Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tucson Winter - Part A

Well, we left California on Thursday, October 24th at 8:45 a.m., crossed into the state of Arizona just before 1:00 p.m. and stopped for the night at Saddle Mountain RV Park near Tonopah AZ at 3:30 p.m.  Yesterday, Friday, October 25th, we left Saddle Mountain at about 10:00 a.m. and pulled into Lazy Days RV Park in south Tucson at 1:30 p.m.  Nice, short day!  Time for a nice relaxing winter in our new "home"...
Here's our home on wheels on our site.
Well, can't start relaxing quite yet.  After spending a few days settling in, on Wednesday, October 30th, we headed down to the airport and flew to San Antonio for John's VA physical on the 1st.  During that week we enjoyed spending some time with John's cousin Judy and her husband Rick.  In fact, they graciously let us stay with them!  We always have a good time hanging out with them and, among other things, we all enjoyed a trip to Dripping Springs for a soup bowl fundraiser and also checked out the Wimberley flea market.  Amazing place!   Impossible to see it all in one day!  On Wednesday, November 6th, we flew back to Tucson. 

Enjoyed all the fruit trees (grapefruit above) at Lazy Days...
After a few more weeks here, during which we lived our typical retiree life of visiting friends, going to an occasional movie, shopping, getting haircuts, doing laundry, etc. etc., I finally realized that - although John enjoyed it here, I was quite bored.  So bored, in fact, that one afternoon I actually went around the park and knocked on the door of every rig that sported Alaska license plates and organized an informal "dessert" gathering at the park's restaurant that evening.  We enjoyed visiting with about four other Alaskan couples.  But, this park had no organized activities and one can only visit local friends so much before you become annoying!  So, on Monday, November 25th, we spent the day touring three other RV parks, Rincon Country East, Voyager Resort, and Rincon Country West.  RCW got our vote: plenty of activities and the RV section had plenty of palm trees and even had separate pet and non-pet sections.  We don't have anything against pets but have to admit that it was nice not to listen to a barking dog right next door!
Rincon Country West's main street
So, on Sunday, December 1st, we pulled in the slide and drove the 10+ miles to Rincon Country West.  Think we're going to like it here...

Me hanging out on "our" patio

On Wednesday, December 4th, we toured the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  We always love tours and visits to gardens - so much to photograph!  This one even had a butterfly house...
Atlas Moth

Barrel Cactus

Fairy Duster


The next weekend, brother Sam & wife MaryAnn were in town for a softball tourney.  We went over to watch a game or two and then enjoyed a picnic dinner with them and the rest of the team at Voyager RV Resort.

Our 42nd anniversary arrived, so on Wednesday, December 11th we celebrated by driving down to Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico.

Our balcony view

Big thanks to Anchorage neighbor kid, Ryan, for passing along a gift certificate he and Louise were unable to use!  We had a wonderful time!!  After checking in we went over and played 9 holes of golf and then enjoyed a nice dinner down in their restaurant. 

On Thursday, December 12th, after wandering around to see the resort grounds...

...we checked out and drove home by way of Patagonia where I became the proud owner of a third Native American flute!  Fun!!  Also, in Patagonia we wandered around a little town park that had some cool painted tiles.  Couldn't resist playing with this photograph on the computer:

Original photograph
Version #1
Version #2

Version #3

Pretty long horns!

Beautiful views along Hwy. 80, 82 or 83 -
not sure exactly where we were!

Well, it's time for a holiday road trip...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

California Cool

Well, it’s another weekend.  But, as someone once told us, “The only problem with retirement is that you never get a day off!”  We arrived at Mountain Gate RV Park late yesterday afternoon after an uneventful drive from Coburg, Oregon.  We’ve stayed here before (last fall) and like this park.  But, since we’ve already explored this area pretty thoroughly, we left Mountain Gate at 10:00 a.m. today, Saturday, October 12th and arrived at Betabel RV Resort near San Juan Bautista at 5:30 p.m.  Time to explore more of California!
To be honest, I don't remember what we did on Sunday, October 13th.  Guess we must have taken a day off... 

Time for errands today, Monday, October 14th.  I recently managed to sit on my clip-on sunglasses while they were in my back pocket, so we headed down the road to Salinas so I could order some new prescription sunglasses.  Hard to drive without shades!  Also stopped at Best Buy for a look around and I picked up a little camera tripod.  After we returned home, I wandered around the park with my camera.  Some unusual flowers here!

Time to go sight-seeing again...  On Tuesday, October 15th, we headed over to Sunset State Beach near Watsonville.  It was a bit foggy for awhile but finally burned off and we enjoyed just hanging out and watching the various shorebirds - curlews, sandpipers, seagulls & pelicans.
Love watching the sandpipers run back and forth!

Tough life...

"Count to ten, whirl around and draw!"

Don't know this little girl and her grandmother, but love the photo!
This time (Wednesday, October 16th) we headed a bit more south to Monterey.  We've always enjoyed this place and did again.  We wandered around the waterfront & Cannery Row including a late lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.


California Sea Lion

Not wildflowers, but sure are striking!

