Rain? How odd.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Life at Jojoba

Several readers have expressed an interest in knowing how things operate here, and how I’m adjusting to this location change over my normal Nat’l Wildlife Refuge volunteering.  This coming Wednesday, I will have been here a month and I have to say that life has slowed down, but I have really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.  I haven’t had to set my alarm in a month.  This Escapees Co-Op Park is successful because it is really based on all members volunteering to keep this place as nice as it is. 

I’ve volunteered for two committees, but I want to take my time before becoming more involved.  I have lived alone for many years, and often been quite isolated at my NWR locations, so sometimes all of the social aspects of this park are a little overwhelming for me.  That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with my decision to come here, it just means I need to slowly adjust and find what’s right for me.

Besides the pool and hot tub, there are two other things I’ve found very nice.  First are the dog parks.  Since I can’t walk very far, the parks have been a God send for exercising Emma.  She’s certainly not a retriever, but after socializing and watching the other dogs she will run after a thrown ball.  She doesn’t catch it or bring it back, but she runs and runs after it.  That’s a good thing.  I’m thinking I better get one of those throwing sticks that a tennis ball fits into.  Anyone else have one of those?  I just can’t seem to throw a ball the way I used to.  When I take her out first thing in the morning at my site, she won’t take care of business.  She just gives me the stink eye until we get into the golf cart and go to the park.  What a stinker!  I get that same look about 3:00 in the afternoon.  

The second thing I like is the extensive DVD library here.  With it dark by 5:00 right now that makes for a long evening.  There’s a fifty cent donation to take out a DVD for three nights, and the money goes toward buying more movies.  If I watched one show a night, it would probably take me a couple of years to go through everything available.  Lots more convenient than Netflix. 


Lots of sandbags are being filled here by members because of the El Nino threat.  There’s only been one day with some rain since I’ve been here, but it was enough for me to order this driving cover for the golf cart.  The seats are not all vinyl, so I ended up with a really wet deck after taking Emma to the dog park. Smile with tongue out

Yesterday I tried to install it by myself.  We’re experiencing some high Santa Ana winds, so it was really a comical situation.  It’s all one piece, and the directions said to just drape it over the cart.  Ha!  I did get it on the roof, but as I tried to move around the wind just blew it off the top.  Time for plan B… call Craig and Merikay!  It was definitely more than a one short person job.  With their help, we were done in about fifteen minutes.  They’ll be heading out tomorrow, so I got their help just in the nick of time.  Even without rain, it should help with chilly early morning drives.


Seems like my routine has been to drive into Temecula on Fridays to do my shopping.  While at the grocery store, I found some pepino melons.  I’d never heard of them.  They’re about the size of a very large egg.  I bought one as I thought it would be about one portion and I do like melons.


When I got home, I Googled it and found out it is supposed to be sweet and taste like a cross between a pear and a melon and a cucumber.  I also watched a You Tube video done by a woman that records eating things she’s never tried before.  Probably shouldn’t have done that as her opinion was that it tasted like puke!  Well, it was juicy… not terribly sweet… but I don’t think I’ll ever buy one again.  It wasn’t as disgusting as the woman reported, but once was enough for me.  Ever had one?

Well I’d better stop blabbing.  Maybe next time I’ll talk about the Dakota bread I found…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I’m no Annie Oakley

After taking Emma to the dog park before 7:00 this morning, I checked Jojoba Hills’ website to see what kind of activities were going on today.  It turned out it was Ladies Day at the air gun range.  Now I don’t know a thing about guns and certainly am not a hunter, but it sounded interesting so I hopped in my golf cart and blasted over to the other side of the park where the gun range is located.


The range is located just past the not as popular dog run (as opposed to the very popular dog park).  There is a sun shelter with places to sit to shoot at the numerous targets.  The close ones are for pistols, and the more distant ones are for rifles.  See that orange target in the middle?  It’s made out of sewer pipe, and if you shoot the pistol just right into one of the two round holes, the metal pellet goes around the bend and rings a bell on the way out.


Since it’s Ladies Day, there were plenty of experienced guys there to help us learn about air guns.  I think they provided all the weapons, but I’m not sure.  Some may be provided by the park.


I started out trying the pistol first.  Had to use both hands to try to keep the gun from shaking as well as the holder to lean it on.  Gritting my teeth seemed to help.  I rang the bell on the first shot!  Ha! Beginners luck!  Matt Dillon has no worries.  Confused smile  That was the only time I rang the bell.  Those are the tiny pellets in that can in front.  With most of the guns, you have to load one pellet at a time (in the right direction).


