Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I’m in California wine country

Arrived at Flag City RV Resort in Lodi, CA, yesterday afternoon after an uneventful drive of 208 miles.  This is a much nicer park than I stayed at in Lost Hills, and with Passport America is $27/night as opposed to $48.  Since the PA discount is good for two nights, I decided to do that and relax today.

Lots of wine tasting available in the area.  So is that what I did today?  Nope!


I headed to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield instead.  They have free tours of the jelly bean making factory, and I always like seeing how things are made.  I’ve been on enough wine making tours in my life.


Jelly Belly invented their gourmet jelly bean in 1976, and soon afterwards Ronald Reagan boosted their economy by becoming a big fan.  He started meetings as governor of California, and as President with passing around a jar of Jelly Bellies.  There was even a special jar put on Air Force 1, that wouldn’t “spill the beans”!  Winking smile


His influence is predominant throughout the factory.  This portrait of him is made entirely out of jelly beans… thousands of them.  Do you have a guess as to what his favorite flavor was?


  The visitor’s center and store is two stories tall and the space above is filled with huge jelly bean replicas. 


Of course, no pictures are allowed on the tour.  I’m not sure why, since hundreds of people a day take the tour, and there’s not really any secrets we could divulge to my way of thinking.


There were lots of jelly bean portraits displayed throughout the factory.  I thought they were pretty amazing.


Even though it’s blurry, I couldn’t pass up taking a shot of my teenage idol.  I wonder if he ever ate any before he died.

I found the tour very interesting.  There were videos on screens hanging from the ceiling at all the stops along the way that explained the history of the founding family and the actual process of making the beans.  My only suggestion would be that they get a cherry-picker in there and clean the windows of the viewing area.  You are looking down on the process from the second floor, and it seems that all that sugar floating around in the air has coated the glass above the work area.

Jelly beans were first invented in the 1800’s, and got their name because real beans were a big part of people’s diets in those days.  Presently, Jelly Bellies come in 107 different flavors.  I’m not a big jelly bean eater, but I do remember tasting the buttered popcorn bean about 20 years ago and was shocked at how the taste certainly reminded me of popcorn.  I still don’t know how exactly they do that.

We got to taste some unusual flavors along the way at several of the stations, and at the end you get a free bag of 20 different flavors to take with you.  I’m saving that bag for some friends I’ll be meeting tomorrow in Nevada City.  They couldn’t pick out a favorite flavor for me to get them at the factory, so they’ll get the variety.

As for me, I got a small bag of buttered popcorn, and a small bag of caramel corn Jelly Bellies.  They also make chocolate candy there, so of course I got some of those.  No chocolate covered sponge candy, though. Sad smile  I’m thinking those beans will work well as a little snack when I’m driving the rig down the road.  A shot of sugar should help me stay alert.  Ha ha!

Oh yeah, President Reagan’s favorite flavor was licorice…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Made a little blunder today

By 9:15 today, I was headed out of Jojoba Hills and on my way to Lost Hills, CA.  At 246 miles, it was going to be a long driving day for me.  That really is about my self imposed limit.  Ha!  Little did I know what the day had in store for me.

Jack-in-the-Box had suggested a route for me that would take me right through the middle of Los Angeles and the ‘Grapevine’.  That was not something I was looking forward to.  So last night at happy hour, I asked the folks there for route suggestions.  One couple was native Californians, and they suggested I avoid that route at all cost.  They suggested a different route, and that was my plan.

Of course ‘Jack’ was recalculating like mad as I passed up the exit he wanted me to take.  I expected that, and had written out directions and taped them to the dash.  I-15 North to I-210 West to I-5 North.  Well, I drove and drove on I-15 and never did see an exit to I-210.  It must be there somewhere, but I never found it.  Sure would be nice to have a navigator looking at a map while I drive.  The traffic, by the way, was horrible.

After about 160 miles, I found myself at a gas station I could get into and out of in Barstow, CA.  I had been getting a little nervous about getting gas as the gage dipped down to the 1/4 tank level.  Couple of snafus at the station.  Ended up in a line with two people in front of me that seemed to take forever to move on.  Then after I finally filled up, someone else pulled in front of me so I couldn’t get out.  This guy shopped inside, and then came out and took his dog for a walk without moving his car out of the way.  Ugh!  Wasn’t fast enough to catch him to ask him to move his car.

