Cortez, Colorado: June 11-14, 2019

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Phil’s World, a singlespeeder’s paradise

 

From Prescott it took us seven plus hours to arrive at the KOA in Cortez.  Amelia is enamored with the brothers that own KOA Cortez and they are enamored with her.  It’s quite a little mutual admiration society.   And why not, all three have the same personalities: friendly, always greeting people, waving, and smiling.  The two brothers, Shawn and Bernie, run the best campground we’ve ever visited.  I had no doubt they would remember Amelia.

While Amelia went to the office to see her guys and check in, I was walking Sara around. I just had the sense something was different.  Amelia finally came out of the office with a disappointed look on her face.  The brothers had just sold the campground; escrow had closed over Memorial Day weekend.  We hope they got a bundle.  They really did a terrific job building up the business.  We miss them.  Hopefully the new owners can maintain the high standards.

Phil’s World is our favorite mountain bike ride.  I refer to it as singlespeed paradise.  I could go on and on with flowery adjectives and probably bore all the non riders to death.  Well, our favorite place just got better.  They’ve added more trails!  It’s a long haul from San Diego but we’ve got to figure out how to get a group of friends out here.

Up next uncharted territory!  How exciting 🙂

 

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Site 24 KOA Cortez

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Amelia on Lemonhead trail with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the background.

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Smooth Spreading Four O’Clocks dotted the landscape.

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Glow

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Female Cabbage White Butterfly on a Sunflower

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Scarlet Globemallow

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They are big on bones at Phil’s World.

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Sego Lily

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Wow, brand new trailhead, brand new trails, with more new trails to come!

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What a great use of BLM land!

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Amelia on the new Highline Trail

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Amelia said it’s time to get rid of this t-shirt.  What the heck it’s a perfectly good shirt for biking.

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We hit one brewery in Cortez: Wild Edge Brewing Collective.  Their IPA’s weren’t quite up to San Diego standards, but Amelia loved their sour beer, Razzmatazz, so much so she got herself a 32oz Can’teen to go.

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Sara goes absolute nuts over soft serve ice cream.  We had a nice lunch at Burger Boy.

 

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Evening light on Mesa Verde

 

 

Prescott, Arizona: June 7-11, 2019

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Sara’s bliss. Seventy-eight degrees, fifty-five miles per hour, eyes squinting, ears flapping and nose working overtime.

Prescott, the first stop on our big summer of ’19 trip.  The majority of our time will be spent in Colorado.  Prescott is about half way.  It took us eight hours.  The boss has put her foot down and said, “Never again will we drive that long.”

That’s probably a good idea. We were pretty tired when we arrived, so tired we got ourselves into a tight spot with a tree while trying to back into our site.  It was nearly a disaster.

The first three days the weather was in the mid 80s, which is manageable.  Our last day it was over 90.  No bueno.  The Airstream feels like a cave with all the windows closed, blinds down, and the noisy AC cranking.

We did three rides.  The first two rides we’ve done before, which helps eliminate the bickering on the trail about directions.  There’ll be plenty of time for that when we hit all the new places in Colorado.

The third ride was a new area called Spence Basin.  A fellow mountain biker in the campground gave us the tip.  He even gave us an updated map and laid out a trail by trail course for us, but we still managed to get turned around which led to some quality bickering.  Spence Basin was super fun.  If you mountain bike, put it on your list.

And remember kids, Prescott rhymes with Biscuit.

 

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Point of Rocks RV Campground site #54.  Same spot we had two years ago.

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The old girl swaying in the morning sun.

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Goodding’s Verbena lining the Badger Mountain Trail

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Some old guy I’ve never seen before trying to help us fix the drawer under one of the kitchen seats.  He couldn’t help us.  It’ll be one of those things that gets addressed when we are back in town.

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Finally someone saying something about the fake service animals.

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On the Pipeline Trail some clever person put little figurines of three people, a park bench, trees, and shrubs inside a broken portion of the pipe.

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West Side Story in Spence Basin

 

 

 

 

Ha, ha, ha, Russ T. Fender Trail in Spence Basin

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Tatanka Trail, guess where?  Spence Basin!  We really enjoyed it.

