Mobile-friendly mountain happiness

History Safari Express is now seven years old, got a facelift, and is now mobile-friendly, which should make users of mobile devices happy when they visit this website that brings history alive as Larry and I continue our Airstream adventures in San Diego’s beautiful mountains, deserts, and along the coast.  The push to go mobile-friendly came from Google’s changing its search algorithms on April 21, 2015, which will favor websites that are mobile-friendly.  Mobile-friendly means that users of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets can read and navigate website content, which is important since millions of Internet users access and search the Internet with mobile devices.  According to the CBS News story, “Google search shake-up favors mobile-friendly sites,” 29% of all U.S. search requests in the last three months of last year were made on mobile devices.

History Safari Express is now happier and happy to report that we and our Airstream Safari, now eight years old, were happy to return to the cool, refreshing Cuyamaca Mountains now that our local desert is heating up.  We returned to our favorite non-hookup campsite at William Heise County Park near Julian, California, where we were surrounded by fragrant Palmer Lilac bushes, pine and oak trees, and plentiful wildlife.

DSC_0005 Palmer Lilac around Safari

Temperatures at night were in the 30s and 40s so we were happy that our Mr. Heater, using 16.4 oz. propane canisters, warmed the trailer without needing to use the energy inefficient and loud trailer furnace.  Per the manual, this heater requires a vent area of 9 square inches, which was easily supplied by our 5″ diameter bathroom vent that has an area of 19.6 square inches.  As seen in the photo below, the bathroom door could be kept closed because it has a bottom opening, 1.75″ by 26″, and an area of 45.5 square inches.  One canister lasted us 5 hours, set on “LO” setting.

DSC_0013(2) Mr Heater

We and our solar panels were happy when the sun came up.  A portable radio helped to conserve electrical power.  At night we enjoyed votive candles.

DSC_0018 Grundig YB 305 receiver

Of course, our corgis, Mac and Tasha, were thrilled to go on walks.  We paused to admire a flowering Western redbud.

DSC_0039 Larry & corgis by Western redbud

DSC_0030 Western redbud

We are happy that this San Diego County Park allows dogs on trails, and our corgis couldn’t wait to get on the Cedar Trail.  (Dogs need to be kept on a six foot leash.)

DSC_0089 Larry & corgis on Cedar Trail

Mule deer were nearby.

DSC_0002 Mule deer

And Rio Grande Turkeys feasted during a 40 minute photo shoot while I imagined Senator Robert Byrd  playing, “Turkey in the Straw.”*

DSC_0316 Rio Grande Turkey feasting

 

DSC_0343 Rio Grande Tom Turkey

We are currently enjoying our garden near the coast, while preparing for our return to the bluffs over the Pacific Ocean next month.  In the meantime, see more photos of deer, turkeys, Acorn woodpeckers, Stellar jays, and read and hear meditations, and find out what is so special about four pebbles in my post, “Mountain gleanings,” and see my updated post, “Spring flowers, leaves and end of life options,” all in my new History Safari Expresso blog (not yet mobile-friendly, but just fine for those who have tablets, laptops, and desktop computers and the time to peruse photos, explore links and ideas, and savor the moment while feelin’ groovy.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Mountain knight stars, part two

The first part of this multifaceted story delineated our sally into the cool mountains while a storm was brewing back home where the San Diego Opera was fighting for its life, even as some were trying to bury it while its heart was still beating.  It was expected to begin closing down after the last performance of Don Quixote* on April 13, but now has a reprieve until May 19 while ways are explored to save the San Diego Opera.

I continued reading Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote,* seeing parallelisms, and appreciating the main character, the romantic dreamer who often faced crossroads and chose adventure over shelter.

DSC_0048 At the crossroads

We continued our Airstream Safari adventure into the mountains by hiking along the park roads and trails that permit dogs on a leash.  We had been disappointed with the scarce wildflowers seen in the Anza-Borrego Desert this spring due to the ongoing California historic drought.  Most of the late winter/early spring rain that moved through our county was intercepted by our local mountains, which resulted in some spectacular displays of flowers here, such as St. John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum, known by herbalists as a remedy for a variety of ills.

DSC_0039 Saint John's wort

Seen below is the Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis, next to a wood fence where I had photographed jumping mule deer last fall.