Some construction along the way, and lots of mountains to go up and down.  There was also an annoying alarm sounding once in a while from my toad braking system.  The last time that happened, the breakaway cable had become slightly dislodged.  I couldn’t find a thing wrong with the hookup after checking it, so I continued on my way with that annoying alarm going off now and again.  Each time it started, my blood pressure jumped, I’m sure. 

After almost eight hours of driving, I finally arrived at Lost Hills RV Park.  (I wouldn’t call it a resort)  Hard packed sandy sites all in a row behind a truck stop.  It’s conveniently located right off of I-5, but the $48/night price tag is way overpriced to my way of thinking.  (and not worth taking a picture of)

After 312 rather grueling miles, for me, I bit the bullet and paid the piper.  As I came down out of the mountains on route 58 today, the view of the central California valley with all the orchards and croplands was spectacular, but of course there was no place to stop to enjoy the view.

Tomorrow will be a shorter jaunt of only about 200 miles (I hope), and I’m going to stop for a two night stay.  I’ll be south of Sacramento.  If Gypsy weren’t off gallivanting in New York, I would stop by to see her…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Just chillin’ out

Well I’m still here at Jojoba Hills Escapee park in Aguanga, CA.   I’ll be pulling out on Tuesday to head for Oregon.  It’s been a very relaxing little vacation for me, and I’ve gotten a lot of work done on the rig.  It’s been washed and waxed.  The annual maintenance has been done, and the dash air conditioner has been fixed.  I’ve even had time to give it a good spring cleaning inside.

After five months of not having cell service, I’ve also been able to catch up with all of my kids on the phone.  Not much else to report. 

As you know, I’ve also taken a respite from blogging.  Mundane chores just aren’t very interesting.


I did get together with several other bloggers for a happy hour last Sunday.  I think this was the first happy hour I’ve ever attended.  I guess I need to get out more.  Disappointed smile

Gypsy had a post the other day about getting ready for her grandson’s first communion.  That brought back memories to me of my confirmation in the Lutheran Church when I was twelve.  There was a small celebration back at my mother’s house after the service.  I remember that one of my relatives gave me a gift of seven pairs of underpants.  Each one was embroidered with a day of the week on them.  Not sure what that had to do with being confirmed, and even at that time I wondered what kind of gift that was to give a twelve year old.  I would have rather had a baseball glove.

Of course, my crabby next door neighbor, Mrs. Bites, also informed me that I would have to give up playing baseball now since I was ‘confirmed’.  I’m not so sure those were the ‘good old days’.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, April 17, 2015

Joshua Tree National Park


With no one coming to work on the rig yesterday, I left early for the almost 100 mile drive to Joshua Tree National Park.  (Actually had to get this pic on the way out)  Decided to leave Emma at home since dogs can’t be on any of the trails, and you can’t even leave them in your car unattended to dash into the visitors center.


First stop was at the VC in the town of Joshua Tree.  This VC is five miles from the entrance to the park.  For a National Park, I was not impressed by this VC.  It’s very small, and very few exhibits.  I sat down on a bench to listen to the park movie, and had a hard time of it.  It’s not in a separate room, and is on a small TV screen.  I was sure glad there were subtitles because the noise from the little nature store and desk was loud!  I was out of there in 15 minutes. 

As I entered the park, this was my first view of the rocks and Joshua trees.  Thankfully there are a lot of pullout spots along the road.  I was tailgated like crazy for most of my drive in the park.  If you’re visiting a national park, what’s the rush for Pete’s sake?


I was hoping to see the trees in bloom while here.  In most cases, I was a bit too late.  Two weeks earlier probably would have been better, but I did find a few still blooming. 


Those flowers at the end of the arms can only be pollinated by one kind of moth that gets inside and lays its eggs in the flower.  As the eggs hatch and leave, they disperse the seeds somehow.  I found that most interesting.


I’ve seen a lot of pictures of Joshua Trees, but for some reason I thought they would be like a cactus.  Kind of like saguaros with yuccas on the end of their arms.  I was sure wrong about that.  As you can see from this dead Joshua tree, they are solid wood inside just like an oak or maple.


