Home (And Getting Here)

Yes, home is where I park it.  But it can also be a certain place, and for me, that place is the central coast of California.

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Joy and Shiloh on DelMonte Beach.

The more I travel, the more I know it.  Wow.  It feels good to be here.

 

What makes a place “home”?

It must be different for everyone, and I think it can change over time, too.  Relationships, familiarity, feelings, memories, the right vibes.  I certainly didn’t

start out here, and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places in my travels….but this place is not only beautiful, but it just feels right.  I resonate with the area on many levels.

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That’s part of the Monterey Peninsula in the background.

Mary, Joy, Shiloh and I went to DelMonte Beach on this beautiful day. (Yesterday).  This is Joy and Shilohs favorite beach ever.  They were practically raised on it.

 

I used to let them run free here, but now with some wild waves this time of year, and Joys decreasing strength, I’m not letting her run out into the water.  Last time we were here (last year), she did that and her back legs collapsed under the strength of the water.  I had to go in and get her out and it wasn’t easy.

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Yesterday she was allowed to get her feet wet.

Getting Here And Practical Things

i had a routine service appointment scheduled for JR (my truck, ‘Joy Ride’) the day before we were leaving the ranch.  I was talking to Fred about it and he asked me if I ever check my oil.

“Umm, no.  I have a gauge…” I answer sheepishly.  I knew that was the wrong answer.  So Fred and Colleen came over to show me how to check the oil and other things under the hood.  When it came to the battery, Fred told me there was a little peep hole in the top of it, and told me to look into it.  He asked me what I saw.

The color red.

Oops, another wrong answer.  It’s supposed to be green.  Don’t want to make a long trip on a dying  battery.  It’s over 5 years old, so actually it’s time for a new one, but at the last check up it was running at 12.7 though, so I thought it was fine.  I decide to have a new one out in at the appointment.

And then, the next day when I’m tooling around the ranch, the engine light comes on.  Yikes, this can’t be good!  I read the manual and it tells me that when the engine light comes on and does not flash it means the engine needs to be serviced soon.  What is wrong and how soon remains a mystery.  Can I drive it 50 plus miles into town to the servicing?  Most opinions around the ranch range in the yes category.  Fred and Colleen offer to follow me when I go but that’s a 100 plus mile round trip they may not need to make so I decline.  They tell me to call if I have any problems.

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Will we make it to that beautiful ocean after all?  (Obviously we did. 😀)

So Thursday comes and anxiety blossoms as I Start down the bumpy dirt road.  I find it necessary to pop lots of antiacids.  The battery works and the engine light stays on and the trip to the Ford dealership is uneventful.  I tell them my story and then we wait.  The whole place is very welcoming to Joy and Shiloh and they behave like angels.  The polished marble floor is very cold and they enjoy lying on it.

Finally I get the news, yes there are dead cells in the battery and we have replaced it, but as for the engine light….we ran the codes and nothing is showing up.  We think it’s probably just………dust on the sensors.  We cleaned them off….

Well I can certainly understand that.  JR is covered with a thick coat of dust.  I’ve literally been sweeping it off with a small broom.  Well, if that’s true, what a relief!

California here we come!

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The Monterey Bay, where we are in these pictures, stretches from The Monterey Peninsula on the south, to Santa Cruz on the north.  It goes for about 40 miles I believe.  There is rarely more than a couple people on this beach when I’ve come here over the years, and even still.

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We leave the ranch Friday, December 1 and have a blissfully uneventful journey to Blythe, CA, where we spend the night.  On the 2nd we are up early and on our way to Barstow where we will be meeting up with our friends Shirlee and Doug from Canada.  We met them here near Barstow at Owl Canyon BLM about 3 years ago and camped together also at Sawtooth Canyon, in Quartzsite, and at Mittry Lake.  Today we drive directly to the RV park where they are staying near Barstow.

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Shirlee and Joy.

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Shiloh getting his guy time with Doug.

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Joy chewing on Dougs socks.  Joy and Shiloh have good memories of being in Doug and Shirlee’s 5th wheel and all the love and treats they received there.

After a nice visit and a walk we go check into our hotel in Barstow. (I highly do NOT recommend the Worst…umm…Best Western Desert Villa Inn, in Barstow.).

A little later Shirlee and Doug arrive with dinner from Peggy Sues Diner, nearby.  Yup, they have a veggie burger there.  We have another nice visit and a walk.  So nice to see them again.

