Diamond Valley Lake and Reservoir

11/20/15 (Friday) in Menifee, CA (Wilderness Lakes-TT)

John was feeling better today so Paulette drove us to a favorite place of hers nearby, Diamond Valley Lake. This beautiful lake was formed to create a 6 month emergency water source (reservoir) for San Diego County and the surrounding area. At 4,500 acres it’s Southern California’s largest freshwater reservoir. Local visionaries saw that the hills circling this area could, with a little help (3 dams connecting the hills where the land was low), create this great lake. It’s not fed by a river, but by the San Diego Canal which brings water (13,000 gallons per second) from the Colorado River to the pumping station, where it’s pumped into the lake. Similar to Corps of Engineer projects, having created this lake the engineers also provided recreational opportunities like hiking and a Science Center. This museum has archeological finds that resulted from their digging out this lake.

Pristine lake (fishing is allowed but no gas engines), with the inlet/outlet tower on the left of the first image.

Did you see the way they carved out rock from one hill? That hill provided the best rock for creating the dam you see in the photo after that hill.

Below you see the power plant with a huge concrete reservoir in front, now empty of water. Beyond you can find 2 more reservoirs, one with some water and to the left of it a dirt one without water. Paulette said that every other time she’s come here there had been water in all of those reservoirs.

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Power Plant directing water from San Diego Canal to Diamond Valley Lake

This is all free, a beautiful, serene place. You also get a sense of this area’s geography. Our campground is just the other side of the hills you see in the power plant picture.

Thank heavens we got to enjoy that beautiful place because I got John’s cold/flu by that night! So more laying low until we leave for Hawaii. We’re SO thankful that Townsend Mobile Repair will be able to take in our Miss Journey for water leak repairs while we’re gone. The leak is largely behind the utility service area and not likely to damage our floors but it is rusting the metal behind that door.

Lake 6

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Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market, Birds and Fish

11/14/15  (Saturday) in Menifee, CA (Wilderness Lakes-TT)

We’ve been taking it easy and accomplishing a few projects since our move. I have fond memories of Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market, from when we were here 3 years ago, so since they’re only open on Saturdays, we went there today, even though John was not feeling very well.

It was just as wonderful as I’d remembered: wonderful displays of excellent produce and crafts. Unique products as well as good prices. Warning: parking is scarce, so try to get there early (they’re open 8-noon). Here’s a sampling. I bought some Jujube, a sweet dried fruit, usually for making tea, with lots of healthy benefits. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of it. We also got a bag of blue lake green beans and 2 red peppers for $3.  Later we took a stroll along the cool railroad tie boardwalk in Old Town.

When we got home I read outside, near our canal: it was such a beautiful sunny day. Several of the birds came by looking for food. What they got was photos of themselves.  If you click, then hover over the images they hopefully will show a caption when I put one in. (New changes in WordPress)

Later a gentleman strolled by with his fishing gear. When he caught his catfish, he let me take pictures. It was a good size. He said he likes to hold them at the mouth because their skin is slimy and you’d take off that protective slime covering if you touched it. I suspect it would also be harder to hold it. He said the teeth didn’t bother him. After the photos he put it on a stringer in the water so that this fish wouldn’t keep trying to get his bait.

catfish 1


Since Saturday John has developed respiratory flu symptoms and the weather had gotten cool and windy, so, other than venturing to get groceries and to church, we’ve pretty much stayed at home.

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Moving on – to Menifee, CA

11/10/15  (Tuesday) in Menifee, CA (Wilderness Lakes-TT)

On our way by 9:30. Notice there are rarely any “adventures” as we prepare to travel and even on the trips lately. I would say that experience has finally brought us that peace. I even slept well last night.

We took the Sierra Highway to the Pear Blossom Hwy (Hwy 138), first part of which was mostly desert, then we climbed into the San Bernadino National Forest as we approached I-15, then continued in those mountains on I-215.  Love the design on the freeway walls around San Bernadino/Riverside.

mountains 1 mountains 2

We arrived at 11:40, finding our site and set up, eating lunch by 12:45. Woo hoo!

Wilderness Lakes is a large park with many lovely water canals, frequented by many birds, including various geese, mallards, and moor hens. We’re parked up against one of the those canals on a FHU site with FREE 50 amp power and open skies for the TV satellite dish: site 128. They have lots of activities here, including pickleball, line dancing, water aerobics (adult and family pool, as well as hot tub). Note, the adult pool closes on 11/18. They have nice paved roads and level sites too.

We went to the office to make sure we were on the “extension list”, which ensured that we’d have a site until 11/27/15 when we put Miss Journey into storage (a site with electricity for $5/day), then have a site when we return – from 12/13 to 12/29. It will be SO nice to be able to stay here for 17 nights, have electric storage, then return to here for over 2 weeks. Yay!

Time to get groceries at the nearby really large mall. We also picked up an egg crate foam mattress pad, with hopes that John will sleep better on our rather firm and OLD foam mattress.  We’d taken out the “sleep number” style mattress that came with the rig because it was just a pain to get the air right when we were so often changing altitude on every trip.

