The Grand Tetons… Western States Tour Part 3

Teton National Park is home to some of the most stunning alpine scenery in the United States plus its teeming with wildlife and offers hiking galore. This trifecta of goodness made it a standout on the Western States Tour for the crew on the Road House. That and how it gots it’s name makes me giggling like a third grader.

While the Shoshone people who are believed to have lived in and around the range for as long as 10,000 years called the range “Teewinot,” which translates to “many pinnacles”, it’s also believed by some that the voyagers native to France who stumbled upon this eye popping scenery saw something else when they discovered the range. “Les trois tétons” became the name for the mountains, and, it stuck. Some people argue that the Grand Tetons were named for the Teton Sioux Native Americans who lived in the area, and that’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for how they got their name, however, that’s not what makes me giggle.

What I discovered is that “les trois tétons” translates from French to “the three teats” which led me to this story for how the Tetons got their name and got me giggling. The story goes like this: A group of French explorers came across the mountain range one day while trudging across the frozen tundra of western Wyoming. Naturally, they were experiencing quite the opposite of what life in France would have been like for them at the time and found themselves suffering a great deal in their efforts to explore the new world for previously untapped resources, possibilities, and opportunities. As they lurched across the wilderness day after day, covered in heavy furs and carrying heavy sacks full of provisions, with no place to lay their heads at night except the cold hard ground and no shelter except for their tents, they no doubt were thinking about the various comforts that they used to enjoy back home.

Comforts such as warm homes, filling and enjoyable meals, and the company of a woman had eluded them for a long time, and no doubt they were thinking quite a lot about those comforts and how much they missed them. So, when the mountain peaks that are now called the Tetons came into view, it’s only natural that their first thought was breasts. Thus the Tetons were christened by grizzled, worn out explorers from France whose first thought upon seeing the majesty of that beautiful mountain range was “Boobs!” The Grand Teton is the tallest of the three peaks and its name is literally translated from French to “the big tit.” Given this translation, one would conclude that the Grand Teton is the D cup of the formation, while the Middle Teton and the South Teton are the C cups – LOL!!! The French explorers who found the Teton mountain range have done a huge favor to all of us who enjoy third grade humor – Thanks Guys!!!

So for almost almost a week, we enjoyed the majestic boobs of Wyoming, saw loads of wildlife, hiked and of course had some great meals in Jackson. I scored a great camp site at the Gros Ventre Campground which is perfectly situated 12 miles from the town of Jackson and 11 miles from the south entrance to the park and the visitors center. Our site was spacious, had electricity and water and MOOSE. Well, not our own personal moose but every morning we had moose wandering through and behind our coach. Moose were not advertised as an amenity but they seem to be regulars at the campground. The sites at the Gros Ventre are huge, have a fire pit, picnic table and a ton of wood that the park staff thoughtfully piled up around the sites. We did our part to help clear the area with our ginormous fires at night. There was not a sewer hookup but there was a dump station right at the entrance/exit that we used before hitting the road again.

By the way, Gros Ventre translates from french to “big belly” – seriously! Yep, I am giggling as I get an image of what grizzled french explorers find attractive.

I love how easy and compact this NP is … it’s just 39 miles from the Moose Junction entrance to the top of the park. Hwy 191 actually runs through The Grand Teton National Park and is the connector to the south entrance of Yellowstone NP. Hypothetically, one can drive through the park on 191 and not pay an entrance fee. So if your short on time or just a cheapskate, that’s an option. Not one I’d recommend as there is so much more to see and do in the park along the scenic Teton Park Road.

We spent our first half day in the park getting the lay of the land by driving the loop. We packed a picnic lunch almost everyday as the lodges weren’t open yet making the food options inside the park limited. We did find an amazing wine shop inside the park on Teton Park Road. Dornan’s had a incredible selection of wines from all over the world.

Luckily for us Jackson Lake Lodge opened the day before we left so we were able to see the inside of this beautiful lodge and have lunch in the dining room. Breathtaking” does not begin to describe the view at Jackson Lake Lodge. The 60-foot floor to ceiling windows frame pristine Jackson Lake and the majestic Teton Range. For some, this view alone is the main reason to visit. I literally felt like I was looking out onto a vast savannah much like the ones I experienced in Botswana Africa. My pictures are not doing it justice.

If you are visiting the park but not traveling in an not RV, I would totally suggest you make the Jackson Lake Lodge your base camp in the park.  It is actually quite large, with 385 rooms some of which are stunning suites, main lodge hotel rooms, and quaint cottages. The lodge also includes a variety of dining options, outdoor excursions, meeting space, retail shops, a swimming pool, and an exhibit featuring Native American artifacts and Western art. A complimentary guest shuttle is also available to Colter Bay, Jenny Lake, and the town of Jackson. Dang, I just sold myself, definitely have to come back again and stay in the Lodge!

So about all that wildlife…The highlight of our time in Grand Teton NP was seeing so many animals. Specifically, bear mama 399 and her four cubs. 399 is a legend in the park and is probably the most photographed bear ever! Our wonderful friends the Ellers, who we visited while we were staying in Sun Valley Idaho gave us so many tips about what to see and do as they lived near the Tetons for years. I would have likely not known about Bear 399 if they hadn’t told me a bit of her story. Generally passive in nature, 399 has raised her broods by roadsides in view of groups of curious humans, including some who have exercised poor judgment by moving closer to take photographs of her and her cubs. The theory is that she does this to protect her offspring from aggressive male grizzlies who have been know to kill clubs to bring the female back in estrus. 399 is so beloved and has a huge international fan club including the renown Biologist and chimp expert Jane Goodall AND 399 has her own Wikipedia page (click on the 399 link above to read all about her)! This 25 year old gal emerged out of hibernation this year with FOUR cubs and we we luckily enough to see her, fairly up close as well. Yep, that made me uneasy and we eventually retreated back to our car when she and the kiddos tried to cross the road. They caused quite a bear jam the day we saw her and the park rangers somehow magically appear out of nowhere to stop traffic and keep all the camera carrying idiots who insist on getting too close from getting mauled. We have never experienced a bear jam and I have to say that people can be such asshats. Early on when we saw her and the kiddos, there weren’t many people there yet but holy shite within 10 minutes literally hundreds of cars appeared and people swarmed the road. We were so disgusted by how stupid some people were and how they swarmed so close to the bears. When the cubs got frantic trying to follow Mom across the road we went back to our car and tried to leave. Those same idiots had parked in the middle of the road to get closer and blocked everyone else from leaving. ARGHHH, the poor rangers were literally yelling at people to stand back and give the bears some room … uh, I may have yelled at a stupid, fat guy chasing behind the bears with his giant camera in hand. I though 399 showed considerable restraint, that dude would have fed the whole family! Spoiler alert, the photo of her standing with all four cubs around her is not mine… I borrowed it from an article written about 399 by the Guardian which BTW, is worth reading!

