Friday, December 31, 2010

Lake Skinner County Park, Temecula, CA

We are now 10 miles from Temecula at Lake Skinner, another Riverside County Park campground. We drove through a couple weeks ago to check out the park and see if we wanted to stay here, and there were only a handful a RVs here that day. That has all changed with the Christmas/New Year holidays. Seems like everybody in Southern California decided to camp here with their families and groups to celebrate New Year’s.
We have a fairly good perimeter site, considering they are very close together. Our site is angled so we have a nice view, and so far we have no neighbors on one side.
Our view.
Zoomed in to get a better look at the snow and the nice houses in the hills.
We took a walk down by the lake and around all three camping loops yesterday. This is a huge park with over 200 campsites. As with all the Riverside County Parks, they honor the Passport America half price discount Monday-Thursday. Since we have full hookups, it is $25/night but the weekdays are $12.50, so it is a good deal for California.
Lake Skinner.
Picnic area.
Taken from the trail by the lake.
A few weeks ago we did a nice hike on the Dripping Springs trail near Temecula. There is another trail there called the Wild Horse trail, so today we went back to get a little exercise in the cold. I know, 50 may not be cold to some people, but we would like it to warm up a bit. We hate to complain about the temperatures, though, since at least the sun is shining.
As we were approaching the trail, a family coming toward us warned us that we might not be able to get across the water on the trail, Turns out they were talking about Dripping Springs, and the other trail forked off before the water. We had to see what they were talking about, though, since we could hear lots of moving water. When we crossed this wash a couple weeks ago, it was bone dry. This is a sign of how much rain has fallen in southern California recently.
Dripping Springs Trail under water!
Or snow, depending on the elevation.
Tonight we plan to have an exciting New Year’s Eve watching movies and eating pizza. Hard to believe another year is over.
Hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last Days at Jojoba Hills


We had a nice quiet Christmas. I cooked dinner on Christmas Eve, and Debbie cooked on Christmas Day, so I spent the weekend in the sewing room working on our new privacy drapes. It was a lot of work sewing the fasteners on, hemming them, and attaching Velcro in the proper places, and I’m glad that job is finished. We think they look pretty good.

The old curtains that came with the rig. Some of the clips were broken, and the backing was disintegrating.


I made the new ones much longer, to add more privacy and insulation. I am not the best seamstress, so I am pleased to have that project finished.


Debbie left today for Casa Grande, AZ, where her mother will be escaping the Minnesota weather for a couple months. We hope to get over that way to meet her next month.

We’ve gotten out and walked the past few days since the weather improved. The park is adjacent to BLM land, and there are lots of trails and dirt roads to explore. All the rain we had last week was snow on the higher mountains in the area. We had a nice view of this snow-capped peak on our hike.


And a view of Jojoba Hills.


Cell service was not very good here so a few years ago they got Verizon to erect a tower on the park property. It is disguised so as not to be an eyesore. Pretty clever!


We are leaving here Thursday for Lake Skinner, a county park less than 20 miles away. We’ve both got doctor’s appointments in Temecula over the next 2 weeks and we will be closer to town there. The park is almost fully booked so we’re hoping the New Year’s weekend crowd won’t be too rowdy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas


The rain finally stopped and it was a beautiful, sunny, mid-60’s day in southern California. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas no matter what kind of weather you’re having!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thought It Never Rains in California


We are now on day # 4 of clouds, drizzle, and finally today some real rain. Since we’ve been stuck inside, we got a couple projects finished, and I’ve done some cooking, trying to use some of those beautiful lemons on our tree.

This was my whole wheat lemon cake, which shows what happens when you substitute applesauce for butter in a cake recipe. It didn’t rise much but it tasted pretty good.


I also made a Moroccan chickpea stew, which was excellent. Both of those recipes only used a total of three lemons, though, so I may have to take Joyce’s suggestion and try some lemon mojitos.

Many months ago we removed the glass from the door of the entertainment center. It was smoked, etched with Lazy Daze, and would not allow the remotes to work. It also got very hot inside the cabinet, so we kept it open quite a bit.


We had replaced the glass with some expanded metal from Home Depot and painted it black. It was better but the holes were so big you could see the equipment inside. Jim ordered some black plastic mesh from McMaster-Carr, which he glued to the expanded metal. It looks much better and the remotes still work through it.


We also replaced a few more light bulbs with LEDs. They aren’t cheap, so we are gradually replacing them as we decide what we want. So far we’ve been happy with most of them.

