Enjoying Tucson

Tucson, AZ

January 31 we left Borrego Springs, CA and headed east on I-8.  After an overnight stop in a dusty old RV park in the little crossroads town of Dateland, AZ, we arrived in Tucson and quickly set up in our new home in Lazydays KOA.

Smoke from a brush fire along I-10 near Coolidge, AZ

Our home for February

We have stayed here many times as we really enjoy the Tucson area.  It has great weather (for the winter), plenty of  hikes in the numerous mountain ranges nearby, and good stores and restaurants.  The day after our arrival we headed a few miles to the west to do a short four mile hike in the Robles Pass area of Tucson Mountain Park.  We’ve hiked the Flight Path Trail section of the park a few times during previous visits and knew it was a good place to stretch our legs a bit.  Plus the nimble hiker was anxious to get back among the numerous saguaros along this trail.

Back in Cactus Country!

Crested saguaro with some problems

Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) arrived in the park the day after we did and Steve and Mona Liza (Lowes RV Adventures) came in a couple of days later.  The group met up at Mariscos Chihuahua Restaurant, a few miles west of the park, to share recent travels and recognize MonaLiza’s recent “39th” birthday.

John, Dave, Steve, MonaLiza, Sue, and Pam

With Dave and Sue nearby we are still treated with visits from Lewis, who loves to chase a ball around the inside of our motorhome.

Ah ha, I found it!

Days later, with temperatures in Tucson climbing into the 80s, we decided to go up into the Catalina Mountains to do some hiking in the cooler temperatures.  The nimble hiker did some research and found the perfect hike to the top of Mt. Bigelow.   To get to the trail we drove up the scenic Catalina Highway into the Catalina Mountains.

The road winds its way up through the mountains from Tucson (2,500′) to Mt. Lemmon (8,800′).  Every visitor to Tucson needs to take this beautiful drive (27 miles) while in the area.

Just past mile marker 17 we parked in the San Pedro Vista lot and found the trailhead at the north end of the parking area.

Looking north to the trailhead

Entrance to the trail (taken on our return)

Immediately upon leaving the parking area the trail began to climb steeply up into the rocks.

After about a mile our destination came into view in the distance.  Mt. Bigelow (8,552′) is easily identified by the many communication towers located on the peak.

Mt. Bigelow in the distance

As we hiked up the trail we enjoyed some beautiful views to the north.

At times the trail ran easily through the trees, while at other times (most of the time) it went sharply up through the rocks.

The nimble hiker climbs steadily up the trail

A great view to the north

Getting closer . . .

. . . and closer

But still climbing!

We finally made it to the top, where we enjoyed lunch with a view while looking down on Tucson far below us.

Lunch with a view (including power cables and sunbeams!)

From our perch on top of the mountain, we could see most of metropolitan Tucson, including Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  With binoculars we could easily see the aircraft boneyard located on the base.  The facility takes care of nearly 4,000 aircraft, which makes it the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world.

As we returned back down the trail we could see a climber on a rock formation called the Ridgeline.  Can you see him in the photo below?

How about now?

Bet you can see him now!

After hiking almost six miles at 8,000′ with an elevation change of about 1,500′ we felt that we deserved a treat.  So we made our way back down the Catalina Highway and into Tucson where we found one of those chain coffee houses out of Seattle.  Sitting in front of the store enjoying a refreshing drink we could see Mt. Bigelow in the distance.  It’s just to the right of the light pole in the photo below.

A little “zoom” on the camera helps bring it into view.

We’ll be in Tucson until the end of the month so we’re sure to have more adventures to share in future posts.  More on that later . . .

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Final Days in Borrego Springs, CA

Borrego Springs, CA

During our last couple of weeks here in Borrego Springs, we explored the wilds of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with a combination of Jeep rides and hikes.

Palm Canyon

One afternoon we drove into the nearby state park campground with Dave and Sue to hike up Palm Canyon.  The trail begins at the west end of the Borrego-Palm Canyon campground and goes about a mile and a half up into the canyon.  It is the most popular trail in the park and leads to the third-largest palm oasis in California.  We have done this hike many times before but wanted to see if we could spot any bighorn sheep along the canyon walls (we saw them there on previous hikes).  Alas, the sheep were on vacation that day!

