Saturday, July 16, 2011

Two weeks in balmy San Diego

We have been in San Diego for the past 10 days.  We are on Mission Beach with a short walk to the beach and a wonderful walk around the bay.  It took us both 2 days to cool down after our desert heat, but oh it is so wonderful now.  Our campground is actually in de Anza bay on this map.  Golden sand, grass and lots of palm trees here and along Mission Bay park.,Mission+Bay&gl=us&ei=y1UiTqjyIoeosQPSwsA_&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=2&ved=0CDkQ8gEwAQ

Bay walk near campground. rainbow on one of our 1st walks

There are lots of folks from Arizona and Texas here since this is an easy summer ocean destination for them.  We totally understand their need to come to the ocean during the summer.  The campground is quite crowded, with lots of kids riding bikes and skateboards and family gatherings. We are truly enjoying our time here.  The extra bonus is that each evening we get to see the fireworks that are put on by Sea World just across the bay.  Saturday nights the campground puts on an outside movie, tonight it's Megaminds and the snack bar sells $1 bags of popcorn.

We spend lots of time reading and walking.  Fred has started grilling since the weather is more reasonable.  We bought a new small grill at Loew's which is much better than what we had to start on the road.  He has found that he enjoys doing this again now that the weather is cooler.

Of course we did look for a french bakery and found one not far from us! The croissants and pain au chocolat are okay not great, but this has not stopped us from enjoying them twice already.  Our top french bakery on the road continues to be the one in Amarillo, Texas.  They are our bench mark when traveling from city to city.  We look forward to being in Seattle end of August to be able to go to Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle.

We took a day trip up the coast to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano.   A really beautiful location with incredible plants and flowers.  Swallows return here to nest every year on March 19th, so tourists flock here then.  Unfortunately, due to changes in the land ie more houses and less agriculture, there are fewer areas for the swallows, but the town is doing everything it can to keep areas available for the swallows to nest. I had always wanted to stop here, but due to various reasons we had never been able to do so. It was a wonderful visit to make and one we highly recommend.

see swallows nests just under roof line

Another day, we visited Old Town San Diego.  We had visited this area about 10-14years ago.  There are a lot more shops mixed in among the "history sites".  The area does attract lots of tourists to enjoy the shops and restaurants in this area

We did of course have to take our semi-regular trip to Camping World in San Marcos, which is about 50 minutes up I-5 from our camping.  They took off the tires and did a complete valve stem job on the tires.  Seems as though there were more problems with the work that had been done back in April in Albuquerque.  Valve stems had been wrong size, only two of the 6 tires had been balanced and more but I don't remember all the details as I write this.  The bottom line is that we have been very lucky that we had not had a major blowout and serious accident.  Service manager in this shop was contacting the service manager in Albuquerque to talk to him personally about the job they did. the costs for all of this work is again being charged back to the Albuquerque store.
We are crossing our fingers that all is fine now.  We wont know for sure until we get back on the road, which will be Tuesday 7/19.

When we leave here, our next stop will be to spend a night at Pismo Beach.  Then on to Redwood City, a bit south of San Francisco, starting on July 20th.  We will be there one month, possibly two, while we await the arrival of new grandson.  We will enjoy visits into the city while there, travel to Seattle for a week and possibly take a few days to stay in lodge at Yosemite.

One of the things we have learned is that this kind of travel is not as spontaneous as we originally thought.  It is important to keep planning where we move the Roulotte.  So, we are already looking at the next few months.  End of September we will spend a week in Joshua Tree;  October we'll be back in the desert in Tucson; November we will be in Cottonwood with family; December and possibly January back in San Antonio area; February- 2 weeks in New Orleans for Mardi Gras!  Anyone interested in joining us there?

