Friday, April 17, 2015

Hiking the PCT

As promised in the previous post, we loaded up our little 5 pound packs and took off from the campground heading south on the Pacific Crest Trail.  The other hikers we passed knew we were day trippers from the lack of 45 pound packs and the fact that we were going the wrong way.  The usual direction is to hike north from the Mexican border.  We exchanged minimal pleasantries because we didn't want to impede their progress.  After all, they had a long way to go.  At first I was surprised how many hikers we saw, but soon realized this is the perfect time of year to start this journey of 2,650 miles.

We soon realized that this section of the trail didn't live up to its 'crest' name.  It immediately took us into a valley and through the brush.

Then we made our way across an endless meadow . . .

Where we spotted the occasional interesting dead tree.

Then we traversed a small forest.  (Hey!  I just realized we went 'over the river and through the woods')

And just about the time the scenery got a lot more interesting, we turned around.

And back we went across the meadow.

But we did spot this stone owl watching over the PCT hikers..

Now I realize all 2,650 miles of the PCT can't be spectacular, but I just wish we had gone north for our longer leg.  Just from the short stretch we did the first day, we could see that was lovely. Next time.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

In Search of Quiet

Leaving the noisy RV park, we headed south to Palo Verde County Park for a quick stop.  Yes, it was quiet, but hot and full of mosquitoes.  Yikes.  We quickly parked in the shade and stayed in for the night.

The next day, we continued on 78, past the aptly-named Chocolate Mountains . . .

And right through the Imperial Sand Dunes.

I always wonder how often they have to plow the sand off the road.

At Brawley we cut south to I 8 in time to travel my favorite section of the interstate which passes among the boulder hills.  I always imagine that some giant baby stacked the rocks.  How weird is that?

At exit 51 we stopped at the rest area.  I knew the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was close by and asked the friendly maintenance guy about it.  He said it goes right through nearby Boulder Oaks campground.  I had looked at Boulder Oaks, a national forest campground, on my favorite Allstays app, but it was listed as closed from March to May for toad breeding season.  (I know, it sounds like a joke.)  But he said no, it's open.  And at 3300 feet, it's nice and cool.  Yippee!

Just look!  It's perfect.  We settled in for a three night stay.

I just love the idea of these long distance trails, but I'm not one to sleep outdoors.  My dream would be to do day hikes and have somebody pick me up each evening.  Of course at 5 miles a day, it would take 530 days to hike the 2,650 miles of the PCT from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.  Maybe I could work up to 7 miles a day.  Then it would only be 379 days.  Hum.

Instead, I guess I'll just be happy to hike short sections of the trail as we come across it.  We couldn't wait to get a taste and decided to go one direction for a short distance right away.  We picked north, saving south for the next day.  We only went about a mile, but were impressed by the views in that short distance.

The trail was completed in 1993, so it's relatively new.   Although our campground is only about 10 miles from the border, the trail is about 25 miles.

In 2011, Ron and I did a short section in Oregon.  Look at the work that went into making that part.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What a Deal

A couple of months ago, we received an invitation in the mail to spend three free nights at Emerald Cove RV Resort in California, across the Colorado River from Parker, Arizona.  Although we've gotten these invitations before, this one came with a couple of added hooks - $200 in gas and a tablet. Since we were planning on heading west anyway, we thought we'd take them up on their offer.

The experience reminded us why we don't like RV parks - the crowded parking, the noise (kids screaming and loud music), and the smells (neighbors smoking, lighter fluid).  In this case, the boats added to both the noise and fumes.  Yes, we really are old fogies.  Even the girl who tried to sell us our membership, knew we weren't going to buy.  She admitted this place is for people who like boats, dirt (ATVs), and drinking.  But we really could see benefits for RVers who stay in parks as the membership included the nine CRA (Colorado River Adventure) parks, plus all the Coast to Coast parks.  Plus lots of other travel benefits which I won't get into.

Just imagine if you had a boat and snagged one of the sties right on the river.

As expected, the tablet is an inexpensive one which I don't know if we'll use much and the $200 in gas is a rebate with lots of restrictions, but we're going to jump through the hoops for that.

While there, we took a day trip to Lake Havasu City, certainly a prime example of  'if you build it, they will come.'  It's now a thriving city of more than 50,000 people.

In 1963, Robert McCulloch flew over this spot in the desert and thought it looked like a promising spot for a city. Along with developer C.V. Wood, he flew in people from colder climates trying to interest them in the area.  Ron actually remembers receiving some sales literature on it.

Well, I guess things weren't going as well as expected and McCulloch decided he needed a 'hook.'  In 1968, he purchased the London Bridge for $2,460,000, had it dismantled, sent to Lake Havasu, and reassembled for an additional $4,500,000.  Wow!

He dug a channel to pass under the bridge, creating an island in the lake.  This is now very popular with spring breakers.

And the bridge is popular with swallows.  The stones were numbered during the dismantling process.

And stores and rental shops were built near the bridge with tudor fronts for a 'British' feel.

There's even a cute English phone booth for photo ops.  (no phone, though)

I really like the vintage lights on the bridge which were made from melted-down canons of Napoleon's army.

But what really caught our attention was this girl who was flyboarding.  If you haven't seen this before, I'm sure you'll be as fascinated as we were.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Hike to Remember

Last Friday, the 13th, my neighbor Mickey and I hiked up the famous Camelback Mountain in downtown Scottsdale.  We had talked about it for a couple of years and decided it was time.  We took the Cholla Trail which is 1.42 miles with a 1235 foot elevation gain.

