Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pismo Beach to Morro Bay

Wednesday, Nov. 26th - Wednesday, Dec. 31st

Tuesday we put the RV in storage and drove over to John's sister's in central California for Thanksgiving.  We spent about a week with her and friends and then drove over to Pismo Beach on the coast where the Monarch butterflies go for the winter.  We stayed in a little park model cottage about a half block from the ocean.

For $5.00 you can drive on the beach for about five miles or so.

Somebody had been having a lot of fun driving on the beach here!

The young couple in this car were having a little trouble in the deep, soft sand, so Big John had to help them out a little.

You can also dry camp on a section of the beach here for $5.00 a day, which I think would be great, but I don't think we'll take the chance of getting our big rig stuck down here.

Kathy and JoAnn came down to join us for a few days and we did some sightseeing up and down the coast.  We passed a huge group of bikers.  Made me miss some of my old biking buddies.  You know who you are guys.

We had fish and chips here and watched the dolphins playing out in the ocean.

Hearst Castle near San Simeon.  We did a couple  tours of this place about 35 years ago when we lived in California for a short time.  At that time there were four separate tours to see the whole place.  It is amazing and we will be taking my Mom to tour it when she comes down in January.

Hearst had all sorts of exotic animals and had lavish parties for all the Hollywood stars who came on the train to spend the weekends.  More about all that after we tour it in January.

Just a little further north is an elephant seal birthing and breeding place.

The elephant seals spend about 8 months a year at sea feeding all the time and eat nothing while on the beach for several months between December and March for birthing and breeding.  January is when there are supposed to be thousands of them here, so we will stop back here again also when Mom is with us.

The pups weigh 60 to 80 pounds when they are born and quadruple their weight in less than a month on the mother's rich milk.

The females weigh up to 1,600 pounds and the males up to 5,000 pounds.  I think these were all females and pups in this group.  Compare them in size to the folks above watching them.

You can see the lighthouse in the distance on the point.

The elephant seals haul out on beaches twice a year, once for birthing and breeding and once for molting.  Their social life is vastly different than their solitary existence at sea.  It gets very loud.  They grunt, bicker, snarl and spar.  Males challenge each other with battle cries and the females snarl to ward off the males.  The mothers coo at the pups and the pups cry for their mothers.

They flip sand up onto their backs and occasionally move, but only a few feet at a time, as they try to conserve as much energy as they can.  This old guy started moving a few feet at a time toward the water and this little pup just happened to be in his path.  

Each time the old guy moved a little closer, the pup moved a little ways,  Finally, he turned and got out of his pathway, which seemed to please the old guy and he let us all know it.

He made it a couple more scoots and then he had to rest again.

On our way back south, we stopped at Morro Bay where Dawn still remembers her Dad trying to drown her in the surf when she was a little girl.  Morro Rock in the background.

They have a very nice boardwalk through the small touristy downtown and along the coast with a nice park at each end.  These fishermen had just come in and were cleaning their catch.  The pelicans and seagulls were waiting, none too patiently, for their share.

We hung around and waited for dark, so we could watch their Christmas boat parade.

It was not spectacular, but a nice little parade, with plenty of places to park and sit and watch, so no need to get their early and save a spot.

All-in-all, a very nice day of sightseeing.

We left Pismo beach early Tuesday morning and headed back to Yuma where the weather is a little sunnier and warmer.

There we connected with some old friends we hadn't seen for about 25 years, since the last of John's high school class reunions we had been to.  Maybe some of my readers will recognize them.  We had a couple of nice visits and hope to see more of them when we get back this way.

  Sunday night they had a parade of golf carts through our campground all decorated up for Christmas.  Tuesday we headed up to Emerald Cove for three days. 

Our campsite at Emerald Cove where we spent Christmas. 

This is our view of the great Colorado River from our camper door.

One of our neighbors at Emerald Cove.

A kettle corn stand next to one of the RVs, just one of the many ways people use to pay for their extended winter stays in the south.  Last week we had someone parked next to us with advertisements painted all over his RV for the herbal and essential oil products he sold.  We see all kinds of crafts, wood working, flag poles and such made out of PVC pipe.  Occasionally we see little fences set up that are full of registered puppies for sale.  Can you just imagine an RV full of yipping puppies!

After three days at Emerald Cove we go back to Havasu City where John will stay in the warm with the RV, while I fly from Vegas on New Year's Eve to spend ten days with the grandkids.  I can't wait!  Mom flies into Vegas the same day I get back to spend five weeks with us.

Merry Christmas and Happy Near Year!
Tarra and John

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Arizona - Lake Havasu City and Yuma

Monday, Oct. 13th - Tuesday, Nov. 25th

From St. George, Utah we drove to Lake Havasu City and stayed for a week, with our new membership, at one of the Colorado Adventures campgrounds.

