Sunday, April 22, 2012

An Awesome Drive

One of the best things about full time rv travel is that by being on the road 12 months of the year you can arrive at busy tourist areas during the non-peak seasons.  Sometimes that means that you have to deal with bad weather or non-optimal conditions.  However on Thursday morning the overcast skies cleared around our campground so we decided to make the drive over to the Monterey and Pebble Beach area to follow the 17 Mile Drive and do some sightseeing.

Unfortunately Bl*gger refuses to cooperate when it comes to uploading photographs in the order I want them to upload unless I do them one at a time and I'm too impatient for that, so you have a mishmash here.  I'll simply add captions and let the photographs speak for themselves for the most part.

Monterey is a pretty little town but like many pretty little older towns that are now tourist areas the streets are narrow, the parking is limited and our big ol' truck is hard to maneuver so we didn't stop.  This display of carvings was right next to the intersection where we were stopped at a traffic signal.
The idea of Cannery Row appealed to me due to the John Steinbeck novel but of course now it's street after street of shops and the line to the Monterey Aquarium was all the way down the block so we kept driving.

Denny and I found a place to park Black Beauty along Lover's Point.  We offered a man who was out on the point a dollar to take our picture (kidding) and he said another man down the way had offered him five dollars so we compromised on two dollars and fifty cents.  We enjoy it when people play along with our silliness.  And of course we took a picture of him and his lady friends in return.
Out of order, this is the Chatillon Sur Mer, one of the hundreds of gorgeous residences (cottages a la the Hamptons?) along the 17 Mile Drive of Pebble Beach.  Since a standard four bedroom/3 bath one story home in Hollister, California which is 50 miles inland is selling for $549,000 how much do you suppose this baby would cost?
The view from Lover's Point in Pacific Grove, California.
Jumping around, this is a shot taken at the Lone Cypress.  The colors of the Pacific reminded us of the waters around Hawaii.  After so many years of watching the rather murky waters of the Atlantic Ocean at Myrtle Beach the clean, clear waters here are impressive.
Denny and I stopped at Asilomar State Park to eat our picnic lunch and to wander the gravel beach looking for what we call beach glass but what the locals here call sea glass.  At this particular location the surf is so strong that the glass pieces we found were more like beads of glass--pretty but not of much use for making jewelry.  I'll hang onto them for now.
A little further down the road we stopped at Bird Rock to take photographs of the cormorants but I was distracted by these little guys.  Totally ignoring the "do not feed the wildlife" signs, they got a couple of kitty treats as rewards.
Some areas just cry out for that "artsy" shot.
And here in all its glory is the Lone Cypress; said to be over 250 years old and surviving the water and weather on this rocky outcropping.  Of course it now has a little help from man, being tethered to a rock wall.
I'm unsure whether this is part of the Links at Spanish Bay Golf Club or the Spyglass Hill Golf Club but whichever is it, the golfers here have a fabulous view of the ocean behind me.

Along 17 Mile Drive there is a Monterey cypress tree that has been shaped by the winds and named "the Ghost Tree".  Just a few yards down the road is a similar tree with a more fantastical shape that has no name but it is perfect for that touristy shot.
Again, sadly out of sync, this is the Pacific Grove Golf Course.  On one side the golfers have the Point Pinos lighthouse looking down upon them and on the other side they have the surf crashing up against the shoreline.  Beautiful.
Part of the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course, which non-registered guests may play for $495 plus the cost of the riding cart.  Registered guests pay the same green fee but get the riding cart thrown in.  Which explains why Denny and I did NOT try to reserve a tee time at Pebble Beach.
The Point Pinos lighthouse at Pacific Grove, California.
This is a very zoomed in shot of a seal that was hanging around a couple of guys who were out in the water on surf boards messing around.  I say messing around because they never tried to surf while Denny and I were watching.  The seal was having fun though.
The fog or marine layer moved in as Denny drove southward so when we arrived at Bird Rock which sits pretty far from the shoreline I wasn't able to get a clear photo of the many seals sitting on the right side of the rock along with the cormorants.  A little further down the road an entire section of the roadway had been fenced off as it is birthing and nursing seasons for the seals and the wildlife officers try to keep any and all people from disturbing the seals during the two month period the seals are here with their pups.
What we at first thought were dead trees and debris in the surf in front of Bird Rock turned out to be seals resting on their sides in the water with their flippers sticking out of the water.  A pair of high powered binoculars came in handy here and we passed them around to other folks standing nearby so they could enjoy a good look.
I could live here.  I couldn't afford it, but I could live here.
Many times during the day Denny and I pulled over to the side of the road and found a place to sit where we could just watch the action of the surf hitting the rocky shore.

The wind creates some strange tree sculptures in the area of Pescadero Point in Pebble Beach.
The standard tourist shot of the Lone Cypress.
The fog rolled in midway through our drive and I was afraid it would keep us from seeing the Lone Cypress and the other sights along 17 Mile Drive but the sun finally came out again.
Taken in the general area of the Lone Cypress on 17 Mile Drive.
We had thought about continuing down highway 101 to Big Sur but we had taken so long to drive through Pebble Beach that we simply headed for home.  Another time, perhaps....