The trailhead is located in a residential neighborhood so parking is a challenge.  The spot we found was about a half mile from the beginning of the trail, but we thought that would give us a nice warm-up on paved sidewalks.

Once on the trail, we noticed that almost all the hikers were young adults.  Hum, I wonder why.  We made our way uphill, taking breaks as needed.

About halfway up, the trail flattens out for a short stretch.  There was even a spot that looked like a tiny helipad.  On the local news, we often hear about rescues of hikers on Camelback, so we wondered.

At this point, the trail became less obvious, with some rock climbing involved.  We decided to stash our hiking sticks and hope they would be there when we returned.

We thought we had to be close to the top, but the markers told a different story.
(I didn't realize the GPS coordinates went out to so many decimal places.)

This trail is not for those who are afraid of heights.

Finally we made it to the summit and posed for the 'proof' picture.

Uh-oh, we still have to get back down.

Although the rock scrambling was difficult for me, I felt fine until about halfway back down. By the time we got back to the car, my feet were killing me.  But that was nothing compared to the way the front of my thighs hurt the next day.  Even today, two days later, they still hurt.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014 in Review

As is my custom, I'm going to attempt a review of our travels for the year, supported by the pictures I chose to create my calendar for 2015.  This always results in some huge gaps, but I'm going with it anyway.

When we left Mesa in April, we joined our WIN friends in beautiful Sedona.

Although the WINs had a couple of traveling circuits planned, we had our own itinerary in mind. Once again, those plans included a stop in Denver area to visit Ron's daughters and their families. We headed north through the Four-corners area and stopped at Mesa Verde National Park.

Where we encountered this colorful guy.

Continuing toward Denver, we stopped at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Once in Denver, we embarked on a trip within a trip.  Leaving the RV at the Elks, we flew to Anchorage, Alaska, to begin a cruise/tour.  Highlights included a train ride to Denali in an observation car . . .

And seeing the Alaskan wildlife.
(Although to be candid, the bear and the baby moose were not actually in the wild.)

After a wonderful inland passage cruise south to Vancouver and our flight back to Denver, we enjoyed a couple of weeks visiting Ron's family.  Then we were off again in the RV.  We headed east through Nebraska, stopping at North Platte where we found this pure white peacock.

We continued east through Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois, traveling the back roads, instead of the Interstate.  We attended Ron's high school reunion, where he commented there were a lot of old people.

We bought a state parks pass for Wisconsin and utilized it quite a bit during our three weeks in Wisconsin.  We enjoyed the local flora . . .

And fauna.

We also checked out some light houses.  This one is in Algoma.

And this is one of several we scouted out in Door County.

Returning through Iowa and Nebraska, we stayed close to the northern border of both states.  In Effigy Mounds National Monument, I was mysteriously drawn to this alien growth.

While the RV had some TLC at the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa, we enjoyed this garden in nearby Clear Lake.

Then it was back to Denver for another visit and to welcome Ron's new granddaughter Elsie.  All too soon, we tore ourselves away and traveled south through Colorado enjoying the golden aspen trees.

And we continued south through New Mexico, hitting a couple of little known national recreation sites and ending at pretty Oliver Lee State Park.  Sunset there reminded me of a watercolor painting.

Although this is certainly not all we did during our 2014 travels, it is all the pictures from the calendar, so this concludes my wrap-up.  Who knows where we'll be exploring in 2015.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day Seven

For our final day in Hawaii, we did a paddle/hike to Secret Falls and Fern Grotto.  In exchange for a good deal of cash, they rented us a canoe and a really pathetic map.  Since there was an outside possibility that we would get wet, Diana took all these pictures with her nifty underwater camera.

Here come the intrepid explorers.  Interesting that they give you kayak paddles with the canoe.

After a false start, we managed to find the trail.

The section of the trail along the river was very well defined.

In other places, it was pretty rough.

And there were a few water crossings.  The first one was at least 30 feet across in rushing knee-deep water, but we were too busy staying upright to take pictures.

This is the King's or Queen's Bath - Diana probably knows which one.

After about a mile, we arrived at pretty Secret Falls.  (Shh, it's a secret.)

With all its resident Kauai chickens.

Chickens?  What chickens?

The hard part came when we tried to find the other half of the loop trail back.  We were lucky to come across the trail we had taken out, but not where the loop was supposed to meet it.

Next we canoed to Fern Grotto where we had to get out of (and back into) the canoe as it sat next to a rather high dock.  I'm glad nobody was taking a movie of that!

After a short walk, there was lush Fern Grotto.

Those are Boston Sword Ferns that give the grotto its unusual look.

All that hiking was done in our water shoes.  I had just bought mine at Walmart for the unbelievable clearance price of $3!  I can't imagine why they would be so cheap.  LOL

And I did finally go snorkeling.  We went to Lydgate Park where there is a section of the water blocked off with a rock wall.  (See above)  Just right for me.

Here I am all ready to take the plunge.

Diana was supposed to take a picture of me in the act, but she was distracted by some pigeons and by the time she looked again I was done.  But I  saw little blue fish, big blue fish, and little striped yellow fish.

This concludes our wonderful week on Kauai.  It was all I could have hoped for - a true tropical paradise.