We'll keep you up to date as we move around.  Bye for now
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

travels in Arizona and visit from Claudelle

We continue moving west and just spent two hot weeks in Tucson Arizona.  We were in the desert just southwest of the city and it turned out to be wonderful!  Though our first impression of the campground when we looked around, was anything but positive.  It was about 7pm, sun down and temp down to about 103, so we decided to take a walk around.  No one is out and there was no sign of life in any campsite-spooky!  In the center of the campground is an elevation which allows us to walk up and have a 360 view.  We do that and look around and see nothing but some rvs and no people.  Suddenly there is a big brown dog near us growling - Cujo lives! He does not get too close, but close enough to not inspire confidence.  We are totally freaked out-we haven't even seen any campground hosts......we are convinced we need to find something else the next day.
Well the next morning we feel better after a good nights sleep and things don't feel so weird.  We make our way to the office and meet the campground hostess.  We also meet Cujo again, he is the office dog. We learn that only 9 of the sites are active, but of course, who would be here in the heat of July, but other crazies like us.  The other sites were being stored in their winter spots.  It was wonderful and except for 2 times, I had the pool to myself and Claudelle when she came to join us.

We did of course have to go to visit Camping World since we had tire problems again.....same old, leaking valves.....
Claudelle spent five days with us and we did the miniature museum with her.  Here are some examples of the rooms on display.  Everything is done to 1:12 scale.  They are put together by people who devote lots and lots of time doing this.  For example one guy made crystal items full scale for most of his working life. Now he makes the same items for these types of rooms.

door handle for normal folks and door handle for giants (huh? this is a miniature museum)

door for fairies- there were fairies in museum

We also went to visit Biosphere 2 which is north of Tucson.  Immense facility which has had many lives starting with as a training location for astronauts and now studying the environment.  When we visited it, it was still under private company operations and by early July would become a University of Arizona project.  
The tour  was 1.5hrs long and given by a scientist working on site.  There seemed to be a constant reminder that in spite of what we may have heard, it biosphere2 was not a failed project.  Yet, the 3 of us, Claudelle, Fred and I all remember that there had been some history of not getting along when it was an isolation unit and also someone sneaking in food.  Part of the original project was to grow their own food, which of necessity meant that it was limited in variety.  It was a really interesting site to visit and we all enjoyed it.

living quarters for staff

Next day we went to Tombstone and Bisbee which are located in the southeast corner of the state.  Tombstone is an old west re-enactment location.  Cowboys roam the streets, horse drawn carts full of tourist go up and down main street, OK Corral shoot out occurs throughout the day.  It can be fun to see and in addition there are plenty of shops wanting to sell all variety of tacky gifts.  Oh la!!!!  Tombstone did start out as a seat of law and order in that area, it must have been exciting.

Judge and jury of Tombstone

Tour of town in period wagon

Next stop was the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee Arizona.  This was our second time doing the mine tour, which is conducted by old miners.  It is a trip to get the gear on, then ride the tracks down into the mine.  If you are ever in this area, this is a must.

dressed for our tour underground

Copper Queen Mine entrance

A bit of the walking around down in mine

how miners and tourists now get into the mine

Next on the list of day trips we took with Claudelle was a tour to the Presidio of Tubac.  This is located south of Tucson on the road to Nogales, Mexico.  
As I add this link to the blog, I see that the weather has changed dramatically since we were there.  It was 108 when we were doing the tour of the park.  Currently the monsoons have started there so the temp is down to high 70s- bet those folks are glad the rains have finally come.  Monsoon time is usually mid June to mid July, but late this year.
Below is what was written on black boards in Tubac school house.  Notice punishments are listed for both teachers and students!

Claudelle left Tucson on July 1st and we stayed in Tucson until July 5th.  

We then traveled to Yuma, Arizona and spent 2 nights there.  Still mega heat, but we continued to stay lots in AC Roulotte comfort for part of the day, then would go out to explore in the afternoon/evening. Lots of agriculture happening in this area since they have water from the Colorado river to tap into.  Also lots of boating on river and some lakes in the area.  Not much else going on here, other than lots of Border Patrol check points making sure all is well at this border town.
This was the last of our intense heat and we kept saying to each other, "we survived"!  Funny how an evening walk in 104degrees after the sun went down could feel ok.  We were so looking forward to getting out of the intense heat after 2 months of such overwhelming heat.  And, we used to say we like heat and sun....we learned our lesson.  Two months of such intensity is way different than 7-14days of such, which had been our previous experiences in the desert.  Live and learn!
Next stop the balmy breezes of San Diego!

Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!