Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #18

“He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of a hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all.”

Sinclair Lewis


Wednesday, April 13, 2011:  At 1000 we reluctantly leave Las Vegas and Suzie, Kevin, Jack and Tucker.  The weather is clear and sunny with a temperature in the mid 70’s.  With a bit of sadness we watched the iconic sign in the truck mirror fade into the distance.

 We were planning on heading to Bryce Canyon National Park, however after checking the forecast we decided to hit Zion National Park instead.  Bryce High-41, Low-20 and snow…..Zion High-72, Low 46 and sunny…..kind of a no brainer.  We certainly were not disappointed as Zion has become one of our favorite Utah National Park’s!

 But before we enter one of America’s premier National Parks I have an apology to make.  I had been remiss in keeping these journals up to date and publishing them in a timely manner.  Well I recently discovered that it hasn’t been my fault.  I had a bug in my computer.

On I-15 we soon cross the Utah border entering the Mountain Time Zone.  Following the Virgin River Gorge on UT-9 through Hurricane and Springdale we arrived at the park entrance.

We selected a nice spot in South Campground and self-registered for a few days stay.

Thursday, April 14 through Saturday, April 16—Zion National Park, Utah:  After a very restful night listening to the flow of the Virgin River we woke to bird song and the sun illuminating Watchman’s Peak.

Soon we were enjoying breakfast while viewing this sight from our site.

Being a weekday the Campground was sparsely populated.  About half the folks in the campground were Europeans in rental campers.  Apparently there had been a TV special shown throughout Europe that showcased some US National Parks and Zion was one of them featured.  In addition there were big wall climbers and white water kayakers staying in the park and enjoying those more extreme sports.  Most of the remaining where retired folks like us.

Zion canyon was cut to its present depth by the Virgin River.

This normally placid river picks up intensity during spring snow runoff and the intense rain storms that drop moisture on the nonporous slickrock mesas.

During this period of high and fast water the river carries along sand, pebbles and stones which conspire to rapidly erode the sandstone rock.

This action continues today deepening the canyon by a few inches each year.  The constant battle between man and nature causes the park service to replace portions of washed out road.  However the result is truly magical.

 This place is a photographers dream.  One truly cannot take a bad picture in Zion.  If anything, the red rock, blue sky and brilliant spring greenery showcased in this magnificent park at this time of the year cannot be realistically captured on film.  My photos do not do justice to the beauty of Zion.

For the first day we decided to walk to the visitor’s center to gather some information on the park.

Zion does not sell bottled water but asks visitors to use refillable water bottles.  Nor should they, the spring water was incredible!  We liked it so much that we drained the remaining water out of our camper tank and filled up with delicious Zion Spring Water.  In addition we filled all our water bottles as well as four gallon jugs we keep for emergencies……it is that good!

The park has an incredible system of propane powered shuttle busses that connect most major portions of the park with the two campgrounds, the visitor’s center and the local town of Springdale.  This service is free and very convenient… fact, I never felt a need to disconnect truck and trailer during our stay.  After touring the center and associated gift shop we decided to take the shuttle into Springdale.

This quaint town is the un-official “Gateway to Zion”.  It features every amenity that the visitor would need including an IMAX theater that shows an incredible film on Utah’s National Parks.  After walking around for a few hours we made our way to the local hangout, Oscars.  We enjoyed Fish Tacos, Sweet Potato Fries with “Fry Sauce” and a few Polygamy Porters.

Back at the campground we walked part of the Pa’rus Trail until sunset, and then returned to the camper for happy hour…..easy to do in this park!

The next day was Bill’s day to hike and Kit’s day to enjoy some peace and quiet.  Kit went back into Springdale to finish exploring the town and I set out on the Watchman Tower trail.

The trail was well maintained….and as an added bonus the trailhead was at the campground.  It steadily climbed the flanks of Watchman Tower.

Just to show that Zion isn’t all red, white, blue and green I came upon this flowering bush along the trail.

Nearby I noticed this little fellow enjoying the day.

 The trail continued upward, hugging the side of the mountain and in many places traveled under overhanging rocks.

 Soon I came to this fellow sunning himself on a warm spring day.

He looked a bit surly; I guess peddling insurance for a living can sour anyone’s disposition.

At the summit there were nice close up views of the famed Watchman Tower.

And a bird’s eye view of the campground and the town of Springdale off in the distance.  The smoke you see in the distance is from Kit’s credit card.