Sunday morning we are outta that yucky hotel early, and on our way to Mary’s house!  I’m happy to report that JR is running like a top and getting 20.5 to 24.5 miles to the gallon as we travel.  At Paso Robles we get on Hwy 101 north, and I know the home place is only a couple of hours away!  Emotion trickles down my cheeks now and again.

We reach Mary’s house and the dogs are ecstatic.  My gut is saying Yes! Yes! Yes!  Mary and I talk non stop as she makes pizza with a cauliflower crust and Daiya Cheese Shreds, and lots of veggies.

Phew.  We made it.     Home.

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Keeping It Simple

I meant to blog sooner but between poor connections and the heat, it’s been awhile.

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It’s been up to 90 degrees in Tucson recently, and 5 or so degrees cooler at Caballo Loco Ranch.  This Thanksgiving was the hottest anyone can remember here.  Up on our little hill. In the shade, with the breeze up there, it’s been bearable…as long as we stay there…in the shade during the heat of the day.  Nights cool down to the low 50’s though, which is wonderful.  We take walks in the early morning and again about sunset.

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So……I had this opportunity….provided by kind friends, to buy a larger trailer AND a 4 wheeler for an UNbelievablely low price.

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Here they are.  Fred would have taken care of towing it up to my site, and fixed any problems that might develop.  I wouldn’t tow it…it would stay permanently on my site, which is the set up most folks have here.  It was cute inside too….well loved and taken care of.  And in a way, I wanted it…..more space for the dogs, an oven, room for some ice in the freezer…all what I consider luxuries!  I’ll never get a Better deal than this….

it makes a lot of sense….but….but….for three days I labored over the decision.

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The thing is I’ve actually been so content in my little WS….and Joy and Shiloh seem to be also…for getting close to 3.5 years now.  I really do like keeping it simple.  With another place to live I’d be getting lots more stuff, and I am liking the minimalist lifestyle….fairly minimal anyway.

Simple is good.  Having this option made me realize how much I do enjoy this lifestyle.  Finally I was able to say peacefully that I was so thankful for Colleen and Fred’s kindness in trying to help me out, but no, I would decline.  (Happily they have sold the trailer and 4 wheeler already to someone else.  They were doing this as a favor to a friend).

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One of the spectacular sunsets from our view on the hill.

That being said,  the plan is to leave here on December 1, and go to the home place for most of December, to see friends, family, doctors, and celebrate Christmas.  The thing that is going to be different about this trip is that I’m leaving WS here at the ranch, in the care of friends.  We will be staying in dog-friendly motels on the way back to the Monterey area.  Once there we will be staying with Mary again.  Thank you so much  Mary!

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One one of our walks.

Whats more, we’ve made arrangements to meet up this our friends Doug and Shirlee on the way!  We met them early in our journey near Barstow, California, while camping at Owl Canyon, and we ended up camping together a number of times.  A year and a half ago we planned to meet and camp at Glacier National Park, but due to circumstances beyond our control, that disappointingly, never happened.

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There is so much more I could tell you about, and we are in town today, having left CLR at about 7 am this morning to beat the heat.  Plans for the rest of the day are to go to the cemetery where my parents are buried here in Tucson and put Christmas flowers on their graves, and then drive the 50 or so miles back to CLR and get ready for the “Margarita Party” we are planning later this afternoon!

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What a beautiful face!

Tuesday the weather is supposed to start cooling down, but then we leave Friday.

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Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Sleepy girl!

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Getting Back To CLR

 

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Actually this first picture was taken in Gila Bend but it’s so spectacular!

I’d been dreaming about getting back…I mean, literally dreaming while sleeping.  And finally I turn onto the dirt road that leads to the ranch…

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Not exactly dream material, but I drive very slowly….IMG_3603

And finally we reach the sign above the road…IMG_3604

And I feel like I’m home.

 

I make it up to ‘my’ hill and with a little luck manage to position WS so she’s pointing pretty much north so the door is facing east and we get the afternoon shade.

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It’s about 10:30 in this picture.

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Evening here.

I planned to have a long post here but am having internet problems so….it will be short IMG_3636

I’ll share some pretty sky pictures….

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This last one was this morning .

And some happy dog pictures….

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And I will end this and hope that next time I get a chance to post the internet is in a better mood!

