Weekends at Lake Elsinore Marina

 Camping, Boating, and Parties

As the weather gets warmer, Lake Elsinore Marina, where we live, gets crowded on weekends.

Campers with tents and RVs set up on the 2 sandy peninsulas. Boom boxes beat, accordions accompany, guitars grunge, children collect, laughter looms, fires flame orange against the night sky and fan the fresh smells of good grilled food our way.

Boaters back-up their trailers to the launch before bouncing off on jet skis, power boats, and drag boats or sliding into the water in search of a perfect place to fish or set up a pair of water skis.

Trucks towing boats line up all day and the marina parking lot fills up quickly.

This is a popular place!


RV Clubs come and go. They gather in the pavilion area holding chapter meetings, playing games, and hosting breakfasts and potluck suppers.

But last weekend the pavilion was being transformed into what looked like a wedding reception.

It was a quinceanera, a celebration of a a girl’s 15th birthday as she transitions from childhood into adulthood.

According to en.m.wikipedia.org, this rite of passage ceremony goes back to the Aztec empire of 500 B.C. in Mesoamerica. Boys and girls took on adult roles in the community in preparation for becoming the fathers and mothers of future warriors. Today, the quinceanera remains as a Latino girl’s introduction to the community as a woman. Actually, it is more correct to refer to the celebration as a fiesta de quince and the 15-year-old girl as the quinceanera.

The quinceanera is accompanied by a court of 4 or more young women and men, referred to respectively as damas and chambelanes, and is escorted by a “man of honor”, the main chambelan. Sometimes the “court of honor” only consists of damas and 1 chambelan. Their duties include joining the quinceanera at church for the Quince Mass, participating in the Quinceanera Waltz, and performing in the baile sorpresa, a surprise dance choreographed around a special song. (quinceanera.com)

I took these pictures while the event planners were setting up for the event which was scheduled to begin at 4 in the afternoon.

Oh, how I wish I could have snuck in and taken pictures during the celebration!

I kept hanging around though waiting for Sam, the quinceanera, to arrive. And then, she did!

Her damas wore short white sparkly dresses with black gym shoes. The chambelanes donned black pants and lavender shirts matching Sam’s dress. I couldn’t see their shoes. But, as I stalked the perimeter of the event, I noticed that Sam was wearing white gym shoes as she sashayed her gown from side to side greeting her guests.

Jeff came looking for me. My neighbors jokingly told him that I was trying to get invited to the party as they watched me slithering around with my iPad. Finally, I admitted defeat, left the pavilion area, and returned to our RV across from the festivities.

For the next 5 hours I listened to Spanish music and speeches and laughter. I watched people come and go. And after the celebration ended, I watched from my bedroom window as the party folded up into clean-up mode.

I fell asleep to giggles and young voices chattering away… Sam and her friends still enjoying their carefree youth.

Old Friends, New Faces… On the Riverwalk

  More Updates

OLD FRIENDS (Part 1)

In late February most of my homeless friends left the Riverwalk when the 3 wrought iron benches between Limited Avenue and Graham Avenue were removed by the city.

I miss them. They added local color, smiles, an exchange of some Spanish words, the appreciation for a new day, and a blessing. Sure, there was a litter of trash and blankets and plastic bags, but where we live, off Riverside Drive, litter is a norm.

The old Mexican man with the cane moved across the street between Graham and Heald Avenues.

He was the homeless “elder”, always surrounded by a few local groupies. For awhile I still saw him and his posse sitting on the rocks at the edge of the Riverwalk. Then I would walk past him as he slept on cushions hugging the right side of the path. (Out of respect for his dignity, I never took his picture.)

I knew “My Friend”, the woman with the red hair and deep voice, and her boyfriend were looking after him during the day and helping to replenish his blankets and coats that were thrown away when the Riverwalk benches were removed.

And then I didn’t see him.

The last time I saw him “My Friend’s” boyfriend was pulling him on a cushion onto the Riverwalk. Concerned, I asked if he was okay. The boyfriend nodded and gave me a thumbs up.

UPDATE: The old man is in a nursing home somewhere. My Friend’s baby is due in 2 weeks.


OLD FRIENDS (Part 2)

A few days later I run into my Mexican friend, the man with the kidney transplant, across Sumner Avenue, beside the Pottery Court Apartments. He warns me about the 2 pit bulls who just charged at him from under the fence. Scared, he turns back.

“Black with red collars?”… I ask. “Yes!”