While seeing 399 and her cubs was definitely one of the the wildlife viewing highlights, we also saw so many other critters…moose, elk, deer, bison, coyotes, fox, badger, marmot, mountain goats, eagles, ospreys, ducks, geese and loads of other birds. Another great tip from our friends was to check out the road behind the elk refuge for mountain goats. Bam, saw them up close as well as a coyote being followed by a badger. Now that was odd!

The elks had all migrated from their winter home at the refuge but we did see them at Elk Flats – go figure! We also met a really neat couple while we were hanging out photographing the goats, Phil and Hope and hope to meet up with them again when we are in Mesa AZ in October.

The park is also home to big herds of bison and again we got to see them up close just off Hwy 191 near the Triangle X Ranch. They were on both sides of the road and at one point a big group of them ran from one area to another, crossing the road right in front of where we had pulled over. Like many of the animals we saw, the bison were shedding their heavy winter coast and looked a bit scrappy. We sat for quite a while just observing them, rolling in the dust and grazing. There were also so many birds around the herd…some of the birds were on the bisons backs catching a free lunch of insects that they attract. The bison created their own small ”bison jam“ but people seemed more respectful and less crazy than at the ”bear jam”. I didn’t even have to yell at anyone nor did we get to see anyone get gored…that was a bit disappointing.

For some reason, we are both taken with moose. They are such unusually looking creatures and seem like gentle giants. Did you know that they can keep their head completely underwater, often for more than a minute at a time? So why do they need to stick their heads underwater?? Well, apparently the aquatic veggies give them minerals they need, which they store in the summer for the hard winter ahead. Of course we were thrilled to see a moose right off the Gros Ventre Road the first day we were driving to our campground. Double thrilled to see moose just behind our coach the next morning but the funniest moose sighting we call “moose in a hot tub”! We spotted this dude, soaking in the Kelly Warms Spring Creek just off the Gros Ventre Road past Kelly. We were headed out to check out the Upper and Lower Slide Lakes area and there he was. I loved how happy he looked, poor dude looks so scrappy but his smile looked so happy, that warm water must have felt great. Another unplanned sighting!

Moose are solitary creatures so the ones we did see were often alone with the exception of the two young ones we saw near our campground everyday. I felt so lucky to have seen so many of them. We watched a female in a creek off the Snake River by Jackson Lake Dam. She was munching on willow and seemed to care very little about the people staring at her. It was so cool to see her sticking her head under water and pulling up big mouthfuls of creek grass.

Everyday was an opportunity for a new adventure and to see more critters. As much as we enjoy hiking, we spent more time exploring and less time on the trails in the Tetons. Honestly, it probably why we did see so much wildlife. There is also a picture in the next slide show of a old, rare, black boxer too.

Our days were really full and there was at least one planned and sometimes an unplanned adventure everyday…We really enjoyed hiking the Jenny Lake trail from the boat ramp area to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. This is one of the most popular trails in the park as you get spectacular views of Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole from Inspiration Point, as well as a 100ft cascading waterfall. The hike was about 3.3 miles total, mostly flat. Once on the west side of the lake, the trail gently sloped up 200ft in elevation towards Hidden Falls which was all snow packed. This gorgeous 100ft cascade fed by snowmelt was in its glory. We then went further up the trail another 0.5 mile to Inspiration Point. What a view and luckily the trail up which is steep, narrow and has a drop off one side was clear of snow and ice. I get a bit wiggy on these kinds of trails, maybe the fear of dying, so I hugged the rock wall and probably swore a little bit which belive it or not is very calming! Another great reason to go early in the season is there weren’t too many people and the snow melt makes for some spectacular waterfalls and raging rivers. This is a great picnic lunch spot. We also saw Mr. Marmot sunning himself on a rock on this hike. He looks quite please to be basking in the warm sun! The trail is actually a 7 mile loop around the lake but we opted to take the scenic boat ride back across the lake after the hike and lunch which was the perfect way to end that adventure.

Another fun adventure we had with Bentie was the drive to Lower Slide Lake. This area is outside of the park in the Bridger Teton National Forest. Its was a gorgeous drive, much of which was on a well graded gravel road and the bonus was seeing the moose in the hot tub. From the Gros Ventre Campground, its about 10 miles one way to Lower Slide Lake which is as far as we went. This area has some fascinating geological history as the Upper and Lower Slide Lakes were created when the massive the Gros Ventre landslide occured in 1925 and dammed the Gros Ventre River River. This massive slide on Sheep Mountain, hurling down the slope at 50 mph, a mile-wide carried, 50,000,000 cubic yards of debris down the mountain and then another 300 feet up the opposite slope. From the view point and info center high above Lower Slide Lake, you can still see when the slide ravaged the mountain and all the debris it left behind. There is also a rustic campground at Lower Slide Lake if you are up for the long drive in on a gravel forest service road!

The lake was once much larger, however part of the rock dam failed less than two years later, on May 18, 1927, causing deadly flooding downstream. The lake waters have natural and stocked fish including lake and Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish.

Since we’ve been to Jackson and Jackson Hole Ski Mountain before we choose to spend most of our time on this trip in the park exploring. That said, we did have a great lunch and a follow up dinner a few days later at Hatch Taqueria and Tequila’s in Jackson. The food and Hatcharita’s were sooo good… I was particularly drawn back for the Spicy Hatch made with Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila and may have had several. We also found a pickle ball court in Jackson – WHAT!!!

Being early in the season meant less tourist and no lines to get into the park. I am not sure the Grand Teton National Park is as popular was its sister park Yellowstone but I suspect it gets a fair amount of over flow from Yellowstone during the crazy summer months.

Speaking of tourists, the western vibe town of Jackson and the area around Jackson Hole can be crowded and crazy with people in the summer. Apparently, this is not a new phenomenon. Tourists started coming to Jackson Hole not long after the first cattle ranches were settled. Some of the ranchers supplemented their income by catering to “dudes,” eastern tenderfoots yearning to experience a little slice of the Old West in the shadow of the stunning Tetons. The tourists began to raise the first concerns about preserving the natural beauty of the region. The vast acres of Yellowstone Park, America’s first national park founded in 1872, were just north of Jackson Hole. Surely, they asked, the spectacular Grand Tetons deserved similar protection.

