Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, December 31, 2015

It’s that time again

The 31st of December is a day I set aside each year for taking the time to revisit what I’ve done and experienced in the past year.  The best way for me is to review all of the photos I’ve taken.  They readily conjure up memories for me.  So as I’ve done for the last six years, I’ll highlight some of those times for you, my much appreciated readers.

79 Imperial NWR 2014-1520

As Jan. 1, 2015, rolled around, I was in the middle of my 5 month volunteer stint at Imperial NWR outside of Yuma, AZ.  As usual, people, whether fellow volunteers, or fellow bloggers, or family, played an important part in my time at the refuge.  And of course, there was the first ever Bloggerfest up in Quartzsite in January. 

79 Imperial NWR 2014-1521

Wildlife and beautiful desert views were abundant while I was there.  From a boat trip on the Colorado River to Emma howling with the coyotes!

80 On the way to Oregon 20151

I left Imperial the day after Easter and slowly made my way to my next assignment on the coast of Oregon.  I had five weeks to get to Brookings, and wasn’t looking forward to the high campground fees in California in order to get there.  I thought I’d spend a week at the Jojoba Hills SKP Resort near Temecula, CA.  Little did I know that that one week would stretch into three, and I would end up becoming a member of the co-op at the beginning of June.  The highlights of my time at Jojoba and the rest of the journey to Brookings included my first time ever attending a happy hour, and trips to Joshua Tree NP, Crater Lake NP, and the home of Jelly Belly candies. 

81 Oregon Islands NWR 201513

From the middle of May until the middle of August, I spent my time volunteering for Oregon Islands NWR and manning an overlook of Bird Island four days a week.  What a summer it was.  Friends and family visited, and how can I forget sifting through Emma’s dung for the swallowed Apache Tear Stone!  Smile with tongue out

81 Oregon Islands NWR 201514

Again, the scenery was fantastic; from the turbulent Oregon coast to the close by giant Redwoods.  It was a surprise to me to find the coast so down right chilly in summer.  It took a couple of hours each day for me to defrost from my post on the overlook.  I don’t think I’ll ever do it again, but I’m awfully glad I had this experience.

82 Tule Lake NWR, CA1

Late August found me making my way down to Tule Lake NWR in northeast California.  I spent a couple of months in the Klamath Basin, and liked it enough that I plan to return next summer/fall.  The refuge is at an elevation of 4000’ in the high desert.  I had to do some adjusting of recipes for higher elevation.  I felt back in my element at this refuge.  Lots of birds, and a variety of things to do on my assignments.  I’m hoping for Emma’s sake as well as mine, that the goathead problem around the campsite will be eliminated before my return.

83 Jojoba Hills 2015

By late October, I returned to take up winter residency at Jojoba Hills.  Yep, I’m one of those golf cart owners now, and am trying to settle in to having a home base.  Merikay and Craig were certainly a part of helping me get settled.  I have one orange tree with about a half dozen oranges on it on my site, and I’m not sure how to tell when they’re ready to be picked.  I’m sure they’ll be the best oranges I’ve ever tasted. Winking smile

I leave you tonight, and this year, with what I think is my best ‘The End’ photo of the year.  Get a bunch of RV Bloggers together, and it’s amazing what they will do for you…


Thanks for stopping by… talk to you next year,  Judy

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Test of Open Live Writer

Since Windows Live Writer went kaput a couple of weeks ago, I just haven’t had the interest in writing a post to the blog.  I seriously thought of just packing it in and quitting.  But like so many others I’ve decided to give it one more try.  This is a test to see if it will work.


Looks like getting the photos the way I prefer is going to take some work.  Let’s just see what happens.

It’s really not like I’ve done anything exciting in the last two weeks anyway…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sometimes newer is better

Just some domestic happenings and observations to talk about tonight.  Not very exciting, but I learned a few things.  First of all I have to say that I ended up hiring a RV Mobile Repair Service to install my new kitchen faucet.  I'm sure glad I did.  It took Jason less than 30 minutes to take out the old faucet and replace it with this new one.
I can't imagine how long it would have taken me to do this.  A reader recommended that I get one with the pull out nozzle sprayer, and I did.  I think I'm going to like this new-fangled invention. Never thought I'd be so enamored with a kitchen faucet, but you folks that live in rigs think about living for a week without one; or one that becomes an Old Faithful geyser every time you turn it on. I must admit that I'm still a little leery every time I turn it on though.  I'm braced for getting a shower!

