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Adventures in the Villa

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California

2021-09-06 – 2021-09-11 – Traveling from Puyallup, WA to Redlands, CA

We are heading home…

September 6; Labor Day…

Last day of summer! (Even though school started three weeks ago – it’s still summer!)

Our grandchildren enjoyed a day at the beach!

We left Puyallop and headed south…

The Columbia River never ceases to please…

Remember when I said one barge on the Columbia River holds enough grain to fill 160 railroad cars? Here is where the barges offload the grain, where it is loaded into the railroad cars…

Portland has some great bridges…

And we are set up at a very nice RV Park in Salem, OR.

With a beautiful sky…

Tuesday, September 7:

We left early – we have a long day… The fog was a nice relief from the heat…

Wait! That’s not fog – it’s smoke!

There are four wildfires to the east of us, just over the hills… The whole length of the state…

At a rest stop we couldn’t see the mountains…

We passed through the delightful little town of Jacksonville, OR, located about 20 miles off the 5, west of Medford… We found out camping spot for the night – Valley View Winery, part of the Harvest Host program…

Still a little smoky…

We were the gusts for dinner at old Airstream friends who live a few miles from the winery… They lave 7 acres and a lovely house overlooking the Applegate River…

Fiery sunset over the river…

After a lovely dinner we returned to the Villa…

Wednesday, September 8:

As we left the winey in the morning we found a few wild turkeys…

We soon returned to California! Yay!

We saw lots of evidence of last year’s fires…

And we had some more smoke as well…

But soon the skies cleared as we approached Clear Lake…

After a tortuous drive over Hwy 175 we arrived in Cloverdale in time for a lovely sunset sky…

Thursday, September 9:

We awoke to clear skies and headed down the road…

We crossed over the Richmond bridge and the San Francisco Bay…

Still a little smoggy, but we could see the Golden Gate Bridge…

Still a little smoggy, but we could make out the city skyline…

Oakland is noted for its giant cargo container cranes…

And downtown Oakland is looking good…

BART running past us… We love cities!

We arrived at our RV park in Marina, just outside Monterey…

We drove into Carmel to stroll the town before dinner…

The beach is lovely, but cold!

We had a delightful dinner at a “Contemporary Mexican Restaurant”. First Mexican food since we left California on July 23… (We don’t eat Mexican food outside California – way too many disappointing meals over the past years…)

Friday, September 10

As we headed out of Marina across the Salinas Valley we saw fields and fields of lettuce…

Soon we saw vineyards…

We arrive in Paso Robles and parked just outside downtown. And a lovely town it is…

We stopped in for a wine tasting, hosted by this charming fellow…

But we are on a tight schedule, so we head south again, arriving at Los Olivos at about 4:00 pm…

We enjoyed a little wine tasting on the front patio…

Plenty of parking in Los Olivos, even on a Friday afternoon…

We parked in the Saarloos vineyard for the night, and shared dinner with Airstream friends at Bell’s in Los Alamos…

Saturday, September 11:

We arrived home in Redlands, California…

We shared happy hours drinking beer on the front porch with our son…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Seven weeks and one day… twelve states… 7,000 miles.

The End

2021-07-23 – Leaving Home, heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 1 – Redlands, CA to Camp Verde, AZ

We’re off again! This time we are going to retrace the path of the Oregon Trail, from Missouri to Oregon. To do this we must, again, drive through the California desert, drive through the Arizona desert, through the New Mexico desert, and on through a corner of the Texas desert, through a corner of the Oklahoma desert, then on into Kansas, and finally into Missouri. We will be retracing some of the same roads and places that we have been through before…

But first, here is an update of our grandchildren…

Roisin got to ride the big school bus to go off to beach and surf camp…

Ian visited The La Brea Tar Pits and stuck his finger into the tar…

George got a little dirty when he had a minor fall during a family hike…

Evelyn has found her calling as “Super Woman”…

They have enjoyed their summer, doing the many things that have been off limits over the past 15 months…

But back to out trip…

We had an uneventful day driving across California and Arizona…

Not the first time we have been in Arizona, but it is always fun to take a photo of the sign…

Arizona looks like this along this route…

We had a little rain, but nothing that delayed our trip. We headed north at Phoenix, and continuing to Camp Verde, located about one hour south of Sedona. Camp Verde is a sleepy little town that has the best restaurant in this part of Arizona. People drive the hour from Sedona because it is better than anything there…

