Gorilla mother and daughter, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Winter Blast at Lake Havasu City, AZ

I really was not sure what to expect when we reserved our space at the Lake Havasu City Rodeo Grounds for the Winter Blast event. I knew it featured three or four nights of what I had heard were very good fireworks, that you could watch right from your RV.

Well, that was not 100% true. On the first night we did join our fellow Alfa owners' group, sitting around our fire just outside our rig.  We could see the fireworks, but they were pretty far away and we could not see any of the ground works.

Friday and Saturday nights, we drove to the upper edge of the RV parking area and had a much better view.

Craig shot about 1400 images on those two nights, using a tripod and a rapid fire setting.  He deleted more than a thousand of them. I had a hard time picking out a few of the images of fireworks that I don't think I ever saw before. 

The Winter Blast is all about the fireworks, and not much more. We were on our own as far as activities during the day. As I mentioned in my last post, we did go to town and took one hike. The other days we were just lazy and relaxed around the coach, reading and playing with computer stuff.

We also bought the three night meal tickets for $25 per person. The food was pretty good considering the cost. It was made and served by locals and we ate at tables outside. It was nice to not have to cook for a few nights!

The fireworks were very special. From what I understand, different vendors and manufacturers of fireworks take turns setting up their shows, and trying out some of their newest products. Each night, they started before dark and continued well past 10 PM. We watched until we were too cold and a bit tired, went back to our Alfa, and listened to the booms for some time after.

We made reservations last November on the advice of one of our Alfa Facebook friends. Good thing, because the RV parking sold out. We were given information about reserving a space for 2019 when we checked in! We heard that many of the spots along the top rim have been reserved by the same people for years. We noticed many large groups of people having get-togethers up there.  There was plenty of room for everyone to set up front row chairs along the walls.

[From Craig] Is that an alien observer in the upper right?

Although we arrived on Monday, we noticed that many rigs did not come in until later in the week. The price was the same, $150, for one night to seven nights. We pulled out the following Monday. Our appointment in California, to get new batteries installed and have a few other things looked at was on Tuesday, so we were in no rush. 

I am posting this from the Leisure Coachworks (formerly Alfateers) parking area. We have met other Alfa owners who are also parked here to get work done. Looks like it will be a congenial group.

As almost always among RVers!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Yes, You Can Take It With You When You Go!

If you live in an RV that is! For me, one of the best aspects of living in our motorhome is we can take almost everything we have with us when we go, on a short or long trip. Our bed, our clothes, our kitchen, my craft materials, and our computers. I don't have to pack or make decisions about what to bring and what to leave behind. 

We were up early, but we took our time getting on the road Monday morning. The 275 mile drive to Lake Havasu City for the Winter Blast Pyrotechnic Festival, was uneventful. We were parked and set up at the rodeo grounds by 4 PM. 

Although this was not an official Alfa rally event, one of the Alfa owners, Dave Volker, worked with the lady who set up the parking, so that the Alfas were parked together. We also had a space for a campfire location. On Monday it was fairly cold and windy and most of us had just arrived so we didn't gather, but as the week progressed, the weather got better and the group grew. We always enjoy sharing technical information and stories with other Alfa owners, and it is fun to have faces to go with Facebook and Yahoo Group names.

Tuesday, Craig and I went over to see London Bridge. We have been through this part of Arizona several times, but have never stopped.

We both remember when in the 60's, Robert Paxton McCulloch who seemed like a crazy man, bought the bridge from the city of London, and had it reassembled in a desert town that had only a few residents.  He also moved his chain saw and outboard motor manufacturing plant to the town.

A dam was built, and he had a channel dredged to divert water from the Colorado River. After a few years, Lake Havasu City became a recreational destination.

What kind of bird is this?
 It was sitting on a post at the bridge.

I am going to have to ask my friend Judy Bell to identify this bird for me. I looked at pictures in my Audubon Field Guide and he looks like a Rusty Blackbird. But the guide shows its range does not include Arizona.  Does anyone know what it is?

On Wednesday we took a hike along some of the many trails in Sara Park. 

From the parking area where we started, there were about five fairly easy trails that seemed to be intertwined. Some had tracks from ATVs.

After about a mile, the trail led into a creek bed wash that was pretty easy to walk.

Craig sat down to rest while he waited for me. I kept stopping to take pictures of all the neat rock formations.