DSC_0042 Red Bud

After hiking, we returned to our campsite, which was surrounded by blooming Palmer Lilac, Ceanothus palmeri.

DSC_0092 Palmer Lilac

Larry prepared langostino/pork bean curd skin rolls for dinner that were cut up, steamed, and lifted out in a stainless steel bowl by a Chinese steamer plate holder.

DSC_0109 Bean curd skin rolls

This was served with a delicious salad and dipping sauces (sriracha, hoisin, and sweet chili).

DSC_0114 Dinner table setting

We savored this and other dinners while watching beautiful sunsets and the many birds of this wooded park, such as the Western Bluebird (below) and enjoyed their songs and calls, such as those of the Spotted Towhee* and the Dusky-capped Flycatcher.*

DSC_0128_4 Western Bluebird

Each night after dinner, the mountain air quickly cooled as the stars began to shine* and my mind began to wander and dream of adventures and of the great stories and operas such as Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte (Don Quixote).*

DSC_0082 Mountain stars

In the final act, La mort de Don Quichotte (Massenet)*, Don Quixote dies of a broken heart.  Hopefully Don Quixote will not be San Diego Opera’s swan song, but will mark the crossroads where San Diego Opera resurrected itself.  San Diego Opera makes music worth seeing and supporting!

*This is a YouTube video.

Mountain knight stars, part one

As we prepared for a change in our camping venue, from the now hot desert to our relatively cool mountains, we heard the shocking news that the San Diego Opera would begin to shut down after the last performance of Don Quixote* in April.  San Diego Opera, considered one of the top ten opera companies in the nation, is poised to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.  I was especially saddened because I have performed as a supernumerary in 21 San Diego operas over a ten year period, which included roles such as the soldier, guard, henchman seen here in Tosca, and lead waiter in Cosi fan tutte.*  I brought along the novel, Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, to read during our 5-day mountain camping trip so that I could totally immerse myself in this multifaceted story (and local drama) and appreciate the character of Don Quixote, brought to life onstage by bass, Ferruccio Furlanetto* in the operatic version, Don Quichotte, by Jules Massenet.*

DSC_0067 Don Quixote & knights

The more I read, the more I began to identify with this knight-errant character, who goes on quests, searches for adventures, does good deeds, appreciates beauty, pursues dreams, fights for things he loves, and yet remains compassionate.  I began to see parallelisms as waxing moonlight gleamed on our trailer’s armor when the stars began to shine.*

DSC_0075 Armour under mtn

As we battled the hot sun by extending the rear awning with an additional sail held in place by ratcheted webbing, I remembered Don Quixote’s battle with giants (windmill sails).*

DSC_0029 Rear awning extension sail

We trekked on mountain trails on a quest for adventure.*

DSC_0054 Larry, Mac, & Tasha, Cedar Trail

I spotted what looked like a Dementor or something else* and prepared to do battle.

DSC_0095 Dementor?

But just then, a wary wild turkey hen emerged while foraging.

DSC_0017 Wary turkey hen

Her worried look seemed justified because she was being pursued and courted by a strutting tom turkey, whose grandiose display reminded me of the valiant character, Don Quixote.

DSC_0142 Tom turkey struts

More mountain adventures are coming up in part two, along with stunning flowers, feasts, stars, and more about Don Quixote and the San Diego Opera,** why this opera needs to be saved,* and how you can come to its rescue!  San Diego Opera makes music worth seeing… and saving!***

*This is a YouTube video.

**UCSD-TV San Diego Opera Spotlight video

***This is a San Diego Opera video produced by UCSD-TV

Snug as a bug in a Safari

NOAA issued a Wind Warning as the first cold storm of the season barreled down the Pacific coast and made its way to the mountains midweek during our first camping trip of the season.  We saw clouds moving in as we ate bratwurst and a salad Tuesday evening and then battened down the hatches by taking mats to the truck and the table display and setting into our Airstream Safari.

DSC_0045 Airstream away from trees

Our favorite site here puts the Safari in full sun that maximizes the effectiveness of our rooftop solar panels and distances the trailer from the surrounding trees.  Wind gusts up to 65 mph were predicted, so I moved our truck out of harm’s way since it was under a tall pine tree with large and heavy pine cones.

