Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Travels to the Mendocino Coast

California is a beautiful state.  Every time I visit this state, I marvel at its diversity and loveliness.  If you travel away from the large cities, you can find breathtaking, rural landscapes.  We generally drive up I-5 when we go North in February but this year, we drove I-395 to Reno; I-80 to Sacramento; I-5 to Williams and I-20 to the Coast with stops along the way.

This year there was almost no snow in California but in February, the snow did start to fall in the Sierras so Doug planned to meet his brother Casey for a short ski vacation at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort.  Casey lives in Hawaii and Doug lives in Alaska, so they like to take advantage of every chance they have to see each other.  Casey was in L.A. at the time the snow fell, so both brothers hopped in their cars, one in LA and one in Arizona, and met on the mountain top.  Of course I went too.  This change of plans was great for the experience we had but no so great for the visits we missed.  We always stop and visit my high school friend Shari in Stockton and Marilee in San Francisco but this year we were not able to see them.

After a day of skiing with Casey, we left Mammoth and drove to Reno where we spent the night at the Grand Sierra Casino RV Park.  The Grand Sierra Casino was just on the other side of the park so we wandered over there and played a few games.  The following day, we were off to Sacramento and points West.  We arrived in Sacramento early in the afternoon.  My college roommate Audrey lives in Sacramento and we stop here every year too for a meal at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse and a visit.  Usually Debbie joins us.  The three of us went to the University of Hawaii in Hilo.  I was only there for a year but Audrey and Debbie both graduated from there.  They still live close to each other and are best friends.

After our meal together, Doug and I got back on the road and continued our drive to the coast.  We stopped in a rest area outside of Williams and slept for awhile.  We were up early and on I-20 to Fort Bragg.  We arrived in Fort Bragg in the early afternoon.  It had been sunny the entire drive but when we got to Fort Bragg, there was dense fog.  About an hour later, it was sunny.  It remained sunny and warm for the rest of our stay.

Fort Bragg is a small town in Mendocino County.  It is built on the site of the Noyo Native community.  It started as a logging town, and when the redwoods were gone, most of the people left too, all but the fishermen.  Now it is a fishing town.  My dad's boat, The Southeast was built here.  My dad lived here and worked with a boat builder to finish the boat in the mid '80's.  This is also the home of a former Petersburg boat, The Shirley.  We saw it tied to the dock when we were wandering around the boat harbor.

 The boat harbor and cannery at the mouth of the Noyo River.

Two boats coming in from the ocean at the end of the fishing day.

The shore of the Fort Bragg Coast just before sunset. 

About 9 miles south of Fort Bragg is the town of Mendocino Village.  There are about 800 people living in this little town.  It is really a great place to stop if you are driving around in this part of California.  There are lots of fun artsy shops and great restaurants and the town is listed in the National Historic Record.  This was also a redwood logging town back in the 1850's.  There is a little museum/visitor's center here where you can learn about the history of this little town.  Logging was the industry of the area, which meant that shipping was also a big industry.  Many large ships were built in this area and many were lost on the wicked, unforgiving shores of Northern California.

This corner of the museum was dedicated to the ships that were lost at sea and never recovered.

This Presbyterian Church is the oldest active church in California.

The mouth of the Big River.  There are old pilings all along the river where the docks used to be.  The logs were floated down the river and the people would walk along the docks to guide to the sea and the waiting ships.

There is an old graveyard tucked away in the outskirts of the town.  The writing on the beautiful marble headstones provide a small window on the past.  This was an older headstone.  Many were for people who died in 1850-1855.  There were people buried in this graveyard who were born in the Kingdom of Denmark, or Norway or Maine to name a few interesting places.

The homes were built in the 1850's too.  The thing I enjoyed looking at were the arbors.  

