Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We're Still in San Diego...

My heartfelt thanks to our readers regarding my last post on my mothers passing. Your kind words and knowing we are not alone in this experience help ease the challenges we face as we move forward without her in our lives.

We're staying in San Diego until mid July, partly helping my dad with this transitional phase and also to house sit for some family members during an upcoming vacation.

One of our tasks is to make my dad's yard more low maintenance. The biggest project was to clear and level the former grass/dirt area in the center of the back yard and install Decomposed Granite. This new surface should prevent weeds for many years and will be a nice place to display some of the antiques my parents acquired during many years of travel.

Freshly laid decomposed granite...the job was easier than we expected!

We managed to do some hiking in our local mountains before a heatwave enveloped the entire South West. Martin, Estella and pup Chelsea joined us on a long loop in the Laguna Mountains where we were surprised to still find lots of wildflowers blooming.

It can be difficult to find good online maps of the trails in the Laguna Mountains. The late, great Jerry Schad's Afoot and Afield in San Diego County is the go to resource for all hiking around these parts.

Estella, Chelsea and Hans enjoy expansive views early in our hike seen from the Noble Canyon Trail.

More fabulous views from the Pine Mountain trail.

On warmer days we've headed to Coronado for walks along the beach.

Bayview Park is a cute little pocket park on the east side of Coronado that offers up wonderful views of downtown San Diego, a perfect spot for lunch!

We also enjoyed several good surf bands at the Surfin' Sundays Concert series at the Huntington Beach Pier.

Now that's a perfect venue for surf music!

There was more hiking in the local mountains, this time in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. This is another San Diego County hiking area whose trails are poorly represented online. Again, Afoot and Afield in San Diego County is your best bet for trail info and maps.

Lots of flowers in mid June.

These two white horses got away from their rider (the second is a pack horse), and this woman called out to us to grab the reins of the horse in front...our good deed for the day!

Crossing a big meadow on the Dyar Spring trail.

Big views on the Juaquapin trail.

When the latest heatwave hit the best place to be was the beach, so back we went to Coronado which has always been one of our favorite beaches for strolling and it's a relatively short drive from our current home base at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park.

On a steamy hot Monday in June the beach is full of colorful umbrellas, happy folks playing in the 65 degree water with the Hotel del Coronado as a lovely background.

65 degree water was too cold for us to swim in, but it was perfect for a long walk!

After we walk the beach we take the neighborhood streets back to our truck, admiring the beautiful historical homes and lovely gardens all along the way.  Check out this very cool VW trailer...


And finally a spectacular sunset over our cozy home on wheels at Sweetwater Summit.

Sunset from our site at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Tribute to my Mother

I got my love of gardening from my mother. We've spent countless hours together designing and planting and harvesting; bonding with the soil and each other. After we left San Diego and hit the road I looked forward to our return each fall and another opportunity to play in the dirt with her in her garden.

In January she was diagnosed with a Lymphoma brain tumor and started chemotherapy and our gardening dynamic changed. She would sit on the deck overlooking the backyard while I would do her bidding around the yard, using the healing power of nature to relieve our mutual stress whenever possible.

I also inherited a love of cooking from my mother. One of her joys while her energy was low these past few months was to spend hours going through her massive recipe collection, looking for interesting dishes for me to create each time I came to the house.

She'd help me start the cooking process but as her energy flagged she'd retire to the family room and I'd take over. Going through her cupboards reminded me where all of my cooking habits started. I suddenly realized where I'd learned to alphabetize my spices and the unique way I stored certain dishes or foods came from right here.

My love of travel came from my parents. In the early 1970's they bought their first RV. Soon afterward we took a memorable six week road trip around the US; visiting cousins in Arkansas and Tennessee, seeing the monuments in Washington, DC, scary lightening storms and the fascinating Amish lifestyle in Pennsylvania, amazing wildlife in Yellowstone.

