Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Setting Our Sights For Home....

It is that time - in the snow bird season - when RVers (and other travelers) set their sights for home.  And that time has come for Jeanette and me.  So, we turn our attention to closing up the 5th wheel, hitching up and pointing the truck northwards.
Prep day today - Storing our stuff away
Today - Wednesday - will see us pack and store in preparation for our Thursday morning departure from Caliente' Springs RV Resort, here in the Coachella Valley/Palm Springs area.
Hanging out at the College of The Desert market
Since returning from our group motorcycle ride, we have not been idle.  Other than enjoying some spa days at our RV resort, we've been out and about to enjoy much of what the Palm Desert/Palm Springs area has to offer.
At 'The River' in Rancho Mirage. 
'The River' - a shopping and restaurant attraction is a lovely place to walk around.  We did just that one afternoon before joining friends for a special evening out.  
With all the waterways that surround this facility, it's easy to understand why it is called, 'The River'.
Nice views
When the temperature rose to the mid-90's, one day last week, Jeanette and I motorcycled about one hour west and south - and up to 6,000 feet - to visit the beautiful mountain resort town of Idyllwild.  The ride up offered great valley views.  And once up to the 5,000 foot elevation, the pine trees offered great cooling and a change in views.
Once parked in Idyllwild, we walked the town before selecting an ideal location to lunch.
Up high in the mountains where temperatures hovered in the mid to high 70's
The view - one of many - we see while walking the desert behind our RV resort in Desert Hot Springs.
Enjoying a beautiful day visiting Sunnylands
Ever the green thumb and plant aficionado, Jeanette wanted to visit Sunnylands - the former Annenberg Estate here in the Palm Desert valley.  We chose to head there last Easter Sunday.  And what a great day to be there!  There was live music, fabulous walking paths through the greenery and some great learning too.

Beautiful Sunnylands.
A picture in the park
An endless variety of cacti
Golf at the Palm Desert Golf Course
And only yesterday (Tuesday), I joined my friend and golf buddy from home, Fred for our final golf round.  We played the golf course that my nephew, Ted is the golf superintendent at.  And what a treat it was to play it.
L-R  Ted (my nephew), is the youngest son of my oldest brother.
It was nice to have a visit with my nephew at his golf course before our final round.  Ted has worked his magic to redevelop and create a beautiful golf course; one of the over 100 courses that dot this southern California desert valley.
A sand storm that seemed to blow through here, these past several days.
Late March often draws the famous Santa Anna winds.  And this year was no different.  The winds did blow through here with gusts that were incredibly harsh.  The blinding sand storms caused some major accidents in the western valley and the high desert. 
The RV park is somewhat more ghostly now.
With better than half of the RV site empty, it is a sign that the winter snow birding journey for many has ended.  And that's the case with us too.

We'll report from the road as we journey north along the major routes of California, Oregon, and Washington States.  

Thanks for dropping in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What A Road Trip.....Part 2

The previous blog closed with our motorcycle group spending the night in the beautiful ocean town of Carlsbad, California.  Click on the following links for greater detail:  Carlsbad, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Carlsbad shoreline
Wednesday, March 16th saw our group ride out from Carlsbad and heading north on I-5 for Dana Point.   Dana Point, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Another beautiful sea side area, our objective was to take a break here and to enjoy a last view of the Pacific Ocean before riding inland. And the weather could not have been better. 

Dana Point group shot:  L-R  Lorraine, me, Jeanette, Fritz, Bonnie, Lucky, Trena, Roger.
Only a short ride east from Dana Point is the historical town of San Juan Capistrano.  One of the many missions that were built between San Diego and San Fransisco, this one is famous for the swallows that invade it in late March of every year. We arrived a few days before the invasion.
The mission is much larger than one would believe. 
Our group visited the mission.  Founded over 240 years ago, the mission church was mostly destroyed when an earthquake struck this area in 1812.  Click here for detailed information: Mission San Juan Capistrano

