Jerry Seinfeld live.

6A578E31-F7E0-4708-BEA1-D3B419735E46Another famous landmark is the Coronado Hotel.

CB964EA4-B2BA-4881-AFF3-7C06C0830A83You can get to it by taking the ferry…

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…or by driving across the bridge, which is how we traveled.

What better way to end our travels in San Diego than to be guests at my nephew’s home.  He was quite the griller, and his home that he shares (with two other male roommates ANd a large dog) was spotless.   Needless to say, I was very impressed.  It was a great evening!

DBE9F996-EC53-4FE8-AF6D-C36E72A8E9682177B1AC-2795-4CAF-AA2D-D00FB13D392288C1138B-14B2-42FD-8045-FA0B71195E4648D68610-5696-4DBF-8471-96A171588A60How many times did we watch the replay of the final second of the game when Toronto beat Philadelphia in the NBA Conference Semifinals?  What an exciting win for Toronto!

The time has come to leave Southern California.  We will be storing our RV and heading back to Jersey for my mom’s 90th birthday party and a wedding.  To be continued…

 

Joshua Tree National Park: 4/27 – 5/1/19

We traveled west on Hwy 10, exiting Arizona, and entered Southern California.  I noticed that the landscape was still very much desert like, however you could now see snow capped mountains in the distance.

76376E19-9112-4242-A18C-52D4AB7F9107We wanted to stay in one of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park, but it was still extremely hot, and Scott knew that I would be a happier camper if we could use our A/C.  Instead, we stayed at a KOA RV Park in Hot Springs, CA, that was located about 30 minutes outside of the national park.  It was a typical KOA.  It had a nice wind break behind us, but the sites were on top of each other.  It was pretty empty, too.  The few of us that were there were clumped together in the same area.

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65BC80C0-66E3-4831-A6F9-6FCBD206C5A1We got settled and relaxed for the remainder of the day.  The wind was keeping the high heat at bay.  It ended up being cooler than expected over night.  In the morning, we headed to the park.

552E70D8-5959-4806-B396-698EDC4BBD11We went into the Visitor’s Center at the northwest entrance to get a map of the park so we could figure out what to do first.  I took a picture while inside the Center of the map below.  It was very helpful in pinpointing exactly where we were in California.

B8365918-8682-4816-A4F3-01531C60EE97The poster below caught my eye.  Any idea why???

49CF6EF6-ACE1-4C75-8F74-23B031BA4BE2Deserts don’t have firm boundaries, and much of the park lies in the overlap between the Colorado and Mojave deserts.  This transition zone has a wealth of biological diversity and is home to species characteristic of each desert ecosystem.  We were fortunate to see several over the course of our stay here.  The western half of the park, at elevations above 3,000 feet, is Mojave Desert habitat.  The wild-armed Joshua tree can be found in the Mojave Desert.  It isn’t really a tree but a species of yucca.  They can grow to be over 40 feet tall.

We left the Visitor’s Center and began driving south on Park Boulevard.  It didn’t take long before we realized that we had never seen anything like this before.  These trees/cacti were so unusual, and there were many large rock formations interspersed among the trees.

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CF7AD3D3-445D-4F3F-8B0E-3853664E35DBFor our first hike, we chose Ryan’s Mountain.  It was a three mile, out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet.  It was sunny and windy with temps in the low 70’s which make for great hiking weather.  The park lists this hike as strenuous, but All Trails rates it as moderate.  We felt that it was mostly easy, with sections that were moderate.

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C60438B5-107D-4535-839F-75EBD52F2DC9The wildflower colors (lavender, fuchsia, yellow, red, orange and deep purple) were stunning!  Some were in clusters and some stood alone on one stem.  Magnificent!

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E42F368F-45AB-43C6-A61D-59EBB918A441

 

71B076F6-7CDD-459F-9CDD-A2B1BA574985The views from the 5,458’ summit were worth the effort.

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Ryan’s Mountain Summit

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0D81569B-ED80-42CA-B80C-B98C408278D7Here is a little footage of our descent.

 

After Ryan’s hike, we got back in the car and continued to drive southeast on Park Boulevard.  The eastern half  Our next stop would be Cholla Cactus Gardens.  Again, we had seen nothing like this before.  This desert landscape was truly unique, filled with cactus plants we had never seen before.

1434B4BC-3A1E-4ECC-9A79-5C871183A13CI would take pictures of Scott taking pictures…

231633E3-C613-4C94-8314-87B2043B7628

CECA67D4-1EF5-456E-A83B-DB1B29A007EB…and this is what his camera produced.

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83C28F63-03CE-4C9C-8E4A-CEF8D727006CHere are a few close-ups of this unique cacti.