Two years later we took another six week family trip to Alaska by RV, this was before the Al-Can highway was fully paved. The wonders experienced on this trip combined with many subsequent years of desert boondocking had both my sister and I hooked on travel at a very young age.

The night that Hans and I met in 2006 we talked about how my parents had just returned to San Diego after two years on the road in their RV. Clearly their decision to buy an RV when I was a kid was ultimately a factor in our decision to RV full time.

Amazingly, my mother could say she beat brain cancer. The chemo treatments she received over the past four months eliminated the brain tumor and she was in remission when she entered the hospital this past week. Unfortunately the pneumonia she was diagnosed with was too much for her weakened immune system and she passed away peacefully at age 75 on May 23, 2016 with her immediate family by her side.

Though our relationship had its difficulties like most any mother-daughter relationship, we also shared many fine traits and adventures and memories. Phyllis Lea McGuire will be missed but our time with her will be cherished forever.

My parents met us in Ouray,CO in June 2013.

My parents were a strong influence on our decision to RV so it was fun to be able to meet up with them on the road.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Out and About in San Diego County

We're making the most of our extended stay in San Diego. Along with helping out our parents we are visiting with old friends, hiking favorite trails and exploring new ones.

On one postcard perfect spring day we had brunch with former neighbors Graham and Carol, attended Earth Fair in lovely Balboa Park and walked on Coronado beach...a quintessential spring day in San Diego!

Fabulous brunch feast with Graham and Carol before heading to Earth Fair.

Earth Fair is held in Balboa Park every year for Earth Day and has grown over the years to cover most of this enormous park. There are displays devoted to every possible aspect of environmental awareness, plus the usual food and junk booths we see at every fair. I'll spare you photos of the variety of booths but will say that the people watching was fantastic, there were plenty of useful freebies and we enjoyed seeing the latest in environmentally progressive living, plus Balboa Park is always a nice place for a stroll.

Succulent Peace.

Hans under attack by the giant cactus monster!

Balboa Park's rose garden was at its peak.

Acres of stunning blooms!

Seen at the World Beat Center...
Drumming and hooping at World Beat Center.
The perfect end to a gorgeous spring day in San Diego: a walk on Coronado Beach.

We've had a few unseasonably hot days this spring, with temps hitting 90 degrees in the inland valleys, so one lovely week day we headed to the Laguna Mountains with Martin, Estella and Chelsea to hike the Sunset Trail.

With minimal elevation gain, a combination of shady forest and wide open views, granite boulders and a couple of ponds, the Sunset Trail and Big Laguna Trails are just an hour from San Diego and offer a nice escape from the city heat (it's 20 degrees cooler in the local mountains).

This pond is about one third full but we were happy to see any water in it due to the long drought.

Big views of Laguna Meadow.

Goofing around on the rocks with Big Laguna "Lake" in the distance.

Big Laguna "Lake".

In a city full of craft breweries it stands to reason that just about everyone must know a brewer, right? Our friends Martin and Estella happen to be neighbors with one of the newest brewers in town, Mike Maass of Burning Beard Brewing. We checked out their tasting room in El Cajon one evening and really enjoyed the robust Holy the Voyd Coffee Stout on nitro and Rye the Lightning Pale Ale.

Chris the brewer, Mike the co-founder, Martin, Estella and Hans.

One of the local weekly magazines, the San Diego Reader, features a hiking story each week. After living in San Diego for many years I am always surprised to discover a new place to hike. Crestridge Ecological Preserve is just such a place brought to our attention by The Reader.

We hiked a few of its 15 miles of trails which took us through rolling chaparral covered hills alongside avocado groves (both alive and dead), through oak groves shading morteros in granite indicating how lush this must have been at one time with a creek flowing and native people living here.

Local sculptor and architect James Hubbell built this straw bale visitor shelter.

James Hubbell mosaic sculpture.

This wide road/trail took us alongside avocado groves at times and provided expansive views
across the chaparral covered hills.

