Friday, November 20, 2015

Yuma, AZ to Boulevard, CA to San Diego

As we made our way back to our former hometown San Diego for the holidays, we spent a few nights in Yuma, AZ...for the second time this year. The lure of inexpensive dental work in Los Algodones, Baja California means we'll stopover in Yuma every time we pass through the area.

This was our fourth time getting our teeth cleaned in Los Algodones and the third dentist we have tried. We learned about Dr. Maria Fonseca from some Canadian friends who have been going to her for many years and have had a variety of dental issues addressed by her. The previous dentists we visited were not bad, but Dr. Fonseca was excellent and will get our repeat business.

Dr. Fonseca has a small practice with top notch modern equipment; it's just her and an assistant and the doctor does the cleaning herself. Hans' teeth generally need more extensive work than mine and she spent an hour cleaning his teeth, by far the most thorough cleaning we've had in Mexico. I also felt my cleaning was as good as any cleaning I'd gotten previously in the US...and it only cost $30 each!

We intend to return to Dr. Fonseca next March for our next cleaning and Hans may have some old crowns and fillings replaced as well. We'll be sure to update our experience here. Dr. Maria Fonseca gets our vote for excellent dental care in Los Algodones!

Happy Hans with super clean teeth!

Our stay in Yuma was brief but we had fun catching up with our friends Cliff and Sharon who spend the winter here, over pickleball and an excellent dinner. Then we moved on into California to a planned meet up with my parents in Boulevard at The Oaks at Sacred Rocks.

My parents camp with their church RV group on a regular basis at various parks around San Diego County. The November outing happened to coincide nicely with our entry into California. Though I failed to take any photos of the campground or the group meals, we had a very nice time during our three night stay at this beautiful and peaceful RV park.

We did, of course, manage to get in a couple of hikes. McCain Valley is a swatch of BLM land encompassing almost 40,000 acres of chaparral and granitic boulder covered hills in eastern San Diego County. There are two primitive campgrounds along this decent dirt road and a small area for OHV riding.

We drove a small segment of McCain Valley Rd and took the spur out to Sacatone Overlook. The spur road is pretty rough, high clearance only, so we drove about a mile then hiked the remaining mile to the fantastic view into Carrizo Gorge.

Carrizo Gorge from Sacatone Overlook.
The Salton Sea is visible in the far distance.

Center right in the previous photo is a segment of the San Diego and Arizona Railway, aka "The Impossible Railroad"
due to the logistical challenges involved in building it. 

A couple of derailed cars are visible on the far right.

McCain Valley Rd goes through some wonderful granitic boulder strewn hillsides,
we'll definitely spend more time exploring this area in the future.

Morena Butte has long been one of our favorite hikes in San Diego County and staying in Boulevard put us within 20 miles of the trail head at Lake Morena. Though Lake Morena has suffered mightily from the drought, it did have a little more water in it compared to when we hiked here last December with John and Pam.

We were pleased to discover that Lake Morena County Park campground has upgraded their electric sites to 50 amp and added sewer to some sites. This park is peaceful and beautiful despite the low lake level.

Lake Morena campground had more turkeys walking through it than campers!

Within the first half mile of the trail head we got a lake view and a view of our destination.
Morena Butte is the granite topped mountain on the left.

Horny toad!

View of the lake from the Butte.
The campground sits along the top right edge of the dry lake bed so it is no longer near the water.

Martin, Estella and Chelsea joined us on the hike!

There's lots of fun rock scrambling at the top...sometimes straight up!
Chelsea seems to be half mountain goat!

A little rain lately has perked up the yuccas.

Yesterday we arrived at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve where we'll settle in for a month as part of our annual 2+ month stay in San Diego. It feels good to slow down for a while...blogging included, as we spend time with family and old friends and RVing friends who pass through town.

It will be interesting to see what El Nino has in store for us over the next few months!

We'll likely see a lot of these beautiful creatures during our stay at Santee Lakes.

And birds, lots of  birds!


  1. Great wildlife shots! Glad you get to spend a few months back "home."

  2. That turkey is mighty brave strutting his stuff this close to Thanksgiving! Sounds like you're settling in nicely to your extended stay in San Diego. Enjoy your time with family and friends!

  3. What a great experience at the dentist...very nice to know, thanks Lisa!

    Nice park to be settled in for awhile...I'm loving the wildlife! Enjoy....

  4. Hope you enjoy your time back in San Diego… and that winter is a breeze.
    Box Canyon

  5. One day we must get brave enough to try getting our teeth cleaned in Mexico. Maybe this year! Sue wants to try getting glasses made there while we are in Yuma. Glad you made this recommendation. I am assuming we need to call for an appointment?

    How nice to meet up with your parents as you moved to San Diego! It is such a coincidence that you mentioned the Morena Butte hike. We hike a section of the PCT the other day and John and I were trying to remember the name of the hike we did with you two that we were on the PCT, as well. That was a great hike. Jessica enjoyed it as well. It does look like a "little" more water in the lake. How nice that they now have 50 amp!! Love that you found the horny toad...great eyes!

    Enjoy your time in Santee and San Diego:) That coyote is gorgeous! I see they haven't moved on. Watch Rosie very carefully:)

    1. Yes, do call for appointment. They speak decent English and go by Arizona time.

      Yeah, I compared the photos and it is just a tiny bit more water than when we hiked it with you.

    2. Don't be scared, John & Pam! My husband and I are in Playa del Carmen at the moment and both got our teeth cleaned here. The dentist was incredibly professional, the office was spotless and had all up-to-date equipment. He charged a little more than the Los Algodones dentist, but that makes sense since this is a higher-priced area -- we paid $600 pesos each, which at the time was about $42 US. Still, well worth it. He did not do x-rays, which was fine with me. I've had far too many x-rays in my lifetime and don't like the way US dentists push them on you every year even when you have no pain or issues with your teeth.

  6. That section of railroad is incredible! Feats of engineering and construction bravery always amaze me. That is a beautiful turkey but they look so funny in the trees! A very fun photo on the rocks - looks like everyone is having a grand time. That coyote is stunning :-))))

  7. Hmm, those turkeys are strutting their stuff knowing their days are numbered :) I wonder if you got one in your freezer now.
    Next year we make sure to stay at Santee lake.

  8. Great wildlife. Enjoy your time with your family and friends. Sometimes it is good to stop for a while.

  9. Those look like wonderful hikes. Really great pictures that Tom Turkey, the night heron and the coyote. I would really like a park where there were more turkeys than campers. Hope to see lots more pictures of the wildlife after you get settled in for some winter days. I haven't been near San Diego since I lived in Encino years ago. Looks like I should add these parks to our "to do" list.

  10. I'm stuck in Colorado with a couple of inches of snow on the ground and some very cold temperatures. The desert looks very attractive at this point.


  11. I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place to ask, or too personal - however, I'm curious how you stow your bikes when you are traveling; and second, do you have a desk that you work at when you write your blog and edit photos?


    Thanks. My apologizes if this is inappropriate.

    1. Great questions!

      We have a bike rack on our hitch on the back of the 5th wheel. Once the bikes are installed on the rack we cover them with a large BBQ cover.

      We use our dining table as our desk, our laptops are always on the table unless we are traveling or eating with guests. We each have one side of the table.

  12. Thank you - I'm new at this, and wasn't sure of what is acceptable when asking questions.