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New Mexico Locust

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Our last day it was ninety-one shitty degrees with eleven percent humidity.  At least the biking clothes dried super quick.

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Once the afternoon chores were done Amelia treated herself to an ice cold Tecate with salt and lime.

Hurricane: April 12-16, 2019

 

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Our girl

 

The more days that pass after a trip the harder I find it to write about it.  Right after Hurricane we went down to Cabo for a wedding.  And just one week later my perspective of the Hurricane trip has changed.

Two weeks before the trip our sweet little Puggle Sara was diagnosed with Transitional Cell Carcinoma.  She has a small cancerous mass in her bladder.  She’s probably 10 years old, so we decided against any invasive surgery and/or chemo, instead she’s taking an NSAID, Piroxicam, and Misoprostol to protect her stomach lining.  Piroxicam can sometimes slow down the growth, and in some instances reduce the size of the mass.  It’s hard for the vet to guess how much time she has left.  It could be six months, or more or less.  So this trip was very melancholic.  We were also struggling with the thought of leaving Sara for the first time ever when we went to Cabo.  She’s never been without at least one of us.  It all probably sounds silly if you have kids.

We were joined in Hurricane by our friend Michelle and her dad Jim.  We stayed at WillowWind RV Park and they were across the street at a new hotel.  It’s always a blast riding out there.  We had dinners together at the Airstream, told stories, Amelia and Michelle reminisced about all the girls they used to ride with, and we all learned a little more about each other.

A couple of noteworthy things occurred on the trail.

On day one, before Michelle and her dad arrived we rode Gooseberry Mesa.  Immediately we ran into a bunch of people wearing bib numbers and walking.  What the heck?  We’ve only ever seen bikes on the awesome Gooseberry rock.  We asked one of them.  It was a 50K run.  How strange seeing people not on bikes.  And they were always coming directly at us.

On day three, we rode the J.E.M. trail, a super fun, one direction, downhill single track with wide open vistas, and beautiful scenery.  It’s a grinning ear to ear, hauling ass trail.  The kind of trail you relive as you fall asleep on the day you rode it.

So I’m flying down the trail and in the distance I see a large group of riders.  As I get closer I can see that they are coming towards me!  Hello! One way downhill!  There were three families, some trying to ride and others pushing their bikes.  I slow down so I won’t send them all flying like bowling pins.  Then a mom says, “Please be careful, there’s a little five year old girl coming.”

Good God, why aren’t you people at Disneyland?  I know I sound like a sourpuss, but what the hell are these people doing?  It’s totally dangerous going the wrong way on a one way trail.

If you really want to hear a rant ask Amelia about all the new cheater lines on the Hurricane Rim Trail.  That really burns her up.

 

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Site 122.  WillowWind is looking more and more like a Motor Coach Resort.  There were many of these big $$$ rigs like the one next to us.

 

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New singletrack signage

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Gooseberry Mesa

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Three of the 50K walkers in the background

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Trail marker art

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Michelle and her dad Jim at Churchrocks

 

 

Who’s who?  These girls have great form.

 

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Michelle and Amelia, Little Creek Mesa

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The amazing rock of Little Creek Mesa

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Fremont’s Barberry Bush

 

We saw a lot of trees in town with Western Tent Caterpillar infestation.

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How about them Canadians, eh?  What a great license plate.

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I think this is the first time we’ve seen Clear Gas Ethanol-Free, whatever that is.

 

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Gould Trail

Mel Brooks

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California Poppies

 

The super bloom is going off in the greater San Diego area!  There’s a mountain biking spot out by Santee Lakes that’s called Mel Brooks Trail System.  The names of the trails are Mel Brooks themed.  There’s Blazing Saddles, Candygram, High Anxiety, and Space Balls to name a few.  All of these pictures were taken there on Saturday April 6th and Tuesday the 9th.

Please let me know if I’ve misidentified any flowers.  Enjoy!

 

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Blazing Saddles trail marker

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Purple Owl’s Clover

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California Sun Cup

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Checkerbloom

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Deerweed lined trail

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Blue Eyed Grass

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Amelia splashing through a creek on Saturday. 