Young boys love to climb rocks

Scanning the canyon walls for sheep

Dave checks out the grove of palms

It is really interesting to climb about half way up the canyon and suddenly hear running water.  Thick vegetation on the trail indicate that water is nearby.

The stream suddenly appears, complete with a tiny waterfall.

Our only wildlife sighting

The view looking east down the canyon

While we didn’t spot any sheep, the hike up and back in the canyon is always fun.

Mine Wash and Village Site

A few days later we drove to the south to explore some canyons along Rte. 78.  The first spot, Mine Wash, lies east of County Road S-3 and west of Borrego Springs Road.  It is about a mile and a half west of Pinyon Wash and about two miles east of Stag Cove. The wash is marked by a small sign which you can easily miss unless you watch carefully.  We turned into the wash and drove south to an area identified on the park map as the village site.   Kumeyaay bands living in the nearby Laguna Mountains migrated to the desert areas in and next to Anza-Borrego Desert SP during the winter and stayed until spring.   The village site is one of their winter camps.  The area of the village has a number of Kumeyaay morteros.  Morteros are depressions in stone that developed after years of use by Kumeyaay women for grinding beans, nuts, or seeds.

You could continue south up the wash for a few more miles where there is an abandoned gold mine.  We decided to return to the highway and continue east for a visit to the Narrows Earth Trail.

The Narrows Earth Trail

This trail, located just a couple of miles east of Mine Wash, is a guided loop about a mile long.  A nature trail guide is available at the trailhead to explain various points along the loop.  The information pertains to the geology of Anza-Borrego.

A fault line with different types of rocks on either side

Young hiker checks out some eroded rocks

Halfway through the short hike the trail goes through a wash and heads back to the parking area.  We hiked up the wash for about a mile before coming to a tall pour-over that blocked our way.

End of the trail

The view back down the wash

Truckhaven Rocks

We left the Narrow Earth Trail and drove back through Borrego Springs to county road S22.  At mile marker 35.5 we pulled over and parked along the north side of the highway.    From there we could see the Truckhaven Rocks, blocks of reddish-brown sandstone made from sedimentary deposits that were tilted to a 45-degree angle by geological forces eons ago.  They rise up 100 feet or more from the alluvial plain and are named for the first road east out of the Borrego Valley — the old Truckhaven Trail.  The sandstone has been eroded by wind and rain to create a miniature mountain range, complete with canyons, peaks, and ridges.

The low Truckhaven Rocks to the north

To get to the rocks we hiked up a sandy wash for a bit over a mile.

As the banks of the wash grew up around us we found a spot where we could climb up to the sandstone rocks.

The arrow points out the nimble hiker as she begins to climb out of the wash

After climbing up to the top of one of the rocks we enjoyed great views all around us.

Looking to the north

Looking to the south

A look back while returning back down the wash

Carrizo Badlands and the Mud Caves

For our last adventure we joined Dave and Sue in their Jeep to explore the Carrizo Badlands south of Borrego Springs.  To get there we drove 20 miles to Scissors Crossing, where county road S2 intersects with CA-78.  From there we drove south on S2 for 34 miles before turning east into Canyon Sin Nombre Wash.

An arrow marks the entrance to the Canyon sin Nombre

The canyon entrance

Rocks along the canyon wall

There are a number of slot canyons that go into the rocks along the wash.  We stopped to explore one of them.

End of the line

Back down the slot

After a stop for lunch, John and Dave hiked far up another slot.  Since they didn’t have a camera, the only photo we have is of them returning.

Back out at last

Beauty along the wash

A little guidance never hurts

After a long drive up Arroyo Seco del Diablo we made a turn to the south into an area known as the mud caves.  The area is filled with small caves and slot canyons.  The park discourages entering the caves as they are very unstable.  We obeyed their wishes, but did stop to explore one of the slots.  It contained two natural bridges and a number of interesting rock formations.

One of the natural bridges

Dave and Sue explore the wash

Small but scenic slot

Interesting pipe-like rock formation

Second natural bridge

As we drove back to the highway along the Vallecito Creek trail we passed a strange scene, a pair of crutches sitting below a street sign.  A street sign?  There has to be a story here, and there is.  The old emigrant trail that passed through this wash was marked with metal signs about a mile apart in the late 1800s.  Directions painted on the signs gave distances to settlements and water holes. Long ago, someone painted the words “Hollywood and Vine” on the metal plate of one of the sign and the name (but not the original sign) stuck.

