On the Move North for the Summer

I have been traveling. Woody the cat and I departed company at the end of May. Mandy, his owner, and friend, and Rocky the dog returned home. And, just like that my time in Salinas came to an end. 

It was a good month with a lot of kitty time, kayaking “The Slough” and riding my bike. Salinas and Monterey County is such an interesting area. It is the home of Monterey and Carmel, where the views are amazing and wealth abounds. It is also the home of many hard workers. They work planting tending and harvesting the crops of many things that we eat every day. Artichokes-check, cabbage-check, Strawberries-check, Garlic-check, check and check. The soil in this Salinas valley is so rich and something is always growing here. 

As a Tour Manager, I remember taking tour groups through this area. We would stop at “The Farm” to learn more about this culturally rich area and the hard-working men and women and children that still harvest the food we eat. One group was even offered to get off the bus and help the workers harvest celery. The driver and I refused as it had been raining and these were seniors. The driver didn’t want to get his bus super muddy and I needed to protect my tour group. 

Salinas is Steinbeck Country. It is the home of John Steinbeck and his family. Have you read The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men or Cannery Row, and many of his other books? Steinbeck wrote often of these hard-working people and the perils of the working man. Salinas has a museum, library, and more dedicated to John Steinbeck. You can even have a meal in his childhood home. 

My trip north was a good trip. I found State Recreation sites and State Parks to camp in. All of them are on my list for a return visit. One was on the Salinas River in northern California and the other was on the Willamette River in Oregon. I may be kayaking on the Willamette on a return visit.

The most memorable part of the trip north was visiting with friends. Mary and I were able to catch up, in-person in southern Oregon where she lives. She is getting ready to raft a few rivers. That is her June activity. I had the opportunity to swamp for her on the North Fork of the Flathead River several years ago. It was work and it was fun. We are planning a trip in the fall into the southwest, not involving rivers and rafting.

On June first I met up with Pat another Roadtreking friend. We had made plans to meet at Scenic Beach State Park near Seabeck, Washington about nine months ago. Why? Great Blue Herons and Eagles feeding on Midshipmen Fish that come in the spring to breed among the oyster beds, and an opportunity to see nature happening close up. I also had the opportunity to photograph all the action.

Now I am on Whidbey Island, arriving just less than a week ago, to house sit for another summer in the same lovely home I was in last year. Ooooh, more amazing sunsets. It has to become summer first. People who live here tell me they are still waiting for spring and summer to arrive. It has been raining, a bit. 

And…guess who was here to greet me? Birdy Boy? If you have followed my blog from last year you will remember the posts about my relationship with a sweet little Song Sparrow. He is still here and is back to sitting on my arms and legs and singing up a storm. It is so fun that he remembers me. I have been enjoying the low tides this week while waiting for spring and summer to arrive.

Summer is off to a good start.

Finally, Into the Desert

What to do between dental appointments. There are so many choices. I guess I could have stayed in San Diego yet I am a traveler and a nomad.

How can a desert lover resist the pull of the desert? I chose to go to Salinas and the Monterey area in February when I would usually be out in the desert for the winter. It was time to change it up. I swear I could hear the desert questioning why I wasn’t there. It lures you in and the hold is strong.

Last Friday early, I climbed into my rig and headed to eastern California to kayak in the desert. Yep, you heard me right, kayak in the desert. It is a strange thing to think of water in a desolate and dry land and yet there it is.

The Colorado River begins high in the Rocky Mountains. It meanders its way southwest, through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and then rides along the border of California and Arizona before it would empty into the Sea of Cortez. It is the lifeblood of the west. Water is like gold. It is fought over and protected in a land that is often dry and forbidding.

Since it supplies water to such areas as Phoenix and Southern California the Colorado water is managed. Dams have created a playground in Southern California and Arizona right in the heart of the desert. Where one would not expect lakes, they are plentiful.

I met a friend of mine, Cori, at Squaw Lake, and on a perfectly sunny, not too warm day we took off to explore the lake and a small section of the Colorado River, where the currents can be surprisingly strong and sneaky. We kayaked for close to 4 hours in this unique land. Cori and I talked and weaved our way through “The Nile” and eventually made it to the river. It was a perfect day, perfect company, and a perfect kayak.

