Front Country Ranger Station and Bonita Falls near Lytle Creek

2/22/17 Wednesday in Lytle Creek, CA (Mountain Lakes-ROD)

The day after we arrived here we took advantage of the good weather which we could see would be leaving by Friday. So last Wednesday we drove down to the Front Country Ranger Station on Lytle Creek Road to see how to find the elusive Bonita Falls we’d heard about. Unfortunately, the station was closed that day but we did enjoy hiking on a couple nature trails; one a garden trail, the other in the hill nearby. The garden trail was sweet, but there were no worthy photo opportunities. I did get a nice picture coming back from our nature trail trek:

front-country

On Thursday we returned to an open Ranger Station, getting maps and instructions for finding Bonita Falls. You park near the “Hidden Acres” sign on Lytle Creek road, cross the creek there and walk up the wash, looking to the left of the wash for a small, unmarked path. My lesson: I should have brought my walking stick because our way was riddled with good sized rocks, not the sand I was imagining from the washes in Palm Springs. Sadly, there was a great deal of graffiti along our way in the wash as well as on the trail to the Falls. It took us over ½ hour to reach the falls, so recognize this wasn’t a simple hike. We sure enjoyed the Falls just the same and were amazed at how many people we met along the way, when it was a cloudy and cool day. There even was a sweet young couple on a large rock looking up at the Falls when we arrived who offered us a strawberry. Sweet!

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The wash we walked up, at least a pretty part of it.

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Bonita Falls, including graffiti.

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Bonita Falls, well worth the effort.

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We learned, at the Ranger Station, some interesting information regarding Lytle Creek and this campground. The early inhabitants were Serrano Indians, the Mormons arrived, establishing a permanent settlement. They were sent to help with the Mexican war but it had ended by the time they’d arrived. The creek is named after their Captain Andrew Lytle. Gold fever hit in the 1800’s, yielding mostly small nuggets. There is also evidence that horse thieves used the area to hide their stolen horses. Mountain Lakes Resort began when Silas Glenn the original owner planted an orchard, raised livestock and entertained traveling families beginning in 1865. Silas Glenn turned over his ranch to his son-in-law, James Applewhite, instead of his sons. One of the sons called Applewhite out about the matter that he’d take over the resort, but Applewhite won the argument: both brothers were shot and killed. Forty years later, the bullet holes could still be seen in the front door.

Friday, as predicted, the rains came. Heavy rain for most of the day and all of the night. We spent that day doing all our week’s wash as well as our tax returns. Due to the loud noise of the rain on our Miss Journey, the squealing sounds of our dryer, the dark of the storm along with the stress of getting our tax return right, I was getting a headache and we both were sniping at each other. SO glad that day is over. Neither of us slept that night because of the constant loud rain on our roof. All. Night. Long.

Saturday being another cool (temps in the 40’s) rainy day we were happy to just laze inside our rig.

Sunday John got a sore throat, the beginning of a “heavy cold” or the flu. We went to church, then got groceries, then came home to make our favorite comfort meal: Chicken ala King. The weather continued to be miserable so we happily laid low again.

Monday it was still raining and cold so I skipped my normal house cleaning hoping that the next day would include warmer weather. We did manage to spend that day figuring out our travel plans until the end of 2017. Thursday we’d called Val Vista to secure a site for our RV in Oct-Dec. That’s when we learned they increased the price from $650 for Sept. to Dec. to $995 for Oct-Dec. By Monday we decided that such a large increase was not worthwhile in our opinion, since we have access to Thousand Trails and ROD, having paid a lot for that privilege. So we called Val Vista to cancel. I’ll miss all they had available (hiking, computer club, exercise classes, and line dance classes) and John will miss his golf and the bands. We’ll get along enjoying the activities available wherever we camp, just like we have before this year.

Tuesday I cleaned house and even scrubbed and waxed Miss Journey’s headlamps. Then I rested, along with John.