The ruins
The bells of Capistrano
From here, we rode inland, over the mountains, towards Lake Elsinore.  The twists and turns, combined with elevation changes is what draws motorcyclists to ride here.  And the scenery is beautiful.
Gorgeous topography - Little traffic
Taking a break to view Lake Elsinore from above.
Click on this link for detailed information on Lake Elsinore:  Lake Elsinore, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From here, our group rode into the great little city of Temecula where an Old Town eatery satisfied our lunch cravings. Temecula, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is from here that we led the ride through more back roads (at elevations of 4,000 feet) over California 371, onto Highway 74 and the tight 'S' curves into Palm Desert.
Group photo taken at the lookout on Highway 74
Arriving in Palm Desert.
It's here that Lucky and Trena took the lead and led the group to their RV park in Cathedral City.  Following a happy hour at their site, we guided our guests to their Palm Springs hotel. (Header photo shows Trena and Lucky's RV site)
Riding into the city of Palm Springs, CA   Palm Springs, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Once registered and freshened up, we walked the half block to Las Casuelas Terraza | Mexican Dining in Palm Springs, California
Dinner was very good but the crowd noise, created in part by the large crowds enjoying spring break, made it nearly impossible for us to carry any conversations.  With dinner completed, we quickly took exit to the near peacefulness of the street.
Thursday morning, March 17th was to be the last day out riding group would be together.  Trena and Lucky had said their bye byes to the other riders after our Wednesday evening dinner.  They were preparing to pack up for their RV journey back home.

Jeanette and I met Bonnie/Fritz and Lorraine/Roger at their Palm Springs hotel early that morning.  By 8:30 am, we left Palm Springs, rode along Highway 111 to Highway 74 in Palm Desert, before heading south through the 'S' curves, up and over the San Jacinto mountain range.  Our destination?  Julian, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
At lunchtime, we found a lovely Julian restaurant that offered outdoor seating.  From here, Highway 78 east was the last part of our group ride before Jeanette and I broke away from Lorraine/Roger and Bonnie/Fritz. We headed north on Highway 86 for Palm Springs and they continued east on 78 and S-24 to Yuma, AZ.
Our final stop near the approach to Highway 86
We got off our rides and with hugs and bye byes - many photos too - we parted company....but not before everyone suggested it would be nice to get together for another ride, next winter.  Yeah to that!
L-R  Lorraine, Bonnie and Jeanette
L-R  Fritz, me and Roger.
To summarize, this five day ride for Jeanette and me (a four day ride for the others) was everything we had hoped it would be.  The camaraderie of folks - who quickly became fast friends - combined with riding some of southern California's most beautiful mountain and seaside roads, made for a wonderful motorcycle group ride. And it was fun!

Thanks for dropping in.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What A Road Trip....Part 1

Bring four truly nice couples together, on four motorcycles, for four days of riding through southern California and you have a great recipe for fun, adventure and camaraderie.

With so much to write about...and with so many photos to share, this will have to be a two part blog.  
Part 1 covers our first two days on the road. Part 2 will cover the last two days 
and it will follow in the days ahead.
Our first day - gathered at the Harley Davidson motorcycle shop in Yuma, AZ, prior to departure.
L-R:  Jeanette and me, Roger and Lorraine, Fritz and Bonnie, Trena and Lucky.

Having ridden with these folks, these past several years, Jeanette and I were keen on organizing a ride that would see these well experienced motorcyclists tour some of the southwest California's majestic mountain and seaside routes.
Trena & Jeanette trying to walk in the fine, fine sand in the Imperial Dunes area of the California/Arizona border.
We met Fritz and Bonnie (Iowans) three years ago in Gold Canyon, AZ.  And we met Roger and Lorraine (Albertans) two years ago in Yuma, AZ.  We have known and ridden with Trena and Lucky (British Columbians) for several years; here in the US southwest and back home in BC.
Trena, Lucky & Jeanette (I am taking the photo) riding out to Yuma, AZ (Sunday, March 13th) to meet up with Bonnie/Fritz and Lorraine/Roger.
We got together for a Sunday happy hour at Lorraine and Roger's winter home in Yuma, late Sunday afternoon.  It was here that Trena/Lucky, Lorraine/Roger and Bonnie/Fritz got to meet each other for the very first time.  Yes, they were strangers....but that did not last long. Everyone quickly became fast friends.