About a week ago when Jeff accompanied me on my walk, we saw 2 black pit bulls with red collars behind the chain link fence as we were about to cross Chaney Avenue and head toward 74.

As we returned and crossed Chaney again, we caught sight of the same 2 dogs staring at us up against the chain link fence from the other side of the Riverwalk. Jeff picked up a big rock for protection. The hairs on my skin prickled and I kept looking back at the dogs who remained staring at us.

So, with my Mexican friend at my side, I call the Lake Elsinore Police Station and explain the whole situation. Ironically, the most difficult part is trying to provide the exact location on the Riverwalk. I’m told to call 911 and Animal Control, but then the dispatcher finally locates the incident at Poe and Flint. My friend and I walk toward the open chain link fence and wait for the police to arrive.

In the meantime, my other friend who walks from Chaney to Sumner everyday approaches us in the opposite direction. (Does this make sense?) I shout a warning and he slowly approaches. The 3 of us share our pit bull stories. He too has been spooked by these loose dogs. Finally, the police and Animal Control arrive, but all 3 of us cut our walks short.

The next time I encounter my friend, who walks from Chaney to Sumner and back again, he tells me that the 2 dogs were lose again recently prompting him to also call Animal Control.

So, who is responsible for these dogs? All I know is that behind the chain link fence there is a car, a truck, an RV, and signs that people live behind the cover of the bushes and trees.

UPDATE: The other day I was walking the Riverwalk alone when  the 2 black pit bulls with red collars were standing and staring at me from the other side of the chain link fence. Wait, they had a friend with them this time! My heart almost stopped. I walked by and turned around. All 3 dogs were on the Riverwalk! The next time I turned around they were gone. I called Animal Control and kept walking the last mile to the 74 giving me 2 miles to compose myself, find a stick, and gather the courage to pass by them again. I called Jeff and kept him on the phone as I returned to the sighting area, although he told me later that he didn’t want to hear me getting attacked. I made sure to tell him I loved him just in case…

I guess you could say the Riverwalk is going to the dogs. (Woof!)


NEW FACES

And finally, as Jeff and I were approaching the end of the Riverwalk one day, we met 2 women from the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California.

They were taking samples from the Temescal Wash. (And getting a little exercise as they walked to Chaney Avenue and back.) Then they showed us the dipper up close. Notice the tiny fish inside they fondly refer to as a mosquito fish. I’ll bet you can guess why…


There’s always something happening on the Riverwalk!

A Riverwalk Update

 Birds of a Feather and Other Stuff

This is our 2nd winter snow-birding in Lake Elsinore. Last season we arrived October 31st and left March 17th. This season we arrived October 10th and are still here, but not by choice. A series of set backs struck us suddenly… issues with the RV, our dog Murph, Jeff’s body, and our teeth.

We wrestled with woes, worries, wallet, and waiting. With luck, we plan on leaving May 22nd to head to the coast of Oregon.


My point, however, is this… as we live here for another 2 months, watching spring bloom into summer, we get to experience and observe new changes in our environment.

The Riverwalk, for example, is growing into a marshy habitat

of cattails

and rushes…

…home to the great blue hero, often appearing almost walking beside me,

or popping up among the bright yellow wildflowers that turn into tumbleweeds,

or taking cover in the tall green reeds,

only to fly off as an impressive form.

Once, I saw him chasing 2 mallards in the sky, yelling after them with deep shrieks of annoyance.

Then there is the graceful egret who poses on fallen tree branches

and hides in the rushes

before making its grand exit of white against green.

Below, I sneak up slowly to catch a picture of this guy hanging out on the Riverwalk.

Immediately after I take the pic, he poops, ruffles his feathers and takes off!

What can I say? Just a pit stop, I guess.

The red-winged or tri-colored blackbird offers its bright red splash of color sitting atop the rushes. I try my best to capture the brilliant contrasts of black and red against the vivid green background. Unfortunately, after many many pics, this is the best I can do,

This pic below, taken from the informational plaque at the end of the Riverwalk, gives you a better look. (I did find a dead one alongside the path, but decided to give the little guy it’s due respect…)

These blackbirds don’t caw. They make high pitched peeping noises.

This bird has a beautiful pale orange tail and I find it just hanging out at the far end of the Riverwalk. I hope he’s okay and not injured.

The mallards paddle away

after skidding into the water chasing breadcrumbs tossed by the man sitting on the bench of the Riverwalk near Heald Avenue.

