Springing into action at Agua Caliente

Our rooster crowed, “Awake,” and we heard his call to action and proudly flew the flag of the United States,* along with the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality flag at Agua Caliente County Park in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

DSC_0279 Agua Caliente County Park

Like Canada geese, Bert and Janie finally, after unexpected surgeries, winged their way south from Montana to milder climes and spent the day chatting, hiking, and feasting.

DSC_0109 Bert & Janie, Larry & Bill

The following day, we drove up to Borrego Springs and visited our Airstream friends Bob and Theresa at their beautiful home.  Ten years ago, we took our 2007 Airstream Safari on its maiden cruise and followed Bob and Theresa in their Airstream Classic to our first trailer camping experience in Borrego Springs, California!  Over the years, Bert, Janie, Bob, and Theresa have joined us for desert hiking and feasting!

DSC_0237 Bob & Theresa, Bill & Larry

My breakfasts consisted of Larry’s homemade pumpkin bread, cool apple and orange slices, and reading material.  He calls it Hagrid’s pumpkin bread because it’s made from a pumpkin similar to those seen just outside Hagrid’s hut in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  These large and unusually shaped pumpkins are called Mexican Sweet Pumpkins (Calabaza de Castilla), that he bought at local Latino markets, poached and made into pumpkin bread (pan de calabaza).*

DSC_0040 Breakfast & HRC leaflet

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open,* honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.  HRC’s Buyers Guide helps consumers to find and choose businesses committed to workplace equality before making purchases.

After breakfast, Larry donned a plague doctor mask that I have worn at Renaissance faires (and while camping in the forest) in preparation for a surprise visit to the park’s supervising ranger.

DSC_0049 Larry as plague doctor

“Yo soy el doctor de la peste,* and I’ve brought Hagrid’s pumpkin bread as nourishment to feign off the plague.”

DSC_0058 Pumpkin bread for Maggie Tull

Agua Caliente County Park Supervisor Maggie was delighted to receive Larry and his pumpkin bread and happily shared it with the staff!  We returned to our campsite and Larry continued on his sewing projects…

DSC_0271 Project time for Larry

DSC_0072 Larry sewing HRC appliques

while becoming energized and redirecting energy toward positive change as we both stand indivisible…*

DSC_0032 Y'all means all (HRC shirt)!

Because y’all means all.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Haunting echoes of Moonlight Canyon

Delayed by unexpected surgeries, writer/outdoor photographer/Airstreamer/snowbird Bert Gildart and Janie finally arrived in the warmer climes of California’s Anza-Borrego Desert to enjoy hiking, biking and overall renewal.  Last week they visited us at Agua Caliente County Park and Bert couldn’t wait to put on a camera backpack and carry a tripod onto the Moonlight Canyon Trail where he has photographed bighorn sheep.

DSC_0124 Bert Gildart in Moonlight Canyon

We entered the canyon from the east where its shady, steep granite walls hold onto the night cold, so a ways in, Bert enjoyed sitting on a boulder and soaking in the warm rays of the rising sun (to drive the cold winter away).*

DSC_0134 Chasing the chill away

A few moments later, Bert forged ahead and set the pace, while looking for suitable subjects to photograph, saying, “When I choose to photograph something, I like it to be better than the ones I have previously photographed.”

DSC_0197 Bert on the hunt

As we rose out of the canyon, the trail became steeper and the sides were lined with granite detritus as we stumbled upon elusive Ghost Flowers that thrive on gravely slopes and sandy washes.  The pale cream flower is translucent, sometimes hard to see, and is the basis of its name.

DSC_0198 Ghost Flowers on Moonlight Canyon Trail

Bert and I quickly went to work photographing this treasure trove of Ghost Flowers.  The last time I saw these flowers here was 6 years ago!

DSC_0203 Bert shoots Ghost flowers

Bert scrambled up loose granite to get another shot.

DSC_0219 Shooting ghost on sliding granite

Upon finding a suitable subject, Bert got serious and set up his tripod.

DSC_0186 Bert's Nikon on tripod, Ghost shot

He asked me to pull out two hand-held strobes from his backpack and showed me where to hold one of them as he held the other and took the picture.  Bert explained he sets the camera’s shutter speed to 250th of a second (which makes the flowers look motionless, even in a breeze) and sets the aperture at f/32 for maximum depth of field.  The two hand-held strobes, overwhelm ambient light and produce a dark or black background (Photographic artistry of Bert Gildart).  See Bert’s article and photos in his March 8 posting, “Ghost Flower.”

DSC_0179 Bert uses hand-held strobe

The Ghost Flower, Mohavea confertiflora, has 5 ragged-edged lobes with maroon speckles and a maroon blotch at the base (Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers).  These marks resemble the female bee Xeralictus and operate as floral mimicry (sign stimulus) to the male bee, which enters the flower and pollinates the Mohavea (Wikipedia).  (Below are my Nikon D40 images.)

