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2018-11-01 – South Coast Airstream Club – Emerald Desert RV Resort – Day 1

This weekend is our regular camp-out/rally for out home WBCCI club – South Coast California Unit, soon to be renamed “South Coast Airstream Club”.  We meet for a weekend rally on the first Friday of every month, with few exceptions.  Due to our travel this year for the Southwest Adventure Caravan, and our move earlier in the year, we have missed several rallies, and it is great to be back, to have a weekend rally, and see old friends again.  We’ll even meet some new friends this weekend…

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Even though today is Thursday, we packed up and left Redlands this morning and arrived in Palm Desert at about 1:00.  It is a one hour drive… After living so far from this part of the desert for so many years this is a real treat!  Emerald Desert RV Resort is a true RV resort, with many amenities and services, beautiful grounds, and great facilities.

(In the interest of full disclosure, the one downside of Emerald Desert is that it not only is adjacent to the 10 freeway, but between the freeway and the RV resort are railroad tracks.  About once per hour, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, a giant, 150+ car freight train rumbles past…)

But, despite the trains, we love this place, we are thrilled to come in a day early, and we will be staying two days after the official end of the rally on Sunday, taking full advantage of the opportunity to camp here at club rates…

When we leave here, on Tuesday (election day), we will travel about 6 hours, to Paso Robles, for five days or relaxing in beautiful wine country… More later – stay tuned!

So after we arrived here we had to wait to check in; being the first day of November, there is a huge influx of “snow birds” who come to stay for “the season”.  Most come for four to six months, enjoying the great weather in this beautiful place.

We finally secured our site assignment and started to get settled.  Soon we were joined by six other Airstreamers who were also coming in one day early.  It was great to see these people again after so long.  Happy hours soon ensued, and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset…

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And, in case you missed it, yesterday was Halloween…

Here are our four grandchildren on their first Halloween, at ages 5 mo., 7 mo., 9 mo., and 12 months…

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And here they are as they looked yesterday, at age 5 yrs, 4 yrs, 3 yrs, and 7 months…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

2018-10-15 – Day 58 – Home!

We spent the night in Palm Desert in the Villa in the parking lot at the golf clubhouse…  We were on the road at 7:00 am, and at Mentone Beach by 8:00 am.

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We spent about an hour unpacking and cleaning, then we were home in Redlands…

Our next trip out is November 1 – the Airstream Club weekend rally in Palm Desert, at Emerald Desert RV Resort, then off to Paso Robles for some wining and a “Friendsgiving” at the Record Family Vineyards…

And, as is our custom…

The McAnoy family takes a walk…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-14 – California, Here we come – Day 57 – Palm Desert

Today we return to California!  However, to delay our return home we are stopping to spend the night with like-minded friends in Palm Desert…

First, we had to deal with a torrential downpour as we were dumping, disconnecting, and hitching up.  I soaked through two rain coats and several hats before we were on our way…

And then the sun came out…

The Arizona desert is bleak…

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We stopped in Quartzite for fuel…

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…and a little refreshment… (Friends of ours own this franchise…)

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They do have interesting food in Quartzite…

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More desert, then the border:

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We cleared inspection, and were allowed to enter…

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The California desert is just as bleak as it is in Arizona…

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And then we were in Palm Desert; ew, ew,ew, looking out my back door… (actually Doug’s back door…)

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Happy Hours ensued, and we see dinner coming…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-07 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 50 – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It was windy this morning, so the balloons could not fly.

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We walked around a bit and relaxed all morning, then at 1:00 we re-visited the Turquoise Museum…

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We had been here when we first started the caravan, and we learned what to look for when shopping for turquoise.  Since then we have been lied to by every jewelry store and trading post and gift shop in the Four Corners States… We had a nice chat with the owners…

On our way back to the Villa we stopped at a local New Mexico winery…

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We enjoyed a nice, casual tasting, chatting with a couple visiting from Virginia…  We bought a few bottles to augment our supply for our trip home…

This evening was Happy Hours again, but it was really too cold to sit outside, so we had three other couples join us inside the Villa…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-19 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 32 – Zion National Park adjacent

Slow, quiet day today.  We need one of these every now and then…

We slept in, caught up on the blog, and read the newspaper; we walked around a bit…

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We did walk across the street to the Pipe Springs National Monument… It is an historic site documenting the life and times of the Mormons in this area.  The irony is that these 40 acres are in the middle of the Kaibab Paiute Reservation…

The Indians, of course, have been in this area forever.