We enjoyed another walk around the campground, then settled in for our supper and evening TV.

We’re celebrating Veteran’s Day by going out to dinner at Red Robin, where John will get a free dinner for being a Veteran.

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Line Dancing Rally

11/9/15  (Monday) in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

Our friend Paulette let us know about the line dancing rally that she was here to attend and invited me to join in. I was concerned that I had so little experience with actual line dancing, but I so enjoyed what I did do in Florida, I wanted to give it a try.

Monday, after chores, cleaning house, a friend of our Florida friends stopped by, Rick (Marge) who happens to live in San Clarita. How very sweet of him to make that special trip to our campground, just to introduce himself. Someday we’ll be able to actually get together. Tuesday I was wondering when the registration for line dancing was to begin. When I contacted Paulette she said it was Tuesday afternoon. That night many of us gathered at Sakuru Buffet in Lancaster, for the Senior Special-50% off. Wonderful food for just $7! So the rally happened Wednesday through Saturday.

A rally includes a number of instructors who each give several dance lessons. Sometimes I think half the people on the floor were instructors. The rest were mostly their students, so most were pretty experienced at this point. Everyone got to learn new dances because the different teachers had different dances to share and different styles of teaching. PLUS lots of fun times eating; a free lunch, a pot luck, and on the last night a farewell dinner for $10 each. PLUS dancing every evening except one.

These were very friendly, helpful people. You couldn’t hope for a better group. Because I was so new to line dancing, I struggled learning most of the dances. I thoroughly enjoyed the few really easy ones that I got to experience. As one teacher noted: I was getting exposure to line dances more than learning them. It will take lots of practice. Among the other beginners there I learned one had been taking classes 3 times a week, every week for 2 years. Wow, I was in over my head all right!

Because I was so busy with the rally, we didn’t have a chance to explore the area or Los Angeles. John assured me that we’ll be back to Soledad many more times, when we’ll be able to have some different experiences of the area.

For fun I’m sharing a graceful dead tree image, from October. If I can find line dancing classes to take as we traverse the country, maybe I’ll look graceful eventually also. But not dead!


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Vasquez Rocks Natural Area

10/31/15  (Saturday) in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

Our friends Shirley and Larry took us to a great Mexican Restaurant (Maria Bonita) in their town of Agua Dulce  next to the Sweetwater Farms grocery store in their downtown. We had fun visiting with them before and after our yummy meal there yesterday. They also told us about a good place to visit, Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, so we went there today with another friend, Paulette. The cool thing here is that we’d met Shirley/Larry and Paulette just as we and they were all beginning our adventures traveling the country in our retirement. This place is the first time we all were able to get together.

They have a neat visitor center where we learned lots about the history and geology of the area. We’d hoped for a demonstration of some of their wild animals (being rehabilitated), but they only do that with groups of school children.

Visitor Center

Visitor Center

Remember Zorro? The Mexican who inspired that “Robin Hood” hid out in the rocks here, Turburcio Vasquez.

rocks 2

They also have films movies here including “Star Trek IV”, “Flintstones”, “Planet of the Apes,” and “Windtalker”.

Images from the Geology Trail:

rocks 4 Hogback Ridges

Hogback Ridges

rocks 5 Desert Varnish

Desert Varnish

Horse Riders

Horse Riders

 Saddle Back Mountain

Saddle Back Mountain

The Tatavium peoples lived here. We saw a site where they lived and left pictographs.

Tatavium Dwellling

Tatavium Dwellling

Tatavium Pictrgraph

Tatavium Pictrgraph

Vasquez Rocks where Vasquez hid

Vasquez Rocks where Vasquez hid

 Vasquez Rocks from other side. If you click to enlarge you will see people on the rocks.

Vasquez Rocks from other side. If you click to enlarge you will see people on the rocks.

We considered having our picnic lunch there, but the benches were in full sunshine on a pretty hot day, so we drove home, to enjoy our picnic in the shadow of Miss Journey, at our own picnic table.

Hope all had a fun Halloween. We just played it quiet and watched “Saving Mr. Banks”, an excellent movie.

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Moving on – to Acton, CA

On our way by 8:20. Nice sunny/cloudy day. We could have gone south on Hwy 65 (shorter), but chose SR 99 because it went past a Flying J, where we prefer to get fuel. Also, SR 99 is a freeway (state), so 4 lanes and that’s always nice. Good road, with some bumps at the overpasses/bridges. We came up behind another RV at the Flying J pump. He was waiting for the propane guy, then needed to get his fuel. So it was 40 minutes before we left there. Glad we left early, although he may have been gone when we arrived later. Anyway, it was a good time to get some DEF (John gets it in a 2.5 gallon jug/box that he carries) and clean the windshield.

At Bakersfield we exited onto SR 58. This road was not so smooth around Bakersfield, but we figured going through the Tehachapi Pass (it recently was closed for a severe mudslide) would be easier than the “Grapevine” part of I-5 (near Lebec and Gorman) which we’ve been told is steeper, curvier, and goes near Los Angeles traffic. That city is crazy with traffic, sometimes carrying 10 lanes of cars. At Mohave we took SR 14 S to Crown Valley Rd exit, arriving at our campground by 12:25.

