Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

There comes a time…

This June will mark my ten year anniversary as a fulltime RVer.  It has been a wonderful journey with so many memorable experiences for me.  I’ll never forget each and every one of the fifteen National Wildlife Refuges I’ve volunteered at, but there comes a time when it’s best to ‘hang up the keys’.  I have reached that point in time.


          There’s a bench here in the park to sit upon and contemplate things.  It’s a favorite place of mine.

Driving the rig has never been my favorite part of this lifestyle, and I was literally dreading getting ready to do so again.  I’ve grown tired of the stress and all of the work involved in traveling solo.  Beginning in October, I gave Jojoba Hills a try and it turned out that I really feel comfortable here.


So, for the last couple of months I’ve been investigating how to stay.  It seemed silly to me to have a motorized rig just sitting on a site for who knows how long.  Well, today I signed my name on the dotted line and in about eight weeks a Cedar Creek Cottage destination trailer will be installed on my site. (think kind of a park model)

IMG_1345 Can you believe a black-crowned night heron showed up at the pond below me in the middle of the desert?

I was thinking that perhaps with trading in the motorhome I could get the trailer and maybe have something left over towards a small rig for summer travel.  Pipe dreams for sure!  Seems to me that we always think what we have is worth more than what it really is worth.  That’s been my experience anyway. 


                                                                      Pepper tree peppers.

So, no little rig, and tomorrow I’ll be calling my financial advisor to get some funds for the trailer.  Mind you, I chose what I think is a quality rig with several upgrades to be my new ‘home’.  I’ll not be pulling this baby anywhere.  I was a nervous wreck this morning while waiting for the guy to come and evaluate my motorhome for a trade in.  I was hoping for more than what was offered, but that didn’t pan out.  (This was the third or fourth place that I had been in contact with.)

Tonight I’m feeling excited about starting a new era in my life, but it seems ‘Travels with Emma’ has come to an end.  Not many travels in my future until I can save up for something to travel in.  Probably won’t be posting much of anything now that I’ll be sedentary.  One door closes and another opens…


          I’m taking this as a good omen.  This rainbow was the view from my door during last night’s storm.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, March 28, 2016

Last week was a busy one

Want to get yourself worn out?  Well, just have two grandgirls (8 and 6) visit for six days and that will do it!

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Of course picking lemons for lemonade was one of the first things we did.  There’s a small lemon orchard in the park and members can pick what they need.  The biggest and best lemons are up high, so it was great to have Robyn agile enough to climb one of the trees for the prize fruits.

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Tuesday found us on a very long day trip to visit Joshua Tree National Park.  The trees, cacti, and wildflowers were all in bloom.  It was the perfect time for a visit.  Avery and Phoebe were even able to earn Junior Ranger badges by the end of the day.

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With a little help from their mom, both girls got to shoot my air rifle.  We practiced one afternoon to be ready for the Thursday morning Ladies Poker Shoot.  Avery, on the left, really didn’t like it, but Phoebe ended up being a little Miss Annie Oakley.  The Poker Shoot pays out on the best high and low hand, with at least a pair being required.  Robyn won the low category and I wasn’t even in the running this time around.  We didn’t enter the girls in the shoot, but I think Phoebe might have been in the money if we had.

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On two afternoons, we did soap felting.  The finished products are on the lower right.  With all those soap suds flying around everyone had sparkling clean hands, and I now have the cleanest picnic bench in the park!

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We had cookouts every night, and while waiting for me to finish cooking dinner the Indiana ladies went on a hike up the big boulder hill that can be seen from my patio.


Up and up they went.  I had to take these photos with my 600mm lens.  They were really just specs on the hill to the naked eye.


But before you knew it, they had made it to the top.  Sure wish I could have made that climb.  All the things I did get pictures of were interspersed with numerous trips to the pool and spa, two ice cream socials, and miniature golfing.  The girls took turns driving the golf cart to these events, and I’m happy to report that we didn’t crash even once.  Of course, the girls sat on my lap and I controlled the gas and brake pedals.  They’re not quite tall enough to do all that yet.

It was a busy week, and after taking them to the San Diego airport on Friday I was pretty tuckered out.  But you know what?  I wouldn’t have missed last week for the world!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Getting ready for more visitors

My daughter, Robyn, and the grandgirls, Avery and Phoebe, will be flying into San Diego Airport tomorrow afternoon.  They’ll be here until next Friday, and I’m more than excited.


The weather forecast looks much better than when my sister visited two weeks ago, and the park is just about at peak blooming for the spring.  I’ve been planning what we’ll do while they are here.  Avery is the one that sent me Flat Stanley last December.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I took that soap felting class?  Well, what better way to have some good clean but messy fun.  We’ll also be making a few day trips.  Being eight, Avery is the perfect age to get excited about Junior Ranger Programs, so a trip to Joshua Tree National Park is on the itinerary.  I’ve heard that the bloom of the trees is spectacular this year, and we’ll make it just in time, I’m thinking.


Of course there’s swimming, miniature golf, root beer floats, and a trip to the air gun range to fit in as well.  Nothing better than having some time with family!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, March 11, 2016

This week was a mixed bag

It’s kind of exciting to have visitors, and this week my sister, Pam, and my grandniece, Amy, flew in from Chicago to spend a few days with me.  They had delays and missed connections and didn’t arrive until the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Since I don’t drive at night, they holed up in a motel in San Diego until I could get there once the sun was up.  Of course it rained for my whole drive to the motel.


On the way back to Jojoba, we took a side jaunt to the Palomar Mountain Observatory.  The drive up Mt. Palomar was socked in with fog, but skies were beginning to clear at the top.


The 200” telescope is used nightly by astronomers.  If you visit, you get to go inside the building, but there’s no looking through the telescope.  I found it interesting that the huge lens was made by Corning in New York.  I used to live not too far from Corning, and had visited their glass works many times in the past.


That’s the road up the mountain.  Lots of switchbacks.  It’s a good thing we went on Sunday because by Tuesday morning the road would have been snow covered.

On Monday we spent most of the day inside the rig since it rained almost all day.  I did show them around the park, and we went for the Monday afternoon root beer float gathering.


Tuesday the sun was out so we headed for Borrego Springs early in the morning.  Kind of surprising to see snow on the mountains along the way.


I took the scenic Montezuma Valley Road down to Borrego Springs.  Pam really enjoyed the scenery and couldn’t get over all the big boulders strewn about.


Of course there was the mandatory picture with the serpent to take care of. Winking smile  You know, the last time I saw Amy she wasn’t even in school yet, and now she’s 14 and a freshman in high school.  Her mother, Christine, used to come and spend the summers with my family in upstate New York when she was about that age.  Time sure flies.


I do believe we found all of the sculptures that were scattered around the countryside.  Some, like this one, I had never seen before.  83 Jojoba Hills 20152The brittlebush was blooming everywhere along with these desert wildflowers.  I have no idea what they are.  We stopped for lunch at Carmelita’s in Borrego Springs before heading back to the rig.


About 3:30 we went down to the air gun range so Amy could have her first experience shooting an air rifle.  She did very well.  We were all having a good time, when I suddenly knew I was going to be sick.  Thank goodness there was a large garbage can at the range.

Needless to say I was toast for the rest of the day.  Spent most of my time in the bathroom.  We’re thinking it was possibly food poisoning from the shrimp taco that I had for lunch.  I was worried about being able to take Pam and Amy back to the airport the next morning.  Thankfully, Fredericka, a fellow member here, volunteered to drive them at the crack of dawn.  I never would have made it.

So I’ve spent the last couple of days recuperating from that miserableness.  I sure am glad they visited, but I just wish I hadn’t gotten sick.


                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Felting Soap?

“Join me for a couple of hours of messy fun!”  That’s what the class description said.  I had no idea what felting soap was, but if it was messy and fun, I decided to sign up.  So I was off to the Ranch House at Jojoba this morning to find out what I had gotten myself into.


The first step in this process was to pick a bar of soap.  That’s my lavender scented bar on the lower left.  There were bags of wool scraps to choose your colors from.  The purple jumped out at me, but the instructor wasn’t sure it was really wool, so I had to pick a different color.  (I did wonder why she would bring stuff that you couldn’t use, but we’re all just volunteers here.)


                   Next you have to shave off all the edges on your bar of soap to make it easier to cover.


After pulling the wool strands apart, you begin wrapping your soap in the first layer.  Making sure the corners get covered is most important.  You don’t want to be able to see the soap at all, so it might take several layers.


            I decided I wanted some white highlights to that burgundy, so I wrapped on a cobweb of white.


Once you’ve got the colors and layers you want, you wrap the bar in a section of pantyhose; creating a bag for the bar to be in.  Our leader, Sarah, said she wished she had called some of us to bring along some pantyhose.  Good thing she didn’t call me.  It’s been well over ten years since I’ve had any of those around. Eye rolling smile  Someone suggested that maybe you could pick up some pantyhose at Goodwill.  Used pantyhose??  Yuck!


Then we went outside for the messy part.  You have to immerse your soap bag in hot water to get it good and soaked.  Then you start rolling it in your hands; around and around.  Soap suds go everywhere!  You’ve got to do this for about a half an hour until the wool begins to ‘felt’ and seize up around the bar of soap.  (The scenery around us was not too shabby either as we were working.)


You can squirt it with cold water to keep it wet as you work.  Sarah said that it also helps to shock the wool by rubbing it on old fashioned scrub boards.


Well, after about 45 minutes, my bar of soap was still lumpy and not seizing up.  I took it out of the pantyhose bag to discover that the white stuff apparently wasn’t wool.  It hadn’t transformed at all, but the burgundy underneath was perfectly felted.  So I ended up with a rather mundane felted soap.  Guess it just wasn’t my day for picking the right materials.


Everyone was pretty happy with the results of their labors.  You might ask why the heck would you do this to a bar of soap?  Well, I’ve been told it’s something like having a loofa sponge with the soap built in for your shower.  As the soap gets used up, the felting shrinks to stay tight around the bar of soap.  Sarah says that when the soap is gone, you end up with a little pouch that perhaps granddaughters would like to hide little precious items in.


I do know that after 45 minutes of felting/washing my hands, seven hours later my hands are still creamy and smelling like lavender. 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, February 22, 2016

The first time is always more exciting

Emma and I headed out early this morning to revisit Sony Bono Salton Sea NWR.  I was hoping to see lots of waterfowl before they began their journey north for the summer.  An ulterior motive was to get some photos for the latest Photo Bug group challenge here at Jojoba.  Our assignment for next Friday is to bring in some photos where we only took one shot of the subject, and did no after shot processing of the photo.  I almost always process my photos before putting them on the blog.  Cropping is the most frequent tool I use, and I absolutely can’t stand tilted horizons.

This is a good challenge for me.  You have to think about composition, lighting, and myriad other things before pushing the button to take the shot.  I have to admit that I cheated a bit though, since I have difficulty keeping the camera steady.  If I thought the photo was blurry, I took a second shot.  It also helps if your subject isn’t moving, but as you know, wildlife is my favorite subject and it seldom holds still.

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Sony Bono NWR is a two hour drive away, and I was excited to find this coyote coming down one of the hills only a half hour into the drive.  I pulled off the road, lowered the passenger’s side window, and whipped up my 150-600mm lens camera only to find I couldn’t extend the lens.  It’s been several months since I’ve used this lens, and I really fumbled around trying to unlock the zoom.  This photo is severely cropped to even tell there was a coyote out there.

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Eventually I got the lens unlocked, and got this parting shot.  It’s cropped too, so I won’t be using it at Photo Bugs. 


Along the way I had to travel through a portion of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  I just wished these ocotillos were in bloom so the flowers at the tips of the branches would have brought out a pop of red.

I got to the refuge and stopped at the visitors center to find out what was around.  Compared to the volunteer I talked to in October when I was here, this lady was lack luster.  It was rather disappointing.  What the hay?  She couldn’t answer my questions with anything other than a maybe or I think so.  Not the best person for the job I’d say.

Overall the visit was a bomb.  Didn’t find much, and took next to no photos.  The wind was blowing like crazy and the area made me think of what I had read about the dustbowl of the 1930’s.  You could barely make out the surrounding mountains. 

Oh well, I’ve found that the first time volunteering at a refuge is always the most exciting.  Everything’s new I guess.  It’s not so exciting the second time around.  I won’t be making any more trips to Sony Bono this year.  Time to set my sights elsewhere.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Such a bargain!

Have you ever rented one of those rug shampoo machines?  I have not, but I think they’re at least $25, and then you have to buy the soap and stuff and wrestle the machine around yourself.  In the almost six years I’ve owned this rig, I’ve never had the carpet shampooed, and believe me it needed it. 

There was an announcement on the park website that the library and card room would be closed today at 4:00 to have the carpeting cleaned.  The person that set that up also said that the shampoo company was willing to do carpets in rigs on the same day.  (Years ago when I attended my first Escapade Rally, the going rate for getting your rig’s carpet shampooed was $100.  I thought that was too much, so I passed on that opportunity.) 

The company that was coming to do the work normally charges a minimum of $100 for each call, but the person setting this up was able to negotiate a lower rate since a number of folks had signed up, and the cleaning crew would be in the park anyway to do the library.   I’m sure glad I signed up for this.

The total cost for doing the carpet and two five foot runners was $29.80!   Such a deal!  It wasn’t all roses though.  I was originally told that the guys would be here probably around noon, but that there was an 11:00-3:00 window.  Well, I ended up being second to last on the list so they didn’t show until after 4:00.  Emma and I had sat outside since 11:00 waiting.  I had given the rig a good vacuuming in the morning, and I didn’t want Emma shedding all over it before they got here.  I was getting a little ticked by the time 4 o’clock rolled around, but I just reminded myself that I was retired and in the bigger scheme of things it was really small potatoes. 

The guy that led the two man crew was surprised that almost everyone paid cash.  With such reasonable rates, why not?  It was this company’s first time in the park, and they assured me that a better window of time would be set up if they returned.  I’m happy with the results, although it would have been nicer to be at the beginning of the list so the carpet had more time to dry before the sun went down and we had to come inside.


I did take this shot of all the flowers right past the edge of my patio.  It’s really a ‘blooming’ carpet out front.  Seems so odd to me in February.  I’m not complaining though…

A friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, has also sent me another photoshopped picture.


I’m thinking I like this one better than the other one.  It not only has the background of the poker shoot, but I actually have a waist in this picture! Open-mouthed smile  Haven’t had one of those in eons!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The tale of ‘Stealer’

About a month or so ago, there was an announcement in the park that a feral cat was stalking around, and was very dangerous.  Apparently it had tussled with two other felines in the park; one had to be put down and the other had over $1000 in vet bills.  At the weekly membership meeting, the park manager said that food baited traps had been set out, but someone in the park had been tripping the traps and taking out the food.  He asked that if we saw anyone tampering with the traps, it be reported to him.

The next week the manager reported that he had found out who was tripping the traps.  Turns out that there was also a stray dog in the park, and it was big enough to eat the food, trip the traps, and back out free as a bird.  The culprit was a young yellow lab mix, and had obviously been on its own for some time…kind of skinny and disheveled looking.  It was seen by quite a few folks, and was quite skittish of human contact.

As the days passed, it was thought that someone felt sorry for the dog, and was putting out food for it, so it hung around.  It wasn’t at all mean, but it took up the habit of stealing people’s shoes and other items that were left outside their rigs overnight.  Hence the nickname ‘Stealer’.  Being young, it not only stole the shoes, but tended to chew them up as well.  Stealer also chose to leave large ‘droppings’ at favorite sights.  Of course these were at the homes of people that didn’t own a dog. 

Last week, while taking Emma for a short walk on her first outs, we were approached by Stealer.  Oh boy!  Mayhem insued!  Jumping and running around in circles and nearly yanking my arm out of socket.  I finally had to take shelter in the nearby laundry room where dogs are not allowed.  I explained to the couple inside that we would leave as soon as Stealer left the area.  Didn’t want to get reported for breaking the rules, don’t you know.

Well, just two days ago, someone was able to gain acceptance by Stealer, and was able to get a collar and leash on her.  She’s now in a no kill shelter, and goes by the name of Grace.  Shoes are now safe in the park, and hopefully this exuberant young lady will soon have a forever home.

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In the meantime, I helped out at the annual maintenance day at the air gun range.  Most of the volunteers that showed up were men, but there were two of us women.  See all those yellow targets?  I re-painted every one of them.  Lots of work got done, and the range was in spiffy shape for this Monday’s Poker Shoot.


I decided to compete with the ‘big guys’ at the Poker Shoot.  A wooden horse with cards are placed about 33’ out and you have five shots to hit five cards.  Two shooters compete at a time.  Once you get your five (or less) cards, you can try a second time to improve your hand like five card draw.


I initially shot a pair of nines, kept a king, and paid for two more cards.  I thought I had it in the bag to win this shoot out when I ended up with two nines and two kings.  It was not to be, though, when one guy ended up with a five diamond flush.  Aw shucks!  Second place doesn’t get you anything.  Crying face  A lot of good natured bantering and trash talk goes on at these gatherings.  It was a lot of fun, and maybe I’ll be luckier next time.

Judy Oakley signing off for tonight.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Belle Oakley??

First off I want to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions about Deep Brain Stimulation.  I’m not jumping into anything half cocked, but I am looking for a solution. 

I think it was last Sunday that I got an email from Gypsy with a picture of me attached.  She was forwarding it from a friend of hers known as GC. 

belle oakleyShe had photoshopped it using a picture of my face, and entitled it ‘Belle Oakley’.  Ha!  What a hoot!  It inspired me compete in Tuesday morning’s Poker Shoot on the air gun range.  We’d had quite a storm on Sunday with very high winds and rain.  I had the slides pulled in all day and was still rocking and rolling.  I looked out the kitchen window at one point and saw one of my tire covers take flight and travel half way down the steep bank at the end of my patio.  Luckily, the back strap was far enough up the bank that I could just reach it without falling down.  I did get pretty soaked on that mission, though.

Anyway, Tuesday morning I headed out to the range in the very chilly temps.  I was determined to make a good showing.  Well guess what?  I was the only one there.  Bummer!  I did a little practicing since I was there, but only got off about a dozen shots before my fingers were too cold to pull the trigger.

When I got back to the rig, I checked the park’s activities website and found that a change of date had been posted over night.  Rats!  Guess I’d better learn to check things early each morning.  Well I’ll try again next Monday, but you can bet I won’t be wearing a dress!

Today was the Annual Membership Meeting at Jojoba.  You had to be there by about 8:00 in the morning to register.  The meeting was scheduled for all day.  Disappointed smile  OMG!  I don’t mind short meetings, but all day??  Members were voting for three new Board of Directors positions, and four candidates were running.  There were also three propasals being voted on.  As it was my first Annual Membership Meeting, after taking Emma out I grabbed a quick breadfast and headed out.  I didn’t want to be late.  Little did I know that a continental breakfast was provided.  I’ll know better next year.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I thought one of the board candidates was pretty full of himself, so I chose not to vote for him.  Guess I wasn’t alone in that decision because he was soundly beaten; only garnering about half the amount of votes as the other three candidates.

Thanks to the outgoing President of the Board, my new next door neighbor, all business was taken care of by noon.  I did not participate in the beef stew luncheon nor the wine and cheese gathering to celebrate the new board members later in the afternoon.  Four hours of socializing in a big crowd was enough for me.

Tomorrow I’ll be helping with the annual maintenance of the air gun range.  All those targets and posts need to be repainted, and I gained quite a bit of experience painting posts at Tamarac NWR.  Just give me a paint brush and stand back!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A no brainer?

Over the last ten years or so, I’ve experienced an increase in the shakiness of my hands… tremors.  I just figured it was a part of growing older.  The shakes are worse under stress.  It’s kind of embarrassing at times.  Driving my big rig is stressful for me, and I’ve even had people ask me if I have Parkinson’s disease when I’ve stopped to gas up the rig or sign in at a campground. 


                       Tonight’s photos are from around Jojoba Hills… this is Pond 1 of six in the park.

The tremors have gotten progressively worse over time, and presently it’s a real challenge to even butter a piece of toast.  It’s really effecting the quality of my life.  At the Christmas Dinner at the park, I had to ask someone to put some gravy on my mashed potatoes.  If I had tried to do it, that gravy would have ended up all over everything and everyone.


                                                                    Croc Creek Mill Pond

About two weeks ago, a couple pulled up to my site in their golf cart and knocked on my door.  They introduced themselves and then invited me to attend a Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) information meeting.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  It seems someone in the park had told them about my tremors, and the wife, Lou, related to me how DBS had helped eliminate her tremors.


I signed up to attend, and then did some investigating on the internet.  That meeting happened this morning.


                The air gun range in the park.  All those yellow things in the distance are what I shoot at.

Dr. Adam Burdick, a neurosurgeon from Scripps Green Hospital, gave the presentation.  He explained the difference between Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors.  Listening to him, I’d say I have essential tremors. 


                                  The flowers are in front of my patio.  This one is my favorite.

The clincher was when he said that folks with essential tremors experience a lessening after an alcoholic drink.  If I have a glass of sherry in the evening, I’ve found I can actually write legibly.  The evening is when I fill out forms or write checks.

IMG_1263Those silver points around the center of the flower are actually the background between the petals.  Kind of neat aren’t they?

So what is Deep Brain Stimulation?  Well, in a nutshell, it’s brain surgery.  A probe is inserted into the deepest reaches of your brain, and is then attached by thin wires to a battery source that is implanted under the skin just below your collar bone.  Kind of like a pace maker. 


The patient is actually awake for much of the surgery so the probe/electrode can be placed in the exact right spot.  You have to be awake to converse with the surgeon during this placement.  Seems kind of spooky to me, but the results are astounding.


Unless you’ve had this problem, it’s hard to imagine the frustration of not being able to do things that seem so natural and easy.  It is progressive and can only get worse.  The surgery doesn’t cure the condition (there is no cure), but alleviates the symptoms.  It takes some time to fine tune the system after the surgery, so that has to be taken into consideration also.  I’ve got some thinking to do…

I’ll leave you tonight with a photo of Emma on vigil.


Can’t have any of those little lizards stalking my oranges, don’t ya know!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy