Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Well looks like driving back to the coast was a mistake….
The Spring breaks here are staggered – they start March 1 and end April 30 – the campgrounds are all full.  We entered a lottery, but our name wasn’t chosen.  In fact, we couldn’t get a site until the middle of April and even then you would be jumping sites every day and no availability on the weekends.  I am talking for 300km.
We wondered around aimlessly without a home for a day and a half and for those of you that know us – we do not like crowds or should I say -at least not around us - so we had a quick look at our one of our favorite surf spots and the bodies lined up on the beach and we jumped back in our van- which was the last thing we wanted to do after just spending 2 full days driving here.
We headed out without a plan.  We stopped by a horse show to see if we could stay there as we saw trailers in the parking lot , but you had to be part of the show in order to stay – thought about buying a horse -  but didn’t know where we would keep itJ

Tonight we find ourselves in the desert – Joshua Tree – the campground is full – and we are on free forest land –where there are no rules & no reservations required…..much more our speed.

We have no immediate plan other than maybe trying to find an airplane to get on…..even that has become complicated with our lack of cell service and nearly impossible WIFI time.  Stay tuned….

March 21-23, 2016
We stopped in Bryce Canyon to hike.   We choose the Fairyland Loop as it was the longest hike 13km and the best plan to avoid the crowds.  The weather was blustery – very windy – beautiful blue sky for the hike- but the dark clouds blew in during the last mile of our hike and a full Winter storm hit.
All the campgrounds were full, but we lucked out by staying at Ruby’s Inn - they opened up a couple of camping spots behind the hotel. 


We had a very windy night in the trailer and woke up to quite a bit of snow and icy roads.  We left the trailer and visited some of the look outs.   By mid- afternoon the snow was melting and we decided to make a run for the coast.   

March 11-13, 2016
Spent a few days hanging out in Salt Lake City– doing our favorite shops.  We went cross country skiing in Solitude and spent an afternoon in Park City.
March 14-19, 2016

Annual Ski Test for Backcountry Ski Magazine at Powder Mountain. 

Conditions were good.  First few days we had fresh snow and the last few days we had lots of sunshine.

It was really great to be back in the same house as the Riek Family – thanks for hanging out with us.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

March 5-10, 2016
Made it safely to Lake Tahoe.  Stopped by the shop for a quick visit with Jimbo and to pick up Woody –
Bill and I instantly fell in love with Woody – he is such a good puppy –  such a little love bug!
When we got to the house we were greeted warmly by Chuck and Jan.  They had left us a perfect little spot for our trailer, but they were having no part of us sleeping out there!

I have to say it was a really nice break to move into the house.   I loved climbing into the nice  big comfy bed, enjoyed the hot showers  and for those of you who don’t know our friend Jim -he is an amazing  chef, so every night dinner was out of this world!  Jim is also the best ski guide you could have in Tahoe.  He has spent decades skiing at Kirkwood and is a bit of a legend there…

We had a pretty big storm the night we arrived and the next morning while Jim was making his famous egg sandwichs – he mentioned to me that he thought the backcountry conditions might be a little bit challenging for me – the avalanche danger had changed from moderate to considerable – so the boys promised when they got back from their hike they would take me somewhere more suitable for me and the puppies.   

They had a great morning at Waterhouse and did live up to their promise to me and the puppies – I had fun in Jim’s backyard, or as the boys refer to it as Bremco Mountain.

The second day we went up to Kirkwood – There was quite a bit of fresh snow, but it was heavy and very challenging!!  The boys were itching to hit the powder, so I decided to ski on my own and practice some runs I found challenging – so we split up for the day.  Jim and Bill did some long traverses and hit some lighter snow.  I quite enjoyed the day to myself and going at my own pace; although I did miss Karen terribly and wished she was with me.

That evening we had a beautiful steak dinner and a delicious cake as it was our 17th Anniversary. 

Day 3 the boys went back to Kirkwood as we were still getting snow – they had a great day and came home tired as they hiked a not so secret – secret spot a couple of times.  Don’t want to give it awayJ       I went into town with Chuck and Jan and we enjoyed a nice lunch.   Jan and I did some downtown shopping and stopped at Starbucks for a fancy drink. 
We enjoyed our time in Tahoe so much – it was very hard to leave Jim, Chuck & Jan and Woody.  Woody even jumped in our trailer as we were packing up.   Chuck and Jan cooked us a huge breakfast before we headed out and Jan chased us down the driveway with a care package of homemade banana bread, apple bread and cookies – we are so very thankful for the friends in our lives and the part they each play in the building of memories during our adventure.


