Sunday, April 26, 2015

Old Town

No trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

They have docents dressed in period costumes and plenty of little shops and eateries.  Some of the buildings are original from the mid 1800s.  This was labeled as the original jail cell.  Yikes!

I liked this non-original flower-bedecked patio roof.

And there were some really pretty flowering trees.

Just outside of Old Town, we had a quick lunch at O'Hungry's - love the name.  I don't know how they convince people to tape perfectly good money to the walls.  Obviously, we passed on that.

Somebody really put a lot of effort into this sidewalk.

Next we stopped at Heritage Park which was a new attraction for me.  These houses were all built in the 1890s.  Aren't they beautiful?

They weren't open for tours, but just seeing the exteriors was fun.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cabrillo and Point Loma

Point Loma is reached by driving out a hilly peninsula which wraps around and protects the entrance to the San Diego Harbor.  It's a fitting place for Cabrillo National Monument and the statue commemorating Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who was the first European to set foot on the west coast of what is now the United States.  On September 28, 1542, Cabrillo's flotilla entered a harbor that he described as 'a closed and very good port.'  This was the site of present day San Diego.  

You have to wonder if he could have ever imagined how the area would develop.
(It would look even more built up in this picture, but that's a Naval Air Station between the statue and downtown San Diego.)

The monument is also home to the Point Loma lighthouse, which marked the entrance to the harbor from 1855 to 1891.  Sitting at 400 feet above sea level, the light could be seen from as far as 39 miles, but was sometimes obscured by fog.

It was replaced by the current Point Loma lighthouse which is situated near sea level at the tip of the peninsula.  It sends out a beam that flashes every 15 seconds and has a foghorn that can be heard by ships up to three miles out.

Also on the peninsula is Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation with a national cemetery.  When I was young, I thought Arlington, Virginia, was the only national cemetery.  Since then I realized that is far from the case.  It's mind boggling how many men and women fought for our freedom and are buried in one of these cemeteries.  It's both inspiring and shocking to me.

This is just a small section of the cemetery which encompasses 77.5 acres on both sides of the road with over 100,000 graves.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mission Bay

Next we moved to Mission Bay RV Resort which, in spite of being an RV park, was wonderful because of its location.  Also we used the Passport America discount.

As its name implies, the park is in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, possibly one of the best locations to be in the county.  There is a biking/walking path right from the park which goes for miles and miles.  Unfortunately, we never did get around to taking the bikes out, but we did walk the mile-plus loop around the neighboring mobile home park.

The double-wide mobiles are laid out so everybody has a view, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about the people on the path passing so close to my picture windows.

Cute tree decorations.

When we returned from our walk, we struck up a conversation with the owner of this adorable tiny house on wheels,  Jen had the trailer custom made and built the rest herself from the floor up.

She is quick to state that it is not an RV, but a tiny house that happens to be on wheels.  It's still a work in progress, but was completed enough for her to show it at the San Diego Earth Fair last weekend.

Here's her sleeping loft.

She has a blog at if you'd like to read about Jen's amazing project. There's also a link to an interview she did for San Diego Living which was very interesting.

So ended our first day at Mission Bay.  But I have one more picture.  As we were stopped at a red light, I looked over to see a strange sight.

In case you can't make it out, there are three seemingly perfectly good cars stuffed into a dumpster. What's up with that?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Little Gems (con't.)

Gem #2 was the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College - another freebie and a pleasant surprise.

I guess they do things in a big way.

Being a water conservation garden, you expect to see cactus and desert plants.

As well as palo verde trees, aloe, and other plants that we see in Mesa.

But they also showed how to create areas of low water usage which included some grass.

Isn't this lovely?  It's clivia lily (clivia miniata.)

I guess the garden takes a lot of trimming.

Butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) is popular with the monarch butterfly for its nectar and as a food source for the monarch caterpillar.  I had one of these plants when I lived in Florida and by the end of the summer, it was stripped of leaves.  I hope I helped out the monarch population.

I really enjoyed the garden and Ron read all the informational signs.  I guess it's a right brain/left brain thing.  Or maybe a Mars/Venus thing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Little Gems

Continuing westward, we hit the Elks in El Cajon for a few nights ($10 for boondocking.)  Using my Trip Adviser app, we found two really interesting spots to visit within a couple of miles.

First stop was the Mt. Helix Nature Theatre and Park.  Located on top of a 1300 foot hill, the park offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding San Diego county. Although it was much more spectacular in person, I will post my picture to the west where you might be able to make out the ocean.