Then there are the fish lurking just beneath the shallow waters.

Catfish and carp thrive in the Temescal Wash’s marshy environment. Earlier in the spring, you could see them splashing and belly-flopping. (Of course it never even occurred to me to take a picture then!)

Crawfish shells start littering parts of the Riverwalk.

Who knew?

The Riverwalk is also alive with colorful bushes, plants, and trees.

Nearer the lake, marsh orchids line the Riverwalk between Limited and Heald Avenues.

Then there are these bi-colored plants adorning the Temescal Wash below.

After crossing Heald, however, the Riverwalk is lined with chain link fence and yellow wildflowers turning into tumbleweeds, until we cross Chaney.

Here, the Water Department is landscaped with these green bushes now bursting tall with yellow blossoms.

And, as we approach the turnaround at Highway 74/Riverside Drive the cottonwood trees litter the Riverwalk.

My grandfather, Poppy, would be so proud of me now as I appreciate the plants, flowers, and trees around me. It’s taken me 64 years to understand his passion with nature. I was too busy for too long to stop and want to learn more about the sights and smells around me!

His brother, my Uncle Jim, would be tweeting with glee now too as I observe, enjoy, and listen to the birds.

Hi, Poppy and Uncle Jim! I love you! And I finally get it!

Totally Awesome

 Really!

Jeff has been accompanying me on my Riverwalk route lately. He used to walk with me most of the way, then stop in a shady spot and wait for me to return from the Ortega Highway.

Today we parked the car on Sumner Street and started our walk from the Pottery Court Apartments. (Out and back from here is 4 miles, more or less.) This gave us both a choice. I could continue walking to The Lakeshore Marina and back and Jeff could wait in the car for me to return. Or, we could continue together, which we did!


After crossing Sumner Street the Riverwalk is broken up into one block segments… Heald Street, Graham Street, Limited Street… then finally arriving at the lake, marina, and beach.

It’s not unusual to hear propeller planes overhead dropping off skydivers. Today, however, we heard and saw para-gliders flying around with paramotors as we approached the Lakeshore Marina.


I just happened to have my iPad with me because I was still taking pictures of letters for my urban alphabet project. So, after watching a powered para-glider land, I just had to follow the action and find out more!


I met a family from Utah. Mom was on ground patrol. Dad was an experienced pilot performing para-gliding tricks. Their 3 kids: a 16-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son, and a 10-year-old son, took turns flying above Lake Elsinore in the paramotors.

“Awesome!” is the word that comes to mind. And then I find out that their website is named Totally Awesome.

These paramotors are actually 3 gliders in one: with wheels, without wheels, and without the motor as a para-glider. Before “flying”, 10 hours of training is required.


You just never know what you will encounter on Lake Elsinore’s Riverwalk! Totally awesome!

Can You Tell Me How to Get…?

 How to get to Jernigan Street

Jeff gets local news updates on his phone. Imagine our surprise when we hear about an accident on the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Jernigan Street!

Jeff “googles” his surname on the maps app and there it is.

Of course we have to check it out! It’s a short dead end street off of Lakeshore Drive heading away from Lake Elsinore.

But it makes Jeff Jernigan jump for joy!

The Hills are Alive

 With Wildflowers

After a winter of overcast skies, cool temperatures, and lots of rainy days, spring blossomed with an abundance of yellow-orange California poppies growing in the hills. Their presence even made ABC’s Nightly News with David Muir. But what’s even more amazing is that the photos taken and shared with the rest of the world came from Lake Elsinore’s Walker Canyon, right in our backyard, so to speak!


Their colorful appearance against sunny blue skies was a welcome sight for our sorry eyes, as Jeff and I endured a winter of medical maladies and a series of unfortunate events.


First our dog, Murph, would not eat or drink. He lost his spunk and just laid around. Jeff had to carry him outside to do his business. A $1,000 later and lots of inconclusive tests, Murph got a shot of anti-nausea medicine, received subcutaneous fluid for dehydration, and was prescribed an antibiotic for a fever.

Then Jeff had his share of medical issues, resulting in finding a primary care physician, undergoing routine tests, expensive drugs to treat his symptoms, and follow-up appointments to address secondary problems.

I finally visited a dentist to have an infected tooth pulled. Five hours later I left, with 2 teeth ground down, a temporary bridge in place, deep cleanings for my diagnosed gum disease, and expensive antibiotics because at 7:00 PM I didn’t shop around for the lowest cost.