The water of Pipe Spring has made it possible for plants, animals, and people to live in this dry desert region.  Ancestral Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians gathered grass seeds, hunted animals, and raised crops near the springs for at least 1,000 years.  The land at that time was rich is grasses, not desert sand as it is today…

In the 1860s Mormon pioneers from St. George, Utah, led by James M. Whitmore brought cattle to the area, and a large cattle ranching operation was established.  In 1866 the Apache, Navajo and Paiute tribes of the region joined the Utes for the Black Hawk War, and they raided Pipe Spring and killed Mr. Whitmore and his ranch foreman.  The  ranch was later purchased by Brigham Young for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), and a fort was built over the top of Pipe Spring.  The LDS Bishop of nearby Grafton, Utah, Anson Perry Winsor, was hired to operate the ranch and maintain the fort, soon called “Winsor Castle”. This isolated outpost served as a way station for people traveling across the Arizona Strip, that part of Arizona separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon.

The main function of the ranch was to accept tithes from the local Mormons, in the form of cows, chickens, etc.  The ranch fed the animals, and milked the cows and made cheese, and shipped it all off on weekly trips to St. George, Utah.

The Pipe Spring area also served as a refuge for polygamist wives during the 1880s and 1890s. The LDS Church lost ownership of the property through penalties involved in the federal Edmunds-Tucker (Anti-Polygamy) Act of 1887.

In the mean time, overgrazing from as many as 100,000 cattle decimated the grasslands; the topsoil soon blew away, and the land was left with the desert sand and sagebrush we see today.  There are attempts in the area, through better grazing practices, to bring back the grasslands.

As the Mormons took over the ranch lands, the local Indians were deprived of their main water source, and times were hard on the Paiute.  However, they continued to live in the area and by 1907 the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was established, surrounding the privately owned Pipe Spring ranch. In 1923, the Pipe Spring ranch was purchased and set aside as a national monument to be a memorial to western pioneer life.

The Winsor Castle has been restored, as well as several smaller cabins.  The tours are very informative, and “living history” is on view in the form of a lady demonstrating the use of a spinning wheel, and a blacksmith using a primitive forge.

This is Winsor Castle… We were met at the entrance by the NPS tour guide…

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The interior of the castle are typical of a well-made outpost such as this…

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This is the entrance to the Spring Room.  The spring water ran through here, keeping the room at about 55 degrees (perfect for wine, but these were Mormons living here…).

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We saw some of the out-buildings and cabins for visitors… Interesting earthen roof…

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We watched the spinning wheel lady doing her thing…

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The view of the area known as the Arizona Strip… More on this tomorrow…

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After a few hours we walked back to the RV Park and relaxed and did laundry…

We drove to Kanab for dinner at a very nice, and very busy, French Restaurant.  It has only been open for 6 weeks.  We wished we could have spoken with the proprietor and learn more, but as I said, it was packed – on a Wednesday evening…!

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-30 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 12 – Durango, CO

Quiet day in Durango… Blogging, laundry, walking around the RV Park… This is about as exciting as it gets…

We rode into town in the late afternoon with another caravan couple.  They wanted to walk the town a bit and we wanted to try out an olde timey saloon.

We went to the Strater Hotel, founded 1887.  We were told that in the early days one of their draws was their fresh food – rare in mining communities.  This was accomplished by raising cows and chickens in the lot behind the hotel…

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The saloon was great – all ugly Victorian decor (I know – that’s redundant…).  But the waitress was great and the drinks were good.  We even tried an appetizer of smoked dates wrapped in bacon with a drizzle of honey… Marvelous!  Just what we wanted.

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At the appointed hour we joined the other caravaners for dinner in the hotel – this was the real reason we chose this place.

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The food was good, the wine was acceptable and the service was great… This hotel has been in the same family for over four generations.  However, the fifth generation has decided they no longer want to be in the hotel business, so the hotel is for sale…  It will be the end of an era…

So, as is my tradition on short days, I will include some pictures of our perfect and great Grandchildren…

This is Evelyn, 6 1/2 months old…

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This is Roisin – what you can see of her, learning to hang around…

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And this is Roisin again, 5 1/2 years old, reading to Evelyn whilst Mom puts the boys to bed…

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And the boys:

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George is almost 3 and Ian is 4 1/2… First day at the new preschool…!

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

2018-07-11 – WBCCI 2018 Wine Tasting Caravan – Day 10 – Farewell

All good things must come to an end. We said our goodbyes and the four Airstreams headed out on separate journeys.

We drove south about 12 miles, then west some 200 miles, driving along the California Coast.  I know, most of you think the ocean is west of California, but for most of Southern California the ocean is south!

