A Travellerspoint blog

Winter Among the Palm Trees

Palm Springs, San Diego and Quartzite, A Palm Springs, San Diego, Phoenix & Quartzsite, AZ

Palm Springs, Thousand Palms

We found ourselves once again among the palm trees and endless sand wintering in the desert ahead of the Canadian invasion of snowbirds. Being in southern California allowed us to visit family in Phoenix and Orange County and further explore the Palm Springs area. First I made a trip alone to visit my brother and his wife John & Lisa Cooper at their home in Phoenix, AZ. My sister Darla Robertson was also there and we had a little reunion which was short but fun filled. I then drove back to Palm Springs and together Brad and I drove to Irvine, CA to see our daughter Loretta (visiting from Chicago) at Brad's mother's house. We got to spend the afternoon together before it was back out to Palm Springs, whew!

Phoenix, dinner out with John & Lisa Cooper who treated Darla and I to an evening at Durants legendary restaurant!

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Irvine, CA, Brad's mother Marie Aspenwall & Loretta Robinson
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Thousand Palms resort

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Jamul & San Diego
We bounced back and forth between Palm Springs and Jamul, CA (in the hills 1/2 hour from San Diego) 3 weeks at a time (Thousand Trails rules). We made visits to Stone Brewing (both the San Diego & Escondido breweries!), the Gaslamp Quarter and the Pacific Beach area and got to catch up with friends that were controllers that Brad had worked with. Our son Tom made a brief visit before Thanksgiving and we showed him around San Diego a bit. We had fine weather for the most part and really enjoyed San Diego, can't wait to explore more next year!

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Stone Brewing Escondido

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Pacific Beach, Gaslamp Quarter with Tom Robinson

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Irvine, Ca Marie's 82nd Birthday at Sam Woo's Restaurant for DimSum with Lance & Tina Robinson (Brad's brother & his wife)

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Quartzsite, AZ

Some friends we had met in Jamul invited us to Quartzsite to check out the rock and gem show and campout for free in the desert. We had heard about Quartzsite last year but never made it out there. A new hobby we started together is jewelry making (wire wrapping) so this trip was also an opportunity to pick up some stones, etc. for projects. It was fun to meet some new friends Kathy & Jim Studer and to campout under the stars. The rock and gem show did not disappoint; we found some great stones and inspiration from the talented artists there.

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Morgan Hill, CA

As the snowbird invasion was upon us in southern Cal it was time to hit the road as all the campgrounds were at capacity. We decided to make for Morgan Hill (east of Monterey Bay near Gilroy). As we traveled I-5 we were astonished at the dust bowl that has become the central valley since this severe drought. Visibility was poor as the topsoil swirled in the wind and there was absolutely nothing green. Once we were in the Salinas valley things were green again, it's got to be one of the most fertile valleys in the country with its rich black soil .
We had never stayed at Morgan Hills RV Resort before and were pleased with the surroundings (although dry and brown) as we were located a short distance from Uvas Canyon County Park and great hiking trails. We made a few hikes around the canyon with its splendid redwoods and waterfalls and Brad did a brutal hike up to the top of the mountain by himself. We finally got a few solid days of much needed rain which greened everything up considerably and made our last hike gorgeous.
We got to know some of the locals at the MH (Morgan Hll) Tavern and visited the overpriced El Toro Brewery, ouch! We made up for it with a trip to Phil's Fish House, on the coast in Moss Landing just over the Santa Cruz mountains from us. If ever you are passing through and if you love fresh seafood, you must stop at Phil's and have an Anchorsteam on tap with oysters on the half shell & ciopino, superb! We will definitely be back in the fall to explore more of the Morgan Hill area.

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Phil's Fish Market, Moss Landing
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So it's off to the Sacramento area once again to see friends, get tattooed and do some fishing!

Posted by curlysharon 02.24.2014 12:38 Comments (1)

Full Circle--again!

Seattle, Oregon coast and California

Seattle & Oregon
We traveled to the outskirts of Seattle and stayed a few days in the Black Diamond area to see our son Tom and wished him 'Happy Birthday'. We had a nice couple of days before heading to the Oregon coast and our first stop at Lincoln City, Oregon where we celebrated the 4th of July and did some lake fishing. Our next stop was to Newport, Oregon, a favorite town of ours where we stayed for 3 weeks and were able to really take in the area and get to know some folks.

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Lincoln City, Oregon

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Newport, Oregon
One of the friendliest towns and packed with things to do, Newport is a fun place to visit. From the beautiful views of the coast to the working harbor and the freshest seafood, we ate and drank our way around town and even visited the oyster beds and of course Rogue Brewery. We plan to return for Brad's 50th (Sept. 2014) we had such a good time and the weather was a perfect 65 and sunny!

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Sunny California

After such pleasant weather in coastal Oregon we were not prepared for the blast furnace heat of the central valley in Cali but we had doomed ourselves by making tattoo appointments for late July with our artists there. There was nothing to be done so we whined and sweat but were glad to see old friends and make some new ones,too.

Lake Minden

We stayed in Nicolaus, CA (30 miles north of Sacramento) on Lake Minden where the mosquitoes were fierce and numerous but the bird watching was great and the nearest bar was just a half mile away. We quickly became regulars at the 'Nicolaus Tavern' where we were welcomed into the fold and would've spent more time there except that the hours were Thurs - Sun, 3PM - close and believe me, we couldn't wait til Thursday. There wasn't much else happening in the small town but they did host an excellent Labor Day parade and we had a full day of festivities including picnics and live music ending at Nicolaus Tavern of course. Mike the owner was such a friend by this time he even gave us a ride to the rig (saved us from being eaten alive by the mosquitoes)!

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Coloma, CA

We moved up to 'Ponderosa Pines' in Coloma, CA in the Sierra Nevada foothills where gold was discovered in 1848 and camped on the American River. Another favorite campground as it is a beautiful setting and the river is perfect for tubing but not this trip as fresh tattoos and rivers don't mix. Still it was fun to watch the rafters and float tubes meander down the river. We did a day hike up to the John Marshall monument (where his likeness points to the spot where he first discovered gold) and around Sutter's Mill and the historic buildings that make up the John Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. And no stay would be complete without a few visits to the 'Coloma Club' saloon & dance hall, just a short walk from the campground.

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Emigrant Gap, CA

Finally we made our way up to Emigrant Gap, CA for a stay at 'Snowflower' in the Sierra Nevada mountains (approx. 5500'). It was so peaceful in the giant pines and due to the fact that summer season was over. We hiked and biked and really enjoyed the solitude and the scenery. We made several day trips into Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee all three fun towns to visit. The nights were clear and cold but excellent for star gazing and pipe smoking and before we knew it the time had come to start heading south for the winter before the snow began flying.

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On to So Cal for the winter!

Posted by curlysharon 01.10.2014 15:20 Comments (0)

Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana & Idaho

Old Friends

Minneapolis / St. Paul
Our travels through Minnesota were brief with just a day trip to Minneapolis to take in the Minnesota River drive (a tributary of the Mississippi River). It was a rainy day but we were able to appreciate the scenery along the river which is popular with the locals. The final picture is us heading into St. Paul where we popped into a bar and were held hostage by a violent downpour that prevented us from leaving for a while...

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Perham, MN
As it turned out we were traveling within an easy distance of our home park of Perham so we decided to stay a few days. It was their off season and although the pics show many RVs we were all alone as regulars leave their rigs set up in their sites and only visit on weekends. The place had a weird feel like an RV ghost town, during the fishing season it comes alive and fills to capacity in this rural area.

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Grand Forks, North Dakota

We headed to North Dakota to visit our friends Don & Carla Gellerman and their family who we had not seen over 20 years. We found Grand Forks to be a quiet town situated on the banks of the Red River. It was quiet because classes were out for the University of North Dakota and the campus was empty leaving the town and devoid of much of it's population. Don had trained Brad at his first air traffic facility in Juneau, Alaska and after his retirement from the FAA had settled in Grand Forks and is now a professor in the Aerospace division.
It was wonderful to see the Gellerman family and we had plenty to talk about after such a long separation but we quickly caught up and felt like good freinds again. We were honored to be invited to dinner almost every night we were there and marveled at the harmony amongst their 6 children (their son Jeremy was not present); they were excellent hosts and we enjoyed the superb food in a jovial atmosphere.
Don & Carla took us on a tour of Grand Forks as it was Don's hometown as a young boy. We were astonished to learn the campground we stayed in on the other side of the river in Minnesota (East Grand Fork) was once part of the town but after flooding in 1997 was turned into a park, you could see the driveways and streets where once stood houses.

