Saturday, March 16, 2019

Ed Nailed it!

We were driving on a beautiful road as we left the Isabella Lake area.  The photos describe it all, unfortunately not as well as desired.  They don’t begin to capture the turns and twists and beauty and light and colors and shadows and steep drops and narrow passages sneaking between boulders and trees.

We now have our quote for beautiful roads!


The engineers stayed home and the artists made the road.

Edwin R. Anderson 

For the Love of California

I was born and raised in California so when I see, for me, the quintessential California scene my heart won’t be quiet and my eyes refuse to be still as they rove from one delightful scene to another.   My feet want to walk and walk, exploring the nooks and crannies.  They want to jump  from rock to rock as the little girl in me did, but my jumping from rock to rock days are mostly over.  I lull on the edges of the water, tossing stones, dreaming, loving my memories.  These  rolling foothills, sparse trees (mostly pine and oak), grasses, sage, manzanita make up the understory and huge boulders with plenty of smaller rocks and a river running through it.  All awesome!  Absolute perfection.

We are on the Kern River here, just below the Isabella Lake damn in Southern California.  

Benton seems to be equally happy in this landscape but I’m pretty sure he only has eyes for the ground squirrels, putting his nose deep into one hole after another, then wildly running to the next and next.  One happy dog!  Of course he would be happier if we would throw sticks into the river for him to chase, but the river is high and fast with winter waters.  It would be dangerous.  Ed and I are saved from Benton’s constant stick chasing love by the ground squirrels that capture his attention.

The rain and snow this year in California has been epic, after years of  dry, so the landscape is green and beautiful.  I’m hoping the snow pack will help curb wildfires.  After years of draught California has not had a lick of summer water flowing down the streams, melting into the shady canyons, or oozing over the meadows for a very long time.  All valuable ways fire is curbed.  Raking doesn’t quite cut it!  But snow pack does!

I could stay here for weeks, it is so beautiful.  Plus, although cold at night, the days are warm, but not hot and the sky is blue.  More perfection!

We just finished a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and roasted potatoes, but now we hit the road.  But first a walk about to enjoy this beautiful spot one last time before driving away.


All Nature’s wildness tells the same story:  the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort, each and all, are the orderly, beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.

John Muir

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Wonder of Creating Your World

What’s delightful about traveling is seeing different ways to live, to meet new and interesting people, and to increase our understanding of others and their ways of living their lives, as best they can.  Sometime we are hit with pleasure as what we’re seeing as creative life choices.

Two of the new people we’ve hooked up with are Mark and Liesbet.  They own a Sprinter/Westie, just like ours.  These vehicles definitely act as a magnet for meeting other Sprinter/Westie owners.  Knowing there are only 250 in the U.S. is a real door opener too.

Mark and Liesbet are definitely interesting and are living a “freeish” life as full time RVers, previously full time sailors.  Many years of on the road or on the water, while at all times trying to maintain a livable wage from on board.  It is challenging but makes for exciting tales and interesting folks.  We are meeting many full-timers these days.  Cost of living is driving them onto new adventures, more affordable, and turning many others into permanent nomads.  Retirees, which Mark and Liesbet clearly are not, are especially well numbered in the itinerant category.  For many, life in the desert is compellling if money is limited because one can purchase annual camping permits for a small free, keeping one’s living expenses at a minimum.  Some locations have a few amenities like outhouses, trash cans and dump facilities.  Sometimes there are hosts.  At other times camping spots are just big fields in the desert.  Campgrounds become a treat — a place to shower, charge one’s batteries as well as one’s vehicle batteries and dump sewage.  But at 20, 30, 40, 50 dollars a night, they are used by full-times with great discretion.

Then there is Slab City.  A cluster of abandoned military concrete slabs used by RVers for years and years (way back when I was a  small kid folks were camping at Slab City) as a place for free parking, often long term.   It is fascinating how these permanent Slab residents are subsiding their small Social Security payments, or surviving with no incomes whatsoever.  Their methods are God and art.  There are two locations where their art is on full display — East Jesus and Salvation Mountain.   No fees required to view, but donations greatly desired.