I wasn’t in the park too long before it was time for my lunch.  The VC might not be much, but there are quite a few beautiful picnic areas.  Do you see that black dot a bit above the lower left hand corner of the photo?  It’s a raven.  It stalked the area the whole time I was eating.  I’m afraid it was out of luck, as I left no crumbs behind.  Winking smile


Next stop was Keys View Overlook.  It’s at an elevation of 5,185’ and has a wonderful view of the valley with mountains on the other side.  Due to the haze from air pollution, I couldn’t find the San Andrea fault.  Of course, I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for.


Looking the other direction, it was possible to just see the Salton Sea in the distance.  I think the sign said it was 35 miles away, as the crow flies.


As I meandered along, I came to the Jumbo Rocks area.  They certainly are jumbo sized.  If you squint your eyes, you may be able to find three guys getting ready to climb these rocks.  They’re at the bottom just about dead center.  One has on a red shirt.  That’s sure not anything I’m going to try to do.


As I made my way south to the Cottonwood entrance, I stopped to take a short hike on the Cholla Cactus Garden trail. The park is at the confluence of two deserts… the Mohave desert has the Joshua trees, and the Colorado desert has the chollas.  

It was a long day of driving, and I didn’t get back to the rig until 5:30.  I just barely scratched the surface of everything to see and do in this national park.  I can just imagine Sherry and David spending at least two weeks here.  However, if I get a site at Jojoba, I’ll be sure to return.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Taking care of business

One of the advantages of my present location at Jojoba Hills SKP Park is that RV service businesses come to you rather than you having to drive to them.  I’m taking full advantage of that fact.  Yesterday, I had someone come to do the ordinary maintenance of the rig’s motor… oil change, filter change, grease job, etc.  He also suggested a few other maintenance items like transmission and brake fluid changing.  I usually have this stuff done in Scott, LA, but that’s a far cry from here. 


Tonight’s pics are of areas around the park.  There are six ponds scattered around, and each has a place to sit and rest and enjoy the scenery.

He also noticed a slight exterior leak of engine coolant.  I was not surprised, as I’ve had to top off the coolant quite regularly.  He was surprised that I knew that.  He’ll be back Friday to take care of that and the fluid changing.


                                                                 One of the two dog parks.

Today, a two man crew came to give the rig an exterior spa treatment.  It had a good wash and hand applied Carnauba wax.  I don’t think the rig has shined like this since I got it.


Dog park from the top.  See that pine tree in the top right hand corner?  It’s the Verizon tower.  Verizon pays the park $20,000/year to have it here.  Sweet!

Thanks to Rick’s suggestion, I was able to get a new face for my cracked I-pad.  I called the place up on Sunday, and they came to the park to pick it up.  Then on Monday, they delivered it back to me good as new.  The cost was $140 including pickup and delivery.


                                                               The view from the dog park.

After the mechanic left on Monday, I headed down to the office to hand in my application for membership.  As I suspected, I’m #21 on the list.  One of the things that I like about this park is that when you turn in your application you agree to put in volunteer time here.  There are some paid employees, but I gather that most of the upkeep of the park is done by its volunteers/fellow members.  I’m thinking I might like the landscape committee that keeps all the ponds and greenery in tip top shape. 


A view of Friendship Hall from a parking lot.  That’s where the pool and hot tubs are along with the saunas, craft rooms, gathering hall, tennis and pickle ball courts, work out room, and mail boxes.

I’m thinking since no workmen are scheduled for tomorrow, it’s about time I gave the pool and hot tub a go. Winking smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Headed out this morning with two things in mind.  First I wanted to stop at the office of Jojoba Hills to pick up a packet to apply to become a member.  For those that might be interested, as an Escapee member, it costs $1,100 to be put on the waiting list for a site at this Co-op park.  $100 of that is not refundable.  I’ll fill out the form and turn it in on Monday.  I’ll probably be number 21 on the waiting list.  How long will it take to get to the top of the list?  Who knows, but I’m hoping it won’t be too long.  It could be that some of the folks ahead of me on the list aren’t interested in making the commitment in the near future.  They have the option of turning down any site offered three times before being moved to the bottom of the waiting list.

It’s a little complicated, but my plan is to take any site offered.  In my opinion, none of the sites are awful, and once a member, I’ll have future options to move to a site more to my liking.  These are really not year-round sites, and I plan to still travel and volunteer each summer should I get a site here.

