Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Joy of Flexibility

One of the things every full time RVer comes to appreciate is the flexibility of life on the road. The freedom to take your home anywhere you want or need to be at a moments notice is fundamental to this lifestyle choice. 2016 is turning out to be a year where flexibility is coming in to play in a big way for us.

We'd already decided to spend most of 2016 in San Diego. My parents were planning a big RV trip to the east coast and we were going to house sit for them for several months. Then life started throwing us curve balls...

On January 1st Hans' stepdad broke his femur. Fortunately his recovery is progressing nicely and we are able to assist as needed to help his parents get through this trying time.

On January 8th my mom was admitted to the hospital and is currently being treated for multiple issues with an unknown recovery period. We're taking this day by day and hoping for the best outcome.

I read a book recently, Awakening Joy by James Baraz, that discusses how to acknowledge all the little moments of joy that happen each and every day beyond, or in spite of, the ups and downs of life. This book gives solid advice on how to change our focus from negative to positive and create new habits that recognize and acknowledge joy instead of dwelling on our sorrows. I can honestly say this book has made a big impact on my outlook on life and on my ability to handle the challenges of recent weeks.

We are immensely grateful to be retired and to have the freedom to dedicate as much time as necessary to assist our parents when they need it most. We intend to hop around between Mission Bay and our Poway driveway site and Santee Lakes for the next few months as things evolve in our families. Obviously blogging will continue to take a back seat to the more urgent issues facing us right now.

San Diego is most definitely not a bad place to be during trying times. One doesn't have to go far to experience some of those moments of joy I was talking about...

I wonder how long it took these seals to get all the way to the top of the rocks?



The Sand Devils rocked the Tower Bar!


Remember to welcome JOY into your life at every opportunity!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Wrapping up 2015 in Poway, CA

Our terrific month at Santee Lakes was followed by two weeks parked in Hans' brothers' driveway in Poway, a city in North San Diego County. Part of our stay was spent house and pet sitting while the family jetted off for their annual Christmas ski trip; the last few days of our stay included some good family time once they returned.

We were spoiled to have unlimited use of their big kitchen, washer and dryer, and a large shower with amazing water pressure! Oh, and a big, beautiful bathtub was a nice treat too!

We're tucked into a corner down a long driveway so you can hardly even see us from the street.
There's a small canyon behind us and a view of our hosts lovely back yard on the other side.

One of the extra special perks of house sitting!

Coyote in the back yard.

We still managed to get together with RV friends at a pre-Christmas gathering at Mission Bay RV Resort. Thanks Kate and Iain for putting together a fun evening in your lovely water front site!

We made new friends and reconnected with others over tasty appetizers and beautiful views.

Sunset from Kate and Iain's prime waterfront site at Mission Bay RV Resort.

Lake Hodges was just a few miles from our driveway site in Poway so we did some hiking there one day on the San Dieguito River Park trails.

Lake Hodges from the Piedras Pintadas Trail.

We also did some mountain biking at Lake Hodges.

Easy single track near the Lake Hodges dam.

RVing friends Rick and Trudy, whom we met in Red Lodge, MT this past summer, were staying in Oceanside. We met up with them in Del Mar for a nice five mile loop along the beach, up Crest Canyon, through fancy neighborhoods, and a delicious lunch at Board and Brew.

Hans and Trudy and Rick at Del Mar.

Hellhole Canyon Preserve is a remote north east San Diego County hiking destination. There are 13 miles of trails through the chaparral covered hills around Paradise Mountain and (currently dry) Paradise Creek. We hiked a strenuous eight mile lollipop loop that took us to the top of Paradise Mountain with impressive 360 degree views.

View of Paradise Mountain from the trailhead.
We had to drop several hundred feet to the creek bed before climbing to the summit...
lots of steep up and down on this hike!

Fantastic views for your efforts!

We had a delicious dinner and brews at Ballast Point Brewing on Miramar Rd. (they have several locations and this is the main brewery) along with Hans' brother Norm and wife Valerie. The Black Marlin Porter, Grunion Pale Ale and a unique kale salad were the highlights of our visit.

Ballast Point had a HUGE selection of beers on tap.
Our waiter even gifted us a dessert beer at the end of the evening,
a delicious orange/chocolate version of their Victory at Sea Imperial Porter.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is a popular open space preserve running between Interstates 805 and 15 in San Diego. We hiked a very pretty four mile out and back up the lightly traveled Lopez Canyon arm of the preserve with Norm and Val and Bentley right before we hitched up for our move to Mission Bay.

One last hike with Norm and Val and Bentley before we left their very pleasant driveway site.

Our driveway stay was a perfect ending to a really fantastic year of travel. Many thanks to Norm and Val for their hospitality!

2016 is shaping up to be a little different for us...but the details will have to wait as our plans evolve in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Metamorphosis Road!

A big Thank You for reading our blog and sharing the journey with us!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wrapping Up Our Month at Santee Lakes

We've returned to San Diego every holiday season since we started fulltiming in 2012, spending one month at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve and another month at Mission Bay RV Resort. This year marks our fourth month-long stay at Santee Lakes and I find I enjoy this park more each year.