After a wonderful month of perfect weather, interesting exploration trips through the desert, and some great golf, it is time to move on.  After a two day drive we will soon begin a month long stay in one of our favorite cities, Tucson, AZ.

More on that later . . .

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Second Week in Borrego Springs

Borrego Springs, CA

During our second week here in Borrego Springs we continued to enjoy some hiking, Jeeping, and golfing.  One afternoon we drove about 30 miles to the south to hike up Rainbow Canyon.  To get to the canyon we took Borrego Springs Road south and turned right on to Yaqui Pass Road.  That road ends at CA 78, where we turned west and drove seven miles to Scissors Crossing.  There we turned south on county road S2 for 11 miles.  At that point we turned around and parked in a small pull-out with Rainbow Canyon to our east.

Rainbow Canyon Trailhead

It was a short hike across the desert to the opening of the canyon.  Rainbow Canyon is not a difficult hike, but a number of pour-overs (12) requiring some scrambling to get up and over, make things interesting.

Colorful rock formations line the sides of the canyon.

We hiked about 1.5 miles to where the canyon opens up to a flat area overlooking the Blair Valley.  At that point we turned around and returned back down through the canyon.

A couple of days later we drove/hiked a short distance from our park to find a small bench sitting on a hill east of town.  To get to the bench we drove east on county road S22 to the turn onto the wash leading to Fonts Point.  At just short of 1.2 miles from the highway, we parked on the right side of the main wash near the entrance to a smaller wash to the west.

Entrance to the small wash

After hiking about half a mile west on the small wash we could see something sitting atop a hill that looked like it could be the bench.

Is this the bench?

We hiked up to the top of the hill and found our target, Burks’ Bench.

Dana Burks was a Palm Springs and Los Angeles real estate developer who saw the potential of developing Borrego Valley and purchased thousands of acres of land after the Great Depression.  The slow economic recovery following the Depression made him lose interest in the area.  His heirs still owned 1600 acres in 1974 when they decided to donate it to the state.  The bench overlooks the donated lands.  A plaque on the bench commemorates the gift.

Next to the plaque we found a small container with a journal book inside.  Visitors to the bench record their presence and often leave a message concerning their visit.

A young vagabond spends time reading the musings of earlier visitors

Every couple of days we enjoy a round of golf while taking in the fantastic views all around us.

One afternoon we joined Dave and Sue in their Jeep to explore some back roads in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  We headed east on county road S22 for about 16 miles.  There we turned south into the Arroyo-Salado wash, the same spot where we entered the desert the previous week with Jodie and Bill (On the Road Abode).  Our first stop was a small oasis called 17 Palms.

We’re not sure when this grove was named, but there are over 20 palms there now.  Maybe a few more grew up since Spanish explorers first came through the area.  There is a mailbox located between two of the trees with a notebook for visitors to sign.

Looking down at our lunch spot from a nearby hill

Following lunch we continued driving south a bit before turning to the west on what’s known as the Cut Across Trail.  After a few miles we came to a road leading north up into Rainbow Wash.  The wash goes in the badlands that are visible from Fonts Point, a high point in the desert we last visited the week before with Jodie and Bill.

We continued up into the wash until the road began to narrow and became very tilted and twisty (both terms used by professional Jeepers!).  At that point we stopped and continued  for a bit on foot.

The landscape all around us was very impressive.  The sky was partly cloudy so the colors changed as the sun went in and out of the clouds.

Colors in the shade . . .

. . . and in the sunlight

As we crossed over a small hill we almost stepped on two small eggs nestled in some rocks and twigs.   We have no idea who laid the eggs or how they would survive in this harsh environment.


Later in the week we took a ride south to hike up Pinyon Wash.  To get there we drove out Borrego Springs Road and turned right on to Yaqui Pass Road.  That road ends at CA 78 where we turned east and drove just over four miles to the wash entrance (marked with a sign).  A mile and a half up the wash we took the left side of a fork and continued for a little over four miles to where the road ends at a pile of huge boulders.  The trail begins on the right side of those rocks and goes up through them for a short distance before the wash flattens out.

