California (continued)

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, San Diego, CA

Arrived at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park at 6:10pm- 3 hours later than expected due to the infamous California traffic….even worse than the Van Wyck Expressway.

Despite our late arrival, we headed into the gas-lamp district for a wonderful Greek meal with Wayne and Jaimie. Wayne’s son, Paul from Denver happened to be in San Diego and Jaimie’s daughter, Nicole also lives here.  They joined us for dinner along with our son, MIchael and Paul’s friend, Matt.

Following the big wedding in Santa Barbara, Susan, me, Jaimie and Wayne all head south to visit San Diego. We have our son Michael there and Jaimie’s daughter Nicole is also there. Amy and Angelo (& their son Mikey) wudda, cudda, shudda been there too except for Angelo’s broken heel extravaganza back in Carpenteria.
Here it’s a family affair enjoying the nightlife in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Wayne’s son Paul with old friend Matt from LI (both just passing thru by coincidence!) on one side and Michael and Jaimie’s daughter Nicole (SD residents both) on the other (too bad our nephew Sam couldn’t make this one). Youngest to oldest table and oldest to youngest.

We went on a short, but somewhat challenging hike at Annie’s Canyon with Wayne and Jaimie.  It was short in distance but required climbing steep inclines and squeezing through tight rock formations.

Nicole has given Jaimie lots of info on places to go – here we’re at Annie’s Canyon near the ocean in San Diego with Jaimie and Wayne.  Very soft sandstone you can carve out if so inclined, sometimes looks like another planet.  – (The people who live across the bay probably have a lot of money).

In the evening, Michael, Nicole and our nephew, Sam (who also lives here) joined us for a concert in downtown San Diego at the Music Box.  The opening band was River Whyless and Darlingside* was the main act.  They were both fantastic.
*Postscript:  Darlingside’s music was featured on the season finale of This is Us.

Susan and nephew Sammy (my sister Liz’s son) in San Diego’s Little Italy,- and with Jaimie, Wayne, Nicole, Michael, and Sam at the nearby ‘Music Box’ show featuring Americana acts River Whyless and Darlingside – who’s music, as mentioned, has been featured on TV’s ‘This Is Us’

Met Wayne and Jaimie at Balboa Park where we strolled the grounds and toured through the Museum of Man.

Gigantic and central, Balboa Park contains 16! museums, multiple performance venues (including the giant pipe-organ seen here), Japanese and many more gardens, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. SD hosted a Worlds Fair here in 1915 and many of the buildings designed for it were in Spanish Baroque and Spanish Colonial Revival style. The Museum of Man had lots of interesting attractions for adults and kids.

Later in the evening, Nicole and Michael joined us for sushi at this crazy restaurant where you pick your food off a conveyor belt and then deposit your empty plates.  You are charged by the plate and you get a little prize after depositing 30 plates.  The food and company was great and it was a blast.

SD BalboaP 0319

the crew visiting Michael’s own RV complete with tropical fish & exotic shrimp

Michael, Nicole, Wayne, Jaimie and John and I hiked up a mountain at Mission Trails Regional Park.  It was sunny and hot with a steep incline so it was quite the workout with great rewards at the summit- beautiful vistas.

Mission Trails Park summit has expansive views from the ocean and cityscape to surrounding hills and mountains. For some reason, no pix of people or dogs.

After the hike, we went to dinner at a pub in the North Park district and visited Nicole’s lovely apartment.

SD BalboaP 0319

our signature rock star picture outside a North Park neighborhood restaurant – near Nicole’s great  apartment in the Hillcrest neighborhood – she knows all the spots

Then we drove to La Jolla to see the gorgeous AirBNB that Wayne and Jaimie stayed in.

Wayne and Jaimie’s AirBNB was beautiful in and out, with stunning views from their living room and balcony over the pool to the entire city skyline, plus one of Wayne outside looking in.

We hosted Michael and Sam for dinner at our RV.  Nicole and her friend, Laura joined us too for a BBQ at the campsite.  We had such a great time, we actually partied past quiet time and had to turn in.

——-What !!?? —- Again I drop the ball with no pix of our big campsite BBQ with Nicole, her friend Laura and dog Ollie, along with Michael and Sam!!!!———–???????


a few pix of San Diego/Coronado Beach special dog park section!, next to the gigantic SD naval base – and a few from the hillsides surrounding our RV park.


