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Thursday, February 28, 2019

San Diego’s Little Italy- Farmers Market

It’s Saturday in San Diego and the Little Italy Secton of the city hosts a farmers market.

Driving into San Diego is not a big deal.  What is a big deal is finding a parking spot for the farmers market.

This is a wonderful farmers market that has a large variety of things for sale that attracts many.  I passed over a $10.00 parking lot with attendant saying it was too much money, and believing I could find streetside metered parking cheaper.  

I drove all around and well into downtown to finally find a street level parking lot that younpay for a ticket you put in your car window.  There was no indication of cost on the parking sign.

I go to the machine and it was $15 for 2 hours.  I said that was too much and kept driving.  Eventually, I was back next to the farmers market and yet another parking lot with the same meter setup as previously described for $15.  I trolled the small lot and finally asked and found people that were leaving.  Timing was good to get this spot.

Yes, after all that I paid $15 to park for 2 hours.  I had dropped the family off and by the time I caught up to them, they had seen about a 1/3 of the vendors without me.

I proved one thing in searching for a parking spot today, and that was supply and demand works.

We had a great time checking everything out and people watching.  It has been cold in San Diego this visit compared to last, but you can see in the picture that although it was cool it was a brilliant sunny day.

If your in the area on Saturday get to the farmers market early to find inexpensive streetside parking or just pay to park or you too will miss some of the market.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

San Diego Gulls Hockey Game

I visited my youngest son and family in San Diego for a second time during my 2019 Travels.  Spending time in the southwest gives me the opportunity to visit with usually under 6 hours of drive time to get there.  

This trip I focused on family happenings and with the ladies going out to a show on Saturday night, this gave my son and I time to get out and do something together.  

(Picture above was a screen capture on Google Maps)

We first went to a restaurant in La Jolla called “The Spot”.  It’s a pub style restaurant and we were early enough not to run into a dinner crowd.

My son had bought the Gulls Hockey tickets online to a nearly sold out crowd.  In fact when we got to the arena about a half hour before the game started, there were significant lines trying to get in through security checkpoints.

The game was a bit slow to start but after the first goal the game score went back and forth, often tied until the Gulls went forward to take the night.

It’s great to have had a variety of things that I’m done on my travels each year.  It breaks up the trip and makes my time on the road pass quickly.

I will catch up with my oldest son and family on my travels home.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Slot Canyon Trail, Borrego Springs, CA - Hike

I recently stayed at Ocotillo Wells State Park, CA for a night, on my way to San Diego to visit family.

In addition to doing some 4x4 on the back roads with my Tacoma/FWC camper, finding some desert flower bloom, I decided to check the adjoining Borrego Springs State Park, CA, just a few miles down the road.  

Driving in this portion of Borrego Springs SP, I came across “The Slot” Canyon.  I was surprised by the number of people at the trailhead, hiking The Slot.

Above is a picture of my truck and camper on the rim of the slot canyon.

From the surface this is what the slot canyon looks like.

Down in the slot canyon the hike is very narrow.  So narrow that I could not squeeze through many narrow portions of the slot with my backpack on.  In retrospect I should have noted others without backpacks.

And the slot got narrower.

Above yet even more narrow.

This group of people spent time checking out each of the narrows.

Looking overhead, this portion of the slot canyon wall slipped and is now wedged above our heads.

Eventually the slot canyon opens up and I hiked the wash to the end. 

At the end of the trail is this interesting rock formation with all these pockets along the top.  It’s possible to drive along the slot rim, although it is narrow in many places to one car width.

The opposite end parking area of the slot canyon is 4x4 only.  The road down from the rim is extremely steep and gravel.  There is a sign cautioning this.  I opted not to take my truck/camper down as there was no viable way out if I could not make it back up the hill.