Pam is standing in the center against the rocks to show the boulders size

After about a mile and a half we exited the wash into a large open area called Harper Flats.

We read that there were a number of large rocks with morteros (grinding holes) made by early inhabitants as they ground corn.  We searched the area but could only find one of those rocks.  An animal had left his scat in one of the depressions, reminding us of a recent presidential phrase used to describe some countries of Africa and the Caribbean.

A true s*** hole!

Looking back down the wash

A bit of scrambling was required near the trailhead

Did we mention that we’re enjoying the golf course?

An unusual twosome on the second green

With a bit over two weeks remaining in our stay here we have a number of sites to visit on our list.  More on these later . . .

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Jeep Roads in Anza Borrego

Borrego Springs, CA

We’ve continued to enjoy nice weather and fun activities during our second week here in the desert of southern California.  One afternoon we joined Dave, Sue, and Lewis for a visit to an interesting rock formation west of here near the town of Warner Springs.

Lewis served as our navigator

To get to the rock formation we took San Diego county road S22 west up steeply through the Montezuma  Grade to CA Rt. 89.  There we turned north to the small town of Warner Springs.  There is a three mile long trail leading from Rte. 89 to the rock formation.  But we learned from a post in Al and Kelly’s blog (Travel With The Bayfield Bunch) that the first right turn in Warner Springs on to Camino San Ignacio Road leads to a pull off where it’s just a short walk to the formation.  But there was one little obstacle to get there, a fence with a large gate.

A former gymnast who competed on the pommel horse climbs the gate

But we quickly made it up, over, or around the obstacle and headed out to the rock formation.

Lewis continues to navigate

The rock formation is called Eagle Rock.  We’re not sure where the name came from but some people apparently see the image of a bird in the rocks.

Lewis indicated that he didn’t see the resemblance.

On the drive back we took a detour to visit the little town of Santa Ysabel and their most famous business, the Julian Pie Company.  If you are in the San Diego area for any length of time, you will probably come in contact with one of these tasty desserts.  Be careful, they are addicting!

The next day friends Jodi and Bill (On the Road Abode) drove over from where they were staying in Thermal, CA for a visit.  After sitting at our site for a bit to get “re-acquainted” (we hadn’t seen them in a year) the six of us (remember, Dave and Sue are here, too) drove a short distance to Keslings Kitchen, a new restaurant in town, for lunch before heading out into the desert for some exploring.  Our first stop was at Fonts Point, a 14 mile drive to the east of Borrego Springs.

Jeep parking at Fonts Point

Fonts Point is a high area with great views of some badlands directly to the east and mountains to the west and north.

Sue and Jodie laugh it up while Tessa stands guard

A local philosopher (Bill) contemplates the message of the badlands

Breaks in the clouds paint the nearby mountains with sunlight

We left Fonts Point and drove further east on the S22 highway.  Five miles down the highway we turned south at the sign for the Arroyo Salada Campground and headed along a winding path through a series of washes.  We made a brief stop at a spot called Five Palms.  The name seemed appropriate to us.

Tessa leads the way

We then continued to follow the winding route through the desert until we came to a small field of bowling ball size rocks known as the Pumpkin Patch.

This unique landscape is the result of wind and water continuously eroding the surface soil and revealing globular sandstone concretions that look much like pumpkins in size and shape. The concretions are believed to be formed by the natural cementing of sand particles to a small object such as a piece of shell, a grain of sand or even an insect.

Jodee and Sue wander in the Pumpkin Patch

The empty, dusty parking area by the Pumpkin Patch seemed to be the perfect place for a dog to go a little crazy.  The normally calm Tessa recognized this and spent a few minutes entertaining us as she raced around in circles, kicking up a cool dust trail in her wake.

Who let the dogs out?

The sun was quickly setting in the west (as it usually does out here) so we decided we needed to head north back to the highway.  We have a very good map of the area and selected a route that would take us there.  But we were in a section of the Ocotillo Wells Recreation Area and the area is heavily used by off-road vehicles who often create their own roads, so following a trail on the map with numerous crossings with unmarked paths is difficult.

Needless to say, we took a wrong turn somewhere and, even though we could see a radio tower that we knew was on the highway, we had a bit of trouble finding a spot to drive up out of the washes to get to it.

