Agua Caliente contemplations

Last Sunday we arrived at Agua Caliente as temperatures soared in the 90s, requiring air conditioning that first night, but by the next night I was wearing long johns as a rare early October storm from the Gulf of Alaska began moving into the area, bringing rain to the San Diego coast and high winds and unseasonably cool temperatures to the desert.

We came prepared to celebrate Oktoberfest.

Larry brought items prepared at home such as Jäger-Schnitzel (American version: Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup simmered with pork chops), Würzfleisch (East German chicken stew), and Kartoffelsalat (German potato salad).  We also brought leberwurst (liverwurst), bratwurst on skewers made of rosemary branches from our backyard, Beck’s Oktoberfest Lager, and German steins.  Additional items such as corn beef, corn on the cob, and pita bread provided meal flexibility depending on the weather and how we felt at the time.

By Tuesday, cool breezes made for a comfortable hike through Moonlight Canyon Trail, where I had a close encounter with Bighorn Sheep last January.  (The park rangers were impressed with my photo journal of this event made with iPhoto’s book-creation tool.)  I saw no sheep, but I was impressed with a large California Fuchsia, a.k.a. Firechalice, on the trail with a profuse display of scarlet flowers that we have not seen before because it blooms August to October, when we usually are not here.  A Rufous Hummingbird was seen nearby.  The flowers supply hummingbirds with food for the start of their southward migration.

I discovered a scorpion in the park restroom sink as I was about to take a shower.  I helped it out with some tissue paper and coaxed it out the door, but it quickly darted back under the door, so I chose another shower and now keep a closer eye out for creatures in restrooms (and those that like to take shelter in our trailer tire covers).

After the shower, I enjoyed Larry’s corn beef – Swiss cheese pita wrap served with chips, tomatoes, and Beck’s Beer.

This was usually followed by afternoon reading or napping.  At bedtime, I continued reading out loud Harry Potter.  We are currently reading Book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Before the gusty winds arrived, we enjoyed mellow evenings under the moon and stars.

On Thursday, we listened with sadness to a BBC tribute to Steve Jobs, which included his words of wisdom spoken during his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

Summer Wizardry

Midsummer nights are here and on most evenings we can hear fireworks rumble from San Diego’s Seaport Village.  Our Airstream Safari quietly rested in its homeport under the midsummer stars as I took the dogs out for a late night break in the cool air of the backyard patio.

As I passed by hanging plants on one side, I noticed a sensual fragrance and, looking more closely, I noticed many large, white blooms of the Nightblooming Cereus, the Queen of the Night, had just fully opened.

This is a magical moment because these flowers bloom at night and wilt by dawn.  Their blossoms are enchantingly alluring.

Even the nearby and playful Green Man seemed to take notice.

Meanwhile across town, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was playing.  Before I delve into this finale, I thought it best to read and understand the magic and character of Harry Potter, as written and developed by J. K. Rowling, author of the seven Harry Potter books.  So I have begun reading (out loud) each evening a chapter or so, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

During the day, we visited the first inaugural San Diego Ukulele Festival.

We went on Friday afternoon as booths were just being set up and performers were testing the sound equipment. Seen below is Ukulele Bartt, Bartt Warburton, animatedly singing and playing his ukulele like a wizard.  This 3-day festival at Liberty Station opened last Thursday with a concert by ukulele grand wizard, Jake Shimabukuro.

More information about the history of the ukulele and the ukulele – Airstream connection is found in my article, “Ukulele Strumming and Airstreaming.”

Ukuleles glowed in the warm afternoon sun.

We took in more magic Saturday by attending the San Diego Gay Pride Parade, where approximately 300 active and inactive military service-members marched for the first time.

Yes, wouldn’t this be a good time for a piece of rhubarb pie… and listen to Jake Shimabukuro perform his “Crazy G” encore.