Today we pack up and leave beautiful San Diego and head towards Desert Hot Springs.  We had a great time visiting friends and family, enjoying several dinners (Michael’s treat), a great romp at Coronado dog beach and just tooling around this lovely city.  Now to parts unknown where we don’t have any friends (yet) or family.  Time to regroup and plan for the second 6 months of our adventure.

KOA Palm Springs/Joshua Tree, Desert Hot Springs, CA

Desert Hot Springs is surrounded by Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and several other well known places including Coachella.  The drive here was moving along rather smoothly until we were within 20 miles or so of our destination.  At that point, the infamous desert winds kicked up and we had to contend with 55 mph gusts.  Luckily we made it to this KOA in the middle of the desert but close to lots of fun places.

PlmSpr 0319

En route to Palm Springs. The desert between mountain ranges is like a wind tunnel. Here you can just see that there are thousands of wind turbines at work.

We have been here for two nights and have explored the area and hiked a 5.6 moderately strenuous hike through the desert.

The desert temps were not bad in March, hitting the 80’s. They had some rain and wildflowers were pretty common.

Our neighbors are a family of five who have over a million followers on you tube following their “Epic Family Road Trip” which included a stretch in New Zealand.  They actually had their Jeep outfitted with a tent and plumbing, shipped to NZ.  Go to their you tube channel and follow their wild adventure.  I can’t even imagine traveling in such small space with three teenagers.

PlmSpr 0319

We have a blog – they have their own You Tube channel with over a million followers, an RV and a jeep modified for tent living among lots of other cool stuff!  At this time, we would like to thank our own  followers – thanks to the both of you for your support!

PlmSpr 0319

Of course it takes all types – this fellow’s sign advertises sale of his book ‘101 Ways to Tell the World to Kiss Your Ass’.  We didn’t buy it at this time, but it’s obviously working for him.

There are some exquisite golf courses here in the Palm Springs area, as you might expect.  John decided it was time to find out why his wedge shots were not where he liked them to be so he booked an hour long lesson with a golf pro, Craig Freeman at the LaQuinta Resort and Golf Club.  I thought I had already seen the most beautiful course back in Arizona but this one sure gives it a run for the money.  The golf lesson was also very interesting  as the instructor captures every aspect of the swing on camera and shows you what to correct.

Palm Springs is known for golf – (Bob Hope’s Desert Classic), and one course is more beautiful than the next. Of course, we’re not allowed on the really famous, or even slightly famous ones. (We didn’t really want to play them anyway).

After the lesson, we took Baker (for the second time) to a beautiful dog park in Rancho Mirage where he frolicked with his pals.  Then we went to the driving range to practice and apply the tips from the lesson, followed by a lovely dinner out.  When we returned to the campground, the wind was unbelievable.  This campground just sits in a wind tunnel and we had some crazy gusts (probably up to 60mph).  Our trailer held up just fine.
We have been enjoying this area so much that we extended our stay several days.

the view from behind our rig, and on the nearby roads – the San Jacinto mountain range.

Over the last several days we have visited a casino, hiked another rather strenuous trail and went golfing (Golfing at the Sands RV Resort and hiking the Kim Nicol 5.6 mile trail and the S. Lykken 6 mile trail).

Views from the Lykken hiking trail just south of Palm Springs

We also visited the Palm Springs Village Fest which is a huge crafts fair that takes place every Thursday night in the winter months.  We’ve also spent time just relaxing in our trailer and at the campground.  The weather has been glorious so it is just pleasant sitting around the picnic table.

Palm Springs in evening and at night. – Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, and Coachella really make up one continuous resort city in the desert, with their own versions of ‘Rodeo Drive’ and more.

Unfortunately, our new neighbors (people come and go) have several little dogs that bark all day long which has made it a little less appealing.  Hopefully they will check out today- we’ll see.
We spent our St. Patty’s Day at Joshua Tree National Park.   It’s a huge park with acres and acres of open land sprinkled with those funky looking Joshua trees that had to be the inspiration for some Dr. Seuss illustrations.  The park is also covered with interesting rocky, craggy formations that rock climbers take delight in.  We took a few short strolls with Baker because dogs are not allowed on the hiking trails and then we just drove for 14 miles or so through the park enjoying the scenery.  The park is so huge, we could have kept driving 20 more miles but we called it a day and headed back to see about a traditional St. Patty’s Day dinner at a pub.