With that taken care of, I drove to the city of Temecula to do some grocery shopping.  It’s about 12 miles away.  Some folks don’t like to drive that far for a gallon of milk, but I found it a short hop down the road compared to many of the refuges I’ve stayed at.  It did seem to me though, that California drivers all seem to be in a great rush to get wherever they are going, and really like to tailgate.  It’s a two lane highway, very curvy and hilly, and I got the impression that most wanted to speed along way over the 55 mph limit.  Maybe it’s not quite so bad during the week.

Once I got back home, Emma and I sat outside for a while.  I was playing around on my I-Pad when someone walked by with their dog.  I have Emma’s leash tied to my chair.  Emma hopped up to let the passing dog know that this was her territory.  Grrr.  The other dog started barking, and so did Emma.  As I grabbed the leash to haul her back in, the I-Pad flew off of my lap and crashed onto the concrete patio.

IMG_1036                                                  Aw…Nuts!  At first glance it didn’t look too bad.


But this is what it really looks like.  Crying face  It still works fine, but I can’t really use the touch screen without cutting my fingers.  I sure don’t know if you can just have the screen panel replaced or not.  Guess I’ll have to find a Geek Squad in Temecula tomorrow to find out.  I was not a happy camper at this point.  If you know if it’s toast or not, I’d appreciate your input.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, April 10, 2015

Just had to see the dragon

I woke up yesterday and decided it was a good time to take a drive to Borrego Springs to see the sculptures of Ricardo Breceda that are located north of there in Galleta Meadows.

_MG_1772It was about an hour and a half drive that involved driving the Montezuma Valley Road.  As I crested the peak and started descending, the views were just gorgeous of the valley.  I was sure glad I was driving the car though, and not the rig.

I stopped at the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce to get a map to find the huge sculptures.  I had a more than enthusiastic volunteer try to talk me into buying all kinds of things from tee shirts to books about the sculptures.  I was finally able to escape, and be on my way.

_MG_1778 _MG_1779

First up were Gomphotheres…


…and Camelops.  I guess 11:00 in the morning isn’t the best time for photos.  The sun was very bright, and the white sand just reflected the light.  I was a little disappointed in my pics.  All of the sculptures are off of the road and surrounded by rather soft sand.  I took Merikay’s advice and parked on the side of the road rather than chancing that my little car would get mired in the sand.  Most of them are within easy walking distance.


These sculptures are very interesting to see close up.  Lots of detail involved.  I’m not going to include pics of all of them, just a few of my favorites.


                   This mythical serpent/dragon is the main reason I came here.  I just wanted to see it!


I just can’t imagine how many pictures have been taken of this creature.  I’ve seen photos of it on several different blogs, and was happy I finally got to see it in person.  It alone was worth the trip.  Very cool beans!

I brought Emma along on this little trip, and the day turned out to be much warmer than I had thought it would be.  We stopped at Anza-Borrego State Park on the way back, but dogs are only allowed in the parking lots, campground, and on the dirt roads.  With the heat, that meant I stayed in the car with the AC on to eat my picnic lunch in a parking lot.

Before going on this little excursion, I had stopped at the resort campground to see if I could extend my stay here by another week.  I was able to do that.  I need to have some work done on the rig, and this seemed liked a good place to have that done.  With the extra week, I was able to schedule things for next week.  That was a relief to me.

I’m also seriously considering putting my name on the waiting list for a permanent site at this Escapees park.  I believe I could be comfortable here.  I’ll spend the next ten days taking advantage of all the amenities and getting a better feel for things.  That really wasn’t on my radar when I decided to stop here, but sometimes things happen for a reason.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Finally made it out of Imperial NWR

Yesterday morning, I finally headed on my way to Oregon.  I had changed my plans for my next destination several times, and high winds kept me on the refuge on Monday.  I only had 214 miles to drive to Jojoba Hills Escapees Park in Anguanga, CA, but it took me well over five hours with no stops.  That’s about my limit these days for driving the rig.

Had some white knuckle times as ‘Jack-in-the-Box’ led me along CA 78.  Many signs saying not to proceed with an RV over 40’.  My rig is 38’, but I was towing a car.  Didn’t know how else to get to my destination so I toughed it out. 

I wish I could have enjoyed the scenery as I made my way.  Went past areas that other’s have blogged about.  Ocotillo Wells and Borrego Springs to name a few.  Even drove past the Blu In RV Park out in the middle of nowhere.  I remembered that fellow bloggers, http://hittheroadjackonawingandaprayer.blogspot.com/, were working there, but I didn’t know if they had already headed out.  I just wanted to finish my trip.


