Sunday, December 24, 2017

Those Extra Weeks

December 13-24, 2017
Santa Clarita, California

Sad to leave behind the beautiful desert sunsets.
Before we leave Mojave, our friend Danny reaches out to let us know he's in Palmdale, and plans are made to meet on our way back to Valencia.

Unfortunately his wife Brenda has another commitment, but we have a wonderful visit with Danny. He's the one who worked on that big yellow truck we saw in Boron. We love learning what our nearly fifty-year friends were doing over the years since high school.

We added a couple weeks to our time in Valencia when Bill got his cataract surgery dates, and we figured there would be several days of "recovery" after each one. Nope. Wasn't even really any hours of recovery! Modern medical procedures are so amazing.

The 5:30 AM check-in time for each surgery isn't fun, but it makes parking really easy :-)

In between, we enjoy lots of Ezra time, have the sons over in shifts on Sunday, pick up our mail from our good friends, give Tessa a bath, apply for our passports (a quick efficient 20 minute process at the nearby post office), and pick up Jeff (my youngest, and the only one of our six not already living in Valencia) from the airport.

Happiness is Ezra with a chip.

Saturday morning going to meet our friends at the Northwoods Inn.....worse because of the holidays :-(

Shamelessly lifted from his FB page because I again forget a photo - Lori and Steve.

Not a mom-fan

I love you again - so much!!
Tessa assures Maximus that he should pet her - lots.

Uncle Corey reading to Maximus - with the voices!

Daddy's home with a cold so Mommy drops off Era on her way to work.

Richie and Gabbie

Maximus is getting so big.
Tessa and I go for a walk while Bill is in his second follow-up appointment, and this heron never moved for the whole 45 minutes. We get close enough to confirm it's a real bird!
Done with cold winters and too little sunshine, and wanting to spend time with his nephew, Jeff has decided to move back to SoCal for at least a little while. I'm excited to pick him up from the airport one evening, and the opportunity to have all our kids in one place. 

The full-side slide has been making a "clunking" sound for a few weeks, and leaving a two inch gap at the bottom when pulled in. Not something we need to fail on us on the road, we have an appointment at Camping World to get it checked. Our new tech, Amanda, is efficient and fast and we're off for breakfast in a few minutes. She calls in a couple hours to confirm we need a whole new mechanism. We aren't surprised. 

She contacts the warranty company, orders the parts, lets me know she'll keep in touch for us to come back to get the work done. We have no plans after our New Years gathering until the end of January so it's not a problem. And we'll get another chance to see those little boys!

Our house hasn't had a good exterior cleaning or wax job in 10 months, and looks like it. Fortunately this park allows on-site mobile service and we're able to get an appointment on our last Friday in town. Not only is it clean and shiny at last, but they remove the "evidence" of my close encounter with the light pole :-)

Without the space to host family for the holidays, and our last minute change to be in town, the kids all have plans for Christmas with the "other parents". We're fine with that, and make sure we have some time to get the grandsons their presents before the big day. 

Ezra opening his presents - hands Daddy all the paper "Take it...."  So cute.

Ezra's turn with the cold - which he shares with Mommy too :-(

Maximus - tissue paper is the best.

The bear chair is a hit.

Laughing with Mawma - yes, gray is the color of Christmas!

Visiting the ducks on a warm and sunny Christmas Eve.

Nick, Maximus, Jillian, PopPop.
We'll get some time with the others before we get back on the road on the 26th. 

Happy Holidays to Everyone!!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Maintaining Balance

December 8-13, 2017
Mojave, California

Happy to get an invite to join this fun-four - Emily, Travis, Kristy and Corey with Bill - before taking off for the desert.
Even without the drama of escaping the Rye Fire, we were in need of a reprieve from the city. Just an hour away is the wide open spaces of the Mojave Desert. 

Our Friday drive is minus the high winds of the last few days, with bright blue, clear skies. I've Google'd the Spaceport RV Park in the little town of Mojave, California, and I know it's "rough". At $20/night with 30 amp FHUs I also know it's perfect for our short sojourn.

