Friday, January 31, 2014

Who Made the Salad?

We had planned to go from Anza Borrego to Picacho State Park but when we got to Yuma and turned up the dirt road to go to the campground, we decided against it.  The road was extremely bumpy and we were only able to go about 5 miles an hour.  The campground was 18 miles up this road, so we turned around.  The great thing about this failed journey was that we got to see salad vegetable fields being harvested.  We have never seen the process and it was interesting.

Of course when you are in the middle of the desert, the most important thing to have to grow vegetables is water.  The plants growing next to this aqua duct look happy and healthy.  It's a lot more lush than the mountains in the distance.  Right next to this aqua duct, on both sides of the road, were fields and fields of salad.

There was kale

and iceberg lettuce

and broccoli

and romaine lettuce

People were harvesting lettuce and packing it up and putting it into boxes.  The boxes were stacked on a flat bed ready to be transported to market.

A field away, this group of people were harvesting broccoli.  

And when it's time to go home, this bus will take the workers home.  I wonder if it takes the outhouses too?

This reminded me of a couple of things from my childhood.  I worked in salmon canneries processing fish.  I might rather process salad vegies.  It's an outdoor activity and doesn't smell as bad.  I also remember the crummies, which is what we called the busses that brought loggers to and from their work. It was fun to see how the food for my favorite dish is processed for the market.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

On January 25th, we drove to Anza Borrego Desert State Park via Julian, California.  Both places are on Highway 78 East of San Diego.  Julian is a historic mining community that was established after the Civil War.  The men who began the town, Drue Bailey and Mike Julian where there when Fred Colman, a former slave struck gold and made a claim.  Today the main industries are tourism and apples. You can buy anything made with apples in this town and you have to buy an apple pie.  We buy ours from The Julian Pie Company.  We got an unbaked frozen pie and put it in the freezer so we could enjoy it with one of the friends will we meet along the way.  This year, when we were buying a pie, we also got the most delicious donuts I have ever had, apple juice cake donuts with maple frosting.  There are several stores that sell apple items, from pie to cider.  We bought Apple-cherry cider and apple, cinnamon butter for our oatmeal.  Parking is a challenge in the small town of Julian but I highly recommend a trip to this sweet little town.

Anza Berrago Desert State Park is about an hour away from Julian.  The road is very windy and narrow so it’s slow going.  It is a beautiful drive.  Berrago Springs is a small town in the middle of the very large Anza Berrago Desert State Park.  The park has a lot of space for camping but we always go to Anza Berrago, which is just North of Berrago Springs.  This campground is extremely well maintained.  If you camp at a site with no hookups its only $25.00 per night and you have access to tidy bathroom/showers.  Hookup sites are only $35.00 per night and they include electric, water and sewer.  The spaces are not close to each other so you also have privacy.  Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a 6-foot tether.  They are not allowed on many of the trails however, so if you are going hiking in the area, you will have to leave your pup at home.  We love to run, and walk on trails so this is one of our favorite places.  We have found lots of desert trails for running and some that are more fun to just walk on.  There is a nice trail just off of this park that leads to a palm tree oasis.  Mountain goats live in the mountains around here, and one year we watched a group of 4 or 5 bounding around on the rocks.  This trail is well traveled by people wanting to see the palm trees or take pictures of goats so you won’t be alone on the trail. 

Last year Doug and I climbed to the top of a little hill and I took this picture of the campground.  This is only one part of the campground but you can see how far apart the sites are and how nicely it's laid out in the middle of the desert.

There is also a half mile interpretive trail from the State Park to the visitors center.  On this trail you learn about the flora and fauna in the area.  I learned that all of the little holes I have been walking over on the desert are where tarantulas live.  I don’t think I’ll ever tent camp here.  There are lots and lots of those little holes in the desert and they like to come out at night.  There is a wonderful desert garden at the ranger station with signs that identify the various desert bushes and cacti. 