Camp Verde looks like this… We are at about 3,200′ elevation…

We found the RV park. We are in, connected, and paid for…

So, after checking in to the RV park, we freshened up and headed to Moscato Italian Restaurant. We had a fabulous meal, with courses that were way too large – we brought home over half the food. (We drank all the wine…)

Next to our table was a group of six men, about our age, who were celebrating a birthday. They were having a great time, and on occasion we could hear someone mention their Airstream. Several times. We were not sure which man it was, so as we were leaving we stopped at their table and asked, “Which one owns an Airstream?” It turns out that four of them own Airstreams! They were all from Sedona, and, like I said, they drive the hour to Camp Verde to eat at Moscato. We had a fine discussion about Airstreams, diesel trucks, and the finer things of life, and we then left them to continue their celebrations.

We returned to The Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-26 – Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 31 – Parker, AZ to Redlands, CA

The day dawned beautifully. It was warm, but not too warm to walk about the park.

At about 11:00 we set up our lounge chairs on the beach… The river was quiet still, with a few water skiers and very few racing jet skis and motorboats…

But it was hot. Sitting in the shade only lasted about 20 minutes before we had to go dip ourselves in the water to cool off. It was refreshing…

We had lunch in the coolest part of the restaurant, then returned to the beach. But it was hot. We decided to go back to the Villa and relax in the coolness of the AC, but it was hot.

How hot was it?

We decided to head for home early. We quickly packed up the Villa and we were off at about 5:15… About 30 minutes we were back in California. Also, interestingly, we were also back in San Bernardino County, the county in which we live. We will drive through San Bernardino County for the entirety of the trip, another 3 1/2 to 4 hours…

Lots of interesting mountains to see through this stretch of desert wilderness…

Near Desert Center we came across these palm tree farms…

Finally, at 9:10 we pulled into the storage spot in Mentone Beach…

We off-loaded the Villa into the truck, arriving home just after 10:00 pm.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

PS: Next blog begins July 23, when we head to Missouri to participate in the Oregon Trail Caravan…!

2021-06-25 – Heading Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 30 – Leaving Las Vegas

We had a leisurely morning with time to walk around the park. It is a huge park, with a variety of types of sites and amenities…

We left Las Vegas about 9:30 and headed south through Nevada…

We continues south through Nevada…

Outside Las Vegas there were these very impressive solar farms…

We are headed down through the tiny southern point of Nevada. We stopped in Searchlight to stretch our legs…

And we continued south through Nevada…

We briefly re-entered California at the 40, as we continued on to Needles…

And we continued southeast through California…

There is an exit at Needles to drive along the historic Route 66…

And then we crossed the Colorado River once again and entered Arizona…

California and Arizona have plenty of interesting mountains…

As we headed south on AZ 95 towards Parker we saw smoke ahead…

We never figured out what this was – how does the desert burn like this? But we did hear later that Arizona did close all their State-owned public lands due to the many fires…

We eventually found the Colorado River again…

We found this nice little enclave of vacation homes in the middle of nowhere…

We suffered through the traffic that is Lake Havasu City, and finally arrived at the Pirates Den RV Resort. This place has seen better days… as have all the “resorts” and trailer parks and campgrounds along the river…

When we tried to check in to our site the manager told us that it was not yet available. The current occupants had truck trouble, and were just now started to pack up. We went into the restaurant to wait – it was 110 degrees outside – and, since we finally had internet access we could check our phones…

The resort has many waterfront sites, with private beach cabanas. We didn’t have one of these…

But it is great fun to watch the boat traffic in the river…

Because of the heat we turned in early.

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-22 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 27 – End of Caravan – Heading Home – Tremonton, Utah

We wanted to beat the traffic entering Yellowstone, so we pulled out at 6:45 am. We headed from the RV Park in Montana, into Wyoming, and through the Roosevelt Arch…

The early morning drive through Yellowstone was beautiful, but, other than the elk that was standing in the Roosevelt Arch, which delayed our drive for a few minutes, we saw no wildlife…

That isn’t to say that there was no excitement today… Back in Burbank our two older grandchildren boarded the big yellow school bus for the first time… They are heading to Beach Camp! We expect them to return tired, sandy, and sunburned (just a little…).

