Salmon Glacier

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier, BC, Canada

Monday, April 25, 2016

San Diego, Visit with old friend and Hollywood

We came to Twenty-nine Palms so we could make a weekend trip to Sothern California along the coast. During my time in the Navy(many moons ago) I served as a Hospital Corpsman at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. I also had a good friend that I went to Chiropractic School in IL that has been practicing in Encinitas, CA since we graduated. We saw him about 35 years ago when we came to S. California to visit Glenda's brother when he was serving in the Navy. We also wanted to see Hollywood, the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign on the hill. So this last weekend we decided to rent a car(didn't want to drive the Big truck), got a hotel room in San Diego and drove there to accomplish our goal. We stayed at a Courtyard Marriott that was convenient to the thinks we wanted to see and do. After checking in we took a drive to La Jolla and had lunch at a Mexican Seafood joint called Oscar's. This is an eat outside type of place that is very informal.

You go inside and order and then eat at tables of benches along the sidewalk. The food was delicious and we enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. Then we drove to LaJolla Park and checked out the Pacific Ocean. It just so happened the seals we pupping so we got a good look at several of them. People were milling around the seals as they laided on the beach.

I was able to get very close and hear the seals as they barked at each other. They were not afraid of the crowds and just wanted to get some sun.

The landscape was beautiful and a nice change of pace from the desert. The waves crashing the shore were thunderous and inviting. The water was very cold but folks had wetsuits, goggles and fins and were swimming around. We did not.

After our viewing and getting our fill of seals and scenery we headed back to the hotel and relaxed the rest of the evening. We had plans to see my old friend from Chiropractic school on Saturday afternoon so we got up and made a quick trip to Balboa Park and walked on what was left of the hospital grounds that I knew while there. That was about 45 years ago. We found out that they had demolished the old hospital and built a new complex. We had a nice view of downtown San Diego from oour vantage point.

Japanese Garden in Balboa Park

Administration building now a Veterans Musuem

One of the new hospital buildings

View of Downtown San Diego

Entrance to old Naval Hospital


It was disappointing to see how things had changed but of course all things do especially after 45 years. We only had a short time to spend there so we went to the visitor center in the park and I got a T shirt and we  got some good information on the Naval Hospital changes from a volunteer.

We headed back to the hotel to freshen up and then off we went to my friends home on Fallbrook, CA. About an hour drive from the hotel. He sold his home along the coast and bought a nice place in the hills. Many winding, steep switch back roads to get there. Once we pulled up we saw he had a nice home with a lot of land. Dr. Chris Miller has plans to grow avocado's on his property in the future however he already has several orange trees, tangerine, olive and lemon trees. There are several types of agave, cactus, a corral for horses that he rents out and a nice barn. The views of the area are spectacular. We had a great tour of the property. Since our last visit with Chris, he had divorced and remarried so we met his new wife, Thalia, of the last 20 plus years.

View of the valley below the house

Century Agave

Naval Orange Tree

Lemon, Tangerine and Orange trees

After some catching up and relaxing on the back patio it was time to prepare dinner. We thought we might go out to the wine country but Chris wanted to cook out so who am I to argue. We prepared and salad, beef and turkey burgers, and grilled veggies. Dinner was on the patio.

We got our fill of food and wine and conversation. Then it was time for some picture taking. Chris's son Matt happened to be there so we were able to get shots with all of us in them.

 Click on the photos to enlarge for better viewing
Me and Chris

Glenda, Me, Chris and Thalia

Chris and Thalia

It was getting dark and we wanted to be sure to find our way back to the hotel so we said our goodbyes with hugs and handshakes. I'm so glad we took the time to make the trip. Thank you to Chris and Thalia for their hospitality and friendship. We look forward to getting together again asap. That might be next spring after we leave Phoenix. We'll see. Side story....when I attended Chiro school, Chris and a couple of buddies used to weightlift after classes so one day I asked if I could join them. They said yes and I started working out with them through our time at school (3 1/2 years). I started with a bench press of 70 lbs. and ended with 250 lbs. Probably one of the most fit times in my life until I started biking, running and swimming years later. Anyway that's how Chris and I  met and became friends.

Well the last day we had in the area we wanted to go to Hollywood. Glenda wanted to do the Walk of Fame and see the Hollywood sign. So we drove in the crazy L.A. traffic to the downtown and found a parking lot for $20. We walked to Hollywood and Vine and the craziness started. People everywhere. What a tourist trap. People wanting you to take their Hollywood bus tours, homeless folks wanting your change and food and interesting clothing choices. I had to go to the bathroom badly so we found a coffee shop with a bathroom however they have locks on the doors with codes so you have to buy something to get the code to go to the bathroom. Only in Hollywood. I also found out they do that in Chicago and Italy too.

Once I was refreshed we hit the streets and viewed the Walk of Fame.

Remember the Skipper?

The crowds

People were even selling rides in Porsches and Ferraris along the street. We saw a guy getting arrested for panhandling and maybe harassment. Homeless folks on the street.

Homeless guy laying on the sidewalk

Selling rides in a Ferrari

Street performers

Interesting dress up for walking Hollywood Blvd.

Then it was time to see the Hollywood sign. That is harder to do than you think on limited time. We finally found a street that we could drive up and got a good look from afar.

It was time to get back to our home which was about another 2 1/2 hour drive and it was near dark.

