Thursday, March 23, 2017

Taking Care of Business - And Those Grandsons!!

March 8-21, 2017
Santa Clarita, California

We've already been back where we started as full-timers for two weeks. Mostly we've been getting our doctor and dentist and veterinarian and home repair appointments done, and we've managed to visit with family and friends. Time has flown by.

On arrival day both grandbabies came by to visit with their parents and one uncle. These little humans just steal our hearts.

Maximus and his Pop Pop

Getting a good grip on that beard - just like his daddy used to do.
Ezra looking like a big boy at 18 months

Stop growing up so fast!!
Uncle Richie and Maximus' daddy, Nick

Dad happy to see his youngest.
Speeding by Momma Shalise
Shalise and Ezra have been taking care of her mom and grandma over 100 miles away and they have to go back again on Sunday. So we get together with them as much as possible before they leave. For many months Brian and Shalise have taught Ezra signing in addition to all the verbal words, animal sounds, etc. What an advantage to be able to communicate with this little boy who can tell us exactly what he wants, where it hurts, if something scares him (and what it was), and what movie he wants to watch :-))))

Black beans are the best!

A first for Grandma - kids consignment sale!

Ezra handles it like a pro - pointing out the really important things like Star Wars :-)
Hanging out with Grandma and Pop Pop one afternoon.

Ready to be our driver - such a good boy.

Playing with daddy at Sunday brunch.

Love this precious little family.

Happy us.
Our usual mooch-docking isn't available this time so we're at Valencia Travel Village for the month. The first 10 days we're packed in pretty tight with only a small grass strip for our space. This is a nice park with a lot of residents and a lot of activity. As one of the only RV parks with access to the Los Angeles area, they are consistently full. They have a waiting list for monthly sites, so we pay the weekly rate for each of our four weeks. Two swimming pools, large laundry, a couple showerhouses, and a softball field and batting cage at the back of the property.  Sitting on Highway 126 there is some road noise, but it's not bad.

Very busy park, packed in tight in this section.
One night we meet Travis (Bill's third) and fiance' Emily for dinner then come back home to visit for a while. So fun that these two are getting married next year. They're an adorable couple, but of course I don't get a pic this time.

Shamelessly stolen from her FB page - Travis and Emily
Number two of Bill's crew, Corey, comes over one evening to get caught up. With all their crazy schedules, we never see any of them enough when we're in town :-(

We have an appointment at our local Camping World to get a list of small items repaired. Most important are finding the leak from the ice and water in the frig so we can turn that back on - and fixing or replacing the front blind motor. After our tech has everything entered in the system we head south to Rancho Santa Margarita.

Our good friends Steve and Lori are our "address" so there's 16 months of paper to go through. All but six pieces go in the trash. I can't believe I went to the mailbox everyday for my whole life!!

We take them out for dinner and spend the night at their lovely home. Most of our time is spent getting caught up and playing with the dogs. They have three and Tessa is overwhelmed. Still, they all get along fine, and we have a great time. I manage to only get pics of the dogs (except for Willy who is very shy).

Java getting her pets in first.

The rambunctious Razzle calms down long enough to get her own lovin'.

A walk to the park tuckers out the pups.
Not surprising by now, we have high school friends who live in southern Orange County, so we meet up with them for dinner in Oceanside. Michelle gets the credit for getting Bill and I back together after 40 years so it's always very special to see her.

Sarah (Michelle's daughter), Jimi, Michelle and Bill
We get back to Camping World about 10:30 PM and just crawl in our bed for the night. Nothing on our list is covered by our extended warranty, but everything is completed except for the window crank which has to be ordered. We opt to not replace it this time. So nice to have it all done in two days.

Unfortunately overnight I come down with the stomach flu. Once we get back to the park, I spend most of the next three days in bed. 

We are pleasantly surprised with our new site, at the back of the park and a much larger space. If you ever find yourself here, ask to be in Section K - definitely the best of the park.