After an hour or so, shooting stopped so that the guys could set up a competition for us ladies.  By this time, I had gotten instruction on using one of the rifles.  I had much better luck with that as I could hold it steadier.  It had more of a kick than I expected.  My biggest problem was reloading.  You have to bend the barrel down in half to put in one pellet.  Pete, the guy in shorts, showed me a way I could do it using both arms.

The competition consisted of each of us ladies having one minute to load and shoot up to five pellets in order to hit three balloons that were waving in the wind.  I only competed in the rifle challenge.  The balloons were much further back for that.  Three of us got ready for the first round.  When the bell sounded, we all began.  My two competitors knocked off their balloons in short order.  I wasn’t so quick.  I decided to try to take out my hardest balloon first.  The wind kept blowing it behind that smiling face in the middle of the field.  I got it!  By this time, my competitors were finished with their three balloons.  Sad smile  I struggled to get my tiny pellet seated in the barrel with my shaky hands, but everyone in the background was cheering me on telling me I had plenty of time.  How great that was!  I hit all three balloons with just three shots within the allotted time.  Yahoo!


Turns out no matter how we did, each of the ladies got two roses to take home.  What a fun morning.  I’m thinking I’ll probably return for next month’s Ladies Day.


If you’re Annie Oakley, you probably wouldn’t be too happy with these results, but for a beginner, I’m just glad I hit the target most of the time.  Who would have guessed I’d enjoy shooting a rifle?


Of course, after all that hard work this morning I just had to take a dip in the pool this afternoon.  See that circle in the back?  That’s the swirling hot tub.  Had to relax those arm muscles from all that loading, don’t cha know…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Still settling in

I haven’t posted in some time since I don’t think much of what I’ve been doing is very interesting to most people.  I had a little excitement a few days after my golf cart was delivered.  I had taken Emma to the dog park at 6:30 in the morning, and noticed on the way back that the cart was becoming more and more sluggish.  The last hill up to my site took about twenty minutes to accomplish.  Seems I hadn’t paid attention to the amount of charge left in the batteries.  Ugh!  Thought I was going to have to put Emma to pulling me home like a sled dog.  Learned a lesson that day.


When I ordered my new camera lens back in early October, I bought it on Amazon and signed up for Prime.  Never thought it was worth the money for me before, but knew I’d be making some purchases once I got here.  No shipping fees is nice.  This pic shows two of my purchases.  I ordered a stand for my Weber Q, and a picnic table.  I managed to get that Q stand assembled by myself, but knew I’d need help with the picnic table.


Merikay and Craig to the rescue!  I’m not sure they were as happy as I that the table was delivered before their visit to Jojoba was over.  Winking smile


This assembly really needed a couple or three people to make the job go quickly.  It’s nice to have friends nearby when you need them.


It only took about an hour to get the job done.  Now my huge patio doesn’t look quite so bare, and I’ve got a place to attach Emma’s tie out to.  Of course if she gets excited, she can move the table, but thank goodness there aren’t any squirrels in my neck of the woods!


We all inaugurated the table last night as I had Merikay and Craig over for a cookout.  Emma showed her thanks too.

Part of what’s included at each site here is a telephone hookup.  When was the last time you bought a regular telephone and not a cell phone?  I think it’s been close to twenty years for me.  It’s wise to have a phone in case you need to dial 911.  If you do that on your cell phone it goes to Indio, CA, and the response is delayed.  If you use the regular phone, it is handled locally and volunteers in the park come to help and make sure the gate is opened for emergency responders.  You can also call any other site in the park any time you want for free.

I’m planning to get back to more regular blogging since most of the basics of moving in have been taken care of now.  It’s also about time I get out and find some little adventures to enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My new ride was delivered today

Well, I’ve been at Jojoba just about a week now, and am pretty well settled in.  Lots of mundane stuff to take care of like having the closing on the lot.  More paper work.  Yesterday I met with the Welcome Wagon Lady from the park, and got a reference booklet that covers just about any question a person may have about how to live here.  Being in a park like this is really a major adjustment in my life, and I’m still trying to figure out how/where I’ll fit in. 

With my back issues, I knew I would have a major purchase in my near future to help me get around up and down the hills here.  Today my new ride was delivered.


Never thought I’d own one of these things… they’re for old farts.  Well, I guess I’ve joined the club.  Embarrassed smile  It’s a used Club Car with new upholstery and batteries.  I sure couldn’t afford a new one. 


I added the very old towel to the seat so you know who doesn’t get the new upholstery all dirty.  Emma is now transported in style to the dog park several times a day.  It’s on the other side of the park.  Today was her first ever ride in a cart, and she did very well.  Only tried to jump out once!