 

A little farther south we would pass Ocotillo Patch.  This plant bears one of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen.  There is a tourist standing behind the tree which  provides height perspective.

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Ocotillo

We called it a day and headed back to camp.  For one night, we had neighbors right next to us that were from Austria.  They had rented a RV and were traveling with a three year old boy and a ten-month baby girl.  I give them credit.  This way of traveling is a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about little ones.  It’s hard enough dealing with big ones.

Before we headed out of our KOA campsite the next morning, I decided to check out the mineral pools.  Although this resort was dated and in need of some renovations, they did have three small mineral pools and one larger mineral swimming pool.  I forced myself to just go in once…and I am happy that I made that choice.

E819638C-2F28-461E-89DB-85F7FF0B37F9Since no one was around, I got to enjoy my own private pool.  Before I left, I couldn’t resist but to take a picture of this sign posted by the pool.

61CD20F5-63DF-4285-915C-26895456AFAANeedless to say, I was a bit concerned with my surroundings and very much attentive to every step I took.  Thankfully, I never saw one scorpion.

On Monday morning the temperatures were a bit cooler, so we left the KOA and found a site open in Belle Campground, which was located inside Joshua Tree National Park.  Not only is it cheaper to stay inside a National Park versus a KOA, but it is usually more quiet, tranquil and picturesque.

FE09817C-0902-4BA5-BE3D-E8A39055F8D2Here we are at Site 18.

C3D6A668-630C-4121-BFB6-E5FAAFE55A82We took about a three-mile walk through our campsite, and we saw about five lizards, one black-tailed jackrabbit, and one small antelope ground squirrel.  Later, burgers were on the menu for dinner, and I usually do the grill cooking.  The weather was changing and it was very windy.  So, Scott set up the grill to protect it from the wind.

8F294FE9-23D4-4026-B2DD-12A1B55E649BIt was also a little cloudy that evening, but Scott was determined to catch a sunset with his camera.  I think what he captured below is nothing shy of amazing.  I plan to enter this photo into a contest.

CD0B92A8-BA36-4B86-96CE-21B2B91063B1Do you see that strike of lightning dead center?  Totally cool.

The next morning, it was 49 degrees outside and 56 degrees in the trailer.  Brrrrrrr.  Nothing better than to get up and get out since it was perfect “desert” hiking weather.  Today’s choice was a 7.5 mile, out-and-back hike called “Lost Palms Oasis”.  It featured sandy washes and rolling terrain until you hike down into a canyon to explore a fan palm oasis.  At the start of the hike, we saw massive palm trees pictured below.  We wouldn’t see them again until we reached the oasis.

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Entrance to Lost Palms Oasis

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B67F1C0C-51F0-4294-91B3-737DA3AB2E91While we walked, we saw beautiful, colorful desert flowers…

463AD912-1746-4826-A72E-B32B68EB3C3C6AD31452-137E-445B-B76F-BA22D00E1DF7

08417959-5669-4DC1-952D-00AA900EA9491706023F-A653-41B7-A586-33E7FE010944

F80C88E5-43A5-4895-BE6B-BDFC146BCE029AB1B55D-1107-44B6-8D37-5793F7E66454…several lizards…

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Long-nosed Leopard Lizard – Common
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Not sure
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Western Zebra-tailed Lizard – Common
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Desert Spiny Lizard – Common

…a large tortoise…

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Mojave Desert Tortoise – Threatened

…and two rattlesnakes…

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18” Baby Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

 

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Five-foot Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is the FIRST time that I didn’t freak out when I saw a snake.  I am proud of myself that I was able to walk past both of them without hyperventilating.  Scott is right.  They want nothing to do with us.  Leave them alone and they will be on their way.

After about two-and-a-half hours, we made it to the oasis.  It doesn’t make sense to have this view in the middle of the desert.

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FF402E0C-5090-4BB8-B41A-7D69181BF4E6We were resting on a rock and looking up at this.

ACB6F7AA-7795-4647-BC08-6897CA3E3B20We walked around, taking in the unimaginable view.

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29606AB5-2BE2-4D16-8FD0-5A67DC5133F8After relaxing for a little while and enjoying the midday breeze, we headed back out another 3.5 miles.  The ocotillo flower could very well be my new favorite!  Something about the color red.

57977FDB-DCF4-48F0-A581-3A18992AF621We got back to the trailer, ate lunch, and then took a nap.  Later that evening, we took a drive to “Hall of Horrors”, which was recommended by a friend of Dani’s.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera which meant Scott was the only one taking pictures.  He climbed up about 30+ feet onto a large boulder and set up his tripod.  I declined to follow as I wasn’t so keen on the idea of having to come back down.  He is taking a picture of me from his perch, which was much higher than this picture denotes.