Salvation Mountain...

The second Slab City creation is East Jesus.  East Jesus is like an outside sculpture garden, high in funk, creativity, religion and love.  There is a greeter at the gate who is a greeter supreme.  He, on the day we were there, was helpful and full of good words for God, Love, Life and Slab City.  They appreciate a donation and even provide PayPal for those without cash.

East Jesus...

And the children will play!

And my third example of creating your life is a visit to Quartzsite.  This “mostly portable” town is huge, with hundreds and hundreds of RVers camped out on DNR land, mostly free, but with a 14 day limit.  Others are parked in RV parks if they need hookups or more amenities.  The town is basically a tent city.  This is how many of the residents survive financially.  It’s one huge carnival.  Pottery, tools, clothing, RV supplies, food, jewelry, camp chairs.  You name it.  In the winter months this place is hopping, but closes down come summer (as does Slab City). Too hot for even the intrepid.  Some return to their home towns, some find a new, but cooler, spot, and others simply go exploring further up north until they can return to a cooler winter  desert.

Seeing these three examples of living a creative life are exciting to me.  These are new ways to engage in a largely unfair and often unrewarding economic system.  These economic examples have given all these people a way out of the “trap”.  A trap of low wages, long hours, and no housing or food or heath security.  Something, anything, other than flipping burgers for some big, indifferent corporation.   I love these models of creativity.


Every man can transform the world from one of monotony and drabness to one of excitement and adventure.

Irving Wallace

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Things Are Just Wacko

Where it’s usually hot it’s cold; where it’s usually dry it’s wet; where there is typically no snow it’s snowing.  Seems wacko to me (and yes we believe in global warming).   We have been to Anza Borrego several times in February in the past and have always needed to run to Julian to cool off.  And for pie (Julian is the town of pies).  This year if we ran to Julian for pie, we would need chains and we certainly don’t need to cool off.  It is snowing in Julian.  In Anza Borrego it is raining, and has been off and on for the past several weeks.  It is also cold, not getting above the 50’s today.  Through out the region roads are closed from snow and ice or flooding and slides.

Idyllwild, where we spent Christmas this year, is not accessible due to snow.  The Palm Desert Tram is out of business because the road to the tram is washed out.  The campground we enjoy near Palm Desert floods on these rainy days, as you can see from the photos above.  Our campground, here at Anza Borrego, was evacuated last week because of a flash flood in the nearby mountains.   Everywhere we go we see erosion, slides, road closures, puddles, or sometimes lakes, where for years there has been nothing but draught and hot.   We talked to folks yesterday who reported leaving Joshua Tree because it was so cold.  They came here to get warmth but soon realized they would need to travel to Mexico to find any warmth this year.

The beauty of it all is green describes the desert this year.  It is totally green from tip to toe.   Earlier the green looked like grass but now we can see it developing into small wildflower plants, filling all the bare land between the cactus.   The bloom this year will be amazing and it is slowly beginning with the yellows and whites popping first, then progressing to blues and pinks and finally to the hot reds and purples.     I fear we will depart before we get out of the yellow/white stage, which is beautiful but we’re looking for less subtle.   We head home at the end of next week and are planning to take our time visiting with friends and family along the way.   Will the flowers be out by then?  Who knows, things are just wacko. The fields of poppies we saw in the Julian area a few years ago, at exactly this time of the year, are under several inches of snow this year.

Today it rained pretty much non stop.  We grabbed about 30 minutes for a walk, but that was it.  We are presently in the campground that was evacuated last week, so let’s hope they don’t knock on our door in the middle of the night to move us out.  With roads closed and outdoor options slim we did all the rainy day things — reading, needlework, computing, games, napping.  I spent most of my time on needlepoint promising my family at Christmas that they each would receive a needlepoint pillow from me.  One is almost finished and unless we get sidetracked by the sun this weekend, will be completed by the end of the week.   Ed spent much of his time outlining his readings and taking quotes from favorite books.  