And one to the south where Mexico is hidden in the blowing dust.
Granted it would have been better viewing on a less windy day.

This year marked the 90th year that Easter sunrise services were held in the park's amphitheater. What a great spot for that celebration!

I couldn't find any information on the height of the cross at the very top, but I'm guessing it's at least 30 ft.

Looking down, Ron and I wondered about this round house with all the solar panels.

Well, I happened to come across an article on this very house.  It rotates!  How cool.  To read the article, click here.  There's even a diagram of the house.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Road Trip

For the last day in our perfect campground, we decided to drive a loop - going north on the Sunrise Highway (and who could resist that name) or S1 and looping back on 79.

The Sunrise Highway was very pretty even at midday. 

With a steady climb, we were soon in among the pine trees where we saw lots of evidence of past fires.

With the wind, the views of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park were pretty dusty.

As we were about to turn back south on 79, we realized we were only 6 miles from Julian.  In the past, our visits to the cute little tourist town were during Thanksgiving week when the place is mobbed.  We thought this would be the time to see it without the crowds.

Julian is at over 4000 feet, so I was a bit surprised to see all the flowers in April.

I had the best quiche of my life at this cute cafe.  This mural really looked 3-D in person.  I wanted to walk right into it.

When in Julian, you must have apple pie.  I think it's a law.  We shared a slice of apple-boysenberry.  It was scrumptious.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hiking the PCT

As promised in the previous post, we loaded up our little 5 pound packs and took off from the campground heading south on the Pacific Crest Trail.  The other hikers we passed knew we were day trippers from the lack of 45 pound packs and the fact that we were going the wrong way.  The usual direction is to hike north from the Mexican border.  We exchanged minimal pleasantries because we didn't want to impede their progress.  After all, they had a long way to go.  At first I was surprised how many hikers we saw, but soon realized this is the perfect time of year to start this journey of 2,650 miles.

We soon realized that this section of the trail didn't live up to its 'crest' name.  It immediately took us into a valley and through the brush.

Then we made our way across an endless meadow . . .

Where we spotted the occasional interesting dead tree.

Then we traversed a small forest.  (Hey!  I just realized we went 'over the river and through the woods')

And just about the time the scenery got a lot more interesting, we turned around.

And back we went across the meadow.

But we did spot this stone owl watching over the PCT hikers..

Now I realize all 2,650 miles of the PCT can't be spectacular, but I just wish we had gone north for our longer leg.  Just from the short stretch we did the first day, we could see that was lovely. Next time.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

In Search of Quiet

Leaving the noisy RV park, we headed south to Palo Verde County Park for a quick stop.  Yes, it was quiet, but hot and full of mosquitoes.  Yikes.  We quickly parked in the shade and stayed in for the night.

The next day, we continued on 78, past the aptly-named Chocolate Mountains . . .

And right through the Imperial Sand Dunes.

I always wonder how often they have to plow the sand off the road.

At Brawley we cut south to I 8 in time to travel my favorite section of the interstate which passes among the boulder hills.  I always imagine that some giant baby stacked the rocks.  How weird is that?

At exit 51 we stopped at the rest area.  I knew the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was close by and asked the friendly maintenance guy about it.  He said it goes right through nearby Boulder Oaks campground.  I had looked at Boulder Oaks, a national forest campground, on my favorite Allstays app, but it was listed as closed from March to May for toad breeding season.  (I know, it sounds like a joke.)  But he said no, it's open.  And at 3300 feet, it's nice and cool.  Yippee!

Just look!  It's perfect.  We settled in for a three night stay.

I just love the idea of these long distance trails, but I'm not one to sleep outdoors.  My dream would be to do day hikes and have somebody pick me up each evening.  Of course at 5 miles a day, it would take 530 days to hike the 2,650 miles of the PCT from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.  Maybe I could work up to 7 miles a day.  Then it would only be 379 days.  Hum.

Instead, I guess I'll just be happy to hike short sections of the trail as we come across it.  We couldn't wait to get a taste and decided to go one direction for a short distance right away.  We picked north, saving south for the next day.  We only went about a mile, but were impressed by the views in that short distance.

The trail was completed in 1993, so it's relatively new.   Although our campground is only about 10 miles from the border, the trail is about 25 miles.

In 2011, Ron and I did a short section in Oregon.  Look at the work that went into making that part.