In 1916, Horace M. Albright, the director of the National Park Service, was the first to seriously suggest that the region be incorporated into Yellowstone. The ranchers and businesses catering to tourists, however, strongly resisted the suggestion that they be pushed off their lands to make a “museum” of the Old West for eastern tourists.

Finally, after more than a decade of political maneuvering, Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929. As a concession to the ranchers and tourist operators, the park only encompassed the mountains and a narrow strip at their base. Jackson Hole itself was excluded from the park and designated merely as a scenic preserve. Albright, though, had persuaded the wealthy John D. Rockefeller to begin buying up land in the Jackson Hole area for possible future incorporation into the park. This semisecret, private means of enlarging the park inspired further resentment among the residents, and some complained that it was a typical example of how “eastern money interests” were dictating the future of the West.

By the late 1940s, however, local opposition to the inclusion of the Rockefeller lands in the park had diminished, in part because of the growing economic importance of tourism. In 1949, Rockefeller donated his land holdings in Jackson Hole to the federal government that then incorporated them into the national park. Today, Grand Teton National Park encompasses 309,993 acres. Working ranches still exist in Jackson Hole, but the local economy is increasingly dependent on services provided to tourists and the wealthy owners of vacation homes.

A big thanks to the vision of Albright and help of Rockefeller, the hours they spend scheming to preserve and create The Grand Teton National Park for us to all enjoy now. There is a short little walking path near the grand Jackson Lake Lodge that leads to Lunch Tree Hill that is only a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the amazing views but very historically significant in Albright’s efforts to see this area preserved.

Honestly, we could have stayed a couple of weeks and not run out of things to see and do. Spring was arriving during our stay but the mountains still had loads of snow on them. This made the scenery absolutely stunning but this also made many of the back country hiking trails inaccessible. Coming in the spring also gave us an opportunity to see loads of wildlife and some youngins. I loved being in the Tetons in the Spring and would definitely come back again in the fall to see a different perspective and hike some of the back country trails. This has turned into a very long post but I have are a few more pictures of places we visited to share below. Next stop on the Western States tour is Cody Wyoming so stay tuned for part four!!!

Spring in Sun Valley Idaho – Western States Tour Part 2

We have so many fond memories of ski trips we took to Sun Valley Idaho and all the silly debauchery that ensued while off the slopes… too many margaritas in the outdoor hot pool at the Sun Valley Inn, getting locked out of of our second floor condo while sitting on the deck, a freezing bus ride into town for dinner on New Years Eve, a romantic horse drawn sleigh ride… the list goes on and on. 

It only seemed fitting that we spend some time back in the area on our recent Western States T. our. When we arrived in early May, the ski mountain was closed for the season, all the snow was gone at the lower elevations leaving a lush green valley with a sprinkling of wildflowers. Rivers were flush with water and the Sawtooth Mountains looked majestic with their snow capped peaks.

We spent a week at the Meadows RV Park… which is the one and only RV park with full hook ups in the area. This is a basic FHU park with no amenities. The sites are tight and you are close to Hwy 75. That said, the area is beautiful, you can walk to the Wood Run paved walking/biking/running trail and the proximity to Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley is perfect.

The manager Perry was great and the staff were very friendly. They were working overtime to get the sites rehabbed from a long winter of snow. Since it was early spring, which is shoulder season, we had the whole end of the park to ourselves. Our big rig fit in the tight spot and we were happy there was no one nearby! We probably would have been less happy if they had been busier since sites share a small patch of grass and picnic table with another rig, but the end sites like 24 and 25 don’t share the common grass area. We did not use shower/bathrooms or laundry so no comments on those amenities. Overall, this park is pleasant and has some mountain views. We did hear some road noise during the day but it was very quiet at night. Bonus points for the Elk that were frequently in the mountains across the highway!

Spring is a great time to visit the Sun Valley area. It is shoulder season so some things might not be open and there is so little tourism that many merchants are able to take a break before the summer crowds roll in. This area is home to fish-rich rivers and lakes which draws avid fly fisher peeps from all over the world. Hiking and biking during the warm months are also very popular past times. Naturalists are drawn to volcanic fields, rolling hills and unusual geologic formations that cement Idaho’s reputation as a truly spectacular vacation destination.

Sun Valley itself is an affluent mountain ski town with expensive homes, lear jets parked at the airport and celebrities sightings aren’t unusual.  The sleepy, small towns just down the valley aren’t so sleepy anymore. Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue are now so expensive that most folks who actually work in Sun Valley are priced out of the area. I met a neat gal at the RV park who works at the post office in Sun Valley. She was just starting a full time RV life as her rental home in Hailey had been sold and even with her good income, she could not afford to buy or rent another house in the area for her and her fur-babies.

We found plenty to keep us busy during our visit including catching up with some friends in nearby Picabo. It was great fun to drive around the area and chuckle about all of our fun filled ski trips with friends and see the area in its spring glory.

Hiking trails in and around Sun Valley are limitless but can be hell on us sea level dwellers. We had been hiking for a week by then at altitude in Utah but one of the hikes in SV we did was killer. I didn’t pay much attention to the elevation gain over distance when I was looking at All Trails. The views and distance were perfect in the end but I thought my heart was going to burst on a couple of occasions. Holy Crapola, who planned that hike???

Great dining options abound in and around Sun Valley too. Since we happened to be in town during the shoulder season the restaurant scene was a bit sleepy. Many restauranteurs were taking a much deserved sabbatical in May. The neighboring town of Hailey, which used to be the ugly step sister of Sun Valley surprisingly had some of the best restaurants that we visited during our stay. CK’s Real Food was amazing, despite the odd name, as was Zou 75 where we feasted on some beautiful Asian-fusion sushi. 

So according to my internet search, “real food” is food that is as close to its natural state as possible. It is primarily: unprocessed, free of chemical additives, rich in nutrients. Okay, that makes sense, bonus points for CK’s as it was real delicious food and “The Thing 1” cocktail was killer.

We also dined at a long time favorite in Sun Valley, The Ketchum Grill. It was a bit of a weird experience as we had reservations for 7:00 pm but weren’t seated until almost 8 pm. Yes, it was busy and yes there weren’t many other restaurants open and yes, those that were open the were also completely booked as well but what was uber annoying was that we sat and watched some “locals” come in with no reservation or at the wrong time and they were seated almost immediately. Hmm, we felt a bit invisible and slightly pissed to be treated like tourist pond scum but the hostess did bring us a glass of complementary wine while we waited… and waited. Dinner was good, not great and this was certainly not the best experience we had in town but oh well, we got fed!

