Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mendocino 50th Continued

Yesterday we loafed in and walked around Mendocino Headlands. 

Remnants from old logging days.

We lunched at Trillium. Fancy eats on the back porch. The weather has been fabulous. I did a bit of shopping before the store I had my eye on closed at 5.

Today we hiked the pygmy forest at Van Damme State Park.

We hiked the flats and almost got down to Fern Canyon. Ran into a few mosquitoes. But they didn't bite too hard. On the way back we stopped to walk from Big River out to the ocean.

 Reminisced about the ocean kayaking trip here in about 2002. Hardly any swells right now. Then it was 9+ foot swells because of a recent storm.

 Fun lunch at Patterson's Pub. 
Tomorrow we will dawdle home taking a route through Ukiah.

Monday, April 18, 2016

To Mendocino to Celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday we took a long ride on Highway 20 to Mendocino. We saw a lot of evidence of the destructive wildfires that hit the Clearlake area last year. Fire scars on both sides of highway 20. You could see where care had been taken to save houses. We ate lunch outside at the Boatman Bar and Restaurant in Nice. The place has 2 separate owners. One owns the bar and one owns the restaurant. They were just hiring and training new wait staff, so that was confusing. But overall everything was fine. Food and beer were very good.

The last part of the highway over the mountains is very winding. Bill says it helped to keep him awake after a weekend of partying and not enough sleep, on his part.
The Sweetwater Inn was our destination, because we like the garden cottage where we had stayed before. The cottage has a full kitchen and a comfortable bed. The hot tub is out in the garden, which is kept private by a high fence. 
We stayed here for about our 35th anniversary and at that time they were discounting the cost of the room by how many years you had been married. No such deal this time for 50 years.

After a relaxing evening snacking on the fruit and cheese basket left for us, we retired not too late and slept in. Warm homemade pastries are delivered in the morning, so no cooking so far for us, except for using the coffee maker.

Off to spend the day at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. The rhododendrons are in full flower and we walked all over the Gardens and explored every trail. Sat on every bench, almost. Glad I wore a hat as the sun was bright.

As we head back we came upon a guided tour. The guide was explaining about how to plant rhododendrons. They like to be planted loosely in bark to give them the well drained acid footing they like. Interesting, since we had thought about a few near the tiny house.

For a late lunch, we drove down into Noyo Harbor and had a delicious lunch at Cap'n Flint's. Scrimshaw beer on tap is a pilsner with a light but tasty flavor.

We drove around Fort Bragg and decided that it is definitely looking a bit ragged from the last time we were here in 1997 for Frank and Robbin's 25th anniversary. Back then Robbin and I did walk in some shops on the main street and bought a few things. This time I drove past and didn't notice a lot that looked interesting. We drove around a lot of the small roads on the way back to Mendocino, just looking at the houses. Some looked like they might be vacation rentals, others looked like they might have many families living in them, the ones with 5 working cars parked around them in midday.

Back to the Sweetwater for a short nap. I plan to look around the shops in Mendocino. I walked around a bit on Sunday. A few stores were open after 5, but not the one on the corner that I wanted to go in. We'll have dinner in again. Enough stuff around for a light meal after a big lunch.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Home from Death Valley

We take off towards home heading north. No more driving through Death Valley because of too much traffic. Nothing interesting to see on the road until we get to Hawthorne. This is one of those places in Nevada where the desert floor is covered with old ammunition storage huts. Hard to get a picture as we race by.

Walker Lake looks nice for nothing going on. 

We stop for the night in Fernley, at Fernley RV Park. Notable mainly for looking like new bathrooms. 
There was a storm on the pass, so we didn't want to risk the road over the top.
Looks like sunny weather for the rest of the month. The road over the top is clear and dry. Hello Mr. Drought. You are not done with California yet.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Death Valley

2/17/16 It's been quite a few years since we have been to Death Valley. We are planning to see the flowers, but also have found out that our ex brother in law is a volunteer camp host at the Furnace Creek Campground, so we will visit with him and his spouse.
It is still windy as we leave Lone Pine and the wind is kicking up toxic sediments from the bed of what once was Owens Lake.

 When we pass Keeler, Bill mentions that this is the place he would never want to live. Keeler is not only a poor, scruffy place, it gets covered in toxins blown from the old lake bed.

LA Water district is supposed to mitigate this, since they drained all the water out of the Lake. But Lots are for sale! Probably cheap.
Tom and Patty have arranged for us to have the overflow host spot right next to their camp host spot. Really nice tucked in between the tamarisk.

 Much better than the regular spots that are right out in the wind. Tom is going to show off his skill with dutch ovens for dinner.