Swinging in the Salton Sea

We have both moved north to the Salton Sea, a dead accidental sea in the middle of the southern California desert. Not much lives in it as it is extremely salty. On the east side of the Salton Sea, there are hot springs. The Fountain of Youth RV Resort & Spa is a winter attraction for those who live in the northern United States and Canada. It is warm and pleasant in the winter. The days warm into the 80’s Fahrenheit and down to the ’40s at night.

I have friends from Michigan and New Mexico staying here for the winter. After a Covid year off it is good to meet up with everyone again. We all own Roadtreks. Owning one of these RVs has certainly added to my life in my ways. I have met and become friends with so many good people.

I have been walking and soaking in the pools and hot springs. This morning I went to Yoga. I spend much of my time alone so it is nice to visit with such good and dear friends. After almost two Covid years I have to practice being social again.

I am here for another week and a half before the dentist once again lures me back to San Diego. Sigh. The good news is I am almost done with the dentist.

What’s Next? I have no idea. Plans will take shape as spring emerges. Meanwhile, I am enjoying my brief time in the desert this year. I am enjoying my friends.

Today I am thankful, for the desert, for tried and true friends, and that I can take my kayak almost anywhere and find water to launch it.

A Month in Salinas

Today I realized that my month in Salinas, CA is almost up. It feels like I just arrived when in truth I have been here for three weeks. Time has a way of slipping by.

What have I been doing with my time? What spectacular places have I discovered? How is the whole house-sitting thing going? What is next and next and next?

Here are some of the things I have been doing with my time in northern California.

  • I have discovered the Elkhorn Slough. The Slough is in the center of Monterey Bay and is managed by the Nature Conservancy. One can hike or kayak and bird watch in and around the Slough. I have taken full advantage of it’s close proximity to Salinas. I think I will kayak for an hour or so and then three hours later I am returning to my put in at Moss Landing, hungry and happy for a day on the water. And, oh the wildlife I have seen. It is definitely a place worth exploring.
  • The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove was alive with Butterflies. By the time I leave on March first the butterflies will also be migrating. I am glad I saw them. It is a special place.
  • Calla Lily Valley at the north end of the Big Sur Coast was in full bloom. After enjoying the lilies I made my way out to the beach and admired the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
  • Wineries abound in this area. I spent my first Saturday afternoon at the Folktale Winery, tasting wine and listening to good music.
  • I have done a lot of walking around Salinas. I have enjoyed looking at the well cared for and lovely homes in the neighborhoods.
  • I have explored the coastal communities. I have been in and out of several state parks and explores some of the local wildlife refuges. I love being outside and exploring the natural settings.
  • And then, there is Woody the Cat. He is a darling boy who I am glad to have met. This cat craves affection. He snuggles with me every night. I have found him sleeping next to my face, on my head and under the covers. He is a delightful boy, a charming personality.
  • My bicycle has two new tires and is tuned up for another season. It rides well. It is always good to find the good bike shops in town.
  • Although not submitted, my taxes are complete. This is the first year in many years that I have done my own taxes. Turbo Tax made it relatively easy. My “accountant” Cynthia (not offically my accountant) will review them with me before I submit them. It is good to have friends who understand accounting and are willing to help. I am thankful for Cynthia’s help.

I could go on but as you can see my time, even when I am in new places, is a mix of adventure, and getting things done. It is no different than yours. We go have fun and then we do taxes.

Where to next? I am returning to San Diego for most of March. My dentist and I have an ongoing relationship of many years. I am returning to San Diego to once again get involved with dental work. Oh joy. I once told Jim, my husband that he should have checked my mouth before he married me. With his usual roll of the eyes, he laughed and proceeded to love me, no matter what.

Today I am thankful for the opportunities that continue to gift my life. I am thankful for the dentist. I am thankful for Woody. Today I am thankful.

Snakes!!!

I am not fond of snakes. They are startling and sneaky even if they don’t mean to be. They startle and surprise me and I am not fond of them.

When I was young my mother and father built our family home on a piece of farmland in Delaware (the second smallest state in the nation). Since there were three children we were responsible for “doing the dishes”. In case you don’t know what that is, it means that after dinner we were responsible for washing, drying, and putting away the dinner dishes.