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Wrapping Up In Prescott

One thing about this lifestyle….there are a lot of good-byes.  It’s always hard to leave Kerry and Annabelle.  I feel sadness in this.  They are such good, pure spirits in our lives.  Kerry is planning to stay in the Prescott area for the winter and has her travel trailer all tucked in to a nice cozy spot near a lake and lots of trails where she and Annabelle  will be walking, and Annabelle has declared that she will be doing ‘rabbit inventory’ a very large and important job, but it must be done!  Yup, Annabelle said that!

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Ducks are also on Annabelles inventory list.

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Lots of ducks on Lynx Lake.

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And still some trees displaying their golden finery.

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This might be the last swim of the season.

While camped here I’ve had a bit of a flare up with my back, but Kerry has been helping me out and I’m already feeling better.

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And Mick came out of the passenger seat to sit on the tailgate with me.

Another walk in town by the courthouse….

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It’s really pretty here.

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And if you are looking for trails to hike, they are all over Prescott.  White Spar Campground has some popular trail heads and a parking and picnic area for hikers.

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And…some of these….

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Tarantula!  This is actually a small one.

The plan is to leave here tomorrow…Wednesday…and spend that night in Gila Bend at the KOA.  One last time with full hookups for awhile…then leave bright and early Thursday morning for the 150 mile drive to CLR…Caballo Loco Ranch, and our very own little (big) campsite on the hill.  A few friends that I know of are already there, and it will be really nice to see them again.

You may remember from last winter that I have a problem with cellular and Internet connectivity there.  (I do have a Verizon flip phone for emergencies), and blog postings may come a little less frequently.  The drive to a good connection that I can blog from is about 20 miles, and nearly half of that down a bumpy dirt road.  Still, I venture out at least once a week, and when I do I’ll be relating our CLR adventures, and sharing beautiful Arizona sunsets.

so….here we go!

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Joy, peering out of the top of her royal carriage!

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With Friends In The Forest

Prescott, Arizona….between Grand Canyon and Phoenix, elevation about 5,300 feet, with Prescott National Forest round about.  Just about 3 miles from down town is White Spar, one of the NF campgrounds.  This is where Kerry and I decided to meet up.  We have camped here together before and we like liked it, so we reserved the same two sites we had last time.

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That’s Annabelle over on the right.

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Kerrys travel trailer.  We are next door but the sites are nicely spaced.

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The forest around us is mostly Ponderosa Pine.  Nearby there is some color change, but it’s subtle, and almost done….

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We’ve had lots of time for visiting, and lots of dog time.

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Kerry playing tug with Annabelle and Joy.  Shiloh is having a laugh!

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The Wild Iris is a nice coffee place in town, where dogs can join their people on the patio.  After we go in and order, Kerry brings the coffee….

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While I wait with the kids.

Then we take a walk around the down town.  It’s a very dog friendly town, and in the center is the county building with lots of grass all around it.  Lots of dogs and their people hang out there, including us…

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Annabelle found a nice place to sit, on the picnic table. 🙂 Annabelle was a rescued Rez puppy about 3 years ago.  She has been a handful, but her mom is up to it.  Kerry takes such excellent care of this girl!

We’ve been having a nice time!  Weather has been in the 70’s down to the 40’s, but is now reaching highs in the 60’s.  This is what all of us prefer.

We have been taking lots of walks around the campground.

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Joy has been using her stroller part of the time.  Shiloh thinks it’s a hoot.

As of today, White Spar Campground will be partially closing, and the water will be turned off.  The sites we are in will remain open year round.  It costs $14 a night to camp here, or $7 with the senior pass.

BOONDOCKING

For the whole summer we used campgrounds with either water and electric or full hook ups (which would include a sewer). Starting at Grand Canyon we began boondocking, and except for one night on the way to Caballo Loco Ranch, we will continue boondocking for the winter.  My 40 watts of solar on top of WS takes care of most things, unless I’m in the shade or there are days of clouds.  For the occasional extra boost I have the Honda 2000 generator, which I love.

I have little LED lights strung around the inside of WS to add an even more cozy feeling, and actually I have a string of them that use the regular outlets for when we are plugged in, and I have some that run on batteries for our boondocking times.

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These are the battery operated lights.

