Sunday, February 4, 2018

Not Done with San Diego Just Yet...

After a second month at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego, which I think of as a parking lot in a good location, we were thrilled to move down to Sweetwater Summit Regional Park this week. We now have a huge site, excellent separation from our neighbors, wonderful views and decent walking right in the park.

This was going to be our exit point from San Diego but some medical issues have come up that are going to keep us here a little longer than originally planned. Seriously, I think that dealing with medical issues on the road is the hardest part of this lifestyle...fortunately we are in our former home town so we have access to a medical system we are familiar with.

It can be challenging to find RV sites for a stay longer than a few days in San Diego if you don't plan ahead...this city books up fast! We'll hop around to a couple of different places over the next few weeks and if all goes well we'll be back on the road in early March.

How about some pretty pictures of the past few weeks in San Diego?

We enjoyed the new Africa Rocks exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, where the habitats go from savanna to the sea and
baboons are a big deal!

The botanical exhibits at the Zoo are worth the trip as well.
Succulents in bloom at the San Diego Zoo.

On Free National Park day we hiked the bay trail at Cabrillo National Monument where stunning views are the norm.

Historic lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument.

I participated in the San Diego Women's March with good friends and tens of thousands of other like-minded souls.

A -2.0 tide at Sunset was fun to poke around but disappointing that we saw very little marine life.

Seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla.

Cormorants nesting on the cliffs in La Jolla,

Hollenbeck Canyon was a pleasant surprise just a few miles from our site at Sweetwater Reservoir.
The one rain storm in January provided enough moisture for the canyon to green up like it was spring!

Hollenbeck Canyon trail.

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park is one of our favorite places to stay in San Diego. Sure, you have some freeway noise, but you're in the middle of a giant city, that kind of goes with the territory.What we like about this park are the giant sites, excellent site separation, views and decent walking trails...all for $33/night for full hookups, and excellent Verizon and AT&T signals.

That's us in site #84 at the end of the row, nothing but big views from our patio.

After a month of asphalt and close neighbors at Mission Bay all three of us enjoy the open space at Sweetwater!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to our readers! 

It's been fun sharing our adventures on the road with you over the past five plus years! We love it when we learn that our blog has inspired others to visit a particular place. We love that this space has connected us to many other folks throughout our travels. We hope you keep reading along with us in 2018!

We are well into our 2.5 month stay in San Diego. It's been jam packed with meet ups with family and friends, both old and new. After our first month at Mission Bay, we've spent the last couple of weeks at our sweet moochdocking spot at Hans' brothers in Poway. This week we'll head back down to Mission Bay for another month.

Instead of nitty gritty details, I'm just going to let a few pretty pictures tell a little bit of the story of the past few weeks...

While staying at Mission Bay there are always lots of walks on the beach.

If we're lucky there are minus tides during daylight hours...
we saw dozens of sea hares at the north end of Pacific Beach at one low tide.

Sunsets at the beach can be sublime.

When we move to Poway we focus our outings on north east San Diego county.

Bentley, Norm (Hans' brother) and Hans at Daley Ranch.

A pretty pond at Daley Ranch...many of the ponds have dried up thanks to the lack of rain.

 On Christmas day we spent the morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Endangered rhinos roam the large African Plains enclosure.

Pretty kitty.

Lovely lemur.

Relaxed mom watches over her rambunctious child.

 A spate of warm December days had us making tracks into the local mountains for a hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Enormous old oak towers over Hans.

Fall colors in December at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

The best way to welcome in the new year is a hike on New Years Day!

Wishing you all a healthy and joyful year ahead! 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Dental Work in Los Algodones: A Cautionary Tale

Our final stop before our lengthy annual stay in San Diego was in Yuma, AZ. This time was different from prior years because we now have a family moochdocking site. My sister and brother in law have been coming to Yuma for years for off road riding and river play and after months of looking finally found the perfect getaway property...that includes a full hookup site that we can use! We are so grateful!

Sweet moochdocking site in Yuma, AZ.

Arriving on a Sunday, we enjoyed a tasty lunch at From the Farm with Becky and Bill before they had to head back to San Diego. Set on a farm in north east Yuma, From the Farm serves up some delicious tacos and date shakes and has a cute emporium to browse as well.

We had a tasty lunch with family at this unique farm-to-table restaurant in NE Yuma.

Now for the dental...We've been getting our teeth cleaned in Los Algodones for five years now, sometimes twice a year. In that time we had seen three different dentists, all who did a great job at a reasonable price. Our favorite dentist is Dr. Maria Fonseca, whose cleanings rival any we've ever had stateside.

This past spring Hans had an emergency crown done in Quincy, CA and learned he'd probably need another crown in the next year. He also knew he wanted his next crown to be done by a dentist who uses Cerec technology, he really likes the convenience of same-day service for crowns.

Hans spent a lot of time researching dentists in Los Algodones that offered Cerec through the What Clinic website. He even called Dr. Omar Sanchez's office to confirm that they did indeed have Cerec. Imagine our disappointment when we were sitting in our chairs (in the same room, at the same time, kind of weird) and he asks them if they have Cerec and the answer is "What's that?"!

We each had our cleanings and I (who have historically excellent teeth) was told I needed SIX fillings and Hans (who knew he needed ONE crown) was told he needed TEN crowns! Needless to say we paid for our cleanings and got the heck out of there!

Later, while I got my awesome $5 Los Algodones haircut Hans walked to a couple of other large dental offices to inquire if they used Cerec and got information that led him to believe they were also being untruthful...Cerec does not take three days and most offices that use it proudly display it because it is expensive technology.