I have a "borrowed daughter", Megan, who I adore, and who I must see when we're in town. She and husband Chris meet us at Spumoni's in Sherman Oaks. It's one of the those wonderful little eateries with delicious food and friendly staff. The owner recognizes Chris and Megan and comes to check on us often. He has the most delightful smile. I keep expecting Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan to walk in the door - it's that kind of sweet.

Chris and Megan
Down in Temecula, Ezra is fighting a high fever. They make him a doctor's appointment for Wednesday morning and I offer to go pick he and his mom up so dad doesn't have to make the crazy round trip when he gets off at 7 PM.

Afternoon traffic is always crazy on this route, so I just listen to music and appreciate that unlike everyone else on the road with me, I don't have to do this every week. 

Oh yeah, and it's raining.
It's dark when I arrive and we quickly get everybody and everything loaded up for the return drive.

Ezra sleeps all the way home and is feeling pretty good when he wakes up to find himself in his own house. Fortunately he continues to improve after his doctor's appointment as well.

We're here another two weeks with a few more appointments and hopefully lots more family.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Before We Get Back to See Our Kids.....

March 6-8, 2017
Desert Center - Redlands, California

I've been dealing with slow internet and a more recent stomach bug, so have managed to get behind here. I'm confident your lives have continued on un-fettered by this lapse.

Our last day in the desert, Monday, we take the Jeep south to visit a few more memories. 

I've written about the little mining town that Bill called home and where I went to high school - Eagle Mountain, California. It's a ghost town now, except for our school which now serves K-8 for the few families who call Desert Center and the surrounding desert home. I like that it's a ghost town. That no one else lives there, changing things. It will always be our home, our memories live there without being covered up by those who might have come afterwards. The grocery store isn't called something else, the houses aren't painted another color, no high school trophies have been won by names we don't recognize. The town lives every day in the minds and hearts of those of us who shared so much under our clear desert skies - from the graduating class of 1962 to the final graduating of 1983.

Monday Bill and Coy and I drive along the old railroad and behind the town to look at what physically remains. It's amazing to me that when going to school here I never noticed the huge tailings piles that towered over us.

Kaiser Steel Mining town - Eagle Mountain, California
I still see tree-lined streets, green lawns, Christmas lights.

The large equipment building.

We're still here.
Our high school

A lifetime friend, Coy

A salvage company has purchased the old mine railroad - the heavy equipment was working while we were there.
Moving water from Lake Havasu to Lake Matthews is the job of the Metropolitan Water District. My dad worked at Iron Mountain, MWD's most remote pumping station. I lived there with my parents for years and returned to live with my dad for my four high school years - riding a school bus to Eagle Mountain 50 miles and back every week day. Unknown to most people who know about the five pumping stations is the Coxcomb Tunnel. For years it was manned by a single employee who lived in a small canyon next to the tunnel - with his family in a nice cinder block home with very good air conditioning and amazing views. And zero neighbors. Our school bus picked Cheryl up and dropped her off each day.

The tunnel remains, as do the power poles along the single track road, but the house and garage are gone. I don't know if the flag pole was there when the family lived there, but there is one today - complete with American and POW flags flying.

The water from the open canal enters the tunnel underground at this site.

Across from the old homesite - views forever.
What I don't expect is to find the canal empty. I know why though. What used to be every seven years, is now an annual system shut-down to clean the silt from the canal and three reservoirs along the water's route. We drive along the concrete channel for miles before heading out into the desert.

Note the buoys hanging here - to grab onto if you fall into the canal - so you don't get sucked underground. This was an important lesson growing up here - don't go in the canal!!

Looking all scrubbed and ready for fresh water.

Underground siphons allow for flash floods to cross the canal without dumping dirt and rock in the water.
In addition to MWD's massive water project, this area is well-known as the home of General Patton's Desert Training Center from 1942 to 1945. There were 15 camps throughout the southwest, including the Iron Mountain camp near where I lived.

Officers' areas were marked by "solid" pathways, covered with crushed rock.

A picture perfect day.
We end our day at the old Totem Pole Ranch - once a date farm where today there are no palm trees.