The path we ended up on took us up and over some fairly significant mounds, but Jeeps handle these obstacles without any problem.  It turned out to be great fun.  We made it out just before dark, said our good-byes to Bill, Jodie, and Tessa and headed home after another great day in the desert.


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First Week in Borrego Springs

Borrego Springs, CA

After a month in San Diego along Mission Bay we headed east on I-8 on New Year’s Day.  The highway begins at sea level and quickly goes up 0ver 4,000 feet through the Cuyamaca Mountains.

After coming down the east side of the mountains we exited the interstate at the little town of Ocotillo and headed north on San Diego County route S2.

Beautiful colors along the S2

After about 45 miles we came to the intersection with Rte. 78, where we turned to the east.  We have driven this section of highway many times and usually find very little traffic.  So we were very surprised to find a steady stream of campers and RVs passing us as they headed west.

The road is a good way to go from the off road vehicle area of Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area to the east (and Imperial Sand Dunes even further to the east) and the urban areas of the Pacific coast to the west.  Apparently many people visited these areas during the holidays and everyone decided to return to the coast at the same time.

After about seven miles of passing RVs on Rte. 78 we turned left on to County Road S3 and drove over the Yaqui Pass to the quiet of Borrego Springs.

Borrego Springs in the distance

This is not the first time we have come to Borrego Springs after a stay in San Diego.  While we enjoy our stay on the coast, the traffic can be a bit over whelming.  That makes the quiet of the desert even more attractive.  Below is a photo taken one afternoon as we navigated I-5 on a return drive from Oceanside.

Contrast that with the photo below of the main street in Borrego Springs as we arrived in town.  The pace here is just a bit slower than along the coast!

Rush hour on main street

After a month sitting right along the coast, we were concerned about the impact of the salt air on the motorhome.  The RV park where we stay, The Springs at Borrego, does not allow washing of vehicles at your site, but it has a wash area near the park entrance.  So we took advantage of the opportunity and spent time washing the rig before proceeding to our site.

In an effort to speed up the task the nimble hiker even joined in the process, providing valuable assistance in both the washing and drying phases.  The prevailing sentiment is that her participation is a one time effort that will not be repeated in the near future.  She has enough to do maintaining the inside of the motorhome!

After completing the wash job we quickly set up in our assigned site.  Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) will arrive in a few days and set up in the site next to us.

Our first couple of days were spent riding our bikes around the area and completing a hike into a canyon west of town.

Heading into town with the bikes

Hiking up into Hellhole Canyon

The view east to Borrego Springs from Hellhole Canyon

Toward the end of the week Lewis finally arrived (Dave and Sue came with him) so we enjoyed some “chase the ball” time in our motorhome.

The throw rug always suffers during ball time!

One of the highlights of our stay in this park is the chance to golf on their beautiful nine hole course.  John and Dave plan on taking advantage of the course many times during the next three weeks.

There are many interesting places to visit and things to do here (beyond the golf) so we’re sure to be busy every day.  More on that later . . .

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San Diego Wrap-up

San Diego, CA

It’s been a while since our last post.  While we have been busy here along Mission Bay, we haven’t done much that would be “blog worthy.”  Since the traffic in San Diego can be a bit trying, we spent most of our time riding our bicycles around the bay to some of the nearby beach communities (riding 149 miles).  We did manage to join Steve and MonaLiza (Lowe’s RV Adventures) on a hike from their site in Sweetwater Summit Regional Park on the south side of San Diego.

Young hikers overlooking the Sweetwater Reservoir

One afternoon we went down to the San Diego harbor area to visit the USS Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier permanently docked there and serving as a museum.

Side view of the Midway

The USS Midway was America’s longest serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, from 1945 to 1992. Approximately 200,000 sailors served aboard the carrier, known for several naval aviation breakthroughs as well as several humanitarian missions. It was the only carrier to serve the entire length of the Cold War and beyond.

The flight deck

A young sailor makes his way to his battle station

We spent about three hours touring the ship and still didn’t see everything.  Don’t miss it if you visit San Diego!

Sailors’ quarters – they had a locker and storage under each bunk

On Christmas Eve we drove down to the airport to pick up daughter Jessica and son-in-law Dan as they arrived on a flight from Baltimore.

The eagle has landed

One of the first things we did with them was to drive over the harbor to make one of the must do stops in San Diego, a visit to the old Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado.