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The Flood Memorial Monument honors the rescue workers of the April 18, 1997 flood and shows the water levels from flooding throughout the decades.
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We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and hope to visit again.

Lake Sakakawea, ND

Don & Carla told us we must make a trip to Lake Sakawea on our way through North Dakota for some walleye fishing; we could'nt wait to do just that.
Lake Sakakawea is a reservoir in the Missouri River basin in central North Dakota named for the Shoshone-Hidatsa woman Sakakawea (Sakagawea of the Lewis and Clark expedition), it is the largest man-made lake in North Dakota and the third largest in the United States.
We stayed at the state campground which was beautifully kept and very quiet, not many other campers. We fished from the shore just about every day of our 10 day stay and had such a good time. Brad was the victor with a 5 1/2lb walleye (and a 2 1/2lber!) while I modestly caught 5 or 6 small mouth bass, no walleye for me. We also caught a slew of skipjack which we threw back as not so tasty! The walleye was delicious and is a favorite in that part of the country, we had it several times during our travels.

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On a mild spring day I per chance to see an American Robin spying on me
Busily he built a nest of twig and feather
And I contemplated my own home, road worn and weathered
Miles of travel, grime and dust
A badge of honor to wanderlust
He makes his home nestled safe in a tree
We go where the road takes us, happily free

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Our friends had also told us to check out Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the badlands of North Dakota (western) and again we were not disappointed. The bison roam freely and the landscape was breathtaking, so different than the South Dakota badlands these were green and full of life. There were few people so exploration was easily done and we also visited the historic cowboy town of Medora situated right outside the park.
Teddy Roosevelt had a great fondness for the area since a bison hunting trip when he was a young man. He built ranches along the river where he raised cattle and his appreciation of the land led him to become a conservationist when he was president.
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Montana

We traveled to Billings, Montana to visit our friends Chris & Konnie Collinsin. Chris was a controller from Anchorage when we were there (20 years ago) and has since retired from the FAA and runs a Cross Fit gym in Billings. We made a day trip to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument to visit the site of Custer's last stand. We were surprised at how small the area is, just a hill and the fact that the "battle" lasted less than an hour outnumbered as they were. It is also the site of a U.S. National Cemetary and many graves of known and unknown veterans.

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Moscow, Idaho

Next it was on to Idaho to see my friend Erin Colombo in Moscow (northern) Idaho situated on the border of Washington. It was a lovely town and we enjoyed catching up with Ken & Erin and seeing the sights. The first pictures reflect our travels through Missoula, MT and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Erin took us to the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at the University of Idaho where we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the gardens. The fields surrounding Moscow are full of lentils, a brilliant yellow on the landscape.
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We looked forward to seeing our son Tom as we traveled on into Washington and the coast, our trip almost to a close.

Posted by curlysharon 11.02.2013 22:05 Comments (0)

Milwaukee & Wisconsin Dells WI

Beers, Bikes & Birds!

A Toast to Milwaukee
Raise a glass to Old Milwaukee
with taverns not a few
and breweries aplenty
a nod & 'cheers to you'!
~SFR

We had decided to travel north for our route back to northern California (where we plan to winter) to avoid the heat & tornadoes down south and to visit our friends in the northern tier states.
North from Chicago we headed to Milwaukee, WI the mecca of brewing and motorcycles. We rode our bikes downtown to our first stop the Harley Davidson Factory & Museum. We were in awe of the bikes and the Harley Davidson history, equally impressive was the number of bikes we saw on the road.
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Downtown Milwaukee
We stopped at the 'Safe House' a fun spy themed bar & restaurant complete with a secret entrance, password and interesting atmosphere. Next we headed to Brady Street, the 'Haight Ashbury' of Milwaukee and checked out the scene there. Lots of bars, restaurants and young people. We had a great time and even hit a couple of bars on our way back to the rig (they're everywhere in the brew capitol)!
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Wisconsin Dells, WI
We were on our way to the green hills of Wisconsin and decided to stay in 'the Dells' and see what the tourist town was about. It must be the waterpark capitol of the country. What we found was a Disney like town for families and adults. Giant waterparks, indoor and out some open year round are the major attractions but the Dells also boasts loads of other activities from bungee jumping to amphibious truck tours in the Wisconsin River to view the area's famous sandstone formations. We found plenty of restaurants and bars with playful themes and a multitude of shops all catering to the summer crowds. Luckily we were there before Memorial Day and the start of the season.