Joshua Tree National Park. You can just see some of the tiny rock-climbers – God bless ’em!

Apparently there are not a lot of Irish pubs in Palm Springs.  We found one that had recently opened and it looked perfect.  When we arrived, they told us that they weren’t serving food due to a power outage.  We tried hunting for another pub but had no luck finding one that was “dining friendly” so we just settled for paninis at a regular restaurant.  I’m not sure if I could settle in a place with no corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s Day.
Today is our final day here in the desert.  John went to the driving range and then we went to Planet Fitness again.  Tomorrow, we begin our trip north.  We don’t have a reservation anywhere until the following day because we want to see how close we can get to our next place in Oakdale, CA outside of Modesto.

Table Mountain Casino, Friant, CA

We left our KOA right on time at 11:00am and began our journey into the heart of darkness….the CALIFORNIA FREEWAY TRAFFIC. Our next reserved campground is around 6.5 hours away so we were trying to get somewhere north of the halfway point (Bakersfield).  We made it past Bakersfield in fairly good time and headed towards Fresno.  We were actually aiming for a casino northeast of Fresno in Friant.  As we approached the Fresno area, our GPS encouraged us to leave the highway and take a detour due to heavy traffic.  Since that is risky with an RV, we decided to just grit our teeth and stay on the highway.  Well- what a fiasco.  We were stuck in the worst traffic for miles and miles.  Our 4 hour trip turned into an 8 hour journey but we finally made it to the casino that allows overnight parking for RVs.  The lot wasn’t level at all so it felt like we were sleeping on a boat but it was good enough to get through one night.  We got to gamble a little and get some rest for tomorrow’s trip.

SD 0319

A cool looking eagle inside TableRock casino – winning blackjack again! (no jinx please) – but Susan can’t seem to crack those slot machines (again)

Woodward Reservoir, Oakdale, CA

We arrived in Oakdale, CA late in the afternoon after missing our turn which was similar to our episode back in Vermont.  The entrance to the reservoir is off a road aptly named 26 mile road.  It is a 2 lane road surrounded by farmland with no place to turn around a 35′ fifth wheel.  Luckily we found a spot around 10 miles down the road and made it to our destination.
The reservoir is very pretty and peaceful.  The water level is down right now but it still looks lovely.  We are here for fourteen nights and plan to relax for several days and unwind.  This is the central valley of Cali right between Yosemite and San Francisco so we will be taking some road trips over the next two weeks for sure.

Pretty serene and peaceful around the reservoir in central CA, complete with a couple of rainbows. In one picture, you can see some of the expanse of agricultural land this area is known for, particularly cherry tree orchards around us (irrigated by these reservoirs), –  there can typically be thundershowers one place and sunny & beautiful somewhere else nearby.
Oakdale CA is a nice medium/small town that bills itself as ‘cowboy capital of the world’. We honestly didn’t see that many cowboys, but they do have a cowboy museum and the big time rodeo makes a stop here.

We haven’t done much of anything over the last two days.  It’s been very relaxing and quiet.  Tomorrow we plan to begin exploring some of the large towns nearby.  First stop- Planet Fitness in Modesto.

Modesto means modest in Spanish and that is a perfect description.  It looks like a typical, flat, US suburb.  Nothing special.  Perhaps I am getting spoiled by places with beautiful landscapes and mountain views.

To the east of our campground is Yosemite National Park.  What a difference! We spent 4 hours getting to and driving through Yosemite and it was spectacular.  You can drive less than a mile and go from snow lined roads to bright, warm blue skies.  Despite seeing many photos- even Ansel Adams’ work, nothing prepares you for the splendor of this place.  It is a similar feeling you get when you first approach the rim of the Grand Canyon.  It takes your breath away.  The adventure begins before you even arrive. The road leading in is one of the curviest, scariest ever.  I couldn’t believe that the speed limit was 55.  You could not possibly go that fast without flying off the side of a cliff….and the scenery along the way is awe inspiring.  To get to the park from the west, you have to drive through Stanislaw National Forest which is also beautiful.  Again, I will let the photos do the talking.

the road in, and then Yosemite and El Capitan – you could just keep snapping pictures all day.

I drove 2 hours south to Fresno to spend the afternoon with a dear old friend from back in my rehab counseling days at Kings Park Psychiatric Center.  Toni and I worked together from 1980-1983 and I hadn’t seen her for many years.  She lives in a beautiful home in Fresno with her roommate, James and loads of animals including her guide dog Adora.


