Down the shore

Our local mountains are heating up, so its time to take our Safari to the beach, or as we say in New Jersey, down the shore. Although our 23′ Airstream Safari is right at home anywhere we take it, it seems to be especially happy to be strategically positioned on bluffs overlooking the beach where it can enjoy staying cool in the gentle breezes, while its solar panels soak up the California sunshine.

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We returned to our favorite non-hook-up beach campground, South Carlsbad State Beach, less than an hour’s drive from San Diego. The premium sites, adjacent to the beach, usually need to be reserved ahead of time. Most of these sites are now booked through Labor Day. We purposely avoided the noisy and rowdy crowds of Memorial Day and enjoyed four days of listening to the relaxing sounds of the waves

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While watching the pelicans and seagulls glide by at eye level…

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Stairway access to the beach is nearby…

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The beach and adjacent bluffs are quite picturesque…

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Especially when viewed while boogie boarding

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Larry featured homemade Spring rolls, containing pork and shrimp, which were crispy and delicious.

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I brought along good reading material, such as The Digital Photography Book, by Scott Kelby. That, along with the owner’s manual, should help me get the most out of my new Nikon D40 camera.

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This is my first digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera and I am learning to use it in a variety of light conditions. (In the photo below, darkness has already descended, and the site is only lit up by a waxing moon. No flash was used.)

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I’m also having fun using the Nikon 18-200 mm VR zoom lens, in this case to capture one of those aggressive squirrels that frequently got up on our picnic table and nibbled on anything in sight, including our flowers and roll of paper towels.

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I then remembered the cats’ reaction to Tommy and Rich playing their ukes at Anza-Borrego last December, and the ukulele frenzy seemed to work on the squirrels, too!

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California Mountain Camping

On Earth Day we arrived for four nights of non-hook-up camping at our favorite mountain campground, William Heise County Park, near Julian, California. During this second year of camping with our Airstream, we are learning to appreciate the rhythm of the seasons and the variety of topographies and micro-climates that are within a two-to-three hour drive from our home in San Diego. This is becoming increasingly important to us as the price of fuel sky-rockets, leading some to wonder, “Is this the beginning of the end?”

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So at this time of year, as our nearby deserts heat up, we find comfort and interest in the Cuyamaca Mountians. The air was still cool, the flowers still blooming, and the turkeys were frolicking when we returned to William Heise County Park.

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This park is located near Julian, a former California gold-mining-boom-town, and now a quaint apple-growing center, visited by many people, especially during the fall Apple Days and Bluegrass Festival. Occasionally, it is also visited by the Plague Doctor.

This area is also plagued by wildfires, especially during the Santa Ana wind conditions prevalent in late summer and early fall. The October 2003 wildfires burned 70% of William Heise Park. Seven miles of pleasant, wooded loop trails provide opportunities to follow the stages of re-forestation that occur naturally after fires.

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During this second year of camping, we are also learning to keep an eye on naturally loosening screws in our Airstream. On this outing, Larry heard something drop as he was closing a window. The tiny hex screw that holds the gray plastic knob on the window-opening-arm-bracket had fallen out and was luckily found.

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Last year Larry assembled two bags of essential tools, which included two sets of hex keys (also known as Allen wrenches) of various sizes. Larry used the 1/16th inch hex key to screw it back in and tighten all of the other window knob screws which had begun to loosen.

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This underscores the importance of making and maintaining an essential tool bag.

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Spring Wild Flowers

It might be snowing where you are, but it’s spring wild flowers in Anza-Borrego Desert, CA., as we take one more look at the spectacular view and cherish the memories of a very special and magical Safari trip. Last week we joined Rich C. and Sadira at Palm Canyon Campground.

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Warm, early morning sunlight bathed our trailers and wild flowers.

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Our Pug, Pau Hoa, and Corgi, Mac, always enjoy early morning walks with Larry.

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Fields of Wild Heliotrope and Desert Chicory dance in the mid-morning sun.

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Our MacBook Pro also seemed to enjoy the early morning sun while sitting on our credenza next to a very helpful reference, The Digital RV, Second Edition, by R.L. Charpentier.

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Larry has been composing Airstream songs while serenading Pau Hoa with his ukulele.

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Meanwhile, I joined Rich C. and Sadira on a hike up Ghost Mountain, and this time I remembered to bring my water bottle. Rich C. remembered to bring his Vermont Smoked Beef Jerky, and Sadira brought her smile.

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First Field Report

On a hunt for big game amidst the blooming spring wild flowers, we returned with our Safari to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park armed with our HP camera (pixels cranked up to the max) and the MacBook Pro raring to go.

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We joined Rich C. and Sadira for three, starry nights of desert camping in search of Bighorn sheep and wild flowers. This trip also marked the first year anniversary of Rich’s return to Palm Canyon and his turn-around of fortune.

We all were excited about this trip because recent rains followed by the return of warm, sunny weather held out the promise of an early, glorious wild flower display. We got up before sunrise to hike up Palm Canyon and were not disappointed.

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A blanket of wild flowers greeted us just a few feet into the trail head.

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A photo op was present everywhere we turned.

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It was also a study of contrasts, lush new growth next to dead palm tree trunks from previous floods.

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Along the way, we enjoyed the refreshing and soothing sounds of the briskly flowing Palm Canyon creek.

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Rich C. enjoyed his Vermont Hickory Smoked Beef Jerky.

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Thinking that he had spotted a Bighorn sheep up along the ridge, Rich hopped up and quickly attached his Canon EOS-30D camera (with 70-300 mm Canon lens) to his Tricks Stick monopod . But it was only a rock.

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I thought that I had seen a lion up there, but it was actually a ridge silhouette in front of a glowing sun.

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The big game animals were elusive this time, but the splendor of spring wild flowers cheered us as we made our way back down the trail.

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But at least I can report that I spotted more than one leopard right in our own Safari. The trophy was actually the latest operating system of our new MacBook Pro.

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This first post from the field was brought to you compliments of Rich C’s WI-FI connection that I could pick up while sitting at our camp picnic table. (Thanks, Rich)

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