Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Ode to National Parks

 Hail to thee, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Stephen Mather, Horace Albright and to the marketing genius of Ansel Adams, among others, for kickstarting the National Parks program. What gems there are in our crown of National Parks. I had seen many of the trip West and continue to do as many as feasible. How lucky we are to claim more than 400 national parks (84 million acres). And then there are State Parks. I bought a Senior Park Pass and it makes coming and going very easy.

Such was the case for the White Sands National Park. A hotel guy said they were pretty cool and it was

not out of the way so we went. It was pretty cool.  In some areas it looked so much like snow (and it was in the high 30's) that folks bought saucer sleds at the gift shop and were sledding! It was interesting to see the landscape change so dramatically. See for

And then of course we have seen Arches and Zion and Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome and...

Good Lord I have seen a lot of sights, amazing! I have traveled over 9,000 miles, probably heading to 10,000 and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.

The most recent park notched on my cane is Carlsbad Caverns. I had to delay my trip a couple days as they were closed for some interior lighting repair but I went on February 1 and was so satisfied that I don't think I will have to do another cave ever. It is staggering and I didn't even do the self guided loop. If you go, do a tour and then plan another hour and a half on either end for the grand self guided walk. I was a little nervous at first but it is so awe inspiring you forget how far underground you are. You really do. Gina was waiting in the car for me and it was cold and damp so I didn't want to leave her too long. Of course she was fine, she just took a nap! Here are some pictures of the park outside that morning and then the caves inside.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Southern Deserts Jan 26-29

 It's curious how different deserts can be. Some, as open, rocky and barren stretches of land like in Nevada and near Joshua Tree seem desolate and uninhabitable, although there are many inhabitants that wait until night, or sleep in the cold weather (thank you rattlesnakes) or choose to stay away from the highways. Other desert spaces seem chock full of life, although perhaps not the life you would like to go traipsing

around with. The Sonora desert is such a place. Lots of cactus variety, scrub, little flowers. The great saguaro cactus lording over their spaces, some pocked and sculpted with holes of a visiting woodpecker. There were a fair amount of hawks around which says to me there were a fair amount of small things to eat. I have yet to see a burrowing owl or a roadrunner and would like to very much. There is more desert to come. 

I drove through Gila Bend, Arizona, which I loved the name of and was rewarded with yard art to grace your adobe home. It is no surprise to me that much of it was painted gaudy colors. It's not like you can have a cutting garden after all. Many of the homes had rock arrangements or iron yard art. Like dinosaurs. Why? why not? I snagged an overnight spot at Picacho Peak State Park. It was one of their overflow spaces which was good for me because although I couldn't plug in from the cold I was away from campgrounds and had few neighbors. I plugged in my battery blanket and passed the night just fine.

The following day I looked at my Roadside Attractions phone app and found there was the Biosphere 2 fairly near by. Of course I wanted to see it. My friend, Molly had told me it was interesting and it was. A large complex that used to hold 8 people completely self sufficient to see if people could live

some place like on the moon. For various reasons the experiment was not as successful as they hoped but the folks made it though 2 years and lessons were learned. Now the complex is used to test environmental theories and for educational seminars. It was interesting. (Look it up to know more-biosphere2.org)

Onward we go to Tombstone. Yes, that Tombstone- "the town too stubborn to die". I expected some tourist kitche and that's what we got. Gina could walk around with me so that was pleasant. She was wearing her bandana so fit the part. We got an old timey picture taken which was fun and started to watch a gunfight drama unfold, complete with a Marty Robbins song of Old El Paso. Gina really hated the crowds interactions and  gun noise and was shaking so we left. It was a hokey show but we got enough of it. I had hoped to stay in Bisbee, a little artsy town nearby but it was chock a block full (3 day weekend) so we did more driving than I intended. Found the Dos Adobes trailer park which was pretty far from towns and heard a lot of coyotes on our night walk. It was cold though! The water froze in my hose hook up. No damage but a nuisance. I must say I am getting a little tired of the cold!

The next days drive brought us through Deming, a Mimbres Pottery capital, I love their designs. We also drove through Hatch, Arizona which I found later was the chile capital of the world. Opportunity missed! But now I know where you are Chile Capital!! 

The border/immigration situation is palpable here. We don't get much in Maine because immigrants don't want to come that far. I wish they would. It is sort of creepy though to see helicopters scouting the skies for immigrants and there are occasionally patrol stations with dogs that you have to go through and claim you're an American citizen. I guess I looked white enough....

A crummy Sleep 8 motel for the evening as I wanted a shower. It served it's purpose.

So Cal and beyond

 So far behind!
I headed from the central coast back down to the LA area to bid adieu to family.
My sister’s citrus and avocado farm/ranch is a welcoming spot. Gina enjoyed being off leash as the whole acreage is fenced in. She enjoys the dogs although is more interested in rabbits!

Walking around the house it is a treat to see brother in law, Danny’s bronze sculptures in amusing places. I had a pleasant visit with nephew Henry and his family- wife and toddler. They live in Malibu.
The area is rich with agriculture, Raspberry farms, cauliflower, lots of oranges and such. Yet it is not far from LA. We even sneaked in a lunch in Ventura so it was a busy yet relaxing time.
I stopped in again in Burbank to visit with my daughter over the weekend. I had the good luck to book a room in an apartment near her through Airbnb. It turned out that the woman who I was staying with is a veterinary nurse and she came to my rescue with Gina. Gina had a hotspot on her neck that she had been itching. I did not know it was there, her hair is so thick but Sarah shaved the spot, applied and then gave me medicine to help her and also gave her some meds to help her limping. What a difference it made! Sarah also has a nonprofit business called Go Pawsome. (https://www.gopawesome.com/usa/) she travels the world with pet volunteers to spay neuter and give medical attention to animals in underserved communities. It is a terrific program to support as you can see from their website. If you would like to donate (I did) please contact them, every bit helps. Or pass this information on to a vet in your community.
Gina was glad to get back to squirrel chasing and walking in a residential area she knew. We stayed the weekend, ate some fine food with my daughter and her husband and headed East.

Our first stop outside of LA was the Salton Sea. I had heard about it but didn’t really know anything about it other than it was a watering hole for birds. Say no more. I went there. There were birds. There was also a strange history of how it was formed (by a human error- surprised?) But now the sea is drying up. There is no water feeding it. The birds were interesting- teals, herons, ducks of many flavors, hawks, and others. It lies in a fairly desolate area which, as I left was arresting in it’s wild barren beauty.
From the Sea to the desert and Yuma found us at an RV campground as it was cold in the nights. I wanted to hook up a heater so I have been doing that off and on for the week. It has been an eye opener to travel the southwest in the winter.

Much colder everywhere than anticipated. In Yuma the campground, Hidden Cove, was right by the Colorado River which is more like a creek after we have taken so much water from it.
In Yuma there is not much to see although they had a good dog park with well behaved dogs.