The dog park is located on the side of a hill, and I park down behind that tree on the left by the gate.  Emma, of course, finds the absolute furthest spot from the table and chairs to do her business.  Why is that?  So, I get my exercise marching up and down the hill.  The socialization time she’s gotten with some of the other bigger dogs in the park is good for her.  We tend to avoid the small ankle biter types.  They don’t seem to appreciate Emma’s enthusiasm.  If there are several small dogs around, I take her to the other dog run on the edge of the park.  It’s not as popular.

While I’ve been busy getting ‘indoctrinated’, Merikay and Craig have been visiting here also.  They had me over for a cookout the other night that was very tasty.  I’m hoping to reciprocate before they leave in a couple of weeks.  I was also planning to go to the water exercise class with Merikay tomorrow morning, but we’re having a bit of a cold snap here so I’m thinking of chickening out…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Made it to Jojoba Hills

But not without a lot of heartburn.  Things went fine along I-5 until last night when I pulled into Castaic Lake RV Park just north of Los Angeles.  It had mixed reviews on RV Park Reviews, but recent ones were very good.  Ha!  I have no idea why anyone would want to stay here.  Talk about feeling like a sardine, and at $42.50 with an Escapees 15% discount, my opinion is that it is overpriced by about $40!  Yes, it’s close to LA, but most of the residents are workers.  That in itself is not bad, but their cars and trucks made it impossible for me to get out of my site.  Luckily, I found someone who could ask folks to move their vehicles so I could maneuver out.  I was a nervous wreck, and the day had just started.

Holy Moses, what a drive it was around LA!  I’m surprised I have any teeth left in my mouth or that there are any screws or bolts that aren’t loose in the rig.  Like any major metropolitan area, the roads are just in horrible condition, and construction is never ending.  I can say that I’ll never take this route again with the rig.  I felt lucky to come out of it alive, and I grew up learning to drive in Chicago.

By the time I made it to Temecula, CA, with only about 15 more miles to go, I needed to fill the gas tank.  I had looked at a gas station on Google Earth that I thought I could get into and out of easily.  It didn’t turn out that way, so I’m now at Jojoba with a bit less than a half a tank.  That’s not the way I like things to be when I arrive at an extended stay site.

Even though my drive today was only about 140 miles, by the time I pulled into Jojoba Hills I was more than wilted.  I asked for an escort to my site, since I’ve never seen it, and got a real jewel to lead me in, and get me situated just perfectly.  What a relief!


After getting most of the basics set up for my stay, I only took a few pics.  I had to improvise how to put out Emma’s tie out.  I ended up wrapping the line around the front tire on the passenger’s side.  It will work for now until I figure out something more permanent.


This is the view from my patio as the sun is setting behind me.  I’m on one of the upper levels with some mountains/hills out in front of me.  It’s quiet and peaceful here, and my site overlooks the terraced sites below.


There isn’t any grass here, but Emma was having a good back scratch on the gravel.  I’m just relieved to be here.  I think I’ll sleep like a log tonight…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Finally left Tule Lake NWR

You know what they say about plans…  My plan had been to leave Tule Lake NWR last Thursday morning and head out south for Jojoba Hills.  I had also planned to stop not too far from Sacramento for a couple of days to visit with Gypsy and tour the capitol.  So much for plans.

Very early last Tuesday morning, I was again hit with another bout of illness caused by my intolerance to Amoxicillin.  I hadn’t taken any more pills, but it seems these reactions can start up again weeks or even months later.  Hard to believe, but obviously true.  I was knocked out of commission for another four plus days.  It was slightly less severe than the last occurrence a month and a half ago, but any activities like crawling under the rig to clean and silicone the leveling jacks was out of the question until yesterday afternoon.  I couldn’t even take the chance of driving into Klamath Falls to buy some ‘Depends’.  Sick smile

Even though the winds were stronger than I like for driving the rig this morning, I decided to chance an escape.  I just didn’t want to be stuck too long at Tule since I had to drive through the Cascade Range and over the pass by Mount Shasta.  The weather has been holding, but who knows how long it will last?


Thankfully the 175 mile drive to Red Bluff, CA, was uneventful overall.  I gave a sigh of relief as I descended out of the mountains.  I want to document my overnight stay here in case I return this same way next spring.  I like this RV park much better than the place I stayed on the way north last spring.


The good things about this park are that it’s an easy off and on from I-5, the sites are fairly level, it’s well taken care of, and at $35/night is somewhat cheaper than many other parks in CA.  Since I’m still recuperating, I have to be honest and say I really didn’t care what they charged. 

