Monthly Archives: January 2016

Odyssey – More So Cal Wandering

Yes, it’s been some time between my brand of BS. Well, if I don’t have pics, I just start writing until I have some. So, you’re stuck with some ramblings I tried to edit out but my other self said leave it. Unfortunately for you who appreciate raw emotion, I’ve had lots of sober time to clean it up, somewhat. We negotiate a lot.

We had a lovely visit in Colorado. The original point of the trip was to babysit on MLK day. Can’t let two months go by between Leo days. But when my back went downhill we extended the four nights to six and when the pain doctor moved his vacation up a day it became a seven nighter. Thank you Sandra and Hubert for putting up with our 3AM arrival, eating all your food, and drinking all your booze. You are hosts extraordinaire. We couldn’t have been more comfortable and the movie marathons were great. I will always remember the line from A Million Ways to Die in the West, “Looks like a firecracker wrapped in roast beef”. See the movie if you like crass, vulgar, disgusting humor. I loved it. The extra good news, three added Leo days and a super successful back shot. Now that’s what I call a miracle. I feel like Lieutenant Dan – ‘new legs’.

So what’s with the TSA? The last few years we have flown almost exclusively on Southwest and I can’t remember the last time we didn’t get PRE-TSA. This time Andrea gets the PRE and I don’t. Leaving LAX I get a creep feeling up my left ankle. WTF? My ankle swells up sometimes from BP meds. We pay for technology that detects swelling? I think there’s a joke with that but, talk amongst yourselves. At least there was no non-Pre line. On the way back in Denver, Andrea breezed through the PRE line but at noon TSA went on what seemed like a combined donut and lunch break. The long line that was moving nicely came to a halt. So much for the Earlybird A seating. This time the scanner picked up the sweat on my back from the backpack I’d been standing with for an hour. WTF? Andrea bravely saved an aisle seat or I would have been between the screaming baby and the guy that thinks showers are optional.

So you think traffic is bad in Chicago and NY? You got nothin’ on LA. Even driving in the HOV lane most of the way, all on highways, the 99 miles from the airport to a hotel in Banning, where we left Luna and the RV, took well over three hours. OK, it was rush hour, but averaging 30mph? With the last 30 miles doing about 70? And, Google maps even rerouted us at one point to avoid an accident slowdown. Arrrgh! Long Island Expressway is a mini-mall lot next to the 105. Yeah, numbered roads are not like I-25 or I-295, they are THE 105 to THE 60 to THE 15 to THE 10. You watch Saturday Night Live the last few years? They had a recurring bit called ‘The Californians’, an awful soap opera take off that always has a conversation about ‘taking the 405 to the 105 to the 15 to the whatever’. One of those bits that makes one say, “SNL isn’t as funny as it once was”. What’s up with that? Anyway, welcome to SoCal driving. I suppose it’s not so different than taking the Southern State to the SOB to the LIE (that would be the 495) to the Cross Island to the Throggs Neck, etc. Everybody on Long Island knows exactly what that means.

So that was Tuesday last week. We picked up Luna a half mile away and the RV at The Perfect Storage Place. It really was. Harley, the proprietor, said, when told we only needed to store it 8 days, “No charge, good PR if you tell someone.” Never signed a paper, he didn’t remember our names and we only knew Harley. Normally, a rental space is $65 a month. I bought him a bottle of Jack. We will make it a point to stop if ever going by on I-10, that is, the 10, and shoot the shit with Harley and share a beverage. Here’s to you Harley.

Leaving Harley with a few air horn blasts, we headed southeast (on the 10 to the 60 to the 15) to Lake Skinner County Park, a fairly non-descript campground overlooking lovely Lake Skinner, about 15 miles northeast of Temecula, CA. Kind of a stretch squeezing 43′ into a 40′ site but they don’t seem to mind.

No pics outside the park. We haven’t been out much. Andrea was a bit under the weather for most of the time there and then passed the shit, er, sick baton to me for a few days.

With no stomach to visit any of the dozens of wineries in the Temecula area, we moved on to our next destination, the KQ Ranch Resort in the little mountain town of Julian, CA, ignoring a highway sign saying RVs over 40′ prohibited next 19 miles on SR76 – as we were halfway to Julian. Come on. No fucking way I was turning back. Here I come, get out of the way. And that’s kind of how it went for the next 19 miles. California drivin’ on a winter’s day. It sucked. Had to pay attention the whole time, couldn’t take one picture, but, concluded that California highway engineers ought to drive across Independence Pass before they post some bullshit scare sign.