One spring evening my sisters and I were about to embark on our dishwashing duties. My mother noticed I did not have shoes on and told me to go and put a pair on before I helped with the after-dinner task. Merrily I meandered into my bedroom, not watching where I was going, I stepped on something slimy and slithery and it dashed into my closet. I screamed, ran into the kitchen yelling about the snake. All three girls ran out of the house and ran circles around my parents in the garden, yelling about the snake. We wouldn’t return to the house until my father captured the poor wee garden snake and killed it.

I have no doubt that my fear of snakes began at that moment. I have been known to go out of my way to move around a snake. It is not unusual for me to turn around on a hike when I encounter a slithering thing on the trail, especially one with rattles. I am wary of snakes. I will never put a snake of any sort on my shoulders. I will never hold one, although I have touched a few.

One time I was hiking in the Tetons with a good friend, Diane. We hiked the Cascade Trail into the heart of the Mountains, our destination a lake. We were sitting on a log, dangling our feet in the lake when I looked down and there were these squiggly things all around our legs. Watersnake hatchlings!! Oh my!! My breath quickened. I told Diane my fear of snakes, so we moved to the rocky shore, only to discover more small slithery things among the rocks. I finally told Diane I had to go. So we hiked out. After were safely back at the campsite my hiking companion told me that she had seen more of those little things on the hike out. Remembering that still can cause a catch in my breath.

I have had other encounters with snakes since then and I admit to being a bit better with the confrontation of those sneaky reptiles. I have encouraged myself to learn about them. l have researched them and read about them. I know all the good they can do. They are an important part of all ecosystems. With the San Diego Zoo close to my home for many years, I would often go to visit. I always made sure to go to the Reptile House. I figure that it would help me get over my fear. I figure they were safe behind glass. Then Harry Potter came into the picture and I have to admit, I hope the glass holds when I go into the “Snake” House.

 

While in South Africa Phyllis and I got to see some really colorful snakes at one of our stops early on the trip. They are pretty and colorful. Even there I had to tell Phyllis after a short time that I needed to leave. One of them coiled and jumped towards the glass and that was it. I had enough. Ah, snakes!

Why am I telling you this? I was kayaking on Cascade Lake and the North Fork of the Payette River earlier this week. I was paddling north enjoying the birds and the dragonflies and all the nature around me. Suddenly I saw a small head moving across the water. Quickly I realized it was a small (very small snake). I turned around and began to paddle towards it. I wanted to look at it. As I turned to do so, it turned right towards my boat. Instantly fear took over and I went into flight or fight mode. My heart rate picked up. I was sure that the snake was going to swim to my boat and get in. I panicked and turned that kayak around and paddled as hard as I could to get away from it. It felt like I paddled hard for five minutes or more. However, I think I paddled hard for maybe a minute at most. That little tiny snake was not going to get me. Why did it have to turn and swim toward my boat? Once I was sure that the little wiggly thing was not behind me I slowed down and continued to enjoy my morning. I kept an eye out for all things squiggly for the rest of the kayak.

Fear of snakes, Fear of spiders, Fear of water, whatever the fear, it is not rational. These are phobias and most of us live with one or more of them. I know my fear of snakes is not rational. I know I can control the situation. I have proven that to myself in the past. On the river, I did not prove myself to be brave and fearless. That little snake made me realize I still have more work to do.

What are you afraid of?

 

Going Solo, Well Not Really

An Idaho Summer

Just before I arrived in Idaho this summer I had a text conversation with Linda, who has opened her and her husband’s second home to me. She was concerned about me coming to Idaho. Covid-19 was on  upsurge in the state and she was concerned. Linda’s statement to me was she wasn’t sure I would have allies up here. I told her as a single or solo person I can’t rely on having any allies.

Guess who was wrong? Me. A week after I arrived in Idaho I got sick. I had a sore throat, it was really sore. After spending a weekend self-treating I decided a visit to the clinic associated with St Lukes Hospital was in hand. I was apprehensive. I worried that I had Covid-19. I was worried that I could have infected others. I was worried that things could get worse. I was disappointed in myself that I had exposed myself to this ugly virus. I was feeling alone.

I had a car appointment. I wore a mask and never got out of my car. The NP who saw me was gowned, gloved, and masked. My whole visit was conducted without moving from the driver’s seat. My heart rate was a little high and I received the lecture about drinking enough water at elevation. My throat was red and sore.

I was tested for strep which was negative and then for Covid-19. I was told I should self isolate until the results came back. Three days later the results were in and I was negative for the coronavirus. Yes!!! I am happy to report I am back in full working order and what was a scary moment in time is now in the past.

