Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter....HE is Risen!!!!!

The Current Situation:

Visitors galore.....yes, the campground is full, full, full, on Friday and Saturday nights as usual, but for the last weeks now, a new phenomenon has begun:  The campground nearly full during the week, when it would normally be almost empty.

With spring break bearing down upon us, soon the campground will be full everyday, not just because of spring break, but the spring bloom of the Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park is in full effect.   

I find it particularly interesting that each Joshua Tree, has "buds" in many different stages of development, instead of all the buds emerging at the same time.

 The thing about this?  This will allow the trees to be in bloom for several weeks.  

The wildflowers are just now hinting at the "super-bloom" that is expected due to heavy rains in the Fall.  

Desert Dandylion
Purple Mat, Desert Star, Purple Mimulus (AKA Monkey Flower)

Desert Sunflower, Desert Star, 


LOVE this  Beavertail cactus

This, in a nutshell, is the reason we have stayed at J. Tree for 6 months, well beyond our usual 4 month stint.  I have never seen the desert in bloom, and I am excited about the coming explosion of color.

And those hordes of visitors?  Some of them are very special to us.......

Don and Lisa:  

our besties from Illinois (now Wisconsin) arrived for a tour of Joshua Tree National Park.  

Thanks goes out to our local besties, Connie and Jerry.  Because of them, Don and Lisa were treated to a private tour of Keys Ranch (our favorite spot in the entire park).

A trip to the Cholla Gardens                was the only marring event of their trip.  Don may have gotten some good pictures, but Lisa learned the hard way NOT to get too close to the Cholla (AKA jumping cactus).  While walking around, she picked up a Cholla bur on her fairly heavy blue jeans.  Not a problem, right?  Well, then she tried to "brush" it off with her shoe and sustained a large and painful wound, with multiple punctures to her calf, right through the jeans.  We felt so badly, but Lisa is a medical professional and had the proper equipment to treat the wound.

Their visit included the requisite picture in front of the "tallest Joshua Tree in the World" 

and a windy stop at Key's View.

As well as, a short hike to "Arch Rock".


The visit concluded with a great lunch at the "29 Palms Inn", our first time there.  THANKS for coming to visit us!!!!


You may remember last summer, when we were volunteering at Camp Zion in Door County, Wisconsin and I had purchased anniversary tickets

to see Josh Turner in concert.  

At the last minute, before heading to the auditorium, I went to the drawer where I knew the tickets to be, only to find them MIA.  Fortunately, Austin and Corey

came to the rescue by contacting the Auditorium and arranging a "will call", we made it to the concert with a full minute to spare.  Fast forward 7 months......we are now all the way across the country, and I am cleaning and organizing drawers in the living room.  I discovered the tickets, fallen  behind the drawer.  Proof positive you can lose things in a little 40 foot space.  Now if I could only find those $1000.00 glasses:-)

Critters Galore:

As the weather has warmed, the wildlife has once again emerged.  

There have been tortoise sightings
The Campgrounds resident Desert Tortoise

Lots of birds
Cactus Wren
Scott's Oriole
Loggerhead Shrike

The Mourning Doves have been quite vocal

Titmouse (sorry for the blurriness)


Gamble Quail (so funny to watch),


Chuckwalla Lizard
Kinda scary face Heh?


MY very first Jackrabbit experience was along the Panorama Loop, as we neared the end of a 5 mile hike.  This guy was HUGE, standing straight up about 2 feet high. We got a good look at him, as he was not afraid of us.  

Other critters we have seen (but not necessarily gotten a good picture of): 

Peregrin Falcon



                                              Nesting Crow


Now here is an interesting story: 

I was out shooting pix and spotted this Jackrabbit scoot  across my line of sight and disappear.  So, with my camera at the ready, I began to move in the direction I had seen him run.  Through the viewfinder I spot "him" like this: 


 As I inch closer, step by careful step, I begin to wonder if he is dead?  How can that be, I just saw him run through here?  I continued to creep, camera at the eye.

 Twenty steps and 20 shots later, this happens: 

Three steps, three more shots and this happens:

             And finally: 


Now, I will have to do some research on this behavior and get back to you on it next month.



Brought in by one of our campers, this Bearded Dragon was fascinating.  His Mom let him wander on the Joshua Trees, and it was pretty cool to watch him completely blend in with his environment.

Cool RV Technology:   The technological opposite end of the "cool" spectrum:  a remote controlled self-positioning trailer hitch.  