The trek was a nice mellow hike with many places to stop and just enjoy the majesty of Zion National Park.

On the final day we took the shuttle up canyon to Zion Lodge.  Kit found a comfortable leather chair to sit and read in and I took off on another hike…..the Emerald Pool Trail.  It was mostly paved and only a few miles but it led to an incredible sight in this normally arid state.  The triple waterfalls into the Emerald Pools.

The trail leads behind the falls where everyone gets a bit damp.

Beyond the lower falls the trail continues to the middle falls which is even more impressive.

At this point the trail was closed due to erosion denying access to the upper falls.

Another great hike in a great National Park!  Returning to Zion Lodge Kit and I enjoyed a nice lunch on the deck overlooking the beautiful Zion rock formations.

Back at our campsite and on the final evening in Zion National Park we enjoyed the moon rising over the canyon walls.

There is way too many incredible sights for one journal issue…..stay tuned for more.

Kit’s Nine Cents Worth:  Little does he know; I hardly spent a thing on my tour through Springdale.  It’s fun just to wander through the shops and chat with the owners.  They all seem interested in talking to people from other states or countries and are eager to share their favorite Utah tourist spots with us.  Hope we get back to Zion NP another time, I love the scenery there.

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma

Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #17

 Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #17

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

Mark Twain


Friday, March 18 through Tuesday, April 12, 2011—Las Vegas, Nevada (Part 2):  Most folks think of Las Vegas as mainly the strip, which encompasses just a very small area and unfortunately many never venture away from it.  However there are many sights in and around Las Vegas that warrant visiting.

In the past we have enjoyed Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area which boasts some excellent hiking trails through sandstone slot canyons.  In addition, with a vertical rise of 3,000 feet it has become a nationally famous sport climbing destination.

North of the strip, near Nellis Air Force Base, resides a large racetrack facility that features both NASCAR and NHRA Championship racing.  Since it was an off week, racing wise, we were able to drive around the facility.

Also, there is Hoover Dam.  This massive Hydroelectric Project was constructed during the 1930’s to hold back the Colorado River in order to generate electricity for all those Las Vegas Lights.

Actually it was a very important flood control, power generation and municipal water project.  As a side benefit, it created Lake Mead which is used for recreational purposes.  Hoover Dam was originally called Boulder Dam, even though it is located in Black Rock Canyon (long story).  There was a lot of political infighting surrounding what to call the dam dam (pun intended).  So much so that the citizens of Boulder City, a few miles away, recommended it be called “Hoogivza Dam”…..true story!

Before September 11th you could drive freely over the dam on your way to and from Arizona.  However after the attack on America the traffic was restricted and the dam road (pun intended) became a traffic nightmare.  So, they built a bridge a few hundred yards down river from the dam to shunt the traveling motorist around the dam road.

 Since this new bridge crosses the Arizona-Nevada border both states deserved naming rights.  The bridge’s official name is the “Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge”.

Arizona chose the name, Pat Tillman.  As you may remember, Pat Tillman was the University of Arizona football star who was drafted by the NFL Arizona Cardinals.  Shortly after September 11th, he turned down his 3.6 million pro football salary and enlisted in the US Army…..because he thought that was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately Corporal Tillman was killed while serving in Afghanistan.  Following an attempted cover-up by the Army, it was learned that he died as a result of friendly fire.

For their part, Nevada chose the name Mike O’Callaghan…..who was just some dam politician (pun intended).

The “Dam Bridge” as it is locally known is pretty incredible.  It is the longest concrete arch bridge in the hemisphere and at 840 feet above the river is the 2nd tallest in the US.  The civil engineers included a pedestrian walkway which parrallels the highway and gives some incredible views of both the Hoover Dam as well as the Colorado River.

The photo above was a lucky shot as the sun was in a great position to cast a shadow of the bridge on the far canyon wall.

Back toward town, there is the self-proclaimed “World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop”.  This is the joint that is featured in The History Channels reality show, “Pawn Stars”.

As you can see there is a line to get into the shop.  It has become quite the tourist attraction, but it is still an operating pawn shop so through traffic has to be controlled.  Inside it was pretty unique.  Some of the stuff the fellows took in during various episodes of the show is still there and being offered for sale.

Including this very rare original plan for the US invasion of Iwo Jima which was listed as priceless and is not for sale.