My friends came to the rescue. I notified Linda that this was happening. She immediately texted me and told me to hang tight. Over the next few days until the results came in we texted back and forth. Her support was a comfort to me and made me realize I am not alone. My sister, Ginny, was in touch and anxiously waiting for the results with me. Friends in Oregon, Mary, and Wanda, awaited the news and supported me via social media. Hmmm, I was not alone. I have allies.

Kayaking the North Fork of the Payette River

This event has made me realize I am never alone, not really. I have friends and allies all over the country and world who continue to love and support me and encourage me when I feel the most vulnerable and worn down. I have friends who support and celebrate with me when life is on an upswing. I have friends who make me realize I am not alone. I may be solo and adventuring out on my own but I carry all these people with me, in my everyday life. They are only a phone call away.

This summer I am up in the mountains. I am safe. I am biking, kayaking, hiking and taking plenty of photos. I am social distancing and wearing a mask. I am taking care of myself as best I can. And I am not doing it alone. I have allies.

Today I am thankful for my immediate family and my family of friends who love and support me, no matter what.

Serendipity

 

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Sereimagesndipity – the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. I have been contemplating this word and it’s meaning for the past couple of months. 

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In late June of this year my friend, Nancy and I traveled to northern California to camp in my class B RV for a week. I don’t remember what brought this word into play on this trip, yet it was a discussion that came up in conversation several time over that week. I like the sound of this word. There is a bit of a mystery in it and it makes me think of magic in my everyday life.

On the drive out to the coast we drove through the town of Booneville and there was an International Music Festival in process. Nancy made the comment “this is serendipity”.  We debated whether to stop and because of the lateness of the hour we decided to keep driving. This makes me realize that I don’t have to act on a moment in time and maybe it is more important to acknowledge it and know that I can act upon it if I want to.SNWMF_MainHeaderLayers3

The other 2 moments that occurred on this holiday had to do with people.

We spent a day with the Nature Conservancy hiking on a private ranch. By word of mouth we discovered that one of the couples that hiked with us own the Westport Hotel and Old Ablaone Bar, in the very small town of Westport, CA. They have stated a tradition of having Saturday afternoon high tea. Serendipity happened and we went for tea.  There were five of  us who met at the pub and had a delightful tea and afternoon conversing with very interesting folks. And the pub and hotel were just charming. So if you ever find yourself north of Mendocino on a Saturday afternoon. Stop for tea at the Old Abalone Bar. I guarantee you will enjoy it.

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Tea with Friends

Tea at the Old Abalone Pub

Tea at the Old Abalone Pub

 

 

Westport Hotel

The last night we were on the northern coast we stayed at Gualala Point Regional Park. As we drove into the campground I looked off to my right and thought that the person setting up their camp looked familiar. A short time later, Nancy I met up with Mary and John. Mary worked with Jim and I have know her for many years. It was so good to see them. John was abalone diving. I had my first guests for dinner in my cute little RT. Nancy I made salad and soup and Mary and John brought the abalone and wine. it was such a delightful evening. For me it was one of the highlights of the trip.

 

Hiking back into Gualala Point regional park.

Hiking back into Gualala Point regional park.

 

Serendipity adds just that little something extra to a special moment in time. Would I have still said that I had a great trip if the two events noted above had not occurred? Certainly. Did these two events add to the magic of the trip? Certainly.

I believe that serendipitous moments happen almost every day of our lives, whether we are in our own backyard or on holiday. I need to take the time to notice them and acknowledge them. Last weekend Nancy and I put the kayaks in the water for the first time since Jim’s death. Although we managed fine, with the help of a step ladder, to get the kayaks on the roof when we arrived at our put-in spot, a man just showed up to help us get them off the roof. Serendipitous? I think so, and it was a lovely encounter with another human being, who had a very good handshake.

I am now paying a bit more attention to those moments when they arise. I look forward to them and find my life is just a wee bit better because of them. I think I would like to start a serendipity movement, asking people to wake up and notice those moments that make our lives a bit more exciting and valuable.

Our kayaks, not on the bay but I wanted to share a photo of them with you.

Our kayaks, not on the bay but I wanted to share a photo of them with you. Jim & I made them.

What are some of your serendipitous moments? I would love to hear about them.

Delighting in the day.