Thursday, February 21

Carlsbad Beach State Park

We finally got the perfect spot we were looking for. On a bluff, in Carlsbad Beach State Park.....beach side.
Carlsbad Beach
The outside temps were decent but the water was only fifty eight degrees and we figured if we were really going to enjoy ourselves, we had better get some wet suits.
Carlsbad Beach Family Pic
We got the kids all new suits, then found used ones for me and Joey at the local DAV Thrift store. We even found a used full suit that fit Jake, so he ended up with winter and spring wet suits, opting to wear the full suit. I found a full size boogie board left against a dumpster at camp, and we bought three new small ones for the kids. Joey was going to rent a surfboard, but we ended up having so much fun with the boogie boards that it just seemed like a hassle to have to leave our new haven.
Our campsite above Carlsbad Beach
We're straight up, right in the middle, and we practically have this whole beach to ourselves.
Carlsbad Beach

The kids took some time to work up to actual boogie boarding, once they figured out they couldn't use them for skimming or sand surfing.
Carlsbad Beach kids
And that they're supposed to lay on it, not under it.
Carlsbad Beach
Jewel never did catch on, but we won't tell her that.
Jewel's version of boogie boarding
Here she says she was teaching her board how to swim.
Carlsbad Beach 021
And, I don't know what she was doing here.....besides giving me something to watch.

We also saw our share of wildlife on the beach. While we were in the water Joey and I swam with a sea lion, and we all saw dolphins from the shore. The pelicans were awesome to watch soar across the ocean, and even better when they would occasionally fly over head. Ground squirrels were everywhere and would come within feet of us. The neatest find, though, was a dead stingray on the beach.
Carlsbad Beach 073
And the creepiest.
Dead Stingray

Carlsbad Beach Sunset
We spent three glorious days here, but had to leave when it started raining, and the forecast wasn't calling for it to stop any time soon. In case youre wondering, Why YES, we do wish we had the bus at this point, and NO, we won't be making a habit out of tent camping.

Tuesday, February 19

San Diego County

Waking up we didn't know what we were going to do next, but somehow we ended up heading straight for Coronado Island. Joey retold stories of swimming in that cold bay for Recon school, with the sharks, in fifty degree temps. We drove by the sand hills and the obstacle course that he so loved. Then, we went to Imperial Beach, where we once called the Seacoast Inn home for a month.
Imperial Beach
So much for the southern most beaches, they're contaminated all the way up from the Mexican border.

We checked out Silver Strand State Beach but it was nothing more than a parking lot, and it was full. We decided to head up to Carlsbad Beach, and were so excited when we saw the beach camping, only to get turned away because they were full. What the hell is going on? For sure by Sunday night we shouldn't have had any problems.....that's when we were told it was a holiday weekend! So, we have to keep going north up the Coast Highway to San Onofre. We find a decent woody spot in San Mateo State Park, set up and head to San Clemente beach for some beach combing and to catch the sunset.
walk down to San Clemente State Beach
The kids had other ideas.
Kids playing in San Clemente State Beach
But did find an interesting item on the beach before succumbing to the water.
Things kids find on the beach
Dude, got any?

A plan? What's that?

After leaving Joshua Tree NP we continued heading farther South. Within less than half an hour we were driving through some amazing dirt mountains, that I never even knew existed. How could I live there for so long and NEVER once travel this route? We saw only a few campers snuggled up into the crevices, unlike Joshua Tree that was packed. Joshua Tree brought out the rock climbers and repellers, and this place, I'm sure, attracted the four wheelers. It was too soon to break camp, plus the map shows a lake ahead, so we wanted to check it out. Knowing the desert I was sure it was half dried up.
Salton Sea, CA
Wrong! And no, it wasn't the ocean, it was a salty lake called the Salton Sea.
Salt on rocks in the Salton Sea
Not coral either, it was dried salt on the rocks.
You could tell it was once a happening resort type of place, but now it was completely run down and all but abandoned. We debated on camping, but decided to just keep on going.

I even convinced Joey that a warm mexican beach was where we should be, but after consulting with twitter friends, and the hassle we'd have not having the kids' birth certificates we sadly abandoned that idea. Joey remembered about an article he read about the Imperial Sand Dunes and an old Star Wars set left in the dunes, so we headed straight there. Would you believe it was packed solid, and there appeared to be some type of carnival event going on out there? While trying to find a legal place to set up camp, I used my cell phone to try to find where the old Star Wars set was, and this is where looking at more than just the pictures would have come in handy for Joey. The set dissappeared about thirty years ago!

We're not happy cammpers at this point.
Happy Camper
Except this one...she's a cute camper, too.

We ended up driving late into the night until we reached Alpine, CA....just outside San Diego. This is the point where I'm thinking a little bit of planning might have come in handy.