Besides eating our way around the valley and hiking, there is so much to see and do just outside the Sun Valley area. Just 66 miles from Sun Valley, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a great day trip. The “weird and scenic” landscape of lava and sagebrush really does just appear out of nowhere. Most visitors explore the trails, caves, and scenic overlooks along the park’s 7-mile loop road, but more opportunities abound in the park’s vast wilderness which we didn’t explore due to the “weird” weather. The 7 mile driving loop kept us busy and the added bonus of light snow really was a beautiful addition to this normally stark landscape. Our visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve was surreal… it snowed on us and was really damn cold. Phooey, we didn’t do much hiking and ate our picnic in the car but still totally worth the drive. 

Another great day trip is the 60 mile scenic drive to Stanley and Red Fish Lake which is in the Sawtooth Wilderness. The drive north of Sun Valley on HWY 75 was spectacular and we saw some great wildlife along the way as well as beautiful vistas.

Thanks to it being shoulder season, there was hardly a soul at Red Fish Lake. It was a picture perfect spring day and we had a ball hiking, exploring around the lake and bird watching. The Lodge was not open yet but some of areas of the campground were so we checked that out as well. I would highly recommend staying in this area, specifically the campground or cabins as it is just so beautiful. 

Beautiful Red Fish Lodge was built in 1929 by Idaho hero Robert Limbert and other than a couple of thoughtful renovations, the Lodge remains much the same as it was back in 1929. The staff was gearing up to open for the season, so we got to take a quick peek inside. Rustic and charming for sure…the main Lodge is all log construction and inside there is Limbert’s restaurant and a rustic lounge. The second level has 8 rooms for guests. Out on the property, there are 21 historic and modern cabins and 11 motel/suite style units. The General Store is next to the lodge and offers souvenirs, gifts and basic grocery and camping and fishing supplies. The Redfish Marina which sits directly in front of the Lodge provides boat rentals and a hiking shuttle into the  beautiful Sawtooth Wilderness Area.

Winters can be harsh in this part of Idaho… Stanley receives 5+ feet of snow and it can get to 30 below. Nope, too cold for this girl, sorry Robert! Watch the weather reports: Stanley is often mentioned as the coldest spot in the nation. The infrastructure at the resort is not able to withstand the harsh winters in Stanley so the lodge is only open seasonally. The windows and doors were just being un-boarded (is that a REAL word??). I sure wonder how Robert Limbert was able to live here in the winter or if he did??? These days in the winter there is a caretaker to check in on the lodge and some bears to patrol the grounds! Luckily for us, it was a gorgeous spring day, picture perfect for photography and bird watching. The bears must have been on sabbatical too as they were no where to be seen.

Speaking of bird watching, we spent the better part of another day at the the Silver Creek Preserve in Bellevue. The Silver Creek runs through the preserve and the creek is the holy grail of fly fishing. Renown for perfectly timed hatches and world class dry fly fishing, anglers from around the globe come here to test their skill. We were too early in the season to fish the creek but were more than happy to explore the preserve on foot.  I am impressed with the conservation vision of the community, the wonder of Silver Creek’s story comes from the people who came together to make the preserve a reality. It started in 1976 when the local community urged The Nature Conservancy to purchase 479-acres then called the Sun Valley Ranch and create its flagship preserve, Silver Creek. This launched a landowner conservation effort along the stream to protect an additional 12,000-acres through conservation easements, making this one of the most successful stream conservation efforts ever undertaken for public benefit and a model for community-based conservation.

Hey, where did you snag that trout?? Dogs aren’t allowed at the preserve!

Painters, photographers, bird watchers and hikers will find the Silver Creek Preserve to be a place that will leave you in awe of its natural beauty.  During our visit, the sky was a canvas of dark brooding colors that later gave way to bright blue skies with fluffy meandering clouds. The soft light and beauty of “The Creek” in the mornings makes this a photographers heaven. The preserved has been expanded to  881-acres now and a new visitors center is being built. The restored high-desert spring creek is home to a thriving ecosystem of abundance of wildlife including eagles, coyotes, bobcats, and moose. As many as 150 species of birds have been identified along the nature trail and its unique aquatic ecosystem features one of the highest densities of stream insects in North America.

Besides a plethora of birds, we were lucky to spot a female moose and her calf during our hike along the north side of the preserve. The mama high tailed it as soon as she saw us but her curious calf stopped to look as us strange two legged humans. 

All that exploring left us hungry, so we stopped at Lucy’s Breakfast Place in Bellevue for a delicious breakfast/lunch. Great recommendation by our friends Chris and Richard in Picabo. Yep, we continue to eat our way through the western states… notice I am in spandex ALOT!!!

Our week in the Sun Valley area was awesome and the next stop on the Western States Tour was Teton National Park. I am trying to get caught up, so stay tuned …

Farewell 2020… You Won’t Be Missed!!!

We are close to saying farewell to the year 2020, a year in which many people will not look back on fondly. It’s been called a shit show by many and rightfully so. Many people suffer great losses, many people lost their jobs, many people’s relationships suffered, many people lost their homes, many people suffered great physical illness, many people lost a loved one… heartache abounded. I feel fortunate that all I really lost was my mind at times! I feel incredible grateful to be in this place in my journey when the pandemic hit. My heart goes out to everyone out there who have suffered big losses in 2020.

Our mobile lifestyle has actually been very conducive to saying healthy, staying sane and sheltering in place. My biggest frustration has been the unknown… well, that and so many people who haven’t taken this pandemic seriously. People who don’t have the decency to wear a mask, people who refuse to be unconvinced by simply being careful for the sake of others. For us and our lifestyle, the unknown, trip planning, knowing where and when to travel have been a constant consideration. Because we travel in our home on wheels or our home on the water we have been able to be very careful and hopefully not cause any duress to others. That said, we have had to have plan A and Plan B most of 2020. My magic 8 ball wasn’t very helpful either. Questions about COVID and travel planning were usually met with either a non-commital or negative answer – GO FIGURE!!!

● It is certain.
● It is decidedly so.
● Without a doubt.
● Yes – definitely.
● You may rely on it.
● As I see it, yes.
● Most likely.
● Outlook good.
● Yes.
● Signs point to yes.
● Reply hazy, try again.
● Ask again later.
● Better not tell you now.
● Cannot predict now.
● Concentrate and ask again.
● Don’t count on it.
● My reply is no.
● My sources say no.
● Outlook not so good.
● Very doubtful.
A standard Magic 8 Ball is capable of 10 affirmative answers (●), 5 non-committal answers (●), and 5 negative answers

We definitely didn’t travel as much in 2020 despite being in our rolling home. We spent the first four months of 2020 hunkered down in Palm Springs, three weeks in Bend Oregon, four months on the boat in the San Juan Islands, five weeks in Arizona and here we are back Palm Springs under another stay at home order. That said, I still feeling really grateful to be healthy and mostly sane.