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Creamcups

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Goldfields

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Meadow of Purple Owl’s Clover and Goldfields

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Common Phacelia

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San Diego Pea

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Small-flowered Catchfly

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Colorful singletrack

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Bush Mallow

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San Diego Goldenstar

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Red Bush Monkeyflower

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Thickleaf Yerba Santa

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On Tuesday, poor Amelia was at work while I had fun with Bill and Marianne.

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Chia

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Ground Pink

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Black Sage

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There were fields of Blue Dicks.  Here’s a lonely one.

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Redskin Onion

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And finally my new favorite, Johnny-Jump-Up

The Largest State Park: March 8-10, 2019

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The blogger and Judy Taylor performing “Ring of Fire” in the Agua Caliente County Park Clubhouse.

 

Lucky us!  The largest state park in the contiguous United States is in our backyard.  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is over a 1,000 square miles.  It is one fifth of San Diego County.  We’ve been visiting it for years and still haven’t come close to seeing all there is to see.  This trip we met another family at Agua Caliente for a too short of a weekend trip.  Agua Caliente is a San Diego County Park.  It’s right next to and surrounded by Anza-Borrego.  This was our fourth visit with the Airstream.  And it’s the most flowers we’ve ever seen at this end of Anza-Borrego.

With the flowers come all the Painted Lady butterflies.  There must’ve been a bazillion of them flitting around.  While we were off roading, Amelia and her friend would flinch and be bummed every time we hit one. On Sunday as we were leaving, we killed so many it was crazy.  The windshield, front grill, and front of the Airstream were covered in the yellow green pollen guts.  I didn’t take any pictures because I assumed you wouldn’t want to see the carnage.

It’s really refreshing to observe and interact with people that are enthusiastic about their jobs.  We met two such people this trip.  The first was the young lady working the booth at the campground as we pulled in early Friday afternoon.  She was so happy about all the flowers.  Her fervor was infectious.  She went above and beyond her duties as a Ranger and took a bunch of little Home Depot landscaping flags to identify the flowers along the 1.4 mile Moonlight Canyon hike.  Just like two weeks ago, it was windy this trip and Allison was concerned her flags might be blown away.  We only found one that was uprooted and Amelia replanted it.  Kudos to Ranger Allison!

The second was Judy Taylor.  A professional entertainer, musician, leader of The Wild Oats, an all girls western swing band. She’s also a wild west performer, doing fancy rope tricks, gun spinning, and bull whips!  I have no idea how much the county paid her to show up and entertain their guests for an hour at 3pm on a Saturday, but in front of 25 people she was engaging and very interactive with the audience.  A pro’s pro and you can tell she really enjoys it.

 

 

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Site #100

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Super job Ranger Allison!

 

 

Ghost Flower fun fact: the inside looks like a she bee to attract the he bees.

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Bigelow’s Monkeyflower

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Desert Holly

 

 

Shrubby Deervetch

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Booth’s Evening Primrose

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I love this picture! In the background that’s Amelia, D, J, and A walking up the trail

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Rock Daisy

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Pygmy Poppy

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This isn’t a dead end.  The slot turned left.  It’s just one of many slots in Canyon Sin Nombre.

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Common Phacelia

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A cool collapsed mud cave in the Arroyo Tapiado area.  We also went into a pitch dark mud cave.

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Bristly Fiddleneck

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J and Amelia hugging the tallest barrel cactus any of us ever remember seeing.

 

 

Fishhook cactus, one tough son of a gun, growing out of a rock.

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If you pay close attention you can find pottery shards from the Native Americans.

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Half Beagle

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Buddy and A 🙂

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D, Buddy, and Sara.  Buddy is a Tibetan Spaniel.  On Friday night Sara got jealous when Buddy sat next to me!

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Nice humor

First Bloom Pulse, Anza-Borrego: February 15-17, 2019

 

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A Borrego bouquet

 

It has been an abnormally rainy year for us in San Diego County.  For our followers not from SoCal you’ll probably just laugh when you read this, but we received over three inches last week from just one storm!  Out in the desert, Borrego Springs received over two and half inches.  That’s a deluge for us.  The rainfall has been nicely spaced out, creating a rare first bloom pulse that’s peaking right now.