Our wet view:


Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

John  Ruskin

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A bouquet from my honey.


Love planted a rose, and the world turned sweet.

Katharine Lee Bates

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Walls and Gates and more Walls

I, at first, thought Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and the other towns in this area, were lovely.  But, they have not passed the test of time.  Not only do I have to be pounded by the stupid trump wall, but this area is all about walls and gates and security and more walls.  What the wealthy haven’t figured out is if they’d stop flaunting their hoarded goods, they would not be so vulnerable to theft and vandalism.  

Any way, the prominent streets are boulevards — four lanes, often with a landscaped median and lined with one wall after another.  At first, I even though the landscaping was lovely.  But that too has failed the test of time.  The plants are uninspired, the maintenance looks like someone took a blowtorch to the gardens, and I’ve never seen so many poorly pruned trees in my life.  I won’t even mention green lawns and water wasting.

Plus everything is sterile.  Few people occupy the sidewalks and bike lanes, and in the stores and on the roads, the friendly quotient is way down.

Boy, oh boy, do I miss Langley — our funky, friendly, beautiful town.  A community that is mostly “real” and a community made up of loving, intelligent, community-minded folks.  And we’re not hiding from the world but opening our arms wide for all people — rich, poor, old, young, black, white, and brown.  We grow fruits and vegetables and beautiful free-flowing gardens.  We honor the sea and its inhabitants and we love the forest and its inhabitants.  Most of us care for one another in ways that are community events, like Hearts & Hammers.  Other times kind acts are hidden from view, but the generosity flows freely.  We have environmental treasurers and people treasurers all coming together to create beauty and community.   I Love Langley!

Here is a sampling of walls and gates and more walls...


         Living in sterile man-made environments that are disconnected from nature should
                                                      be expected to lead to sickness.

                                                                      Steven Magee

The Desert’s Pull

Perhaps it’s not just the warmth that drives older folks to the desert, perhaps there’s more.  What about the speed of our lives?  As children and adults we are always going, going, going.  But as we age, and retire, we suddenly have less scheduled time plus we move more slowly.  Slowly enough to take time and study details.  Just what a desert needs.  I remember as a kid I couldn’t wait to finish driving through one.  Boring, boring, boring.  Even when I was out of the car walking. Boring, boring, boring.  Now, all these years later, I love the desert.  Subtle colors.  Quiet.  Dramatic shadows.  A gentleness offset by it’s harsh ways.  Or it just the quiet?  And, yes, the warmth is perfect too. 

One night Ed and I decided to boondock at Hawk’s Canyon, part of Anza Borrego State Park.   A perfect example of subtle colors, quiet, dramatic shadows, lovely rock formations.  After sitting in the warming sun for a couple of hours, we moved inside as dark and rain were coming our way.  Our camp’s view...

After we had moved inside, eaten dinner and were engaged in the evening’s activities, Ed looked up and gasped.  Although we knew it was raining, we didn’t think it amounted to much, so Ed’s surprised response caught my attention.   Looking out Thistle’s window it was what looked like a  mini flash flood.  The road had turned into a river.  Fortunately our camp site had enough high ground to keep us out of the flood.   Further up the road some campers had to rearrange their camp as the water came right through their tent site.

These pictures were taken the next morning, long after the rain quit. You should have seen our shoes and Thistle’s floor.  Mud/sand/goo everywhere. 

The next day we drove a short distance to Slot Canyon.   We arrived at the trail head at noon.  No dogs on trail.  Oh drat!  Too hot to leave Benton in the car for long, so we set off to hike the bluff, saving the canyon for another day.  Looking down into the canyon is stunningly beautiful.  Would I have liked it as a kid?  I keep wondering because what I do remember from my childhood is I really, really did not like the desert.

Here are shots of the canyon from the rim...

Here we are,  hiker folks... 


I can’t get enough of wandering.  Or the earth.  Some of us carry an inherent need to explore.  Textures.  Fragrances. Sounds. Air. Shadows. Movement. Patterns.  Light.

Victoria Erickson