There is so much more to see in Mendocino.  If you are ever on the Northern California Coast, you should stop and visit this little town.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tucson Rodeo

Doug and I went to our first Rodeo in Tucson, Arizona.  It was the opening day of the rodeo extravaganza. We sure had fun at our first rodeo.  Tucson was experiencing record warm temperatures on Saturday.  It was 88 degrees when the rodeo started at 2:00PM.  The heat didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the spectators or the cowboys and cowgirls, or the livestock.

These are the gates.  The bucking broncos and bulls came busting out of these gates.  The goal of each rider is to stay on their animal for 8 seconds.

Before the action started, a woman with a lovely vice sang the Star Spangled Banner while a woman on horseback carried the stars and stripes.

The opening event was a drill team performance by women on horses.  The did all kinds of precision routines...on horseback.  It was very fun to watch.

This is a bare back rider on a bucking bronco.  He is really trying to hang on.  There is a leather strap around the horses flanks, which seems to be what makes them buck because when the rider falls off, a horseman will ride by and take the strap off the horse and the horse calms right down and stops bucking.

Okay, so I am a little sad for the little cows but I must be in the minority because these next events seem to be very popular with the audience.  I don't know the official names of the events but I call this calf wrestling.  The cowboy jumps off his horse onto this little calf and wrestles it to the ground.  He has to have it down for a few seconds to get points.  Notice the 'Arizona Oncology' flag by the stands.  They are a major sponsor of the rodeo.

I had to admire the skill of the rider and the horse in this event even though it was kind of sad for the little cow.  The rider lasso's the cow, then jumps off the horse and ties it's legs together so it can't get away.  The horse holds the cow still with the rope.  The horse is like the seine skiff holding the boat for the set.  I was amazed at how integral the horse was to this activity.

In this event, two cowboys ride after the calf and one lassos the head and the other lassos the hind feet.  they winners are the ones who do it the fastest.

Women participate in Rodeos but not with the wild horses and bulls.  They race their horses around barrels.  There were riders from all over the region participating in this race against the clock.

Isn't this a beautiful horse.

The last event of the day was bull riding.  You can see the men in the stall helping the rider get on the angry bull.  The two men at the front of the stall will open the gate.  To the left of the stall is the clown, in a colorful shirt and white hat.  He will save the rider...really.

You can see by the clock, this guy did his 8 seconds on the bull, now he has to get off the wild thing.  He will be thrown or throw himself off the bull and the clowns will distract the bull so the bull doesn't step on the rider.  While the bull is chasing the clowns around, the rider is able to get away to safety.  This was a pretty exciting event.  While I was watching I didn't see anyone get hurt but I can't imagine that's always the case.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kartchner Caverns State Park

We spent a couple of days at the KOA park in South Tucson.  We were able to go to the  Gem and Mineral Show with Paige where we saw interesting and lovely treasures.  Paige knows an awful lot about rocks, which she turns into lovely jewelry.  I learned many things about rocks and will never look at the things the same way again.  Thank you Paige.

Doug and I decided to go to the Kartchner Caverns State Park for a couple of days.  This park is ideal because it is only about 45 miles Southeast of Tucson and it’s easy to find.  You take I-10 to Exit  302 and then take I-90 to the park entrance.  If you are in Tucson, you can just drive down and spend the day here and see the sites, hike and/or visit the caves, and then drive back. 

The wonderful thing about Kartchner Caverns State Park, are the caves.  Two men were spelunking (love this word)  back in 1974 and they found the caves.  They kept the caves a secret until 1978 when they told the Kartchner's, who owned of the property about them.  The Kartchner's approached the State of Arizona and after 10 years of negotiations, the State took over the caves in 1988.   The caves opened to the public in 1999.   The ‘live’ caves have many beautiful minerals and formations that have formed over the past 100,000 years.  There are two cave tours, which are about ½ mile each.  The Rotunda/Throne tour is about 1-1/2 hours long.  In this tour you will see the “Kubla Khan” which is the larges column formation in Arizona, among many other things.  The Big Room Tour from October 15th to April 15th, is about 1 hour and 45 minutes long.  It is very colorful and interesting.  Adults and children over 7 years of age can enjoy this tour.  There is a charge for each of the tours.  You can make reservations at or call (520) 586-2283.  There is also a little Bat Cave Cafe at the center so you don't have to pack a lunch.