The more common spring pulse will be a monster bloom in a few weeks.  It should rival the super bloom of 2017 and last even longer.  The city of Borrego Springs swears they are ready this time for the onslaught of people, aka flowergeddon.  I hope so.  Meanwhile, we caught a really nice early show without huge crowds.  The desert floor may not have been a multi-colored carpet of flowers, but the flowers were still plentiful and beautiful in spots.

The weather was cold and windy.  For us that means daytime temps in the low 50s with 20 mph winds.  Not exactly sit in front of your Airstream in the evening, sip beer, wave to passersby, and watch the sunset weather.

Our nephew, T, and his girlfriend, D, came out on Saturday and spent the night.  We played tour guide and showed them around.  After dinner and multiple games of Uno it was time to call it a night.  The young lovers moved their truck to the leeward side of the Airstream.  Then crawled into their sleeping bags under a mound of blankets in the bed of the truck.  The wind was howling.  It was cold and the sky bright from the near full moon.

The old lovers took a nice hot shower in their Airstream, jumped into their comfy bed with a warm quilt cover, turned off the lights, and it was dark.

Of course, Amelia was worried sick about them.

I wasn’t.

 

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Not so dry Clark Dry Lake

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Even the Puggle couldn’t believe it.

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This is what it almost always looks like.

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Rockhouse Trail Boondocking

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A cactus farm we stumbled upon at the end of Borrego Valley Road.

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San Diego County’s newest library

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It’s nice checking out books and DVDs in Borrego and then returning them to the county library two miles from our house!

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Wind bent Desert Sunflowers

 

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Arizona Lupine and Amelia in the distance

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Orcutt’s Woody Aster

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Dune Evening Primrose

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Amelia, D, and T in the South Palm Wash Slot

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California Spectacle Pod

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Desert Tobacco

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Desert Lily

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Up close shot of Sand Verbena

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Sand Verbena grows in the sand, duh!

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The young lovers in a field of flowers at Arroyo Salida

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Wild Heliotrope

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Desert Chicory

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Desert Gold Poppies

 

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Old girl trying to warm her old bones on a cold windy day.

Cold snowy Sedona: December 29, 2018 – New Year’s Day

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New Year’s Eve

 

Of course we were tracking the weather.  MMRP was cold and we knew Sedona was going to be colder with a possibility of snow.  So when checking in to the Rancho Sedona RV Park we changed our reservations to three nights instead of five.

They say Sedona occasionally gets a dusting of snow, then it quickly melts. On Christmas Eve they got a few inches and five days later there were only small thin patches on some of the trails that never get sun this time of the year.  On New Year’s Eve day in six hours it snowed six inches!

New Year’s Day it was 12 degrees at 9am while we were laboring to get hitched up for various reasons, all related to it being 12 degrees with snow on the ground.  Finally we put the Tundra in four wheel drive and got out of that place.

Sedona is a beautiful area with a ton of great mountain biking, but boy oh boy is it ever crowded.  Too crowded for us.  But then again we always seem to be there on a holiday since we are on a teacher’s schedule.  One never knows, but we may not be back to Sedona until Amelia is retired and we can go mid week during the off season.

Once again, we had safe passage on the I-8!  Someone recently asked me if I use filters on the photos.  My response was, “What are you talking about?”

 

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There were many Airstreams in the RV Park.  This old beat up one was my favorite.

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Bundled up, cold, and wanting Vitamin D

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Mescal Trail

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Sara said, “F this!”  And hauled ass back to the Airstream after peeing.

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Not exactly our idea of bike riding weather.

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Century Plant

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Prickly Pear Cactus

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Amelia just had to make a snow angel…

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…and a heart.

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Amelia’s two Gregs

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Rancho Sedona RV Park

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Rock owls

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Cold beautiful New Year’s Day sunrise

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Taken through the passenger window while driving out of town

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Swaths of Sand Verbena, Desert Sunflower in the foreground.  This was a spot on the I-8 between Dateland and Yuma .  We were lucky enough to be able to pull over and walk through the fields.  Four hours earlier we were freezing our you know what off in 12 degree weather.

