San Diego Bay

This afternoon we head into downtown San Diego.  Earlier in the day, I had picked up some brochures in the hotel lobby pertaining to the local attractions.  A stretch of land along the bay has recently been revitalized.San Diego Bay

San DiegoEmbarcadera San Diego Bay is a small stretch of waterfront offering a little something for everyone;  from dining to shopping, from museums to cruises, plus much more.  It takes about fifteen minutes to walk the Embarcadero from the Maritime Museum to the Seaport Village.  Don’t feel like walking, no problem…..there are numerous bicycle taxis ready to take you to your next destination.

The attraction of most interest to Logan is the USS Midway Museum.  Tour this floating city at your leisure with over 60 exhibits and 25 restored aircraft.  The USS Midway is one of the Navy’s longest-serving aircraft carriers and is now a museum and open to the public year round.  We were shocked to learn 3,200,000 gallons of ship and aviation fuel could be stored onboard.  I guess I shouldn’t complain about my fuel costs.

USS Midway
USS Midway Museum

USS MidwayLogan forgoes a visit aboard the USS Midway in hopes of touring this aircraft carrier on a future visit with his father.  Hubby was a constant source of our discussions throughout the day, as we both know he truly would love the museum and memorials in this beautiful park setting.

Logan and I take our time enjoying Embarcadero.  Talented artisans have crafted stunning memorials.  I was moved by the Bob Hope Memorial.  As you walk up to these statues, past recordings of Bob Hope from his USO Tours fill the air.

Bob Hope
Bob Hope Memorial

San DiegoOther memorials include; Taffy 3 WWII Memorial, USS San Diego Memorial, Aircraft Carrier Memorial, Pearl Harbor Memorial.

The Seaport Village is to the south of the USS Midway Museum.  Cute shops and restaurants abound, as well as a great view of the Coronado Bay Bridge.

To the north of the USS Midway Museum are the piers for cruise ships.  Just as we were walking by, the Sapphire Princess was pulling out of port.  It was fun to watch and wave bon voyage.

North of the cruise ships is the Maritime Museum.  Along side some historical sailing vessels were a couple of semi-submerged submarines.  Once again, we forgo the museum tour while noting information for a future visit.Embarcadero San Diego Bay

Unfortunately, tomorrow we return to Phoenix with found memories of yet another whirlwind trip and plans to return for a lengthier stay.

San DiegoSan Diego


Perfect Weather

I have had and continue to have the good fortune and ability to travel.  I must admit, up to this point, I have yet to experience a place with better, more consistent weather than San Diego.  And although, the weather does change, the changes seem to be within a realm.

San Diego California
San Diego, California

This recent trip to San Diego does not disappoint.  A pair of slacks, a pair of shorts, a couple of T-shirts and a sweatshirt, and I’m set.  A bit cool in the morning and evening, near 80 degrees mid-day, partly cloudy to clear skies and a beautiful ocean breeze….ah!  Does it get any better?

Coronado Island
Coronado Bay Bridge, San Diego Bay

Our first stop of the day – Coronado Island.  We take the famous Coronado Bay Bridge to the island and spend the afternoon exploring.

Coronado IslandSon and I grab a quick bite to eat at the local Taco Bell.  We are soon reminded that the Naval Air Station is just up the road as Military personal enter on their lunch break.  The Naval Aviators are easily recognizable in their green jump suits/flight suits.  Son and I can’t stop glancing at the three aviators sitting at a table across from us.  Logan finally says, “Mom, stop starring.  I know what you’re thinking”.  My response, “So, smart a*s, exactly what am I thinking?”

“Two of those dudes look just like dad when he was younger”.  Ok, busted.  Although I did not know hubby during his military days, I’ve seen plenty of photos of him in his green flight suit.  Hubby actually shipped out of San Diego on an aircraft carrier.  Yes, flying a plane on and off an aircraft carrier takes skill, but more importantly guts and hubby definitely has guts.  Hubby has all sorts of tales to tell about his Navy days.  A chair, a campfire, and a margarita and the evening’s entertainment will commence….interject a little exaggeration here and there and I promise one won’t be bored.  In addition to all his other talents, Al is definitely a gifted story-teller….