The other changes that boondocking brings is no AC ( apparently it will run on the generator but I’ve never tried it), use of the furnace and /or the Little Buddy propane heater instead of my little electric heater, and using the tea kettle instead of the hot pot for heating  water for coffee and such.  I can’t watch tv, which I rarely do anyway, and if I need to use the hair drier or blender I can plug them into the generator.  We would have to be hooked up to the generator to use the microwave too, and though I use it a lot when I’ve got electric hook ups, I’ve never used it while boondocking.  I miss it, but I survive.  😊

I have to put water in my tank myself of course, and find a place to dump.  At the ranch this winter, since I’ll be parked in a place without a sewer for a long time I’ll use my ‘blue boy’ type thing, which is a container on wheels that you can empty your tanks into and attach it to the truck and drive it to the dump.  Really, you get used to it…it’s not that bad.  Other than those few things, life goes on about the same for us, with or without hook ups.  No doubt about it though, electricity is a luxury!

If you have more questions about boondocking, please feel free to ask in the comments.

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Bye for Now!

 

 

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One More For Grand Canyon!

The following pictures were taken around sunset on our last evening at Grand Canyon.

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They were all taken around Mather Point, so you will notice some of the same rock formations….just presented in different ways.

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In the last blog “2 Billion Years, 2 Billion Views”, I started out wondering about rock ages, and then said that was a question for a geologist.  Well, a geologist answered the question!  Check out Kitty’s comment….very informative and explained so even I can understand.  Also I bought one of the geology books at the GC Bookstore, which I’m reading ( aloud to the dogs for better understanding😀), and that’s helping me get some very fundamental geology info.

Thank you Kitty for taking the time to explain!

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The colors seem to pop more with the light from the setting sun.

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“When the deep purple falls”…)

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I love the way that weed in the center picked up the light.

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Okay, good bye for now Grandest of all Canyons.  I’ll be back if it’s meant to be.

We have arrived safely at the Prescott National Forest, and are camped right next to Kerry and Annabelle for awhile.  Kerry is taking a 3 day class nearby and Annabelle, Joy and Shiloh and I get to hang out together.  They became a ‘pack’ a long time ago ( along with Kerry and I), so they get along great.

It’s peaceful here in the forest and I’ve been listening to two woodpeckers refine the entrance way to their homes.  They stop periodically to have a snack.  Busy birds.  More later!

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2 Billion Years, 2 Billion Views

And then some….

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They say the rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are close to 2 billion years old. ( I don’t understand why the rocks at the top of the canyon are not also 2 billion years old but that’s a question for a geologist I guess).  However, it’s ONLY been 5 or 6 million years since the canyon started to rise up and form as the Colorado River cut through it.  I would love to learn more about the canyon geology….maybe someday.

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Every day the canyon looks different….every hour….every minute….every degree the sun moves…every degree I move…every angle…every cloud…and I’m only seeing it from the rim.

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It’s all about erosion.  Water, ice, wind, heat, and very important….silt in the water works like sand paper.  Since there are now dams at both ends of the canyon, the erosion has slowed considerably related to the water in the Colorado River and the silt it carries.

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I think part of the awe of looking into the canyon comes from being aware of all those millions and billions of years….not that I can grasp that concept in the least….it’s like trying to fathom the distance of the Stars in the night sky.  Between all that, and the size of it, and the beauty of it, one feels very tiny and insignificant.  Perspective….Life and pain and sorrow and war, joy and peace seem to change shape.  A human life span is but an instant.  Perspective.

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Our earth is big!  And our earth is oh so tiny…microscopic.

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I wanted to mention about bringing dogs here.  dogs are welcome on all the trails above the rim.  You can walk them all around the village and market area.  There is a kennel, but you must reserve ahead and have proof of immunizations.  They are of course, welcome in the campground.  You can’t take them on shuttles, tours, in any buildings, including the hotels and lodges.  It would be lovely to take the shuttles here, but I won’t put my fur babies in the kennel unless it’s for some kind of emergency, so no shuttles for me.  We are limited in our walks because Joy doesn’t go for long walks these days.  I have left them in JR for up to a couple of hours while I explored.  They were in the shade with windows open.  Not always easy to find a shady spot…

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The weather has been just about perfect with average day temps of around 70 degrees and average night temps of 40 or so.  There was one very windy day.

Its been wonderful.  People from around the world are here to see this amazing place.  I hear so many languages…English maybe half the time!

But….we leave tomorrow!  The week went so quickly!  Another adventure awaits though, and we will be meeting up with our friends ‘Kerry’ and her dog ‘Annabelle’. ( not their real names).  I’m so looking forward to seeing them!

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