We did manage to stop along the way and walk a bit at the oceans edge…

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We arrived at our storage spot a little after noon…

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We unloaded the Airstream and drove the 5 minutes home…

As is our custom, with short blogs on travel days, we post photos of our grandchildren.  They are in Canada right now, visiting friends and family…

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Our next trip will be for one week at San Clemente State Beach.  Temperatures should be in the low 80s – better than the 100+ days we are having here in Redlands…

And an enjoyable time will be had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-07-10 – WBCCI 2018 Wine Tasting Caravan – Day 9 – Santa Ynez

An exciting day for the caravan today – a rare opportunity to do a wine tasting at the home of the owner of the winery!  Definitely, not your ordinary tasting room!

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Just outside the town of Los Olivos, we approached the gates and pressed the call button. The gates opened and we proceeded down the driveway:

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As fun as this is, the main event was on the backyard patio:

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The view was lovely:

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This is Tantara.  The owner, Carlos Coelho, bought Tantara from Bill Cates a few years ago.  Carlos is an Argentine, married to a Hungarian, with a large winery in Hungary.  He was not at home here today, but he does spend time here in the Santa Ynez valley from time to time…

Our tasting was lovely, with great wines accompanied by several very nice cheeses.

Each year Tantara selects the best barrel of wine from their best vineyards and calls the wine “Evelyn”.  We’ve enjoyed several bottles of Evelyn over the past few years and it always has been spectacular.  Given our Blessed Event this past March, we could not resist stocking up on several bottles of Evelyn, and when the 2018 vintage is released we will need to buy many more…

After our leisurely tasting here at Tantara we once again headed out, this time up to the top of the San Marcos Pass, to an ancient Stage Coach Stop and Tavern, on Cold Springs Road…

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This was the stage coach stop between Santa Barbara and Los Olivos, where Mattei’s Tavern is also still operating.  An enjoyable lunch was had in the rustic dining room:

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After lunch we walked down the road a bit to see the underside of the Cold Springs Bridge.  Today drivers on Hwy 154 pass over the bridge without even noticing that it was the longest steel arch bridge in the world when it was built…

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After seeing the bridge, we had to walk up the hill again; we returned to the Airstreams for an afternoon rest…

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We enjoyed a quiet dinner around the corner at Rudy’s Mexican Restaurant in Buellton, and turned in for the night;  The caravan is over and we head for home tomorrow…

I  believe an enjoyable time was had by all the folks on the Wine Tasting Caravan… One Caravanner said it best:  “It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be!”  That seems to sum it up…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-07-09 – WBCCI 2018 Wine Tasting Caravan – Day 8 – Santa Maria and Ballard Canyon

We had a leisurely morning parked in the vineyard… At about 10:00 am we headed north to Santa Maria for a different type of wine tasting experience:

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This is a tiny warehouse space in a nondescript industrial area of Santa Maria.  There are three wineries in this one building, each with about 1,100 sq. ft.  They all share spaces and equipment, as is common in the wine-making business.  Each of these three wineries makes between 2,000 and 4,000 cases per year.

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The first place we visited, where we had our tasting, was Challen Winery.  Challen does not own any vineyards – she buys her grapes each year on long term contracts.  Challen is the daughter of the late Bill Cates, founder of Tantara Winery, also in this complex.  A few years ago, Bill Cates sold Tantara to Carlos Coelho.  After the sale, Challen missed having a connection to the wine industry, so she started her own label.  Also in this building is Cotiere Winery, owned by Kevin Law.  Kevin has been winemaker for Tantara in the past, and is now winemaker for Challen… Small world!

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We started to learn about Challen from Julie, Challen’s assistant.  After a few wines were tasted, Kevin Law came in and we mixed in Cotiere wines.  Finally, Rick Hill, current winemaker for Tantara, came in and shared his wine under his own label: Labyrinth.  We had a lovely, exuberant, and somewhat confusing hour and a half, tasting wines from three different wineries.  (We tasted no Tantara wines here – that will be tomorrow…)

After order forms were filled out and our farewells were said, we returned south again for a tasting at Rusack Vineyards, in Ballard Canyon, between Los Olivos and Solvang.  We first visited here in 1989, when it was called Ballard Canyon Winery.  It was a ramshackle winery, and we sat at an old picnic table under the oak trees; we remarked on the fabulous views.  Today the winery is in beautiful condition, having been rebuilt over the years by the Rusack family.  The views from the deck are still beautiful!

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We did some tasting.  Rusack is unique in that they grow some of their grapes on Catalina Island!  (Mrs. Rusack is a Wrigley…)

After our tastings, we bought several bottles of wine and sat on the deck enjoying our lunch of sandwiches, bought from Panino in Los Olivos…

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Once our lunches were finished and our naps complete, we packed up and headed back to the Airstreams…

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We moved the Airstreams 15 minutes down the road to Flying Flags RV Resort, and parked in some much-appreciated shade…

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Happy hours ensued…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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