Wednesday, today, we’re still relaxing to TV and reading in our RV, although we did take a stroll in the campground to where the fire had reached last summer. They only lost one cabin, so that was good luck.  John is still suffering, not sleeping well, so we’re relaxing still.

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Moving on – to Lytle Creek, CA – on VALENTINE’S DAY!

2/14/17 Tuesday in Lytle Creek, CA (Mountain Lakes-ROD)

Yesterday John and I climbed to the roof of Miss Journey and applied sealing tape to our awning hole. It had grown from a pinhole to ½ inch diameter in just a week. John also decided to get it replaced, so I called a shop in Palm Springs, making an appointment for when we arrive there. Jack/Jackie also stopped before dinner to say good by, then we played cards with Wendle/Loyce and they stayed awhile at our rig to say good by. This morning Darrel came to say good by. So lovely to enjoy time with our friends, yet hard to be leaving them.

WE had a small blip of excitement at the very beginning of our travel: after having to back the rig up with our tow car attached to get lined up for propane, he couldn’t get the engine into gear. Shortly, he realized that he’d recently turned on the generator (to give it “exercise”) and THOUGHT that he’d turned on the engine. SO he turned on the engine and all was just fine!

Because this was another short trip (60 miles), we left by 10 (arrived by 11:20). It was a pretty simple route as well: I-215N to I-15S, then exit 119 onto Sierra/Lytle Creek Rd. The last is a mountain road; curvy, uphill, 2 lane without shoulders and rocks hugging that edge. Not terribly steep and the curves were manageable, plus it was just 7 miles long, so it wasn’t so bad. Warning, though, your GPS may say you’ve arrived before you actually have. They have good signage leading up to the turn on the right (1600 feet ahead, 500 feet ahead), so we were grateful for that.

We love this campground. Lots of trees (we did find a site with a clear view of the TV satellites), lakes and critters. Geese welcomed us upon arrival, as well as a Great Blue Heron (white) at a lake. The next morning, at our site, we were visited by an Acorn Woodpecker, a couple Stellar’s Jays, and several Dark Eyed Juncos. FHU sites, the majority with 30 amps power, good Verizon coverage and FREE WI FI throughout the park! Not really strong, but good enough to work. Not lots of long, level sites for us big rigs, though there is a row (700’s) made for them. Beautiful bathrooms (comfort stations) and showers. Beautiful, bright, clear pools and hot tubs.

lake

After enjoying our lunch we took advantage of their free WiFi, started our “Instant Pot” beef roast cooking, then walked around exploring the park. After our delicious pot roast dinner We celebrated Valentine’s Day by nibbling on chocolate we’d won at the Bingo games at Wilderness Lakes, then we slipped into their crystal clear, perfectly hot, hot tub. Mmmmm. So nice with the star lit sky above.

 

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San Diego Wildlife Zoo Safari Park

2/9/17 Thursday in Menifee, CA (Wilderness Lakes-TT)

The past 3 weeks have been quiet, but I’ll catch you up now. I was concentrating on finishing my large compilation of 4 books by Christopher Paolini (Eregon, Eldest, Brysingr, and Inheritance). They are a true series, so since I was getting them from the library it seemed best to read the book that held all four large books, in about a month. These were excellent, well written with so many references to our human (and other creature’s) condition. Then I concentrated on “The News From Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story” by Joan Wickersham. SO much shorter, yet also a very interesting read. It felt like more than 7 love stories. John was happy tackling his Louis L’Amour books. Once I finished my books I got involved in a “Painting Challenge” where I posted a painting a day for 7 days on Facebook. Then I started work on a portrait painting project. I got sidetracked organizing photos of my watercolor paintings in my new computer. Many had not been copied from the old computer.

The day after we arrived at Wilderness Lakes, our RV Flush technician came bright and early to clean out our black and gray tanks. Now they actually read empty. Our hope is that our probiotic (TankTechsRX) will keep the tanks clean and sensors reading accurately.