One of our days here we rode our bikes 16 miles round trip to downtown and across the London Bridge and around the little island where there is a nice bike path.  Lake Havasu is about 50 miles long backed up from the dam at Parker.  The old London Bridge was purchased and moved here in 1971 by the fellow trying to sell lots and get a new city going here.  It was a gimmick to create some interest and publicity and I guess it worked.  They dredged this channel which left an island and a place to put the bridge, so it was needed to get to the island where there are now resort condos and an RV park.

From Havasu we went to Yuma and have been here for about five weeks.  We haven't done a whole lot here besides swimming, hot tubbing, hiking, reading and relaxing.  We have seen quite a few movies, since the senior price is only $5.00.  We saw The Equalizer with Denzel Washington while we were in Havasu, pretty good action film.  We also saw Interstellar (so so), John Wick (don't bother), Best of Me (chick flick, okay), Beyond the Lights (chick flick, okay), Gone Girl (sort of a fatal attraction, suspense, pretty good), Fury with Brad Pitt (pretty good), Nightcrawler (pretty good).  My favorite so far is The Judge with Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr.

We went out for John's favorite, all you can eat BBQ ribs, for the fourth Saturday in a row and then headed to the annual balloon lighting festival, but we were a little late for any good pictures.

They were just finishing up and starting to deflate them as we arrived.

So we got to watch as they packed them up.  There was quite a group of workers here rolling the balloon all together and tying it up with straps at intervals.

These guys didn't tie their's up at all.  They just had a big heavy duty canvas bag and kept lifting it up and folding it down into the bag and stuffing it in.  When they were done, it looked like a big hay bale and a guy started rolling it over to the trailer, where two guys grabbed it by the handles and lifted it into the trailer.  The baskets looked like they might possibly hold four people.

  When we were in Australia, we went on a sunrise hot air balloon ride and we had about 20 people in our basket.  We were surrounded by other balloons as the sun came up.  It was so beautiful!  We could see kangaroos down below us and they looked like a bunch of little mice hopping around. I highly recommend taking a balloon ride sometime, somewhere if you get the chance.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot, when we getting ready to take off, the guys in charge tied our balloon to a Toyota pickup, so it wouldn't float away.  When we landed in a field they looked around to see what they could anchor it to and tied it to John.  Thank goodness for overly large Americans!  Which reminds me, the first time we tried to book a balloon ride we were in New Zealand, and the guy on the phone apologized, but said he had to ask, since he recognized our American accent, if we had anyone overly large in our party.  When asked how he defined overly large and he said over 200 pounds.  We didn't get to go on that particular trip, as the night before we ended up stranded on top of a mountain in Queenstown where we had taken a chair lift up.  Strong winds came up and they shut down the lift and we were there until about 10:00 PM.  We had to cancel, because there was no way we could get back to our room in time to get up by 4:00 AM and get to the balloon ride before sunrise.  John also went bungee jumping over a river while we were in New Zealand and got a good soaking.   A bit of a math error in how far he was supposed to fall.  Thank goodness it was over water!

Anyway, Tuesday we put the RV in storage and headed over to central California to spend Thanksgiving with John's sister for a week and another week at Pismo Beach on the coast in a small cabin right near the beach.  I like the desert, but I also like the beach, especially the ones in Florida and Texas where it is really warm and it's fun to go swimming and/or wading in the ocean.

Happy Turkey Day Everybody!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Helena to St. George, Utah

Wednesday, Oct. 8th - Monday, Oct. 13th

We left Helena Wednesday morning and drove to Payson, Utah on I-15 where we had supper at a little Chinese place and spent the night in an empty parking lot across from Walmart.  The next day we drove to St. George, Utah where we had an appointment at Freight Liner to get our oil gauge fixed.  They had to order a part, so we camped in their lot until the part came in on Monday.

Friday we drove over to Bryce Canyon National Park and spent the day exploring and hiking around a bit.

This is Bryce Amphitheater. 

 There are lots of hiking trails down into the maze-like landscape,

with lots of people hiking all over, way down in the canyon as far as we could see looking like little ants.

Rainbow Point, elevation 9,115 feet.

Agua Canyon, elevation 8,800 feet.

Natural Bridge is misnamed because it was not carved by a rushing stream and is actually just an arch caused by other erosion.

This lone yellow Aspen tree caught my eye as we were parking.  Then I saw a guy with a big camera on a tripod taking pictures of it.  I wonder if his turned out better than mine.

Piracy Point.

A little closer view.   Some of these formations look as if someone has poured a layer of cement on their tops.

View from Inspiration Point, elevation 8,100 feet.

From there I walked the Rim Trail 1.3 miles up along the trees over to Bryce Point.

John walked a short way up the trail and then went back and got the car and drove over to pick me up.

View down into the canyon along the trail.

Part of the Rim Trail.  It wasn't all right on the edge like this, but this part did remind me of when I rode the mules down the trail into the Grand Canyon.  That was a little spooky until I got used to the idea that the mules were very sure-footed and knew what they were doing.  The views along the edge are incredible, if it doesn't bother you to be there!

Another arch along the trail.

