Friday, March 16, 2018

A Short Visit to the Coast: Morro Bay, CA


Last week we made our way to Morro Bay State Park for a gathering of 45 Lazy Daze owners. It’s 350 miles from Jojoba Hills, although about 50 miles shorter had we not skirted north of LA to get there, but we wanted to avoid as much traffic as possible. We drove 150 miles the first day, spending the night at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, CA. It’s just a basic parking lot but at $25 for a full hookup back-in site it is reasonable, or $30 for a pull-through.


After a long walk around the perimeter of the fairgrounds we went to check out nearby Bravery Brewing Company.


We highly recommend The Shroud, an imperial stout. They had 3 types, regular, one aged in brandy barrels, and another aged in tequila barrels. They were all very tasty! The Quadrivium Belgian ale was also excellent. And it’s a comfortable dog and kid-friendly warehouse atmosphere that doesn’t serve food but allows you to bring in your own. We stopped and picked up dinner at Chipotle on the way there. We enjoyed it so much that we took the same route back to Jojoba Hills and stopped for the night again in Lancaster so we could visit the brewery once more.


From Lancaster we were able to take mostly backroads to Morro Bay, only having to travel on I-5 for 15 truck-filled miles on what is called The Grapevine. Not something we want to do on a regular basis! It was a clear day when we arrived, so we went for a walk along the bay and then I joined the ladies only happy hour while Jim went over to visit (and drink scotch) with friend Tom from Fort Bragg. There is a nice boardwalk trail along the water just across from the campground.



The sites are close together but since most of our neighbors were other Lazy Dazes, it wasn’t so bad.



I didn’t take many photos from the get together but this is one of the tech talks where we discussed any issues, questions or problems people were having with their Lazy Daze. Larry Wade, who knows all things Lazy Daze, is in the blue jacket on the left. He is the organizer of this get together, along with his wife Renee. Check out the cat, Smokey, whom I sat next to and gave lots of attention, whether he wanted it or not.


One of the women in the group trains seeing eye dogs, so we got to meet this beautiful eight month old puppy, who was extremely well behaved.


The weather was a mixed bag, being nice on our arrival day, to having one entire day of fog, and another with rain from early afternoon on through the evening. In the rain we drove to San Luis Obispo to use the YMCA, eat a delicious vegan lunch at Bliss Cafe, and pick up a few things at Trader Joe’s.

Although miserably damp, cold, and windy, we went for a walk in the fog, with Jim only making it about a half mile before he decided to head back to shelter. I continued along the Embarcadero’s quaint but touristy waterfront where I could not even see Morro Rock.





The rock finally made a brief appearance.


Our last day turned out to be gorgeous, so we went for a 13 mile bike ride along the Embarcadero to Morro Strand State Beach.


Morro Rock is a 581’ high mountain of volcanic rock.



The stacks of the now defunct power plant a half mile from Morro Rock are an iconic part of the landscape.


We got to see and hear some sea lions on a pier and a few in the water.


Not a great photo, but this guy rolled around clapping his flippers and then eating what looked to be a clam.


Handsome great blue heron.


The other side of Morro Rock from the bike trail.


And the beach and Pacific Ocean.


The lovely view from our last group happy hour/pot luck.


The gathering was a fun time and we got to talk with quite a few people we’ve met in the past but hadn’t seen in awhile, and also added some new names to our Lazy Daze list of friends. To those of you we met for the first time who read the blog, thanks for following along. Hope to see you down the road!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Back in the Hills

IMG_2237                                                One last scene from McDowell Mountain Park


On Thursday February 22 we left McDowell Mountain and set out for California, driving 260 windy miles to BLM land just south of Joshua Tree National Park off I-10. It was our first time using the new Blue Ox Avail towbar we bought back in December, and being a bit different from the old one we had a little trouble getting it to lock when we started off. Jim read the instructions after the fact and it should be easier from now on.

We’ve stayed at this area before and had trouble getting level, as we did this time, but finally found a fairly decent spot for the night. Wouldn’t want to try parking here if it’s raining.


There were quite a few other RVs scattered about.


Desert artwork we found on our walk.