Monday, February 18

Joshua Tree National Park

Daily we get asked, "Where are you from?", and we always struggle with an answer. Coming back to the Mojave Desert, it finally became clear, for me at least.
On a long desert highway....
This is where I'm from. Middle of nowhere, B.F.E., the desert I always hated and couldn't wait to get out of, has me feeling like I'm home again. I used to walk barefoot across this desert and stickers wouldn't dare prick me. We made tumbleweed men instead of snowmen. We gathered in the desert to have big bonfires and drink where the cops would never find us. We did donuts and surfed in the back of pickups. What we never did was appreciate it's beauty. I'm glad I can finally do that now.

Joshua Tree National Park is in this desert, and is where we planned on camping for a bit. We've camped here before, but always in our motorhome. I've always liked that we'd have the place mostly to ourselves and our pick of campsites. It was never a very popular spot, so when we pulled in and almost every single campground was full I couldn't believe it. We got one of the last spots at the Jumbo Rocks Campground, which was nestled in the rocks, but was a wind tunnel!
joshua Tree campsite
It made the forty degrees feel like negative forty, and forced us inside the tent all night. The next morning we went into Twenty Nine Palms for breakfast, since I wasn't hopping up offering to cook anything, and decided to go back, pack up, and head farther South. I couldn't imagine spending another frozen sleepless night out there, and luckily the nice warm sun during the day, didn't make me forget my miserable night. Everyone else slept fine, but I was froze to my bones.

We still had plenty of time to enjoy climbing the rocks,
joshua Tree
Jumping the rocks,
Jumping Jumbo Rocks
Rest on the rocks,
Justa chillin'
and even letting Mom interrupt chill time on the rocks for a picture.
Jonas enjoying Joshua Tree
Oh yeah, there were Joshua Trees there, too.
joshua Tree
Which aren't actually trees, in case you were wondering. Which you probably weren't, but every once in a while I have to throw some educational stuff at ya. They're actually a member of the lily family.

The thing that made we squeal like a school girl, though, were the wildflowers. As Kimberly put it, I was welcomed back to the world of color!
joshua Tree wildflowers
I couldn't decide which I liked best, so you get both.
joshua Tree wildflowers

Saturday, February 16

Hoover Dam

We made it to Lake Mead, in pitch black darkness, high winds, and a temperature that wouldn't even let me get out of the car. Pitching camp was the last thing anyone of us would do so we continued on around the lake until we hit Hacienda Casino and a Valentine's Day special of a twenty nine dollar room. Oh yeah. The hotel casino was just outside the Hoover Dam, so even included a dam movie. Did you know the dam was originally the Boulder Dam? If do now. We had fun checking out the casino, getting popcorn in the upstairs movie theatre, riding the elevator, and winning a couple bucks on slots. Literally a couple of bucks, just two and I only spun once. Figured I'd cash out while I was ahead. Such the gambler, I am.

We went to the dam the next morning, making this our third, fourth or fifth time to cross the dam, but our first to actually go out of our way to see it, instead of out of necessity. We planned on a dam tour, but that was a dam lot of money that I didn't feel was dam worthy. Joey dropped the kids and I off in Arizona and we made our way to Nevada where he picked us back up.
lake Mead from Hoover Dam
The water level has been low for as long as I can remember, but it's extremely low at this point.
Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
The kids were cooperative with having their pictures taken, the wind was not.
Some serious wind on Hoover Dam
My favorite sight has to be these dam steel supports. I forget about them every time, and every time I see them I think they're about to fall over. They're just not quite right, kinda like me.
Hoover Dam Electricity
I was excited to see a new road being built.
Hoover Dam new road beng built
It's being built way above the dam and the river, and will really clear up a lot of congestion on the dam. I'm just glad Joey's not one of the ones doing the building! But at least they actually use harnesses and tie off now.

Friday, February 15

Quick trip to Bryce Canyon & Zion National Parks

After leaving Colorado and driving through Utah we ran into not one, but two different snowstorms. The first one was so bad we thought we'd have to turn around. Luckily Utah has white post markers on both sides of the Interstate with reflectors on the tips, those were our only guides to make it through. We knew as long as we stayed in the center of those reflectors we'd be all right. We got a hotel first chance we could, in Salina. The next day we finally got to head in a southernly direction. I convinced Joey to take a scenic route and even make a quick trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. I didn't really know much about the park, other than it's near Zion, but was hoping to get in a quick hike. But, ummmmm, at elevation eight thousand something, combined with the fact that I packed California fall weather clothes, not twenty two degrees Fahrenheit clothes, we were lucky to make it out to the view points. Because of the snow storms the night before we were treated with some gorgeous views.
Bryce Canyon NP
I was really disappointed with my pictures, though. I set the camera in landscape mode and didn't realize until it was too late that they were all washed out.
Bryce Canyon NP
What a slacker Mom those poor kids have, didn't even pack them a coat.
We only got to do the viewpoints around "The Amphitheater" because the storm shut down the road to the south part of the park, but they say the Amphitheater is the best part anyway.