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D13DAC5F-EBD9-4F4F-B7EE-F89C6E7C4E7AMuch later that night, I went to bed to read…

C874EAD5-6FB3-4685-9723-89076BFDDB44…and Scott went back out to check on the night sky.

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D8A34CC4-1446-48AB-8DB7-7972AE227439When the sun rises tomorrow, we will be off to San Diego.

 

Arizona: 4/23 – 4/27/19

Since I was under the weather when I returned from New Jersey, Scott reserved our site back at Towerpoint RV Resort for another few nights so that I could recuperate.  They gave us the same site that we had two weeks ago.

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BEE0AE3F-4007-4535-8C1B-02FE403E4F77He knew that I really enjoyed this RV Resort.  It was unlike any that we had previously stayed at.  I wasn’t able to swim laps, but I would take a quick dip and then get back under the umbrella.  The temperature was reaching 100 degrees, but without any humidity.  Rest is what I needed as I was still coughing up a lung.  Sitting under an umbrella took away the heat of the day.  It was very relaxing.

A2E76028-5F20-4739-ABA3-F05984F8E287You can see behind me that the outside bar and grill was taped off and closed for the summer season.  At least 50% of the home owners spend six months from December-April here for the warmer climate and then head back to Canada.  In the front of the facility there was not only an Arizona State flag and a USA flag flying proudly, but also a Canadian flag, which is representative of how many Canadians own property here.

0F32E5AE-4A79-4D18-BFDC-9E1D3B3BB912By Thursday, I was beginning to feel somewhat better, and I wanted to do something more than just sit poolside.  While I was away, Scott was busy finding new toys for us to play with.

7AC6B38E-002A-41DB-80A6-FA414D339653We were proud owners of his and her kayaks, plus a stand-up paddle board.  We took a drive to Saguaro Lake which was a short drive from our campsite.  Scott took the paddle board and I tried out my red kayak.  The weather was picture perfect…blue sky…low 70’s.  We played around for about 3 hours and then headed back to our resort.  I needed a nap after all that paddling.

The next morning, we packed up and headed west to California.  Crossing over the Colorado River, we entered The Golden State.

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6D6CC672-6366-4102-B831-A90C167155DDThe welcome sign tells you that you are “Entering Pacific Time”, but we were already in Pacific Time in Arizona as they do not partake in Daylight Savings Time.  Whatever.  It won’t be long until we get to our next destination, Joshua Tree National Park.

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Heads Back to New Jersey: 4/12 – 4/23/19

I left Scott in Phoenix, Arizona, while I travelled home to see my family and attend a bridal shower.  Dani’s neighbor and childhood friend is getting married in May, and Dani is the Maid of Honor.  That Friday, April 12, the weather was beautiful in Arizona as well as in New Jersey, yet my flight was delayed four hours.  The problem was that the mid-section of the country was dealing with terrible, dangerous storms that would not allow for any aircraft to travel through.  This created a backlog of scheduled flights, massive cancellations, and longer redirected flights.  My 7:00 p.m. scheduled arrival time in NJ became 11:30 p.m., and I walked into my mom’s house at 1:11 a.m.  Just shy of 90 years old, she was waiting up for me.  That’s what moms do, I suppose.

The next day, I went into Manhattan to pick up my daughter and the “shower paraphernalia” and then headed back to New Jersey.  We ran around with GMoo shopping for furniture and other items for Dani’s new apartment.  Later that day, we picked up helium balloons for the party and stuffed them into the backseat of my rental car.  I was exhausted from the long travel day on Friday, not getting much sleep that night, and running around all day.  That evening when we got to my mom’s house, we put the balloons in the front porch thinking that they would last longer that way.  Everything was ready to go for the 11:00 a.m. shower the following morning.  When it came time to leave Sunday morning, we had one minor glitch.  I could NOT find my car keys.  We looked EVERYWHERE.  Dani was freaking out (I don’t blame her) as I tried to retrace my steps to no avail.  I woke up my mom from a sound sleep to tell her that I needed to take her car because I couldn’t find my car keys.  I hadn’t yet taken into consideration that my rental car was parked behind her car in the garage.  OMG I AM TURNING INTO MY MOTHER.  Then, Dani reminded me that all the party “paraphernalia” was in my locked rental car.  She was seething.  Finally, Dani looked in the front porch and saw the balloons (which we both thought were still in the car) and found the keys in the front door.  OMG or LOL?  Neither.  After coming in the side door last night, I went back out to the car to get the balloons.  I unlocked the front door and put them in the porch, but never took the keys back out of the doorknob.  So, both the side door and the front door were unlocked all night.  My daughter was now a stress bomb.  I have to say, however, that she pulled it all together and the shower was a big success.  I am proud of my girl!