Simply drop the neck, unhook from your vehicle, and, using the remote control, perfectly position your trailer.  NO, maneuvering it with a vehicle, no back and forth, re-adjusting.  Push some buttons and the trailer  "drives" itself into your chosen position.


Our co-workers often become long term friends.  It begins with little get togethers like going out for dinner.  Dinner with Wayne and Janice was a real revelation, in more ways than one.  We let Ranger Janice and her husband Wayne choose the restaurant.  We went to a "Sushi" place!  Those of you that know me well are now going....."What, wait, huh".  Never fear, even I can find something I like to eat at a Sushi place (Chicken Teriyaki anyone).  That said, with Wayne and Janice's guidance I ventured into the world of sushi (sans any seafood) and found several things I loved.  It was a great learning experience.

That makes "Kimi Grill" my RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH!  

The time of year we have waiting for.....the spring bloom:  I have already covered the first plant to bloom, the Joshua Tree:  Now our wildflowers have just begun to pop.

BEST ACTIVITY OF THE MONTH:  a fun time was had at the OK Corral (Yes, the REAL OK Corral of Gene Autry fame)

 A short drive from Joshua Tree you'll find "Pioneer Town" the home of 

"Pappy and Harriet's" Restaurant 

and an old west town used back in the day to make cowboy movies.  It looks the same as it did back in the 1930's and 40's, replete with cowboys on horseback.

The icing on the cake?????  A few modern "locals" live in Pioneer Town, and this one was filling the streets of this ghost town with some great  guitar music.

 I could have stood and listened to him all day.

MOST EXCITING EVENT OF THE MONTH:  Kelly came to visit.  She looked so cute pulling up in her little Mercedes.

 She stayed overnight, and though we ran out of time to show her the entire park, we did get her up to Eureka Peak.

 On the way to the Peak we were reminded that, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree":  Neither Bill and I hesitate to stop driving to take a picture.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD: This months "Small World" story emerges from this visit:  when Kelly arrived, the 3 of us dallied over lunch and spent the afternoon chatting.  It was by then too late to go into the park, so we settled for the two hour trip to Eureka Peak.  Upon our return, I headed to the Visitor Center to pick up the evenings paperwork.  As I exited the the Visitor Center, I observed two young men approaching and asked if I could help them.  The young man advised they needed a campsite.  I suggested we walk over to our RV, and as we covered the 200 feet or so, I asked "where are you guys from?"  answer:  "Manhattan Beach" response "our daughter just arrived from Manhattan Beach.  When we arrived at the RV, I stuck my head in the door, calling out to Kelly "Hey Kel, there's a couple of guys here from Manhattan Beach".  Kelly hollered back "cool".  I started the paperwork and a few minutes later Kelly emerged from the RV, looked at the guy I was signing in and said "Hi David", and he said "Hi, Kelly".  Now, Yes, Kelly lives in Manhattan Beach (CA), a suburb of LA, approximately 4 hour drive from Joshua Tree National Park, BUT it is a suburb of LA, and NOT a small place.  Kelly and David know each other from yoga class.  Both of them had recently relocated to a new Yoga studio and Kelly was signed up to take her 1st yoga class at the new studio the next day with the new instructor, David!  What are the chances? Small World indeed.  The guys were very nice and invited Kelly to join them at their campsite.  Kelly graciously declined:  "Thank You, but it's really a parents weekend".  We cannot remember the last time we had any quality time alone with Kelly and we cherished every minute of it.

Our next day off and a spontaneous outing to 
Death Valley National Park was the plan.

As the "superbloom" was going on,

we could not find lodging, so we converted the ride to a day trip, heading back home late in the afternoon.  

We were amazed that just 4 hours north of Joshua Tree, the terrain could be so utterly different, BEAUTIFUL!  

Lunch at "The Furnace Creek Inn"
was complete with a Roadrunner escort.

I gave the Inn 5 stars on Trip Advisor and came away with a new lunch dish that is now my FAV.  We are calling it the Death Valley Wrap.


Back at camp the next day, we had the pleasure of meeting "Stelladorable".

We, fans of the yellow Lab, have met many and varied canines that we have grown fond of (remember the Weimareiner?), and in the previous two weeks there has been a glut of Standard Poodles we have come to appreciate (oh to have a dog that doesn't shed......sorry Tessa).   