We discussed our ride over a nice dinner at a local Yuma restaurant.  We agreed to meet up at our Yuma hotel for our Monday, March 14, 2016 departure. 
Westbound along the Mexican border (Highway 94 on the US side) - making our way towards San Diego.
The weather on departure day, Monday was sunny and bright.  Approaching the mountain passes, that transition from the eastern desert into the Sand Diego side, the clouds gathered, the winds blew and there was a threat of rain.  We soldiered on; heading further south from I-8; into beautiful secondary California highways. By doing so, we skirted the bad weather.  Only a few raindrops fell....and those were not sufficient to cool us off.
Threatening skies.
Taking a break and adding some layers of clothing to ward off the wind, threatened rain and cooling mountain temperatures.
A short rest at this mountain village east from San Diego.
Once over the mountains, the sky turned blue, the sun was shining, the wind abated and we braved the afternoon rush hour traffic to our San Diego harbor-side accommodations.We find San Diego an easy city to navigate but we did get one surprise when turning right (north) on to California Highway 125.  It was a toll road.  We all had to stop, pay our $2.50 before proceeding into the city.
A favourite of ours, San Diego is a city Jeanette and I truly enjoy visiting.
We arrived at our harbor-side motel by 3:30, Monday afternoon.
Parked for the night.
Changed out into hot weather casual clothes, we gathered on the second floor sun deck for a celebratory happy hour before heading out for a seafood dinner out.
A beautiful setting - enjoying the company of good friends.
One of our objectives - for this trip - was to leave by 9:00 am and finish each day by 3:00 or 3:30 pm. And we managed that quite well. We were able to enjoy each location, once off our motorcycles.

One of the numerous photos taken in harbor-side, San Diego.  It was here that we enjoyed diner looking over this lovely view with downtown San Diego in the background.
An impromptu, after dinner, get together, in our motel room, had us enjoy some good conversation and great laughter.  Check out Trena, Bonnie, Lorraine and Jeanette in the photo below. The laughter was fast and festive.
Nearing the end of Day 1
We woke up to our 2nd day under blue skies, sun, no wind, no threat of rain and in balmy temperatures.  Yeah to that!  By 9:00 am, the bikes were shined up, we were coffee'd up, had finished our breakfasts, and we were ready to depart for La Jolla shores and points further north.
Tuesday morning, March 15th - Readying to roll out
At La Jolla shores.
Arriving at La Jolla shores, just south of the small city by that namesake - and only about 20 minutes north from San Diego - we were off our rides to enjoy the pounding surf and sheer beauty of this special place.  The sights and sound here are magical.  Although we could have spent more time enjoying the view, we cruised the shoreline into the city of La Jolla and continued to make our way further north.
So much beauty to enjoy here.
Just out of La Jolla, we pointed our rides north to the famed PGA (Pro Golf of America) Torrey Pines Golf Course.  Only one of the two public courses on the PGA tour, this proved to be a nice place to take another break.
      Click on this link for detailed information on Torrey Pines:      
Parked in line at Torrey Pines Golf Resort.
Most golfers will know that this fabulous golf resort is the home of the Farmer's PGA Golf tournament.  Its 'walk of fame' lists well known winners in the pro-golf world: Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazin, Gary Player (The Black Knight), Phil Mickelson, Davis Love II, John Daly, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and more.
Walking along the 'walk of fame' at Torrey Pines Golf Resort.
From here, we left the coastal area and rolled east for the wonderful mountain roads. Those roads offer stunningly wonderful twists and turns, with ups and downs that thrill riders like us.  We rolled into the great little hamlet of Santa Ysabel (famous for Julian Pies) where our group enjoyed some great pie treats with ice cream.  Yum!

Click on this link for more detailed information on Santa Ysabel:
The famous (in this area at least) Julian Pie Company - Always a nice place to stop.
The mountain and valleys here are dotted with flowers of all colours.
Riding west from Lake Henshaw towards Oceanside.
The beach at Oceanside.
Arriving early enough, we parked our bikes before walking the long, long pier out over the sea and pounding surf.  The surfers were enjoying some nice waves.

Fritz was working to befriend this pelican.  It was more interested in guarding its fish scraps in the sink though.
Once off the pier it was a short and peasant ride along the Oceanside sea wall towards our hotel in Carlsbad.
Roger and Lorraine, keeping pace on the seashore.
Only a few minutes south and we had arrived in Carlsbad.  This pretty place by the sea was new to two of our couples.  Lucky/Trena, Jeanette/me have been here several times now.  And we never tire of it.  This little city does remind us of our previous home of 38 years in White Rock, BC.
Happy hour was had overlooking the Pacific Ocean while enjoying beautiful 80 degree heat.
We made plans for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant; only within a couple of blocks from our hotel. 
Me, Jeanette and Lucky are basking in the late afternoon sunshine,  waiting for the others to gather for our walk to the restaurant.
And it is here (two full days into our group motorcycle ride) that we will leave you.  Check back in one day...or two...for the balance of our story, combined with more photos.

Before posting this blog, I edited over 400 photos.  Jeanette was certainly busy while riding.  And she did capture some truly good scenic pix.

Thanks for dropping by.