We have been in this campground several times.  Each time we have seen different things and found different trails and places for running and walking.   Doug and I spent one afternoon walking around in the desert.  We went to check out the 17 palm oasis and the 5 palm oasis between our campground and the Salton Sea.  The palm trees were close to the road so we didn’t have to walk in to see them, so we just walked.  There is beauty in the desert.  We wandered down washes for about 2 hours, looking at sandy hills and wondering what the crystal things were.  We found one flowering bush in the middle of the desolate desert.  It was warm but not hot because it’s winter.  I think the temperature topped out at 77 degrees.

I thought this sign was funny.... I guess this is what they call a road;)

We drove on this 'road' and found 17 palms.  The yellow thing is a tent.  A person was camping under the palm trees.

This was one of the only signs of life in the desert, except the palm trees.

This photo is of one of the many mud walls along the trail we were walking.  The dull reddish brown mud sparkled in places.  I found the reason... this shiny crystal substance.  It looks like a rock but it breaks like thin sugar candy.  Doug thought it might be salt, but after tasting it, decided it wasn't.  I wonder what it is.  It ads sparkle and life to an otherwise lifeless area.

Contrasting the dry desert, there are lots of citrus orchards in the area.

You can get whatever is in season at this fruit stand.  There was nobody at the stand on this visit, just the fruit and a can to put your money in.  This year we purchased 3 lemons and 3 grapefruit for $2.00.  An entire large bag of grapefruits was only $3.00.  The fruit was as tasty as it gets too, right off the tree.

If you plan to stay at the Anzo Borrego State Park, I recommend that you make reservations because it is always full.  There are several nice RV parks in the area as well.  There is even a RV park on a golf is California after all.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lake Morena County Park

We arrived at the Lake Morena County Park in the early afternoon on the 23rd of January.  We spent some time here last year and enjoyed the quiet, rustic park.  This year the weather was wonderful when we arrived but as the day went on, clouds began forming and the winds picked up.  

Lake Morena County Park

By 4:30 PM, we were told the area was under a red flag warning and no fires were allowed.  The area was experiencing Santa Anna Winds, coming from the East.  The winds became stronger as the evening wore on.  I woke up several times during the night to the sound of winds whistling by and a shaking the trailer.  It was kind of exciting.

The next day, Friday was cool and cloudy. In the morning, we went for a nice run around the lake.  We hadn’t really intended to run around the lake through the sand and scrub but we took a wrong turn and it ended up that way.  We eventually found the dirt road we had planned to run on and I was happy about that.  Happy because for 5 years I have been operating under the false impression that creepy crawly things, like rattle snakes hibernate in the winter.  Silly me. This year, just to pass time while waiting for my turn checking in at the park, I asked the park ranger about rattlesnakes.  I learned that snakes don’t hibernate.  She suggested safety precautions for me to follow in the desert.  I wish I hadn’t asked her.  Ignorance is bliss.  We did make our way back to the dirt road we had intended to run on in the first place.  Doug warmed his hands along the way;)

Lake Morena County Park is about as close to the Mexican border as you can get without being on it.  It sits on the shores of the lake made by the Morena Damn that holds water for San Diego.  It is a very old damn and the water levels are very low right now due to the drought.  I believe the southern terminus for the Pacific Crest Trail is in Campo, California which is just north of the Mexican Border.  Lake Morena is 6 miles from Campo.  The PCT passes right though the Lake Morena Camp Ground.  Doug, Cessna  and I went for a nice long walk on the trail in the afternoon on Friday the 24th.  The trail is sandy and rocky and much of the vegetation is in the winter cycle.  We found a few flowers and signs of life along the way.   The trail is easy to walk and the scenery was dramatic.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

San Diego

San Diego is my favorite city.  It is a city that feels like a small town.  The weather here is always good and the people are friendly.  You rarely hear sirens blaring like in many large cities.  San Diego is always on our list of stops when we head South.  It seems like we generally stay here on the way home from the desert but this year, because Nick, Hayley and Jill were vacationing in the area, we stopped here on our way to the desert. We always stay in South San Diego at the KOA campground in Chula Vista because it is located close to town and the Silver Strand, the road between Coronado and the main land.  We love Coronado! We love to run on the Silver Strand and there is a big dog beach where Cessna can run free and chase balls into the ocean and play with other dogs. The KOA campground itself is also my favorite campground.  It is in the middle of busy freeways but there are huge, yummy smelling eucalyptus trees that drown out the sound of traffic.  The area is made to look like a park in the woods with cabins and trees.  The RV sites are also a little further apart than in most parks.  There is also a swimming pool and spa.  For the kids there is a climbing wall and playground.