The next morning we drove another 80 miles to Jojoba Hills RV Resort, taking the “short cut” over Hwy 74, a portion of the Palms to Pines Highway. It’s a beautiful drive, although steep and winding, and in the past we have unhooked the car and driven separately. We didn’t find a good place to pull over as we approached the road in Palm Desert so we just stayed connected and Jim did a fine job of getting us over the mountain. The road rises to almost 5,000’ and there was still snow at the high elevations. Unfortunately Jojoba Hills is in a fairly remote location and not easy to get to, but that’s also part of its charm. Many people with bigger RVs take the longer route, continuing west on I-10 and going south through Hemet, which adds about another 30 miles.

Our site, which we are very happy with so far.


How nice to have a shed for our bikes and other things we’ve been hauling around in the car.


Our neighbor across the street who lives in the 5th wheel has a Lazy Daze as his travel rig, and you are allowed to park it at your site for a few days in preparation or return from a trip. There is a large storage lot across from the office where you can store another RV or vehicle at no extra charge.


We love having no neighbors behind us or on our driver’s side, just the desert.


The pond across from our site.


Another pond across from the clubhouse, aka “Friendship Hall”.


Friends Terry and LuAnn were here for four more days before heading off to Chile, so we spent time with them, having happy hours and dinners. LuAnn is a great bartender, making us blood orange margaritas and bourbon smashes. One afternoon we met them at our favorite Temecula brewery, Karl Strauss, for happy hour and a bite to eat. It was as good as we remembered, and of course the company was great.


We were sorry to see them go but in exchange for keeping an eye on their place they are letting us use their golf cart while they’re gone. Although we are still walking most places, it has come in handy for hauling laundry and picking up some packages at the mail room. We’ve talked with them on the Zello app from Santiago, Chile where they arrived safely but tired. Zello is a very cool walkie-talkie app that can be used anywhere in the world for free as long as you have WiFi or data service, and amazingly the sound quality is better than most cell phone calls.

We’ve had a couple meetings, one to go over our membership paperwork, and the other with a couple from the welcoming committee to answer questions and review the different volunteer opportunities in the park. We signed up for the park’s internet service the other day, and a guy came over to hook up the router and modem and make sure it all worked. He is from JCATS (Jojoba Communications and Technical Support committee) and Jim got to talking to him about volunteering with them. I was surprised that Jim managed to get up  and go to an 8AM meeting on Friday, and plans to go to another meeting on Monday. He said it was technically way over his head but he likes learning about all that stuff, and the park is switching to a different internet system in a couple months, so they have lots of work to do.

The weather has been cold with a few days of rain since we arrived so we haven’t played pickleball in the mornings, but we did hit the ball around one afternoon just to be sure we remembered how. There have been people out there playing when it’s only been in the 30s and 40s but we just can’t bring ourselves to do that. It will warm up again and we’ll have plenty of opportunity.

We do like having the fitness center so close, although we got spoiled by the machines at Anytime Fitness in Fountain Hills. Here they don’t have as much equipment, but we’re just having to do things a little differently. I joined LuAnn for Zumba last Sunday and plan to go back tomorrow, and yesterday I went to a two hour line dance class. I took line dancing classes when we were in Mission, TX 5 years ago so I’m pretty rusty, but it was fun and good exercise. I can’t talk Jim into going, but maybe I will one of these days.

On Wednesday we are heading out for a week to Morro Bay State Park and the big Lazy Daze get together. We attended it in 2014 and look forward to meeting up with people we haven’t seen in a long time. Besides, it’s a good excuse for another visit to the beautiful Pacific coast.

Since we have no more cat photos, birds will have to do. These cedar waxwings were sitting in the mulberry tree on our lot one morning when I got up. I love the way the two in the middle appear to be having a heated conversation while the others are ignoring them.


See you next week at the coast!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It’s a Wrap


Our last couple weeks here at McDowell Mountain Park are just about over. We were visited by Mark and Bobbie for one night on their way from Sedona to Madeira Canyon. We had happy hour and a few hours of chit chat, and Bobbie and I went for a hike early the next morning before they left. I failed to take any photos but it’s always good to see them.

The next Friday fitness hike I joined was back at the Dixie Mine trailhead but a longer hike of 11.6 miles on numerous trails. The parking lot is at the entrance to an exclusive gated subdivision.