Now comes Abby, with Stella, a regular sized Poodle with an overlarge personality.  Beautiful in looks, engaging in demeanor, personality to spare, we fell in love with her instantly!  Then to find out Stella is a rescue dog and hope springs eternal that 

A:  we could find a smallish dog that we liked.
B:  we could have a dog that doesn't shed.
C:  we could find a cool dog at a rescue agency 

(in this case) Stella was adopted as a puppy from "Midwest Rescue" in Missouri).  We have always been "big dog" people, but something flipped a switch in my brain the night Abby came over to watch "The Oscars" with us.  Watching Stella roam around the RV, and all I could think was "why, she is just the perfect size for RV living!"  Only time will tell, but Stelladorable made a good and deep impression on us.  Still, no more dogs until Tessa has gone to doggie heaven: 1 dog per RV!

FAVORITE KID MOMENT OF THE MONTH:  2 little girls (maybe 10 and 6 years old), camping with their grandparents:  as we drove past their campsite, the girls were deeply engaged in making a dollhouse village at the base of a Joshua Tree.  The "village"

was left behind when it's builders relocated.  It seemed a little lonely without its inhabitants. 

As if 1 trip on a weekend wasn't enough, 2 days after the run to Death Valley National Park we rolled south to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Along the way we stopped down at the Cottonwood Visitor Center (south end of Joshua Tree NP) to visit with our friends George and Kathy, and we may have stayed too long.  Our arrival at the Anza-Borrego Visitor Center was very late in the afternoon and I had a real need to complete a hike.  The question was posed to the volunteer at the VC desk "If we wanted a 2 hour hike, what would you recommend?".  His answer was quick and sure..... "the Palm Canyon hike"...."it goes 1.5 miles to to the Fan Palm Oasis and waterfall, you should be able to do it in 2 hours".  The minute I heard "Fan Palm Oasis and waterfall, I was all in.  Bill not so much, but he is a good sport and is all about supporting my fitness goals, so at 4:35 PM we hit the trailhead.  An hour and 5 minutes later we were seeking respite at the waterfall on the edge of the Fan Palm Oasis.  Worth every boulder we had to traverse the last 1/2 mile.  Just starting to get dusky out, we headed back, trail marker 15, trail marker 14, trail marker 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5...nothing.  Finally Bill said "we should have been back by now."  I say "if we went wrong somewhere, we are off to the left."  A quick readjustment and soon we spotted the lights of the bathroom and landed on a blacktop road.  No, this was not the bathroom we had parked by, but it still gave our rising tension some relief.  Another 3/4 of a mile and we were home free. The entire adventure was fun!  

                    The Ocotillo were spectacular!!

The final destination!

Back at the campground and back to work the next day we ran into Fran and Smiley 

down at Horse Camp. Did I mention I LOVE horses?   You may remember Fran as the equestrian who so graciously invited us to her "Hoof Clinic".


Approaching the end of our time here at Joshua Tree, I begin the process of booking our future gigs.  Camp Zion (Ellison Bay, WI) (  June, July and the 1st part of August, 2016 is where we can be found, followed by Governors Canyon State Recreation Area near San Antonio for September and October.  

These were already carved in stone when I opened an e-mail, an interesting e-mail, sent by an employer who had come across our resume on Workamper News.  We have had many such solicitations in the past from privately owned RV parks who seemed impressed with our credentials, but a quick review of the job, the park, the location or the perks, and we have always quickly deleted the request (after sending a polite reply).  But THIS e-mail was not quickly deleted, looking actually quite interesting, GREAT actually!!!  So, as Bill and I were headed down the road to Death Valley, I opened the e-mail and read it to him....preceeded by the comment "don't judge too quickly".  Before we knew it, we were on the phone to Llano Grand RV Resort in Mercedes, TX: and into an interview which closed with our committing to our first ever "Workamper" job for the months: November/December 2016 thru January/February/March 2017.   Check out the resort at the above link, what's not to love?  Actually, after seeing how well Brad and Lynne have fared in this endeavor for the last 2 winters, we are encouraged that we could be a success at it as well.                                         
Main kitchen
Craft room
Lunch on the patio
Lunch in the sports bar
Sewing room

Lunch in the dining room

Art Studio

Fitness Center
Woodworking shop

Life goes on, time flies and we continue to be busy and booked for up to a year.  The downside to advanced planning is the sudden opening of a GREAT job which is looking for someone "right now".  This happens for two reasons......#1:  the camphost/volunteer has a serious heath condition arise or, #2:  the camphost/volunteer has elderly parents who've fallen ill.  Either case means that we are already locked in to a position and unable to go after some of these cherry assignments.

After our time in south Texas we will probably head up along the coast to Oregon or Washington...time will tell.

Lots to do in our final 4 weeks at Joshua Tree, so I am off.  

No comments:

Post a Comment