Saturday, January 7, 2012

South from Santa Rosa

December 28, 2011

We departed  Santa Rosa at 7 am to meet Ted and Joan for breakfast in Petaluma.  We were on our way south to Pismo Beach by 9 am.  After smooth sailing through the San Francisco Bay area  down 101,  we stopped for lunch at McPhee’s Grill in Templeton.  Arriving  at our campsite in Pismo Beach  in the early afternoon, we found  the section we would be staying in had just opened up and was sparsely populated.  After popping our top and setting up our chairs, we strolled  a short way to the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove , one of the largest on the west coast.    The weather was warm and we could see the butterflies floating above and amassed on the branches of the eucalyptus and pine trees.  They overwinter on the west coast from east of the Rocky Mountains.  Sadly, their population has decreased dramatically in the last 20 years.

We walked from the campground to the Pismo Beach Pier along the beach, about ½ a mile and enjoyed a cold beer and  calamari at an ocean front establishment.  The walk back to the camp was painful for Ted, he’d forged a stream as we walked the beach and awoke an old injury.  

December 29, 2011

We left Pismo about 8:30 for the long drive to Agua Caliente Hot Springs, little did we know what a journey it would be! 

Soon after 9 am, as we were coming down the Gaviota Pass into Santa Barbara, we received a call from Rob, he had just arrived at our house, after having been with Jane during the night, when Jane’s caregiver, Joan, called to let him know that Jane had passed away right after he left.

We pulled off the freeway at El Capitan State Park to regroup and make a some calls.  It was ironic that we should be just arriving in Santa Barbara, the place Jane had wanted to spend her last days.

Knowing that everything that could be done, would be done we continued on our journey.  Today would become known as Jane’s Journey.  Before leaving Northern Santa Barbara we decided to bypass Interstate 5 and Orange County, having traveled that route so many times, by way of the desert and Indio.  Our thought was that the desert roads would be straight and wide, rather than the steep windy roads through the San Diego Mountains.  As we crossed the Inland Empire Mark was surprised to look to his right and see Loma Linda Hospital.  Jane had tried to “check in” a few months prior assuming they’d gladly take her at the hospital where she was born.  Sadly, they denied her acceptance.  Continuing the journey through the desert we passed through Palm Springs, a place she spent a lot of time during the first several years we were married with Burt, the father of Mark’s cousins Kathy and Kerry.  The journey through the desert to us alongside the Salton Sean and through Ocotillo Wells.  

 We were greeted at our camp site at about 5:30 by Katie, Mike and Emily.  The sun had set and darkness was quickly approaching.  We think our "shortcut" through the desert added about 2 hours and 100 miles to our drive.

December 30, 2011

Having the long day of driving behind us we awoke to a glorious desert sunrise.  After a leisurely breakfast, and agreeing not to do a lot of driving we left to explore the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves, a short drive away. 

As we approached the mud caves we made a stop at a HolIywood and Vine sign perched atop a hill in the middle of what seems like nowhere. 

I was surprised to find that the caves were not what I think of as caves at all, but cracks in the side of the dirt hills that one can walk into. Some led to rooms where you look up to see the light coming through, others led to paths that continued on and on. 

 I didn’t mind crouching over and needing a flash light to continue on, but drew the line at crawling through on hands and knees.  I could have spent a longer time exploring the caves, but we decided to take one of Joan’s infamous “short cuts” back to camp.  

Actually her desire was that we didn’t have to retrace our path.   

The road continued through the sandy ravine in the mud cave hills to a point where we could “climb” out of the ravine.  This was our first serious off road experience in Big White.  We only hit the nurf bar once!  The drive continued through narrows for what seemed like miles,  eventually bringing us back to the highway, we arrived back at camp about 3:30, a little late for lunch.  

December 31, 2011 

Happy 60th Birthday Mark!  Today’s exploration was on paved roads.  We drove over the mountain to Borrego Springs.  The highlight of the day was seeing the sculpture installation at Galleta Meadows

 These life size metal sculptures are all over Borrego Springs on commissioned and on land owned by the owner of Avery Labels.  The artist currently lives in Paris, California. A local told us the sculptor is looking for a home to purchase in Borrego Springs.   Back at the camp for our New Years Celebration, all were in bed long before midnight.

January 1,  2012 

Happy New Year!  

I awoke at midnight to hear a lot of whooping and hollering from down the hill from our site, surprisingly calm for all the young people who were in the camp ground.  I awoke once again at 12:30 when I received a text message saying Happy New Year from Kaci, and yet again at about 3:00 when I received another text message from Kaci telling me that her friend, Michelle, had just gotten engaged.  Later the same day she sent me a message saying one friend was about to have a baby, the other engaged  and she was just regular.  I reminded her that she was wonderfully regular!

Today's journey took us through Julian, known for its apple pie, west to the coast and south to Dana Point where family would be meeting us around 3.  Pooling all our resources we had quite a feast around the campfire. 

 It was a lovely day at the beach and  Helen and Diana and the family dog enjoyed playing.  We celebrated Mark’s Birthday with a carrot cake baked by Nette. 
Our poor neighbors had asked for a quiet spot, only to end up with a large group next to them for most of the evening!

January 2, 2012

When I first got out of the camper at about 6:30 I thought, burr this is going to be cold!  Once the sun came up, in the east, which at Dana Point is over the ocean (I lost a bet on that one) it began to warm up and was very pleasant.  Today we visited with Bob and Peggy,  drove to Crystal Cove and back to Dana Point through Laguna Beach, yet  another drive through one of Jane’s favorite places.  The beach and streets of Laguna were packed.  The beautiful sunset at Dana Point, reminded me of my birthday in 2010 when we raised our wine glasses on the beach to Mom.

January 3, 2012

We had planned to drive directly home today, but felt in no  hurry and decided to drive up the coast and spend the night in Morro Bay at the State Park. 

 After stopping for lunch at Refugio State Park, which is a great campground right on the beach,  we arrived at the park just as the sun was setting.  

January 4, 2012

What a glorious morning, so sad not to be able to stay another day.   

We spent about an hour down on the water front enjoying the lovely morning, while Mark shot pictures before our voyage back to the bay area. 

  Upon arrival  home our neighbor, Sarah, brought us a homemade chicken pot pie.  What a glorious gift!  I didn’t have to go to the store to buy something for dinner.

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