Monday, November 15, 2021

Desert Friends and Beach Friends

October 28 - November 5, 2021
Laughlin, Nevada; Tehachapi-Grover Beach, California

Planning to join our annual high school reunion in Laughlin, Nevada, means making some choices about just how much we're going to socialize. We know it's  a much smaller gathering as many choose not to attend because of COVID, others because they have Halloween or different plans with family. Figuring we'll do just what we're comfortable with is our plan.

Since 2015 we've attended in the motorhome, staying at the Riverside Casino RV Park's top level overlooking the casinos and Colorado River. Basic level dirt spaces with 50 amp FHUs, and a few trees that provide more parking challenges than any shade. With more of us now retired there are always a few other RVs from our group. 

This year there are five,, and we've managed to get parked next to, or close to, each other. The two of us from the driveway in Kingman are next to each other, and the party comes to us at Donnie and Anna's next door every day we're here. Being outside with light winds feels safe, and we're grateful that several people come up to visit. Also grateful that Donnie and Anna cook for everyone everyday - not even a plan, just happened that way. 

Thursday evening getting caught up with a handful of friends.

Friday is the annual golf tournament and again Bill is the unofficial-official so he and several others are out early. Maggie and I have planned a day on Christmas Tree Pass to enjoy the natural beauty and to add our own decorations. We have such a wonderful conversation that I fail to take any pics of the pretty geology along the way. A short hike breaks up our drive, and then we find a tree to decorate. I'm surprised to see only one other dressed up tree when last time I was here there were several decorated junipers along the hillside. We wrap up our outing with a yummy lunch at Casa Serrano - always a good choice!

The camera doesn't pick up the pretty blue and gold decorations shining in the sun. We're happy with our efforts.

It's a fun way to spend half an hour adding to a tradition along this back road between Laughlin and Highway 95.

Tessa and Lizzie are very enthusiastic about the project. 

Two nights have planned events and we join the Friday night happy hour at the Aquarius Casino. We visit with a couple dozen classmates and teachers for a short time then return home without any casino time. It's nice that all of Clark County requires masks inside any establishment, but we're not enthusiastic about hanging around this time.

That's the last time we leave the RV site until we pull out on Monday morning. It's hot in the sun just like our usual April dates, but comfortable in the shade. We hang out with our neighbors and visiting friends, and choose not to attend the Saturday night dinner. No regrets, we have a good time and see lots of good people. 

It used to be a couple ice chests that brought us all together - now it's an outdoor coffee pot :-)))

Bill and Dan 

With our back-on-the-road plans it's very likely we'll miss our first reunion in 13 years in 2022, so I'm glad we made the effort to do this modified gathering. We continue to be grateful for our connection with friends from our little hometown.

Monday is what should be an uneventful 260 mile drive to Tehachapi, California. Instead, at what looks like an easy access fuel stop off Highway 40, we shred our safety tow cables at the bottom of a steep and sharply angled exit driveway. The deep gouges in the road show that we're not the first to sustain damage here, but it's the only way out of the station. I think I'll remember the name of the place so I can warn others, but unfortunately it's "gone" now. Between Daggett and Newberry Springs is as good as I can do.

We order replacements and install them when we get to SoCal. Not an emergency, but who wants to spend $100 on cables that should have never needed replacing?

Surely we'll have all we need in stores and elsewhere very soon with the million trucks we see on the road and the thousand long trains full of cargo!
Our one-night stop in Tehachapi is at another quirky  spot recommended by Laurel and Eric (Raven and Chickadee)  A small park where we can watch gliders "take off" from the adjacent private airport, Mountain Valley RV Park has maybe 18 sites with several shade trees between dirt sites. We're able to get satellite for the football game, and enjoy a very quiet and cool night. It's a pretty area I've driven through a dozen times, but never explored. We'll stay a few days next visit!

Wide open spaces in all directions from the park. The airstrip is the thin dark stripe in the near distance. 

Tuesday morning we're back on Highway 58 through the very dry and brown hills, west down the mountain to California's Central Valley. Also dry and brown :-(  Here we take a new-to-us route through a very different landscape. First we traverse narrow roads through agriculture fields then enter miles of naked hills. No trees or crops or any bushes - it's very strange. In Cuyoma Valley we return to agriculture which is also strange. Who says "this will be a good place to grow crops" about an area that is naturally plant-free? 

The few weeds here are the exception to an otherwise landscape of dirt.

Lots of this.

Our destination is Grover Beach, California, close to the new home of Bill's best college friends, Steve and Lori. They all attended nearby Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo a "few" years ago. Bill is even the one who introduced them :-) Realizing their retirement dream, they returned to the area and a beautiful new home overlooking a vineyard just over a year ago. 

RV parks in the area are plentiful, large and very expensive. They're also usually full. I was happily surprised to get a spot at the least expensive park, about 12 miles from our friends', and 1/4 mile from the beach. We spend every day at said friends', and never get to the nearby beach. 