We’ve taken advantage of the campground’s Candy Bar bingo each Saturday where you get 4 bingo cards and with every bingo you get a large candy bar (you choose) and return that card. We’ve been playing Fast Track most nights with Lewis and Clark members, among them are: Carol/Darrel, Jerry/Ying, Scott/Lois and Loyce/Wendel. The last couple have a 2012 Journey 36M just like ours! We had a great time comparing notes and efficiency ideas.

This pretty much brings us up to Thursday (2/9) when we joined Jack/Jackie and Wendle/Loyce on a trip to the San Diego Wildlife Zoo Safari Park ($52/adult + $12/parking). John and I had been there about 5 years ago (https://tjelser.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/san-diego-safari-park/). John wanted to see it again. I was amazed at how well all 6 of us navigated such a demanding day while maintaining our good humor. We were all truly tired by the end of the day, but felt it was so worth it. Some highlights:

Balloon Trip (this is a helium balloon tethered to the ground by a cable, so it was a very safe version):

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View from balloon.

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Left to right: Loyce, Wendle, Trish, John, Jackie and Jack at the back on the balloon.

Tram Ride:

Walking:

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Superb Starling

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Northern Roller

That last bird is the smallest falcon, from South America I think.

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Lemur, napping.

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Momma gorilla and 3 1/2 month old baby eating veggies.

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Tiger seen through waterfall.

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We stayed to watch the Cheetahs (2 brothers) run (100 yards in 6.02 seconds for one), then headed home at 4pm, just in time for the commuter traffic. John and I got to ride with Jack/Jackie. They needed to stop at Costco for gas. Well, that became another adventure as the traffic slowed us and ate up our gas. It felt like we were running on fumes by the time we reached a pump. Jack had to stop the car at that moment, get out and get a breather!

Friday we all took a rest, which included a haircut for me. Jack baked an apple pie, offering slices to John and I. It was still piping hot. Such a treat!

Saturday Jack/Jackie and John and I (John drove this time) went to the Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market. Wouldn’t you know, it rained the whole time we shopped there and stopped as soon as we were leaving! That night John and I watched Gonzaga win it’s 26th consecutive game. This one was against our arch rival, St. Mary’s, so it was a good one. Gonzaga is ranked #1 in the Western Division, #1 in all of college basketball , and#4 in the NCAA tournament.

We’re moving on Valentine’s Day, to higher ground. Brrrr.

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Moving on – to Menifee, CA

1/24/17 in Menifee, CA (Wilderness Lakes-TT)

We had some concerns about the snow/ice possible in the foothills we’d be crossing, so considered going via I-10W and I-215S. Lots of recent snow and cold weather has brought the snow level down.

trip-1

On our way by 9:30 (just a 1 ½ hour trip). We like to go via I-10W, SR-79 S, Ramona Expressway, North Warren Rd, Domenigoni Pkwy, Laguna Vista, Rockport Rd, and then Briggs. All went pretty smoothly, no snow in the hills.

trip-2

THEN we hit a detour on Warren Rd due to water on the road. It wasn’t too bad but in one area we were accosted by trees on both sides of us. No problem if you’re in a car, but not fun seeing those branches scrape your very expensive paint job.

We were also concerned about the flooding in our campground, but thankfully they hadn’t gotten as much water Sunday and Monday as they’d expected so we had a decent chance to find a good site.  Also fortunate, we got all set up just before a rash of rain caught us!  

We’ve been here before, so I’ll be brief: large campground with spacious FHU sites, both 50 amp (free) and 30 amp. A mall is nearby (including a grocery store), fun places to visit and a lot to do at the campground.  There are several canals, so lots of birds love to hang out here as well.  My favorite farmer’s market is in Old Temecula.

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Two Weeks of the Good Life

1/23/17 in Palm Desert, CA (Palm Springs-TT)

I have to admit that I’ve just not felt like posting to the blog while we’ve been here. To some extent it’s probably due to all the simple things we’ve been enjoying that aren’t special enough to warrant sharing. For example: we’ve enjoyed some hot tub time and lots of reading (I’m reading a library book that includes 4 books by Christoper Paoilini: Eregon, Eldest, Brisingre and Inheritance). These are large books and I’ve been struggling to get them read before my 21 days are up. John, naturally is reading his Louis L’Amour books, many new ones that he bought at the Mesa and Arizona Marketplaces.

