Walking It Off

imageNo, I don’t mean the pounds but that would be nice. What I’m referring to is the opportunity here to bask in the sunshine of a cloudless blue sky and just take off walking. Walking clears away the cobwebs in my head that keep me stuck from enjoying the now. Back in Cincinnati I walked 5 miles at Veterans’ Park by circling the track 10 times. In Lake Elsinore I set my phone for 45 minutes and after the alarm sounds I turn around and head back home.

One of my favorite walks is the Riverwalk along the spillway of the Temescal Wash. It is 2.75 miles one way starting from the end of the lake’s downtown shoreline to its dead- end on Riverside Drive near the intersection with Collier Avenue. What goes out must come back, so it’s a nice 5.5 mile walk along the overflow channel where the water is recycled for irrigating land. Today I invite you to come along with me on one of my morning walks, so, let’s get moving!

I begin at the boat launch parking lot at the end of Lakeshore Drive. You can hear water rushing as it ripples and flows here into the lake.

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After crossing the street it gets even prettier. There are benches and trees and lamp posts that light up the night.

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City banners celebrating 125 years of the community proudly display the city’s motto, Dream Extreme.

To the right is the spillway covered with rushes resting in water.

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Egrets skim the water’s surface and usually fly off before I can grab my phone to take a picture. Today I am lucky!

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Soon I-15 appears in the distance. The first picture gives you the full perspective from my iPhone. The second zooms in for a more accurate view.

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Whiffs of strong funky smells start to invade my nostrils. (Sometimes I smell this at our RV site too. At first I thought it was the sewer hose connection, but we don’t connect until we dump. Sometimes I am greeted by this same aroma on my other walks on city streets.) It’s the monster gas released by the swamp nutrients! Ah, stop and smell the foul odor!

Here’s the pink barrel, my half-wayish marker toward the first 2.75 miles. That was easy now, wasn’t it?

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The first time I walked here, a giant weed wacker machine blocked the paved trail hacking off the reeds in the spillway. I waved to the public works’ operator and he waved back. Since then, we wave like old friends every time our paths cross!

I cross the last road onto the final segment of the 2.75 Riverwalk. First, there is a warning sign advising walkers to be aware of wildlife spotted in the area. So far, so good!

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The following spot is the place where I usually encounter twosomes and threesomes walking toward me. Since they are wearing lanyards with ID badges, I surmise that they work in the building next door to the path, are walking on their break, and are now heading back to work. I wonder how far out they go. Sometimes I see a couple walking ahead of me only to turn back before I catch up.

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Today the giant weed whacker machine appears near the end of the Riverwalk. He pauses his equipment, we exchange waves and I trot by.

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Finally, I reach the end of the trail at Riverside Drive… A chain link fence and a dead-end. Cars speed by and ducks waddle in the mucky green waters of the Temescal Wash.

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And now it’s time to turn around!

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On the way back I notice and feel things I missed before. There are so many different shades of blue and green and brown. The sunshine catches the colors of the freeway cars and trucks and makes them sparkle. The shadows provide relief and a soft contrast. The mountains encircle me providing protection and inspiration. Stand tall. Be strong. Be awesome for just being.

A great blue heron that was hiding in the rushes, lifts its wings and lands on the dug-out slope.

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Male mallards always seem to be paired with a female. Even the smell from the organic nutrients becomes less offensive.

The sun lends its warmth and brilliance and I feel rejuvenated. Believe it or not, for those of you who know how much I sweat, the dry heat just makes my eyes and the back of my neck perspire. I don’t look like I just fell into a swimming pool!

Once again the pink barrel reminds me that I am only 20 – 25 minutes away from the beginning of the trail. Going back always seems faster.

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I notice how many “No Swimming” and “No Fishing” signs are posted, some even in Spanish, and I wonder who would even consider doing either of these in these brackish shallow waters.

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However, to my surprise, one day I saw a man fishing and another man playing with his young daughter near the edge of the water on the steep slope! This picture shows where.

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Soon the gentrified part of the walk returns with its benches, lamp posts, and planted trees. The tarred gravel path is replaced with symmetrical blocks of concrete.

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And here I am  once again, approaching the boat launch parking lot where I parked my car.

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The cobwebs in my head have been swept away.  I feel refreshed, renewed, and grateful for each moment. And I hope you do too!

Reality Hits!

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I thought settling down for the winter in California would be nirvana. Jeff would find a part-time job, I would find a job or volunteer opportunities, we would get together with our neighbors for morning coffee and evening small talk… Since I retired I was on the go for a full 5 months actualizing this new phase of my life. We traveled from Ohio to Maine, back to Ohio again, headed west to Colorado and finally California. Along the way we connected and re-connected with family. Happiness, love and spending time together filled my spirit and kept me motivated.

And then it all hit me! I was retired. Now, that in itself is not a bad thing. However, I had high hopes and expectations that Jeff would find a restaurant job quickly to supplement my monthly teacher pension. Then I could work around his schedule and find something fruitful to do.  Unfortunately Lake Elsinore is not a city of fine dining and the three interviews that looked promising brought him nothing. McDonald’s and WalMart don’t look so bad anymore!

It hasn’t even been a month and I find myself worrying about money. It’s expensive to travel constantly because filling an 80 gallon tank with gasoline adds up quickly when crossing the country. Settling in California from November through March is supposed to be the time to replenish the coffers allowing us to travel again. I am not living in the moment! I am worrying about the future and looking at a half-filled glass. Then 2 events happened that shook me out of this stupor: the ISIS attacks in Paris and Jeff’s little grandson severely sick with Kawasaki disease. There is no guarantee that we will always have a full glass. I am reminded to sip, savor, and save the moments I do have instead of wasting, worrying, and wanting away the part of life I can’t control.

And that’s how I discovered that I hadn’t down-sized enough.

simplykashonna.com

simplykashonna.com

I still had those old suitcases full of my personal insecurities and inner turmoils. You can’t sell those at a yard sale or donate them to a good cause. My goal now is to clean out my baggage from time to time until it all fits into one snack-sized baggie.

 

Turning 63 and Living in an RV

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For me the 60s are the new 50s. The adage, “Life begins at 50”, is finally happening to me a decade later. Maybe it’s because I returned to dating, teaching and marrying again in my late 30s and early 40s. I became consumed with proving my abilities, re-inventing myself, and embarking on a new career. I didn’t have time to think about the rest of my life. A trip out West, the summer of my 60th birthday, inspired me to embrace my age and decide how I wanted to live for the rest of my life… with my husband in an RV, traveling and finding jobs on the side to supplement my teaching pension.

So what’s it like to sell everything you own and downsize into an RV? Totally liberating!!! I feel lighter, though I do not look it, and simpler and unburdened. I have less choices to make and more time to accept what I cannot choose. Each day brings me the opportunity to live out my motto of less is more. I take less showers and with the exception of underwear, I wear the same clothes more than once. This provides us with more water in our fresh tank and more time between visits to the laundromat. I no longer wear make-up, coif my hair, or am self-conscious to greet the world fresh out of the sack in the morning with bedhead and un-brushed teeth. This gives me more time to enjoy each moment.

As for stuff, like clothes, gadgets, toiletries, utensils and supplies… well, you just realize that you don’t need lots of material things to fulfill life’s basic necessities. Decorating is easy because there just isn’t much wall space or shelves to clutter. And it’s easy on the eyes to have a place to store everything behind a cabinet or in the “basement” storage compartments.

But the best part is the yard. It is huge! The house may be small but once you open the door and walk outside you embrace Mother Nature’s big backyard!

Lake Elsinore… The Lake and Town

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More About Lake Elsinore

The earliest inhabitants of the Elsinore Valley were the Luiseno peoples, also known as the Payomkawichum or the “People of the West.” Among their survival skills, they figured out a way to extract the toxins from the nut of the California Buckeye bush to stun and capture fish to eat. They also ate acorns turning them into soups, cakes and breads.

In 1797 a Franciscan priest from the mission at San Juan Capistrano ventured eastward through the mountains and saw what is now Lake Elsinore but what looked like a very large swamp. By the early 19th century the lake levels grew providing Mexican farmers and American trappers a place to camp and provide water for their animals. During the gold rush Lake Elsinore was a major route linking the eastern United States to California via the Santa Fe Trail through New Mexico. Later it became an important stagecoach and mail route.

Much of the city’s history revolves around the water levels of the lake. The Great Flood of 1862 allowed the Union Army to create a post here during the Civil War to graze and water its horses. By 1866 the extreme drought killed off most of the cattle in southern California. By 1872 the lake was full again only to evaporate quickly. The great rains of the winter of 1883-1884 caused the lake to overflow in just 3 weeks. Until 1893 the lake’s water level remained high and the Temescal Water Company purchased lake water to irrigate the city of Corona, California. Unfortunately the lake levels receded and the high concentration of evaporated salt made the water unfit for irrigation. Heavier precipitation in 1903 and a flood in January of 1916 caused Lake Elsinore to overflow. In the 1920s the lake offered high speed boat racing and hosted Olympic training, but by the mid 1930s the lake was dry again. By 1938 the lake refilled and during World War II it was used to test sea planes. During the 1950s the lake ran dry but refilled again in the 1960s. A week of heavy rains in the 1980s destroyed surrounding homes and businesses. Now a multi-million dollar project maintains consistent lake levels and an aeration system supports the lake’s eco-system.

Mineral springs near Lake Elsinore attracted visitors seeking the waters’ therapeutic magic. In 1887 the Crescent Bath House was built as a resort spa. The building still stands today as a registered national historic site. It is now known as The Chimes. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Getting Our “Bearings”

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Call us snowbirds, call us crazy, but here we are at our new address for the winter: 32700 Riverside Drive Site 150, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530

Welcome to our community!

Welcome to our community!

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Let me take you for a little tour of the campground

Can you find our RV? Hint: We're on the end.

Can you find our RV?
Hint: We’re on the end.

All roads lead to the lake!

All roads lead to the lake!

The top of our street.

The top of our street.

Jeff and Laurel Jernigan Site 150

Jeff and Laurel Jernigan
Site 150

Why we have no next door neighbors

Why we have no next door neighbors

A big old pecan tree takes up too much space.

A big old pecan tree takes up too much space.

The end of our street is lined with pecan trees too.

The end of our street is lined with pecan trees too.

Our noisy neighbors, the crows

Our noisy neighbors, the crows

Home is Where You Park Your RV

image Lake Elsinore, CA

Located in western Riverside County and founded in 1888 as a resort town, the city sits on the shores of southern California’s largest freshwater lake once named Laguna Grande. To the west are the Elsinore Mountains, part of the Santa Ana Mountain Range. East of the lake lie the eroded slopes of the Temescal Mountains and to the north are the steep Clevelin Hills of Country Club Heights. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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We decide to park here for the winter because of its location in Kelly-O’Connell Land. My son, John, and his wife, Amanda, live in Irvine. Amanda’s parents live in Temecula. Lake Elsinore is a midway location, affordable, and on the cusp of potential restraunt employment for Jeff.

We arrive October 31st. John and Amanda join us the next day for John’s birthday after driving Paul to the San Diego airport. (Amanda’s b-day present to John was flying his good friend in for a surprise visit!) Our arrival also marks our 2 month anniversary of full-time RV living. Since August 31st we have crossed the nation from Maine to California!

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