Le Sage Riviera RV Park is a fancy name for a very, very tight group of gravel and asphalt, with un-level sites. First time I've ever had to back up to make a turn inside a park, and to make several attempts to get in a pull-through. We aren't able to get level with a large drop at the front of the site, but we make-do for our three nights. I think we'll pay the higher price next time and hope for better. 

Lori and Steve host us each evening in their wonderful open new home. The floor plan is brilliant!

Pic from earlier in the year, their beautiful backyard overlooks vineyards that are wearing their golden fall colors during our visit.

Mostly we visit, but also get out to see some of their neighborhood. The central coast is such a unique and lovely area, I'm so happy for them!

One of several Monarch Groves in the area. 

Hard to capture in the light, but there are several individual and clusters of the beautiful butterflies.

I'm hoping we can get COVID tests before we head to see the kids and grands, but appointments are required with a couple days for results. Then I learn about OTC tests available at local drug stores - yay! 

Bigger yay are the negative results now, and the 24-hour follow up. Yes, it's weird that "C" means you don't have COVID.

While we're on the coast Elliott turns one! That was really fast!! A delightful, beautiful, funny little boy, we can't wait to see him and Ezra and their parents in a couple days.

Too cool Elliott :-)

Happy, happy birthday boy.

Just yesterday his brother Ezra was that size!

Next up we make another new-to-us drive on our way to Frazier Park, California, for the first of our visits with the grands!


  1. Good for you guys--doing what's best for you. We are on that same wavelength--if we are comfortable we do it, otherwise we opt out. I still wear a mask a lot of the time--especially going in big box stores. It will be so much fun to be with the grands over the holidays--enjoy and safe, uneventful travels!

    1. SoCal was really wonderful about masks, felt safer there than anywhere we've been. Don't know when we'll ever stop wearing ours with all the continued outbreaks.
      We're already looking forward to Christmas :-)))

  2. So many fun stops with friends. The grandkids are so cute!!

  3. More fun visits! We so relate to the “outdoor coffee pot”! And what a treat to have folks willing to and enjoying the cooking responsibilities! The years roll by way to fast…Elliott is so cute! Safe travels and enjoy the grand babies!

    1. I'm too short to reach some places on their outdoor kitchen but it's sure handy for a gathering!

  4. As always I envy your close friendships in High School. I’d changed schools too many times for that and thus have only one person from HS still in my life. Such a great tradition you have with them. Love the tree decorating. Better than golf any day.

    I’ve done the shred tow cables on a steeply pitched entry. Bummer – not hard to fix but unnecessary expense. Curious about your satellite. Do you use it at home too?

    Food on a barren landscape - My guess is no plants drew them, don't have to weed, and they just pump chemicals into the ground and the food they grow.

    Thanks for the post. Enjoy your grands!

    1. We're blessed to maintain the connections we have.
      Direct will only issue one main box per household so we have to move it back and forth from house to rig - Jeff doesn't ever watch regular tv so it's not an issue. We have a dish on the rig and one on the house.
      Didn't think of the weeds - makes sense. I'm sure most use chemicals and pull water from god-knows-where in these drought years :-(

  5. Seeing the monarch butterflies near your friends beautiful home reminds me....have you read Barbara Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior"? wonderful read. I'm glad you were able to have a mini reunion in a relatively safe environment....this pandemic isn't through with us yet. Cindy P's relatives had a large party at their home a few weeks ago (Cindy and W did not attend, luckily) and 15 people became ill with Covid...15!

    1. I'll check out the book - always looking for good ones!!
      I'm sadly not surprised at so many cases from a party - and am very happy CandW didn't attend. Friend's family had smaller gathering in Tombstone and 6 had it a few days later :-( Ezra got his first vaccine last night so that makes us feel good about school and events.

  6. We're with you...even though we've been vaccinated and now boosted we're still avoiding most indoor activities and masking up when we go to the grocery store. I don't see us being comfortable doing anything else anytime soon, sigh. Just not worth the risk.

    Love your gatherings of friends and butterflies. And I'm so glad you enjoyed that quirky little campground in Tehachapi! It's so fun watching the gliders. :-) Enjoy those darling grandkids and their parents!

    1. After returning to Arizona grocery stores I'm confident we will be wearing masks for a long time :-( That little campground is a gem, and I really do want to spend a couple days next time!

  7. Most gatherings still make me nervous unless outdoors and I'm masked when inside. Yet you've managed that and made yet another year's reunion plus some extra visiting along the way.

    1. We really had to make some tough decisions in order to feel comfortable, but it was great to do what we could.

  8. Glad you were able to see many of your classmates. I totally understand about wanting to keep your distance from large indoor crowds. Good you're preparing for your grandchildren visits!! Wahoo for negative tests!

    1. With a few weeks since the reunion I'm happy to know that no one who was there has gotten the virus. It was nice to see so many where we felt safe.