We returned to our lot at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs in late November after a difficult time in Arizona getting my mother moved into a memory care community. Somehow the timing actually worked out, we found a great community for her and I can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing she is safe and actually thriving there.

Not long after our return to California, the Governor issued another stay at home order. Again, our lifestyle in Palm Springs is conducive to doing this and staying sane. We have sunshine almost everyday, warm temps and literally an adult playground that sits on 137 beautifully landscaped acres with 27 holes of executive golf, 13 Pickleball courts, 10 Tennis courts, 10 hot tubs and 8 swimming pools. It’s easy to socially distance here, sitting out in the evening by our firepit with a glass of wine with another couple feels safe.

I know it sounds dreamy but like most of you I am ready for the 2020 shit show to come to a conclusion. I asked the magic 8 ball if 2021 was going to be a better year for the world and I was told that “signs point to yes”…hmm, do you think a scientist had any input on this answer???

Fingers crossed and in the meantime, I am going to try and reflect on the struggles that are real out there in the world, be grateful for each healthy day and for all of the wonderful people in my life.

Happy New Year…Wishing you all the best and two doses of vaccine in 2021!!!

Sedona Arizona Again!!!

The last time I wrote about Sedona was two years ago and I still think it is just as magical. The annual southern migration led us there again and it’s a darn good thing we made the reservation at Rancho Sedona RV Park two years in advance because it was booked solid the entire three weeks we were there.

After our 5 day pedal to the metal road trip from Portland Oregon, it was good to put the jacks down and stay a while. It was also really spend time with our fellow full time RV friends Joe and Sharon. It was a different time, as they lost their beautiful boxer boy Cooper last year so our boxer boy Bentley tried hard to fill the empty void. He was so excited to see them and was not shy about barging right into their coach anytime!! Cooper was a sweet boy who sure did like to hike too. Bentley is not that into it, so the last time we met up with Joe, Sharon and Cooper, Bentley loaned Cooper is hiking booties…. we sure miss that sweet boy.

On our last stay we did a lot of touring around the area … there is so much to see and do in Sedona. This stay we spent more time locally, hiking almost everyday and just living like a local! Of course we had to hit some of our favorite restaurants that had patio seating.

Like our last stay, I got to spend my birthday in the land of red rocks. Wally and I had a delicious brunch on the zen patio at the Casa Sedona Inn. Bloody Mary’s, fresh corn muffins and huevos rancheros followed by locally roasted coffee had this gal almost purring!!! Not only is the dining 5 Star at the inn, Casa Sedona was voted # 6 in the US – most romantic places.

After our leisurely brunch, we headed out to do some birding and take a long walk at the Sedona Wetlands Preserve. The preserve is actually 27 acres in a effluent management area located south of the Sedona Wastewater Treatment Facility.  I know, sounds gross at first but honestly you would have no idea as you were walking around the numerous reed lined ponds.

The ponds range from very shallow to approximately 4 feet deep to accommodate a wide range of habitat. We saw loads of scat around the ponds so I know there are more than birds hanging out there. Wetland and upland plants are located within shallow water areas and above the water line to provide habitat, attract wildlife, and control erosion. Several islands are constructed within the ponds to provide safe habitat and breeding areas for birds and other wildlife.

According to the website “In addition to effluent management goals, the wetlands also provide habitat for numerous wetland species and serve as a public park with educational and recreational opportunities including bird watching and pedestrian trail walking”. Well, they might want to actually put up some signage on 89A because if you don’t know it’s there you will drive right on by.

We did not go at the optimum birding time but still saw plenty of feathery friends and a few turtles too! Guess they don’t care about effluent management!!! Our sightings included Cedar Waxwing, Phainapepala, Scrub Jay, Barn Swallow, White Striped Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, American Coots, Northern Flicker, and loads of Mallards.

We also took a scenic drive along the Red Rock Loop Road and stopped to gawk at the stunning vistas along the way. Sedona is undeniably one of the most beautiful locations in the state of Arizona. The towering red sandstone rock formations that surround the town are especially stunning during the golden hours around sunset.

The Birthday fun continued, after our birding adventure we joined Joe and Sharon for happy hour with their daughter and son-in-law who were visiting from Texas. RVing is great for social distancing… we sat outside with the warm afternoon sun on our backs and a cocktail in hand!

It was a great day and I truly appreciate all my friends, near and far who reached out to wish me a Happy Birthday!

Our next two weeks flew by, hiking … more friends visiting and general relaxing in this beautiful zen country. Sedona is just one photo opportunity after another.

Sedona’s population today is around 10,000 but that number is insignificant when compared to the three million tourists that flock to the area each year. Suffice to say, because of the large amount of tourism, Sedona is off our list of possible places to live long term but we will still enjoy visiting again.

Sheltering in Place – A Diary of Virusapocalypse: Day Fifty One – Fifty Five

May 15, 2020

We extended our stay in Bend through May 24th and have had a great week with two different friends visiting. Additionally, today is momentous in that many counties in Oregon including Deschutes County, which Bend is in, are starting to re-open. Under phase 1 of the re-opening, Gov. Kate Brown is allowing nearly all of Oregon’s counties outside the Portland metro area to begin reopening  Friday, as well as all retail statewide (except malls and shopping centers).

It will be interesting to see how these phased re-opening go, will people continue to observe the stay at home orders in counties that are still closed, will COVID cases spike, will small rural counties be able to maintain their low cases if people start traveling again… all TBD.

Great mural that has been painted on the back side of the Les Schwab Amphitheater which is in the Old Mill District.


So here is how day Fifty One through day Fifty Five of our sheltering in place went:

  • We are hiking or walking everyday…there are so many trails yet to explore!
So Bend has it’s dark and moody side! This field is right next to the RV Resort and is where Wally takes Bentley for a run everyday.


  • Monday I made some awesome Elk Burgers. I had recently discovered a package of wild ground elk that was gifted to me last fall in the freezer so that got me salivating for a good burger. Wild Elk is actually very lean so I added some garlic that I had been soaking in olive oil to the meat along with some thyme, salt and pepper. The burgers were served with carmelized onions, homemade sundried tomato goat cheese spread and arugula. YUMMY!!!! I also did not not repeat my failed burger bun attempt…licked my wounds and just bought some nice fluffy potato buns from the store.
That is an excellent burger…


  • Tuesday we had friends from Portland drive over in their Leisure Travel Serenity aka “The Mobe”. We are lucky to have some friends who like to travel as much as we do and have joined us along the way in our travels. In this case, Donna and Steve also share our love of good food and wine so we always have fun cooking together and sharing our latest wine acquisitions. Despite the fact the weather took a rainy turn, we had three days of fun together, hiking, exploring the area and quaffing some delicious wine that they brought with. Since there were no restaurants we could visit, we co-opted some great meals together.
Donna brought this delicious bottle to share… yes, the picture is blurry but hey I took it after we drank the whole big bottle!!!

  • Wednesday, a long time friend, Connie who now lives in Burns Oregon stopped by while she was in Bend. We spent a couple of hours catching up and talking about dogs, so great to see her. Connie is a devoted Standard Schnauzer breeder and our boy Gus was one of her pups. Gus was surrendered to the Oregon Humane Society while I worked there. One of my staffers called me the day he came in day so I went down our medical clinic to take a look at him as Standard Schnauzers are a bit of a rare breed. I kinda fell in love with the dude, fostered him for a few days after he had major dental work done and eventually got him transferred to a Standard Schnauzer Rescue Group. Poor buddy had serious separation anxiety and wasn’t doing well in the shelter.
Wasn’t he a cutie!!!

A couple of days after Gus went home with the Standard Schnauzer Rescue gal, I got a call from her. She told me she figured out who the breeder was (Connie – Von Berg Schnauzers), that Connie was in Portland and that she had let Connie know that she had Gus. Being a reputable breeder meant Connie wanted Gus back and of course I was thrilled he found his way home at almost 9 years old. Long story short, Connie and I kept in touch and some how I ended up going to see him one day and somehow he came home with me!! He was my buddy and my pal, a great dog that Wally and I loved to pieces. He still had terrible separation anxiety which got a bit better over time but he was otherwise fearless, confident and loved to go any where we went. Gus also helped us raise Bentley, another puppy I couldn’t resist at the shelter.

Our second week is flying by almost as fast as the first week here in Bend did. Sadly, we have no more visitors coming by but have plenty of exploring to do still. Donna texted me on her way out of town with the location of a great farm stand where I scored some awesome fresh veggies today.

Left over slow cooked bolognese with fresh fettuccine and steamed broccoli starved with a big glass of ghost pine cab – thanks Jill and Cindy for that delicious wine.


While it is tempting to go out to one of the many retaurants here in Bend that are re-opening, whats more tempting are all the micro-breweries…sigh. But we are going to continue to avoid crowds of people, do occasional take out, get a growler filled to go and just enjoy the great outdoors here in Bend. Today we ran errands, stopped at the produce stand, went to Petsmart and Ace Hardware. Yep, we are cautiously venturing out so I think this will be my last entry as sheltering in place…I hope….fingers crossed.

Quiet Downtown Bend…PS…please wear your mask!!!

Sheltering in Place – A Diary of Virusapocalypse: Day Forty Four – Fifty

We have been here in Bend for week now and loving it. What’s not to like…great weather, friendly people, hiking galore plus we are settled in a nice big site at the Crown Villa RV Resort. Liking it so much, we extended our stay another week. It has been easy to continue sheltering in place, I am still using Instacart to have groceries delivered, utilizing restaurants that offer take out and generally avoiding people as best we can. With a population just under 200,000 Deschutes County has been relatively unscathed by CODID-19 – 85 cases and no deaths. I think this could have been very different if Governor Kate Brown hadn’t shut down the state so early. Bend in particular is a tourist destination both winter and summer so with no big influx of people from all over the US, they have stayed relatively healthy here.


So here is how day Forty Four through day Fifty of our sheltering in place went:

  • We have been hiking or walking everyday. There are so many options in the Bend area that we can do something different everyday. Monday Kristen and I walked the Bend River Park Trail that starts in the Old Mill District. It is a very pretty 4 mile walk along the Deschutes River.

Dinner was a full spread of Cinco de Mayo eats complete with a pitcher of Margaritas – Thanks Kristen for the great grub!

  • Wednesday was Kristens birthday so of course we hiked!!! Our choice for a pretty afternoon hike was at the Riley Ranch Nature Preserve. There is a great trail system there with a series of small loops.

Kristen requested that the Wally Brenda pizza duo cater her birthday dinner so that’s just what we did. It was a three course meal featuring… wait for it…PIZZA. Of course, I made the dough from scratch in the morning so it could rise all day. I started the BD girl (Well, and me too) with a French 75 cocktail which I made with frozen meyer lemon juice (from our trees in Palm Springs), gin and prosecco – that’s how you get the party started!!! Head Pizza Chef Waldo started the birthday girl with a Pizza Margherita topped with fresh basil from my traveling herb pot. The second course was a Green Chile Chicken Sausage Pizza and the third course was an Apple Chicken Sausage Pizza with Blue Cheese topped with Arugula. John bought the birthday girl her favorite dessert – Cheesecake which we topped with Lemon Curd and Blueberry Compote. After dinner, we played a round of Five Crowns – it was a fun evening with the BD Girl!!

  • Wally and I took a day trip to Camp Sherman on Thursday. We brought a picnic lunch and hiked along the Metolius River. This is a gorgeous area and the crazy thing is the head waters of the river. The headwaters of the river are at Metolius Springs, where the river emerges from two clusters of springs at the base of Black Butte. Water flows to these springs from the drainage basin around Black Butte Ranch, several miles to the south. The elevation of the drainage basin is 300 feet above that of the springs, forming a natural standpipe that tends to stabilize the river’s rate of flow. But seriously, how can all that water come out of such a small hole in the ground???
  • Friday Wally and I headed out to Sunriver which is a city all in its self. It was actually developed in the late seventies and was the first luxury resort community in Central Oregon. The resort community is home to 63 holes of world-class golf, a marina, an aquatic center, stables and its own small airport. In Sunriver, you can spend the day riding bikes along 30 miles of paved trails, going on a guided horseback ride or visiting the Sunriver Nature Center, Oregon Observatory, High Desert Museum or Lava Lands Visitors Center, where the first astronauts trained to talk on the moon.  The Village at Sunriver hosts a variety of shops, restaurants, breweries and art galleries. In winter, the Village at Sunriver offers ice skating and Mt. Batchelor with first class skiing is just a 20 minute drive.