Before getting to the “ranch”, we passed through the one block town of Julian. Once a gold mining town, they now specialize in, drum roll, pies. Yep. A mini-Village Inn in every coffee shop. Deep-dish Apple pie at Granny’s. Eat your heart out Chicago. Whatever.

We booked this RV park because it was in our network and free. The reviews were mixed so our expectations were low and our seven day booking was in our mind, optional. Suprise. It is one of the nicest we’ve been in, I guess ever. It’s so quiet. We’re in the mountain boonies. Just before sunset today we took a walk to the far side of the park, up a big hill. The view on the other side, into the Sawtooth Wilderness, was fantastic. Finally, some pictures worth posting.

Tonight I took Luna out for a walk as the moon was rising among some whispy clouds. The stars were also surrounded by swirls. The hooting owl made a perfect scene. That’s one picture I’ll tuck away until the technology can pry it out – or I learn to paint. Until then….

The number one priority of the trip, Leo:

Number 2: back shot

Sorry, I forgot to tell the shot doc to take one for me

Numbers 2A-6

From Skinner Lake. Nothing great.

Then, KQ Ranch:

Last words:

Whoopie! Yahoooo! Friggin’ (oh, the restraint) Great!

The Mets sign Yoenis Cespedes!

And, Stonybrook beats Albany! (Sorry, Dan) March Madness for the Seawolves? Jeez, I thought they’d legalize pot before my alma mater fielded a decent sports team. Oh, they did. See? You can learn something in college.

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Palm Trees and White Capped Mountains

You don’t see a lot of that where we come from – that would be Colorado and NY. First two pics.

No witty, pseudo-intellectual, or chemically influenced comments in this one. My back is in a very bad place so I’m crabby. I’ll be getting a mind-set fix Wednesday morning – another epidural steroid back shot focusing on the L5-S1 nerves, more the right leg than left. The shot works for 4-5 weeks but if I couldn’t get the shot, I’d ask for morphine or find heroin, a lot of it. It’s bad.

With that pain making me want to stay in bed all day, Andrea talked me into getting off my ass on Saturday. I picked an easy hike in Whitewater Preserve, a beautiful valley tucked into the San Gorgonio Pass with trail access to the world famous Pacific Crest Trail.

It was an easy hike, for anyone without knives slicing into the backs of their legs. But, it sure was pretty. Next three pics. At one point, another hiker claimed to see 8 big horned sheep. Here? So we went towards where he was pointing. We saw a couple up on a hill, fairly distant. But as we watched they started to meander down. As they did, we got closer. About 200 yards was as close as their lookout would allow. We counted at least 10 which I think the pictures indicate, but could be 11. Never saw so many before.

The next shot was right outside our RV door before we left Catalina Spa RV Park. Next, from a to-be-developed section of the park, shots of the mountain pass and one of the mountains making up the pass. Notice the sentinels of the pass, the windmills.

On Saturday we moved to Hemet, CA, home of Golden Village Palms RV Resort. Nicely done. A lot of these 55+ places are loaded with permanent “park models” with few spaces left for TV’s. Just the opposite here. Anyway, just as I took Luna out for her early evening walk, I looked behind me and saw the sky. Wow.

One last stop for the night at the ‘Mega Liquor Store’. They got great prices on some items. But they got rules about idiots and bums. So, Andrea had her hands full getting me in.

Nice enough area but the main drag is a 3 mile strip mall. Hemet is about 40 miles west of Palm Springs, as the crow flies. Next stop tomorrow is Banning, CA to store the tv. Then store Luna in a doggy hotel and off we go to LAX and Colorado Springs. This trip was planned to get our bi-monthly (every two) grandson Leo fix but with the effectiveness of the steroid fading, I added a couple of days to get a back shot.

We’re going to remain somewhat inland for the next few weeks and then expect to make a few brief appearances on the coast. It’s just so damn expensive on a beach. Well, after we win powerball we’ll just buy the beaches.

Enjoy.

