Monday, February 25, 2013

A day in San Diego

          I love exploring San Diego and the ocean but the horrendous traffic can really get on a persons nerves. First stop was the Living Coastal Discovery Center in Chula Vista, formally known as the Chula Vista Nature Reserve.

        At the front door of the discovery center were three or four large green back turtles swimming in a closed tank.

          One main reason for heading to the discovery center was the advertised raptor exhibits. Other than this beautiful barn owl that a worker was exercising, I was very disappointed with the center. All the raptors were behind a heavy, dark mesh screen cages and outside which made them all but invisible to the naked eye. The rest of the bay or ocean exhibits were either disjointed or non-educational. I found the Ocean Institute a few months ago at Dana Point much more interesting, hands-on and educational and gets my vote for a great place to take the kids.

      There are some trails at Living Coast that allowed me access to some of the back bay areas that are mostly controlled by the military.

       One interesting tidbit is that in the early part of the 20th century they made gunpowder out of "kelp"...I never knew that?

          Good ocean breezes offered these dare devils in wetsuits quite a ride.

         I find it hard to visit San Diego without looking up our old boat. For ten years we kept "Quick Turns", only we named it "Moonstruck", in the bay. So many fond memories and great times were had going to the boat, especially when Vegas sat in 100+ degree weather. I will say that my wallet thanked me profusely when we sold her.

              I ate a burger at the famous Hodad's where the saying is "no shoes, no shirts, no problem!" Great hamburger. I say Rocky's Crown Pub burgers are the best, but Hodad's is a close second.

            Besides great burgers you can also get a fancy "bong" at one of the many dope stores in Ocean Beach.

          Makes no difference if it is January or February...if it is a warm day there will be girls in bikinis on the beach.

       Rain or shine...the guys will be out catching waves as long as the swells are big enough and the girls in bikinis are on the beach.

        Penelope the pelican was a perfect "model" for me. Why she even has beautiful blue eyes!

You can't visit the ocean and not say hello to the daredevil of daredevils "Jonathan Livingston Seagull".

       My brother was with me a few days ago and told me the story of these two quonset huts on Coronado Island. Seems he was doing some electrical work in them and they held the huge Mark V fast attack Navy boats that can be shipped in a plane anywhere in the world on short notice. At 82 feet in length but still able to do 65 knots it surely is a wonder just what 4 million can gets you today.

                                      Speaking of Navy ships........
This is AWESOME! Two navy ships passing each other in San Diego Bay. The one on the left is the USS Howard a Arleigh-Burke destroyer at 509 feet in length. The one on the right is the very new 378 foot USS Fort Worth. The Fort Worth is a LCS-3 (littoral combat ship) with a shallow draft for working close to shore.

       One last bit of San Diego history that my older brother Jack imparted on me before leaving the Point Loma area are the lamp posts in the middle of the street in this old neighborhood. I found this community, Loma Portal, was started in the 1920's and all the houses in the subdivision were custom homes. Odd that nowadays there would still be a touch of history, undisturbed, although I might think twice about driving home after a cocktail or two if I lived in the neighborhood. I looked on Zillow, all the houses start at 750K and go well past a million...this means I can drink all I want!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

        Sweetwater Summit is a San Diego county park that includes RV spots with corrals for the horse enthusiasts, meeting room, full hook-ups and mostly 90 foot pull-throughs which is important for a lot of full-time RVers. Right now it is $33 a night which is not too shabby in the San Diego area.

The campground is set up in such a large area that allow you to face north, south, east or west if you choose.

North west was our preferance so that we got plenty of sun in the afternoon. We look over a golf course and the San Diego airport flight path (which was not a noise issue) and love watching the hawks fly overhead.

While fishing was one of the advertised perks here, all I see are no boats or people trying their luck. Seems it is a 960 acre lake but completely fenced.

I spied this barrel cactus while looking for hawks from the motorhome and at nearly a 1/4 mile away it still looked huge to me.

                   The hike to the summit (called cactus hill) was worth every step.

When I got to the summit I was blown away by some of the Chollo cactus that were  absolutely heavy with buds that will soon flower. I wish we could join this Coastal Cactus Wren when the flowering begins.

This explosion of flower buds would be spectacular for anyone in the area when it happens, I'm awed that the branches can hold this much extra weight.

I am adding the Sweetwater Dam for a number of reasons. One, it was a bitch hiking to where I might have a decent shot of photographing the dam. Ended up hiking a mile and half up this gorge to view it because all the roads leading to the dam were closed. Someone must think this is a terrorist target with all the fences and locked gates.  

The hike was well worth the walk. The reason I was so interested in the dam is that it was built in 1888 and still functioning. While the earthen overflows were destroyed in the flood of 1916 after a month that included 39 inches of rain, the  concrete arch, which was the highest masonry arched dam in the United States at the time it was built held, and is still here today holding back the lake...125 years later!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Carlsbad, California

        Before I left Guajome County Park in Oceanside I got a one day window with no rain so I decided to explore the park.

Guajome has over 4.5 miles of trails that will test you with some elevation.

The trails are shared with horses and bicycles but no motorized vehicles of any type.