Since I had an RV tech here, I pulled out my little list of other things that needed looking at.  Like why the heck doesn't the residential fridge work off of the inverter?  It did when I had it installed. My idea was that when I had that compressor replaced during the 2013 government shutdown while I was at Tamarac NWR, when the refuge manager and LE officer put the fridge back into the space for me, they plugged it into a different outlet so it wouldn't be on the inverter.  (Oh my, isn't that quite a sentence?)  They didn't know any better, and neither did I.  Well, I explained that all to Jason.  He was skeptical, but it turned out I was right! He knew how to figure out which outlet was connected to the inverter, and now so do I.  :)   Hmm...does this open up possibilities for doing a tiny bit of boondocking???  Maybe Quartzsite for a couple of days in January???

Then I had him climb up on top of the rig.  When I had the rig washed and waxed last week, I asked the guy how all the caulking on the roof looked.  He said the right rear corner needed a little work. Yep, it needed a little silicone, but Jason found something more important near the front of the roof. There was a hole that had been stuffed with a rag, and covered with caulking that had come loose. Not sure what that's all about, but it's now fixed.  I saw the rag and old caulking, and he showed me pictures he had taken with his cell phone of the hole and his repair.  I have my ideas how this happened about a year and a half ago, but I can't prove it. It's been some time since I've given up climbing on the roof.

There were a couple of other little things I had him look at, and then I held my breath for the bill.  He had been here about two hours.  Turns out the bill came to $349, and $164 of that was for the new faucet, fittings, and other parts.  Money well spent as far as I'm concerned.  I've paid much higher rates in the past for less reliable service.  Jason has a new customer.

Can anyone tell me what's more economical.  Using the propane furnace verses the heat pump on the rig.  Propane is very reasonable here, and I actually prefer it to the electric heat.  Electric is .11/KWH and propane is $1.27/gal.

Thanks for stopping by... talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Had to work today, and a visitor...

For the first time in almost two months, I had to set my alarm clock so I could get up at 6:00 to greet the day.  I had to be at ‘work’ by 7:00, and what with Emma and all, I needed an hour to get ready.  She really gave me the stint eye for not going to the dog park first thing, but that’s life when you’re on a schedule.

My job today was to be part of the road safety crew.  For four hours I sat at this intersection with my cart blocking any cars from going through.  Today was the day that the main drag at Jojoba was being repaved.  Amazing to me was that anyone would try to go through, but they did.  Why in the world would they try?

The road closures were well publicized ahead of time.  They were talked about at the weekly membership meetings, as well as on the park website, and on the cable television that comes with each site.  And there was a big sign at the top of the hill that said ‘Do Not Enter’! I was rather astonished that some folks had no idea what was going on.  Some were really put out that they had to turn around and use the emergency exit to get out of the park.  You have to let the asphalt cool before driving on it or there will be grooves and lumps and bumps.
Not a terribly exciting job to sit there, but I had my I-pad and the companionship of a visitor that will be staying with me for the next couple of weeks.  He was a great help to me in keeping folks off of the hot asphalt.

Meet Flat Stanley!  He’s the star of a famous children’s book.  I’m told that Stanley always wanted to travel, but couldn’t until one night, while he was in bed, a heavy bookshelf fell on him and made him flat.  That way he could fit in an envelope and be mailed to exotic places to visit.  This Flat Stanley came from my oldest granddaughter, Avery, to visit at exotic Jojoba Hills.
  Winking smile
Long time readers may remember when Flat Joey came to visit me at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge a few years back.  We had quite a few adventures!  I would have preferred a Flat Avery, but this second grade teacher just had the students color a Flat Stanley instead of a flat self portrait done by each child.  So now I have to find exciting places to take Flat Stanley and write a story about his visit.

I hope we’re off to a good start.  I’m thinking I may have to make a trip to see that big dragon in Borrego Springs pretty soon, and maybe a piece of pie in Julian, and then there’s Joshua Tree National Monument…  Any other suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

P.S.  I wrote this post last Thursday night, but of course Blogger messed up Live Writer.  Since it was already written, and only had three pictures, I manually transferred the text to Blogger and re-inserted the pictures. What a pain!  Not sure I'll do much more of this...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Picture this…

Occasionally, different streets at Jojoba Hills have get-togethers for members of their little neighborhoods.  Tonight, the Granite Loop (that I live on) had a holiday potluck dinner down at the Ranch House.  Normally, I’m not much for these social gatherings, but I made an exception for tonight.  I thought it would be a good idea to meet my neighbors.  I’m glad I did.  The folks surrounding me at the table I sat at were most interesting.  Some were founding members that have been here since the early 90’s, while others were even newer members than I.  All had the common ground of having lived on the road, and the tales were fascinating.  It was good to have interesting conversations other than the state of the weather…especially for someone that lives solo.