 

Próspero Año Nuevo

 

 

 

MMRP Vol. 2: Christmas – December 29, 2018

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Merry Christmas sunset

 

Just like last year, we decided to spend Christmas at McDowell Mountain Regional Park (MMRP) in the Scottsdale area.  This time the Birches traveled with us.  So we figured safety in numbers and again risked life and limb and drove the I-8 along the border.  Once again we didn’t see hide nor hair of the Mexican Cartel or the Caravan.  Maybe they both take the holidays off from spreading disease and raping and pillaging the United States of America.  (This is when you are supposed to laugh.)

The little missus was adamant about not spending Christmas Eve and morning in the Yuma Walmart parking lot.  So we researched our options and found a decent spot only twenty minutes out of our way off of the US 95 by Mittry Lake Wildlife Area.  The next day we just continued north on the US 95, a stretch of road we’ve never been on before, through Quartzite, then east on the I-10.  We couldn’t believe all the blooming Sand Verbena and Brittle Bush.  Fields of purple and yellow were everywhere.  It looked like springtime, not Christmas Day.

Quartzite area was as advertised: a massive boondocking area packed with rigs of all types.  It made Clark Dry Lake out in Borrego look like nothing.

After over five years of Airstreaming we are calling MMRP our favorite campground.  It’s spacious, quiet, 360 degree views, no generators, and biking right from your front door.  The only thing it’s lacking is full hook ups, instead it’s just electric and water, but the free hot showers are great!

We knew the cold snap was coming, and it came.   Lows in the 30s and highs in the mid 40’s with a biting wind.  A solid 25-30 degrees cooler than our last visit.  Not our favorite biking weather, but we certainly weren’t going to stay holed up in the Airstream bitching and moaning about it.  We had a special treat this trip: our mountain biking friends, Quan and EJ, from San Diego were in Scottsdale and we toured them around the trails two consecutive days.  It’s always fun riding with a group of friends.

 

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Nice boondock spot before Mittry Lake and our one and only warm day.

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Cold MMRP, site 80

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Our Christmas present

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Jackass Junction

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A nice memorial tribute plaque at Jackass Junction

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Amelia and Old Man Birch

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An early blooming Owl’s Clover

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Old Girl Sara and Old Man Birch

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EJ & Quan

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Amelia

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Amelia & Quan

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Even though it’s chilly the dark blue mat and Airstream radiate heat.

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The obligatory Saguaro shot

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Just another beautiful sunrise

 

Happy Holidays to all!  Now we are off to cold Sedona to ring in the New Year.

 

Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach: November 17-21, 2018

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Hope springs eternal

 

It’s been a hell of a November in California.  The mass killing of 12 people at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks.  Not too far from the mass killing, the Woolsey Fire started, and on the same day the Camp Fire in Paradise begin raging completely out of control.  The devastating pictures, news, and death from the Camp Fire just keeps coming.  It’s hard to pretend all is normal and we had a sense of guilt loading up the Airstream to go on a vacation while so many of our fellow Californians are suffering.

Crystal Cove is a small campground with only 60 sites.  Half the sites are full hook-up, the other half are dry camping.  We were in a dry camping site.  Like all coastal campgrounds, you need to book your dates six months in advance.  We had a one day crossover with Denise and Rob, which is too short, but it was still nice to see them in person.

This time of the year with the short days and the sun never getting high up in the air, four days is about the limit for solar, especially if you want to watch a movie at night.  Every afternoon the generator wars began and our neighbor was always the winner.  His was the loudest and he ran it the longest.  And he was a tent camper!  I tried to peek into the tent to see what he was running off the generator, but I couldn’t ever get a good look.  My guess—he was running a TV or maybe they were gamers.

We did two rides: Crystal Cove and Aliso and Woods Canyons.  Both rides have a lot of steep fire roads.  Of the two, Aliso and Wood Canyons was the best, but neither were single speed friendly.  If we lived in Orange County I would have to break down and get a geared bike.

When we are out in the Airstream we are pretty much attached at the hip.  This trip I had to go up to Santa Maria on Tuesday for a one day business trip.  I left in the dark at 5:20am and returned in the dark at 10pm.  Five of us went: I picked up three of the guys in Tustin, then we got the fourth guy at the Santa Barbara airport.