Some of our cabinets and drawers in the kitchen were starting to look a little worn, especially those under the sink and counter, so I removed the hardware, sanded them with very fine sandpaper, touched up the worn areas with a stain stick, and painted a coat of fast drying satin finish polyurethane over them. What a difference! I feel like we have a new kitchen, and it was easier to do than I thought it would be.


I finally ordered a pair of pinch pleat drapes, which should be arriving in the next day or so. My next project will be to make some new privacy curtains for the front windshield. They have a huge sewing room here, and with Debbie’s machine, I hope it won’t be too hard to sew the tape to the pleats and hem them. Never a dull moment. Only two more days of rain to go…

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pickleball and a Hike


We tried a new sport this week, pickleball, which is a cross between tennis, badminton, ping pong and racquetball. It is played on a badminton court with wooden paddles and a plastic ball with holes, a little smaller than a whiffle ball, and is becoming the latest craze for the over 55 crowd. Sorry, shuffleboard!

We were invited to come and play with the group that plays every morning at 8, but before we attempted to join in, we decided to give it a try one afternoon when nobody else was on the court. It was fun but much harder than we expected. We played racquetball for many years, so we thought this would be similar but easier. Wrong! The ball doesn’t bounce very high, the paddle is much shorter than a racquetball racquet, and the holes in the ball cause it to bounce erratically, making it easy to miss. We got a really good workout, but Jim was envisioning his back going out during every lunge. At his advanced age he thought it was too risky for him, but I may go up one morning and join in on a doubles game. Here we are attempting to play. You can see how I won by serving to Jim while his back was turned.

Pickleball 4.

Tuesday morning we were invited to join the hiking group for a 6 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. They were to meet at 8 in Friendship Hall and carpool to the trail head. I had to do a lot of persuading to get Jim up and ready so early, but we arrived a few minutes before 8 and saw a sign that the hike had been cancelled. Since we didn’t know where the trail was, we drove to one we had seen at a Forest Service campground, Dripping Springs, a 7 mile trail in the Agua Tibia Wilderness section of Cleveland National Forest just a few miles east of Temecula. It was in the low 40’s when we started out, but it quickly warmed up as the sun got higher and we climbed and climbed. We turned around after a couple hours, and enjoyed the beautiful views along the way.


Lots of citrus orchards in Temecula Valley.


The sprawl of Temecula and beyond to the Pacific. We think the haze was a combination of fog and smog.


Vail Lake.


And the best part was we didn’t see another soul on the entire trail.

This afternoon at three is free ice cream at Friendship Hall. Guess we’ll have to stop by on our way to the gym. We like it here!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Quiet Week


Other than a trip to the farmer’s market and Wal-Mart in Temecula, we have stayed around the park this week. Since we can get UPS and FedEx delivery here, we placed a bunch of orders for things we need. We’ve also done some much needed cleaning of the rig inside and out, including screens and vent covers, things that tend to get neglected. Besides walking around the park, we’ve been going to the exercise room every other day to do some upper body weight training, which we have a hard time doing in our tiny house.

Since we haven’t been out anywhere taking pictures, I thought I’d post a few pet photos. The cats are very happy here since I let them out on the huge patio, and our weather has been so nice we’ve been outside a lot.


Hummingbirds are buzzing around everywhere.


And Debbie added a new member to her family a couple days ago. She met a woman in the laundry room who was fostering a little dog, and looking for a home for it. Just coincidentally, Debbie had been recently thinking of getting a new dog after losing Elton last month. She brought Elliot home to see how he would get along with her almost 23 year old cat, Miss.


They became fast friends, and so cute little Elliot, a 14 month old Maltese/Chihuahua mix, now has a good home. He is a sweetheart!



Since Christmas is only a couple weeks away, here is one more old picture of Oreo, taken many years ago at our house. What a funny looking ornament in that tree!

Oreo xmas

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jojoba Hills SKP Resort, Aguanga, CA



We are back at Jojoba Hills, an over-55 (are we really that old?) Escapees RV park 17 miles east of Temecula. We spent a few days here last January and knew we wanted to come back and spend more time. They don’t take reservations but Escapees Club members can stay up to 28 days. Jim called a couple weeks ago and they said it shouldn’t be a problem getting a site. When we arrived yesterday, there were only two sites available, one until the 28th, which Debbie took since she had to leave for Arizona that day anyway, and the other until the 30th. We had hoped to stay through New Years weekend, but we’ll have to find somewhere else to ring in 2011.