In addition to the tours, the Discovery Center has interesting information about Cochise County and about the caves.  Cochise County has lovely scenery in places like the Chiricahua Mountains and the Coronado National Forest and the Riparian National Conservation Area as well as a  colorful history in Tucson,  Bisbee, Douglas and Tombstone.  

This park also has a very nice campground.  Like all of the Arizona State Parks, the campsites here are also far apart.  There are lots of mesquite trees so I bet in the spring, you don’t see your neighbors at all.  There are water and electric hookups.  There is a centrally located dump station that can accommodate two rigs.  The facilities are clean and the showers have good water pressure.  There are also handicapped showers at this park as well.  The trails are well marked and have interesting desert scenery.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak State Park is a little park just South of Phoenix and 44 miles North of Tucson off of I-10.  If you aren't looking for it you will probably drive right by it.  We enjoy spending a day or two at this park because there are many nice trails, some flat, some in the mountain.  There is only an electric hookup so we make sure we have water in our fresh water tank and room in the gray and black water tanks when we stay at this park.  The bathrooms and shower rooms are really clean and nice and the water pressure is good and the water is soft enough that you can work up a bubbly, lather.  We have ATT and this park is the only place we ever had all of the bars.  We also had more than 60 channels on the TV from the antenna.  There is wifi available at this park too.  I think you have to pay for it.  I'm not sure because I use my iphone as a hotspot to connect to the internet so I didn't explore the internet at the park.  While you can hear it trains and cars, not enough to take away from your enjoyment of this park.  The daily fee for a trailer is only $25.00.  

This saguaro cactus seems to be saying, "Howdy pardner, come on in."  This picture was taken on a trail through a flat area in the park.

This holy rock was also on the trail.

This was a mountain trail.  You can climb Picacho Peak and have a lovely view of the surrounding area.

This was our little camp space.  It was a pull through with a fire pit and table off to the right.

You can see a white RV in the distance.  It is traveling North on I-10.  There is a train track on the other side of the highway.  This photo was taken from our camp site so you can see the highway is sort of close to the campground.

This is a shot of a section of the campground.  You can see that the trailer sites are not on top of each other.  There is space between sites and all the sites aren't full.  I think that many people drive by and don't realize this park is where it is.

Friday, February 7, 2014


The Lost Dutchman State Park is in the Superstition Mountains, or what people around here call the Superstitions.  These mountains were sacred to the Apache and the Pima Indians.  Gold was mined out of this area from the Lost Dutchman Mine.  Now the Superstition Wilderness Area is managed by the Tonto National Forest and the Lost Dutchman State Park is managed by the State of Arizona.  We drove up here on a day trip last year and wanted to try out the campground.We were only able to stay here one night because this is a popular park. You need to make reservations in advance of your visit to this park.  Like the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, this park has water and electric hook ups but you have to dump at the central dump station.  

 We went for a little walk around the park soon after we arrived.  This is a tidy and eco friendly little park.  Note the Seahawks colors on the plastic recycle barrel.  I wonder if they're in.

I thought of my friend Paige when I saw this RV and had to take a picture.  I will be meeting Paige in a couple of days at the Tucson Rock and Gem Show.  

These lovely flowers lined all the paths.

 The coyote sun dial.

 Right or left?  That's become our running joke whenever we come to a fork in the road.  When we were at Disney with Jill in January, we were leaving the hotel to go to the pool.  Jill is just like her dad in that she doesn't do anything slow.  So, Jill was running out the door to the pool.  We were running too, trying to keep up.  We came to a fork in the path to the pool and she giggled, "Right or left."  Jill's stunned grandparents said, "Huh."  She said it again as she continued running ahead of us.  We said left and she took the left fork in the path.  To this day, whenever Doug and I are out running or walking or biking or whatever, and we come across a fork in the path, one of us will smile and say, "Right or left."