In addition there were a few Super Bowl rings, Survivor TV show torches, unusual objects of art and lots of jewelry.  Part of the shop has been turned into a souvenir stand which does a very brisk business.

The Colorado River provides excellent paddling and fishing opportunities.  One day, Kit and I visited Boulder City and toured the old historic downtown area where we had a great lunch.  That afternoon we drove downriver to Willow Beach so I could get some river paddling in.  Kit patiently sat in the shade and read from her Kindle while I put in and paddled down river.

The current was gentle and the river was like glass.  Near the shoreline I noticed the water was crystal clear and displayed the most incredible emerald green color I have ever seen.

This brilliant color just doesn’t exist in nature, but here it is.  The water is so clear that abundant growth develops on the rocks which are at least four feet underwater.  It felt like I was sitting on a plate of clear glass!

The crystal clear water allowed me to capture a photo of my kayak’s shadow on the bottom of the river.

I haven’t paddled water this clear since leaving Maine.  The photos do not accurately portray how remarkable the color is… was truly magical.

While admiring the scenery I noticed this Turkey Vulture (thanks Dave for the ID) circling overhead

It suddenly dove for my position close to shore and at the last minute set its flaps for landing.

Scared the bejeezes out of me…..then I realized the old bird was swooping in to feed on the carcass of some hapless fish.

A great afternoon of paddling on an historic old river.

And Kit was able to enjoy some peace and quiet as well……you’re welcome dear.

We celebrated our birthdays while in Las Vegas.  Kit wanted to go out for dinner and to see the long running musical “Menopause”.  Since it was her birthday, I gallantly agreed to sit alongside her and an audience full of menopausal women who, by the way, just kept glaring at me.  It turned out that the show was quite good and very funny!  There was dancing and singing and laughter…..kinda like the real thing, um…..or so I’m told.

For my birthday gift, I wanted to get another kite… I did.

 Yea, I know, why does any sane person need three kites?  Well a sane person doesn’t.  Kite flying is an addictive sport and most flyers have a quiver full of a variety of sport kites…..I’m just beginning my collection.  And, before you ask…..yes, they are all different.  They are designed for different wind conditions and will accomplish different maneuvers.

This is also the place where we reluctantly said good bye to Marvelous Monkey.  We had to send our dear friend back to Pennsylvania so Stephen could finish his geography assignment.

The journal is full of great stories from kind folks he met on his journey throughout the southwest and his souvenir bag was overflowing with the following:

  1. Sea shells from Padre Island National Seashore.
  2. The “bones” from an Arizona Cholla Cactus.
  3. The “baby” from a New Orleans King Cake.
  4. New Orleans Mardi Gras beads.
  5. Red rocks from Sedona.
  6. Bleached sea creature bones found on a California beach.
  7. A shell from the Rio Grande River.
  8. A sharks tooth from California.
  9. Pine cones from San Diego.
  10. Souvenirs from the USAF thunderbirds.
  11. Brochures from Big Bend and Mojave National Park’s.
  12. Red and Green Tabasco samples from Avery Island, Louisiana.
  13. Picture post cards from all over.
  14. And a replica of Marvelous Monkeys new friend Mr. Bill.

All in all a pretty good haul!  (Yea, I know it rhymes…, I didn’t plan it that way).

Now, you didn’t think I would close this Las Vegas Journal out without a few more pictures of Jack and Tucker, did you?

Here is Jack on his way to Kindergarten:

Here is a picture of Tucker when he realized that he had Guma and Poppy all to himself for a few hours.

Being a woodworker I have a tradition of making the grandkids something in my shop for Christmas each year.  The Maine kids receive theirs much closer to the holidays but the Las Vegas duo has to wait until we meander their way.  This year I made Jack a garage to house the toy car I made him last year.

And for Tucker, I made a step stool so he can climb up on the countertops much easier.

But their favorite gift was having Guma’s lap to cuddle up on while she told them old tales from the last century.

Goodbye Jack…..

…..and Tucker…..

…..we love you and will miss you.

Kit’s Eight Cents Worth:  We spent a good amount of time in Las Vegas this time.  It was nice to be able to see Jack & Tucker every few days, as if we actually camped nearby.  We are now trying to figure out how to bring them to Maine each summer for a week or two.  Reluctantly, we moved on and headed to Zion National Park.