Painted Canyon / Mecca Hills East of Indio

So this one is mostly just the pictures from our hike in and near Painted Canyon. It was an hour’s drive east of here and we didn’t arrive until just after 3pm. With the sun setting at about 5, we only had about an hour in and out. The sun was at a pretty steep angle right from the start so most photos contain a lot of contrast – bright upper walls, dark down below. This is a pretty wide ‘slot’ canyon, if you can call it that – we may have gone down the wrong canyon. Unless the website provides pictures it can be challenging to find the right canyon among many small ones. But, it was fairly colorful and typically twisty-windy. Elevation gain was only 100′ and very gradual but a mile out we run into a set of ladders. Otherwise the rock scrambling would have been very difficult.

Andrea and Sasha have pictures of carrying Luna in Sasha’s hood on his sweatshirt over the ladders. It might have been an eye opener for Sasha. He and Luna were photo’d by about a dozen young women “she’s so cute” (really meaning, sorry Chris, “He’s so cute”) while he was carrying her up and down the ladders. In fact they were most likely new Sasha groupies. I speak from my experience in 1984 when Bree was a baby and taking her to Roosevelt Field Mall in short-shorts and being swarmed by hotties. My business model for rent-a-baby at local colleges ran into some licensing problems. I suppose the company name, Pervert King, was ahead of its time. But, apparently, I digress again.

At one point we looked back to the west and the misty clouds swirl enough in front of the sun to produce a little ball-rainbow.

Luna was off leash most of the time and loved to lead the way.

On the way out the sky started turning pink, purple, red and indigo blue.

And finally, the five mile washboard dirt road provided a view of the infamous Salton Sea. Please look it up in your spare time. Oh yeah, it’s Monday and you need anything to avoid work. The Salton Sea has a very interesting history. Look it up. Really.

So we went back to the All-Star Burger across the street from the RV park. On the way I was blown away by the number of RV’s heading west. I guess it’s time after Jan 1.

Leaving here tomorrow, heading 1.4 miles south of here to Catalina Spa &RV Park for three more nights. Not really moving. Then we’re going west to a surprise location. Hint: George Carlin, Telephone Booth Time Traveller. What number are you thinking? Napolean, Lincoln, Genghis Khan, Sigmund Friend and more.

We’ll try to document the area, then store the RV to fly back to COS to see Leo and family. And get shot in the back again. It’s a new Medicare year.

So here’s a question, and I encourage responses. I was thinking earlier about my favorite takeout food. If we were in N.Y., it would be pizza, and if they had a rep for great Sicilian, it would be that. But we’re not so that suddenly opens the field. But just one? Late at night after drinking too much and, of course, having a designated driver, two MickieD cheeseburgers and fries. Or, a Taco Bell Enchirito, a been burrito, and crispy taco. But most reliable and most ordered of all fast foods is a Subway, Italian bread with turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions, banana peppers, if they have them, pepperoncini, and a few jalapeno slices, salt and pepper with extra mayo AND oil and vinegar. What is your favorite?

The verdict is in. We like the entire Palm Springs area. We’ll be back.

The Palm Springs Area

First, the email list has grown. Welcome Sasha and Chris. Time for the disclaimer again. Andrea’s Facebook page usually has better pictures. That’s good enough, right? Y’all know the drill. If the commentary sucks or you are offended by words that rhyme with suck, stop reading. Like that last email. That was boring. I know what you’re thinking -Where are the mind spinners (god, did that take restraint from saying mind-fuckers) from last winter/spring where you had no idea what I was talking about and thought I was ripped on something. Drunk? Smokin’ dope? Whacked out on tramadols? Sleep writing on ambien? Well, if you didn’t check all of the above…. Ah, but I digress. So, having lulled you into a minor coma, let’s get on with it.

Last week I complained about how windy this place is, directly across the street from about 2700 windmills.

A wind warning was in place when we arrived. It blew hard for three days and it was pretty awful inside the RV. By Christmas Eve morning thing’s calmed down to 10-15mph, but still enough to shake us up. Then another NOAA wind warning rattled our phones. This time they forecast 20-25mph steady wind for Christmas Eve and the next 48 hours with local gusts up to 40-50 but as high as 70-80 through the mountain pass. That night we inflated swimming tubes and placed them under the awning covering the big slide and then tied the awning down. The concept was to keep it from flapping under the massive gusts. The storm hit with full force that evening as Andrea was texting with nephew Sasha, who, with wife Chris, own a magnificent estate way up on a hill in Joshua Tree, the town next to the national park.