Our extended stay in San Diego allowed Hans' band, The Sand Devils, to play another gig. This one was a private party at Sand Devils guitarist Ran's new house in celebration of his new home tiki bar: The Reverb Cavern. Thanks Ran and Dale for hosting a fantastic party!

Lots of fun details cover every inch of this fantastic tiki room.

Mixologist Ran behind his new tiki bar.

The Sand Devils playing poolside.

Another excellent surf band, The Insect Surfers, played as well.

As you can see, it's no hardship to spend spring in San Diego!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Springtime in Poway, CA

We've spent the last week and a half in our favorite driveway site in Poway, CA courtesy of Hans' brother and sister-in-law. This is the first time we've parked here in the spring and we've enjoyed the bountiful bougainvillea blooms, the trees in the canyon full of leaves and bird song all day long...we are so fortunate to have this space available to us!

Gorgeous springtime driveway parking in Poway!

Iron Mountain is a popular hiking area in Poway (a suburb of San Diego). The main Iron Mountain trail is always crowded so we usually hike the Ellie Lane section; we love its relative solitude, steep workout among giant granite boulders, and terrific views of north east San Diego county.

Everything is incredibly green this year because we've had a decent amount of rain.
It's wonderful to see water in this stock pond which has been dry for a couple of years.

Hans, Bentley, Valerie and Norm take a breather on this perfect spring day for a hike.

Another day we hiked Mt. Woodson, made famous in recent years for its Potato Chip Rock. The last time we hiked here was over the winter holidays and this difficult trail was mobbed with young people who waited in line 20 or 30 deep to get a photo on Potato Chip Rock! We swore we'd never hike it during a holiday again.

This is a 7.5 mile out-and-back strenuous climb from Lake Poway with no shade so when a cool weekday opportunity came along we hit the trail. We enjoyed green chaparral covered hillsides dotted with spring flowers, gorgeous views and only a handful of people wanting photos on Potato Chip Rock...a perfect day on the trail!

There is no easy way up or down Potato Chip Rock,
good grippy hiking shoes make it possible to scale the granite surface.

It's not graceful but I made it!

The three young girls on the right were taking so much time trying to figure out how to get over to the Chip
that I just blasted my way on up during their indecision!

Fantastic views of the clouds receding to the north as we made our way back down the mountain.

Lake Poway surrounded by spring flowers.
Monday and Tuesday the lake is closed to fishing and boating so it's quite peaceful.

On one of our trips to Point Loma to visit my parents we made a stop at Liberty Station to check out the much hyped new Liberty Public Market. Liberty Station is an incredible repurposing of the former Naval Training Center which originally opened its doors to naval recruits in 1923.

In 2000 the city of San Diego took over this landmark property and built a variety of housing options and park space around the existing historical buildings. Retail and arts businesses have gone into the revitalized Spanish Colonial buildings, San Diego history is celebrated throughout the vast property as well.

The latest addition to this beautiful, vibrant center is Liberty Public Market (LPM). Similar to Seattle's Pikes Place Market or San Francisco's Ferry Market Building, LPM is a celebration of local San Diego vendors of specialty food and drink. It's easy to see why it's been a big hit since the day it opened.

Though smaller than the venues named above, LPM currently has a couple dozen stations of eclectic foods to order; meats, oils and produce to take home; and wine and beer bars for sipping. The outdoor patio is dog friendly and the surrounding park land and Liberty Station itself, is an inviting place for a stroll after a meal.

This is a wonderful use of the historic buildings of the former Naval Training Center.


Pasta anyone?

Dog friendly outdoor seating.

Today we move to Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve for a month. If all continues to go well with my moms health we'll head north from there for a summer in Orgeon. Though we've changed our plans to assist our parents this year, it's been a real pleasure to spend the spring in San Diego in a year that's had a good amount of rain, she's looking her very finest!

Giant Swallowtail seen at our awesome Poway driveway site.