Saturday, January 31, 2015

It Is Really Grand: The Grand Canyon

When we reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the fog was so thick we couldn't see the path. We walked along the path gingerly so we wouldn't take a wrong turn and hoped that the fog would lift in a few minutes. After an hour, we decided to get a camp site and try our luck in the morning. Once we registered our site, we went back to the rim where the fog had lifted enough so that we could see the bottom of the canyon. The fog looked like icing on a very large layer cake. 

Beth has a big smile when the fog lifts and the canyon comes into view. 

Shadows and fog over the Grand Canyon. 

Java meets new friends at the South Rim. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oracle, Arizona

Sunrise in Oracle AZ
I'm sitting on the south-facing veranda of our friends' casita in Oracle, Arizona watching the sun rise over the small orchard in the yard. The sky is a bright orange after a star-lit night. And such stars as I've never seen. The air is clear and clean and we are far from the city lights of Phoenix and Tucson. In fact Oracle is designated as a dark sky site by Dark Sky International.

On the veranda the sun is up and burning away the chill of the night. Java is basking in the sun on stones that are beating quickly. Soon, Beth and I have moved our chairs to the sun and are also basking. Java oscillated from warm stones in the sun to cool ones further away and back again. She knows how to live. I'm starting to get the hang of it. 

The casita was once a chicken coop that the gardener converted to a grand bedroom. That shed was extended to create a companion room for sitting and dining. It's a lovely space created with many local and homey touches fitting for the area. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Santa Barbara in January

Santa Barbara has blooming flowers in January! It's hard for me to get my head around that fact. I'm used to frozen ground covered with snow. The only gardening is some pruning once a short thaw has reduced the snow cover a bit. 

Beth and Java got to play at the beach near UCSB. 

During a wine tour near Stearns Pier in Santa Barbara, we saw an Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile—an unlikely sight, I would have thought. I lived for a time in the 80s near an Oscar Meyer facility at which an older Weiner Mobile was parked. Back then, I saw it regularly. 

The mission in Solvang, which got its mission bell in a second wave of missions. The Mexican government secularized it and eventually the ranch it was on was sold to Danes. The Danes created a folk school. Now it is a tourist village with a Danish-wine motif. 

We did sample some of the Santa Barbara County wine. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The RV Life

We are sitting at the Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego cleaning the mini-motor home that my generous brother loaned us to try out the RV life. We pushed from Chicago across the southern plains to get to better weather—we have it now. The temperature is mid to upper 60s with a few lazy clouds. The routine includes walking Java along the Bay, making coffee, and preparing for the day. We don't have far to go today, just to the other side of town where we are meeting our cross-street neighbors from Chicago who have taken an apartment in San Diego. Tomorrow we get to sail with them.

I met a women in the laundry room who said they had been here a week and are moving on to Riverside where there is a nice park. She's a full-timer and only stays a few days at any spot. Next for her is Lake Perris State Recreaction Area near Riverside, CA. We have not not found our perfect campsite or RV park yet. Campsites usually offer scenic beauty and natural recreation like hiking. RV parks are similar to motels near cities or attractions. In the oil-producing states, RV parks are filled with working men. In LA, filled with movie-industry workers. We've come to rely on AAA and Google reviews of sites to judge appearance and cleanliness. It's an art to read a review and get the correct image of a place.