01F0285C-AF86-4F94-BE6F-A3EE5C3C9178
Table Centerpiece
796F73B0-2800-4E72-9D23-60E26321A10E
Rainbow Candy Box Favors
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Mom Waiting for the Arrival
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Fun & Games
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The Happy Couple

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Cutting the Unicorn Rainbow Cake

C1FD0BEE-2FE6-42BF-94DE-D0BC9F7EB8D9Dani got the keys to her new apartment on Monday, April 22, but she didn’t start the move until Good Friday.  I drove in Thursday night and slept on her couch in the old apartment.  The movers were coming early the next morning, and I wanted to be there when they arrived.  I can’t say enough about these two men that went above and beyond the contracted amount and moved just about everything for us.  We did some cleaning and unpacking and then took a walk around the corner and had dinner at this little gem.

A3AA54F5-BB0F-4F87-9056-10B98885CE94That night I slept on a Aero Bed in Dani’s new living room on the fifth floor.  Neither one of us got much sleep due to the free concert on the ground below us, the on and off pouring rain, and for me…a deflated bed around 3 a.m.  When I finally woke up, my head was pounding, my sinuses inflamed, and my voice practically gone.  Feeling like I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide, I toughed it out, and we did some more unpacking, cleaning and even laundry.  Honestly, I am so glad that I was able to help her with this move.   My timing to get sick was not the greatest.  I am so happy that she is now living in a pretty, residential area where the streets are wide and uncluttered.  Look how happy she is with the width of her new neighborhood sidewalks!

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Rooftop
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Mom, there is an elevator!

On Easter Sunday morning, my mom, Dani, and I enjoyed breakfast together.  Even the Easter Bunny showed up and left some chocolate bunnies.

99129AD0-EB9F-4C36-825F-A6A160153BFCLater that afternoon, we had Easter dinner at the Whitneys.  We enjoyed plenty of food and drink, as always.  I crawled into bed that night, rubbing Vicks on my neck and chest.  The next day, my pulmonologist squeezed me into his overbooked schedule.  I was diagnosed with Bronchitis and Sinusitis, and I had a return flight to Phoenix to catch the following day.   My timing was pathetic, but I got on that flight to join my husband for a last few days in Arizona.

 

 

Scott’s Solo Vacation in Arizona: 4/12 – 4/23/19

While I was back in New Jersey, Scott began his mini vacation on his own with the truck and trailer.  He left our campsite in Mesa and headed north towards Flagstaff.  He stopped and parked off of A1 Mountain Road west of Flagstaff in Coconino National Forest.  It was a nice, cool, shady somewhat secluded spot.  There were other people parked but he had a lot of privacy.  You can see the peak of Mount Humphreys directly behind the truck.

A77234BA-69E7-4C20-9197-4B82996C7ADAThe next day he did a bunch of work on the trailer before retiring for the night.  On Monday morning, he began his trek to the summit of Humphreys Peak, the highest peak in Arizona with an elevation of 12,633’.  This out-and-back hike was 9.17 miles long with an elevation gain of 3,287’.  The temperature was in the mid 40’s with high winds at the peak.  The entire trail from start to finish was snow covered.  This is just before he reached the summit.

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CB353BD6-7E1F-4D83-9632-5428CA716CD9Next, Scott headed to Kaibab National Forest which is east of Tusayan.  He found his second boon-dock location, and this time he had it all to himself!

B71C96C2-B043-4073-B3C3-207D8A77A5C3One of his favorite pastimes is to watch the sun rise and descend.  Here is a photo of the sun beginning to go down.

FBC9C349-28F5-47A8-B938-1FB9CA736E1FOn Friday, he drove up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to hike New Hance Trail for a second time.

0291E6AB-D1A3-45F2-B3E1-6F8891F8F2E9This trail is not very popular as the incline is extremely steep, and the trail is not regularly maintained.  Last October, we both hiked down for about an hour before I chose to return to the top.  Hiking in canyons is so much different than hiking up mountains because you have to go down first.  You know that at some point, you have to turn around and hike back up.  Well, Scott hiked down for two hours this time, and here are some breathtaking photos.

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77274165-6AA2-4B9D-A60E-331703EB3832He wasn’t really alone on the hike.  There were friends on the ground…

AF9E528C-EF81-4E7B-AF80-68C312D5A263…and friends soaring through the sky.

4A1050DC-EBF5-40DE-927B-BD079E486017He was able to capture the brilliance of colors and the vastness of the canyon with his camera.

AE547C2F-A526-4A40-BD91-3F22BCEB0DC5I don’t recall seeing flowers last October.  But in April, they were plentiful.

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49A69A61-6DA5-4177-95F5-91A4B51B7592It was time for Scott to head south to Phoenix in time for my arrival.  Our next stop, together, is San Diego, California!