So we continued through the park. Believe it or not, this is the fastest route from Gardiner, MT to California…

We came upon some geothermal activity. This was bigger than any similar sulfur-smelling steam venting we had seen in all our time here…

But we continued on, traveling south, then heading west, exiting the park at the west entrance…

It took about one hour to travel the park. As we left we saw the lines of cars trying to get into the park. This line of traffic is still 3-4 miles from the park entrance…

So we passed on out of Wyoming, back into Montana, and on through to Idaho.

Somewhere in Idaho we stopped to stretch our legs and eat a snack. We pulled off an anonymous offramp and parked between the Potato Growers of Idaho Association and a FedEx Distribution center…

Back on the freeway we continued south…

We ate lunch at a nice rest stop somewhere in southern Idaho…

We passed over into Utah, and on the Tremonton, where we found a very nice RV Resort…

Aspen Grove RV Resort, Tremonton, Utah. Large sites, concrete pads, full hook-ups. Come back in 5 years – they have planted a tree at each site – in five years we won’t be able to use our satellite TV…

There was another Airstream in the park – pulled by a Porsche Cayenne… We had an interesting chat about tow-vehicles, hithes, and Airstreams in general…

Another interesting feature of the RV Park is that several sites have Electric Vehicle charging stations…!

For our 47th wedding anniversary dinner we selected the finest restaurant in Tremonton… It is a diner at the bowling alley…

We tried to have a toast, but this being Utah, there was no wine…

After a fairly unremarkable dinner we returned to the Villa…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-07 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 12 – Fruita, CO

Today we return to the Colorado National Monument to see more of its beauty…

On our way to the entrance we crossed the mighty Colorado River…

The Colorado River is the major river of the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. Its headwaters are in Rocky Mountain National Park where La Poudre Pass Lake is its source. It flows southwest through the Colorado Plateau country of western Colorado, southeastern Utah and northwestern Arizona, where it flows through the Grand Canyon. It turns south near Las Vegas, Nevada, forming the Arizona–Nevada border in Lake Mead and the Arizona–California border a few miles below Davis Dam between Laughlin, Nevada and Needles, California, before entering Mexico in the Colorado Desert. Most of its waters are diverted into the Imperial Valley of Southern California. In Mexico its course forms the boundary between Sonora and Baja California before entering the Gulf of California.

We re-entered the Colorado National Monument.

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” creating the National Park Service, a federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for maintaining national parks and monuments that were then managed by the department. The National Park System has since expanded to 423 units (often referred to as parks), more than 150 related areas, and numerous programs that assist in conserving the nation’s natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.

The National Park Service manages all of the various “units” – Parks, Forests, Monuments, Historic Sites, Lakeshores, Recreation Areas, Scenic Trails, and several other designations. The first parks were Yellowstone (1872), Sequoia (1890), Yosemite (1890), Mt. Rainier (1899), Crater Lake (1902), Wind Cave (1903), Mesa Verde (1906), Glacier (1910), Rocky Mountain (1915). Colorado National Monument was established in 1911. The different desinations have to do with how they are created. National Parks are created by acts of Congress. National Monuments and most other designations are created by the President via Executive Order. Thirty States have National Parks; the States with the most parks are: California (9), Alaska (8), Utah (5), and Colorado (4).

We began our visit with a ranger talk in the picnic area where we had had dinner last night…

We learned about the geology of these magnificent cliffs and canyons, plus a little of the park history. The man behind the creation of the Colorado National Monument was John Otto, who settled in Grand Junction in the early 20th century. Otto was the first white man to explore the area.

Prior to Otto’s arrival, many area residents believed the canyons to be inaccessible to humans. Otto began building trails on the plateau and into the canyons.  As word spread about his work, the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Junction sent a delegation to investigate. The delegation returned praising both Otto’s work and the scenic beauty of the wilderness area, and the local newspaper began lobbying to make it a National Park. A bill was introduced and carried by the local Representatives to the U.S. Congress and Senate but a Congressional slowdown in the final months threatened the process. To ensure protection of the canyons President William Howard Taft (who had visited the area) stepped in and used the highest powers available to him via the Antiquities Act and presidential proclamation to declare the canyons as a national monument

John Otto was hired as the first park ranger, drawing a salary of $1 per month. For the next 16 years, he continued building and maintaining trails while living in a tent in the park.

For many years during the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps. built roads, tunnels, trails, and other features of the park. The CCC left in 1941; the major Rim drive was completed in the 1950s.