After hiking the slot canyon I explored some of the 4x4 roads in the area.  One road in particular was very steep one vehicle wide.  I got to the top but could not see the road over the nose of my truck.  I had to get out to look and decided to turn around on the hill top, as it became too difficult to see the road in many spots due to hills being steep like this.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Seeing Vandwelling Friends Who Also Blog

(My photo from RTR)

When you become a vandweller you have a choice to be part of the vandwelling community or just keep arms length.  It’s a choice we all have.  Most of my vandwelling friends are blended like me.  We choose to be part of the community and possibly be fully engaged, and then later we recharge by being by ourselves or in small groups. 

At my first RTR I stayed mostly alone and progressively I got involved and participated in activities and became friends with others.  In the following years I sought out some of the rolls I have met and stay in touch with them throughout the year.

Before the RTR got real big last year it was easy to find and enjoy quality time with my vandwelling friends.  This and last year, without texting or messaging and sharing Google pin drops, we wouldn’t know where each other is located within the masses.

I’m going to share with you three of my friends who I’ve met that share with me at least one additional thing other than vandwelling, and that is they blog too.

(Screen capture from Blaze’s webpage)

One of my first friends calls herself Blaize and she has a blog under Rubber Tramp Artist.

(Screen capture from Blaze’s webpage)

Blaize is into art and is a member of the Art Camp At the RTR and she makes collages and jewelry. 

(Screen capture from Blaze’s webpage)

She is also an author of a book of stories from her experiences as a camp host.  She brings a sense of hummer to her writings that bring a smile to my face, especially since I know her.


(Screen capture from Dan’s webpage)

Another vandwelling friend is Dan and he too is on social media.  I first met Dan at a southeast gathering in Alabama as I worked my way home. So Dan has his blog Youtube and Instagram presence.

Dan an I have something else in common as we were both in the Fore Service.  A bond beyond vandwelling!

Dan’s Youtube video of me and my Prius

I was living in my Prius and Dan wanted to interview me in Alabama where we were camped.  He did an impromptu YouTube video of my Prius setup that people still find today.

(Screen capture from Amazon webpage)

Dan has just published a book on his thoughts or “Danism’s”

Finally Dan is a Bushcrafter. He loves to share his knowledge with others.  One in particular is starting a fire without matches using a bow and stick.  He is also getting good at making knives and sheaves too.


(Screen capture from Rocy’s webpage)

Last (but not least) on this post of vandwelling friends I follow is Roxy.  Roxy does a great job of giving those that follow her blog and now YouTube and Instagram insightful information about excellent hikes in the southwest, including beautiful photos she has taken.  Her hikes have inspired me quite a few times over the last few years to seek out and find places she has hiked.

(Screen capture from Roxy’s webpage)

My desire and drive to sit in the BLM lottery to get a permit and hike to “The Wave” on the AZ/UT border.
All I had to do is follow the steps she later out in her blog.

(Screen capture from Roxy’s webpage)

Here are a few other things about Roxy.  Is is an excellent photographer.  Here writings, although are online, are well refined.  In addition to photography she likes and writes poetry.  As her title “Nomad for Nature” portrays she is a strong advocate for preservation of our environment.  I try real hard to emulate this quality.


Summary:  Here are three of my vandwelling friends. Their stories, interests, and life trike and tribulations, go way beyond what I have written here.  

If you have the time check out the respective links above to what they have to share in their blogs.

Happy vandwelling.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - Desert View Trail

I don’t pay for camping or a place to stay very often, but when I do it’s usually federal Land.  Organ Pipe Nationsl Monument was one such visit this year.  At $20 per night and only having to pay half, having my senior card, I stayed two nights for a total of $20.

I met up with friends here and we toured the back roads with my friend Joanne’s Jeep. (See previous post on this adventure. “Puerto Blanco Drive, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument”)

Today, I hiked the Desert View Trail that is right off the main campground.  It’s an easy trail and less tan 2 miles, but it gives great views of the area and campground and ground cover seen in the area.

The trail winds up to the top of this small hill where there are plenty of Cactus to see.

You can see from the shadow I cast that it is late in the afternoon.

From the hill top, there was these fine Organ Pipe Cactus.  

(Above is a picture from a google search.)

Off in the distance to the east are the mountains where a park road, Aho Mountain Drive, travels to many sightseeing stops.  The road is in the shape of a balloon with a string attached.  The string portion is two-way and the balloon edge one-way.

Below the hill, is the campground where my Camping spot is.

This picture is my favorite from my visit with the right amount of light, shade mountains and a generous blue sky.

Organ Pipe National Monument is off the main roads, but is well worth a stop to see the beauty.  Don’t pass it by and you will see why I have returned often to visit.


Friday, February 22, 2019

2019 Lake Havasu City Fireworks Festival

I often attend the Lake Havasu City, AZ Fireworks Festival.  Above is the back of BLM land that I and friends stay on, about 1 mile straight to where the fireworks are set off.

In this picture, this is the same BLM land but closer to the highway.

I choose the back of the land as it has less people coming and going and it has the high ground we sit on to watch the fireworks from a distance.  

A few years ago I attended the fireworks show at the racetrack where it is held in Sara Park.  There is no substitute in seeing it up close provided the noise doesn’t bother you.  Sitting in the stands you can’t take the full fireworks in as it is left and right at ground level displays and the same in the sky.

You are so close that when the motars are launched the noise is loud.  As for the ground fireworks the heat is intense on bare skin.  

I tried to go into the show again last year and it was about 4:00 pm for the 7:30 pm show and the parking was full.  The year I went I went at 3:00 pm and slept in my Prius for a few hours before then getting inline to enter the bleacher area.  Then after putting stuff on the bleacher to save my seat, I hung around until the fireworks started.  Way too much down time and takes away from the event.

Each year they randomly set off fireworks before the show to help entertain the massive crowd.

Above is the view from the hill where we park for the night.  Here you can see many of the ground fireworks as well as all the aerial ones.

Most years it is cool at night but this year it was kind of cold and breezy making it feel cold.  I used my down overpants to stay warm.  Of course down jacket with layers underneath.  There will be a separate blog post on my down overpants and down booties.

Basically I dislike the cold so I need to feel warm.  It’s a short hike up the hill from my camper making this the easiest low cost option to see the fireworks show.

Look what I saw at the MacDonald’s on my side of town.  This guy is wearing the commemorative 30th Anniversary fireworks tee shirt, which is this year.

It’s also a pleasure to watch the ever changing sunset with a few fireworks mixed in sitting on the hill with friends having a good time.

Now if I was a diehard attendee I would get to Havasu about a week in advance and park across from Sara Park entrance on Arizona Trust Land as these camping spots are 1/4 to 1/2 mile away and no climbing a hill as you park on the side of the hill.  I do have an Arizona Trust Land permit, and this to will be a subject of a future post.

Above is a snapshot of my OnXHunt software I use to locate what land I’m on.  The green diagonal line is US95.  It’s a piece of map just south of Lake Havasu City.  The red pin on the left is Sara Park where the fireworks are set off.  It shows of Yellow for BLM land but it’s used by the city and land rights remain with the BLM.  The blue color is Arizona Trust Land and it requires it’s own permits to stay on the land but I’ve never heard of anyone checking permits.  The pin to the right just off the bluebon yellow is where the BLM land we stay on for the fireworks show.

What’s important to know is that if you work at it you could even have better digs than I have.  This year we had rain and a lot of it at the beginning of the fireworks event.  I stayed in Quartzsite, AZ, an hour and half south waiting for the rain to pass.  This BLM land is not very exciting as in reality it’s more like a sandpit.  The good news is that it works for many that come for the show.  Of course if your so inclined you could walk to see the fireworks and avoid the traffic. 

I can’t do the fireworks justice with my iPhone 7 camera as in low light it just keeps on trying to auto focus.  During the so called finale there are so many fireworks going up and on the ground display that your senses can be overwhelmed.

There were a number of new fireworks designs this year.  One was like a rocket that went higher than any other firework that I have seen.  At its peak height it has a small colorful display.  There also seemed to be new colors this year with fluorescent colors.  

The fireworks goes on each night until 10:30 pm and possibly later but our sitting around in the cold only lasts so long and the end we listen from our respective campers.

If your out this way in February you should try to get to see the fireworks as it’s a competition between western US fireworks companies and it doesn’t disappoint.  Just bring warm clothing and a chair.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Ocotillo Wells State Park - Bloom

This is my 6th year of travels and my second year of using my Tacoma / FWC camper.  This spot I found in Ocotillo Wells State Park, California is well off the main camping area, and beyond where I would take my Prius.  The abundant rain this year has made the desert green and has helped the desert flowers bloom beautifully.

I didn’t come here for the flowers, but to do some off-roading with my Tacoma 4x4.  When I saw this area I just stopped to check out the flowers.

What fun to find this mini bloom.  It adds to my wonderful travels and the excitement of finding some great photo to share.

What is also magnificent about this place is the foreground of flowers and the background of the darker hills and mountains behind.

I take all my phots with my iPhone 7.  I can’t do what big cameras do, but with a little creativity, like getting on the ground in the picture above, or the first picture above where I’m on my knees creates the perspective of interest.

I often find people on the road that are taking images of objects, like this one above where you stand above and shoot your camera down to the flowers.  A more interesting shot would be to enhance the photo image, but they don’t realize it.

Then we have this photo with foreground, mid ground, and background, the photo interest builds,

I often offer my suggestions to enhance someone’s photo.  The key is to develop “the eye” for the picture.  Take your time and frame your shots and eventually you will learn the tricks to use your cell phone too. Some tricks require kneeling, laying down, or climbing a hill or object.

I hope to find more flowers in the southwest before heading home come April, but it’s been very cold here compared to most years and the snow in the mountains between here and San Diego right now is unusual. Thus other blooms are probably delayed from other years.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

La Posa South - A Special ATV Tour

My Friend Camilla offered an excursion in her ATV from her camping spot in the La Posa South LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area). 

Camilla loves her ATV as it gets her the 3 miles to downtown Quartzsite and out into the hinterlands of the large BLM landmass here.

She said I’ll take you a nice area down by some mountains.  This is where our adventure actually started and where I started recording our tracks.

Camilla drove and she handed me her phone where she had a GPS map of off-road Quartzsite Trail Map.  She would tell me and I would confirm the turn on mostly unmarked trails.

It’s been cooler and wetter than normal in the desert, leaving lush green areas like the picture above.

Our next stop was this window rock in the Kofa Wildlife Management Area, adjacent to the BLM land.  Kofa property is posted against off road vehicles.

Above is my OnXHunt Sofware that I use to know what land I’m on.  You can see our location noted by the blue dot highlighting we were on BLM (yellow) and Kofa (Green).

As we were driving down a wash used for a trail we spotted this mine carved into the rock bank of the wash.

The next stop was a larger mine.  This opening is about 5’ tall.

Inside the mine entrance is this colorful quartz with green, reds and yellow coloring.

There are other surface mine shafts above this location.

Here is an Ocotillo plant flowering.

Down below my exploration is Camilla in her ATV.  So far we have been in roads and trails.  Little did I know I would get to see what that little machine can do.

Plants and landscape are always different at every turn out here.

The next part of our ATV travels got real rough.  All I could do was hang on as Camilla climbed over rocks and up and down embankments.  At one point we were following a trail through a wash.  It go to the point that it helped giving guidance to Camilla as I scouted the direction.  This also included moving some big rocks to provide a clear way to drive.

Finally, we were back on trails / roads that were much less challenging and headed back to Camilla’s camp.

Above, one more stop at this rock formation.  You can’t see them but there are little white cacti in between the cracks.  Camilla had to point them out or I wouldn’t have seen them either.

From the marked map above I estimated that we our off-road excursion was about 22 miles long.  It also show that we were out roaming around for about 2 hours 40 minutes.

Today, went places with the help of Camilla and her ATV that I could not have gone with my 4x4 Tacoma.

It was a great time this afternoon and I had fun with Camilla.  She is a very giving person and a very good ATV handler.  

Thanks for the good times.