Driving back to St.George that evening and over to the Grand Canyon North Rim the next day, the Quaking Aspen trees were sparking in the sunlight.  

The breeze blows their little leaves around and the sun shining on them just makes them shimmer like like sequins on a dress.  Their stark white trunks almost glow in the sunlight.   The radio was playing Wynn Stewart's "It's Such a Pretty World Today".  Perfect!

They were really beautiful and I can only imagine how much better they must have been a week or two earlier.  As you can see, about half of them had already lost all of their leaves.

One of the first campers we saw as we entered the Grand Canyon National Park.  It was so cute, all hand-painted.

It was $25 per vehicle for a 1 to 7 day pass, but when you are 62 you can buy a lifetime pass for $10 that gets you and everyone in your vehicle into all the national parks in the country.  We use our pass a lot.

This is the nice paved path from the old lodge out to Bright Angel Point.

Check out the two guys in this picture.  The one way in the distance climbed up on top of the rocks at the end of Bright Angel Point.

View back toward the lodge which you can see a little bit of way up in the right hand corner.

Another view.

Walking back toward the lodge.

Check out the guy sitting out on the end of the white colored rock point near the center of the picture,

View point right below the lodge.  From here it is about 10 miles straight across to the lodge on the South Rim where I did the two-day mule ride down into the Grand Canyon a few years ago with some girl friends, while John hiked it.  It is a 215 mile, 5 hour drive by car.  Congress established the Grand Canyon Park in 1919, but miners brought burros here long before that and eventually abandoned them here.  The first tourist lodge "Wylie Way" opened in 1917 on the North Rim operated by Wylie's daughter and son-in-law.  Their son, Bobby, befriended an abandoned burro named Brighty.  They worked together hauling water from a spring about a half mile below the rim.  Each day Brighty's pay was a stack of flapjack pancakes.  He allowed boys and girls to ride on his back.

This is a statue of Brighty in the lodge.  John remembers reading the book "Brighty of the Grand Canyon" by Margerite Henry as a kid.  Maybe we can find it in the library and read it to our grandkids.  

We stopped for a little picnic and a glass of wine with a view.  No, that's not peanut butter in the Skippy jar. 

A little Siberian Aster.

A closer view.  We saw lots of these when we were in Alaska.


Indian Paintbrush.

Not sure what this delicate, little flower is.  Looks like little red stars.

Angel's Window in Kaibab limestone.

Near the center of the picture you can see the winding Colorado River.  

View of Wotan's Throne from Cape Royal Point.  The North Rim is a maze of jutting rock islands and side canyons with many formations that look like temples and castles.  The North Rim has eroded more than 7 miles from the river's edge, while the South Rim has only eroded 3 miles.  The North Rim is higher than the South Rim by 1,200 feet and captures twice the amount of rain and snow.

I was watching this guy and I could just tell that he was thinking about climbing down onto that next shelf and getting closer out to the edge.  He stood there contemplating for several minutes and finally turned around and walked away.

Check out this guy,s t-shirt.  It's a target and says "God bless our troops....especially our snipers".  I'm just not quite sure what to think about that.

Hiking the Roosevelt Trail.

Point Imperial, elevation 8,803 feet, is the highest viewpoint in the park, 7 miles from the Colorado and more than a mile above it, also the deepest view.

Closer view.

Sunday we drove out to see the grave sites and monuments where the Mountain Meadows Massacre took place during the so-called Utah War in 1857.  There was a wagon train with a group of settlers from Arkansas bound for California.  On September 7th a group of local Mormon settlers and Indians attacked the wagon train.  They were joined by a contingent of territorial militia consisting of Mormons acting on orders from local religious leaders and military commanders.  They laid siege to the wagon train for five days, during which time they killed 15 men.  Then they persuaded the emigrants to give up their weapons and leave the corralled wagons in exchange for a promise of safe passage.  When they were all out and some were more than a mile up the valley, they suddenly attacked them and killed more than 120 men, women and children.  Only 17 children under the age of 6 were spared and eventually returned to relatives in Arkansas.  In 1859 there was a memorial put up and the graves were preserved and protected by local families and ranchers until 1999 when new monuments were put up by the Mountain Meadows Association and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It is now a National Historic Landmark.

There is a monument with all their names engraved on it on a small hill about a mile above the main grave site.  They were buried in group graves spread out in the valley for a mile or two wherever they were killed or the bones were found.  There are four or five of these markers you can drive to around the valley.

When we left there we drove over to do the Kolob Canyon scenic drive in Zion National Park.

When we got to the end of the drive there was a hiking trail and John said I could hike it if I wanted and he'd just wait in the car, so off I went.  This section of the trail had one foot gaps every ten feet or so to let the water run through and not wash out the trail.

It turned out to be longer than I thought, about a mile and a half.

And it got quite rugged toward the end, especially considering I just had floppy sandals on.

But I made it.

And the view was great!  When I got back to the car, he said, "I didn't think you would really go."  Well!

Monday our part came in and we were on our way to Havasu City where we will stay for a few days before heading down to Yuma.