About a mile and a half in,  the trail got a little harder as it went through a slot canyon. Unfortunately by this point my shoulder was beginning to ache and I was reluctant to  go down a steeper place, lest I slip and have to steady myself with the pole in my left hand.

All in all we hiked more than three miles. The weather was beautiful. The rocks were interesting,

but the best sight was the Jeep at the end.  I was really tired when we got back to the rig. But after a little rest, I was ready to enjoy the company around the campfire once again.

RV friends are good.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Safari Park Pix 2

Nikon D850
When Craig wanted to add more pictures to my last post, I asked him to do a post of his own.

I think ten pictures is enough for one post.

So here are more:

Bluebird of happiness near the entrance.

Cheetah   Sony RX10

Sony RX10

Sony RX10

Nikon D850

Nikon D850

Actually I can carry more than these!  Nikon D850

Something about this landing felt funny in person and in this image.  Nikon D850

Waterfall at 1/3200 of a second.  Nikon D850

This bird could serve as an ending for almost any post  🙂  Nikon D850

Friday, February 9, 2018

I'm So Excited!

On Thursday we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with the objective of enjoying a pleasant day and giving our new cameras a workout.  I got mine in late September, and Craig got his for Christmas, but with my shoulder healing from surgery, I really haven't had the chance to experiment very much.

The Safari Park is about an hour's drive from Jojoba Hills, and is a perfect place to photograph animals. It was a beautiful day, and the park was not crowded. Most of the animals we observed were awake, and the enclosures were large and photo-friendly. 

Below are ten images.  I could easily have added another ten from the day's shoot! It looks like our biggest problem is going to be deciding which to keep and which to delete. 

I love digital photography!

Sony RX10

Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Nikon D850
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
I don't know this boy, but he reminded me of a boy I once knew
Sony RX10

I am really looking forward to taking lots of pictures on our travels to the Northwest this summer, and sharing them with all of you.

Next week we go to the Winter Blast in Havasu City, NV. I hope we can do some hikes during the days at the beginning of the week. I think the fireworks don't start until later in the week.

Looking up!

Monday, January 29, 2018

What does a Snowbird do in January?

Last year we joined the hiking group here at Jojoba Hills. But we found their hikes too fast paced, and too hard for us.

This year a new group has been formed for the less energetic among us, called the Jojoba Strollers. I joined them for an easy, three mile walk out our back gate to an olive grove.

Oh my!  This was one of the harder stretches. Slightly down hill.

At the olive grove, we took a break and were treated to an olive oil tasting. The many flavors of oil and balsamic vinegar were wonderful, but a bit pricy. I was secretly glad that I didn't bring any money along. But the grove is just around the corner from Jojoba, and they have a store down in Temecula.

This is the closest business to Jojoba Hills. I did stop in once, to see what they had, but it is not much more than a milk,  bread, and cigarette store.

This was another "hard" spot. We had to climb over and up several uneven rocks. I was actually hurt doing this. The nice guy on the right was giving us a hand, and I unwisely extended my left.
Super ouch! That is my recovering shoulder. But it was towards the end of the walk, and I got home to put on an ice bag fairly quickly.

I may be relaxed, but notice how I am holding my left arm in a protective position. It is almost as if I am wearing an invisible sling.
Speaking of my shoulder, it is slowly getting much better. I go to a physical therapist once a week and have tried to do all the exercises he has recommended on a daily basis. The current thinking on such is "work to pain". That meaning, if it hurts, stop. Craig has been supportive, but hasn't had to hassle me to do what is required.

Another subject:
2018 will  forever be know as the year I became a spiralizer! Last fall I bought a little plastic machine called a Spiralizer on a whim. I also bought a cookbook, and have been using both several times a week! (This whole subject deserves, and will get posts of its own in the future.) 

Spiralized sweet potato
This was one of the prettiest and most complex meals I created.

Oven Fried Avocado Tacos with Chipotle Cream
Would you believe this whole plate is only 240 calories!

