Camping - Visalia, CA

Visalia Camping Spot

Well, we’re camped here in the Central California Valley, about 25 miles west of the Sequoia National Forest. It’s a nice little KOA park away from the highway in an industrial/residential/agricultural and recreational area. Yep - some of each.

We are relaxed and comfortable after a fairly challenging commute from the LA Basin through the Grapevine and up the California central valley. It goes without saying that there was traffic and partial blockage as we departed the basin. In the mountain passes, we struggled with gusty crosswinds which adds a new dimension to driving a nearly 36 foot “slab side” RV. Needless to say we were relieved to arrive safely at our destination and campsite for the evening.

Tomorrow will find us, God willing, at Damsel’s sister’s place up the road from here. We’re planning on spending several days there before heading back home via the long way through Nevada, Utah and Northern Arizona. There will be another “camping at” photo tomorrow or the next day.

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Camping - San Dimas, CA

San Dimas Camping Spot

One of the slogans for this campground is “Best kept secret in the LA Basin.” I have to admit that I never heard of it until finding it on-line. Now that we’re here, I can see that this place, surrounded by dense urban infrastructure, is rendered obscure because it is nestled in the hills and is not seen from any of the several freeways in the area.

Normally, we try to avoid the LA basin, but this park is the closest to where the kids and grandson live. Damsel and I enjoyed the visit this afternoon and evening with the nineteen month old boy and his Dad. We saw them last month in Palm Desert, the halfway point, but due to work and other obligations, they couldn’t make it out there this month. We also expect that there will be no visiting for a while because of the same business obligations on the kids’ part as well as the higher summer temperatures in the desert.

Next stop on our excursion will be in the San Joaquin valley for an overnighter before heading up to see family in Northern California. We anticipate posting another camping photo at each campsite.

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And Now, For The Yellow Cactus Flowers . . .

Prickly Pear Flower

As springtime progresses, more flowers open up. We have several types of opuntia (prickly pear) cactus in the rock and cactus garden west of the house. The first flowers to open are on the beavertail cactus which have pink flowers. Now the other opuntia are starting to show their yellow flowers.

Most of the cacti in the garden were started from a single paddle while a couple are native to that patch of ground and a couple others are transplants. The cactus whose flower appears above is a hybrid in that it was started elsewhere from a paddle and has been transplanted to its current location a couple of years ago when we were preparing to have the RV drive concrete poured.

All of the opuntia out in the west side lot are thriving. None meed much attention although we did trim up one of the lawyer’s tongue cactus which was spreading too wide with several paddles laying on the ground. That cactus, and a couple of other offshoots elsewhere out there were started from a single paddle that we planted in a barrel in the courtyard before relocating.

The best part of a cactus garden is that it does well if you ignore it. We do, however, drizzle some water on a couple of ocotillos from time to time. One of the transplanted ocotillos is doing very well this spring, with leaves and some cane-tip flowers.

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RV Trip Planning

Spring Travel Plan

Over the past several weeks, we have been planning on our spring excursion to visit relatives and to take in some scenic places on our way back home. The process for making a travel plan is much the same as preparing a flight plan with certain differences, of course (winds aloft may not affect our ground speed, etc.).

Lots of things require some planning: travel times, rest stops, fuel consumption, provisions (water, food, etc.) and camping facilities. While there are several on-line utilities to assist in this planning, we have supplemented them with some home-grown tools. We have spreadsheets which enumerate the itinerary and project the fuel consumption and refueling stops.

We already have the GPS programmed for the next trip. There is a utility on our Garmin to plan each day’s travel, including times, distances and fuel consumption. It’s a very handy feature. In addition, we have the “GAS BUDDY” application on the Android which finds fuel sorted by price for a given area.

At this point, we are probably finished with the planning, including the food menu, which Damsel has under control. The on-board freezer and fridge have the basics in stock and we will be doing additional shopping as we go along the way.

The route plan depicted above is the basic loop where we plan to travel. The map excludes a couple of side trips which will be made using a rental car. We have no desire to drive the 35 foot diesel into the San Francisco Bay area where the grandkids (and great grandkids) live, so we will rent for that day.

So, that’s it for the spring plan. We will post our progress when we are underway. We still have some minor chores and appointments to complete before departure. We anticipate a good trip, good weather, good visits with everyone and some spectacular scenery in the great American West.

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Announcing a Blessed Arrival

Baby Maci

Announcing our second great grandchild and our first great granddaughter. Meet little Maci - Born last night (4/12) at around 10:30, 7.3 lbs, 19¼ inches. Perfection!

We will formally meet the little one early next month when we take our spring excursion to Northern California to visit family. After that, we will take the long, scenic way home.

The other granddaughter, mother of our great grandson has also announced a new arrival due in November of this year. We’re going to be busy doting for a while. ;)

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Argentine Giant Cactus Flower

Argentine Giant Cactus Flower

We didn’t get any flowers on our Argentine Giant cactus last year although every year before that since we planted it, it had at least one flower. This year, it definitely is back to flower production, this one being the first to open with several other bumps on the cactus that look like they are going to be flowers.

I took this photo late this afternoon when the flower was almost completely open. Maybe we will get nighttime pollinators again like we did two years ago. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Ammospermophilus Leucurus Fortitudus

White Tailed Antelope Squirrel

Damsel and I maintain a wild bird and animal feeding station on the hill just behind the RV drive behind our house. I was up there this morning replenishing the feeders when this little white-tailed antelope squirrel came right up to me and seemingly begged for a tidbit. I broke off a little piece from a sunflower seed bird bell and tossed it to the little critter. I had my little camera, so I snapped pictures of it as it consumed the tidbit I threw down.

The title of this post comes from the binomial name of this variety of squirrel combined with a bastardization of the Latin word for fortitude or “courageous.” It seemed like a brave little critter to come within a couple of feet from where I stood.

There were several other squirrels and a few birds in the area; a cardinal in the mesquite tree behind me and a curve billed thrasher already pecking on the bird block I just hung up as I started back down the hill. We certainly enjoy our desert critters and flowers.

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