I discovered Karaoke the Tuesday we arrived here. Well, I gave it a try with our friend Jack (O’Neal) of Jack/Jackie, who was singing with me. He recommended I get a Karaoke machine and practice at home, to get confidence. So I just may do that.

As at Mesa, I’ve had the fun of exercise classes: Walking and Zumba Gold as well as line dancing, 5 of the 7 days a week even. That’s been great fun. John went golfing once although he didn’t do so well the last 9 holes. The next day he experienced nerve pain in his hip. That’s when we hit the hot tub! After several days of discomfort (especially at night), it went away. Whew!

On John’s birthday (Jan 12th) we spent the morning at Sunnylands with Bonnie and Gene (a couple we’d met in Hawaii several years ago). I didn’t take photos because we’d been there before (posted on Feb. 21, 2016-you can look it up in the Archives box on the right) when it was sunny. We got a neat educational tour of their sculptural gardens this time. That afternoon we checked on the FMCA RV Rally in Indio where we enjoyed the food and friendship of our Northwest Area FMCA group and our local chapter, Panhandle Gems. We celebrated John’s birthday the next day with hamburgers at Red Robin. That night the campground offered a free movie “Miracles From Heaven”, a true story. Lovely. Then we just HAD to watch the next movie they showed on the following day, Saturday: “Sully”. THAT was a fabulous movie! Good times!

We’ve had fun visiting with friends, including a potluck with the Lewis & Clark group. I even met a couple from Spokane at a line dancing class, Brenda and Jack (Powell)! That’s also when I realized that Jack sings a Karaoke, doing a fabulous job! They’ll be in Spokane roughly when we are so we’re excited to continue sharing when we’re there. Since we had a Fandango Movie gift card, we spent it for 2 more movies (seen on Thursday and Friday): “Rogue One: Star Wars” then “Hidden Figures”. Both were excellent. We’d planned to hike at Borrega Sate Park but that day proved to be very cold and windy so I suggested we leave it for another time and John happily agreed.

One couple Marilyn and Marilyn shared their GPS recommendation with me for replacing Microsoft Streets and Trips: Sygic. This is a free app that lets you download the maps so that when you plan your trip and later watch your GPS arrow follow that path you dictated, you are not using data from your cell phone or the Internet. It’s an adjustment, but it seemed to work pretty well when we used it for our trip to church on Sunday.

There’s been a lot of rain and cool weather during our stay here, so I’ll use that as another excuse for our not exploring the area more. Presently we’re a bit concerned that there could be snow in the hills we’ll traverse on our way to Wilderness Lake.

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Moving on – to Palm Desert, CA

1/10/17 in Palm Desert, CA (Palm Springs-TT)

Two days after we’d arrived at Pilot Knob we went to our dentist in Algodones, Mexico. This time the remodeling was completed. Everything looked very nice, with a lovely reception/waiting area out front. The 4 dentists had their own areas, separated by partial walls. We got our Xrays (digital-less Xrays and immediately visible in the computer in front of you) and teeth cleaned with ultrasonic sound waves (screechy, but faster than the pic). That cost $35 for each of us. Then I had a filling that was coming out. My dentist in Spokane and noted it. So my dentist in Mexico took care of it for $65. I’m amazed at their technology and efficiency!

We visited the “Peanut Patch” where they have a low key tour, explaining peanuts and their origins. Spanish peanuts are used for candy like peanut brittle and Snickers, Runner peanuts are mostly used in peanut butter and Virginia peanuts are the bigger, better nuts, so often sold as peanuts. This place used to grow their own but after a white fly infestation, it just wasn’t economically feasible, so they get their raw peanuts from TX, OK and AL, then process them. We got free samples of peanuts roasted in the shell, out of the shell, fresh made peanut butter, peanut brittle and even their fudge. Yum!! We got a bit carried away buying their goodies, but peanuts are SO healthy!