Sunday, 6 March 2016

March 3, 2016

We decided this morning to head for Yosemite National Park – it was on our list and this seemed a good a time as any to head there.
We stopped by the information booth to pick up some maps and to find out if there were any camp grounds open.  The elderly lady working the booth was incredibley helpful and found us well prepared to do anything while in Yosemite, so she gave us lots of options – she showed us the quintessential photo in her office and told us that was exactly what we were going to see at the end of the tunnel entering the park and she was exactly right – the only way we can think to describe it is -- it was like something Disney put together for a movie  – we stopped to enjoy the view and take some photos.
We found our way to the upper pines campground and got set up.
We took a little drive to get our bearings and checked out the shops and extravagant hotel – the Ahwahnee or what is now renamed the Majestic Yosemite Lodge and it is absolutely amazing – very grand!
We decided to start by hiking to the lower Yosemite Falls which was very beautiful – it is North America’s tallest waterfall at 2425 feet.  Our timing couldn’t have been better as far as seeing the waterfalls – I guess other seasons are not as spectacular.  As we looked up to the upper Falls and we decided that was where we wanted to be.   It was already 1:00, but we decided to go for it. 
We hit the summit around 4:00 – climbing 3000 vertical feet with over 100 switch backs –
One thing we learned quickly was if you want to truly experience Yosemite you need to exert yourself.
The view was like nothing I have experienced – I have seen several waterfalls in our travels and beautiful mountain views – but never have I been able to stand in 1 spot and have a 360 degree of pure raw beauty.

There was such a sense of peace at the top – I slowly made my way towards the edge to have a quick glance over the sheer cliff, 3000 feet is a long way down!  It took me a couple of tries before I was brave enough to take the narrow staircase that led to the final lookout – I thought to myself you hiked all the way up here – you are going to be disappointed if you don’t face this fear….. and yes it was absolutely worth it, but it did give me the willies.  I am so glad I did it!  I'm not done with Yosemite.



Meeting your neighbours is always fun at campgrounds – 
We met our first neighbour James from Alaska and his big dog Rufus – who loved to play ball with Bill and enjoyed sitting right next to Bill as he did his morning stretches on his mat–some mornings when we woke up Rufus was right at our trailer door – tail wagging –
Our other neighbour was a bit of a story teller and had lots to tell as he was in the entertainment business for 40 some years – his childhood was spent in Detroit and then he moved to California where he became High School friends with Kenny Loggins.  He pursued his dream of becoming a teacher, but left his teaching career in his early 20’s to go on the road with Kenny and become his Manager – He also managed Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac and he just finished working on the music for the movie Point Break which he says “bad movie, bad music” very humble man.
He also worked for David Letterman right up until he retired – His job was to organize and catalogue recordings of all the musical guests that appeared on Late Night with David Letterman -   We stood around for quite some time listening to his great stories.  He finished off by saying “yes, I have lots of great stories, but sometimes I wish I would have stuck with my teaching career as some of my students still keep in touch with me and invite me out for dinner and I like that I have had an influence on their life.  Maybe I could have influenced more young people had I stuck with it!”
I thought he was pretty cool….and I could see why his students didn't forget him...

February 26 – March 2, 2016
We made our way to El Capitan State Beach in the Santa Barbara area – we had visited this park on our last adventure and really liked it.
The campground was full, so they sent us up top to a parking area on the cliff.  It was a beautiful spot – we slept with our door open and listened to the waves crashing against the cliff – the stars were bright and you could see some oil rigs off in the distance.   It was pretty amazing to open your eyes in the morning to this view out the trailer door.
Bill surfed every morning right in the park – some mornings he even rode his bike there.  He really likes this point break – super easy paddle – very close to shore.   Unfortunately, the mornings were extremely foggy so I wasn’t able to get photos.
We spent some afternoons in Santa Barbara at Campus Point where Bill enjoyed SUPing.  He also SUPed at Rufugio State Beach.
We enjoyed mid- morning runs together.
I think we might spend some more time at El Capitan in late March or early April.
If I would have taken photos this is what it would have looked like:)

Just catching a nap!

It only takes 1 minute to connect with someone……
Going to the Laundromat can be such an experience….you basically have two choices:
1)  to go in with your head down and focus on the job at hand or
 2) you can let your guard down and meet the people who are there for the same reason you are…to get clean clothes…or maybe fate brings you together to teach you a lesson or to give you a snapshot of how others live their life…
It was definitely time for us to hit a laundromat while we were in Morro Bay – the laundromat wasn’t the cleanest one I have been in, but it wasn’t the worst either…
There was a young Latino family there doing their laundry.  Mom & dad with their 3 little girls and 1 newborn baby boy – I watched this family help each.  I saw several loving acts passed between them from kisses to the baby- to helping mom gather the soap & laundry baskets. All 3 of the little girls took turns caring for and feeding the newborn – while mom was busy folding clothes and feeding quarters into several of the machines.  Keep in mind this was a Thursday night at 8:30pm and I thought to myself imagine having 4 kids and not having a washing machine….the things we take for granted…
The girls shared a book and continued taking turns walking the newborn around the machines.  One little girl had her eye on Bill and eventually climbed up on the chair next to him – don’t know what it is about Bill, but kids flock to him.  Bill asked her what her name was and she answered in a quiet voice Carla – then Bill asked her about the book she was reading – Goosebumps – I caught the mom looking at us and smiling.  Carla continued to watch us as we finished up our laundry. 
When it was time to go she watched us walk to our van – I saw her leaning up against the glass and I waved….she quickly put her head down and then she was looking at us again and I said to Bill she wants you to wave to her, so he smiled and waved - her face lit up and she had the biggest smile and wave for him... we didn’t get to know the rest of the family’s names & we do not know where they live – but we are connected to them in some small way..