Wally and I have spent some time in Sunriver, mostly on skiing vacations so it was fun to drive through and reminisce. Unlike other trips, Sunriver was a ghost town. The Village was mostly shuttered except the Bend Brewing Company which was offering take out. After splitting a burger and fries we needed a good long walk so we headed out to the marina area where we picked up the River Loop Trail. This paved walking/biking path was a great way to burn off that burger and 6 miles later we were both ready for a shower and a cold beverage. We saw a plethora of birds, a big herd of elk which were way off in the trees behind the horse pastures, deer and some ground critters. We met up with Kristen and John back at the RV Resort for drinks, dinner and some time around the fire pit. Persistence won out and we finally got through to Wild Rose Thai Eats – OMG, what a feast we had. Truly some of the best Thai food I have ever “eats”. Sorry, no pictures… we forgot!

  • Saturday was our last day with the Quaranteam so we loaded up our bicycles, a picnic lunch and headed out. Kristen and John had never been to Mt Batchelor or Sunriver so those were our destinations.
Mt. Batchelor off in the distance.

Back at Sunriver, we headed to the marina again and rode the same trail we walked the day before. Kristen brought carrots so we had fun feeding the horses. Seems they are furloughed too and were definitely enjoying the attention and treats. We had our picnic after the ride at the marina by the river – such a pretty day.

Our week together with the Quaranteam in Bend literally flew by and we spent our final evening together on our patio with the fire pit going. Dinner was a light fare, White Bean and Chicken Soup with a Mixed Green Salad which Kristen and I co-opted. Great caravanning and week with our fellow full time RV friends…our paths will cross again soon!!!

Sheltering in Place – A Diary of Virusapocalypse: Day Forty Three

The last leg of our road trip to Bend Oregon on Sunday was just under 250 miles. We tooled along in the remote back country of California and Oregon with rarely another vehicle in sight. Our route from the Likely Place Golf and RV Resort took us along Hwy 395, then we connected to Hwy 31 which then connected us onto Hwy 97 at La Pine Oregon. Part of Hwy 31 was a bit bone jarring but for the most part it was such a pretty drive that we could ignore the bad roads for a stretch. It felt like the Indy 500 when we rolled onto Hwy 97 with all the car and truck traffic!


So here is how day Forty Three of our sheltering in place went:

  • We decided to enjoyed a more leisurely start to the day so Kristen and I took a long walk around resort on the nature trails. The area around the pond was really active with Red Winged Blackbirds.



  • The caravan was on the road Saturday by 10:30 am and headed for our final destination – Bend Oregon. Wally and I have spent the last 28 years collecting experiences and our love of travel is jointly shared so what better way to spend our 28th anniversary – Love you babe!!!



  • This portion of the drive was mostly high desert plains which took us by several lakes and through tiny farming towns. I love this glimpse into old, rural america and took so many pictures… unfortunately most through the window so please excuse the window glare and bugs on the windshield!!
  • We ate a big breakfast but didn’t stop for lunch so the caravan gang was ready for an early dinner when we rolled into Bend. We had our eye on Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats, had all the entrees picked out and were looking forward to a big family style feast. Only problem was that no one ever answered the phone even though their website said they were doing take out. How rude, didn’t they know it was our anniversary??? Our second choice was Dang Vietnamese which turned out to be a great second choice and we definitely feasted.




Our three day sprint to Bend Oregon was definitely a sprint… we usually like to take our time, stop and explore the areas we are traveling through. These are strange times to be on the road for sure. Most of the small rural towns we drove through were hauntingly quiet but maybe thats how they always are. We are happy to get settled in at the Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend and enjoy exploring all the outdoor activities the area has to offer. As things start to open up again, I don’t think we will be rushing to go out to restaurants, bars or any other big venues for awhile. Being out and about in the great outdoors is just right for now.

The Lava Butte Caldera in Bend.

Sheltering in Place – A Diary of Virusapocalypse: Day Forty Two

Our first day on the road (Friday) was was mostly great… a few minor issues with the passenger seat side window (yay for gorilla tape) and low tire pressure in the passenger tag axle tire. … hey whats up with my side of the coach??? But that said, the scenery was amazing. Smoggy Victorville with heavier than expected truck traffic gave way to clean, blue skies, majestic snow capped mountain and very little traffic. We made it to Mono Lake where we stayed at the MonoVista RV Park. It was a quiet stopover…so glad they were able to get a variance to stay open for overnight travelers.

Beautiful Mono Lake


So here is how day Forty Two of our sheltering in place went:

  • The caravan was on the road Saturday by 8:30 am and headed for Likely California. We have never RV caravanned with another couple and who more perfect than our shelter in place buddies Kristin and John?
  • The drive between Mono Lake and Gardnerville is absolutely gorgeous. Snow capped mountain, lakes, roaring rivers and massive plains capture you and delight your eyes. One of my favorite parts of the drive is following the Walker River as is roars down into Topaz Lake.
  • Our first stop of the day was in Gardnerville, NV for fuel. Diesel for $2.49 a gallon – woo-hoo. Not only was it a very scenic stop but someone served me a mimosa!!! WHAT…now this is why caravanning is so fun. What wasn’t so fun was the DEF incident… luckily it all turned out fine thanks to Mr. Handy Pants but he wasn’t a happy camper for sure. If your curious what DEF is you can read the link, but suffice to say it isn’t windshield wiper fluid. I drank my mimosa while he flushed the DEF tank and refilled it with DEF.



  • We made a lunch stop at Del Taco in Carson City. Wally and I normally find a rest stop, grab a sandwich and keep on trucking but something about a taco salad just sounded good! Kristen found us a great parking spot at the nearby Walmart. She also ordered online and walked thru the drive thru to pick up our lunch – now that’s good service. We ate in our coaches and got back on the road with a full belly.
  • After leaving Carson City NV, it was about 185 miles to Likely, CA where were spending the night at the Likely Place Golf and RV Resort. The stunning scenery and virtually no traffic made the drive feel easy. Well, easy for me as I was sitting in my plush passenger seat or up taking pictures the entire time. I had great intentions to get some driving time in but somehow that just didn’t happen.
  • We arrived at the Likely Place Golf and RV Resort road weary and ready to put the jacks down and relax. Seems the computer reservation system didn’t relay our reservation to staff so they were a bit befuddled when our two big rigs arrived. No pull in sites in the big rig area were available but they took our guys in a golf cart to look at the sites “up the hill” by the group gazebo. Yep, we would fit and would not have to unhook the tow cars. It was kinda funky and for the most part neither coach could get level but whatever… it was just one night and it really is a beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere.
Heading into the Likely Place Golf and RV Resort
Circling the wagons!!!