Beach San DiegoAh….to be young again….one can dream!  Logan and I drive to the other side of the island, park the car parallel with the ocean, and walk across the sand to the waters edge.  Our last time here on Coronado Island was fifteen years ago for Logan’s tenth birthday.  At the time, my brother and his wife lived in California and we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Al, the kids, and I arrive in San Diego the day before we were to meet brother and wife at Sea World to celebrate Logan’s birthday.  We arrive in San Diego a bit too early to check into our hotel room.  Al, having spent time in the area, proceeds to drive over to his old stomping grounds on Coronado Island.  It’s Sunday, but more importantly it’s Mother’s Day and much to our surprise, the Navy was having an open house.  The aircraft carrier USS Nimetz was in port and open to civilians.  OMG, Al’s excitement could not be contained.

aircraft carrierWe spend the next few hours exploring the USS Nimetz.  This was definitely a special bonding moment between father and son. It was the highlight of the weekend for Logan and birthday memories he has cherished.  All the while father and son were enthralled with their surroundings, 7 year old daughter whined about wanting to know where the dolphins were.  Tomorrow, honey, tomorrow!  I admit to a little whining on my part as well, but let’s not go there.

Well tomorrow came and daughter was in seventh heaven.  She got to feed and pet a dolphin.  The delight on her face was priceless.  Son on the other hand, wanted to know why he couldn’t go back to the aircraft carrier.  Oh well, at least each child had their memorable day, and as parents we shared in their joy as lasting memories were forged.

Hotel Del Coronado
Logan in front of the Hotel Del Coronado

Logan and I reminisce as we walk the beach heading toward the famous Hotel Del Coronado.  Good times, good times!

Coronado Island
Coronado Island CA
Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado

Another Day Below Sea Level…

Badwater Basin is such a unique, surreal kind of environment, I feel compelled to make the eighteen mile drive once again.  One visit was not enough.

Dante’s View is at the top of this mountain and if you look at the photo closely, there’s a sign 3/4 of the way up.  The sign says “Sea Level“.  Out on the salt flats is a group of photographers.  It appears, this time of the morning (8:30 or so) is a great time to capture the salt flat up close.  I feel a moment of inferiority as we pass some of these photographers.  Strapped around their necks are large SLR cameras with zoom lenses and they carry strong and sturdy tripods.  I have my new light weight tripod along with my little point and shoot Lumix DMC-TZ4 camera.  I wonder, can I capture the flat’s equally as well with my little camera?

Salt Flats

I’m sure those SLR’s  are able to capture the finer details far better than my point and shoot, but for my purposes I’m happy with the results of my little camera.  Years ago I toted around a large SLR with interchangeable lenses, filters, etc. but found myself using a point and shoot much more frequently due to the convenience.  It fits in my purse or pocket, and thus I always have my camera readily available.  However…………perhaps a visit on Amazon for a finer camera, just to look mind you, would be in order.  If only I had internet service.  Guess Amazon will just have to wait.

After about thirty minutes of walking around the salt flats and marveling at its uniqueness, it’s time to return to the Rig…’s moving day.  We decide to head north and camp at Stovepipe Wells.  Upon arrival, we realize it’s remoteness.  With the exception of Furnace Creek, all of Death Valley is extremely remote and vast.  The wind is blowing and dirt devils are twirling.  We park the Rig with the backend into the wind.Once settled in our new location, we decide to explore the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes near by.  Al and I hike the dunes being sure to keep our eyes on the ground for critters….i.e. snakes and occasionally stop for photos or to marvel at the landscape.  These dunes rise nearly 100 feet from the Mesquite Flat and are in a constant state of change due to the winds.  It appears, wind is the norm in this part of the park.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

The winds continue to kick up and Al and I are covered in a fine layer of dirt and sand.  We return to the Rig for dinner and hopefully another gorgeous sunset.

We were sorely disappointed with the sunset in this location.  However, the night sky and crescent moon made up for any lack in the sunset. If we had it to do over, we would have stayed at Sunset Campground and just drove to the other areas. The constant extreme wind starts to irritate us and we make a plan for the next day.  Although, I feel we’ve barely touched the surface of this awe-inspiring terrain, we decide to head out with the promise of returning next year.  I really did not get my fill of Death Valley and am already planning the hikes and explorations for our future visit.

February 22, 2012

Death Valley…

After a wonderful nights sleep in Death Valley, Al and I discuss the plan for the day over coffee.  National Parks are not usually pet friendly and Death Valley is no exception.  So Al and I plan our day keeping Bear’s needs in


mind.  Fortunately, the weather will be in the sixties and low seventies, allowing us to leave Bear in the Rig for a few hours.  The old guy (meaning Bear, not Al) needs some extra rest after a rather exciting, fun filled five days in Havasu.  So, he doesn’t mind being left behind to catch up on some much needed rest.  If temperatures were to get much warmer, this would definitely not be an option.  Pets are NOT allowed on any trails and are not allowed to be left unattended in your vehicle.