Santee Lakes is not perfect, in fact it has a couple of big issues, but it does have one of my most sought after features of any private RV park or public campground: easy access to walking in nature. At Santee Lakes you can walk several miles around the seven man made lakes in a park setting, or you can hike or mountain bike many miles up Sycamore Canyon directly from the RV park.

This year we stayed in site #173. This site backs up to the "creek", with good separation and privacy plantings between us and our neighbors. In this site our booster managed to give us 4 bars of Verizon during our entire stay...better than we've ever had in this park. Unfortunately the only way to make or receive phone calls was to have the phone in the booster and on speaker.

Here's a link to one of my previous reviews of this RV park. And here's my take on the problems with this RV park:

1) The decomposed granite that covers most of the RV sites is a pain the butt when it rains. The stuff is easily tracked into the RV and many sites have large puddles during heavy rain storms. Gravel would have been a better choice for the RV sites. Patio mats are necessary here.

2) The biggest issue with Santee Lakes: poor Verizon signal. In fact, we are so fed up with not having decent Verizon signal while staying in the middle of a big city that Hans brought it up with the office staff and they connected him with the parks director. Ms. Evans was extremely responsive to his concerns and his suggestion that Santee Lakes work with the local service providers to install more towers.

Amazingly a meeting with Verizon was already in place on that very day to talk about that exact topic! And Ms. Evans even got back to Hans after the meeting with an update! Verizon is planning on placing 2 or 3 towers in or near the park...though it is unknown how long this will take it was reassuring to know something is being done. Especially since the park's Tengo internet is not a good alternative for heavier use. Hans intends to keep in touch with the park regarding the status of the project.

Pretty and private site #173.

The "creek" running behind our site.

As we prepare to move to Hans' brothers driveway in Poway for a couple of weeks I'll sign off with some photos taken since my last post...

The Creepy Creeps at SoNo Fest.
SoNo Fest is a growing holiday festival in our former neighborhood (North Park).
This year their chili cook off featured 42 local restaurants and a craft beer garden that must have had 20 local brewers - YUM!

Black Crowned Night Heron awaiting lunch service at Santee Lakes.

Rusty remnants seen along the trail in Sycamore Canyon.

On one hike in Sycamore Canyon I saw five coyotes!

Making sure that woman wielding a camera is not a threat.

Annual chili dinner at Annie's!

A Star Wars escapee over Santee Lakes!

Red Tailed Hawk about six feet overhead at Santee Lakes.

Happy hour with Janet and Tom at Santee Lakes.

One of the best things we've done in the past month was to play lots of pickleball
with the wonderful people playing at Big Rock Park in Santee.
We just might make the drive to Santee occasionally to continue playing with this fun group!

Hans enjoying his new bike in Sycamore Canyon.
It's a Fuji SLM 2.4 carbon fiber 29er hard tail.

Riding through Sycamore Canyon.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Two Weeks in San Diego

Our annual 2.5 month stay in San Diego is well under way and full of visits with family and old friends and various chores and purchases we have put off till now. We're also meeting up with many folks we've met on the road in the past three plus years as they too pass through San Diego...this really is an ideal place to spend a portion of the winter, the climate simply does not get any better than San Diego's.

As much as I enjoy blogging about our travels to share with friends and family and to create a history for us to look back on over the years, while in our former home town I also really enjoy stepping back a bit and not thinking about everything we do as blog fodder. So this post is mostly photos of various things that made me happy over the past couple of weeks, heavily influenced by the fact we are staying at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve where there are lots of birds!

A skate gliding over sea grass at San Dieguito Lagoon.

Osprey at Santee Lakes.

Martin showing us his pretzel making skills.

Best buds with the most delicious pretzels ever!

White pelicans at Santee Lakes.

Hans carved the turkey at Thanksgiving at his brothers house...
while Bentley waited for any tidbits to fall his way!

A cold, rainy day spent in the kitchen makes me very happy!
Turkey broth made from the turkey carcass plus beer cheddar biscuits...yum!

The Coronado Bridge as seen from Embarcadero Park in black and white

Stately Great Blue Heron at Santee Lakes.

Snowy Egret at Santee Lakes.

A military vessel model club gathering at Santee Lakes.

The turtles at Santee Lakes are extremely skittish, it's really hard to sneak up on them and actually snap a photo!

This rattler was still squirming while trapped under the hawks foot.

We've had several meet ups with RVing friends, including dinner at yummy Domo Sushi in Santee with Dan and Lise whom we've seen at Santee Lakes every year. We also had a fun evening, with live music, at the delicious BNS Brewing in Santee with Janet and Tom who we met in Red Lodge, MT this past summer and it turns out they camp host at Santee Lakes every year. Alas, photography was not on my mind.

Last night though, Hans remembered to snap a photo of the delicious meal we had with Mike and Donna at their site at Mission Bay RV Resort. Having very briefly met these two before, it was fun to really get to know them over dinner. We'll overlap with them at Mission Bay in January for a few days, another opportunity perhaps for pickleball, beer and good food and company!

Mike, Donna and Lisa,