 

Winter holidays at Borrego Palm Canyon

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park‘s Borrego Palm Canyon Campground is 2.5 miles from the Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, California, and is a wonderful place to relax and soak in the sun while celebrating the winter holidays.  The snowbirds are arriving, but it is still relatively quiet and peaceful during the weekdays.  So we spent five wonderfully sunny, balmy days enjoying the ambiance of this special place.

dsc_0339-christmas-circle.jpg

I savored my hot cup of joe as our docked Safari and San Ysidro Mountains glowed in the early morning sun.

dsc_0258-morning-joe.jpg

A Blue Palo Verde tree, Indigo bush, chollas, and Creosote bushes were seen through our Vista View windows.

dsc_0318-vista-window-view.jpg

We came ready to celebrate the holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas, while avoiding the frenzied crowds at shopping centers.

dsc_0255-celebrating-the-holidays.jpg

dsc_0291-larry-mac-tasha-ocotillo.jpg

Our dogs came ready to enjoy walks (on a 6′ leash) about the campground and the 0.6 mile paved trail from the campground to the visitor center.

This ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) trail is handicapped accessible and bikes and dogs are permitted.

Along the trail are interpretive signs about the area’s plant and animal life.

We heard and spotted a nearby coyote as we took our mid-morning walk.

Along the way we saw ocotillo that have turned bronze from a recent frost.

Once we reached the visitor center, our dogs enjoyed drinking water and resting in the shade, while we each took turns visiting the center.  I usually can’t resist buying something here each year, so this time I bought Road Trip With Huell Howser #148 Anza Borrego DVD and San Diego County Native Plants, by James Lightner.

dsc_0302-bill-tasha-mac-ocotillo.jpg

By midweek it was time to light the candles of the Menorah for the eighth day of Hanukkah, while the waxing crescent moon slowly passed overhead.

dsc_0353-8th-night-of-hanukah.jpg

I continued to revel in the holiday spirits while reading about “Technomads”, a mobile technology article by RG Coleman in the Winter Issue of Airstream Life Magazine.

dsc_0378-soaking-in-holiday-spirits.jpg

During our stay, we remained unshaken by a 3.9 magnitude earthquake 9 miles from Borrego Springs and braved Southern California’s wintry nights because sometimes “Baby It’s Cold Outside“.

Tricks, Treats, and Trees, Part 2

By midweek in the mountains, the cool, drizzly, season of the witch weather broke, and the Safari’s aluminum panels happily creaked and groaned while expanding as comforting warm rays of glorious sunshine lit up the campsite and surroundings with vibrant colors.

dsc_0010-happy-sunshine-safari.jpg

Our spirits brightened as hawks soared high, while wispy clouds danced in the clear, blue sky.

dsc_0024-hawks-soared-high.jpg

Oak trees glowed in the golden rays of the late afternoon sun.

dsc_0073-trees-basked-in-the-sun.jpg

At sunset, Larry made Chile Rellenos en Salsa Verde con Arroz.  (Stuffed peppers in tomatillo sauce with rice.)  See his recipe below.

dsc_0045-chile-rellenos-salsa-verde.jpg

1. Sauté diced onions in a frying pan with previous night’s cooking drippings to deglaze the pan.

2. Add salsa verde (tomatillo sauce) and heat to simmer.

3. Slit a raw chile poblano (aka “chile pasilla” in a Latino market). Remove the stem.

4. Stuff the chile with shredded cooked chicken and shredded cheese. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for the remaining chiles.

5. Place the stuffed chiles in a circle on the simmering sauce. Cover and cook until the chiles are heated through and the cheese is melted.

6. Place leftover cooked rice in the center of the pan, sprinkle with ground cayenne pepper, cover, and steam until the rice is reheated.

7. Serve and garnish with chopped cilantro.

dsc_0048-safari-night-ambience.jpg

Gently flickering votive candles on the lobster sink countertop sent light rippling across the shiny, curved aluminum interior, providing relaxing ambiance as we listened to classical music, such as Mozart’s 3rd Movement Cadenza.  I swung the Nikon D-40 around on the tripod to capture more precious moments (on the lounge top ledge is seen Precious Moments – Larry’s retirement award, the boy holding a basketball in a wheelchair), as Griff , the griffin looked on.  (Larry is a retired pediatric Occupational Therapist.)

dsc_0051-precious-moments.jpg

Now, on to Halloween… and the Greatest Show Unearthed!