Lots of flower beds on Cannery Row

A sparrow - maybe a House Sparrow?

Street scene on Cannery Row

North to Santa Cruz today, Thursday, October 17.  First we started at National Bridges State Beach and took a short hike to see the migrating Monarch butterflies. The trees were full of them, although you had to get fairly close to see them (click on the photograph to see them better).

We had planned to go for a bike ride from here but when we got the bikes out and set up we discovered a flat tire.  Sooooo, we headed into town to find a bike shop.  Found a great one - "Another Bike Shop" and they fixed the tire pronto.  While waiting we checked out "Companion Bakeshop" near by - yum! yum!  Found some pretty good rosemary bread there to take home.   We rode bikes on the trail along West Cliff Drive as far as Seal Rock.  It was crowded there but enjoyed watching the surfers.  We were right above them - way better than normal (normal is when you almost need binoculars to even see where your son is!!).

John resting and enjoying the wonderful view

Another view to the west

Warning: X-rated photograph above!

Not sure what these are...seagulls maybe?

Brown Pelicans

Showing off for our little groupies!

Love how Californians love the outdoors!

Surfer near Seal Rock

Just before we left, we heard bagpipes!  Never
know what you're gonna' see/hear in California...
Time to move to another area.  On Friday, October 18th we left San Juan Bautista at 11:10 a.m. and arrived at the Vines RV Resort near Paso Robles at 1:30 p.m.  Like these short travel days!  This is a fairly new resort and, other than some traffic noise, was pretty awesome.  They even had chandeliers in the bathrooms!  There was a fabulous library among other amenities.  Pretty nice...

On Saturday, October 19th we drove over to nearby Morro Bay.  It was foggy again in the morning as we were wandering around the Embarcadero, but started to clear before long.  We had a nice walk down the boardwalk out to Morro Rock and then came back to check out the outdoor displays at the future Maritime Museum before heading home. 

Harbor scene with 576' high Morro Rock in the background

Boardwalk out to Morro Rock

Beach scene near Morro Rock

U.S. Coast Guard Surf Rescue Boat

Hearst Castle has long been on our bucket lists, so on Sunday October 20th we drove north to the San Simeon area.  At the visitor center, we selected the hour-long Upstairs Suites Tour (complete with 332 stairs!).  The tour was quite interesting, the building was huge and very ornate, and the grounds and views were spectacular.  This definitely warrants a return visit someday so we can take some different tours.  Here is a little history taken from the tour brochure:

"Welcome to Hearst Castle, which William Randolph Hearst referred to as "the ranch at San Simeon."  A working family cattle ranch since 1865, it is also one of America's grandest country estates.  To fulfill Hearst's dream for the site, he hired California architect Julia Morgan.  She designed the Mediterranean Revival Style estate over twenty-eight years, from 1919-1947.  Hearst purchased historic European art which Morgan incorporated into an earthquake-resistant series of concrete and steel structures, creating this illusion of southern European Renaissance architecture.  Hearst formally named this hilltop 'La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill), reflecting his love of the land and southern European art and architecture.  So let the enchantment begin..."

One more interesting note: no more construction occurred after Hearst's death in 1951.  It remains unfinished to this day.  There were many more interesting anecdotes, and you might want to go hear them for yourself!  (Or, if you can't go personally, the website, has quite a few photographs.  Be sure to click on the "Tours" tab and then click on a specific tour and at the bottom of each page are additional photographs.)

Visitor Center

Part of Casa Grande (nicknamed "The Big House")

Our tour guide

Bed and headboard in the Doge's Suite

Ceiling in the Doge's Suite

Another hand-painted ceiling

Ceiling in The Gothic Suite where Hearst worked.

One of the Casa Grande bell towers

Steps up to The Main Terrace

Front view of the 69,000 square foot Casa Grande

One of the three cottages - each named for its view.

The Three Graces, one of the many
19th and 20th Century statues

View from Casa del Mar ("House of the Sea"),
one of the three cottages

Another view of Casa Grande

The Monarchs are here, too!

Found this lovely rose behind Casa Grande

View of Hearst Castle from the highway

The mighty Pacific...

A couple of zebra descendants that remain from Hearst's
original "zoo" can often be seen from the highway.

Today, Monday, October 21st, we headed back up Hwy. 1 past Hearst Castle to see the Northern Elephant Seals.  On the way back we stopped at the Hearst Beach Pier.  Also found a great little shop called Jack Creek Farms today on Hwy. 46 where we picked up some pretty good yummies!

"She's mine!" 
"No, I saw her first!"

Smelly creatures, but fun to see!


Looking south from Hearst Beach Pier.
Tomorrow we head down the road again, but wanted to visit a winery while we were in this area.  So on Tuesday, October 22nd, we went in search of Sculpterra Winery about 13 miles to the southeast.   Beautiful grounds and some pretty cool art, too!

Travel time...  On Wednesday, October 23rd, we packed up and left Paso Robles at 10:05 a.m. and arrived at Newberry Mountain RV Park in Newberry Springs at 4:00 p.m.  Tonight is our last night in California.  Time to settle in for the winter!