Susan’s friend from way back, Toni Eames and guide dog Adora

We had fun reminiscing about old times and catching up on our lives over the last 3 decades.

My 64th birthday.  To celebrate my pre-Medicare eligible birthday, we booked a hotel in south San Francisco and tooled around this incredibly picturesque city.

Entering SF from Oakland – the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge is a complex of bridges overlooking the city and Alcatraz Island – and even the Golden Gate bridge far north

We had dinner at a classic North Beach Italian restaurant, then walked up Lombard Street, the crookedest street in America which also shares its name with the street we first lived on in North Babylon.  Then we walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Again, the photos will tell the story.

Cars (and Susan) going down famous Lombard St in SF. Interestingly, we used to live long ago on the second most famous (I think) Lombard St – in North Babylon, LI, NY
Day into eve in SF – the trolleys, the streets & people and the ‘Backyard Party Kings’ were all happening. We ate at Sodini’s – good old school Italian – their blurb sez “no decaf, no dessert, no reservations” – we were able to get a small table.
The bay, the bridges, Fisherman’s wharf,  John the bartender, and other nightlife were all happening on a beautiful (and warm) SF night (Eric Burdon’s Haight-Ashbury on another day).

Today we drove to Santa Cruz to enjoy a more serene day of hiking in a spectacular redwood forest- Henry Cowell State Park,

This fallen giant Redwood sprouted before the birth of Christ and the Chinese invention of paper. I can’t help but editorialize – if there was no private and public action taken at the time (John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt among others, which would lead to the creation of the National Park Service) the Redwoods of California would be a memory – they were already being cut and would otherwise have been logged to extinction over a hundred years ago
Henry Cowell State Park is a walkable redwood extravaganza. They have additional trails that go up the river where some people are even swimming happily.

followed by a tour of the coast and Santa Cruz boardwalk area.  We drove to the very spot where the new Jordan Peele movie, “US” was filmed overlooking Seabright beach.

Santa Cruz/Seabright beach works its way into:
the Boardwalk/Amusement Park area.
We hadn’t seen Jordan Peele’s new suspense, horror movie ‘Us’ which is partly based here, but they say one of the pivotal scenes takes place in one of the seaside houses in plain view – maybe one of these?
Back up the beautiful coastline towards SF on Rt 1

California is truly a beautiful state but there are a few negatives including super expensive gas, coupled with horrific traffic jams. On our way to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, we hit some insane traffic and there is no explanation for it- just too many cars and not enough roads.  While sitting in traffic, you are burning gas/diesel that costs upwards of $4.00 per gallon.  The gas station by our hotel was charging $4.29 for regular unleaded gas.

Last day of our birthday side trip.  After checking out of our south San Francisco La Quinta (they allow dogs), we had a bite to eat at a very funky old diner and drove back into the city to Haight Ashbury.

A true potpourri of colors and lifestyles, Haight-Ashbury may be doing better right now celebrating its heritage than at any time since its hippie heyday – street people et al. ‘Pipe Dreams’ and ‘Bound Together – the Anarchist Collective Bookstore’ have stayed in business over 50 years (although sadly we talked to the original bookstore owner who’s getting on and doesn’t see his brainchild’s future so brightly now). Susan even found a yarn store (it was expensive).

From there, we we drove across the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito.

from Haight-Ashbury through the rain to the north end and Presidio Park across the Golden Gate Bridge to green and hilly and expensive Sausalito.

On the trip back to the campground, we were once again plagued with horrific traffic that came out of nowhere.  We were stuck for over an hour traveling a short 2 mile span.  The crazy thing is that there are no alternate routes-simply not enough roads.  Finally arrived back to our camper in the evening, in the rain.  We have one more stop in California.  This is a very big state you know.  We will take a few days to relax and prepare for our next trip to the Redding area.

Next time—–

Soon to finish California (finally) & up the Oregon coast (with Nick from Nowhere) and onto Washington/Seattle/Tacoma with cousin Matt and nephew/niece-in-law Derek & Olga!

2 thoughts on “California (continued)

  1. I bet you have more than 2 followers! I loved the pictures of California. We’ll have to take our kids one day. How cool that you got to see Mike and Sam! I miss those guys. It’s been way too long. Keep posting updates. I’m loving it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s