The sewer hookup isn't great so we get an occasional "whiff", but everything else works fine in our level dirt site. We're surrounded by seasonals and permanent residents who are all quiet, with less dogs than anywhere we've stayed. There is a small patch of green by the showerhouse so Tessa is happy with our new digs.

Saturday we take Hwy 58 to another small town - Boron. Famous for its borax mine, the main street has three businesses still open and a giant truck on the corner. Later in the week we learn our high school friend worked on this truck numerous times during his years at the mine. 

Boron, California

A real Tonka truck in Boron.

Makes the Jeep look like the toy.

The top of the wheel is taller than the top of my head.

A good year. For firetrucks and people!
My dad always had a large black and white box of Borax cleaner in his garage. The Twenty-Mule Team on the front is a familiar logo to a gazillion households. All those boxes start in this remote desert location. I can still smell the dusty and bitter granules, and feel the grit washing my greasy hands. We miss the little museum this time, but I want to check it out next time.

Although there is little other sign of life here, Christmas carols are playing loudly across the street from where we park, and teenagers are practicing a holiday play or concert on the small outdoor stage by the community center. Love it :-)

We find a power line road and just drive out into the desert. It's why we're here. Wide open spaces with no sound (not even any birds today), and just us. Perfect.

Behind the multi-acre borax mine.

Sadly the Thomas Fire is visible beyond the mountains.

No longer in operation, this military communication building makes an interesting visual.

Decades of time in the desert and I'm still delighted by the amount of color.
I love the balance of soft

and stark.
After our football Sunday, we find more dirt roads for playing on Monday. There are not a lot of "go see" places in this sparse corner of the Mojave, but there are dozens of trails to cross the open desert or explore the canyons below the hills. 

Aqueduct City is 158 acres of subdivided desert. 0.83 acre lots are for sale at $20K with no perks. All the dirt roads look like they have been here for years with no maintenance. This is the corner of Spring Street and Avenue 9 - most intersections have signs.

Even with our renewed love of the desert, this might be a bit too remote for us :-)
Taking a rough two-track, we come upon a developed dirt road with an interesting finned concrete section down the middle. I think it's the California Aqueduct but we find that on a parallel road. Of course there's no signage and Google isn't giving it up either.

A very wide, divided highway.

Miles and miles of concrete fins.
Unlike the open aqueduct I grew up near, this one is completely underground. Repairs must be challenging!

More big views.

We find this little canyon where our trail guide hides to see if we're paying attention.

Jagged canyon walls on one side.

We climb to the top of the other side where we find signs of non-intelligent life.

A holiday sprig decorates the solid canyon wall.
In the otherwise concrete looking surface, Bill finds this single rock

where erosion is making a pool around it. We love finding interesting treasures like this.
Heading into the "desert pin-striping" application section.
I've heard the desert referred to as lifeless and having nothing to offer. Yet nowhere else we've been offers the energy resources of the desert. Without destroying mountainsides or polluting large ecosystems, mass solar and wind power is generated here.

Some have commented that wind turbines kill birds. Blind birds? Stupid birds? They're huge white blades you can see from a mile away - perhaps they're helping with natural selection.

When solar farms are built they include tortoise-proof fences that keep the critters from entering the area. Admittedly the issue with "cooking" birds who fly over acres of heat-producing panels is of real concern as they can't anticipate the danger in advance. I believe a resolution will be found soon. Neither will scar or pollute the planet - especially not for 100's of years like other resources.

One of the best aspects of our lifestyle is the variety of places we get to see - and the ability to spend as much time in each as we want. We called the metropolitan areas of Southern California home for decades. Getting on the road we were anxious to spend our time in less populated areas and in natural settings. Still, we've visited cities across the country that we've also enjoyed. 

After six weeks in Valencia we'd had enough city, were feeling out of balance. How wonderful that we can pull up the jacks and head out to a few days in the desert. 

Having this balance is a gift. Life is good.