Following the Ranger talk we visited the Visitor Center. I liked the fact that it is built from the native sandstone…

After we had seen a few exhibits in the Visitor Center we drove the Rim drive for 23 miles, all the way to Grand Junction. We saw 23 miles of rocks.

Here I liked the walls made from the natural sandstone… These walls are several hundred feet long, and they occur at many of the pull-outs along the Rim drive…

After we left the park we drove through Grand Junction again. We found truck fuel and DEF. Tomorrow we will return to Fruita for some final grocery shopping before we enter the wilderness of Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge Dam, and the Grand Tetons National Park…

It was 97 degrees again, but we have good, clean power, so both AC units are running in the Airstream… At 5:00 we took a walk around the lake in the park.

We also saw the Colorado River again, adjacent to the park…

Unfortunately, we walked out of the park and around the outside of the park, and finally had to go totally around the park and walk in the maim entrance…

After a short break we joined other caravaners for happy hours. We returned to the Villa, and an enjoyable time was had by all…,

2021-06-02 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 7 – Colorado Springs, CO

Another exciting day is planned for us again! We will go to the top of Pikes Peak and ride bicycles back down!

Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The ultra-prominent 14,115′ peak is located in Pike National Forest, 12 miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The mountain is named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike, who explored the area in 1806, although he never reached the summit… The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.

The band of Ute people who called the Pikes Peak region their home were the Tabeguache, whose name means the “People of Sun Mountain”. It is thought that the Ute people first arrived in Colorado about 500 A.D. In the 1800s, when the Arapaho people arrived in Colorado, they knew the mountain as Heey-otoyoo’ meaning “Long Mountain”.

Early Spanish explorers named the mountain “El Capitán,” meaning “The Leader”. American explorer Zebulon Pike named the mountain “Highest Peak” in 1806, and the mountain was later commonly known as “Pike’s Highest Peak.” The mountain was later renamed “Pikes Peak” in honor of Pike.

The first European-American to climb the peak came 14 years after Pike, in the summer of 1820.  Edwin James, a young student who had just graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont, signed on as the relief botanist for Stephen Harriman Long’s expedition. James and two other men left the expedition, camped on the plains, and climbed the peak in two days, encountering little difficulty. Along the way, James was the first to describe the blue columbine, Colorado’s state flower.

So today, we were up before 5:00 am and we left the RV park at 6:15. We boarded strange looking Jeeps, and we were transported to be fitted for bicycles, helmets, gloves, etc.  

Bicycles, gloves, and helmets were selected…

And soon we were ready to go!

Bikes were loaded onto the van and we were off!

The views were marvelous on the way up!

In 1895, Katharine Lee Bates was so awestruck by views of Pikes Peak that she penned a poem, the words of which have become the lyrics of “America the Beautiful”:

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain

The Visitor Center at the summit (14,000’) is under re-construction, so we knew that we would not be starting from there.  However, we were stopped at about 11,000′; the road ahead was closed due to ice on the road.  So we had a restroom break and waited a bit, letting the sun melt the ice.

We were eventually allowed to continue up to about 12,000’ elevation.  We stretched our legs, claimed our bicycles, and readied to ride down the mountain… 

The ride down was exhilarating!  We road the brakes to maintain our speed, and to keep from running off the road at the curves.  Unfortunately, it’s way too hard to take pictures while riding a bike at up to 30 miles per hour! We stopped several times, to regather the group, and to drink some water. 

At the bottom of the hill we had lunch at the Wines of Colorado. We dismounted, turned in our bikes and helmets, and enjoyed some hearty cheeseburgers…

The ride down covered about 8-10 miles, with an elevation drop of about 5,000 feet!

We were exhausted!  We returned to the Villa and took a well-deserved nap.  Early in the afternoon we drove to Garden of the Gods Park.  We stopped into the Visitor Center and booked a Jeep tour of the park.

Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs, just about one mile from our RV Park. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971.

The Garden of the Gods’ red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. At about 250 BC, Native American people camped in the park; they are believed to have been attracted to wildlife and plant life in the area and used overhangs created by the rocks for shelter.

Multiple American Indian Nations traveled through Garden of the Gods. The Utes’ oral traditions tell of their creation at the Garden of the Gods, and petroglyphs have been found in the park that are typical of early Utes. The Utes found red rocks to have a spiritual connection and camped near Manitou Springs and the creek near Rock Ledge Ranch bordering Garden of the Gods.