Other things I did in January include:

  • Took a fun little two hour felting class in the craft room.
  • Went to lunch out with the "Mad Hatter" gals.
  • Took a beginning watercolor class at the park Art Center trailer.
  • Joined with others to march in the 2018 Women's March in Riverside.
  • Participated in a group "postcard writing" session to support Julia Peacock, a Democrat public school teacher running for US Congress against the Republican incumbent. 
  • Watched the 2018 season of "Grace and Frankie", a wonderful comedy on Netflix starting Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. When Craig watches sports in one room of the coach, I often go into the other and watch something else.
  • We watched Season 7 of the "Game of Thrones" together. We don't have HBO, so we have bought each season from Amazon as it has become available. 
  • And we both relaxed and read a few new books.
  • Finally I have spent many hours reviewing information and making reservations at State and National parks for our summer adventure. North to Oregon and Washington this year!

The weather here has been much nicer than it was last year at this time. A few cool days, but mostly sunny and pleasant. We really do need more rain though. I hope we get some in February. I won't complain about any accompanying chill.

I end this post with a couple more shots of the beautiful sunsets we have enjoyed from our windows and patio.

A different day. 
I like to play with using a tree as composition element.

Life is good!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Catch-up Part 2 - RV trip to Death Valley and a Christmas Visit

The best part of our Christmas season this year was a visit from our son Gil. 

We last saw him four years ago when he went first to Thailand and then to Myanmar (Burma) to start a new life teaching English as a second language. You can read more about him and his work on his blog at Leaving Amerika. He posts a lot of videos about this travels, and the above link gets you to the first of several he did on his trip to visit us.

He came to the USA for two weeks. The plan was that he would spend the first four days with us, and then we all would go down to San Diego to spend a week with his sister Deidre and her family. We decided it would be fun to take a quick RV trip to Death Valley while he was with just us. 

Since we were going to pick him up at LAX  in early evening, I decided it might be good to stay at a park closer to Los Angles, and leave the Alfa there while we drove to the Airport. I choose Prado Regional Park, because we had been there before, and it is East of LA so we could avoid heavy traffic when we took off for Death Valley the next morning. It really worked out well!

We dry camped at Death Valley for three nights. Gil used the pull out couch-bed, and it seemed OK.

Since this was only 12 days after my surgery, I had my arm in a sling, and could not even put my hand through a sleeve. I put together this highly fashionable get up with clothes from Goodwill. The underdress is a sort of sundress with an elastic top, that I could put on from the bottom up and leave the shoulder strap off. I was able to find two, so I could alternate and toss one in the wash while wearing the other. They were quite short, so modesty required my wearing long pants. The shirt is a 2XL man's shirt that was big enough to button over my sling. I also had a big black sweater.  

Craig, Gil, and Merikay in Death Valley

The weather in the Valley was perfect! Sunny and warm. We enjoyed seeing the geological sites and having a great family visit.

It was nice to have Gil to ourselves for a few days before  Christmas.

We took a short, easy hike through Golden Canyon. The rock formations are amazing.

Artists Pallet as seen from Artists Drive

Craig and I have been there before, but were happy to return a second time.

Not Bee Hives

On our second day we took a ride to a farther place in the park to see the Charcoal Kilns.

On Friday, December 15, we drove back to Jojoba Hills, and spent one night there. This gave us a chance to show Gil our spot there and the nice features of the park. 

On Saturday, we left the Alfa there and drove down to our daughter's home where we had an early holiday celebration on Sunday. This was because they were all going off to New Zealand at the end of the week.  [From Craig] This picture and the next 3 were the first ones taken with my new Nikon D850, which was delivered to Deidre's a few days before.


Deidre is always a great cook. In the past I have been able to help out with meals preparation when we visit, but my handicap sidelined me this time.

Gil doesn't cook much at home, but was quite willing to lend a hand in the kitchen.

We have always enjoyed playing games on holidays. This was a word game that our English-teacher son was checking out as a possible game to take back for his classroom. (Craig was the fourth player and the photographer.)

The days passed quickly, with warm family time. Soon it was time for them all to leave. For us the date of December 25 is not important. It is the family get together for the holiday that has meaning, and we did that on the 17th and all week!

We did not go back to Jojoba when everyone left. Instead we stayed and took care of their golden retriever Sandy. 

We tried to go to the San Diego Zoo one afternoon (without the dog), but were turned off by the crowd and the inability to find a parking space in the Zoo's parking lot!

On another day we went over to Balboa Park and walked through the Museum of Man. We have visited the park many times and always find something different to enjoy.

The roots of a tree at Balboa Park

Of course we took the dog for evening walks down to the cliffs. It is such a beautiful place!

Well, this ends my catch up post. 

One last picture
was taken with my almost-new camera!