Friday, December 31, 2010


MoonlightMilkyWay%20(269x336) [Photos by Dennis Mammana] Borrego Springs is a designated Dark Sky Community, protecting the night sky from light pollution, so that everyone here can enjoy the glittering stars, moon, and planets.  Borrego Springs is 1 of only 2 official Dark Sky Communities in the entire world and the Anza-Borrego Desert in the top 10 stargazing locations in America.   The night sky here is simply amazing.  No where else have we ever been able to see so many stars so clearly.  Nature’s IMAX theater.

eclipseOur RV Park, The Springs at Borrego, has their own Astronomy Park and offers guests both the opportunity to view the night sky with their own telescopes or to take part in one of their special scheduled star parties.  The Star party involves dinner, drinks and presentations by well-known astronomers such as Dennis Mammana and John Mosley.  Unfortunately, we will leave before the next party scheduled on January 23.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Borrego Springs

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort is our less expensive spa option.  The nearby famous Golden Door Spa at Escondido, California is known for its beautifully landscaped grounds, innovative exercise activities, hiking, gourmet food, massage therapy and more.   Guess what?  Borrego Springs RV has all of it for about $7,000 less (well, maybe not the gourmet food, but they do have hot dogs and s’mores on Tuesdays and wine tasting on Thursdays). 

Borrego waterfall The landscaping at the Resort is desert garden design at its best.  Beautiful smoke trees, flowering trees (need to learn their names), fresh lemons and grapefruit, cacti in every shape and size with all the area around perfectly raked crushed rock.  The park has a large, splashing waterfall and small river stocked with fish for catch and release.

Borrego Golf Mike has golfed every day since we arrived.  The golf course is inexpensive and a fairly decent one.  All nicely landscaped with green grass, palm trees, and water features.

I had a wonderful massage yesterday from Anna.  My back has been acting up and the massage took away the tight muscles.  Ahhhh, so nice.

We have also indulged in the natural mineral baths.  The pool area contains three two-man in-ground spas and one large spa filled with hot mineral water.  Mineral baths are said to help arthritis, so we are taking full advantage.  The swimming pool is salt water and it is really nice to swim in water without so much harsh chlorine.

We also love that Borrego Springs is a very small town.  It has everything you need, but there is no traffic.  None.  So quiet at night you can hear a pin drop unless the coyotes are yelping.

Tomorrow, we start Yoga sessions and water aerobic exercises.  Or maybe I will, Mike will probably golf again!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas List

SCAN0772 (2) I am a product of the 1950’s, my Christmas wish list to Santa 50 years ago included all the domestic trappings needed to capture a man and my letter to Santa is evidence that I was already well-trained in the art of flirting at age 6.  My letter was posted in our town’s local newspaper for all to see.  How many times has Santa heard his beard was pretty?  And notice how I made sure my dad was included—what a suck up.

6-Terry 3a (2)I got a doll’s crib that year; and as you can see from the picture I was not fully instructed on ALL domestic duties…

Merry Christmas!  Did Santa treat you right this year?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


DSCN0477 Taking a tip from Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel, we signed up for a walking tour guide for just the two of us.  Well worth the money.  Nancy has lived on Coronado Island for 30 years and knows everything and everybody.  (Sorry for the poor lighting in the photo, but it is the only one we got of Nancy.)

We started the tour in the Glorietta Hotel lobby.  The hotel was once the summer home for one of the men who made Coronado Island happen, Mr. Spreckels.  Crafty old guy.  He knew the Panama Canal was nearing completion and San Diego was the first stop up the coast.  His vision paid off.

Hotel del Coronado  Next, Hotel del Coronado (“The Del”).  It was built in the late 1800’s by a man who only knew how to build railroad trestles and railway stations.  The dining room is designed like a railway station and is fabulous.  The lumber was shipped on barges from northern California—all redwood for the framing.  Hiring mostly Chinese labor from San Francisco, the hotel was built in only 11 months.

Wallis Simpson (then Wallis Spencer) first laid eyes on Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor (although they did not meet) at the Hotel del Coronado when she was married to a military man stationed there.  The locals do not think too highly of Wallis.  It is believed she purposely set her sights on the Prince when he stayed at Hotel del Coronado and laid out a plan to marry him one day with every intention of becoming the Queen.  Obviously, she married the Duke of Windsor, but did not become Queen much to the glee of the people who knew her while she lived in Coronado.  Quite a different story from the romantic one we usually hear.

IMG_1056The tour included a walk through the neighborhood of tiny 100-year old Victorian homes priced at $2 million on up.  But, there was one little special home.  The home of L. Frank Baum, author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.  It is said that Coronado Island and Hotel del Coronado gave him the inspiration for the description of the Emerald City.  I believe it, it is lush and beautiful. 

Did you know the biggest obstacle for Coronado and San Diego then and today is water?  There is no nearby water source in all of San Diego; it is pumped from the Colorado River over the mountains.  Combine this with a population that has grown from 800,000 to 3 million in only 25 years. 

DSCN0483DSCN0484Wonderful day with a relaxing early dinner at Vigilucci’s (excellent, excellent food)  and a walk on the beach (see The Del in the background?).  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shortest “Day”

Kids can have a totally different perspective on facts.  It seems perfectly logical to them.  The conclusion is wrong, but it is understandable how they got there.  The result is usually pretty funny.

BillNye So, picture me in grade school science class.  Our graded exam papers are passed back and I got question #7 wrong, “How many hours in a day?”  My answer, “Depends on the time of year and where you live.”  Why did I miss this question?  Like today, December 21, there are only a few hours of daylight, right?  I explain my reasoning to the teacher and he laughs.  He laughs!  “Now, I understand your answer, but you are still wrong.” He then explains the difference between the meaning of day and daylight.

Whenever the solstice comes around I have to shake my head and smile.  But it was perfectly understandable why I reached this conclusion, I was still blond in grade school!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Presents and Stormy Weather

No chance to see the total eclipse of the moon tonight.  Our San Diego weather has turned stormy with rain and wind.  The weather is discouraging us from going out on our daily walk and we are house-bound (or RV-bound).

Knowing that the weather is nasty for the next several days, we decided to splurge on a couple of early Christmas presents to “each other”.  We went to the Otay Ranch Shopping Mall and Mike bought the new Tour of Duty Black Ops video game at Best Buy.  These games get more and more involved stories and the characters are surprisingly life-like.    So easy to spend hours playing.

nintendo I bought the Nintendo DS and the Art Academy “game”.   Not having enough room to store my art supplies and spread out while I am painting has been a disappointment on the road.  When I saw the advertisement for the Nintendo Art Academy, I had to have it.
There are ten lessons where an artist called Vince teaches you how to paint different pictures on a step-by-step basis. First, you draw an apple and learn how to use the pencil tools for outlines and shading, as well as learning how light affects shadows. Then later on you move to brushes and paints.  After the lessons you are able to use the tools and freestyle.  If you are pleased with your results, the picture can be saved.

Art Academy does not replace live lessons or painting with the real brushes, but in a small space it fits the bill.   It is rewarding and fun.  Plus, we now have a Nintendo to play other games.  Mario, anyone?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


littleitaly The best part of Little Italy in San Diego is the food!  We arrived around 10 a.m. and the good smells of Italian food permeate the area.  Hip little coffee shops are here and there throughout the neighborhood.  We stopped and enjoyed a latte.  Love the fact that so many locals still speak Italian.

IMG_1038 I had an appointment at the Maida Salon for a haircut at 11 a.m. in Little Italy and Mike hung out at a local pub for some people watching.  My stylist was Carmel and I highly recommend her to anyone visiting the area.  What a neat gal!  She was fun to chat with and let us know about a few more great restaurants.    She is also a great stylist.  Love the cut, Carmel.

buonappetito Based on her recommendation, we ate an early dinner at Buon Appetito.  The spinach ravioli was probably 10,000 calories, but so worth it.  With a nice glass of wine and a lively restaurant, we had a very enjoyable meal.

Did you know Frankie Laine (you know, the guy who sang “Rawhide”) was a big supporter of San Diego Little Italy?  He was originally Frankie LoVecchio from Chicago’s Little Italy.  Did you try to sing the Rawhide song and hold the ending,  “raw..hiiiiiiiiiide” for as long as he did?  Yep, I thought so; but you could not do it either, could you?

Ciao, from San Diego Little Italy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Old Town San Diego

IMG_1030 Old Town San Diego is considered the "birthplace" of California. San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. And the Spanish really knew how to design a place.  Every town should have a courtyard overflowing with flowers, brilliantly colored tile work and fountains. 

Remember when we visited the San Juan Bautista Mission back in September?  In 1769, Father Junipero Serra established the very first mission in San Diego Old Town in a chain of 21 missions (of which San Juan Bautista was one).  They were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego.

IMG_1033 We  traveled to Old Town via the San Diego trolley from Chula Vista “H” Street station (about a 1/2 mile from our RV home).  The trolley is a high speed train used by locals and a few tourists, like us.  You can always spot the tourists—we are chatting and pointing and the locals are sleeping…or looking annoyed at us for chatting.  The trolley is great; we can relax and take in the sights without hassling with the I-5 freeway.  Plus, we can forget about trying to find a parking spot for our big truck and paying the parking fees.

Old Town has interesting little shops with Mexican folk art, boot shop, cigar/pipe store, lots of restaurants, and museums.  The pipe store had 100 year-old display cases with old pipes some over 200 years old.  The owner was dressed in period clothing and enjoying one of his smokes.  Most of the shops are housed in the old adobe structures built in the early 1800’s. 

IMG_1037 We stopped in at the Catholic Church (Church of Immaculate Conception) and enjoyed the cool and quiet.  As we walked out the church front doors, a leaf fell from a tree…a sign!   And there right across the street was the busy Coyote Cafe.  God loves us and wants us to drink margaritas!  A carafe of margarita was ordered and our day was complete.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Celebration in Chula Vista

The second Saturday in December RV’ers from all over Southern California and Arizona come to the Chula Vista RV Park to decorate their RV in an all-out Christmas competition extravaganza (this is year #9).  It is a big party for those decorating and those viewing.  Besides the brilliant lights, there is live music (a Tony Bennett sound-alike—5th picture) and a chocolate “potluck”.   Of course, they are blowing fake snow out of a machine because it is still 60-some degrees outside!

And how do they fit all this stuff in their rigs?  Amazing.  The pictures below are only a few of the RV's decorated in the park. 

Merry Christmas!

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DSC_0015 (6) DSC_0023 (8) DSC_0016 (8) DSC_0018 (8)
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

USS Midway Museum

The best maritime museum so far!  The USS Midway aircraft carrier is just an incredible museum to visit.

IMG_1011 We were lucky to reach the guided tour of the bridge before any crowds .  What a view from the Boss’ chair out over the flight deck!  And of course, we had to visit the engine room (a must for Mike).

As you walk past the admiral’s and captain’s quarters and the ready rooms; the staterooms looked liked they are still lived in--the restoration was that good.  Eventually, we walked down to the crews’ quarters on the lower decks and there was certainly a difference in accommodations.  Many, many bunks compared to the one bunk stateroom for the captain.

IMG_1017On the flight deck there were so many different helicopters and planes, we lost count.  But, Mike’s favorite located on the hangar deck was the F4U Corsair.  The USS Midway has a number of veterans stationed at different locations to explain their previous role on the ship.  A couple of former pilots explained the catapulting of the planes and landing skills required on a rolling sea and at night.  What an inspiration.  These guys loved their military careers and get excited telling their story.

This is not an experience you can have every day and not one to miss if you have the opportunity.  A first-hand education about the life of our navy on an aircraft carrier.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Big Box Store

Costco-Locations-and-Costco-Store-Hours At almost every location from Astoria, Oregon to San Diego, California, we have found a Costco.  Our travels have us seeking out new things to do and see, but it is comforting to find a Costco with aisle displays and products the same at every store.  Yes, I raise my hand and bow my head in shame; but I like shopping at a big box store.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7th

The remembrance of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7th is a major event in our country and even more so in a military city like San Diego.  Our RV park seems to be located on the military flight path and today there has been more activity than we normally see, probably all related to the significance of the day.  We have spent the afternoon watching the military helicopters and planes fly overhead.  This all prompts us to say a big thank you to both active military and retired veterans.  You make it possible for us to enjoy our freedom.

IMG_1008 In a small way, today is another significant day for us.  One year ago today, I sat in a windowless office and Mike was working in 20 degree temperatures outside and freezing rain.  Our workdays were long and demanding with stress taking a toll on both of us.  We made a vow that day--one year from December 7, 2009, we would be retired and sitting on a warm beach in San Diego.

Unbelievably, we are here and drinking wine in the sunshine.  What took us so long?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Daily Walk at Chula Vista

With the great San  Diego weather and a few miles of walking paths along the Bay just outside our door, we are able to get our 45 minutes to an hour walk in everyday.    Nice.

IMG_0995 Interesting trees.

IMG_0996 Sculptures that “sing” with the wind

004 The Marina full of sailboats

008 More trees

Maybe we will tackle some the in-town attractions next week.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jungle Bells

DSCN0455 Any red-blooded lover of television’s Animal Planet likes a good zoo. We like Animal Planet.  And we love the San Diego Zoo.  Not only are there hundreds of different animals from all over the world, but exotic botanical gardens woven throughout the animal displays.

IMG_0993 Our visit today to the San Diego Zoo could not have been better.  We arrived at 9 a.m. opening time and left at 3:30 p.m. completely exhausted.  We walked, traveled overhead in the skyway tram, and rode the narrated tour bus.  The zoo is laid out with winding paths through areas called The Outback, The Lost Forest, the Reptile House, the Elephant Odyssey, Polar Rim, Panda Canyon, African Rocks, and a number of additional trails.

DSCN0447 The park hits you on all senses from the smell of cut eucalyptus for the koala bears (yeah, yeah, there are animal “smells” too), rhythmic African music playing along with the animal growls and bird calls (the Kookaburra is Ka-Ka-Loud!), the warm sun on your back, and to the chill of the thick green rain forest and crashing waterfalls.  The minute you walk into the park you feel happy.

IMG_0964 This is a perfect time of year to visit the San Diego Zoo—no crowds.  Between the winter time chill (Southern Californians think 64 degrees is cold) and mid-week, the park was practically empty until noon.  There were a couple of school field trips with high energy kids.  Ever notice how kids shiver and wiggle when they are excited.  Wow.  There are some dedicated (and patient) teachers out there. 

It was a good day in Sunny San Diego.  And we should fall to sleep early and soundly after this busy day.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

It Is Always Sunny In San Diego

Restaurants-Chula Did someone climb into our heads and then build our perfect park?  The Chula Vista RV Park is located right on San Diego Bay with two beautiful parks, a natural salt marsh and walking/biking paths right out our door.   Also, within a short walking distance is a large marina and two (I say, two) great restaurants.  Both restaurants overlook the marina and the bay.  We already met our favorite waitress, Biz (nickname for Elizabeth), at the South Bay Fish and Grill Restaurant.  She sat down with us and told us all the fun things to do here.Chula-Sailboat

And it is quiet—very little traffic during the day and none at night.   You can look across the bay and see Coronado Island and downtown San Diego.  Our assigned site has a view of the bay, and we can watch the sail boats come and go.  It is picture perfect.

Chula-WalkingFollowing Biz’ advice, our plans include a visit to the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park (the zoo is located within the park, but the park also has gardens and museums), Little Italy, Old Town, Coronado Island, Disneyland (you can take a bus to Anaheim), SeaWorld, Safari Park, USS Midway and the beaches. 

We are seriously considering extending our stay from one month to two.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Congested California

bg_canyon1 (2)We are not big city folks.  However, there were and are experiences and places we wanted to do and see in the more populated areas of California; so, we went out of our comfort zone to visit them this fall and winter.  But, the congestion of California is really getting to us.  The lack of blog posts over the last month has a lot to do with avoiding crowds by sticking around our RV Park in Palm Springs and not doing anything too exciting.  Which is not tough duty—it is a beautiful place.  But, I am sure you did not want to see pictures of us lounging around the pool.

Why are we staying here so long?  From San Francisco to San Diego, many of the RV Parks are very expensive.  To get the best deals you must stay at least a week, or better yet a month.  There are state parks and other parks for less, but we wanted full hook-ups and close proximity to some of the California “man-made” attractions.  So, we have been staying a month at each stopping point.  Unfortunately, those man-made attractions are not so attractive to us right now, and we are going a little buggy.

Lesson learned for us—take big city visits in very small doses.  And life is a learning experience, right?

We do have one more big city in Southern California.  San Diego.  The RV Park is on the beach and next to a large marina.  We like watching boats go by and we like walking the docks at marinas, so our expectations are high.  Plus, we hear there is easy to use public transportation in San Diego, and we can visit places like Balboa Park without hassling with the traffic.

After San Diego, it is all about wide open spaces, coyotes instead of people, and seeing some natural wonders throughout  Arizona and Utah.  We are ready.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

64 to 31 in 10 minutes

002 IMG_0951From balmy 64 degrees in Palm Springs to a chilly 31 degrees (20 degrees, if you include the wind chill factor) in the San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, the Palm Springs tram climbs a heart-stopping 8,516 feet.  For my hometown friends, remember White Pass over the Cascade Mountains is 4,000 feet.  Puts the trip into perspective. 

017 The tram is the largest rotating tram car in the world.  I am emphasizing rotating, I am also noting rocking, and add a little bobbing up and down as the car transitions over each tower.  All the while traversing sheer granite cliff columns.   The ride up was packed with people.  My cheeks were darn near smashed on the glass smearing the surface as the thing spun around.  Not quite accurate, but you get the picture.  The trip up was stressful, but the less crowded ride down allowed us to see the change from pine to cactus.

IMG_0952  Once at the top, it was all worthwhile.  The massive rocks and cliffs had a skiff of snow all sparkling under a bright, blue sky.  And you can see for miles down the desert valley.  Fun to pick out all the green golf courses.

We had a wonderful steak dinner at Peaks Restaurant—every seat has a view—hard to take your eyes off of it.  Amazing considering all the food and drink is hauled up on the tram cars.
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