One week later we got an exam with our San Diego dentist, Dr. Matthew Parilla at Clairemont Smiles, who confirmed that I have ZERO cavities and Hans needs ONE crown. This dentist also told us about the Costco dental plan through Delta Dental that will give him a discount on the services he needs.

Soooo...we've been fortunate to have some excellent dental care in Los Algodones over the years, and I will definitely return to Dr. Maria Fonseca for future cleanings, but our most recent experience drives home the fact that there are some shady businesses out there trying to take advantage of the dental tourists.

Just another beautiful scene in San Diego...

We're now settled in at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego for a month. We'll move up to our lovely driveway site in Poway over Christmas and New Years. Then back to Mission Bay for another month after the first of the year. Blog posting will be sparse for the next couple of months as we immerse ourselves in all the good stuff that happens in our former hometown.

For now, here's some of the beauty we get to enjoy when we explore the local beaches and bays...

Snoozing mother and child at La Jolla Cove.

Seen from Mike Gotch bridge which connects east Mission Bay to Crown Point.

It's a Shovelnose Guitarfish.

Little blue heron.

Gorgeous sunsets with clouds...

...and without!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Buckskin Mountain State Park and the Parker Strip

It was an easy 30 mile drive from Lake Havasu State Park to our next destination, Buckskin Mountain State Park. Located on the Colorado River just downstream from Parker Dam, Buckskin Mountain is a wonderful park with a mix of full hookup and partial hookup sites, tent sites, boat launch and hiking trails.

Just a few miles from our park is the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. Bill Williams River is only 40 miles long but is an important wildlife corridor as it cuts across a transition zone between the Mojave and Sonoran deserts before it empties into Lake Havasu just north of Parker Dam. The best way to access the refuge is near the visitor center on highway 95 and by kayaking up river from the lake. 

Not having kayaks, we drove the three mile Planet Ranch Road hoping to find some interesting hiking. It turns out the river goes underground at some points between Alamo Lake and Lake Havasu when water flows are low and only flows its full length above ground when water is released from Alamo Dam or during monsoon season. It was sad to see that years of drought have decimated some of the last stands of natural cottonwood-willow forest along Bill Williams River.

Bill Williams River was flowing for about a mile or so above Lake Havasu.
The cottonwood-willow forest along its banks was healthy and inviting,
but surrounded by a dense thicket of prickly mesquite trees that blocked our access to the river.

Reaching the end of Planet Ranch Road we finally found a place to hike.
That's when we discovered the underground portion of the river had probably not been above ground for years
and the forest was dying.

Dry Bill Williams riverbed, full of dead trees, kind of depressing to hike in.

Heading back towards hwy 95 we climbed a hill for a birds eye view of the river.
Looking west towards Lake Havasu we saw the lovely blue stripe of the Bill Williams River and its wetlands.
Looking east the forest overtakes the wetlands.
This would be a neat place to kayak!

We had better luck hiking the Buckskin Mountain State Park trails. There's a short trail that climbs the hill that separates the park from the highway and affords terrific views of the park.

A view of about half of the developed portion of Buckskin Mountain State park.
We can see part of our rig in the shadows on the right, backed up to the hill we are standing on.

The park has a pedestrian bridge over the highway leading to trails into the hills.

This area is an ecotone; a transition zone between two deserts: the Mojave and Sonoran, thus the presence of saguaros!

We did a loop drive that took us over Parker Dam into California and along the Colorado River down to Parker, AZ where we crossed the river once again and made our way north through the Parker Strip back to our park. Stopping to hike up a wash on the California side we discovered there are wild burros on the CA side of the river!

Parker Dam creates Lake Havasu.

Hiking in the hills on the California side of the Colorado River.

Some cute locals.

No trip to the Parker Strip area would be complete without a drive out to the Desert Bar. Located five miles out a dirt road, the Desert Bar (aka Nellie E. Saloon, named after the mining camp formerly on this site) is a hand built, off grid labor of love that is only open on the weekends in the cooler months. The easy way in is a fairly good dirt road (though I don't think I'd take a new looking Cadillac on it like we saw someone doing), and the hard way in is a rough dirt road used by those with real off road vehicles.

The church was built out of solid steel in the 1990's.
It's a great photo op and weddings have been held there, but no religious services.

The bar is an ever expanding complex, with live music, gift shop, multiple bars and food stands.
Quite the hopping joint and terrific people watching!

We thoroughly enjoyed site #12 at Buckskin Mountain State Park. We backed up to a rocky hillside with a neighbor on only one side, and plenty far away from us. Bird watching was excellent from our sitting area behind our rig. The hillside beyond our rig separates us from the highway so it was really quiet at night. Verizon and AT&T signals were very good with our booster.

Site # 12.

Awesome sitting area.

Rosie liked this park too!

We saw this beautiful roadrunner at least twice a day.

We got to experience a day in the life of a loggerhead shrike. One morning as I surveyed the bird activity in the bushes behind our rig I noticed a bird seemed to be pecking at another bird on the ground. It turns out a loggerhead shrike had killed an inca dove, no wonder it's known as Arizona's butcher bird!

Later I saw the shrike sitting atop the boulders surrounding our site, probably looking for its next victim. Then, while sitting outside watching the bird activity with my binoculars I saw the shrike flitting around in a nearby tree. On closer inspection with the binos I saw bird feet sticking up from the branch of a mesquite. True to form, the shrike had stuck about half of the inca dove onto a mesquite sticker so it could feast on its catch over time...gruesome but fascinating.

Half an inca dove impaled on a mesquite tree.

These quail are taking dust baths in the loose soil under a mesquite tree.

Arizona has the best sunsets!

Next up: a brief stay in Yuma.