Here’s a pro tip: don’t lock your bikes to the picnic table, then drive away with the keys, like I did, especially if your wife has plans to ride.  It makes for a very unhappy wife.

 

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Site #59

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There’s over three million people in Orange County, yet the beach was virtually empty, and this was Sunday.  That’s Denise and Amelia.

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Sunset our first evening

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Shelli, myself, Bianca, and Amelia on a fire road at Crystal Cove.

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Coyote Run Trail at Aliso and Wood Canyons

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Car Wreck Trail at Aliso and Wood Canyons.  One of the steepest and gnarliest hike a bike we have ever done.

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Her spot under the table.

 

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Rock and sand

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Sara and her old boyfriend, Osborne, had a date at The Stand Natural Foods in Laguna Beach.

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Oops!  All locked up.

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About a hour before Amelia figured out I had the key to the lock, the Tundra had a tire blow out on the 405.

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We limped off the freeway and put on the spare at the corner of Sepulveda and Burbank.

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The Xperience Marketing team before our tour of Fresh Venture Foods. From L to R; Scott, myself, Katie, Vinny, Ryan, and Billy.

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Just another Airstream adventure…

Pinezanita RV Park & Campgrounds: September 28-30, 2018

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Site 108

 

I have a theory about weekend getaways.  The older you get the tougher they become.  Two nights is no time at all.  When we were in our 20s and 30s we didn’t think twice about driving 375 miles one way for a quick weekend trip to Mammoth.  Now only two nights is almost a deal breaker.  This weekend getaway was digestible because Amelia took a half day off on Friday and we were able to hit the road at 1:30pm and our destination was only 44 miles away!

Pinezanita is 4 miles south of Julian and only 20 minutes from great mountain biking in the Lagunas and Cuyamaca.  It has been family owned and operated for 50 years and we had never heard of it until three weeks ago.  It’s a large facility with over 200 sites spread over 26 acres, so it doesn’t feel cramped.

I’m guessing at least half of the sites are part of their Cabins in the Mountains program.  RVs are kept year round on their site.  The owners use and treat them like vacation homes.  It was really interesting seeing RVs, not single or doublewide trailers, with lattices around the bottom.  Some had attached decks and/or patios, but all had personalized landscaping, patio furniture, and knickknacks.

When making reservations they do a nice job of putting all the families in one section of the campground and couples like us in another section far away.  It was really quiet in the evening in our section, even though we had neighbors.  If you plan on going without kids try to get one of the following sites; 108,110, 112, 114, 116, 118, or 120.  In our opinion these are the best sites, but they are only electric and water.  If you must have full hook ups, there’s plenty of those sites, but they are more bunched together.

Driving home through Julian at 1:30pm on Sunday was a real eye opener.  What a crowd scene!  It’s like a miniature Jackson Hole, Ketchum Idaho, or any other tourist trap.  It really made us realize we live in our own little bubble.  Oh well, as they said in the 60’s, different strokes for different folks.

 

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Everytime we bring the Airstream home to pack up for a trip Sara gets excited to see her expensive dog house on wheels.

 

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A good look at the grounds of Pinezanita.

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Amelia on Red Tail trail in the Lagunas.

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Itty Bitty Biker and DJP with Amelia on the observatory deck.  They have a sweet little forest service cabin in the Lagunas.  We met them there and they lead us on a nice couples ride right from their cabin and showed us some new dirt!

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The view from the observatory deck.

 

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The old Shasta trailers with wings are really cool, almost as cool as Airstreams.

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Who says there are no seasons in San Diego County?

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Forever the professional teacher, picking up leaves for a fall project in the classroom.

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An example of the Cabin in the Mountains program.

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Site 28 says Howdy, another Cabin in the Mountains.

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Team Ninja girls, Quan and Teri flying down Upper Noble Canyon.

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The four of us, myself, Amelia and the Ninja girls just came down Noble Canyon.  We were taking a break before the dreaded asphalt climb up Pine Creek Rd.

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She’s sad to be back in storage.