Looking at the old hotel from the beach

The hotel is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort.  It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States (after the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon) and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.  When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world.  It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years and has been featured in numerous movies and books.  In fact, the night of our visit it was pictured in a skit on Saturday Night Live.

Upside down Christmas tree in the hotel lobby

It’s a bit warmer than Baltimore!

We wanted to share a desert experience with Dan and Jessica so one day during their visit we drove east about 80 miles to visit Borrego Springs and hike a slot canyon in the Anza Borrego State Desert Park.  We’re going to Borrego Springs for a month after we leave San Diego but thought the young couple from the east would enjoy visiting it.  Our first stop was at the Calcite Mine Slot Canyon.

This is a great little hike if you don’t have a great deal of time but want to experience hiking up a slot canyon.

Next we drove out to Fonts Point for lunch overlooking the badlands.

Lunch with a view

Our lunch spot looking west at Borrego Springs

One afternoon we played tourist while visiting a couple of beach towns and a couple of craft breweries.  Our first stop was in nearby Ocean Beach where we enjoyed pizza at Pizza Port.  They had some craft beers on the menu but none of them sounded good to us, so we saved our tasting until after lunch.

Clear skies and palm trees in late December. What’s not to like!

After lunch we walked a few blocks to the newly opened Belching Beaver tasting room.

We enjoyed a flight of beers, but our favorite is still their Peanut Butter Milk Stout.

Jessica and Dan with the Ocean Beach Pier in the background

A busker with bagpipes was on fire!

Next we drove north along the coast for a visit to the Children’s Pool in La Jolla.  The Children’s Pool is a small beach partially protected by a seawall. The original intention was to create a fully protected swimming area, but in recent years sand has filled in much of the area inside the wall.

The pool has become a popular viewing area for harbor seals.  Seals and occasionally seal lions haul out on the beach to rest year round.  The Children’s Pool Beach is closed to public access during harbor seal pupping season, Dec. 15 through May 15.

Coastal view looking north from La Jolla

For dinner we drove east of La Jolla to Mirimar for a visit to the Ballast Point Brewing Company.

A celebrity waits by the door for his table

We enjoyed tasting some of their many craft beers and enjoyed a delicious meal.

The nitro milk stout was our favorite

After a great visit, Jessica and Dan headed back to the east coast, and we headed east to the desert of Borrego Springs for a month of golfing and hiking.  Dave and Sue (Beluga’s  Excellent Adventures)  will join us so we get to have some pooch time with Lewis.

More on that later . . .

One final sunset over Mission Bay

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First Week in San Diego

San Diego, CA

We’ve been settled in at Mission Bay RV Park in San Diego for over a week now.  The park is basically a large, paved parking lot with lines designating the parameters for each site.  Our site backs up to the bay, giving us a nice view with some beautiful sunsets.

A walking path behind us

Mission Bay from behind our site

The day after our arrival we were treated to a visit by our friends from England, Neil and Lindsay.  Lindsay follows our blog, and we have met up with them at a number of places during our travels, the last being  December 2016 in Cortez, FL.  The four of us loaded into the Jeep and drove a few miles to the south for a visit to Cabrillo National Monument, located on the highest point at the tip of Point Loma on the north side of the entrance to San Diego harbor.

Neil and Lindsay with San Diego in the background

The park commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay in 1542.  This event marked the first time a European expedition had set foot on what later became the west coast of the U.S.  The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is the highest point in the park and has been a San Diego icon since 1855. The lighthouse was closed in 1891, and a new one opened at a lower elevation because fog and low clouds often obscured the light at its location 422 feet above sea level. The old lighthouse is now a museum, and visitors may enter it and view some of the living areas.

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Just below the lighthouse is the entrance to the Bayside Trail, which runs for a bit over a mile down the side of the point.  We hiked down about a mile enjoying the view of the water and the San Diego skyline in the distance.

Once back at the top we watched as the USS Decatur, a destroyer built in the late 1990s in Bath, ME, head out to sea.

Leaving the monument we drove a short distance to Sunset Cliffs to check out the tide pools, since there was suppose to be an extremely low tide.  There was little to see in the way of tide pools when we arrived but the surf was very high and we enjoyed watching some of the many surfers taking advantage of the big waves.

