March 28, 2010

Way Too Cool!

I had to share this photo of my Uncle Mike test driving a new all-terrain wheelchair at the Arizona Game and Fish Expo.

This thing looks like a camouflage bomb-disposal robot with a joy stick and a Ricaro seat. I don't know what the range is on this wheelchair, but it looks like he could get deep into the wilds with that thing. It just needs a GPS and a cup holder.

March 27, 2010

Earth Day Reminder

We're lucky enough to live a few hundred feet from the banks of the Temescal River, just upstream of the basin behind Prado Dam. This wet winter has cleaned the streets of debris and litter, but unfortunately, all of that gunk has flown right into the the wetlands where the egrets, herons and ducks nest.

During my morning walk with the dogs, we walked into the basin; into areas that just last week were still underwater from the winter rains. The volume of foam cups, packaging and man-made junk is depressing. I was pretty moved by the experience and I hope everyone who reads this will be too.

Every year, Earth Day is celebrated near the April 22nd birthday of Conservationist John Muir. Community clean-ups are planned all over the world, so watch your local paper or do a Google search for events in your area. And don't forget to be a responsible camper.

March 21, 2010

San Elijo Beach Combing

We just got back from a Summery weekend at San Elijo State Beach. Our friends Paul and Linda bought a new trailer, and joined us for the trip. We had the intentions of just vegging out at the beach, but we ended up having a blast shopping in the cool little town of Solano Beach, bike riding, surfing, and beach combing.

We must've been quite a sight with all the bikes and surfboard on the back of La Rana. As it turns out, we were spotted by my old buddy Geno as we were cruising home and he was on his way back from Lake Skinner. Andy would rather ride his skateboard than his bike, but we have a carrier for four just in case he has a friend along that talks him into bike riding. I think we'll end up with a three or five speed for Sherry. I'm cool with my beach cruiser.

Sherry is always up for a long walk on the beach, looking for pretty things. We walked all the way down the beach to San Elijo Lagoon, where the warm fresh water mixes with the cooler ocean water. There are lots of wildlife here that, like Goldilocks, find the temperature that is just right for them.

I never had to cook this weekend. We ate ham and apple pininis at a sidewalk cafe; Paul and Linda cooked up an awesome dinner of carne asada; we had a breakfast burrito from the great little taco shop in the campground (how many camp stores sell lobster tacos?); and lunch at Costco on the way home. Great trip.

A quick tip I discovered this weekend: Since all of the California State Parks have AT&T WiFi and my GPS has all of the AT&T hot spots, we have all of the Calparks already programmed into our GPS.

March 12, 2010

New Toy

I'm not generally one of those that would go camping just to sit in the RV and watch TV, but having spent days in the rain, or in areas where campfires were verboten, a little light show is appreciated after dark.

This is just the thing for us. It is the Dell M109S LCD projector. While it fits in your hand, it does use a power supply that is almost as big, so the photo is a little deceiving. It also is missing any audio, so auxiliary speakers are a necessity, but we can use the RV stereo, a radio or small computer speakers for sound. A tripod mount on the bottom would be nice, but sadly it is missing. Still, it can project up to a 50" diagonal image.

It uses LEDs instead of a bulb so it stays cool (no fan noise) and the bulb won't burn out. It will hook up to a computer, game console or DVD player. When we were at Ocotillo Wells we saw some campers who had shot video during the day and then projected it onto a sheet after dinner. I'll have to play around with the house wiring and some screen ideas, but tinkering is half the fun of camping.

March 4, 2010

Hey You! Lookout!

Even though it has been the wettest winter in decades, preparations are well underway for the 2010 fire season. The training of the SBNFA Fire Lookout Hosts starts next month and I'm teaching the Natural History and Interpretation sessions of the training, so I'm already doing my homework.

I'm the volunteer leader for the Black Mountain Fire Lookout, on the shoulder of Mount San Jacinto. Click on the photo for a larger version and you might be able to see me standing in the right (southeast) corner of the tower. The purple line shows the approximate location of the lookout. In the foreground is San Bernardino. On the other side of the mountain is Palm Springs.

These lookouts are staffed 100% by volunteers who spend at least one day a month standing watch. If you think this sounds like a wonderful experience, you're correct. If this is the year you want to try it, you better hurry because the training is only offered during April of each year and you need to complete the training before you can take a turn. Be sure to send me an email if you're interested.

On a side note, here is my new favorite commercial:

March 1, 2010

1st of the Month

The first day of the month is always important to a California camper. That is because it is the first day that reservations are available for six months from now.

You have to be logged in and ready to go, because you'll see campsites disappear off the reservation site before you can type in your credit card information. Because of the State budget, California parks and beaches have almost doubled their fees, so County and Federal parks are seeing increases as frugal campers migrate away from the more expensive sites.

It was a tough fight this morning, but we've got our reservations through September:
  • MAR: San Elijo
  • APR: Sequoia
  • MAY: Oak Glen
  • JUN: Serrano
  • JUL: Dogwood
  • AUG: Idyllwild
  • SEP: Doheney