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bird Watching Between Rain Showers

 Over the years in many states we've heard people say "if you don't like the weather here in * (* insert city/state), then just wait a few minutes.  Well, this week Denny and I arrived in the San Joaquin valley for the first time and that's what the weather has been like.  Sunny and warm, followed by wind and cold, followed by overcast skies, followed by rain.  Repeat over and over.  Patches and I bundle up for our walk, the sun comes out and we start to wander then the wind picks up and clouds blow in and then it's raining on us.  Brrr.

So Denny and I have been doing minor projects and surfing the 'net and I've taken quick snapshots here and there throughout the week.  Next week is supposed to be better and we're hoping to get a round of golf and some sightseeing in at that time.  

All of the birds in the next two photos are here in our campground.  So far I've spotted hawks, turkey vultures (there should also be California condors in the area but I've not seen one yet), wild turkeys, California towhees, rufous hummingbirds, Anna's hummingbirds, California quail, scrub jays, yellow billed magpies, ravens, some type of woodpeckers (the old growth trees here are huge and the woodpeckers stay in the uppermost branches and are too far away to photograph), white capped sparrows, bluebirds, wrens, swallows, robins, black phoebes, Northern flickers and starlings. 

 The hillside to the rear of our rig is home to a huge number of gophers which chirp like prairie dogs to warn each other whenever Patches and I step out of the rig.  A coyote trotted past on our first afternoon here and deer wander the far end of the campground.  The clubhouse has photos of a resident bobcat, but I've not spotted him yet and don't know if he's still around.
Patches much prefers her method of being outside to the cage-in-the-window for the two cats of our nearest neighbors.

I had to show those who don't see my Facebook photos this hairless cat, Zoe, who was visiting the folks next to us at our last campground.  Zoe's owner has to be sure that she doesn't get too chilled as she only has a very fine covering of fuzz on her body, along with a patch of white fur around her nose and ears.  Zoe has pale blue eyes and it feels very strange to pet her, believe me.
Because of all the rain I have been making good use of my Kindle.  Once I discovered I could download books from my hometown library I've been in seventh heaven as some of the free books on can be a bit poorly edited to say the least, although I've read some good stories from their free selections also.  But another source I take advantage of is BookBub which occasionally offers free books but more often offers deeply discounted ebooks.  I will say, if we keep running into bad weather, I'm going to have to consider getting Denny his own Kindle as we pass mine back and forth right now since I've almost eliminated all of our paperback and hardback books. I never thought I'd like the Kindle but it's one of my favorite electronic toys now.  I currently have 4 games and 96 books in it--can you imagine how much cupboard space 96 books would take up?  

Oh look--the sun is out.  Time to see how long Patches and I can walk before the rains come again...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Persnickety Poppies*

(* with a nod to Arkansas Patti)

One of the items listed as a place to visit on the Thousand Trails web site for our campground was the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.  With visions of us traipsing through vast beds of poppies a la Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, Denny and I planned a day trip to the reserve.  There is a ten dollar entrance fee (nine dollars for seniors) per car load for which you can wander the seven miles of trails throughout the park and check out the visitors' center.  We dropped additional cash at the visitor center for a sweatshirt for Denny as the winds were drastically stronger than they had been at our campground and the temperature was lower also.  While inside the visitor center the volunteers there warned us that with the lack of rain, cold and blowing winds the current crop of poppies was, well, minimal.  Hmm.  The ladies told us a good view would be from the Tehachapi View Point so Denny and I headed that way.

This is what we saw:

Far in the distance in the valley there are beds of still in bud form poppies.  Really there are.


The volunteers had informed us that the second best area for seeing poppies was from the South Poppy Trail so that's where we headed next, only to see this:

A close up view of the still tightly furled poppies:

As we headed back towards the truck we didn't feel the need to watch out for the rattlesnakes all the footpath signs were warning us about but we did see this little Western Fence Lizard: 
Disappointed by the "best" views of poppies, Denny and I decided to wander some of the back roads suggested by the ladies at the visitor center to look for other areas of poppies and to take in lunch at the restaurant they suggested.

Driving down Munoz Ranch Road to Elizabeth Lake Road in Lake Hughes:

Yes, we finally saw some sun drenched poppies.

Lunch was at the Rock Inn, which was built in 1929 after the original trading post and post office burned to the ground.  Rebuilt of stone, the trading post and inn was apparently popular with Hollywood actors as a bit of a getaway.  Today, they serve burgers and booze to locals and tourists alike and the Inn has become quite popular with bikers.  Denny and I enjoyed our lunches of deep fried cod; mine as a sandwich and his as fish and chips while surrounded by Art Deco touches, murals and the scent of woodsmoke from the fireplace (I told you it was a cool day!).  

Despite the lack of poppies at the Poppy Reserve, this turned out to be a pretty great day!
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