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International Crane Foundation
One sweet surprise was our visit to the Int'l Crane Foundation where all 15 species of cranes are bred for release into the wild and in some cases to protect a species doomed to extinction. They are beautiful creatures (and they know it) and the grounds surrounding the exhibits were in bloom.
Their webpage for further info: http://www.savingcranes.org/
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The Whooping Cranes (an endangered species) were nesting and caring for their eggs.
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This fellow gave us quite a show and squawked and pranced around. When they are in mating mode they can be very aggressive.
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This guy seemed to want a scratch on the beak!
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We enjoyed our campsite in the wilderness and our visit to Wisconsin! Next it was on to Minnesota!

Posted by curlysharon 15:44 Comments (1)

Chicago

'It's a 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes; it's dark and we're wearing sun glasses. Hit it!' - - - The Blues Brothers

Chicago

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~Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities
~

Carl Sandburg

We were thrilled to be driving into Chicago to see Loretta & Jeremy and to finally meet little Zero, their Corgi puppy. As we progressed the streets became narrower and more congested till double lanes suddenly merged without warning and the aged infrastructure made us feel distinctly out of place in our big Dodge dually. Brad managed it with his usual candor and we found their neighborhood to be a quaint area of brick row housing about 12 miles from the city center. After a delicious meal at Hot Doug's ( Sausage Superstore and. Encased Meat Emporium) and my first authentic Chicago style dog we headed to the Navy Pier to see the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows; a permanent display of 150 stained glass windows that were originally installed in Chicago area residential, commercial and religious buildings. The pictures do not do justice to the diversity of beautiful pieces we saw that day but we worked up a good thirst which we quenched with stops at The Billy Goat Tavern and Harry Caray's Bar.
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Zero the cutest Corgi and such a good trained puppy!camping_21.jpg

Elgin, Illinois
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We camped out in Elgin (about 40 miles west of Chicago) due to the fact that there are no RV parks within an hours drive of the city and this quiet preserve was a welcome refuge from the hustle & bustle of the city. It was an easy train ride into the city from the station a few miles away and we could take in the countryside as it gradually changed from picturesque small towns to asphalt and concrete. We navigated easily within the city (thanks to Brad) upon the different modes of mass transit buses and elevated trains with the passes Loretta gave us and as they were busy with work and school we had time enough on our own to explore.

Union Station, the Chicago River & Loop Bridges, Old Town
There are 18 moveable bridges within 2 miles along the Chicago River.We checked out Old Town, a neighborhood with a small town feel with lots of restaurants and bars.

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Holy Name Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and was built to replace the Cathedral of Saint Mary and the Church of the Holy Name, both destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871. The cathedral was finally dedicated on November 21, 1875.Chicago2GrandForks_014.jpglarge_Chicago2GrandForks_007.jpglarge_Chicago2GrandForks_008.jpglarge_Chicago2GrandForks_009.jpglarge_Chicago2GrandForks_010.jpglarge_Chicago2GrandForks_013.jpg

Atop the John Hancock Tower, 1000 ft. up and extraordinary views of Lake Michigan and the city.
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Outside Sears where Loretta works as a graphic designer for 'SearsStyle'.
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Wrigley Field home of the Cubs since 1916. We had a beautiful day at this smallish ballpark known for its ivy covered brick outfield wall, the unusual wind patterns off Lake Michigan, the iconic red marquee over the main entrance, the hand turned scoreboard, and for being the last major league park to have lights installed for play after dark, with lighting installed in 1988.
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On Mother's Day the kids took us out to eat at Gino's East for some deep dish pizza and beers, the BEST!
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We had such a great visit with Loretta & Jeremy (and Zero!) and I get misty eyed just thinking of them. We are so happy for them that they are enjoying their time in Chicago!
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Posted by curlysharon 05.30.2013 17:27 Comments (0)

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