I took this picture of our KOA neighbor last year. 

This year we stayed at the Mission Bay RV Resort, which is at the North end of San Diego.  It is a very nice park and we enjoyed our stay.  Next year we will probably go back to the KOA though.

The reason we stopped at San Diego on our way South rather than the way North this year was to be with Jillian when she went to Sea World.  We went to Sea World on a Tuesday and there were no crowds.  The movie 'Black Fish' may have something to do with the fact that there weren't many people here too, however.  I just have to say that no wild animal that is kept in captivity is happy.  This isn't new information.  With that, I have to say, we sure had fun at Sea World.  It was great to see all of the birds, fish and animals.  The first thing we did was feed the flamingos.  I don't think one flamingo got a piece of food though.  The ducks are pretty aggressive.  Here is a flock of pintails...following the food.

A group of kids waited to see a porpoise swim by.  Aren't these girls just adorable!

Their waiting paid off.

There were lots of things to see.  Nick and Jill led the way.

I got to hold Jill and answer her "Why" questions during the shows.

This sea lion was pretty talented.

The porpoise show included acrobats.  The show was very fun to watch.

These divers did incredible stunts from a high platform.

The last time I saw the Orca show, the trainers swam with the whales and did tricks with them.  Trainers are no longer able to get into the water with the whales.  They direct them from the side of the pool.  It is a very different show.  The whales did a lot of splashing and people got very wet.

There is a Sesame Street themed play area at Sea World.  Jill spent the end of her day here and I think this was her favorite part of the day.  There were nets and bouncy cages, and a tea cup ride.  It was a place for kids to play. 

At the end of the day, Nick bought Jill a Shamu bubble machine and she enjoyed shooting bubbles at everything.  When it was time to go, she said, "Why do we have to go to the car when I'm having so much fun?"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carlsbad Marathon

Today started really early...4:30AM, which is early for these old folks.  After 4 months of running, Doug was ready for his race.

After a cup of lifeblood we were ready to get on the road and drive to the start of the race.

The familiar 'thunk, thunk, thunk of closing porta potty doors told us we were in the right place.  I was amazed at how many there were for the number of runners.  There were no lines.  I learned later that the reason there were so many was because there were 8000 people running the half marathon. Very soon there would be lines...long lines.

Time to get ready... the temperature was perfect.  It was in the low 50's at 6AM.

The start buzzer is just about to sound.

The half marathon started 1-1/2 hours after the marathon start.  At the last minute I had a chance to run the half so I took it, and my phone to take pictures.  Here are some photos of a half marathon from the runner's perspective.

One of many water stations.  Thankfully these volunteers put in a long day.  They are always cheerful and supportive of all of the runners as they pass out the cups of water.

They also clean up after the runners.  There was Shot Gel in two places in this race, at about the 5 mile and about the 10 mile.  I've never had this brand.  It was tasty.

There were bands along the trail.

This house had some rock and roll music playing and cheerleader too.  We saw this two times in the out and back run.

These guys had a table full of cups of beer at the 12/25 mile post.  I had to have one to celebrate 12 miles of running.  It's so nice to know that you only have one mile left to run.  I bet the marathon runners felt much happier to see these guys than I did.

Before I'd finished my cup of beer, I walked by this nice couple who had a table full of shots of tequila.  Of course I had to have one of those too.  Beer to carbo load and tequila to take away the muscle pain.

I guess it's time to run....

Ahhhh.....the finish.  I know that Doug was already across the finish line because Julie texted me.  I sure hope he isn't worried that I'm not at the line waiting for him.  He didn't know I ran the half.  It was an unexpected opportunity.

Of course he wasn't worried...we were both very happy to be done and ready to go watch the playoff games.  Go Hawks!!!