And involves walking on a sidewalk through the neighborhood to get to the trails.


It was a beautiful morning for a hike.




We went off-trail to check out a water escarpment for wildlife built by Fish and Game. When it rains water runs off this aluminum panel and is collected into a tank where it fills a trough for the wildlife.


Apparently they installed a camera at one point to see what was visiting the tank but it was vandalized a couple years ago and was never replaced. What is wrong with people?


Kevin stepped right over this fellow and I was right behind him and almost did the same until I realized it was not a stick.


We think it was just a friendly gopher snake.


Colorful rock.



Haze over Phoenix in the distance.


Field of saguaro on a hillside.


One of the women in our group had missed the hike to the petroglyphs a couple weeks before, so some of us took a detour to look at them. I didn’t care about seeing the rock art again, but I liked the hike through the canyon to get there so I tagged along. It was another fun morning on the trails.


One pleasant Sunday afternoon we met Alex and Ellen in Fountain Hills for a walk around Fountain Park and a hike on the Fountain Overlook Trail, followed by lunch on the patio of La Botana.


Alex and Jim strolling along the paved path around the lake.


View from the hiking trail above town.


The final Friday hike I did on the 16th started at Tom’s Thumb trailhead, where we did the very strenuous and panic-attack inducing hike last month. Kevin assured me this one would have quite a bit of elevation gain, but not all the rock hopping and exposure like the last one, and he was right.


We took a climber’s trail up to a ridge but unlike the last hike this trail was not very rocky, although it was quite steep.


The views were great once we got up there, although it was really windy and cool, being an overcast day.



The rocks are so interesting in this part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.




Happy hikers. From left, Kevin, Linda, Sunaree, Kay, Ben and John.


Kevin took this one so I could get in it.


We walked along the ridge to Tom’s Thumb, where Kevin was pointing out a climbing route and hardware in the rock.


No climbers that day.


We continued down the Tom’s Thumb trail to the Lookout trail.



Then ended up making a loop around the Marcus Landslide area.



More interesting rocks. We hiked a little over 6 miles with about 1400’ of elevation gain, which mostly came in the first mile and a half up the climber’s trail. I’ve really enjoyed hiking with the fitness group this year.


The rest of our time here has consisted of biking, socializing and a few more days spent at Fearless Kitty. One day last week we did laundry in Mesa and then met Debbie for lunch in Chandler at Fired Pie, an excellent fast-food style pizza place. We had a fun three hour lunch catching up. (Sorry, Pat, we were so busy talking I forgot to take a photo.)

The hosts had a big jambalaya cook-out last Saturday evening and although we didn’t eat we went to visit. It was actually fairly warm so we didn’t feel the need to be close to the fire and avoided smelling like smoke.


We had another great dinner with John and Sandy at La Botana, which is now our favorite restaurant in Fountain Hills. It was a very cold, windy night so we couldn’t sit on the patio for the view but the food was excellent.

Charlie and Marti, Lazy Daze friends from Seattle, stopped by the other day. They are spending the winter in Tucson but came up to visit friends in North Scottsdale and wanted to check out McDowell Mountain since they had never been. We haven’t come up with a route for our trip to Canada this summer but if we get near Seattle we hope to see them again.

Yesterday Alex and Ellen came out for one last hike since we thought it was too cold and windy to bike. We did see quite a few people out riding but we would have had to wear too many clothes to be comfortable on the bikes.


And of course I couldn’t end this post without more cat photos. This is sweet, shy Mistletoe.


Either Elwood or Jake. We can’t tell these brothers apart.


The Big Adoption Room, which is in our zone to clean, has eight kittens right now. They are all adorable but some of them are a bit shy.




But not crazy Deacon, who has more energy than we have ever seen in a kitten. He is relentless at attacking and trying to play with the other kittens or anything else that moves.


My favorite kitten is Beau. Have you ever seen markings like this? Makes us smile just looking at his face! I will miss our Fearless Kitty days.


Tomorrow we’re moving on to southern California and Jojoba Hills to begin a new chapter. It’s been a great winter here but we’re looking forward to a change of scenery. Stay tuned!