In 1879 Charles Elliott Perkins purchased 480 acres of land that included a portion of the present Garden of the Gods. Upon Perkins’ death in 1909, his family gave the land to the City of Colorado Springs, with the provision that it would be a free public park.

So we toured around and saw more red rocks…

We stopped at an overview of Colorado Springs in the distance…

Whilst we were enjoying our vacation and caravan, our daughter and son-in-law and their children were enjoying a vacation in California at Leo Cabrillo State Beach…

We returned to the RV park in time for a GAM – we met a few more new friends… Then the obligatory Driver Meeting…

We returned to the Villa and fell into bed.  And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-05-23 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan…Traveling to Las Vegas

This is an exciting day! We are leaving for our first caravan in two years! Our last caravan was Springtime in Kentucky, which was completed on May 16, 2019. Today we head towards Estes Park, Colorado; the Springtime in the Rockies caravan will begin on May 27, 2021.

Yesterday I brought the Airstream home, and parked it in front of our house. We don’t do this often, because the street is narrow, and it curves. And the trees! They have been trimmed up over the street to a height of 10′, so I know we clear. But it is always a challenge to get parked close to the curb and avoid parked cars. But it’s a real convenience to be able to load for a long trip such as this. We will be on the road for 36 days, returning home late June.

Springtime in the Rockies will bring us to all the scenic points in the Rockies, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Pike’s Peak, and Yellowstone National Park, among many others. We will do some hiking, some white water rafting, and we will ride bicycles on Pike’s Peak – down, not up! They will bus us to the top, we will have breakfast, we will climb on bikes and coast down 26 miles, and then they serve us lunch. Sounds like fun to me!

So we left home at about 10:5 am today. Our destination is Las Vegas – a cheap RV park in North Las Vegas. No casino hopping for us!

Quite by chance we “met” on Facebook another couple traveling to the caravan. They are from Nebraska, but they were spending a week or so in SoCal, visiting family; we are traveling with them. We met up in a rest stop just outside Baker, CA. We traveled along with them to Las Vegas.

The Mohave Desert is quite am amazingly stark place! Note to people who thing Eastern Oregon is a desert: This is what a desert looks like…

We found the unique crossroad of Zzyzx:

We drove the freeway past Las Vegas. ‘Nuff said…

We found the Hitchen’ Post RV Park, and set up quickly. We met our new friends for Happy Hours and turned in for the night.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-29 – 05-03: Airstream Club Rally – Newport Dunes RV Resort…

Thursday: Newport Dunes is a beautiful resort on the Back Bay of Newport Beach. We arrived a little before 1:00pm and we were quickly in our site. I did all the set-up, then I left to visit my optometrist in Irvine. I was picking up a new set of glasses and having my sun glasses clips adjusted to the new frames (which are identical to my old frames…). It was a quick errand, and I was back in the resort well before happy hours…

There are about 10 Airstreams here today, with 10-15 more coming on Friday, the official start of the rally. Tonight we have reservations at Bayside, one of my favorite Newport Beach restaurants. Back in the olden days (2002-2009) I came to Bayside for lunch 2-3 days per week, always bringing an employee. I sat at the same table with the same waiter… It is the kind of restaurant I would come to every day if I lived in the neighborhood. (And, if I lived in the neighborhood, obviously, I would be able to afford it…) We are able to walk from the resort…

We had a great dinner with another Airstream couple that we did not know well. It was a great way to make new friends.

Friday dawned bright and sunny and warm – unusually warm for Newport Beach… Lynda went window shopping on Balboa Island with an Airstream friend. She found a cute sundress for our upcoming vacation in the desert…! I, in the mean time, strolled the park and walked around the back bay. Happy Hours were at another Airstream across the way, where we were able to catch up with friends we had not seen in over a year!

Saturday: We had an easy morning… at about noon, we walked the mile or so to Fashion Island, a giant shopping center catering to the Newport Beach crowd. We didn’t see anything we had to have, so we returned empty handed. But we got in a great walk. Saturday evening we shared some happy hours and great wines (Ridge MonteBello and Aubert) with Airstream friends. The club provided a great Cinco de Mayo dinner of tacos, rice, beans, and churros – perfect!

Sunday was overcast, windy and cool. We walked over to Balboa Island and circumnavigated it. It is always a very pleasant walk! Happy Hours were at our Airstream, sharing with Airstream friends old and new.

Monday was our last day. We hitched up and headed for home, arriving about 12:30. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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