Barefootin’ about

While we are marking time, awaiting the passing of the Dog Days of summer heat and the beginning of our fall camping season, we continue to step out with our dogs on a healthy exercise program of brisk walks and trots around our local tree-lined lake.  I do this wearing minimalist footwear.  Summer is a great time to go about barefoot or almost barefoot.

dsc_0114-tentoes-at-home.jpg

As mentioned in my article, “Footnotes“, I enjoy going barefoot in our Airstream Safari travel trailer and about the house, and increasingly, out in the backyard, so last February I started wearing minimalist footwear, Vibram FiveFingers, on our walks around parks and campgrounds.

dsc_0063-fivefingers-eighteen-toes.jpg

Seen above is my favorite style of Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) footwear, the Sprint.  (See Barefoot Ted run in them here.)

On the advice of a commenter to my “Footnotes” posting, I read with fascination the national best seller, Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2009).  I continue to be amazed at the growing interest in walking and running barefoot that was sparked by this book, such as this local San Diego article, “No socks, no shoes, no problem?“.  This article includes barefoot hiker and runner Glen Raines’ story and photo (read his article “Going Barefoot“).  See and listen to author Christopher McDougall and The New York Times’ The Roving Runner (and blogger) Brian Fidelman as they run barefoot in Central Park in this New York Times‘ video, “Health: Barefoot Running“.

For Christopher McDougall (hear his Authors@google talk on YouTube), “It all began with a simple question that no one could answer… ‘How come my foot hurts?’”  His book Born to Run takes us on a journey to the Barrancas del Cobre, the Copper Canyons of the Sierra Madre in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, home of the Tarahumara Indians, the Ráramuri – the Running People, the world’s greatest distance runners with uncanny health and serenity, who have few injuries wearing flat sandals cut from rubber tires compared to the sky-rocketing injuries of those who wear modern athletic shoes (invented in 1972).  There he learned their secrets and, with the help of Caballo Blanco (a.k.a. Micah True), Christopher participated in the first 47-mile Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon set up by Caballo Blanco.

For Ted McDonald (hear his Authors@google talk on YouTube), the problem was “Every time I ran for an hour, I had excruciating lower-back pain… It was so discouraging.”  His eureka moment occurred while reading Barefoot Ken Bob’s The Running Barefoot website.  He found by running barefoot, his form improved and he was able to run marathons.  He became one of the most famous barefoot runners in the world and is now known as Barefoot Ted.  He admits that there are some places that require some foot protection, so he brought along Vibram FiveFingers to run the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.  While there, Manuel Luna taught him how to make Tarahumara sandals.  Barefoot Ted now has a company in Seattle that makes Luna Sandals inspired by the Tarahumara Indians of Northern Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

dsc_0104-luna-sandals-morning-sun.jpg

I now have my own Luna Sandals from the first batch shipped in early July.  I tied mine using the Slip-On Tying Method #1.  I did not shorten the leather lace so that I have the option of tying my huarache running sandals in the Traditional Method.

dsc_0108-wearing-luna-sandals.jpg

This week I walked and trotted 4.8 miles in these sandals, which kept my feet cool and comfortable.  Going mostly barefoot since last February, I feel my feet are becoming stronger and healthier, and seem to know just what to do when coming in contact with anything; everything just seems to fall into place naturally and comfortably.

Christopher McDougall tells in Born To Run how the human body evolved as an efficient and exquisite running machine and how modern shoes encase and weaken our feet.  Modern running shoes with cushioned heels entice runners to take longer strides and land on their heels, resulting in more injuries.  He incorporates the foot strike and treadmill studies of Harvard anthropology professor Daniel Lieberman (The Barefoot Professor), who published a new study on toes, which gives credence to the endurance running hypothesis (the Running Man theory) that humans evolved as long-distance runners, enabling them to be successful in persistence hunting and their own survival.

The bottom line for me is that going barefoot can be joyful and fun and healthy (especially since I do not have a medical condition or sensory impairment, such as diabetic neuropathy, which could preclude it).

Barefootin’…  Even a five-year old knows how to do this intuitively.