Jeff also scheduled a cleaning and left with a cavity filling and more deep cleaning for his gum disease. (Just last June he had this done in Oregon!) He opted out of having a crown made for a half tooth.


But wait! The RV needed repairs as well. Insurance paid for replacing the door and screen, except for the $500 deductible which Forest River would not agree to cover. (We replaced the faulty door lock twice before a locksmith destroyed the frame and screen to allow us to enter and exit our RV.)

Then we had to replace the protective awning covering the kitchen table/living room sofa slide-out. Heavy highway winds across South Dakota sent the awning roller banging against the RV roof while we were driving.

And finally, the switch on the Fantastic Fan in the bathroom had to be replaced. (While we were in Colorado, the on-off switch broke while the fan was running. Jeff had to climb on the roof and cut the wires to turn it off.)


But wait, there’s even more!

I received a letter from the IRS with a balance due for Jeff’s Affordable Care Act Health Insurance. (No, we didn’t notify our accountant…) I called. I paid online per telephone instructions.

I received a confirmation number. The amount was subtracted from my checking account.

Then I received another notice. I called and gave my confirmation number. I was told that online payments took 8 weeks and to ignore any future letters.

The next letter came registered mail threatening a lien on any property I owned. I called and waited on hold for over 1 1/2 hours. Finally, I sent a letter enclosed with copies of my confirmation number and my bank statement.


Meanwhile, we planned leaving Lake Elsinore in March and had made reservations along the way, traveling north to Port Orford, Oregon. I also paid for a round trip airline ticket, through a 3rd party, flying out of Medford, Oregon to Columbus, Ohio on March 29th in time for my grandson’s 2nd birthday.

Dental follow-ups and Jeff’s medical tests changed these plans! And, because I booked through a 3rd party, I had to forfeit my entire $500 flight out of Medford and book a new one from California.


Oh, I forgot one… Murph needed surgery to remove an ugly growth that suddenly appeared on the inside of his left hind leg. While he was “under” he also had 9 teeth pulled. (5 years ago he had his teeth cleaned under sedation… go figure!)


So, you get it now? Our days were so gloomy, depressing, and financially draining.

We desperately needed a silver lining to our cloudy luck… A rainbow with a pot of gold would do nicely!

The rainbow appeared but not the pot of gold to help pay for everything. So… we did the next best thing. We took to the hills and stopped to enjoy the gift of Spring!


The following photos are from Walker Canyon off the 15 where the hills are alive with California poppies.

Lake Elsinore Riverwalk

image People, Insights… New Friends

It’s called the Riverwalk, a mostly black-topped path along a runoff channel, beginning at the end of Lake Elsinore at Lake Shore Drive. Two and 3/4 miles later it ends at Highway 74 near the intersection of Collier Avenue.

Since I discovered this 5 mile + out and back route last winter, I am frequently seen walking here. Likewise, I often encounter the same familiar faces along the way.


There’s the man who lives at Pottery Court Apartments at the corner of Sumner Avenue and Pottery Street…

 apartments.com

(The green arrow shows where Pottery Street dead ends and connects to Sumner Avenue. The blue arrow points to more apartments across the street, lining the Riverwalk.)

 googlemaps 

He walks to the Ortega Highway, Route 74,

and back everyday, wearing the same dark gray sweatpants and lighter gray hoodie. He explains that he received a kidney transplant. He greets me with a thumbs up and a great big smile. Everyday is special to him! He inspires me to keep walking too and reminds me that it’s a gift, especially when my motivation runs low.


There’s the beautiful woman with red hair, a sparkling smile, and deep melodious voice…

I finally just start addressing her as My Friend, whenever we cross paths on the Riverwalk. “Hello, My Friend.” “My Friend, how are you?” And then I feel upset with myself. What on earth possessed me with taking the liberty to shout out, “My Friend!” to her whenever we meet? I don’t know. It just came blurting out of my mouth! Am I perhaps crossing boundaries and offending her? Her good energy makes me smile. She inspires me in some subtle way I can’t explain.

And then one day, on my way back from the Ortega Highway turnaround, I hear someone shouting, “My Friend!” I look up and see red hair, a sparkling smile, and waving hands in the distance. I can’t begin to tell you how touched I am! I feel special connecting with her and her magnetically kind energy.

Several weeks later, after heavy rains pummeled Lake Elsinore day after day, My Friend is sitting on a bench along the Riverwalk. I stop and talk and learn that she is homeless. The field where her tent is pitched is now soaked in water. She lives with an undocumented Mexican, the father of her two children. Fearful of deportation for him, she is afraid to get married. I don’t know any of the details of her life and what led her to homelessness. All I do know is she will remain My Friend forever.


Then there are the handful of older Mexican men who gather on the benches on the thoughtfully landscaped, and cement-paved section of the Riverwalk abutting the Lake Elsinore Police Station…

One old man I greet sips from an oversized beer can each morning. Another man with a white mustache receives food in styrofoam containers from a woman wearing hospital scrubs who pulls up at Graham Avenue. And there is the man in a cowboy hat… He moves around in a golf cart. Others are younger but recognizable and frequent on occasion. All of them greet my smile with theirs and just seem happy for living through another night and enjoying a new day filled with warm sunshine and bright blue skies.


There are also the gals from the Lake Elsinore Water Department who walk during their lunch hour along the Riverwalk  from Chaney Street

to maybe the Ortega Highway, or not.

 googlemaps 

But I don’t think so, because every time I see them they are returning within a 1/4 mile towards Chaney Street.


There is also a young man who walks from Chaney Street

to Sumner Avenue’s Pottery Court Apartments every week day.

We pass, smile, and briefly chat from time to time. All I know about him is this: 1.) He doesn’t work for the Water Department because he tells me he suggested to the Water Department gals to walk from Chaney Street to Sumner Avenue like he does. 2.) He eats a banana during his walk.


Then, I make 2 new friends that I will probably never see again but who will touch my heart forever.

Returning from the Ortega Highway on my out and back, I encounter a woman just sitting there along the Pottery Street Apartments. All of her stuff surrounds her and she holds a toothbrush with toothpaste. Her head is shaved but the remains of blue dye still exist. Her fingernails are speckled with old polish above and ingrained with dirt below.

I stop to chat with her. She tells me her name, Christina?, but all I can remember is her nickname, Mustang. She is in her early 30s, has children who live somewhere, a mother with whom she is estranged, and somehow she came to Lake Elsinore from the city of Riverside. Her story intrigues me, but she rambles onto a new subject before I can catch my breath. She collects other people’s trash and recycles them as gifts to everyone she meets. She has bestowed the following upon me:

The leather ring and pouch was connected to a bracelet on her wrist. The earring was special to her too so she kept one and gave me the other as a symbol of sisterhood. (I will recount the gifting of the necklace later.)

But Mustang is not the only person I encounter this day.  Abner arrives and soon the 3 of us are sharing our stories.

Abner explains that he works for an auto mechanic on the other side of the Riverwalk channel. Raised in Lake Elsinore, he left several years ago. This new job brings him back and today of all days he decides to revisit his old haunt along the Riverwalk. Soon, the 3 of us are chatting away! The more we talk, the more we discover what we have in common. We are good people! With hugs all around, we depart.

A few days later I see Mustang again. She is carrying Christmas lights and a garbage bag full of more trash-collecting treasures. She is headed under the bridge where Sumner Avenue intersects the Riverwalk.

I return the next day with a small bag of my favorite earrings in my pocket, hoping she is still camped under the bridge. My ear piercings have healed over and I no longer wear earrings or jewelry, except for a special bracelet my sons gave me when I retired.

She’s there! We wave at each other and she comes out to greet me with a hug. She is thrilled with my eclectic collection of earrings with feathers, beads, and other artsy creations. I know she is going to create something wonderful and special with them. Her creative juices are shining from her eyes. And then she presents me with a gift. She removes a necklace from around her neck, yes, the one in the picture above… “I knew I was supposed to give this to someone today,” she says.

The next time I walk, she is gone.


A week or 2 later something else is gone… the wrought iron benches along the Riverwalk beside the Lake Elsinore Police Station.

I worry about the old man sipping his beer. He is always so kind to me… He cautions me about slipping on the small round seeds dropping from the palm trees along the path… He blesses me crossing the street in the crosswalk, hoping cars will have the courtesy to stop. I try to speak to him in Spanish. He tries to speak to me in English.

I run into My Friend who tells me that not only are the benches gone but also are all of the old man’s blankets and jackets. She helps him as much as she can, gathering blankets and coats for him and keeping an eye out for him during the day.

A downside to living a downsized life in an RV is the reality that we have no extra anything to help the old man… Or do we?