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma

Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #16

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

Henry Miller

Friday, March 18 through Tuesday, April 12, 2011—Las Vegas, Nevada:  Funny thing about plans…..they tend to be nothing more than a point in time that you can use to deviate from.  We “planned” on staying in Las Vegas for about a week…..however we ended up staying almost a month!  Grandkids and great weather have that kind of effect on us.

WARNING—–there will be the obligatory posting of photos of our incredible “west coast grandkids” sprinkled about this journal.  Such as these:

Jack—–age six:

Tucker—age three years and 11 months/almost four:

Yep…..they are as active and full of life as they look.

In addition, they are creative.

And intelligent.

Yep they are actually playing chess……a game they taught me, then proceeded to clean my clock on every game!

Oh, yea by the way…..Jack and Tucker have parents, our daughter Suzie and our son-in law, Kevin:

 But enough about them.  Jack and Tucker are truly amazing kids.  Take it from us…..the future is very bright with young citizens like these as well as our three other grandkids back in Maine.

Joe, the newly minted Eagle Scout and first year student at the University of Maine:

Katie, the High School scholar and varsity basketball player:

And CJ (Christopher), the 5th grade scholar and premier soccer player:

And, Joe’s “very good friend” Ali, the sophmore at Husson College, and a nationally ranked downhill skier:

The above is how kids in Maine dress for school every day.  OK, actually this is the obligatory Prom Night shot every kid reluctantly poses for.

So… addition to hanging with Jack and Tucker, what else did we do in Las Vegas?  Well…..let’s see…..

Kevin scored us tickets to the new Cirque du Soleil show “Viva Elvis” which is being performed at the brand new Aria Resort and Casino at City Center.

The traditional high octane Cirque performance and timeless Elvis music combined to make a truly entertaining and unforgettable experience.  And as an added benefit, Kevin who is the Head of the Audio Department was working the show and we were seated near the control booth which added an extra dimension to the show.  The incredible acrobatics that is the Cirque trademark was in high gear and the re-mixed Elvis tunes were unbelievable.  This latest Cirque homage to Rock and Roll Royalty was as good as the Beatles show “Love” we enjoyed last year.  We can’t wait to see what Cirque Du Soleil comes up with next…..maybe it’s time to honor The Rolling Stones?

We also enjoyed walking “The Strip” during the daywhere we stopped in many of the casinos and enjoyed watching the folks from all over the world deposit their hard earned funds in the casinos coffers.

   For lunch we stopped by the Vegas Hard Rock Café.

After lunch, we bumped into this fellow playing the penny slots down on Fremont Street.  I guess he figured that Vegas was pretty much the same as that six sided funny farm he used to work in.  It’s all a big gamble.

Actually “Rummy” was in town to peddle his book “Known and Unknown”.

We even got to enjoy the city of New York…..without having to deal with the Lebanese cab drivers.

In addition, we enjoyed “The Strip” at night.

When things got really crazy and the “people watching” reached a whole other level of entertainment.

Following is just a random sampling of the sights we encountered during our time on The Strip.

Including this rather obvious taxi sign board:

Well…..what can I say…..It’s Vegas Baby!

The highlight of our Las Vegas stay however was getting some bonding time with Jack and Tucker.  Being as we live 2,800 miles from one another we only get to see them a few times a year and at their age they grow up fast.  So when Suzie and Kevin asked if we would mind watching the kiddles so they could enjoy a getaway we enthusiastically said yes.

We actually had Jack and Tucker for two weekends, one of which we went “camping” for three days to the RV Park on Nellis Air Force base.

Being that the RV Park is on an active military installation we were surrounded by the sights and sounds of military life.  Every morning at 0630 we could here reveille being played.  At sunset we honored evening colors as the National Ensign was lowered.  Jack and Tucker asked why they had to stop playing, place their hand over their hearts and face the sound of the bugler playing the National Anthem.  It provided an excellent opportunity to explain a little about honoring our flag.

Nellis is the home of the USAF flight demonstration team, The Thunderbirds.

On certain days they will allow visitors to tour the hanger.

The team was in Puerto Rico doing a show; however there were still plenty of activities to keep Jack and Tucker entertained.  We were assigned a very nice Staff Sargent from Indiana who had recently joined the team.  The kiddles took to Brian right away and he seemed to enjoy showing them around the hanger and answering their endless questions.

He even sat them in a cockpit trainer and explained every dial and control on the instrument panel.

They had a great time and spent a considerable amount of the next few days talking about their new friend Brian and about how they were going to fly jets when they grew up.  That evening they wrote a nice thank you letter to him and included some drawings of airplanes they had created.