We were here 3 years ago, but a lot has changed. They say that ELS has put over $1 million dollars into this park. They certainly have improved the looks: NEW Landscaping, Welcome Center, Family Center, Adult Center, pool (heated) and spa (hot). We even saw wildlife (a coyote in the campground on our way to the Welcome Center). Note: I think we hear the coyotes calling/barking at night. Plus there used to be people living here permanently that left lots of crud in their sites. Those are cleaned up, with empty sites available along that section (overlooking the canyon). They are currently working on the power issues, slowly adding 50 amp pedestals. We lucked into a 50 amp site (free), up the hill in “N” section (N 207), with open skies for satellite reception, along with the FHU. They are periodically cutting off the power to work on it, so it was off when we arrived, but on by 2. They have a large, warm hot tub (plus cool pool) too. Very large place with over 700 campsites (most are weak 30 amp), with fairly spacious sites. LOTS of great things to see/do in the area that we never had a chance for last time, even a train (Metrolink) that leaves about 6 miles away from Acton for Los Angeles. Great, friendly, helpful staff.

camp 1 camp 2

For a treat after a travel day, and a change of pace, John thought it would be fun to go out for pizza tonight. I checked our list of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” and found Crazy Otto’s Diner in Acton. We asked some staff about pizza and they made some suggestions, including Crazy Otto’s. They’re mostly known for their breakfasts but have been serving dinner for a while now. It was great, the pizza, and the place. We plan to return for a try at their breakfasts.

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King’s Canyon National Park

10/23/15  (Friday) in Porterville, CA (Tule Recreation Area – COE)

We chose to get to King’s Canyon via Hwy 65N then Hwy 245N. Never again. Hwy 65 was fine, but Hwy 245N was all very steep, windy 2 lane road. We traveled it averaging 20 mph, in the CAR mind you; not a very picturesque area either. When we left we went via the “Generals Highway” mostly inside Sequoia National Park. That road had far more lovely views with only a portion (Giant Forest) that was similar in the steep/curvy elements of Hwy 245.

This COE park has spacious sites with water and 50 amp service, paved roads with level sites, trees and grass; there are even very efficient, clean bathrooms here. Very little usage in the off season, when school is in session. The big negative: NO cell phone service, no WiFi or Internet via cell phone. We are next to Success Lake (rather low at this time), if you like fishing. The other negative is that it’s further from the National Parks than Visalia. Next time, we’ll stay, as Elks members, at the Elks lodge in Visalia. They have water and 50 amp service on a paved parking lot. No bathrooms, nor sewer, but you can relax at a park across the street and you are about 22 miles closer to the National Parks.

SO it took us a good 2 hours to get to King’s Canyon this morning, then over 3 hours (we made a couple stops for views and restrooms, then gas) to get home.

Because of the “Rough Fire” that started July 31, 2015 and was pretty much out by October 15, 2015 (burning over 150,000 acres just before we got here), the road (Hwy 180) that goes north in to canyon areas was closed. They opened the part of it that goes to Hume Lake just as we were leaving! So there were just a few giant sequoia groves and a visitor center to investigate.

Along the Big Stump Trail

king 1 king 2

Mark Twain stump. Many trees were logged here in the late 1800’s, but this tree was specifically cut down to send a cross section to New York to show just how huge these trees were. There was another tree, Centennial Tree, that was cut for that same purpose. It’s section was taken apart for the journey and reassembled at Philadelphia. At the museum there the people called it the “California Hoax”, because no tree could grow that large.

Shattered Giant

king 3

Along the trail to the General Grant Tree, the third largest living tree, with the largest known base. It was named after General Ulysses S Grant in 1867 and in 1890 Congress created Grant Grove as the third National Park (after Yellowstone and Sequoia). King’s Canyon and other land areas were added later to make a the new, larger park of King’s Canyon 60 years ago (1955).

The first tree we saw was impressive for another reason: people lived in it! We can walk through it now. Did you know that Sequoia trees resist decay better than others as well as grow larger?

king 4 king 5

I hadn’t realized that the Sequoia is also part of the National Park Service Symbol, since 3 of the first 4 National Parks protected the giant sequoias.

king 6

General Grant Tree, proclaimed the nation’s Christmas Tree by President Eisenhower.

king 7a

Fire Scar side

king 8

Non fire scar side

king 7

The dead top on old, large Sequoia trees doesn’t mean they’re dying. Fire scars at the base of the tree prevent water and nutrients from reaching the tip of the trunk.

Views on our way home. Note the fire damage.

king 9 king 10

Surprise!!! There was a black bear (John says a yearling) just off Hwy 198 as we were on our way out of Sequoia National Park.

king 11

We met a fun couple, Zsuzsa (“Z”) and Tom, that have been staying here as well, getting to really visit them Saturday. They had to leave Sunday morning for Palm Desert. We’re hoping to meet there, but it will be a couple months before we arrive. She is originally from Hungary, coming here when she was 23 as a nanny, so there were some amazing stories she had to share.

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