Another side story of our trip.....We took the Coast Hwy from Dana Point to Long Beach on our way to L.A. that morning and had lunch at a nice restaurant next to a marina in Long Beach called the Crab Pot. We didn't have crab but I had shrimp tacos and Glenda had Coconut Shrimp and a salad.

We drove through Laguna Beach too in hopes of seeing my cousin but he and his wife had plans that day. I knew they had some plans in the afternoon from an earlier call I made to them and we thought we might be able to make a quick stop in the morning as we passed through but when I called they didn't answer. I did get a call back later and we hope to make another trip there before we leave Twenty nine Palms next month. Keeping our fingers crossed. It's been a very long time since we had the chance to 30 years maybe. Anyway that's how we spent last weekend. Reminising, sightseeing and enjoying our adventure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Exploring and hiking Joshua Tree NP and lunch in Palm Springs

We've been here in Twenty-nine Palms, CA for about 2 weeks now and have taken a few opportunities to explore and hike the park. We stopped into the Visitor's Center first and got out Nation Park Passport book stamped and bought a NP stamp to commemorate our time here.
Within the boundaries of  Joshua Tree National Park, the Sonoran and Mojave deserts meet. In the higher Mojave portion of the national park, a forest of the strange Joshua Trees and a number of unique rock formations called Inselbergs are protected. In the lower Colorado portion, the Pinto Basin exhibits the typical plants of this hotter Sonoran Desert.

For all its harshness of conditions, the desert is a land of surprising variety and complexity but still very fragile. Viewed from the roadside, Joshua Tree National Park only hints at its hidden vitality. To the close observer, however, a tiny flower bud or the lizard's frantic dash reveals this desert park as a place of beauty and life. (Taken from the National Park website)

Read more:

We got some great information from one of the rangers and then setout. We stopped at Skull Rock first and got a few photos and hiked part of the 1.7 mile loop.

We then drove the rest of the way through the park to get an idea of where the trailheads were and other opportunities to explore. The main road through the park goes from Twenty nine Palms to Joshua Tree - the town.

The next day we planned to hike to Pine City and then a short hike at Hidden Valley. Off the main road we drove down a dirt road to a  parking area at the trailhead where several trails begin. This is a popular trail however during the week there weren't a lot of folks hiking.

Pine City is pretty flat hike of about 3 miles in and out. We saw several cactus blooming, rocks formations and the typical Joshua Tree everywhere.

We got to one area of rocks and had a little fun posing for a photo. A young German couple came along as we were playing on the rocks and I asked them to assist us. They were here visiting California after graduating college. They were headed to Yosemite next.

Me saving Glenda from a boulder rolling over her

German couple

Photo Op

We had a fun time and a nice walk in the park. Ha-ha. Next we headed to Hidden Valley trail. This is a short flat trail within a hidden area of rocks where cattle rustlers used to bring the cattle for safe keeping until they could be rebranded and sold in other states. However after some time the government caught up with them and stopped the rustling. This is now a popular area for rock climbers.

Our next excursion took us to Keys View. This is an overlook off the main road where you can see the Coachella Valley, San Andreas Fault, Palm Springs, San Bernardino Mtn, and the San Jacinto Mtn.

Panoramic view - Click to enlarge

Our next visit to the park was a couple days later. We decided to hike up Ryan Mountain Trail with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. Again a very popular hike. Interesting to see how people dress for this type of hike. T shirt, jeans, tennis shoes for some guys. Short shorts, bra tops, tennis shoes for the girls and most had very little water with them. Typically these folks were of the younger persuasion. Any way, the trail continuously climbs upward from the parking lot with some parts of the trail near the edge of the mountain. It got pretty windy in some areas too. there were several areas of rock steps which helped in climbing. Once at the top the views were spectacular.

We found a nice area out of the wind and took in the views while we ate out lunch. Such a great feeling of accomplishment in this type of hike. It isn't always fun getting there but the effort is so worth it.

Of course not everyday is a fun day. We have had to do laundry, grocery shopping and work around the rig. People are coming and going in the park however there are a few permanent residents. We decided to stay here for a month so we could save some money on park fees and we could have some access to areas around Joshua Tree.

We even took a drive to Palm Springs last week for a late lunch. Quite a place to say the least. We saw some Kardashian wannabees and on the main street there were spas, restaurants and shops.

We stopped at the Las Casuelas Terraza Restaurant and had a great meal. While we ate a band began to play and several people in the bar area got up to dance. Then a black gentleman that was eating there too got up and asked if everyone wanted to hear some Mo Town music. Then the band started to play Papa was a Rolling Stone and this guy started singing. He sounded just like Lou Rawls. Deep voice but hit the high notes too. He knew all the words to the song and really was the highlight of our stop in Palm Springs. After lunch we walked a couple of streets and I found a shop with some souvenirs. So I bought a coozie for my craft beers.

We've had a fun time so far and have plans to rent a car this weekend and drive to San Diego, Encinitas, Laguna Beach and Hollywood. Hoping we can fit it all in in 3 days. Guess we'll see. I was stationed at Balboa Naval Hospital when I was in the Navy, I have a friend that I went to Chiropractic School with that I want to visit, a cousin in Laguna Beach and we want to say we walked the street of stars. We're up for the challenge. Won't be long until we head to Pahrump, NV and move on to our adventures. Until then we have more hikes planned and sightseeing in the area.

A few more photos before I end this post.