DSC_0042 Pine tree with heavy cones

During the night we could hear the wind high up in the trees and raindrops on our trailer.  The temperature in our trailer was 55° when we awoke, and 49° the following morning.  We were reluctant to use the trailer’s furnace while doing non-hookup camping because it can quickly drain battery power and we weren’t sure when the sun would return and recharge our batteries.  We experienced similar conditions here last spring, and after that trip we found a solution.  We bought Mr. Heater Portable Buddy, MH9BX, indoor-safe (if used as directed by the “Operating Instructions and Owner’s Manual”), radiant heater.

DSC_0003 Mr Heater Buddy

We carefully read the instructions, viewed a review* and tried it out at home before bringing it along for its first test in the field.  For safe indoor use, the instructions say, “This heater requires a vent area of 9 square inches (example 3″ x 3″ opening) minimum for adequate ventilation during operation.”  We kept the bathroom vent and door open (our bathroom vent has a diameter of 6″, which is equivalent to 28.28 sq. in.).  For additional safety, the main door was left slightly ajar, and our carbon monoxide detector alarm never sounded.  The instructions also say, “keep any objects at least 24 inches from the front of the heater.”  We placed the heater on wood and a mat to ensure that the vinyl flooring immediately in front of the heater would not be damaged.

DSC_0099 Mr Heater in Airstream

We were pleased with its operation.  The first morning Mr. Heater brought the trailer’s temperature from 55° to a relatively comfortable 65° within 2 hours on the “LO” setting and was turned off.  We used it three more times that day, for 1-hour periods, to bring the temperature to 65°.  Our 16.4 oz. propane cylinder lasted 5 hours.  The next morning we attached a new cylinder and took away the morning chill.  So our rule of thumb now is to take along a propane cylinder for every day that rain and cold temperatures are predicted when we are doing non-hookup camping.

So instead of shivering, we were cozy and snug as a bug in our Safari, while listening to the falling rain.*

DSC_0112 Cozy Mac & Tasha

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Autumn leaves and leaps

We leaped into the beginning of our autumn camping season by returning to our favorite mountain campground, William Heise County Park, noted for its oak, pine, and cedar forests, Mule deer, and Rio Grande turkeys.  Our last autumn visit here was three years ago, so we really looked forward to experiencing the fall colors and the seasonal changes in the weather.  Last spring we rediscovered the joys of this park and were delighted to learn that the park now allows dogs (on a leash) on its more than ten miles of beautiful trails.

DSC_0073 Wm Heise autumn walk

We took advantage of the first two wonderfully sunny and mild days to get on the trails, especially our favorite Cedar Trail.  We were impressed with the sight of bright red leaves of Toxicondendron diversilobum (Pacific poison oak*) climbing up as a vine on oak trees.

DSC_0077 Pacific poison oak

Before the mid-week rain and windstorm moved in, we enjoyed watching hawks, crows, and bats fly by while enjoying sunset dinners at our campsite picnic table.  This summer our Oster long slot toaster burned out after only two years use.  We hated to toss this appliance since it has the classic, iconic shape of Airstream trailers*, so Larry gutted and converted it into a plate-napkin-chopstick holder (the treaded wheels came from Rockler).

DSC_0061 Plate-napkin-chopstick holder

I took an early morning hike hoping to spot some turkeys (last spring we noticed that they were not as plentiful as we had remembered seeing here three years ago).  As I walked up the campground road, I did spot a small rafter of turkeys* foraging on the hilltop meadow, but they ducked into the nearby woods as I approached with my camera.  I trekked further north without seeing more turkeys and began my return.  As I approached the same spot where I had earlier spotted turkeys, I was pleased to see a deer emerge from the woods, foraging…

DSC_0007 Mule deer foraging

followed by another…

DSC_0016 Mule deer foraging

Eventually a herd of five deer emerged and trotted across the meadow and leaped one by one over two rail fences and continued foraging!

DSC_0028 Deer leaping 1

DSC_0029 Leaping deer 2

They seemed to know that the safest place to cross is where there is a speed bump.  The “Speed Limit 10″ sign is a nice reminder to slow down and make the moment last,* and enjoy the falling autumn leaves* and leaps!

DSC_0120 Heise autumn leaves

*This is a link to a YouTube video.