 He has four of these in graduated sizes and plans to use three. First he has Patty and I slice up some apples, then he mixes up a batter to put on top for an apple crisp. He has a lot of charcoal started and when it is going he puts some under the first pot, they all have three legs, and some charcoal on top of the lid. Then he mixes together the ingredients for chili and Patty mixes up a cornbread batter. He stacks the pots up, largest on he bottom, then the medium sized, then the smallest.

 Each one has coals under and on top. Every 15 minutes he rotated the pots in a particular way. I think there is a pot like these in the garage. I'm going to have to try this. The food was great and the visiting was great.
It rained during the evening. Although it sounded loud in the RV, I doubt it amounted to much more than a dampening of the sand.
2/18/16 Time to head off. After saying our good-byes, we head out to drive around the park. Our choices are limited by the roads that were washed out back in October with the heavy rains. The road to Scotty's Castle is washed out . Lots of damage there. But we weren't planning to go that way. Worse news is that the road is washed out before you get to Jubilee Pass. The flowers are said to be best in the Southeastern part of the park. So we had thought to go over the pass to Shoshone. Good memories of the superbloom of 2005 when we were really thrilled with the flowers there.
So we will drive past Badwater and toward the pass then retrace our steps to the junction to go toward Pahrump and then to Shoshone.

This is just the beginning of the bloom. A skuff of Desert Gold flowers covers the rocks and sand of the alluvial fans with yellow gold. Occasionally we see a Notch-leaf Phacelia making a blue-purple patch.

 Bill saw these shallow pools. Maybe from last night's rain.
After we turned around, we take the scenic detour along Artists Drive.

On toward Shoshone through drab scrub land.
When we arrive we get a nice spot in the tamarisk.

 Just in time to get down to the warm pool.

 Ninety-one degrees in the water, but the breeze makes it cold when you get out.
 Another lazy day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2/14/16 Off on a short trip in the RV. The snow in the mountains is melting.
You could see rivulets glistening on the snow. Because of the long weekend there were skiers at the resorts, but with the mild temperatures the snow had to be slushy. Spring skiing in February. We better get more snow or the “normal” snow pack will melt away.
Over on the beige side of the mountain there is not much to see. We'd planned to have a Basque lunch at TJ's in Gardnerville, but it is closed. We've eaten there often, but never came through Gardnerville on a Sunday. So we go across the street to the Overland. Nice lunch, but we were thirsty in the dry air and filled up on water. We'll share the rest of lunch for dinner.
We planned to stop way before Bishop, but parks are closed for the winter. So here we are in Bishop. The JDiamond RV Ranch is not bad. This is our first time here. There are low rent permanent Mobile Home dwellers near the back. But up here in the front it's fine for over nighters. It's right in back of ErickSchat's Bakkery. 
 A channelized fork of Bishop Creek runs through the park with a fairly large population of resident ducks. They come up to Bill to politely beg. Even though I have plenty, I am reluctant to open a new loaf of bread for”duck bread”, so I say no to the ducks.
Tomorrow we have a short run to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills.
2/15/16 Up for a walk to Erick Schat's Bakkery.
 I'm glad Bill scoped it out yesterday, since it is packed and I would not have known which line to get in. The line for coffee and breakfast type goodies stretches all around one side of the shop. The better to tempt you along the way. Savory tempts me more than sweet, so we get breakfast sandwiches. A breakfast sandwich on a bagel is very filling. Maybe over filling is the word. Then we line up on the other side to get sandwiches to go. I might have been more adventurous in my choice of sandwich. But I was awfully full. We got whole sandwiches, so we could have half for lunch and half for dinner. I am vacationing from cooking so far on this trip.
Just past Manzanar we find the dirt road to the north entrance to the Alabama Hills. Nice that the road has been recently graded. Only mild washboard. The place that we first chose to stop for the day will live in infamy as being too narrow for the RV.
 The damage will cost us a nickel for permanent repairs. But we worked together to patch things up. So far all is working fine.
 At dusk, all in one piece, we head across the hills to Lone Pine and Boulder Creek RV Park. All the weekend crowd has left, so we get our favorite site. We arrive in time to use the spa, which is actually hot.
2/16/16 Today is a lazy day. Making friends with the scruffy black cat. Then finding it inside on the table! Out! Out!
 Wandering around the mostly empty RV park. Just the way we like it. I'll have to cook today, but I'd rather do that than go into town. The Sierras from the east side definitely look sparse with snow and the sun blazed huge and hot in the cloudless sky this afternoon. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Last Week in Puerto Vallarta

Our last week in Puerto Vallarta is over. The six weeks has passed very quickly although we have spent much of the time just relaxing.
Last Monday William took a group kayaking trip to Los Arcos. He would have prefered having a slender single kayak, but those were just for the guide. No solo trips allowed. So he was teamed up with a lady from Canada. A four person family group finished out this small group.  Everyone but William and Pedro the guide snorkeled at the arches. He's not much for snorkeling.
Off he goes

Through one of the arches
A view back at Garza Blanca. 
When we were on a shopping trip to a downtown supermarket, we stopped for lunch at Tinos, a nice upstairs restaurant just before you get to the north end of the Malecon. I saw giant birds perched on a corner of the Hotel Rosita across the street. Although they had feathers on their heads, they still looked like giant buzzards with a long buzzard beak and a hunch shouldered look. Don't walk under those. We joked that they were waiting for Steve and Diane to come back. But then recalled this was not their hotel.
Big birds

Back to our lovely balcony with a selfie
The next day was the member's meeting. Very sparsely attended. We had come down right on time anticipating the thundering hordes we had experienced at the other resorts, where if you are late you barely get a seat. We were the first ones there. Snacks and drinks were unusual and delicious. We didn't bother with dinner before we headed downtown to the Palm for a show. Evening at the Birdcage. Female impersonators doing comedy and singing. Very funny and enjoyable. We had thought we could stop for something afterwards, but just an ice cream was what we wanted.
We were out very late for us and I did not think I would want to do anything Wednesday. But I felt great. All I had to drink at The Palm was part of a fruit juice.
So off I went to the International Friendship Club Home Tour. The various service clubs are busy with fund raisers during the high season. It would have been nice to have a daughter or daughter in law along, since William didn't want to come. But I caught the bus and then hoofed the rest of the way to the Sea Monkey where the club had their table set up.
The first home we toured was just in the next block, so we walked there. Before Puerto Vallarta became a tourist destination, there was the strawberry king. Built in the old one story concrete furniture style, it has been meticulously maintained. There are strawberries in the tiles on the edge of the pool and on the kitchen tile. A huge house surrounded by a high brick wall with interior gardens. Casa Fresca Vieja.
I do like the strawberries.
Then onto our tour bus, heading South, we pull into Casa Karma Boutique Hotel. They had about 8 bedrooms on many levels down. The butler and maid prepared simple snacks of quesadilla bites with salsa and guacamole and mimosas.
On down to the beach

Original art everywhere

The last two houses were private homes up in Conchas Chinas Altas or as some refer to it, the Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta.  The roads are steep and cobbled up here. Although the houses are not far apart they all seem to have been designed to be private as they spill on many levels off of the hillsides. The first house is owed by a collector of Mexican folk arts and crafts. None of her four sons want the collection. So, she is working on endowing some sort of museum housing for it all.
Very cute. But on every riser of every staircase? 
The last house is exciting in design. Very open and filled with lovely art.
Too bad this type of statuary would not survive outside in California.

The main kitchen is open to the outside.

Lion fountain
I get back tired after so many uphills and stairs. I choose the Strawberry King house as my favorite. No stairs.
Thursday we take the resort trolley up the hill to the newest restaurant in the newest tower. Hiroshi. Great Japanese food. Few people here. Maybe the crowds come next week.
One of many great sunsets
 Friday we headed to another market near the beach and then had lunch at La Palapa.
Nice of La Palapa to have saved our favorite table.
Saturday was the American Legion Chili Cook off at El Rio BBQ Restaurant. Another service club benefit. After taking our regular bus in we catch the R04 up and up and way far away. It was hot out here and between that and the chili samples, I wilted fairly early.
The gal singing is a full time resident. Moved here about 25 years ago from NYC. This was at the hens and rooster market we stopped by before heading up for chili.

Younger people got in the water at the chili fest.
Then rain, rain. Puerto Vallarta is supposed to get very little rain in March. Maybe less than a quarter of an inch. We have certainly had more than that since we've been here. We had planned to walk along the Malecon, but we just take a cab to dinner at El Arrayan and back. I made sure to have the crispy cricket tacos. Very tasty.
For us St Patrick's day was rained out. We were going to go to another American Legion Benefit at an Irish Pub, but we didn't fancy just a cab ride there and back. Later on in the day the sun came out and the clean air looks washed and crisp.
Today is another member's meeting. William wants to go, so we will. No rush though.
Today my hiking pole is coming here by motorcycle messenger. Getting ready to pack up and realized I had left it at VDP Downtown. It was still there, so they are sending it back. I haven't done any hiking to warrant using it.
Time to pack up and head out tomorrow and the rain is back. That will be a damp member's meeting if it doesn't blow off.
While out here on the deck finally drinking our welcome champagne, we have noticed a rock with an old bolt in the top and a rusted chain. Maybe pirates? Maybe not in Banderas Bay. But far out maybe off Punta Mita William spots what looks to be a boat burning. Too far for our cameras to capture anything but the smoke plume. Pirates?