Dante's View

First stop this morning we head to Zabriskie Point and then onto Dante’s View.  Dante’s View is considered the most breathtaking viewpoint in the park.  The overlook is more than 5000 feet above the floor of Death Valley and overlooks Badwater Basin.

Dante's View

We are very glad we brought our sweatshirts along as the temperature is around 55 degrees and extremely windy at this altitude.  While admiring the views, we meet an elderly gentlemen who shared some of his experiences he encountered in Death Valley over the years.  One of which was a marathon held in July with temperatures reaching 120 degrees.  He was very proud of this accomplishment, righteously so.  Al and I thought it sounded insane as did the bike race.  I admire folks like this gentleman and at seventy he was there to hike Telescope Peak….11049 feet in elevation.

Salt Flats...... Background - Telescope Peak

On our way back to the Rig for lunch, we take a side trip and venture down a dirt road known as Twenty Mule Team Canyon.  This is a one-way 2.7 mile drive through badlands.  The history of this road dates back to the days of mining for Borax in the Valley.  It was a fun little side trip, one I would do again and stop a bit more along the way.

We return to the Rig to find Bear still fast a sleep and I need to coax him to take a walk.  After lunch Al and I head to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.  Badwater Basin is a vast landscape of salt flats.  From a distance it looks like snow.  The salt residue sticks to our tennis shoes and leaves a fine coating on our truck floor mats.

On our return to the campground, we take a detour by taking Artist’s Drive.  Artist’s Drive is a one-way, scenic, nine mile paved loop.  Artist’s Palette consists of multi-hued volcanic hills, best photographed in the afternoon.

We would have liked to visit and hike Natural Bridge Canyon but the day was getting late and we wanted to make sure Bear was ok.  We’ll just need to put that on the bucket list for a future visit.

We return to the Rig and enjoy the rest of the evening with a glass of wine and once again watch the sun set.  Tomorrow we’ll move to another campground and check out Death Valley to the north.

Land of Great Extremes

Death Valley has long been on my short list of places I have wanted to see.  So when Al and I decided to hit the road, Al wanted to know my top choices of locations I’ve always wanted to visit.  Keeping time of year and weather in mind, February in Death Valley seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Have you ever wanted to do something or go somewhere really badly only to be disappointed once achieved?  Well that’s kind of how I was feeling about the trip to Death Valley.  I thought, “this is a place I’ve wanted to visit for the last twenty years, and am finally able to do so.  I bet it will be anticlimactic”.  NOT!!!!  So worth my while.  Absolutely loved it and plan to return next year for further exploration.

Badwater Basin - 282 ft. below sea level - salt flats

From Lake Havasu City we traveled north on Hwy 95 to Interstate 40 west.  We took exit 78, Kelbaker Road, north through the Mojave National Preserve.  Filled up with gas in Baker, California, before crossing over Interstate 15 and headed north on Hwy 127.

The land is vast and the road free of company.  As Al and I sit in our climate controlled truck with cushioned leather interior, we marvel at the Pioneers who first discovered these lands on horseback and wagon.  I don’t dare complain about the lack of cell phone coverage.  Yes, that’s right folks…no cell phone service in Death Valley or a good 100 miles around.  There’s actually pay phone booths at a couple of the resorts.  Flat tire?  You’ll need to fix it yourself cause AAA ain’t coming!

We had planned to camp at Furnace Creek.  However, the Furnace Creek Campground is closed for the next year for repairs/updates.  So we stay at the Sunset Campground.

Sunset Campground

It’s pretty much just an organized gravel parking lot, but at $12 a night I

Camp Site

can’t complain.  We just need a level spot to park the Rig and crash for a couple of nights.  They have a tiered overflow lot that provides the most spectacular sunset set views from your RV.  We spent a total of three nights in Death Valley and each night we sat outside to watch the sunset and once down, the sky would turn an amazing red.  We would also watch the sky darken to the most incredible deep, deep midnight blue.  The stars were bright and the crescent moon amazing.  There are some things in life that can’t be captured on film and must be experienced first hand.  This was definitely one of those moments…..a vision I’ll remember and highly recommend.

Our first night in Death Valley, we sleep well and look forward to our explorations the next day…..