The sites are pretty dang close to each other, and I’m happy that no one is staying next to me on the passenger’s side of the rig.  The dog park is not fenced, and is just a gravel parking lot looking area.  At this time of the year, the office is closed on Sundays, but since I had made a reservation and had cancelled twice, I was pleased to see that my site location and directions were left taped to the office door when I arrived.  There are big trees at almost every site that provide great shade.  However, if your satellite dish is on top of your rig like mine, forget about getting a signal.  Cable TV with about a dozen stations is included, but I didn’t bother with that since I’m only here one night.

Tomorrow I’ll press on to Lodi, CA.  The drive is about the same amount of miles.  That’s the place I was going to stop at to visit Gypsy, but I’m just not up to doing touristy things right now, and I’m anxious to get to my destination.  I hope tomorrow goes as smoothly as today.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thoughts on my time at Tule Lake NWR

As I’ll be leaving Tule Lake and Lower Klamath NWRs in five days, I spent some time today reviewing my time volunteering here.  Overall it’s been a good experience.  Good enough, in fact, that I’m thinking of returning next year.  But, of course, nothing is perfect.


One of the assignments I was given here was to evaluate the six photo blinds that are available for public use.  I visited the last one on Thursday and took the above and below photos from that blind.


This one appeared to be a good loafing location for white pelicans.  All those little black dots in the background water are other waterfowl that almost cover Tule Lake.  I made notes on all of the blinds with my opinions of their needs and usefulness.  When I went to hand them in to my supervisor, I was told that wasn’t necessary.  Nothing was going to be done in the foreseeable future, so I could just keep them.  What??  Then why was I given this assignment?  Same thing happened about my assignment to evaluate the numbered Auto Tour pamphlet.  I got the impression that the time I spent on these endeavors was to keep me out of his hair.  I don’t think this guy knows what he’s doing.  I won’t go into his other short comings, but I’ll just say that had he been one of my employees back before I retired, he wouldn’t have lasted a school year.


Thankfully, I’ve also been able to make myself available to the biologists on the refuge.  That’s the work I’m most interested in.  Plenty of opportunities doing things for Stacy, the biologist in charge of the hunt, to work outside and test out my new lens.


                                                                    Wait for me, Oliver!


                                                                    Oh, alright Stanley…

This year, I’m doing the stats for how many birds of what species are taken on the blinds that are up for a lottery each morning.  Working with numbers is right up my alley, and I also get to chat with the hunters.  The biologists here have never had a volunteer (there have only been VC volunteers before), so Stacy and I have talked about my returning to help them.  She also agrees that improvements need to be made to the RV site.


For the first time since I’ve been here, it rained all morning.  One of the results was to find this frog outside the VC.  The rain also did a wonderful job of knocking down all the dust that has been in the air the last few weeks.  All creatures, human and other, were joyful for this respite from the drought. 


One of the young temporary employees moved this guy off of the rocks to a better location.  Fascinating toes.

IMG_1165 IMG_1160

On my way to the hunter check station this afternoon, I found this dark morph red-tailed hawk trying to dry out from the rains.  (I’m loving this new lens)  This happened just as an alarm went off in the vehicle with that flat tire signal.  Nuts!  I had to drive back to the VC to exchange vehicles as I do a lot of driving on rough roads each day.  VC supervisor said he’d just drive it anyway and ignore the signal.  Yeah, well, not me.  I don’t want a flat out in the middle of nowhere on a weekend when no help is available…


When I returned, the hawk had moved to a different perch so I could get a front view.  Isn’t it a beauty?  I spent several hours doing the stats and collecting bag check tallies from hunters that go out in boats on Tule Lake.  I’ve got to drive quite a bit of the refuge to collect those tallies.  That’s when I get the chance to keep updated on what’s happening bird wise on the refuge.  I know it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.  Winking smile


Snow geese are the favorites of my friend Sue, so this and the following pic are for her.  The rain clouds provided a different view of the refuge for me from the seemingly perpetual blue skies.


I estimated the flock in the first pic at 500 geese, and more are on their way.  The scenery today kind of reminded me of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Like Sue, I have found that the Klamath Basin speaks to my soul.  If I can solidify volunteering for the biology department, I will surely return next year.

Well, this post is pretty long for me, but I wanted to put some closure on something I posted a while back.


I asked readers to guess what this was a photo of.  Some people guessed an irrigation system, and they were correct.IMG_1189This type of system is used for irrigating potatoes around here.  This is a close up of the heads.  The big pipes are put down in between rows of potatoes with these ‘heads’ sprouting up every twenty feet or so along the line spurting out water.  The red ones are located at the end of a row so that water isn’t wasted by watering the roads.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy