Car Trippin’… Idyllwild

image Got a good reason!

Although we wanted to avoid the cold and snow this winter, Jeff was excited to see some of the mountain tops surrounding Lake Elsinore turning white. So, following the suggestion of Tim O’Connell for a nice day trip and wanting to see snow, Jeff suggests we take a ride to Idyllwild.


IDYLLWILD

Set among tall pines and fragrant cedars, the town of Idyllwild is tucked away in the San Jacinto Mountains.

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This small mountain resort offers horseback riding, hiking, and rock climbing, but no skiing. The popular Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks attract rookies and seasoned climbers alike.

Tahquitz Rock aka Lily Rock summitpost.org

Tahquitz Rock
aka Lily Rock
summitpost.org

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Suicide Rock meetup.com

Suicide Rock
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There are several trails that can accommodate people who are other-abled or who prefer a less rugged experience. The Devils Slide Trail branches off with a trail leading to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway known as the back door to Idyllwild.

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Of course for those who just want a relaxing retreat there are cabins, restaurants, galleries, and boutique shopping. Art, music, and theatre thrive in this nestled hamlet.

We visited here in late December so the Tramway was closed, the Devils Slide Trail was icy and slippery, we weren’t prepared to hike anyway, and we had our dogs with us.

Some History:

The Cahuilla Indians originally inhabited this area in the summers to escape the heat of the desert. Later, shepherds brought their flocks here to graze. In the 1880s homesteaders, the Domenigoni family, stayed here. George and Sarah Hannah built a summer camp in 1889. In the 1890s a toll road from Hemet opened Idyllwild to settlement, logging, and tourism. A sanitarium for tuberculosis patients was built in 1901. The late 1960s and early 1970s brought an influx of hippies to the area. Timothy Leary owned a ranch nearby.

Other Tidbits of Info:

  • Idyllwild was first known as Strawberry Valley for the wild strawberries that grew along the creek.
  • Kid Galahad, the movie starring Elvis Presley, was filmed here.
  • The TV show, Bonanza, used a local ranch as a stand-in for the Ponderosa.
  • Several actors have owned homes here including: Barbara Hershey, Doris Day, Michael J. Fox, Sean Connery, and Dolly Parton.

Car Trippin’… Temecula

 image Half the way there!

My daughter-in-law’s parents live in Temecula, California, which is another reason we chose Lake Elsinore for winter RV parking. Lake Elsinore is about half way between here and there and everywhere between Irvine and Temecula.


TEMUCULA

Incorporated as a city in 1989, Temecula is bordered by Murrieta to the north and the Pechanga Reservation of the Luiseno band to the south. Interpretations of the name include: the place of the sun, the sun that shines through the mist, and where the sun breaks through the mist. In 1798  and 1820, Spanish missionaries established missions in this area which were dispersed into ranchos in the 1840s when the Mexicans acquired the land. As American settlers moved in, the indigenous tribes were evicted from their land until the United States government granted 4,000 acres to the Pechanga tribe. Meanwhile, wealthy families bought land from the existing ranchos and created ranchos of their own. In the 1890s the Temecula area operated granite stone quarries. By the turn of the century, Temecula was a major shipping point for cattle and grain due to the extension of the Santa Fe Railroad through the San Bernardino Valley.  Common to the history of southern CA, white settlers began buying tracts of land and creating ranches to raise cattle and grow crops. In 1904 Walter L. Vail established the Vail Ranch. By 1947 the Ranch contained over 87,500 acres and supported the economy of the Temecula Valley through the mid-1960s. The Kaiser Aetna partnership eventually purchased the Vail Ranch and after adding 10,000 more acres the area became known as Rancho California. The I-15 corridor, passing through Rancho, was completed in the early 1980s and with the subdivision land boom, Temecula became the official name of the newly incorporated city in December of 1989. (en.m.wikipedia.org)


Temecula is wine country! Did you know that Southern California was the major wine producer of the state during the 1800s? Well, now you do! In the late 1960s grape growing and winemaking began a revival in the Temecula Valley. The first wines were produced by the Brookside Winery in Cucamonga, but in 1974, with the opening of the Calloway Winery, winemaking crushed the Valley. (temeculawines.org)

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Today, more than 30-some family owned wineries dot the rolling hills.

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I was introduced to Temecula Wine Country in December 2013 by Amanda’s parents. Tim and Sue O’Connell are the most gracious hosts and tour guides!

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Amanda and John were married at Lorimar Winery in May of 2014. The following photos are not from their wedding, but you get the picture, groan…

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We spent Christmas evening in Temecula, eating, drinking, singing, laughing, and playing games with Tim, Sue, Brittany, Amanda, and John.


A few months later, Jeff and I spent a Saturday afternoon in Old Town Temecula. Old Town is a bustling collection of historic buildings from the 1890s featuring restaurants, boutiques, antique stores, hotels, and street re-enactments of the Old West. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

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It originally dates back to 1882 when the railroad ran through the Valley. (oldtowntemecula.com)

Saturday mornings are extra special because the Promenade becomes an open-air farmers’ market filled with organic produce, fresh seafood, local honey, food, samples, baked goods, flowers, and crafts!

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The highlight of our trip to Temecula’s Farmers’ Market was the food we ate that day. The Salvadoran pupusas were delicious! A pupusa is a thick corn tortilla typically filled with a blend of cheese, cooked and seasoned ground pork, and refried beans, or any combination of such goodness. It is served with a side of curdito, a lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chiles and vinegar. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Car Trippin’… Irvine

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Tomorrow we leave Lake Elsinore and head back east to Ollie Land to celebrate Oliver’s first birthday. So, I just want to share and record the special places we visited during our winter in Southern California.


IRVINE

My son, John, and his wife, Amanda, live here with my grand-dog, Hugo. They are the main reason we chose to spend winter in Southern California, besides the warm climate, of course.  About an hour away across the Ortega Highway, to I-5 North and the 405, they live off of Jamboree Road. If you were ever involved with the Boy Scouts or are ever on the show, Jeopardy, you may be interested to learn that the Irvine Ranch hosted the National Boy Scouts’ Jamboree in 1953 and that is how the street received its name. A further factoid is this: David Sills from Illinois attended this event as a young scout and later returned to Irvine to serve 4 terms as mayor!

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Irvine’s 66 square miles in Orange County is a planned city developed mainly by the Irvine Company. The city evolved around the building of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in 1959 and was incorporated in 1971.

From 1864 – 1868 James Irvine and his partners acquired the lands of 3 Spanish/Mexican ranches and formed the Irvine Ranch to graze sheep. In 1870 tenant farming was permitted. James Irvine eventually bought out his partners and upon his death in 1886, James Jr. inherited the land and incorporated it into the Irvine Company. The ranch was devoted to growing field crops, citrus, and olives. Upon James Jr.’s death in 1947, his son, Myford, began opening up parcels of the ranch for urban development. (en.m.wikipedia.org)


We spent Thanksgiving in Irvine. Jeff prepared the traditional dinner which we shared with John, Amanda, her parents, and her cousin. Jeff dropped me off the night before so John and I could clean and put the turkey in the oven by 7:30 Thanksgiving morning. Amanda and her mother were in Texas visiting her grandmother so John and I drank wine and had a jammie party.

Irvine was our “meet-up” place with John and Amanda as they showed us around California.

We ordered in Korean fusion food and Vietnamese pho. John and Jeff went out to the Persian market and brought back a delicious assortment of delicacies and the most wonderful flatbread.

John picked me up at LAX when I returned in February from Columbus, Ohio. I had a crud of a cold and he sent me back to Lake Elsinore with vitamin C and Mucinex. In return I passed the crud onto him!

And now Irvine will no longer be home to John and Amanda as they are moving to Dublin, Ireland in April. Amanda has accepted a new position with her company fulfilling a life-long dream to live across the ocean!

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Good night, moon…

Good bye, Irvine…

First RV Christmas

imageThe fire is lit. The stockings are hung. The tree shines brightly in RV Land.

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Visions of Jernigan Land and Ollie Land make us smile.

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It started snowing in Jernigan Land

It started snowing in Jernigan Land

Oliver started his Star Wars collection

Oliver started his Star Wars collection

Meanwhile, in Andy Land…

Dewey didn't make the reindeer cut

Dewey didn’t make the reindeer cut

Dewey will guide Andy’s sleigh from Minneapolis to Columbus and Cincinnati to celebrate the last days of 2015.  And… Jeff and I will share Christmas dinner in Kelly-O’Connell Land in Temecula.

To You and Yours…

Presentation1

The Shoe Story Part Two

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So, after slipping and sliding in my Nike tennis shoes, Jeff and I travel to the nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Murietta to purchase some hiking boots for me. The selection is slim and the help is unhelpful, sorry to say. The most comfortable shoes are low tops with mesh covering. I like them but Jeff and the salesperson insist I try on a sturdier pair of high tops with closed toes. They feel okay and, since a larger size to try on and compare with is not available, I buy them.

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The next day we hike the Morgan Trail in the Cleveland National Forest. The trail head is located off the Ortega Highway on the South Main Divide Road, aka Killen Road. According to the trail map it is a 4.2 out and back hike which can be interpreted as one way or round trip. Since I am used to walking over 5 miles, on an average of 5 days a week, and now have hiking boots, I feel up to the challenge.  And so we begin…

The trail leads down to a canopy of oak trees that run along Morell Canyon Creek. Remember I said, “leads down…” There is also a box with a clip-pad, paper, and pencil for registering our names, date and time. Remember that too.

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Soon after registering, my outer big toe on my right foot starts talking to me. “Suck it up,” I respond. My feet just need to get used to my new boots.  And I forget about any tender spots and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the San Mateo Wilderness.

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Jeff and I continue through the shaded grassy areas and begin the climb along  a low ridge offering views of Sitton Peak and eventually crossing through the outskirts of private ranches and property. My feet take a backseat to the natural beauty we encounter with each step along the trail.

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We reach a new trailhead marker.

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We’ve hiked 2.3 miles. Jeff suggests we turn around and go back. I insist we keep going. Remember that I insist.

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And so we continue hiking for another 2 + miles. I no longer feel my feet. I just want to see where the Morgan Trail intersects with the Bear Canyon Trail.

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And finally, here it is!

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Before heading back, Jeff adjusts my hiking boots by loosening the laces as I finally acknowledge that my toes are not happy hikers. And we begin our journey back. What descended now ascends and I dig my heels into the earth to relieve my aching toes while we huff and puff our way back, thirsty, tired, and sore-muscled. Never once does Jeff say, “I told you so,” as I ignored his good sense to turn back 2+ miles ago. Oh, and did I forget to mention that we brought no water or snacks with us? I even half-jokingly suggested that we consider hiking the mile to the Ortega Highway Candy Store and sticking our thumbs out for a ride back to our car at the Morgan Trailhead or contacting the park rangers we registered with to rescue my aching feet! No, we have to hike 4+ miles back to the trailhead.

I do not stop to take pictures on the way back. I just want to be done, take off my boots, and drink something, anything! Oh, and did I mention that I was feeling dizzy? Well, you get the picture. But instead of focusing on my toes which are between the rocks on the uphill trails and the hard places of my shoe coverings, allow me to entertain you with pics of the rocky terrain I took on the first half of this hike. Meanwhile, Jeff and I trudge back to the trailhead and the comfort of our car.

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At last! We make it back 3 3/4 miles later. I peel off my shoes and socks. Jeff stops at the Market at the end of Ortega Highway to purchase thirst quenchers. We guzzle water and 1 liter bottles of soda.

The jury is still out, however, on my hiking boots.

The Shoe Story Part One

imageTHESE SHOES AREN’T MADE FOR HIKING IN THE MOUNTAINS!

To the west of us lies the 28 mile stretch of CA State Route 74 called the Ortega Highway, linking Lake Elsinore to San Juan Capistrano crossing from Riverside County into Orange County and passing through the Santa Ana Mountains.

Mountains = Trail Heads = Hiking = Dogs = Family Outing

Fifteen minutes away from us is the San Juan Loop Trail off the Ortega Highway in the Cleveland National Forest. The important word here is NATIONAL because that means FREE to folks my age young with our “America the Beautiful Senior Pass.” National Parks, National Forests, National Anything means we don’t have to pay to enter and enjoy. Now, State Parks are another matter altogether…

senior pass

So, in the middle of November on a warm and sunny day, Jeff and head out with the dogs to explore and hike the San Juan Loop Trail which is about 2 miles long. Casey and Murph should be able to endure this adventure to its completion and then collapse into long naps afterward.

Jeff wears his hiking boots and I have on my most comfortable Nike walking shoes ever,

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in which I traversed through Italy and most recently wore on my 5 mile daily hikes in Ohio. Besides, look at this trail…

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But look at the slopes beside us…

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And you guessed it,  somewhat flat and sandy paths begin ascending and descending into rocky footholds that challenge the support and treads of my favorite walking shoes! I eventually slip and scraped my knee and begin fearing the most benign challenges…

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However, this does not deter me from savoring the scenic splendor of this trail! Thus, I digress about my shoes to share with you some of my favorite views of our hike.

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With the proper foot attire, the S. J. Loop is an easy to moderate hike overlooking the San Juan River and Falls and looping around the San Juan Campground. It passes through portions of open trail, old oak tree covered sections and creek beds.  We did not see the river or falls, however, due to the severe California drought. What we did see were QR codes posted throughout like some sort of scavenger hunt or game for kids. Later I found out that they are part of the Agents of Nature mobile game to encourage movement and learning about nature, culture, science, and technology in a unique fun way.

(The Chiquito Trail is a 9.2 miles out and back trek connecting the San Juan Loop and the Viejo Tie trails. According to the fs.usda.gov web site, Chiquito is rated as a difficult to strenuous hike through canyons of oak and maple offering panoramic views of Orange and Riverside counties and during wet years 2 beautiful waterfalls.)

As predicted, our dogs are tired and thirsty after their hike. They take turns lapping up a bowl of water before lethargically jumping into the back of the car for the return ride home. My knee finally stops bleeding and Jeff smugly suggests I seriously get some hiking boots which I will. Besides, I need to go back to play the QR code game!

Old Dogs, New Digs

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 It’s our 3 months and 9 days anniversary of full-time RV living. So far this life style suits us well, however, it wasn’t such an easy transition for our 2 dogs, Casey and Murph. They are both 11 years old.


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Meet Casey…  We adopted him from Save the Animals Foundation in Cincinnati in 2005. He is an Australian Cattle Dog mix rescued from the streets of the suburb of Blue Ash where he was discovered just wandering around. Because of his brindle coloring some have cautioned us that he may be mistaken for part pit bull. We don’t know his story but he tends to greet everyone with excited barking and nervous energy. He can come off as aggressive but it really is all for show. Within minutes  he is usually calm and submissive and quickly befriends those who were once strangers.

Casey is very protective of his family, and tends to either ignore or do that scary snarly teeth growl to other dogs. We watch him closely.


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This is Murph… We adopted him from a Schnauzer Rescue in 2010. He was found in an abandoned house in Indiana.

The couple who originally adopted Murph lived in an RV (I know!) and the husband was suffering from allergy attacks. Murph needed more space and more exercise and a pappa who wasn’t constantly sneezing.

He likes to make a nest out of blankets and pillows by pulling and nudging and turning in circles until it is just right to lie down in and take a nap. Casey caught on to this trick too and tries to get to the blanket first so he can make his own nest. Murph also has an alter ego, Tasmanian Devil Dog Crazy Murph. At least once a day he starts rolling around as if possessed and then he pesters the sh** out of Casey. The two play loudly with yips and growls and sometimes warning yelps. Finally, Casey decides he’s had enough but Murph can’t take the hint!


So… downsizing was easy enough but teaching old dogs to embrace a new lifestyle was more difficult. Traveling in a motorhome confused Casey as there was no backseat to lie down on. Murph kept wanting to jump onto my lap as he preferred the front passenger seat. We laid down blankets between the driver and passenger seats and commanded the dogs to “assume the travel positions!” I was so tempted to let Murph sit on my lap to calm him down! Eventually the dogs figured out what their favorite travel positions were after 2 full months on the road. Casey travels back and forth from the bedroom to the couch to the dinette bench to the entry mat. Murph sleeps under my feet on the passenger’s side or cozies up on the engine cover hump between the driver’s seat and me.


Parking the RV brought new challenges. Would campers nearby complain about our dogs’ barking? Would we be asked to leave? Would we be those terrible dogs’ owners? To our relief none of the above has happened… yet!

Sleeping was a nightmare as well, ha, ha! Our dogs sleep with us, there, I said it! We had a queen-sized bed in our house and even then it was a tight fit. RV beds can be 6 inches shorter than regular queen-sized beds, as is ours, so dogs sleeping by your feet can quickly nudge one adult off the bed seeking a good night’s sleep on the couch.


So here we were, living out our dream in a 35 foot home on wheels, able to travel across the country to get up close and personal with a variety of awe -inspiring landscapes, but fearing going anywhere together without taking the dogs! Until we took paw steps…

First, we established a “home” in Lake Elsinore Marina and RV Resort for the next 5 months. Then we sat outside while the dogs remained inside the RV. Slowly, we started leaving the dogs alone for an hour or two while we shopped or did laundry. Gradually, we left them alone for longer periods of time until we felt more comfortable. We closed the shades and windows to minimize their outside distractions.

It wasn’t so much about Casey and Murph being home alone as it was them getting used to their new surroundings and respecting our neighbors. Wait a second, it was really about us! We had to decide when we felt comfortable enough to leave our dogs behind feeling safe and secure that we would return.

So far, so good!