We do like it here, and we were lucky to get a really nice site. When the owners are gone, they can put their sites in the rental pool, so people like us can stay in this beautiful gated community. It is $20 a night, but they have full hookups and cable. And beautiful views, a great library, exercise room, laundry, etc. The pool and spas look out over the Palomar mountains. There were a lot of old people in that jacuzzi this afternoon!


We have a lemon tree at our site with some of the biggest lemons I’ve ever seen.



We don’t have big plans here, just want to get a few things done around the rig and enjoy the park while everyone in the real world is out hustling around doing the Christmas thing. Don’t miss that at all!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oceanside, CA



Yesterday we stopped at Wal-Mart in Temecula where a replacement for a defective hand-vac we ordered was waiting, then went on to the Camping world in San Marcos, where we exchanged a defective water pressure regulator that we bought last month in Albuquerque. Seems like anything we buy has to be returned or exchanged because it doesn’t work right the first time.

Since we were less than 15 miles from the coast, we decided to drive to Oceanside and check out the Pacific. It had been cloudy all morning but the sun came out on the way.

Oceanside Beach

Being used to the beautiful white sandy beaches of the Florida Panhandle, the dark sand just doesn’t look right to us. There were a handful of surfers in the water, but the waves weren’t quite big enough.


We walked out to the end of Oceanside Pier, which at 1,942 feet is the longest pier on the west coast.

Oceanside Pier

It was a good place for people and bird watching. We saw lots of pelicans diving into the ocean for a snack, and of course lots of gulls, including these brown ones we hadn’t seen before.


We are tired of the traffic, so tomorrow will be heading to the Escapees park in Aguanga, which is kind of in the middle of nowhere, although only 18 miles from Temecula.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Getting In The Holiday Spirit



On our last day in Riverside, we dragged Jim to the University of CA Botanical Gardens. We had been surprised at how little traffic we’d encountered around Riverside, since it is less than 60 miles from LA, but we found it on our way to the Gardens. Once we finally got on campus, the signage was pretty poor, so we had to stop and ask several students, who didn’t give us very good directions. After all that, we were a little disappointed by the Gardens, but we walked the trails and were amazed at some of the cacti. Jim had the camera and wandered off. These are the only two pictures he took.



That evening we went downtown to see the Christmas lights at the Mission Inn, the largest Mission Revival Style building in the US. It is a beautiful hotel, and every year they put up a huge Christmas display. As you can see by the number of cars on the road we weren’t the only ones who came to see it.



The lobby was very elegant, and had pictures of all the famous people who’ve stayed there. In fact, Pat and Richard Nixon were married in one of the chapels, and Nancy and Ronald Reagan honeymooned at the Inn.


We ended up eating dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory, a couple blocks from the Inn. That was one of my favorite restaurants when I went to school in St. Louis in the late 70’s, but I haven’t been to one since. It was just as good as I remembered, and still has reasonable prices.

Yesterday we moved on 34 miles to Lake Park RV Resort in Lake Elsinore. This is another Passport America park, and is only $15 for full hookups, cable and Wi-Fi (which isn’t working this week). It’s not the most scenic RV park, but we are backed up to a city park, so it’s not too bad. And it’s just a short walk to the lake. Lake Elsinore is the largest natural freshwater lake in southern California, and is bordered by the Elsinore Mountains, so it is quite pretty.


We have a big weekend in store, with plans to go to the farmer’s market and flea market, Camping World, and an outlet mall. It is overcast today and there is a chance of rain tomorrow, but we’re hoping the LA weather babes (Jim’s term for the buxom meteorologists on TV) are wrong.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mount Rubidoux, Riverside, CA



We took a great three mile loop hike up Mount Rubidoux, a paved trail leading to beautiful views of Riverside and the surrounding mountains. At the top is a huge cross, where they’ve had Easter sunrise services since 1909.




There are numerous memorials and markers on the trail honoring various people who were important to the area.




This is a popular local fitness trail. We saw lots of joggers, walkers, and cyclists. A guy with serious tattoos ran past us wearing what looked like a vest worn by suicide bombers. We were hoping he just had weights in all the pockets.

Our favorite was this guy, pulling a tire up the mountain.


I thought maybe he was training for some athletic event, but when he got to the cross at the top yelled “Thank you, Jesus!”  Jim wondered what kind of mileage he gets out of that tire.

Southern California has sure been entertaining!