Eventually I pulled in to Jojoba Hills, and was able to get a site for a week.  I’m in site 421 which is a pull through site.  I always appreciate being led to my site, and I found this Escapees Park to be one of the nicest I’ve stayed at. 

_MG_1758The site is spacious, and this is the garden in one of its corners.  I have to admit that I don’t feel as cramped in here as in other RV parks.  Had an issue with my water hookup that had nothing to do with the park.  The fairly new hose that I used at Imperial just wouldn’t stop leaking at the hookup.  I spent a lot of time trying to remedy the situation, but finally decided to just sleep on it and use my fresh water tank for the night.  I just didn’t have the arm power to remove the defective hose from the hookup on the rig.  It had been tightened down by Norm at Imperial, and I just couldn’t budge it.

This morning I debated with myself about calling a mobile RV tech to help me out, but decided first that I’d go to the office and see if they could help me.  After all, this is a SKP park, and helping others is one of their beliefs.  The woman in the office asked if I had tried asking a neighbor for help, and I had to honestly tell her that the only men I had seen didn’t look like they had much more strength than I did.  She looked at where I was staying in the park and admitted that the folks she would suggest asking were not around.  She then called one of the park maintenance guys, and he fixed the problem in no time. 

Besides relaxing and being a tourist in the area, I have some other things I want to accomplish while I’m here.  I’m waiting for a call back on one of those things.  After five months of no cell service (AT&T), I can finally make some calls again.  My air card is also getting four bars of 4G.  Kind of nice to be back in civilization for a while.  Winking smile

80 On the way to Oregon 2015

When you sign in here you have to fill out a form, and one of the questions asks if you want a tour of the park.  I decided to do that this afternoon.  After nine years on the road, I need to be considering other options in my life.  Time marches on, and I’m not as spry as I used to be.

This has been the only non-volunteering place where I have felt that I could actually spend some extended time at.  I’ve got some thinking to do about my future.


Nice pine tree, right?  Well look closely and you’ll see that it is actually a Verizon tower.  It’s located next to the water tanks at Jojoba Hills.  No wonder I have such fast internet!  And guess what?  No mosquitoes here!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I’ve been thinking…

I don’t think I’ve ever gone a week without blogging, but sometimes life gets in the way.  I had some serious thinking to do about where I’ll go next winter.  That, along with some rather boring days, resulted in no posts.


Haven’t even taken any photos since last Sunday, so tonight’s selection is some of my favorite pics from my time here at Imperial NWR.  The above view from my RV site presently has about three more feet of water in the pond, and there is no muddy shoreline right now. 


So I’m still sitting here at my site at Imperial even though I finished work last Tuesday.  I decided to wait until after Easter (and spring breaks) before I hit the road for Oregon.  Lots of little chores to take care of to get ready to leave after being here five months.  That’s been the boring part, but since I’m on five weeks ‘vacation’ until my next assignment I figured why rush?


Another reason I’m not leaving until Monday is that we’ve been having quite a heat wave around Yuma that is supposed to break soon.  My dash AC isn’t working at the present time, so I figured I’d wait for cooler traveling weather.  I know I can run the generator when I’m driving, but I’ll be driving almost the whole length of California and their gas prices are much higher.

Picacho Peak, CA

I finally made the decision to return to Imperial next winter.  After being invited back, I gave it a lot of thought.  I had another meeting with the manager to cover my questions.  The result is that I will probably only work the VC on Sundays after my bird tour.  Yes, the bird tours will continue.  Most of my other duties will be outdoors.  Just the way I like it!  Best of all is the agreement that I will return to my present beautiful site.  When it seemed I would not return, two other couples were interested in having the pond site next year.  Once they heard I was returning, they both generously agreed that I should use it.  I was more than pleased, as that was pretty much a deal breaker for me.

79 Imperial NWR 2014-1519

All the other volunteers here remarked that the five months sure had gone by quickly.  I couldn’t quite agree as there were two months that were not the most pleasant for me.  However, the friends that I got to visit with, family, and co-workers made a very positive impact on my stay here.  They were the real highlights of my winter.  I hope some of you readers recognize yourselves, and know that I appreciated your visits.


Goodnight, and Happy Easter to all!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy