October 30, 2008

The Bug is Back

The camping bug is definitely back. We've skipped a couple months due to some medical issues, but now it is really time to get back out there.

We kept the November trip to San Clemente and the December trip to Doheney on the calendar, but we canceled the January trip to San Elijo and February return trip to San Clemente.

Sherry is going to a concert with her girl friends in January, so I'll take Andy and a friend or two out to the desert to play.

In February we're going to take a five day trip to Big Sur, about a half-hour from Monterey Bay in the central coast of California. We're staying in the Fernwood Resort campground, inside a grove of Redwood trees.

We'll use the "resort" as a base camp and explore nearby Pfeiffer Big Sur, Andrew Molera, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Parks, plus Pfeiffer Beach.

The State Parks says the area features "redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows - plus open meadows. Wildlife includes black-tail deer, gray squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and birds, such as water ouzels and belted kingfishers." Looks like a great extended trip.

October 21, 2008

Smell the Surf?

It is time to get that pine cone smell out of the Caboose and start looking forward to the smell of the ocean. We have beach sites reserved for the next four months. In order, we're going to San Clemente, Doheny, San Elijo and San Clemente again. We have the same site reserved for both San Clemente trips.

Thanks to Google Maps, I can illustrate the attractiveness of the San Clemente site (click for a bigger view). The restrooms and showers are just a short stroll from the campsite. There are no campers across from us, only the Lifeguard Headquarters, which closes at dusk. There is a nice bench on the ocean side of the HQ, and you can look off the bluffs and watch the dolphins playing in the waves at sunset.

You can see from this photo from a passing plane, the bluffs mean that there is a bit of a hike to the beach access, but the cliffs keep the passing train noise to a minimum. The best views are from the campsite directly south of ours, but it is pretty cramped compared to our site. We're really looking forward to this trip.

October 13, 2008

Red Flag Day

I worked the morning shift up at the Lookout today. It was a Red Flag day because of the fire conditions. That meant we are on the highest alert for fires. When I got to the tower it was just 35 degrees with 30 mph winds and 50 mph gusts. We had a couple fires early on, but the big fire was off the forest, down in the city of San Bernardino. The fire burned along the freeway forcing motorists to abandon their cars and flee on foot. So far it has burned several structures including a public storage facility and the back wall of a motel. The Press Enterprise has the best coverage.

October 11, 2008

Death Valley Adventure

We've had a dry patch as far as camping goes, so why not go really dry with a camping trip to Death Valley? Andrew and I just got back from three days boondocking in this beautiful canyon just east of Death Valley.

Our friends Jake and Vickie have been camping twice a year in the same desolate canyon with a bunch of family and friends. They've invited us every year for as long as I can remember, and this year, Andy and I were finally able to take them up on their offer.

This unnamed, and secret canyon, is solitude at its finest. That really means campers have to be self-sufficient, which is one of the reasons these folks always camp together. We heard many different stories of mishaps and we saw one major misstep on our way in.

One of the big motor-homes got stuck in the almost dry creek bed on the way up the canyon. We spent a couple hours discussing strategy, and several more hours digging them out. Andy sure earned his supper with all the hard digging he did on this rescue.

We went exploring along an old railroad right-of-way with metal detectors, and the treasure of the day was found by Andrew. This is an 1899 Liberty Nickel. In that era, a day's wages were about $1.25, so with inflation, this is worth about six bucks. Remarkably, that is about twice the value of the coin on today's collector market. Still, the experience was a blast and the coin will be a keepsake.

The following morning, Jake took us for a hike to the bluffs above our secret canyon. We explored the natural desert pavement, and then Jake showed us these incredibly odd circles. This row of circles extends for miles in either direction. No one knows for sure why they are here, but theories run from UFOs to Native American purposes. In my humble opinion, it is in the character of man to draw lines in the sand. If there are no timbers for a boundary line, stand your ground and pull the rocks up to build a sentinel. I'm guessing this was a boundary negotiated by two native cultures.

Our last morning, the gang went to a box canyon and set up an impromptu shooting range. Most of the bunch are shooting enthusiasts, so there was lots of action in the canyon. Andy got the chance to dial in the scope on his birthday rifle; shoot a WWI sniper rifle; fire Jake's Mini-14; and Mike's .50 caliber pistol.

We did some exploring on our own on the way home and checked out this sun-bleached hopper.

This was an incredible trip, with so much more than I've documented here. We are so incredibly thankful to Jake, Vickie and all our new friends from the canyon. Thanks guys!