Happy New Year?

image 2017

Once again we welcome in a brand new year in Lake Elsinore, CA.

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Jeff worked a 2-seating buffet at Pechanga Casino in Temecula, so I welcomed in the New Year with the dogs, watching movies and drinking Prosecco. Across the lake displays of fireworks announced the magic moment to turn the calendar over.  I had a front row seat out the RV windows.


Unfortunately this year is off to a less than an encouraging start. Jeff’s father’s heart is failing. In the first few days of the new year he spent 2 days in the hospital and then returned to the ER several days later. Now Jeff, his 2 brothers, and sister are all in Indianapolis to say goodbye to their father as he settles into hospice care.

Jeff flew out of Santa Ana in Orange County early yesterday morning. By 7:30 I was back in Lake Elsinore feeling sad (and relieved that I survived the drive back, as this was my first time driving on California’s multi-laned freeways, 3 of them, no less!) I took the dogs out for their morning walk and was struck by the surreal view of the lake. So, I went back to get my iPad and took these pictures because they depict the melancholy of my soul right now, a pensive sadness seasoned with gratefulness.

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The low lying clouds block the view of the mountains and the city beyond giving me a sense of loneliness and disconnect. But I know that the sun will burn off the clouds and the mountains and city will reappear.

Look closely at the boat ramp and the piers perched next to the orange pylons showing how low the level of the lake is this year. Last summer  was very hot and rainless in Lake Elsinore. But since we’ve been here mid-October, rain and cooler temperatures have prevailed. As a matter of fact, due to all the recent rains, the dam at Canyon Lake was opened to prevent flooding and the excess water spilled into Lake Elsinore raising the overall level of the lake by 1 foot.

Today the sun is bursting over the lake. Last year we took sun and cloudless blue skies for granted.

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A few steps later, I can take some softer pics behind some palm trees… pics that inspire me to reflect on what I am feeling inside.

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Let me think how to begin… I am not depressed. I am just honestly acknowledging my feelings to myself and fighting the urge to judge myself harshly.

My world feels off- kilter and I don’t know why. I am in love with and married to my best friend. I feel loved by everyone in my family and beyond, and I love everyone in my family and beyond. I am living my dream. I am happy. But, like the picture below, I am in a fog.

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Some days I feel so unmotivated and this feeling really scares me. I judge myself when I don’t wake up with a smile, take a walk, do something productive… when all I want to do is eat, drink wine, and sleep. I feel like I am losing a part of myself, like I am grieving something I can’t explain.


This may sound trite and ridiculous but as 2016 came to a close 3 deaths hit me in the face… George Michael and Carrie Fisher were so unexpected, but when Debbie Reynolds passed away the day after her daughter left us, I felt an unexpected sorrow.

Perhaps I felt a premonition.

As I publish this post, I have just found out that Jeff’s father is gone. I am grateful that Jeff could be there to say goodbye to him.

Joe Jernigan, we will all miss you! Your smile, your positive attitude, your jokes, laughter, stories, and love made us all better persons for having been a part of your life! We will grieve losing you and pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and slowly go on living again.

The RV Gets a New Door

image Confined in the car with 2 dogs…

After getting locked in and locked out of our RV 3 times and replacing the lock twice, the door and screen door were a mess. I mean, we had to call a locksmith to get us in and out and that translates into destroying the existing lock and screen door AND breaking into the RV via the outer door.

Insurance covered the damage, thank goodness, and even tried to recover our deductible from Forest River, though unsuccessfully. Ah, but that’s a story for another bottle of wine to tell!


Today we are finally getting the new door installed, painted, and the new decals attached!

Getting the RV ready for traveling means packing up all the tchotchkes and loose items, securing all the cabinet storage compartments, lowering the jacks, and bringing the slides in. The good news, however, is that we need propane so we can fulfill both needs in one trip. (Packing up to move for 10 minutes and then return to unpack and set up again is an inconvenient hassle and a half!)

We arrive at Giant RV in Wildomar when they open, expecting to leave our motorhome for the day and picking it up by 5:00 when they close. Our plans are to drive to LA and sightsee by car with the dogs. We make a list of places we want to see.

But when we get to Giant RV, Richard, our service rep, tells us to call him at 1:00 as the installation process should be completed.

Even though LA is about 60 miles away from us, it can take 2-3 hours or longer to get there and another 2-3 to return. The 5-7 lane highways are a slow moving parking lot during rush hours and not. So, we decide to stay local and explore the back roads.

We head east first to see Canyon Lake which empties into Lake Elsinore. Unfortunately all roads lead to private gated communities. We meander our way north and discover a group of sky divers descending before us.  I suggest we pull over and watch them land. We end up at Sky Dive Perris.

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So unexpectedly cool!

We watch the planes take off and try to follow them in the sky.

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Then all of a sudden the divers appear.

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And what looks like slowly descend,

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land,

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unravel,

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and repack…

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Confined in a Car with 2 Dogs, Part 2…

image While waiting for the installation of our new RV door

It’s just shy of 10:00 in the morning now and we still have about 3 hours to kill.

After discovering Sky Dive Perris we head west, back toward Lake Elsinore. I had read about a nearby abandoned  town and today gave us the perfect excuse to go on a wild ghost hunt.


On our way through the scenic back roads’ neighborhoods, we  notice a wake of buzzards with their wings spread along the side of the road. Of course, by the time we can capture this photo they bring their wings in!

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Our first approach to Terra Cotta is from Nichols Road off of Interstate 15.

The only access is a rutted dirt road.

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With our little Scion IQ we chicken out from driving further.

We then decide to approach this same location from Lakeshore Drive and Terra Cotta Road. Guess what? Terra Cotta Road ends and turns into

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But this time we plow through the rough road anyway, very carefully I might add, and I take a few pics.

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Now, here’s the story behind this abandoned location:

Established in 1887, Terra Cotta was a mining town a few miles northwest of Lake Elsinore. In 1885 John D. Hoff discovered a vein of coal and a supply of clay in this Warm Springs neighborhood leading to his vision of producing terra cotta tile products, such as ceramic sewer and water pipes, using the coal to fuel the kilns.

Unfortunately, not long after the town was christened and the first factory built, Hoffman and his backers found out that both the coal and clay deposits were inferior in quality. By 1892 all mining was permanently suspended by Hoff’s Southern California Coal and Clay Company, although the mines were used intermittently during the early 1900s by other companies. In 1940 the Pacific Clay Products Company folded and the town of Terra Cotta was abandoned. (ghost towns.com and pe.com, The Press Enterprise)

All that remains today is the location and the old grid of dirt streets hidden in the sagebrush.


So, from Lakeshore Drive we bounce along the dirt road all the way back to Nichols Road. Since Temescal Canyon Road, leading to Corona and Trader Joe’s, is just off of Nichols, we head for Glen Ivy RV Park along the way. (Glen Ivy is a place we considered for our winter stay, but we never heard back from them after several attempts. On our way to Trader Joe’s one day, we drove right by the RV Park. We didn’t stop in, saving that adventure for another day. Well, today is now that day.)

Glen Ivy RV Park is large and includes lots of amenities, such as a pool, playground, restaurant, bar, and basketball court. It lacks, however, the natural beauty of Lake Elsinore Marina with the lake, trees, and surrounding mountains. The monthly rates are also higher.

We register and drive around the island areas, each distinguished by its own color.

I have to stop and take these pictures before we leave:

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I have fond memories of the bookmobile during my summers in elementary school!

Confined in a Car with 2 Dogs, Part 3…

image California Citrus State Historic Park

After visiting Glen Ivy RV Park, we continue north on Temescal Canyon Road and merge onto I-5 in search of Sprouts Farmers Market in Corona, another natural and organic grocery store near Trader Joe’s.

img_5162 foursquare.com

(Remember, our new door on the RV is being installed today and we need to kill time before the work is finished and we can pick it up.) It’s amazing all the places you can think of to drive to just because you are curious and have time!

Okay, so now we know… Now where do we go next?

All we know is that we don’t want to take any freeways and that we need to slowly mosey back to Giant RV. So we head to the airport in Ontario. It’s another option for flights besides John Wayne in Orange County. We abandon this exploration when all gps routes lead to the freeway. I can’t even find the airport on our paper map.

As I look at the map, however, I find back roads weaving back to Highway 74 and Lake Elsinore. Then I discover that these roads intersect with the California Citrus State Historic Park. With the help of Google, I learn that this park in Riverside is a working citrus grove preserving California’s agricultural legacy… juicy, sun-kissed oranges. And off we go!


A replica of an old-fashioned fruit stand on the corner of Van Buren Boulevard and Dufferin Avenue leads to the entrance to the citrus park.

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Only 2 roads are accessible to cars. The remainder of the park consists of visitor trails and working citrus groves with no public access.

We head to the Visitor Center/Museum. The parking lot is deserted.

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And when I approach the Visitor Center door, I discover it is locked even though I see uniformed park volunteers inside.

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One of them comes to the door to explain that the center is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Today, a school group has scheduled a tour, hence their presence. They are cleaning up and getting ready to lock up and leave. I collect a brochure and a tip to be sure and take the ascending trail behind the Visitor Center to view the groves and snow-capped mountains.

So, up we go…


The parking and entrance fees are on the honor system and we are one of two cars in the lot.

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But Jeff and I gladly spend $13 to support the mission of California State Parks:

to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor education.

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…and we are glad we did.

Sunny, cloudless blue skies are the perfect background for viewing the San Antonio Mountains.

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And just as beautiful is the view of the citrus groves with Mt. San Gorgonio in the backdrop.

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The trail smells heavenly with whiffs of earthy citrus.

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The trails consist of pavement and dirt. Some are lined with palm trees.

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Others include antique machinery.

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So, while our dogs, Casey and Murph, take a break, let me  fill you in with a little history of California’s citrus groves.

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The Empire of the Orange

In the late 1800s a kind of second gold rush took place in Southern California as citrus groves spread across Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties into the Central Valley.

It all began in 1803 when the missionaries of San Gabriel first planted some Mediterranean citrus trees. Kentuckian William Wolfskill planted more seedlings in 1841. By the late 1800s lemon, lime, and orange trees grew in today’s downtown Los Angeles.

lemons

lemons

oranges

oranges

grapefruit

grapefruit

In 1873, Eliza Tibetan of Riverside planted 2 orange trees that she obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Called the Washington navel, this Brazilian fruit was sweeter, seedless, and easily peeled. It’s thick skin also protected it during shipping. Today nearly all Washington navel orange trees are descendants from Eliza’s 2 original trees. (California Citrus State Historic Park brochure and plaques at Visitor Center)


The Laborers

After our government took away their ancient tribal lands, many Native Americans worked in the citrus groves until prejudice and discrimination drove them out of work.

In the late 1800s Chinese workers replaced the Native Californians until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 sent them off too.

Japanese immigrants filled the worker void from 1900 through 1920 until anti-immigrant sentiments eventually squeezed them out.

Around 1919 Hispanic workers and their families started setting up communities near the citrus groves. By the mid-1940s this group made up nearly 2/3rds of the citrus labor force. The women worked in the packing houses while the men tended the groves.

In the early 1930s dust bowl refugees, migrating from the Great Plains and seeking relief from destitution, came looking for work in the citrus groves. (California Citrus State Historic Park brochure and plaques at Visitor Center)


Today

California Citrus State Historic Park opened in 1993 as a living museum. The nearly 200 acres of groves are managed by the Friends of California Citrus Park, a non-profit group using all proceeds to fund facilities, programs, and maintenance. (park brochure)

Confined in the Car with 2 Dogs… Epilogue

image The New Door

Leaving California Citrus State Historic Park we head back to Highway 74 and Giant RV. Again, we avoid the freeway and take the scenic back roads.

At 1:45 PM we call Richard at Giant RV. The new door has been installed and we can pick up the RV and head back to Site 124 at Lake Elsinore West Marina and RV Park.

This is a map of the places we visited confined in our tiny car with 2 dogs:

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Fortunately, we have a new outer door and screen door.

Unfortunately, Forest River no longer carries the original door on our 2015 Georgetown.

Fortunately, the door fits.

Unfortunately, the window is smaller. ( But we don’t care!)

Fortunately, the paint and decals match.

Unfortunately, the door is missing the top decal.

Fortunately, our insurance paid for the replacement.

Unfortunately, Forest River would not reimburse us the deductible even though we had to replace the door lock TWICE.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to leave the RV overnight.

Unfortunately, Richard worked through his lunch to make this happen.

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Thank you, Richard, at Giant RV!

I just wish Forest River was as easy to work with as you are!

Fortunately, I have a complimentary letter to write to Giant RV.

Unfortunately, I have a different letter to write to Forest River.

Rain, Rain…

img_5149 …Comes again so many days!

This is the view of the lake from inside the RV over the past several days.

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Last winter was sunny, warm, and dry. This winter is cloudy, cool, and wet. But California needs the rain to repair the devastation of the last decade of drought. Unfortunately, many areas are flooded and mudslides from barren mountain sides are closing streets, especially near Los Angeles.