Zion National Park was about an hour away and directly on our route, so we managed two National Parks in one day. I think that's a record for us. Zion, just like Bryce, was absolutely breathtaking. Both parks seemed fake, like someone painted the landscape, they were just too perfect. Below is a picture taken while driving, of a typical wall along the skinny red road. Oh yeah, the road even matched the landscape. Why don't more places do that, I wonder?
Zion Nat Park wall
Our path took us west across the park, and through the famous Zion tunnel. It's almost three miles long, carved into the mountainside, and is very narrow. So narrow busses have to be guided through. Just look at that itty bitty opening:
Zion Nat Park entrance into LONG tunnel
Every once in a while there was a hole on the north side, I assumed for an emergency escape route.
Opening in tunnel @ Zion Nat Park
Let's just say, hope there's never a need to use it.
We missed the turn heading North into the heart of the park, so we just kept on going with hopes of getting to warmer temps at Lake Mead, and setting up the tent and getting our camping trip started.

Wednesday, February 13

Going back to Cali...Cali...Cali

Just when we thought we were all snuggled in for the rest of winter, we had to go and stir things up again. Things aren't too busy here, and Joey's nephew will be deploying to Iraq soon, so we've decided to head to California in the hopes of spending some time with him before he goes.....and to warm up a bit while doing so. We decided this a couple days ago, and originally we were going to take the bus, but the more we talked about it and all that we hoped to do while in California, we decided we're going to TENT camp the whole time, about two to three weeks. I thought the kids would be against it since they won't have electricity, but they're very gung ho about it. In fact, they can't wait and ask multiple times a day about when we're leaving. It was supposed to be yesterday, then today, but we're not even half packed yet so I imagine we'll load up tonight and get an early start tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6

Helping Hands

Surprise, snowed some more. A little fact I wouldn't have even known if Joey hadn't called and asked if I would bring a hot lunch to him and his buddy where they were working, just down the highway at the shop. Of course, I said yes. I don't often get to drive the back road so I was actually looking forward to it.

Colorado River downstream
Yes, it was as cold as it looked.
Even the floating chunks of ice had ice on them.
river glaciers
These horses may just as well have been statues, they looked exactly the same on the return trip as they were the first time I passed them.
Frozen horses

Then the beauty stopped. I nicely pulled over for a passing wide load.
Sliding off the road
And promptly got myself STUCK! It may not look like I'm stuck but whenever I stepped on the gas, I would slide farther off the road and any farther and I would have rolled into the ditch. The first truck that stopped to help was too afraid himself! He knew how close I was to trouble so waited for me to get hold of Joey to come rescue me. The next truck that stopped thought it was all funny and wanted to know why I bought a Ford? Then the toofless wonder asked if I wanted a push. Very funny.

Joey and his friend Matt eventually arrived and were able to tow me out, backwards. I figured he'd show me how to get out safely on my own, thus making me feel even stupider than I already did. I was happy to hear I did the right thing by calling for help, as Joey also agreed I was about to go over the edge.

OK now, it can stop snowing.

Tuesday, February 5

Sharks in Colorado

We were all set to go sledding near Powderhorn a couple days ago, that was until this latest snow storm started. I couldn't even get to Rifle to get a new router that I've been desperatley needing. Yes, I do need it, and ever since moving into an RV ten years ago, I've been pretty good with just getting what we need. That's one thing that this lifestyle will teach you, whether you want to learn it or not, you don't get it unless you need it. OR, in order to bring home those new shoes you have to get rid of a pair you haven't worn, in say...two years. But I'm getting off track. What I'm trying to say is, it's been snowing long time. But we finally got out today, and am happy to report that my new router works wonderfully with my new cable internet. I had it with the satellite. I downgraded my service, and got Comcast...with no contract, and for only $33 a month. I'm paying three dollars more a month for both services, than I was for the fastest package I had with HughesNet that wasn't any better than dial up. I now have a dish and modem for sale..any takers?

The drive to Rifle was absolutely beautiful! We didn't see asphalt for four miles.
RV park snow
All the way down our "hill" and crossing the Colorado.
Colorado Winter Upstream
Nothing but white.

Errands done, almost everything on my list accomplished, we get to head back to our mountains. Maybe I'm biased, but I think ours are the best.
I-70 near Rifle, CO

The second we walk in the door, Jonas is jonesing to get outside. Which is quite a shock since I've been wishing they'd get outside more. Jewel has a fever and cough so she's not up for anything but napping. I even found some sledding hills nearby which I never knew were there before today, but we have to stay home wth Jewel. Instead the boys build fortress walls to hide behind during snowball fights.
Jake's snowball toss
Too bad Jake was aiming for me!

What's a shark doing in the middle of the snow?
Snow Shark

Watch out snow swimmer!
Deadly RV Park Snow Sharks
There's three more behind you!

Deadly RV Park Snow Sharks
The whole RV Park has witnessed the carnage. It's not safe at site "17".
Related Posts with Thumbnails