314 acres for sale with a well and power, and just a little fixing up......and those views!!
Back home we enjoy dinner with our host, then hugs and good-byes for now.

Always hard to leave our beautiful little lake site.
Tuesday we leave the peace and wide open spaces of the desert and enter the vast chaos of SoCal's metropolitan area. We're at this first stop for a single night to meet more high school friends for Taco Tuesday.

Mission RV Park in Redlands is a nice, clean, city RV park with tight back-in spaces. Except for one pull-through right in front of the office with water and electric that I have reserved. It's our home for the night and works perfect. The pub where we're meeting our friends is just two miles away.

Definitely the busiest dog-tv Tessa has had so far.
Stacy and Eric come for a pre-dinner visit and then we meet the other two couples at Taylor's Cocktail Lounge - a very popular spot. We haven't met Denise and Jesse before, they are also Eagle Mountain "kids" who graduated years after we left. It's another fun evening of good food and good friends.

Stacy, Shirlene, Bill, Tommy, Eric, Jesse and Denise (the two folks in the back just had to put up with us)
Wednesday is a very exciting day for us. Although we've both flown home separately, this is the first time we've been back to see the kids and grandkids together in 16 months. We can't wait to see them all!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Return to California

March 2-5, 2017
Quartzsite, Arizona - Desert Center, California

Last year while in the Parker, Arizona, area we met Paul and Kim - a couple I'd gotten to know on the RV Dreams forum - and when we find out we'll be back at the same time we make arrangements to meet again!

They winter in Lake Havasu so Thursday morning we make the drive up the Colorado River. Such a beautiful drive!

We enjoy getting caught up on our travels of the last 13 months. Two hours fly by, and we agree that if not before, we'll see each other next winter :-)  Of course I don't get a photo, at this point it's a shock when I do remember. 

Just over the Bill Williams River bridge a view point sign points to a dirt road. Let's go see!

I'm expecting a short climb to a parking lot, but instead we find a 3.5 mile road through the gorgeous canyons and wetlands of a wildlife refuge.

Back to the river.
We make a grocery stop, get the laundry done, and make ready for our short Friday move.

Lake Tamarisk at Desert Center was our first stop when we bought the motor home. It is also just down the road from where Bill lived and we went to high school. Lots of wonderful memories, and several good friends here.

Sweet spot
We spend Friday evening on the patio with our host, Coy, enjoying adult beverages and lots of laughs. We always feel at home here.

Saturday morning Coy's brother Jimmy, and our friends Mike and Rita from Blythe, join us. We drive out to the Desert Lily Sanctuary to hunt for arrowheads and agates. It's a warm day and we all enjoy the peace and quiet of being in the desert of our youth. How wonderful that we can all still get together here!

Looking for treasures

Wide open spaces

Perfect conditions
Blending in

Rita, Mike and Jimmy

We each find a few pieces to bring home, but the hunt is really the best part. 

Mike and Rita return home Saturday night and Jimmy takes off after breakfast on Sunday morning. We hang out on the patio with Coy then take a drive in the high winds to see some of the places we knew as teenagers. 

Eagle Mountain was a community of the Kaiser Steel Mine which closed in 1983. It's behind a locked fence now, most of the buildings removed or falling down. Our high school is now a K-8 school for the few children who still live in the area. The gate to the school is also locked. 

Still, we find lots to see from the many dirt roads in the area.

Purple lined road to the mine.

A sunburst of Brittlebush

Sometimes you can't go home.

Our baseball field in front of the high school.

The remains of the horse corrals with the mine's tailing piles in the distance. When going to school here, I rarely ever noticed the piles.

Head gates of the Metropolitan Water District's pumping station nearby.

Railroad tracks washed out - the power of water in the desert!

Exploring the back roads.
This massive rock

has wonderful detail.
40 years ago a lot of young people partied here - Caution Hill

I'm sure we didn't appreciate the views.

Time was spent looking for the Coors Monster.

Pencil Cholla glows in the late afternoon sun.

The flaming tips of a tall Ocotillo 
We love this desert - tomorrow we'll go visit some more favorite spots.