Jeff and I venture out one cool, windy morning to check out the lake.

So cool… these photos look like they were filtered in black and white! Also notice how high the water has risen at the pier.

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This is what the pier looked like in October.

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We head southeast to the sandy beach where tent campers and RVs with no hook-ups spend the night.

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Erosion breaks down the sand creating watery veins off the lake.

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The clouds and wind cast a gloomy shadow across the lake while the sun struggles to take over.

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To the west the Ortega Highway is shrouded in clouds.

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Then we turn around looking back from where we started, toward where our RV is parked…

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The black and white view is gone. The sky shines blue and a rainbow peeks in and out.

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According to the National Weather Service, Los Angeles has received more than 13.52 inches of rain between October 1, 2016 and January 23, 2017. That’s a 216% increase from the norm! Floods, mudslides, overturned trees, and deaths have occurred.

The Ortega Highway, our mountain pass lifeline into San Juan Capistrano and the Pacific Ocean is also closed indefinitely. Part of the roadway, about 1.5 miles east of Gibby Road in Orange County, has been damaged due to the recent rains.

img_5169 ocregister.com

Originally thought to be a sinkhole, city workers from Lake Elsinore say the damage is actually a “slip out”, where water sliding down from the upper slopes pools into a culvert and starts to erode the highway underneath. This undermining of the road bed under the asphalt has created at least a 2-foot void. Further geo-technical assessments will determine exactly how far down the pavement has been compromised. (Lake Elsinore Patch, January 2017)

According to KTLA News, engineers think the damage is even more significant than first believed. Unfortunately, the equipment needed to assess the damage is in Sacramento, CA. (ktla.com)

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A Walk in the Park – Part I

img_5213 Balboa Park

January ushered in cooler than normal temperatures, overcast skies, rainy days, and a new President. Even though the rain was needed and welcomed, it was getting old and depressive. And the new presidency? Well, that didn’t help lift our spirits either. But I digress, as this is not a political blog. Suffice it to say, however, that the past 11 days has left me stressed and perplexed.

So, as the skies morph from gray into blue and a yellow orb sends out rays of warming comfort, Jeff and I decide to head south to San Diego for a change of scenery and mental health realignment.


Downtown San Diego, CA is about an hour away from Lake Elsinore. You can’t visit San Diego without stopping at Balboa Park with its over 1,000 acres of gardens, museums, international cultural associations, shops, restaurants, and recreational activities within minutes of downtown.

img_5317 drodd.com

As per our MO, Jeff and I drive through and around the park before picking a spot to start our exploration.

The Google Earth car drives by…

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The San Diego Zoo is here too.

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The homes surrounding the park aren’t too shabby either.

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We decide to park on Village Place by the Morton Bay Fig Tree across from theNAT, the San Diego Museum of Natural History.

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This tree is huge! Note the 2 small figures of adults standing to the upper left of the sign in the lower left portion of the photo above. According to the sign, the tree is over 90 years old. It is 80 feet high with a trunk girth of 42 feet and a canopy spanning some 145 feet. It is a native of eastern Australia and was planted here in 1915.

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We walk across the street to the Spanish Art Village. The shops in this colorful square double as artists’ studios.

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We wander into a sculpture garden.

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And then, like Goldilocks, I discover…

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Balboa Park History

A fore-sighted group of citizens convinced the city of San Diego to set aside 1,400 acres of land from pueblo lots as a public park in 1868. Known as “City Park”, this preserved site consisted of hilltops, canyons, and steep gulches.

In 1892 Kate O. Sessions asked the city to lease her 30 acres of the park to grow plants. In return for this favor, she promised to plant 100 trees per year throughout the park. (sandiego.gov)

img_5318 sandiegohistory.org

Her ingenuity transformed dirt and brushwood into tree-shaded lawns, flower gardens, and nature paths. In 1902, with the hiring of Samuel Parsons, a landscape architect, the park began evolving into what it looks like today. (sandiego.gov)

img_5320 sandiegohistory.org

One of the few existing copies of the original 1905 plan for Balboa Park by Samuel Parsons. Courtesy of Nan Sterman

One of the few existing copies of the original 1905 plan for Balboa Park by Samuel Parsons. Courtesy of Nan Sterman at agrowingpassion.com

Check out Celebrating Balboa Park – Part II: Planning a Park on Nan Sterman’s website, agrowingpassion.com for more history, facts, and details.