  • Our coaches were right next to a three sided gazebo designed to block the wind which was blowing a bit. We took advantage of the outdoor setting and enjoyed our dinner in the gazebo with our propane fire pit taking the chill off. Kristin and I co-opted dinner, she did a whole chicken in her Ninja air fryer/pressure cooker and I provided all the sides, garlic-rosemary roasted baby potatoes and asparagus with clarified butter. After dinner, we hung out in the gazebo and played a game of Five Crowns. It was actually quite cozy despite the serious sideways blowing rain that started up.
Kristen was the only one not making goofy faces for the photo!!!





It has been an interesting few travel days. As we move further from the populated cities of California, we have seen less signs of lock-down. As an example, in Modoc County where we were spending the night moved Friday to reopen hair salons, churches, restaurants and the county’s only movie theater which defies the Governor’s order. There haven’t been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the 9,000 residents of Modoc County, but the reopening came with strict social distancing limits. Businesses could only have half the patrons, and customers must stay 6 feet apart. I sure hope this works out for them.

The county is an outlier in every sense of the word. It is tucked into the far northeast near the Oregon border, hundreds of miles from the capital of Sacramento and even further politically from the Democrat-controlled state; it’s a place where seven in 10 voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

One could argue that technically we aren’t sheltering in place either but actually our road travel in the coach has kept us mostly isolated from other people. We are still being careful, wearing masks, lots of hand washing and wiping down of things to keep us safe and healthy.

Sheltering in Place – A Diary of Virusapocalypse: Day Forty and Forty One

We are in the road and rolling today. Our first overnight stop on the 900 mile trip to Bend Oregon will be near Mono Lake California at the MonoVista RV Park.

The caravan is ready to roll!



So here is how day Forty and Forty One of our sheltering in place went:

  • To beat the heat, I only got up early yesterday morning to walk. I said my goodbyes to a few friends and the beautiful resort.
  • Frank’s Wash and Wax gave the Road House the full beauty treatment on Thursday. We have it waxed twice a year to protect the paint. The guys showed up at 7:45 am and the two of them were done around 11:30. The Road House is looking good!
  • We spent the day Thursday doing all the final pack and prep inside and out. We took advantage of the large commercial washing machines at the resort laundry center to do all of our bedding and rugs. We will enjoy at least one cat hair free nights sleep!
The lot looks so empty.


  • Bentley got a refreshing bath outside … wow is he shedding in this heat.
  • Wally picked off the remaining lemons on our tree and found this “dude”!
Definitely a dude!!!


  • I made pulled pork in the instant pot for easy meals on the road.
  • We enjoyed our final cocktail on the patio while Bentley laid in the grass behind out wall zesting lemons! I packed ten extra lemons just for him.
Bentley the zester, lemon molester!


  • Dinner was a simple Smoked Salmon and Beet Salad with a glass of Italian Chardonnay.

As excited as we are to be rolling again it comes with some trepidation. The great thing about RV travel is it is easy to maintain social distancing. Our route is remote and rural so that makes us feel more at ease too.

Sheltering in Place – A Diary of Virusapocalypse: Day Thirty Eight and Thirty Nine

So here is how day Thirty Eight and Thirty Nine of our sheltering in place went:

We are just a few days from pulling up the jacks and hitting the road. The record high heat here in the valley makes being outside a sweaty endeavor so we do a bit of work outside then come in and cool off. Our three roof top air conditioners have been running almost 24 hours a day. There are three zones in the coach for heating and cooling and it’s great being able to set the units differently as needed. The sun hits the back of the coach in the morning and works its way around the south side, eventually blasting the huge front window in the hottest part of the day. We, aka Mr. Handy Pants also put reflective foil insulation across the entire windshield on the inside. We also put the day night shades down for triple insulation and it is really saving our bacon but its such a bummer as it blocks our beautiful mountain view and makes the coach really dark inside. Another reason to get rolling for sure!!!

These flowers are on the top of a very old madagascar palm. Hoping someday ours gets this big and is happy enough to flower.

  • To beat the heat, I only got up early one morning to walk. Definitely missing being active… its hard enough to be quarantined but not being able to get outside as much is making me a little crazy (crazier?). Luckily, I have plenty of pre-departure chores to do inside.
  • Spent the morning yesterday outside with the mister on getting things ready to pack up and move to storage. Gave all the geranium pots a manicure so they would look nice at their new home.
  • We took a load out to the airplane hangar in Thermal. The big move is on Wednesday. On the way back we stopped for gas at the Costco Fuel Station – whoo-hoo, gas was $2.09 a gallon… it’s usually almost $4.00 per gallon here in Southern California. Sadly, its all virus related and not a good thing for the long term economy but for today we took it as a positive. I spotted two juvenile desert iguana in the landscaping as we pulled out of the fuel station and got this fun video of them scrapping it up.



  • I made some basil simple syrup to take for cocktails at a friends place on Monday. The Basil Bourbon Orange Smash is a very refreshing cocktail on a warm evening. A word of caution… smash = getting smashed so drink at your own risk!
  • We enjoyed a nice evening outside on Sunday, at proper social distance of course with friends here in the resort. Lots of peeps are rolling outta here for home or other summer destinations. Our friends who hosted have a fairly shady lot and had their mister on so it was great to chitchat and say our goodbyes to our dear friends Dawn and Fran.
  • Monday, we spent the evening with our other SIP friends in Palm Springs. They graciously offered a home for the geranium pots so we took them over and Wally aka Mr. Handy Pants installed a drip watering system that connects to their existing sprinkler system. It was international night so we all took a trip to Morocco… it is not what you are thinking, no huka pipe…the incredible meal was all moroccan dishes! Thank you Mike and Nanette for a wonderful time!
The Moroccan meal literally transported me to another place…virtual travel, right?


These next few weeks will be interesting, California joined the growing ranks of U.S. states and countries around the world preparing to ease coronavirus-containment measures, with many planning gradual rollbacks to help reduce the potential for new waves of infections. As more states look to reopen their economies, health experts have said officials need to put in place measures that include expanded testing capacity and contact-tracing teams to safely return to some version of normalcy. It’s confusing, its unsettling and downright scary. Most of us have settled into a relatively safe existence where we can limit our exposure but the idea of going back to the normal pace we knew before COVID-19 is seductive. I have mixed feelings and I know so many other people do as well. Our northern migration will be very different this year for sure.

This deserted campsite we found last year on our southern migration would be a blessing this year on the northern migration.