Their property literally backs up to the national park. Andrea begged and pleaded to let us stay at their house for a night, or two. (Well, maybe they graciously offered).

Christmas morning, before running away from the crazy windstorm, we noticed water on the rug around the fridge. Since it rained during 60mph winds overnight, we assumed it had gotten up under the outside fridge vent. With no more rain in the forecast we figured it would dry up in a day. It was never wet there before.

So, off we went for a night in Joshua Tree, about 40 minutes away, in a solid house that didn’t roar and shriek, for a lovely Christmas dinner. The wind was relentless but we managed a quick ride into the park

and a short walk off trail to get a flavor for the park before dark.

The wind was just as bad or worse on Saturday. We went back into the park via dirt, side roads

up to Eureka Peak

where the wind was ripping at 50-70. Luna was in danger up there, as were we. We let her out of the car and she almost became a flying dog. The wind chill was ridiculous as well. We put our freezing asses in the Jeep and headed back to the house on the hill to gather around the wood burning stove. We had a great time with family.

The wind finally faded on Sunday as we returned to the RV. The windmills turned south with reduced rotations. But the wetness of the rug around the RV fridge got worse. After a little investigation, I found that the connection of water to the ice maker was one strong twist short. Must have loosened up with the shaking and wild wind. Shop vac and space heater to the rescue. All is well, no repair cost. After a day of dry calm, the sun lit up the clouds over the windmill farm like a wave of fire.

We bolted six miles east on Monday. It’s nicer here at Caliente Springs RV Resort. The wind doesn’t knock you over. And they have real hot springs pumping into their pool with no sulpher smell. The people are nice and Luna found a playful boyfriend, Willie. Ok, go ahead and make your jokes about her playing with her Willie.

Wednesday we visited a date farm down the road. There were little signs for the ‘farm’ along the way to the RV park so we took a look. We arrive at what looks like somebody’s yard sale. As we sit in the car wondering whether we should get out, a young guy comes out of the house to greet us. So we do a five minute tour of a date farm – you know they grow on date palm trees? – and buy a two pound box. I forgot how good they are. And how sweet. Kind of like sugar wrapped around a nut.

But that wasn’t the most exciting stop of the day. From Desert Hot Springs to Memorial Park in Cathedral City where Francis Albert Sinatra is buried.

Just like all the other gravesites in the park, except for the Jack Daniels and Camel cigarette pack. Simple gravesite, no mausoleum.We didn’t stay long. A bunch of drunken zombies were headed to the bottle of Jack.

Wednesday we tried to go to the zoo. We brought Luna, figuring to leave her in the car. Temps were around 50. But big signs said no pets and if pets are left unattended in cars, animal control will be notified. Went right to a pet smart and got her a crate (pink). She was not afraid of it so we’ll try again tomorrow(the zoo). If that doesn’t work, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are at a local casino. Cool Happy New Year.

Thursday, New Years Eve, we had planned to go to the multi-million light show at the zoo, but my back ruined those plans. Time for another shot. Instead, Andrea made macaroni in a crock pot with cream and cheddar cheeses. It was crazy rich. The ball dropped in NY at 9pst and my sorry ass was in bed by 10. Sometimes pain is exhausting.

And sometimes, the best thing for a bad back is getting off your ass and walking. So on Friday we planned an easy hike in the Coachella Preserve. The website/app ‘All-Trails’ said it was dog friendly. Not! Plan B, find a dog friendly hike. Andrea finds Cap Homme/Ralph Adams Park in Desert Palm. Not exactly the easy, level hike I was hoping for. Instead, after a hundred flat yards to the trailhead it was up, up and away. The goal? The big cross at the top of the hill – zoom in and look to the left of the contrails. There’s a whole lot of people up there. Hey, it’s New Years Day.

To the top it’s 1.1 miles and 680 ft of vertical ascent.

The pano function worked ok:

And at the top

This little, easy hike was more a moderate to difficult for us, only because of the steepness. Back pain left side gone, right side calf, s1 nerve outside knee.

I’d go on to today’s (Saturday) hike but with 14 pics already, this might not get out of my outbox.

Really late and I made up some rules last summer when I sent out an email very late under the influence of, you guessed it, all of the above. Pretty close to that mix now. We’ll work on Painted Canyon tomorrow.