Thursday, November 30, 2017

San Diego, part 4 - Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve

Roger here...  This post has been a long time coming for a couple of reasons: 

 First, we have had very little free time.  Busy does not fully describe the pace of our recent activities (Future posts will confirm this).

Second, the preview screen on my Mac froze, eliminating the possibility for me to add pictures to the blog.  Last night, our daughter, Robyn, figured out that I needed to update my software.  Problem solved.  Duh!

This post covers our campground time at Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve, twenty minutes outside of San Diego.

Serious Sudoku session for Dianne....
We had a large, pull-through site in this large and elongated RV park --- plenty of room for outdoor relaxation.  The views from our site were of local hillsides.

If you have read our past few posts, you know that we kept ourselves busy during our stay;  however, we did find some time to relax at the campground during the last day of our stay.

The park is in a residential area.  It is quite long (2+ miles), but quite narrow.  It took several confusing turns to find out where to register.  Finding our loop among the seven lakes was also an adventure.  However, the confusion during registration was worth it.The central element of the park is the seven fishing lakes filled with recycled water.  Conservation rules!

EVERYTHING was coded.  We even needed a code to exit the park.  (Exiting also required doing a three-point turn in the middle of the roadway to reach the keypad for entering the code.)  Oh well, still worth it.

We decided to take a long walk with the dogs on our last day.    

Boat Rental Area on one of the lakes.
The scenery along the way was nice....

Nice looking great blue heron
... So was the wildlife.

We found this bridge to a picnic island in one of the lakes intriguing.  I love the boulders surrounding the island.

It was time to relax with a book after our four-mile walk.  The view of the sky from my recliner was a study of azure blue and white.  The sky actually had a similar appearance every afternoon.

As the afternoon moved to evening, the sky continued to put on a tranquil show --- a perfect way to wrap up our time in San Diego.

The next morning we hit the California highways for a white-knuckle drive to Malibu (via a route through the center of Los Angeles).  I am not sure I would make that particular drive in a motor home again, but we arrived without injury or even dents.  A good friend of ours advised us to pick a lane and stay there, so we did.  We were thankful when we finally turned onto the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.

What it looks like when traffic is running smoothly -- NOT rush hour

The next several posts will represent our frenetic, and wonderful, activities in Los Angeles with Robyn and Atul.  

Pet Picture of the Day...  This is an ubiquitous shot of Tequila during a walk.  When she wants to show off, she lays down and refuses to move until people laugh at her.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

San Diego, part 3 --- This Place is a Zoo!

Roger here.... On this day we spent four hours (ok, 3 hours 47 minutes) walking six miles (ok, .04 miles short of six miles) at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.  If you don't like pictures of animals, you might want to skip this post.

Deciding which pictures to post and how to logically organize them has caused me endless stress. If you look at the opening picture of our walking route, it is obvious that I would not be able figure out which animals we saw in order.  (Actually, that is something I could do, but I have no desire to spend that much time.)I finally came to the conclusion that the photos would have to be random, except for the first one.

These flamingoes were the first animals to greet us at the entrance.

This big boy is taking a nap.  As I have mentioned before, my chief photographer (Dianne) has an eye for interesting things.  Get a load of the gorilla's hand.

Speaking of big boys, here are couple...

Our favorite animal was this Maned Wolf.  We watched him walking through his large enclosure for quite a while.  Neither of us had seen one before.  They are sometimes called a "fox on stilts."

This guy is definitely related to wolves, dogs, fox, and coyotes, but he is a unique species.  He pre-dates the development of all the other species. He and his kind are ancient.

He is one of the few mammals that survived the Pleistocene extinction.  Wow, very cool for a former science teacher.

We saw some big cats...

... including this mountain lion, who startled us by leaping from a hidden place to pounce on a couple of dead rats that the zoo-keeper had left for him.  I had never seen a mountain lion move before, let alone pounce on its prey.  Dianne here:   We both jumped.   If we were in the wild and a mountain lion came for us, we'd never see it coming - boy, was he quick!

Speaking of large cats. I was able to utilize my dog-walking skills to prevent this monster from attacking Dianne.

Dianne had trouble photographing this regal Orangutan on her throne.  She kept turning her head away every time Dianne attempted a picture.  Shy girl.  Patience eventually paid off.