But what I really want to talk about tonight is another challenge I’m facing.  Does anyone remember the Golden Girls TV show?  If you do, you may remember that Sophia always started a story she was about to tell with…”Picture this…”

I’d been having some trouble with water pressure since I’ve been here.  The pressure at the spigot is super strong, and I have a pressure gauge on my hose that keeps the pressure down to 40-50 PSI.  However, there was barely a dribble coming out of my faucets in the rig.  Very frustrating.  Next to impossible to take a shower, etc.  Wasn’t too happy since I had just replaced the gauge this past summer.  So, I ordered a new gauge from Amazon.  In the meantime, I removed the gauge from my hose and barely turned on the water at the spigot.  I did notice a slight leak at the kitchen faucet.

Fast forward to getting the new gauge and installing it.  Now, the water pressure is good.  Not too strong, and not too weak. 


So, ‘Picture This’… I’m in the middle of washing dishes the other night, and the curved tube faucet head blasts off of the lower base and hits the cabinets above the sink.  In it’s wake is an Old Faithful geyser spraying everywhere!  I’m stunned!  By the time I had gathered my wits about me, I’m soaked as well as everything else in the area.  Surprised smile  Eventually I was able to shove the tube back into the base after I shut the water off.  I’ve tried super gluing it back in, but that didn’t work.  I’ve had several showers since. Crying face

Tomorrow, I’m off to Home Depot to get a new faucet.  I just hope what they have will work with the fittings in the rig.  Anyone know the answer to that?  And then there’s the chore of installing it.  I’m not sure I can get the old fixture out let alone get the new one in without leaks.  Not looking forward to squeezing under the sink either.  How does one fit in that skinny cabinet??  Uff-dah! 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Time for a day trip

I’ve pretty much been veg'ing out for the last month since I arrived here, so yesterday I finally got my keister in gear.


I packed a lunch, and Emma and I headed a little over a hundred miles southeast of Jojoba to Sonny Bono Salton Sea Nat’l Wildlife Refuge.  I remember doing this drive in reverse last April when I left Imperial NWR.  I can safely say that it’s a much less nerve wracking drive in a car.

I was expecting to see a huge salty lake perhaps surrounded by farm fields.  Since it is in the Imperial Valley, there are a lot of crops grown, but I had several surprises when I got to the area.


As you approach the refuge there are quite a few of these plants surrounding it.  I had no clue as to what kind of plants they were.


The volunteer in the Visitors Center told me they were geothermal plants.  Who would have guessed?  She said they were kind of ugly in the daylight, but at night they’re all lit up and rather pretty.

Another surprise came when she told me mud pots (like in Yellowstone) could be seen on the refuge.  She told me where to find them, but try as I might I never did get to see them.  She was kind of surprised that I wanted to see them, as most visitors just want to see birds.


So off I went to see the Salton Sea.  Saw a sign for a boat launch, so that’s where I headed next.  Turned out to be dry as a bone.  No water what so ever.  I think maybe that dark strip just below the distant mountains might be the sea.


Kind of a shame.  There’s a real nice picnic area that I would guess doesn’t get used anymore because the water is so darn far away.


There is no auto tour route on this refuge.  You just have to wander around on farm roads to see small parts of the refuge.  Most of the refuge is part of the sea itself.  Emma and I went to the top of a tower and found this praying mantis.  I always thought they were green, but I guess in a desert environment tan is a better color.


                          The view from the tower did reveal a path through the marsh with an overlook.


It took us quite some time to walk this short path.  Seems Emma had to investigate every piece of goose poop along the way.  Smile with tongue out  I suppose sniffing each dropping is like humans reading a novel.  Who knows what secrets lie in the aromas.  Emma wouldn’t tell me.


Our arrival at the overlook disturbed several egrets who were leaving their own messages on the railings.  Finally saw some water, and all those white things in the distance are snow geese.


I’m thinking this is now just a pond in a marshy area as the sea itself has receded far away.  If this keeps up, I’m not sure what impact this will make on the migrating waterfowl each winter.


By this time, we had to start heading for home in order to get there before dark.  I don’t drive after dark any more.  Found about fifty sandhill cranes feeding in one of the refuge fields.


I’d be hard pressed to choose my favorite bird, but sandhill cranes would certainly rank near the top of my list if I had one.  That fuzzy white blur in the background is thousands of snow geese that were also gleaning a late lunch in the field.


Something set them off, and I was happy to just watch and listen to the ruckus they made.  The cranes just went about their business and didn’t bat an eye.

Now that I know the lay of the land, so to speak, of the refuge, I’m sure I’ll make a return trip when the days get a little longer.  There are also a couple of trails that we didn’t have time to do.  I’ll leave you tonight with a ‘snow’ storm of geese.  (The only kind of snowstorm I enjoy.)  Care to guess how many geese are in the photo??


Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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