Here Jack and Tucker are practicing with Thunderbird model gliders.

Let’s see…..what else did the kiddles do?  Well they enjoyed hanging out at the RV Park playground.

They enjoyed looking at bugs crawling on the ground.

They enjoyed sleeping in the camper.

They enjoyed flying one of Poppy’s kites.

They enjoyed watching more bugs.

They enjoyed watching the endless parade of jets circling the RV Park.

They enjoyed eating in the camper.

We all went to see the new movie Rango.  This is another in a series of animated movies, a la Shrek and Toy Story that features comedy on both an adult level as well as a child’s…..for some reason I appreciated both?!?!

They also enjoyed playing Titanic in Poppy’s kayak.

And they enjoyed seeing all the historic aircraft at Freedom Park.

What…..that last one is an F-117 Stealth Fighter, I must be getting really old.  Hard to believe this aircraft is now a museum piece!?!?

At Freedom Park there is a bigger playground with a unique roller slide.

All and all I think they had a great time and we plumb wore them out.  So much so that we got tired just watching them… took us all the next day to recover.  The campout with Guma and Poppy was a qualified success!  We look forward to doing it again next year…..and we may actually go somewhere.

Stay tuned for more of Bill and Kit’s visit to sin city.

Kit’s Seven Cents Worth:  Obviously, we had a great time with Jack & Tucker.  It’s nice to have them with us at the campground – they made friends with many of the local campers.  It’s not often that we have young children in the campgrounds so was quite a treat for everyone.  We had quite a wide range of weather during our month in Vegas; everything from 50 degrees up to 90 degrees, rain and very strong winds.  We thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Desert Eagle RV Park at Nellis AFB.  Even though it’s about 20 miles north of where Suzie & Kevin live, it’s quick and easy to get to their house.  Also had access to the BX and Commissary.

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma

Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #15

“Know most of thy native country before thou goest over the threshold thereof”

Thomas Fuller

Saturday, March 12 through Monday, March 14, 2011—San Onofre, California (Part Two):  On the next to last morning we woke to another perfect California day.  The sun had not yet peaked over the hills behind us, the surf was glassy smooth and the wind was still.  It would have been a great day to paddle out and ride a few classic left breaks.  But alas… board, I did consider doing some bodysurfing but this morning water temperature was listed as 56 degrees!

I’m going to have to get a wet suit before we visit this area again!  And maybe rent a surfboard for the week.

After breakfast we enjoyed a nice long stroll down the beach.

Soon we came to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.  Yep…..that is its official name and the acronym is indeed “SONGS”.  Honest…..Google it!

As I viewed the reactor containment building I thought of the classic movie line uttered by Detective Lt. Frank Drebin:  “Everywhere I look something reminds me of her”.

Feeding amongst the reactor cooling water discharge pipes where many interesting birds such as this Raven.

And a little fellow with an impressively long pecker.  Which he was using to dig up his dinner by poking it around in the sand.

Also the sky in late morning displayed a very colorful hue.

A short walk south of the Nuke plant one comes to the “swimsuit optional” area.  I decided to leave that adventure for another day.  Besides my shorts and t-shirt was fairly presentable, however my swimsuit optional attire was horribly wrinkled.

That afternoon, after the sea breeze kicked up, I took my kite down the beach and got in about two hours of good flying.  There is nothing like a steady ocean breeze for kite flying.  I was so intent in practicing some new tricks that I failed to realize I was attracting a crowd.  It was at that moment my kite decided to play dive bomber and torpedoed into the surf.  Acting like I meant to do that I quickly dragged the soggy nylon kite up onto dry land and carried the whole mess, and what was left of my dignity, back to the campsite.

We spent the final evening, siting in the sand and watching the brilliant California sun set over the ocean.  The end of another great day in Retireeville!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011:  Well today we reluctantly leave this beautiful place…..check out time is 1200 and it is now 1201.  We waited until the final moment in order to eke out a few more hours of camping on the ocean shore.  We have decided to come here again and spend even more time.  The only disadvantage is that the best sites have no sewer hookup…..too close to the ocean.  However we have already learned that we can go 7 days before our tanks need emptying, so next year…..7 days it is!

Traveling north on I-5 we soon reached US-91 which we used to reach Riverside National Cemetery, the final resting place of two great people…..Kit’s mom and dad.

Um….. Just for the record, I wasn’t making “shadow rabbit ears” on Kit’s head during such a somber moment.  There must have been a tree in the background that cast its shadow that way.  However if I had, I bet Frank would have thought it was hilarious!

After paying our respects we motored across the road to March Field, an Air Reserve Base.  They were full so we stayed in the overflow area which was located in a nice grassy area.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011:  Underway at 1030 after dumping our tanks and filling up with fresh water.

Riverside is in Orange County and true to its name there are fully ripe trees in the miles upon miles of orange groves that border each side of the roadway.

We stopped at a farm stand and made off with bags of oranges and tangelo’s which we are able to enjoy for many days to come.

There were women in the back of the shop cutting oranges to be processed into juice.  They are known as the Orange County Choppers and now have a reality show on the color TV.

We rode US-215 through San Bernardino and up into the mountains.  The air in the LA Basin was smoggy and dingy looking.  However as soon as we topped out we looked east into clear air.  These mountains really do trap the pollution from being cleared out by the ocean breezes.

Driving through Hesperia, California under sunny blue skies we experienced an air temperature of 63 degrees.  We soon dropped down into the Mojave Desert where the temperature rose to 86 degrees.  A 23 degree rise in temperature in less than 30 minutes!

We decided to stop at the Barstow Wal*Mart for fuel, groceries and some walking around time.  Our next stop is going to be Mojave National Preserve which is in the middle of nowhere!  There are signs everywhere to resupply here or perish in the desert!

The road into the preserve is long, lonely and desolate.  There were some interesting cloud formations that added to the eeriness of the scenery.

Arriving at the sparsely populated Hole in the Wall Campground we had our choice of sites.

We chose one that would be private and afford nice views of the desert and surrounding mountains.

And a rather unusual sunset.

Mojave National Preserve is located between Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park and due to this location is sparsely visited by most folks.  What a shame, as this place has an abundance of unique features that merit a visit.  Its remoteness allows for more of a wilderness experience and its vastness provides a very diverse environment.

After dinner, we fell asleep listening to the stillness of the desert night punctuated by the howling of coyotes on the prowl.

Thursday, March 17, 2011:  Up early to crystal clear skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s.  After breakfast Kit enjoyed some quiet Kindle reading time and told me to go away and play.

So while Kit was enjoying some peace and quiet, I took off to do some hiking.  I chose the Rings Loop trail because the trail descends into Banshee Canyon and affords close examination of the “hole in the wall” geology that this area is famous for.

These rocks were formed by volcanic activity as many other southwestern landscapes were.  However these formations are not the result of cooled magma but rather are a product of volcanic ash clouds that settled and compressed into a solid mass.  The “holes” were formed by trapped gases creating pockets of various sizes.  Many years later, due to the action of wind and water erosion, the gas pockets were exposed to daylight and the unique holes were created.

It must be my weird imagination, but I kept visualizing faces and creatures in the rocks, such as this “Idol”.

And this funny nightcap wearing character.

The trail soon narrowed into a tiny “slot canyon”.

In order to make it a true loop trail the National Park Service installed iron rings into the rock wall to allow hikers to continue on.

On top the trail terminated at the visitors center where there was a short nature walk back to the campground.  Along this trail I discovered the very rare Paper Bag Bush.

This folks is one of the few remaining productive sources of paper bags.  Now you know why the grocer encourages you to bring your reusable bags on the weekly shopping trip.

We decided to head out mid-day toward Las Vegas and a long anticipated visit with our daughter Suzie and her family.  We choose to travel on one of the many dirt roads that provide access to the interior of this vast park.

The road was very picturesque and we stopped frequently to walk among the Joshua Trees.  These unique trees remind me of something that would have been created by the famous San Diego writer and illustrator, Theodore Geisel.

The road was a bit rough so when we finally reached pavement we pulled over for a break and to grab some lunch.  Opening the camper door we were confronted by this scene.

First time that’s happened…..I guess that road was rougher than it felt.  After straightening up we moved onto I-17 and headed east.  In a little over an hour we pulled into town.

Can’t wait to see the kids and kiddles!

Kit’s Six Cents Worth:  Loved San Onofre!  I think it’s my very favorite place to camp.  Remembering that dirt road in the Mojave, it was a rough ride.  It took us a few minutes to straighten everything out.  Fortunately, nothing was broken.  I am very much looking forward to seeing Suzie and family.  We plan to stay in Las Vegas a bit longer this time so we can spend more time with Jack & Tucker.  At ages 6 and almost 4, they are growing up so fast.  Before we know it, they will be in high school and want to spend all their time with their friends.