One day I played desert (on hard packed sand instead of grass) Bocce Ball, while John preferred to watch. I had a great time (fun people) and even did pretty well. I’m ready for my next Bocce Ball opportunity!

On travel day, as we were getting lined up to hook up our car, a lady walking by noted that we had our antennas up. I said he always wants it up until the last moment. She said they all do! John had said the local antenna was down, but I informed him that it was up as well, so they both got put down. We left by 7:30 California time. Road work on I-8W put us on a detour, using a frontage road for about 10 miles, with a few mile break and then another 10 mile detour of 2 lane road Never a dull moment. Our path to Palm Desert was I-8W to SR 111 (exit 118B), then we veered left of the Salton Sea (SR78, SR 86) to merge onto I-10W. SR 111 was sprinkled with plenty of stop lights but SR 86 was a nice 4 lane road without those pesky stop lights. Lots of desert views, without the saguaro cacti, although there were also the greens of the Imperial Valley grown along the way as well. We arrived by 10:30-3 hrs.

Palm Springs campground was packed! We finally found a good site, although it was iffy at first as to whether our DISH on the rooftop would be able to connect with their satellites in the sky. After moving the rig a foot or so, we got it to work!! We didn’t need to scout the place, so I took a nap while John went to visit with friends Bill and Susan, but Susan was gone to water aerobics. After he returned another couple we really like stopped by: Jack and Jackie. We visited, then walked and visited until it was time to get our suppers. We all wanted to go to the Karaoke sing at 7. Jack likes to do it and said he’d let me sing with him. I did (Sixteen Candles), but I didn’t know that song as well as I’d thought. He said he has a karaoke machine he uses to practice and he’d let me use his. So THAT’S how they get good before taking the mic before a crowd. There were some excellent singers there, so we had a wonderful time.

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Moving on – to Winterhaven, CA

1/1/17 in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

Because rain was predicted for today, we’d put our slides in (except the closet which would come over my part of our bed) and jacks up yesterday. Thank heavens, because it was pouring when we were ready to get going. Naturally, the rain largely stopped as we neared the Resort exit.

Our next good news, the gas station at Fry’s (where we needed to get fuel) was open, thus we could also hook up our toad/towed car. Yay! On our way by 8 too. It rained periodically on our trip, with headwinds, but not like Florida rain and we didn’t run into any flood waters thank heavens.

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Because I’ve changed to a Windows 10 computer the GPS that worked with our Microsoft Streets and Trips program was incapable of communicating with my computer, so I’m using a phone app: Maps.me. Having loaded the various state maps on to this program, it runs a GPS on those maps, thus I’m not using data/WiFi/Cell phone service. It’s very comforting for me. We also learned a nice trick to help us go the route WE chose. We list the turns we want to take on a sheet of paper at the dashboard, so both of us can see it. For example, on this trip our list reads thusly:

R>US60W

LL>I-10E

RR>SR347 (Exit 164)

R>SR84

R>I-8W

RA (Rest Area) MM85

RA MM22

R>Sidewinder Rd (Exit 164)

L>Sidewinder Rd

R>Frontage Rd (Pilot Knob RV)

In time I may wean myself off MSST. We’ll see. I really like these new aids.

We arrived right at noon. We were here last year for the same reason, to see our Mexican dentist. Hopefully we won’t have the number of cavities that we had last time!

This campground is okay for a desert place. They have a nice pool and small hot tub, with a variety of activities and very friendly campers. There are level sites on sand with concrete pads and generally a tree for each site. You do need to pay an extra $5/day if you choose a 50 amp site over 30 amps. No WiFi but Verizon is good and TV satellite has lots of sky. Right off I-8 but the sound hasn’t bothered us. It does tend to be windier than other places north of here. We got to choose which available site we wanted-#160. We love that it’s really close to our exit to Algodones, Mexico, where our dentist is. We’ll be here until Jan 10th, so let us know if you happen to be around when we are.

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