Friday, March 31, 2017

A Son's Gift

Brad and I were talking on the phone as Ed and I hung out at Starbucks, one of the few places we could find decent internet in King City. When I mentioned our whereabouts, he said,
"Oh, I remember King City, a dumpy little town, but..." And the "but" was all important as he went on to say, "Yessi and I traveled the Nacimiento-Furguson road, just out of King City, when we were going to Big Sur. It's a narrow, twisting road, with bowering trees (perhaps too low for Thistle) but a wonderful drive. We were on the motorcycle. The road passes through Los Padres National Forest and the Hunter-Leggitt Army base. You might enjoy it."

We found ourselves on a wonderfully curvy road heading up a steep grade into the coastal range and then down the other side to the Pacific. We always know we're on a road-to-love when the warning signs read, "Vehicles over 30 feet restricted".

Might enjoy it? Oh yes! We loved it!!!

Beauty reigned as the scene changed from oaks and madrona to redwoods, to maples, back to oaks, then pine, and finally scrubby hillsides of sage, poison oak, ceanothus and yucca. Streams, rocks and canyons unfolded as we twisted along through this splendidly steep, narrow and curvy road. And then, pow, in all it's glory, the Pacific.

We are camped at Kirk Creek Campground on Highway One overlooking the ocean. Eight miles south of us the highway is closed and three miles to the north it is closed. Just a smattering of people are here camping and hiking. Work crews are here too, busy repairing the bridge at Big Sur as well as winter slide removal and cleanup work.

Having a heavily traveled highway empty, leaves us giddy. We ride, weaving back and forth, laughing at the freedom and luxury of no traffic. The middle line is too tempting to resist a swirl or two. And the quiet of no cars or trucks leaves us intoxicated with delight.

To travel north we will go back up and over the Nacimiento-Furguson Road, the only access to and from this eleven mile "island". Thank you Brad for the fabulous suggestion of the Nacimiento-Furguson Road -- a 10+ without the highway closures. With the closures, it has been an off the scale experience!

"Reality doesn't impresss me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls."

~ Anais Nin

Thursday, March 30, 2017

And there are condors!

This past few days is our second Pinnacles visit on this trip. The first was Pinnacles National Natural Monument. This is Pinnacles National Park. Both worth visiting, but Pinnacles National Park is the most fabulous and the roads coming and going splendidly beautiful. And there are condors!
"The California condor is the largest flying bird in North America. Their wings may stretch nearly 10 feet (3 meters) from tip to tip. When in flight, these huge birds glide on air currents to soar as high as a dizzying 15,000 feet (4,600 meters)." ~ National Geographic
Last time we were here, about 15 years ago, it was a National Monument. Now it is a National Park. We remembered it as a sleepy place, although our visit was in the winter, not spring. We also remembered that it was plagued with feral hogs.

This trip the park is not sleepy, in fact the 134 camp sites were mostly filled, even mid week, and the trailhead parking areas were jammed full. Plus, the hogs are gone. The entire park has been fenced, the hogs trapped and then relocated. Restoration of native plantings is underway to repair the hog-ruined landscape.

And there are condors! From Bear Creek we hiked up Rim Trail to see the California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus), and did see them although from afar. We also talked with a man on the trail radio tracking them. He is another one of those fabulous volunteers our parks attract. Interrupting his work, he explained Pinnacles now has about 85 condors all released, marked, tracked and fed. Cattle ranchers donate stillborn calves to the park service which they freeze and then deliver to feeding stations as needed. Another group of condors has more recently been released at Big Sur. The two groups travel between both locations and also have been tracked in Arizona.

Wildflowers were glorious...

Views stunning. In this spot we enjoyed the frogs cheerfully croaking in the pools right below our viewpoint...

Pinnacles, overlooked by many travelers, is now being discovered. We highly recommend it. And there are condors!


"The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder."
~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

The Road to Pinnacles

We are on our way to Pinnacles National Park. After leaving the Sequoia area we traveled a bit on ugly freeways and through distressing sprawl, but then onto another one of our cherished scenic highways as we headed west.

"The most beautiful thing about the most beautiful roads is that the destination is forgotten and the journey becomes the destination itself!"
~ Mehmet Murat Ildan

Monday, March 27, 2017

No More Excuses

Our traveling involves sitting long hours in Thistle. Idle. Sedentary. The under-exercied-bodies-of-the-elderly we all face as we age, cannot be left untended. Exercise becomes more...much more...important as the years advance. I have been suffering sciatic pain on this trip so I need, at the very least, daily bending, moving and walking to relieve this bothersome issue. Ed is suffering no such pain, but he's motivated to keep active.

Osteoporosis has also decided to plague me. Exercise to counter this little obstacle suddenly became a high priority. Before leaving town on our most recent trip, both Ed and I went to a physical therapist for help in devising a traveling exercise program. Resistance straps were added to our existing, but inconsistent, exercises of walking, hiking, biking and stretching.

The straps are easy to tote, being light and small, and can be used almost anywhere. In the photos above, the campground we were staying at was quite helpful with the poles they provided, but the doors or bike rack on Thistle, a small tree, a street sign, or a children's playground are all workable too.
Biking has for years been our exercise of choice, but it is surprising how many barriers can spring up to keep us off our bikes -- narrow, shoulder-less roads; too much traffic; rain and cold; hills too steep; days too short. We need and want biking to continue, but to be one choice of many, both for convenience and to round out our exercise program.

Ed race walks, we both walk about camp, to see the sights or to walk the dog, and we hike. At home, gardening is added to the exercise program as well. An additional activity, high on our physical therapist's list, and as yet untouched, is swimming. We very nicely use logistics as a barrier here too because, like with biking, the obstacles can seem insurmountable. Little head problems like, "Yikes, that river is flowing straight off the snow fields."

Hitting the big three: strength, cardio and flexibility, is our goal both on the road and at home. No matter where we are though, my hurdles come more from lax motivation than real obsacles. Sometimes it is entirely too easy to simply make another cup of coffee or read the next chapter.
Procrastination is a huge problem and one I'm suffering from at this moment. Ed is out race walking. So no more excuses. I'm off to exercise!


"The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it."

~ Jordan Belford