Reflecting Back on 2012

This year is quickly coming to an end and what a whirlwind of a year it has been for us!  We were blessed with a myriad of new adventures, visits with family and friends, and had a few setbacks along the way, just to keep things real.  Our year has been chock-full of travel (just what we nomads need to feed our souls) and our landscape has been painted in broad brushstrokes of colors and textures, by way of deserts, mountains, a nice mix of big cities and cool little towns and jaw-droppingly gorgeous coastline.  Biking, hiking, kayaking and long strolls on the beach have filled our days and allowed spirits to take flight.

Our wandering took us through the western part of the US, where we feel the most fulfilled and the flames of our passions were brightly fanned.  A medical concern for Terry early in the year diverted us away from plans to re-visit Yellowstone National Park but we were able to hike through several other national parks in lieu of the granddaddy of them all.  A trip back to the midwest to visit family rounded out the mix for us, making for a most rewarding year.

We began our year in Arizona, where we spent many of our working years, then continued on to Southern California, camphosting at San Elijo State Beach for several months, into Northern California, then lazily making our way up the Oregon coast, which was beyond breathtaking.  We crossed over into the state of Washington to take a peek at Mount St. Helens, and on the way back down south spent a few days in Nevada.  As we continued south we drove highway 395 in California (amazing), stopping to revel in the beauty of the Eastern Sierras, searching for ghost towns and Methuselah.  We met up with friends who introduced us to boondocking and when the fiery reds and golden glow of fall moved into the pronounced chill of winter, we came full-circle and returned to San Elijo State Beach, where we will stay until the end of January.  It was so good to hook up with friends we had previously met on the road and wonderful to meet a few new folks.

I’ve had my camera by my side almost every step of the way so I thought I would provide a glimpse of some of the beauty we have seen along the way.  If you have never been, hopefully you will be inspired to check out the breathtaking vistas of the Wild West.  Enjoy!

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An Urban Hike and New RV Friends

Paul, Polly, Nina & Terry heading up the trail.
Paul, Polly, Nina & Terry heading up the trail.

We once again met up with RV buddies Nina and Paul for an urban hike in Del Mar.  We had given up hope of finding any opportunities for hiking in the San Diego area without driving quite a distance, somewhat of a letdown after trekking  through the Sierras with these same pals.  As luck would have it, Nina and Paul, having once lived in Del Mar, knew of an “off the beaten path” hike that took us up a winding canyon, through some beautiful Del Mar neighborhoods, along the sandstone cliffs overlooking the railroad tracks and stunning views of the Pacific, and dumping us off onto Del Mar beach, where doggie Polly met a new four-legged friend and romped through the waves with Paul.  Not quite like a hike in the Sierras but fresh air, warm sun, and crashing waves can always renew the spirit.

Terry with RV buddies Nina, Ellen, Paul, and Alex this summer
Terry with RV buddies Nina, Ellen, Paul, and Alex this summer

The weather was picture-perfect, a beautiful sunny day that I think Nina and Paul brought with them from the desert, as we had a good bit of gloom until their arrival.  We enjoyed a few hours of catching up on each others’ lives before parting, talking of future visits and seeing Alex and Ellen, a lovely RVing couple we met through Nina and Paul earlier this year.

When we began our RV journey I knew we would have some unbelievable scenery to feast eyes upon but as I was saying goodbye to family and friends, I wasn’t sure who we might meet during our travels.  We couldn’t be more pleased with the folks we have met along the way, many with the wanderlust that we have, enjoying the simple pleasure of getting in touch with nature.

New RV friends Mike & Tamara
New RV friends Mike & Tamara

We had the good fortune of meeting yet another lovely couple this past week at San Elijo State Beach, a couple who parked their RV almost across from us.  Mike and Tamara are early retirees, as we have been blessed to be, and love traveling and getting out into nature, a perfect match with our passions.  We spent a chilly evening around the fire getting to know them and another playing cribbage. Thanks Tamara for reintroducing me to the game and teaching Terry.  Santa may just have to bring us a cribbage board this year.

The following morning we said our goodbyes to this charming couple, with the hope of another possible visit before we leave So Cal. One of the best parts of this journey are the people we meet along the way and we are blessed to be meeting some wonderful folks who have a zest for life and the hope of touching other lives.

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Feeding Body and Soul in San Diego, CA

Sunrise on a cloudy day

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.  ~ Albert Einstein

I love the early morning, that quiet time before the pace that takes over the rest of the day kicks in.  Today is my day to do sprints, a way for me to “shock” my body, taking it out of its normal routine and kicking up the cardio a bit.  I know this is not for everyone and some days my body seems to be asking me, “are you sure this is what you want to do?”, but after it’s over I feel invigorated, so for me 30 minutes once a week works.  Being on the beach is the perfect place to do this, a nice soft surface, a cool breeze, the pounding surf, and the salty air.  What could be better?  Ok, a nice gentle walk along the beach, but I digress.

All together now ~ surf’s up!

Exercise time is over so I kick off my shoes and walk back in the surf, another great resistance exercise for the old bod.  The water is a refreshing 64º, that ‘just right’ mix of a little gasp when the waves rush over your feet and that feeling of utter bliss when the tide pulls back again and the sand is running through your toes.

Brown pelicans in flight

This is my time for reflection, meditation by the water if you will, and at times I find my thoughts moving back through time to the beautiful, rugged Oregon coast where we spent a few months earlier this year, and thanks to Gunta and her amazing photography, I get my regular fix.  San Diego is equally as beautiful and we feel blessed to winter here.

Paddle boarder catchin’ a wave
Wipeout!

Today began with a mixture of clouds and sunshine.  Mother Nature seems unsure which direction she wants to head, enticing us with a little sun, then pulling the clouds back like a nightshade, bringing a little chill to the air.  Whichever she decides, it looks to be a glorious day with temps around 70º.

Kelp~the sea’s gift to the shorebirds

My walk back has me jumping over large masses of seaweed which the ocean has presented as a gift for waiting shorebirds.  There are a large number of kelp beds off-shore near San Elijo State Beach and what may be viewed as large buggy masses to us is a veritable feast for these birds, and the kelp beds themselves are recognized as one of the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth.  Everything has its place in the world…perfect harmony.

Back at the RV, time for some breakfast of my own. Today I’ll share with you one of many smoothie recipes I throw together.  We like to get most of our carbs from vegetables, the green leafy kind being most dominant but berries just cannot be beat blended into a smoothie and are oh-so-yummy!  Here is what was on the menu today, should you be so inclined to whip yourself up one of these ice-cold treats.

Bluff along the beach.

Berry-Spinach Smoothie

(use organic ingredients when possible~makes 2 large drinks)

2 c. frozen mixed berries

1 c. water

1 scoop protein powder

3 large handfuls spinach

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 avocado

1 T. flaxseed oil or ground meal

Blend and enjoy!

Mother Nature has spoken; looks like another warm sunny day in paradise.  I hope wherever you are, even if the sun isn’t shining, you are having a marvelous Saturday.  Now off to work I go with a very big smile on my face.

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Sun, Surf and Sea Air ~ Cardiff, CA

For a second year we are back to work as Camp Hosts at San Elijo State Beach and tomorrow begins the big work week.  Imagine if you will a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at one of the best surfing spots on the West Coast and that is where our RV sits.  With near perfect temps, pounding surf to lull you to sleep at night, and intoxicating sea air, how can this be called work?  Yes, what we do classifies as work, but there is plenty of time for play and if we don’t get more than our fair share of exercise, shame on us.  We literally can walk or bike most any place we need to go, unless of course we want to head a few miles south to do more San Diego exploring, and we will be doing plenty of that.

For now I will leave you with a small sampling of the sights right outside our door:

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One Last…

One last sunset at San Elijo State Beach.

One last walk on the beach on the busy Memorial Day Weekend, marking the first of summer for families .  The weather was divine!

One last Eli Howard Surf School class to watch – beginner surfer dudes (kooks)!  Wish I could capture the look of excitement on the kids’ faces when they catch their first wave!

This was going to read one last strawberry balsamic gelato from Chuao Chocolatier, and it is amazing, but we decided to get a little crazy and go to Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria and have something we have not had in months, a pizza.  We walked away remorseful that we had not found this place earlier in our stay, everything was that good, all local ingredients and made on site.  When we walked in we said that it reminded us of a quaint little pizzeria in downtown Phoenix and later learned from our waitress that it was modeled after that very same restaurant.  The pizza was one of the best we ever had; the Eel River craft porter was delish;  and we were talked into staying for dessert, so no gelato, but the award-winning dessert we had was divine.  I am not a fan of butterscotch pudding (Terry loves it) but I must admit that the addition of some malted sea salt in this decadent dessert made it, well, heavenly.

One last view of the ‘Unconditional Surrender’ sculpture at the San Diego Harbor, depicting a sailor kissing a nurse to mark the end of World War II.

One last visit with the terrific young men and women Park Aides at San Elijo.

One last walk through the meditation gardens.

Today wraps up our first workamping experience and what a great first it was!  A big shout-out to the wonderful staff at San Elijo State Beach.  We could not have asked for a greater group of people to work with and our Camp Host teammates were a delight as well.   Tomorrow we hit the road again, to spend time at some of the National Parks in northern California, to reconnect with nature until time for Terry’s medical tests later this summer.

Lots of memories for us in San Diego and a great way to spend part of a winter and spring.  Today is the one last day to say goodbye to the staff and campers and breathe in the salty air at San Elijo State Beach, that is until we return later this year.

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