Doug, Cessna and I in front of the Superstition Mountains.

We didn't unhook since we were only spending the night.   We plugged into the power source and hooked the water up and called it good.  Pull throughs are sure nicer than back in sites.  This was a really nice little site.

 I built the fire...yay.  This was our first real fire of the vacation.  Last year we bought a propane fire pit and we use that instead of building a wood fire.  Wood fires make you feel like you are really out camping.  We sat by this fire and listened to the coyotes.  They have such a chirpy little yip.  We've been told to keep our dog close because coyote packs lure dogs in and then they attack and kill them.  It seems hard to believe because they don't sound vicious.  They sound chirpy and happy.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Punch Of Color

Dark colors seem to be in vogue right now and while I like brown, it's not a color I want EVERYWHERE!!  I am not quite sure who designs the decor for these little trailers, but it must be someone who lives in a cave.  The cupboards are dark brown, the floors are brown, the curtains are brown, everything is brown.  I have to admit, there is some logic in making the floors brown, but everything?

Our first trailer was small, very small.  It was a tiny little place, really too tiny for 2 people and a dog.  Our dog is a 95# chocolate lab, so it was like having another person in our little trailer. For all of us to fit in our first trailer, we had to put the dog on the bed so we could move around to do things like get dressed, make meals and etc.  We also had to keep a dog blanket on the bed that had to be washed regularly.  At the end of that trip, I went to JoAnn's and purchased 10 yards of naugahyde (dogahyde), which I cut in half and sewed together down the side.  This made a square big enough to lay over the top of our bed.  The following year, I didn't have to make regular trips to the laundry facility, I just had to vacuum the fur off the bed and wipe it with a clorox wipe or 3.  This bed-sized piece of naugahyde has been with us since then. I chose this color of naugahyde to match the decor of our first trailer.  And look, it matches this one too.....  BROWN.

It's a good thing we have so many windows, or this place would truly look like a cave.  My favorite color is blue and blue is a good color with brown, so I found some fabric at JoAnn's and recovered the brown bed pillows.  

I liked the way it looked so I thought I'd add some color to the dining/living room.  We have that open concept in our place.

Square pillows are easy to make and can add character to a space.  I thought I'd do a little tutorial, what the heck...My pillow forms were 18" square.  I always cut my fabric to the pillow measurement.  I like firm pillows so I don't add anything for seam allowance.  My fabric is 45" wide so I laid the fabric on the cutting board and cut an 18" strip.  I had a piece that measured 18" X 45."

You will want a piece that measures 18" X 36" so you will need to cut some of the length.  You can use whatever method works for you.  I lay the fabric on my cutting board with the salvage edge hanging off the board just a bit.

I folded the fabric at the 18" line.

I turn the fabric around and put the fold on the 0" line on the board.  I place the ruler on the 18" line and cut the excess fabric and the salvage edge off the fabric.  This leaves an 18" X 36" piece of fabric.

I fold the fabric in half, with right sides together. If you are using unwashed cotton fabric, you will have a crease where the center of the fabric used to be when your 45" piece was folded in half.  I press that out as much as possible.

Starting at the folded edge, sew a seam from one end of the fabric to the other, backstitching at each end.  Smooth the fabric out and make sure the piece is still square and all of the edges match.  If it isn't, or they don't, trim it.  Sew the other side from the folded edge to the bottom of the square, backstitching at both ends.  I used about a 3/8" seam.

You will have three closed ends now.  At the open end, sew a short seam about 2-3", backstitching at both ends, on both sides of the opening.  This gives good corner and makes the hand sewing easier.

There will be an opening at the bottom of your square to slide your pillow form into.  Before you put the pillow form in it, fold the raw edges under so they are the same size as the seam.  Press.  

If you fold your pillow form in half, it's easier to get it into your new pillow cover.  After you put the pillow inside, you hand stitch the opening, using a blind stitch.

I think I need to go back to JoAnn's and get some fabric to replace the seating covers so they match the colorful pillows;)