DSC_0154 Ghost Flower, Mohavea confertiflora

DSC_0191 Ghost Flowers, Moonlight Canyon

Visiting these Ghost Flowers renewed our spirits and strengthened our bodies.  Thich Nhat Hanh reflects this in his meditation “Flower Fresh.”*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Happy Holidays from the desert!

Recovering from post-election blues and a bout of tendonitis that scuttled last month’s trip to the desert, we sorted through our Christmas decorations and rediscovered our Nacimiento de barro bruñido that had not been displayed in a decade and was up for review.  As Larry unwrapped the pieces and placed them in the early morning sun, he experienced a flood of sentimental feelings and memories of a 2-month stay in Cuernavaca,* Mexico, attending a special class on Neurodevelopmental Treatment for cerebral palsy in 1980 when he was an Occupational Therapist.  His experience studying and living in a foreign country, knowing only a semester of Spanish endeared him to the children and people of Mexico.  Many of his patients were Mexican immigrants.  We both agreed the nacimiento continues to be an important part of our family reminding us of peace on earth, good will toward men, women and children, and will continue to have a home with us!

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Larry made two holiday decorative panels that can be attached to our corgis’ harnesses in preparation for our attendance at the San Diego Corgi Meetup – Caroling in Balboa Park upon our return from the desert.  They double as table displays, as seen below!

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We returned to Agua Caliente County Park in the Anza-Borrego Desert, California, last week and enjoyed 5 days of sunny weather and temperatures in the 70s!

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Larry brought along his delicious homemade Craisin-date panettone (traditional Italian Christmas bread).*

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I brought along Airstream Life, 2016 Winter Issue.

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Larry continued on his project of making various corgi costumes, decorative panels, and accessories.  On this trip, he drafted, cut out, and sewed Airstream appliqués for panels to be attached to their harnesses…

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While I hiked and photographed Moonlight Canyon.

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At night, we lit our Holiday Tree of Lights and lantern candles… and will light the candles of freedom!*

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And enjoyed the quiet serenity of the desert floor in winter.

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Happy Holidays from Bill and Larry, and Mac & Tasha!

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Though we’ve grown old, the bell still rings for us as it does for all who truly believe.*

Added feature: Watching Ryen and his corgi Gatsby in Merry Ramen Christmas Feast* helps keep us young at heart!*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Wash, Wax and Corgi Day at the Beach!

While some are winterizing, we are washing and waxing our Safari Airstream travel trailer for the beginning of our fall-winter-spring camping season in the wonderful mountains and deserts of Southern California, popular with snow birds as far away as Bigfork, Montana.  A full report on how I wash and wax the trailer, along with a list of my tools, strategy, procedure, and the benefits, is seen in last year’s post, “Wash, wax and treat II.”

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Once again, I wore my “Ridin’ with Biden” hat, especially because I am on-board with his efforts to accelerate progress in preventing, detecting, and treating cancer with the goal of ending cancer as we know it.  As a retired RN, I appreciate Joe Biden’s passionate tribute to the nurses and all who fight cancer, as seen in the video, “Vice President Biden Delivers Remarks at the Cancer Moonshot Summit.”*

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Seven years ago, I had Mohs surgery to remove a skin cancer lesion from my face, so as the sun broke through the marine layer, I put on my trusty wide brim hat for better sun protection.

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Our annual washing and waxing the trailer was completed ahead of schedule, so we took a day off and rewarded ourselves and our corgis Mac and Tasha with a day at the beach!

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But it was not just any day, it was the 2016 Fall So Cal Corgi Nation Beach Day at Huntington Beach, California!

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One thousand people with their corgis flocked to the beach for a day of excitement and sensory overload!

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It is billed as the “THE BIGGEST CORGI PAWTY ON THE PLANET !!!

Corgis played in the surf and on the beach.

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Ryen, a popular vlogger, drove down from the San Francisco Bay Area with his famous corgi Gatsby* dressed as Batman for this event!

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And fans lined up to meet them.  See Ryen’s vlog, “How Corgi Dog Changed My Life.”*

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See Ryen’s video of the 2016 Fall Corgi Beach Day at Huntington Beach: 1,000 Corgis In Costume – World’s Largest Corgi Party!, Life After College: Ep. 516.*

By the end of the day, we were all dead… tired… but with wonderful corgi memories to dream about!*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Airstream Basecamp Relaunched!

First introduced 10 years ago, the Airstream Basecamp trailer was a collaborative effort by Airstream’s product development team and Nissan Design America (NDA) designers Bryan Thompson and Steve Moneypenny in San Diego, who “envisioned a travel trailer that was a springboard for outdoors adventures rather than a living room on wheels.”  Bryan says, “The relationship with Airstream has been the exchange of ideas. Essentially, two very different companies coming together with two very distinct identities to come up with a new aesthetic.” (See the Nissan & Airstream YouTube video)*  Bryan explains that Airstream wanted to create a trailer that would appeal to the younger market that was not buying their larger trailers, “So we came up with this idea, let’s infuse the [Nissan] Xterra DNA into some of the classic heritage icons of Airstream.”  (See Bryan Thompson on Airstream Basecamp Project)*