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma

Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #14

“At last I had mastered the low art of coming unmoored”

Joe Androe

Friday, March 11, 2011:  Up early and on the road under sunny skies and comfortable temperatures in the mid 70’s.  We received news of the devastating earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami that may impact the California coast.  So what do we do?  Why, head to San Onofre so we can camp on the beach at an elevation of 5 feet above sea level.

We traveled up I-5 heading north and arrived at the San Onofre Beach campground around noon.  After setting up camp we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon walking the beach before falling asleep to the sounds of crashing waves.


Saturday, March 12 through Monday, March 14, 2011—San Onofre, California:  Well the tsunami wave hit the shore and was barely noticed.  However down in San Diego Bay there were a few boats knocked about and on Mission Bay a large bait barge overturned.  I have a funny story concerning a bait barge on San Diego Bay and my son Joe’s close encounter with millions of guppies.  See me sometime and I’ll relate it to you.

Listening to NPR this morning the scope of the devastation that occurred in Japan due to the earthquake and resulting tsunami was frightening.  Having visited Japan and knowing folks of Japanese descent, we share the worlds sorrow at this unfolding tragedy.  The Japanese people are industrious and strong and they will rebuild…..better than ever.

The campsite we selected is very nice and mere feet from the crashing surf.

We have stayed here each of the past two Excellent Adventure trips and it continues to be one of our favorite campgrounds.  It is extremely relaxing to fall asleep while listening to the surf while smelling the fresh salt air.  In addition there we can sit in our beach chairs and enjoy the view and watch the day’s activities.

There were surfers of all shapes.

And sizes…..these Grom were about 5 years old.

There were SUP surfers.

What’s SUP you ask?  Not much what’s up with you?  Sorry…..SUP stands for “Stand Up Paddleboard”, an old form of water sports currently popularized by the great Laird Hamilton.

And there were very attractive beach bunnies checking their e-mail on their new smart phones.

In addition, a few porpoises got into the action as well.

The sunsets were incredible!

And we were fortunate to select a spot right next to an interesting and enjoyable couple.

Mike is a retired Navy guy and his wife Angela works for the government on Camp Pendleton.  We had a great time visiting and swapping sea stories while their little pooch intently watched what was happening down on the beach.

Wind speed and direction is important to the surfer.  An onshore wind will cause the wave to break quickly and shorten the ride.  However an offshore wind (think Santa Ana Winds) will affect the wave positively and cause it to grow larger before gently breaking.  This wind/wave interaction will produce the perfect wave for the best ride.  San Onofre has a sophisticated anemometer to accurately monitor both wind speed and direction.

My Bruzzin and Bruzzin-in-law happen to be in California staying with our cousin/nephew, Mike in Long Beach.  Kit and I decided to make a day of a trip up the Pacific Coast Highway to visit with them.

All along the coastline, the scenery was incredible.  We made a mid-day stop at Dana Point for some walking around time and to grab a bite to eat.

There were zillions of expensive boats.

And a nice beach with a moored barge that held a live band playing California Surf Music.

There is a very strong car culture in California.  We passed dealerships for Bentley, Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati.  Driving through Newport Beach, a number of go-fast cars sped by…..I was able to get a photo of the slowest of the bunch.

Yep, that license plate reads “IM650HP”…..and the thing looked like a toy!

Arriving in Long Beach, we had a great time visiting with Bea, Mike, Dewey and Dewey’s son Kevin.

Mike has an extensive collection of Mexican Folk Art that he has displayed in his home.

The place was incredible….. it felt like we were in a museum.

Mike is an authority on this art form and travels extensively in Mexico to seek out its best practitioners.

Back at our beachside campsite we enjoyed another restful evening.

Stay tuned for more fun in the sun in San Onofre!

Kit’s Five Cents Worth:  Our time in So Cal was too short.  We enjoyed our time there but each time, we remember more places to see and more things to do.  Plus, we never get to see all the people we want to see.  It was good to see Mike and Kevin this time through.  Also, we loved staying at San Onofre on the beach.  It reminds me of when we were kids.  And, BTW, that “beach bunny” checking her phone used to be skinny & bikini clad.  LOL

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma