Saturday, March 27, 2010

Laying Low

I had all sorts of things planned for the week and only one thing happened; my tooth exploded.  Well, not really, but I developed a bad infection around one of my crowns and until that gets cleared up we won't be able to figure out what's going on. The dentist warned me I may be facing a root canal or a bone graft.  Gee, and the good news would be?  Sigh.

I did stuff myself with pain meds for a round of golf with friends Dan and Dee but that apparently was pushing it because for the last two days I've been in a lot of pain and my face looks like something out of the Phantom of the Opera.  Therefore, I've spent my time laying around with a cold washcloth on my face instead of sightseeing.  As Denny says, it will all be here the next time we come through. Yeah, but I wanted to see it THIS time around, dang it! 
Don and Vicki arrive tomorrow; we'll have happy hour with them and Dan and Dee and then the RV Vagabonds will be heading back to Arizona for a couple of weeks.  Places to go, people to see, things to do, don'cha know?  Or not, depending on this darned tooth.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Afternoon at Ivey Ranch GC

What can I say?  I'm a sucker for waterfalls and flowers and on the fourth hole of the Ivey Ranch Golf Course in Thousand Palms, California there is a waterfall surrounded by flowers in the middle of the fairway.  Yay!

Denny and I played on Sunday afternoon when the rates to play 18 holes was $25 per person with a cart.  Ivey Ranch is a nine-hole golf course set in the middle of a secured and gated 55+ community.  The fairways are narrow due to the homes lining both sides, but the fairways are lush, the greens are well-manicured bent grass and the course itself is well maintained.  You are not allowed to walk the course due to the amount of play in the winter, but it's a pleasant and nicely challenging course with a couple of ponds to hit over and quite a few sand traps sprinkled around the greens (I know because I found several of them.)  People who play here will allow you to play through, although we played 18 holes in 4 hours despite waiting on every hole, so the golfers here aren't slouchers.

For those who track such things, the slope rating is 102, the course rating is 33.2, the course itself is 2,656 yards long from the blue (farthest) tees.  There is a pro shop with the friendliest staff I've ever dealt with, a restaurant and bar, a putting green, chipping area and driving range.

And a waterfall!  If I had the money and the willingness to settle down, I think I could live here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Desert Oasis

Bored with walking the asphalt paved campground streets, I talked Denny into wandering around the Coachella Valley Preserve, home of the California Fan Palm tree and the Fringe-toed lizard.  The 20,000 acres of the preserve were purchased in 1986 to ensure the survival of the fringe-toed lizard which is native to the area.  The lizard is so named because of the fringe-like appearance of its feet, which allow it to sort of swim through the sand dunes when it needs to hide from predators and the heat.  One of the preserves original owners had envisioned the area as a tourist attraction as far back as the early 1900s and the home he from the trunks of the native fan palm still stands as the visitor center.
As you approach the visitor center, this sign informs you that you are near the San Andreas Fault. I have to admit, I always envisioned the San Andreas fault as a big crevasse or chasm in the earth but here in the preserve the way it presents itself is through the water that pushes up through the fault area, creating this area of desert oasises (boy does that spelling look awkward).   And these folks were busily painting their own versions of the palm fans surrounding the visitor center.
The California fan palm tree, indigenous to the area, grows to a height of 45 feet.  The old palm fronds hang down when they when they die, forming a skirt around the trunk which shelters all sorts of creatures here, including owls.  The dark things you see hanging down in the picture are the fruit of the palm.
After you leave the visitor center you wander a wooden boardwalk above the marshy area created by the water coming up through the ground along the San Andreas fault. This oasis is called the Thousand Palm oasis and is cool and shady compared to the surrounding desert.
According to the information at the visitors' center, one might see brilliantly colored hooded orioles here, but all I saw was this dove perched on a dead palm tree.  The area is also home to kestrels, hawks, killdeer, cactus wrens, Gambrel quail and the ever present sparrow.

We didn't see a fringe-toed lizard, but did spot a couple of western zebra-tailed lizards.  Fortunately, neither did we see any rattlesnakes which are common.  I would have liked to have seen the bobcat that hangs around, but I imagine dawn or dusk would be the better time for animal sightings.

There are several trails in the preserve, but we took the shortest one leading to the McCallum Grove and Oasis.  Within the preserve plants and bushes are marked with descriptive signs and the trails are clearly marked.  At the time of our visit, the trail map brochures were in the process of being reprinted so none were available but the volunteer at the visitors' center told us they were planning on uploading them online in the future.

It was hot and dry on our walk and Denny had enough before we made it to Mc Callum's Grove, so I continued on while he sat in the shade of a small grove of fan palms.  The pond at Mc Callum's Grove has pupfish in it, which are not native to the area but have been placed there in an effort to save the species.  It's a quiet, peaceful place.  And certainly much more enjoyable than tromping around the campground.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Too Much Sunshine

What kind of person complains about too much sunshine?  Me, I guess.

It's been beautiful here in Palm Desert and that's the problem.  Denny and I have a few projects in mind and it's very difficult to make ourselves haul out tools and supplies when the sunshine and warm, orange-blossom scented breezes lure us to simply sit outside and enjoy the nothingness of basking in the sunlight.  Even Patches has been content to stay within the confines of our site lazing in the shade, but that's more because of the gophers moving about just underneath the surface of the soil rather than any desire to sit quietly in one area.

So what we need is a day of gentle rain so that I can get off my duff and add a couple of coats of polyurethane to the dining room table and end table, sew some elastic bands to my picnic table and bench covers to make them fit a bit more snugly and Denny can work on creating a new satellite dish support pole to attach to our fifth wheel's ladder to perch the satellite dish up high (making it once less thing to trip over and one less tripod to haul out).

Sadly, because the forecast is for sunshine and daytime temperatures of 88 degrees today, we'll have to spend the morning browsing the goodies at the farmers' market in Palm Springs instead of working.  Dang.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


It's been a week of ups and downs here at the tin can on wheels.  For two days high winds tried to blow us off our campsite, I had a bit of a stomach bug one day, and Denny and I were at a fever pitch of frustration exacerbated by Ford Motor Company's inability/unwillingness to assist us in finding a part for our tire.  But through all this the sun was shining and at varying times shone brightly enough to allow the wearing of shorts and short sleeved shirts before the winds brought the temperatures down to an uncomfortable level.  For the first time in months, I have a little color (read tan) on my face.  And I found a new bathing suit that I could live with.  Bonus!

I won't go through the details of our battle with Ford, but let me simply say; phone calls to two Ford dealers, the Ford headquarters, three trips to two different auto parts stores, two trips to a tire dealer and a couple of e-mails to a wheel rim business back in my hometown in Ohio were necessary before we got *crossing fingers* a slow leak in our right front tire fixed.  This was a classic circle jerk of monumental proportions and if it would so happen that we would ever need a new valve stem we still don't know what part we'd need.  But I give kudos to the Cathedral City Carquest auto parts store and Big O Tire for going out of their way to help us.

Of course the main high point of our stay here has been having Don and Vicki 20 miles down the road.  We've eaten out, eaten in, had Happy Hours, played Phase One, the men have golfed while Vicki and I had a girl's day and today we'll wander the flea market.  The two of them are heading east to Arizona tomorrow and it will be October before we see them again (yay, Myrtle Beach!).  Bittersweet.

What it comes down to is there was much more good than bad, which works for us.  Just a normal week for the RV Vagabonds.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Almost Left Behind

When I got back to the trailer from water aerobics yesterday, Denny was standing outside talking to our friend Brian.  As I stood there listening to the conversation, I noticed a blonde cocker spaniel wandering around freely across the street.  I had seen the dog before but couldn't remember what its owner looked like but it was pretty obvious the owner didn't know or care where the dog was.  Three people stopped by to see if the dog was ours (I think because we were just standing outside and the other folks assumed we had our dog out with us) so no one had a clue who the owner was.  A man was preparing his motorhome to leave a couple of spots up the street, finally pulling out and stopping to hitch up his tow dolly to the rear of the motorhome.  I figured the dog couldn't belong to him, because who would leave without checking to see if his dog was there?  In the meantime, we realized the dog was blind, after he bumped into our truck tire and wandered off.

After a couple of minutes the man stood up from hitching up his tow dolly, looked down the street, saw the dog and called to it.  The cocker spaniel was indeed his dog and he had no idea that the dog was out wandering around.  Chances are real good if the dog had gone behind someone's RV or car the fellow would have gotten into his motorhome and driven off none the wiser.  The dog had no collar or tags on to tell us who owned him nor giving a phone number to reach an owner.  Scary.

Our most recent issue of the Escapees (a camping organization) magazine has a notice in it of a lost cat.  A lady had been boondocking in Quartzite (with 100,000 other RVers) and the cat apparently slipped out the door behind her at some point.  Despite much searching, the cat was gone and the lady figured someone had picked it up as a friendly stray and left with it.  The reason for the lady's ad was not just to get the cat back, but to know that it had found a good home rather than ending up as a meal for a coyote.

It only takes a moment for our pets to slip out--we've learned that ourselves.  Patches alway wears her collar and name tag with our phone number on it.  Someday while we're at a veterinary office I may even think to have her microchipped.  Accidents happen, but I surely wonder about a pet owner who has a blind, aging cocker spaniel with no tags who doesn't take the time to assure himself that his dog is secured in his motorhome before he starts to take off for his next destination.  How sad for the dog.....

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Quiet Time

It's been fairly quiet here on the home front this week.  We're still in California, still enjoying quite a bit of sunshine although the temperatures aren't as warm as we'd like, but hey!  Friends Brian and Judy are here and Don and Vicki are at a campground 20 miles away, so we're getting in some visiting and some happy hours while we're all in the same area.  I've been keeping up with my water aerobics in the hot springs fed swimming pool and Patches has been getting several walks a day to burn off some of her energy.  On our first trip here we did some sightseeing and the aerial tram, so for the moment we're just hangin' with friends.  And that's just ducky with us.

The other thing I've been doing is trying to learn my new Samsung Solstice cell phone.  Vicki calls it a poor man's iPhone and I guess it's close.  There is a learning curve, to be sure.  Sooner or later I hope to get comfortable with it, or at least be able to use a fraction of the features.  I'm still working my way into the 21st century.

Below is the view from our trailer.  Not bad, huh?

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