We finished the day with a nice meal at a nearby restaurant, Dan Diego’s, before saying good-bye to Neil and Lindsay as they faced a long flight back to England the next day.

The beach is just an easy bike ride from our park so we often ride there to enjoy the view.  One day while sitting on a low wall separating the beach from the biking/walking path we heard someone loudly saying “hello” over and over again.  It turned out to be an old fellow named Chief.

He was a friendly guy who even walked over to get a bit of affection from a local girl sitting on the wall.

The Jeep has been making a tapping noise the past few months, indicating a collapsed or sticking lifter.  So we made an appointment with Rancho Chrysler Jeep, a dealer only a few miles from the park, and took it there the Monday after our arrival.  Since we were not sure how long the repairs would take we went across the street from the dealer and rented a car.  It’s been a long time since we drove around in a full size, four door sedan so it seemed strange to ride in a new Chrysler 300 for a day or two.  It is a nice vehicle but we think it would have trouble navigating some of the mountain and desert trails we take in our travels!  Our repairs were completed the next day so we only had the rental for a short time.  It felt good to return to the Jeep (without the annoying ticking from the bad lifter).

The same day we took the Jeep in for repairs we had a visit from friends Laurel and Eric, who were staying north of us near Poway.  They brought their bicycles with them so we could enjoy a nice ride around Mission Bay.

Laurel, Eric, and John

Late that afternoon we met them again at Liberty Station to do some sightseeing before joining a large group of friends for dinner.  Liberty Station is a mixed-use development  on the site of the former Naval Training Center San Diego in the Point Loma section of San Diego. When the Navy closed the base in 1997  the city took it over.  Since then it has been developed into several distinct districts: a retail and commercial district, a promenade focused on nonprofit activities, an educational district, a residential district, a hotel district, an office district, and a park/open space area along the boat channel.

The four of us spent about an hour roaming through part of the development enjoying the holiday decorations.  Cool temperatures added to the holiday atmosphere.

Ice skating in Southern California?

We then walked over to the Stone Brewing Co. where we had dinner reservations for ten.  The stars lined up here in San Diego and brought five full time RV couples together for a night.  We spent the evening enjoying a meal, an adult beverage, and great conversation as we caught up with each couple’s travels.

MonaLiza, Pam, Laurel, Lisa, LuAnn, Terry, Hans, Eric, John, and Steve

The next day we rode our bikes to Ocean Beach for lunch at Wonderland Ocean Pub, a nice bar on the second floor of a building with a great view of the Ocean Beach Pier.  We visited this pub a few times during our stay here two years ago and loved the Belching Beaver  Peanut Butter Stout and Pozole (Mexican soup with homony) they offered.  Unfortunately, neither were being served that day, but we did enjoy a stout and a cup of Clam Chowder while watching the surfers near the pier.

At the end of the week Hans and Lisa rode with us up to a point between Del Mar and Torrey Pines where we met Steve and MonaLiza for a little “urban hiking.”   San Diego is a unique location that is build on areas of land separated by undeveloped canyons.  So you can hike for a while in what seems to be wilderness, then climb up and find yourself in an urban neighborhood.  Hans and Lisa are former residents of San Diego and know a number of interesting hikes here, so they acted as tour guides.

Steve, MonaLiza, Hans, Lisa, and Pam at the trailhead

We parked along Torrey Canyon Road and headed north into an area that is part of Torrey Pines Park Reserve.

This is a classic urban hike.  For the most part we were down in a rough canyon that led through some narrow erosion channels.

Then we would climb to the top of the canyon and take a sidewalk through a neighborhood.

Exotic vegetation along the way

Great view of Torrey Pines State Beach below

After our hiking adventure we returned to our site to enjoy a happy hour at sunset.  This group is very cooperative for a group photo as long as you shower them with compliments.

But just ask them to pose without giving any compliments and you get a quite different reaction!

Hans told us about a Saturday evening happy hour at Humphrey’s Backstage Live on Shelter Island, just past Liberty Station along the San Diego waterfront.  Half price drinks and food with a band playing mostly oldies and no cover charge sounded great to us so off we went.  We had a nice meal while enjoying the music, and we were home at 7:00.  Wild times for sure!

We’re only about a third of the way through our stay here so more adventures are sure to take place.  More on those later . . .

The sun sets over Mission Bay

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