We had never seen a panda before.  The San Diego Zoo has some very unique species....

... The zoo also has excellent features like this underwater viewing window enabling visitors to watch this pygmy hippo lope around under the water.  They can stay underwater for up to five minutes.  This is one of my favorite pictures --- look at those eyes.

This peccary from South America is a very close relative of the javelinas that we regularly see in extreme south Texas.

My mommy thinks I am stunning.
Any ideas about what this ugly guy is? We can't recall.

Hey! Give me back my hat!

Life lesson... Sometimes grown-ups (even small ones) are too big to fool around in small spaces designed for children.  Dianne kept telling me to stick my head up higher.  I was not able to because my massive shoulders got in the way.

The next post will have a laze-around-the-campground theme.

Pet Picture of the Day...  This is Dianne's new baby gorilla.  There are no restrictions in our neighborhood regarding the number of gorillas one can have, so he is hers.  

OK, the adoption did not go through.  Mr. Silverback strongly objected.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

San Diego, Part 2 --- Clang, Clang, Clang Goes the Trolley

A surprising rainbow in San Diego on a dry day

Roger here....  Since we had a few days in San Diego, and had never been here before, we decided to do something that would give us an overview of the city.  We noticed the Old Town Trolley (hop on, hop off) tours when we were in Old Town and decided that it would be a good option for us.  Good choice.

The Star of India
We boarded the trolley mid-morning.  Of the ten scheduled stops, we decided to only disembark on two of them.  On the way to our first stop, we drove along San Diego Bay taking in the world's oldest active sailing ship, the iron-hulled Star of  India....

USS Midway
.... as well as the aircraft carrier, USS Midway.  Tours of the Midway were offered, but would have taken up a big chunk of our day.  Another time.

Our first stop was in the restored Gas Light District.  It was an eclectic mix of original buildings that provided shops, restaurants,  coffee houses and taverns.  Our intention was to have an early lunch at a restaurant recommended by one of Dianne's high school friends.  However, we discovered that the restaurant would not open for hours.  Did I mention coffee houses?  We found a place to enjoy a mocha outside.  Then we discovered that the coffee house had ice cream.  I fully subscribe to the tenet that ice cream in the morning is acceptable while traveling.

On the way to our second stop on Coronado Island, we passed by the U.S. Navy facilities.  This picture was taken from the bridge to Coronado island.  The view of the bay near the entrance of the island was as nice as the weather.

The main reason that we decided not to get off the trolley at many of the stops was so that we could spend as much time as we wanted at the exquisite Hotel del Coronado.

When the Coronado was built in 1887, there were no other structures on the island.  There was really nothing much on the island other than rabbits and coyotes.

It is one of the largest wooden structures still standing in America, and an iconic classic.  

We wandered through the outdoor spaces, taking in the magnificent views of the gardens and pool.

We walked to the beach for this classic view.

The iconic feature of the Hotel del Coronado is the architecturally-intriguing central tower.  

Before heading back to the trolley stop, I wanted to check out the lobby.  It took us a while to find it.  It was dark, but beautiful.  The wood panels were eye catching.

Dianne loved the original brass door plates.  What a classy place.

Dianne has an eye for noticing unusual things.  As we were walking off the grounds, she spotted this tree.  It is a dragon tree.  

They originated in the Canary Islands and are considered one of the older species of tree on our planet.  

As our trolley recrossed the bridge back to San Diego, the tour guide (driver) pointed out the location of where our Navy Seals are trained.  Interesting tidbit, I actually taught one of them to swim when I was a teenager and a lifeguard in Indiana --- something I am quite proud of.

Our tour ended where it began, in Old Town.  Since we missed our early lunch, our tummies led us to Fiesta de Reyes --- a place we strolled by on our first evening in San Diego.

There is nothing better than Mexican food in a locale that is known for Mexican food.  Burritos and Margaritas! Yum.  (Also good for dinner the next night)

The next post will come to you courtesy of the world famous San Diego Zoo.  

Pet Picture of the Day...   We do not have any pet pictures for this post, but we do have a photo of a guy that we spent quite a bit of time watching at the zoo the following day.  This interesting guy is a Maned Wolf.  He is neither dog, nor wolf, nor fox, nor coyote.  This species precedes those other canines.