According to “The Shape of Things Past: Airstream’s New BaseCamp Enters The Market,” article in the Fall 2005 issue of Airstream Life, page 16, “Airstream called on Nissan Design America to translate a dusty old photo of a 1930s Torpedo into something 20- and 30-something buyers would love.” The article shows a photo of Dr. Norman Holman, Sr., standing next to his 1935 Airstream Torpedo that he built from a set of Wally Byam’s $5.00 plans.  His son, Norman Holman, Jr., MD, inherited this trailer and gave an interview and tour seen in the video, “Oldest Airstream Trailer in the World.”*

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Airstream commemorated the retro style, along with its 75th anniversary by releasing 75 Commemorative Edition Travel Trailers designed by David Winick and the first Airstream Basecamp (model year 2007).  See Colonial Airstream‘s Patrick Botticelli give a detailed walk-through of his 2007 Basecamp,* the ninth one made.  The original Basecamp had large clamshell rear doors that provided access for loading in a motorcycle, quad, or bike. See Patrick come into his Basecamp out of a cold, snowy New Jersey night and load his mountain bike,* light a Mr. Heater Buddy and proceed to cook a meal.  Unfortunately, the end of 2007 also marked the beginning of the Great Recession in the United States and Airstream had difficulty attracting buyers for the next two years, selling only about 220 Basecamp units, says Patrick, and Basecamp production stopped with the 2009 model.

Bolstered by the improving U.S. economy and increasing consumer confidence, Airstream is now growing and coming out with new models such as the Nest Caravan in Summer 2017 and the greatly improved 2017 Airstream Basecamp, being relaunched now.  See Airstream’s exciting video, “Introducing the new Basecamp,”* and a “Walk-Through 2017 Airstream Basecamp“* by Patrick Botticelli.  Patrick says, “Airstream found out that only a small percentage of their [original Basecamp] owners were actually using the back cargo for motorcycles or quads… you had to open up the rear door and drop the steps every time you wanted to come inside [and pull up the steps every time you wanted to close the door].”  For the new Basecamp, Airstream added a side entrance door for easy entering and exiting the trailer, while keeping a rear utility hatch for loading gear such as backpacks, mountain bikes, and kayaks.

Patrick says this all-new Basecamp is more robust with its buck-riveted aluminum structure on an A-frame, like regular Airstream trailers (original Basecamp had aluminum plating on a fiberglass shell on a center beam), and the many new features such as the Truma Combi heater for water and room heating, SeeLevel II Battery and Tank Monitoring System, optional Zamp Solar System (with two 80-watt solar panels, AGM battery and a Zamp Solar Disconnect Port by the streetside front A-frame for connecting additional portable solar panels), optional Coleman-Mach air conditioner (9200 BTU) and a Fan-Tastic Vent Fan (or 2 Fan-Tastic Vent Fans without the optional air conditioner), bathroom with shower and a China toilet bowl, interior and exterior LED lights, 3 cu. ft. 2-way Dometic refrigerator, folding galley water faucet over a stainless steel sink with folding lid (provides additional counter space), 2-burner recessed cooktop, optional Contoure microwave, pop-up electrical sockets with USB port on galley counter, and  2 movable pedestal tables in a lounge and eating area that converts into a large 76″ by 76″ bed!

The 2017 Airstream Basecamp is a multi-purpose hybrid tent-trailer that comes with two optional PahaQue Wilderness tents and visor (arch wing awning) that attach to Basecamp’s roof/gutter track rail, seen in PahaQue’s September  8 announcement on Facebook and Twitter.  The large side tent could be used as a screened patio for an additional lounging and sleeping area, and the smaller rear tent could provide cover for gear items such as mountain bikes (See Patrick’s walk-through tent tour).*

The Unit Base Weight (UBW) without options is 2585 lbs.,* Hitch Weight is 410 lbs. (dry, no options), and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 3500 lbs., which means this trailer is easily towed by mid-size SUVs.  The new Basecamp comes with a 22-gallon fresh water tank, a 29-gallon black/gray water tank, two 20-lb. propane tanks, and a Propane Quick Disconnect port just under the curbside front A-frame for connecting a hose to a low pressure portable gas BBQ grill.   See Airstream’s Basecamp webpage for their Overview, Design, Features, Floorplan and Brochure.  See Airstream’s 2017 Basecamp Owner’s Manual (PDF) for additional information.

This Airstream Basecamp “is built for the extreme camper in mind… it’s made for the guys that go up in the mountains backpacking, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking… it’s made to go off the grid,” says Brent Rudd, Airstream Regional Director of Sales, Central Region, during his walk-through at the 2016 Southwest RV Supershow in Dallas, Texas.*

Basecamp has a MSRP of $34,900 and is being shipped to Airstream dealers beginning in October, says Outside Interests‘ article, “Basecamp,” in their September 26, 2016, newsletter.

Whether you’re a fan of mountain biking (such as Patrick),* kayaking,* or just living riveted,* you can be one of the Fans of the Airstream Basecamp and see more information, news, updates and videos of the Airstream Basecamp.

*This is a link to a YouTube video.