Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sonora Desert Museum AZ

We leave Leucadia in the morning heading east towards the deserts and Tuscon AZ via I-8. Although we've driven this route years ago, we are surprised how long it takes to break free of the greater San Diego metro area. It's late afternoon by the time we pull into Gilbert Ray Campground.
Almost free of San Diego

Ahhh - the wide open spaces of the desert


Arizona State line

Water saving landscaping

Entrance to campground

Gilbert Ray gets high marks from fellow RVers and we are delighted to find their recommendations are well merited.  It's a beautiful and spacious campground. Plus the desert is in bloom.
Camped at Gilbert Ray

Palo Verde in bloom

Cholla in bloom

Sunset from our campsite



First item on our agenda in the morning is a short drive to the Sonora Desert Museum.
Short drive to SDM

Entrance

Ticket line

Overlook of the Sonora Desert and museum trails



After entering the grounds, we check out the cave exhibits, which have upgraded considerably since our last visit over 20 years ago.
Cave entrance/exit

Peter with bat ears - amazing how well they work

Simulated limestone formations

Fossilized fish

Copper ore

Interesting crystal

Of course, we have to stop at the reptile house next. Although, not all of the lizards are behind glass. Many are simply sunning themselves on rocks throughout the grounds.
Local lizard catches some rays

Glad this rattler is behind glass

Chilling Gila Monster

Well fed rattler

Big toad

Another local lizard catching the sun

Moving up the biological scale, our next stop is the flight cage.
Evolutionary statue at flight cage entrance



Chains discourage escapes

Avid birder/photographer zooms in on his subject

Hummer nesting

Besides the many wonderful exhibits, the grounds are landscaped with plants native to the Sonoran Desert and dotted with sculptures of native inhabitants.
Cholla bloom CU

Lizard sculpture

Purple prickly pear

The mammal enclosures aim to recreate the animals natural environment. One of the best is the river otter exhibit.
There's one on the bank

Underwater swimmer

Cruising around the edge of the pool


Other mammals are also freely visible.
Coyotes

Kit fox

Black bear

The big horn sheep are especially fun to watch as they climb around their craggy enclosure.
Kid, Mom & Auntie

Ram

Auntie poses on a ledge

The day is wearing on, so it's time to move on. We stop and admire the view one more time.
Panorama of Sonoran Desert



Statues of Javalinas bid us to return again another time




Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Easter

We start our trip to Texas with a visit to SoCal. It's a few days before Easter when we leave home. The hills and fields are green with new growth.
Newly planted fields spring to life

The hills are supporting lush green grasses


We take Hwy 154 inland off of Hwy 101 into Los Padres National Forest toward Paradise campground.
Hills are drier as we move inland

Here's our camp for the night



Nice camp with large oak trees

 I love looking up through

the big branches to the sky

We are up early the next morning to sneak through Los Angeles during the mid morning traffic lull. We get lucky and have a relatively easy drive through the LA gauntlet. Soon we are passing San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant which is in the process of decommissioning itself.  Since this plant's useful lifetime was much shorter than planned, we wonder what the average cost of a kilowatt hour it generated and how that cost compares to other energy sources. Although the state's energy czars aren't talking, this type of cost analysis must not compare well as California decision makers are no longer discussing building any more.
Ahh - the LA Diamond Lane is wide open

San Onofre Power Plant

We arrive to find Patti struggling with her new Yosemite OS

Peter helps Patti iron out some of the wrinkles in her new OS. Later we walk to downtown Encinitas to check out Holly's favorite local burner store - Flashbacks Recycled Fashion.
Lots of brightly colored wigs etc

OOoooo - Go-go boots! Do they glow in the dark?

Hey Peter - here's one for you

As we wander back we enjoy the fine spring weather, blooming plants, and Easter decorations. Later, we visit our friends Jamie & Suzy.
This family is eggs-tastic for Easter

Beautiful tree

Simons' garden is looking really good

Suzy prepares an Easter feast, while the rest of us hang out in the back yard. Collin shows us his latest fish surf board that he made and plays his new Dobro guitar.
Easter brunch table

Collin's fish board

It sounds nice


Back at Patti's, we cut some of her lovely roses for the table and enjoy Easter dinner together.




Easter or the Spring Equinox that both occur about the same time of year marks a time of new beginnings for Mother Nature. I have often wondered why New Year's Day is celebrated around the Winter Solstice when life is at a general standstill (in the northern hemisphere at least) rather than the Spring Equinox when life is renewing for another annual cycle.

Garden gate open to Easter and Spring





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Retired and enjoying life.