This being "high tech" California, if you don't know how to warm up, do a jumping jack or touch your toes, just swipe your phone over one of these QR scanners and it will take you to a Youtube video that will give you a demostration on the fine art of how not to pull a muscle.

Guajome also has two fishing ponds but none of the QR scanners told me how to fish...what's up with that ?

Before I left the camp ground I met my neighbor Maggie and her Giant Green Winged Macaw. Nicolas was a beautiful bird but I'm not sure all the patches are normal. Since they can exert 2000 psi and snap a broomstick in half I kept my finger closed. 

The reason for the name of the bird.

Maggie seemed like a sweet lady but you gotta wonder about a woman who wears "goofy" sleepers all day and trudges around the bird and 5 chihuahua dogs all in a 27 foot motorhome?

           I had left the campground early and headed for our next stop to spend the weekend at Sweetwater Summit south of San Diego. I planned on leaving early enough so I could park here in Carlsbad along the shore for the day.'s tough working on the blog under these conditions. ☺

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

San Diego Family visit

Our trip from Yuma to San Diego was quick and uneventful. We had made reservations at the Guajome County Park in Oceanside, California which suited us very well...(read cheap)

Large spaces to park in with shrubbery separating the sites, fire-pit, table, electricity, water and free showers that are great...what's not to like?

            Not many cities nowadays can afford to build a new library "with an ocean view". Jack showed off their many meeting rooms, patio and periodicals section. Why they even gave me a library card even though I only visit the area once a year. 

I did say we were meeting up with family, right? Becca, (our niece) Chrissy, (my sister and Becca's mom) Donna, Dayle, (sister-in-law) brother Jack and yours truly after a wonderful lunch at Point Loma Seafood

Donna and I have many times gone to Point Loma to look for whales just off the shoreline. Chris and Becca explain to Donna that if you open your arms into the shape of a whale tail they will rise to the surface. I was with my brother so I never found out if this worked or not.

On the very end of Point Loma is Cabrillo National Monument  from which you have a beautiful view of the ocean, San Diego and Mexico. What a stroke of luck that in 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on the most gorgeous point of the west coast.

Sadly, there are thousands of military graves facing the ocean and the city on Point Loma. A "shout-out" to all the fine men and women who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today...HOOO-YA!

At one point of the drive out to Cabrillo National Monument you can view a nuclear sub dry dock with it's large protective floating fence to keep noisy people out.

Here I am trying a little "creative" photography when shooting into the sun.

Unbenounced to the rest of the family my older brother was apparently fathered by Ernest Hemingway. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Los Algodones, Mexico

       We were on our way to Borrego Springs for a few days until Tom remember it had been a year since his last teeth cleaning. Folks at Quartzsite all had praise for the work in the little Mexican town of Los Algodones. Ok, forget Borrego lets going down Yuma way for two days.

      There were few RV parks available but we spent so much money on the solar panels last year we we both thought we should give boondocking a try. Here at the Quechan Casino in California right near the little town of Los Algodones they had a huge RV and truck lot with room to stretch, all free.

         Here on the left is the RV parking and just out of sight on the right is truck parking. This being a warm and sunny Presidents Day weekend the RV lot was already jammed so we went with a few other motorhomes to the truck problem.

       It wasn't long before the trucks were driving around looking for a place to sleep. Some of the motorhome owners had there cars parked alongside but we felt that was rude especially since this was a designated truck lot. Within ten minutes of moving the car to the rear two grateful trucker pulled in alongside with no problem.

Mid-morning on Saturday we headed off to Los Algodones (about a mile away) for my cleaning appointment and a little shopping for Donna. If you look up Los Algodones on the web you'll see it is like a "medicare town" for snowbirds with over 350 dentists in a 4 block area. You can get presciptions, glasses, root canals, implants, liquor and gifts in just this small town. I bought the big bottle of KahlĂșa for $9.99 which I know at Costco is in the mid $20's.

I chose this clinc based on fellow RV'ers past experiance. The cleaning was $10 more (at $30) then some of the others but the dental hygienist tore open new "tools of the trade" out of sterile packaging so I felt a little better. My only concern was when she rinsed out my teeth between scraping was...where'd they get the water? ha ha.
I felt she did as thorough a job as I have had in the states and until I somehow get dental insurance I will come back.

They sure can cram a lot of shopping into the 4 blocks, all crowded with all the medical offices.

       Here is one stylish gringo lady that has never said "no" to a shopping excursion. 

           To Donna, even buying some pharmaceuticals qualified as shopping.

I can't go to Mexico without contributing to a charity selling beef and chicken tamales at a street fair.

The wait to get back into the states was only 15 minutes but we were warned that at certain times of the day it could be an hour or so.

Before we allow any water from the Colorado River to cross the Mexican border, the U.S. tries to squeeze all of it that we can. Here is a small diversion dam 1 mile from the border that sends the water to the Imperial Valley, so next time in the winter when you sit down to enjoy a salad with your dinner, was most likely grown in the Imperial Valley.

When the canal was built in the 1930's they were losing nearly 70,000 feet of acre water just per year north of Los Algodones through the soil of the canal. For years the Mexicans built pumps and dams to retrieve this water until the 2000's when the U.S. decided to line the canal in an effort to stop the seepage. We've taken so much of the river it is a shame we can't allow them a little.