Sunday, November 29, 2015

Joshua Tree cont.

 One of the main draws that got us back to Joshua Tree for the 3rd time, has to be Connie and Jerry.  Spending time with these good/new (well, 5 years now) friends, is right the top of our list of priorities.  This fun day we all visited the Oak Glen Apple Orchard(s) area, north of Beaumont, CA.  Not only did we get to see trees adorned in their fall colors,  we were able to enjoy the CA version of an apple orchard experience.  It was a fun day all round,

but one of the most enlightening aspects was seeing Connie and Jerry's old neighborhood and the

 surrounding area. 

We liked what we saw and have added it to our list of "places we might settle down,  if we ever have to".

The list is still short, but looks like this:
          Summers:  in the mountains outside of Gunnison, CO
          Winters:  near Rockport, Texas or near Apple Valley, California

Connie and Jerry Seaburg

The next weekend arrived and, after a day full of running errands, doing chores (and having a doc poke holes in my finger) we embarked on a spontaneous "hike" thru the campground.  Approaching site #52 (MAP) in a mostly void of people camp, we heard the call of an owl to our left.  THAT call was responded to by a fellow  avian off to our right.  As we paused to listen, a large shadow, highlighted by the setting sun, crossed our line of vision and settled into the top a Joshua Tree, approximately 25 feet ahead at the edge of site #52.

We froze in place as to encourage this Great Horned Owl to stay put for a bit, while we watched and listened, he continued his communication with his nearby friend.  Just as I was kicking myself for not bringing our camera, activity at  #52 revealed a man scurrying around setting his camera up.  In that God constructed moment, just after the cameraman was snapping off a few frames, the Owl took flight.  Better yet, turns out that this guy is a professional cameraman who had been called upon that day to shoot Wolfgang Puck at his restaurant in Palm Desert.  As a result he had ALL of his lenses with him.  A pix of this event has been promised, I hope to bring it to you next month.
Despite the lack of light (being dusk) and the distance (about 25 feet), this great birds liftoff to a quieter location was a majestic sight to behold.

The customizing of the new Montana continues:

  The clips were designed to simply hold the bottles in place.  But, ours is not a "normal" lifestyle.  And with all the movement our kitchen sustains every 4-5 months, Bill made an executive decision to add narrow shelves beneath the bottles for some extra support.

Bill thinks that this would be a marketable item if we were ever to stay in a "permanent" campground, long enough for him to get the work done.  THAT's not likely to happen!

How else could we see cool stuff like this:


As mentioned in a previous blog entry Bill and I are "Warmshowers" hosts.  It is this capacity we came to know Erica as she was on her journey of discovery. Erica is the main reason (and others like her) that we enjoy being Warmshowers Hosts so much.  After Erica stayed for the evening, camping next door, and having dinner with us (and breakfast in the AM), we sag'd her in to Jumbo Rocks.  After a long detour to Key's Ranch (which we love so much) for the tour,

 AND a short detour to the Key's View, we bade Erica adieu.  We will miss her spirit!

Our pattern during the holidays has gradually developed into a cycle of going "home" one year, staying on location the next.  When we stay on location we look for something "special" to do as our Christmas present to each other.  This affords us the opportunity to have many and varied experiences. Two years ago, also while at Joshua Tree, we went to Las Vegas 
staying at "The Palazzo"

                                                        to see Mannheim Steamroller.


This year a TV commercial triggered the pursuit of tickets for "The Queen Mary Chill" in Long Beach.  The event included tubing


And a walk thru of an ice version of the story 
"The Christmas Carol".

  Yes, the ugly jackets were necessary, as it was 9 degrees in there.

We closed the day out 
    with dinner onboard the Queen at Sir Winston's,

which was arguably one of the best meals we have ever had! Inarguably the most expensive, but worth it!

The service and atmosphere could not be beat.  It was one of our most fun days EVER!

Thanksgiving was spent in Manhattan Beach with our Baby Girl, Kelly and her fiance' Michael.

  This was a rare treat indeed, and a perfect day spent with their friends, some of whom we have not seen for many years, and some new to us!

Can't remember ever eating Thanksgiving dinner outside, it was lovely
And then there's the negative side of life, which is apparently unavoidable.  It was a quiet post Thanksgiving Saturday, about 1:30 in the afternoon, 32 degrees (quite cold for Joshua Tree).  Bill and I were driving down the homestretch about to complete our rounds.  Passing a campsite across the field from ours, we spotted a Weimaraner (5 month old puppy) tied up to a trailer, no one in sight.  As this time of day is an active one for our neighborhood coyotes, we stopped to knock on the door to give a warning.  Imagine our surprise when no one answered.  The campground rules clearly state "dogs cannot be left unattended or tied up and left alone".  With no Law Enforcement Ranger available to come out, we were resigned to leaving her there and keeping an eye out all afternoon.  This was a nerve-racking time, as it can take about 15 seconds for a coyote to grab her.  At 4:00, with  darkness quickly approaching, we put our heads together with our Ranger, and she made a call to Law Enforcement.  With their permission in hand, we took "Mandy"

back to our campsite and continued the wait beside our campfire, keeping her safe and warm.  At 6:00 we called the number on her tag and were told by her owner that he had sprained his ankle during the day and that they were just a few minutes out.  We saw their car pull in about 15 minutes later and our phone rang....."OK, you can bring her back".  ARE YOU KIDDING, Bill responded "good, you can come and get her anytime".  We have shot our entire day with his dog and he wants us to deliver her!  So, we figured, with his ankle out of commission, his old lady or one of his friends would come for Mandy.  The next thing I hear a weird noise coming thru the darkness. This guy is hobbling across the parking lot on crutches .....are you kidding me?  Mandy is VERY strong, almost pulled us both over today, and this guy on crutches is going to take control????  Bill says "who's going to get her home, because you're certainly not".  A few minutes later his friend showed up.
During the time we had Mandy, several things became clear:
#1:  She has had NO training.
#2:  She is very smart.
#3:  Her owner is a brainless moron (also made obvious from speaking to a neighbor who was camping 2 sites over and advised us that Mandy's family had allowed their children to run back and forth thru his campsite and another all night last night as they ran from their campfire to their friends campfire).
We decided if this guy was too stupid to care for his dog, what good would a lecture on teaching his children campground etiquette do?
As it was, the lecture on the huge fine and Mandy becoming coyote dinner went right over his head. 
It was hard to give her back to this idiot.  

Wildlife sighting of the month:
In our last blog I told you about the "Suttie Firewood and Kindling Supply Charity".  This e-mail (from Fred and Fara) arrived thanking us for the campfire on a cold night:
Cole, Justin and Griffin enjoyed their campfire !

And THAT'S what it's all about folks!

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