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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Palm Springs, California

Our next stop was Palm Springs, California.  We decided to stay at the Thousand Trails Park in Palm Desert and use it as a base for doctors’ appointments, dentist visits etc.  Since we don’t find the inside of medical offices very exciting we don’t have a lot to report for this visit.  Nevertheless, we did have a good opportunity to take a few fun pictures and we’ll share these later in the blog.

First, a discussion of the TT Palm Springs Park.  Like many Thousand Trails parks that are named for a locale, this park is not actually in Palm Springs, but about 15 miles away in Palm Desert.  It is close to numerous services, stores, and restaurants in La Quinta, and Palm Springs itself is close enough.  The park is located right off of Interstate 10 at the Washington Street Exit.  It is gated and fenced and offers a number of activities.  On the other hand, it used to be a date palm farm and the trees make the parking of big rigs challenging.  The park has two sides, one with 30-amp service and pull-through sites and the other with 50-amp service and back-in sites.  It sure would be nice if the park would install 50-amp service on the pull-through side!  On the positive side, the park does not charge an additional fee for 50-amp service.  All of the sites are narrow (we couldn’t put out our awning and barely got both slides out) and shallow (we backed all the way into the site and were barely off the road).  We have been following, with interest, the discussion of this park and the one in Las Vegas as being big parking lots in the city without that “camping feel” that some look for.  We accept that this park “is what it is” on that account.  It is close to the many activities available in Palm Springs, Riverside, and Los Angeles.  If you are looking to camp this is not the place for you.  On the Moore Scale we give this park an 8 out of 10 with a couple of points taken off for the difficulty in parking and poor wifi.  This was our second time in this park and we would stay again.

We arrived in time to spend Veterans’ Day weekend with our son, Shane, and his family.  Shane plays bagpipes for the University of California, Riverside, Highlanders Pipe Band.  The band has a few UCR students, but due to the difficulty of learning to play the bagpipe, most of the band members are professionals from the community.  This is the case with Shane who has both a Bachelors and Masters (MBA) degree and is in charge of the technology for an Orange County City.  The band was playing at a Veteran’s day event held at a local airport … Great Band and Great Air Show!  Here are a few pictures.

Kim & son, Shane

Shane Plays in the Parade

UCR Pipe Band

Grandchildren examine a WWII aircraft

The general's car (I never had one of these!)

Following the day’s festivities we returned to home to enjoy a great meal with Shane, his wife Dee, and their two children: Aedyn and Conner.  As it turned out Conner’s 4th birthday was just around the corner, so we enjoyed that event with the kids as well.

Grandson, Conner opens a present

Conner plays with new remote controlled monkey

While in La Quinta, we had the opportunity to eat at one of the 10 best steak houses in America: L G s Prime Steakhouse (Thanks to a gift from our son Jason and his wife Jen…  Thanks guys!).  The steaks are huge … but they are “melt in your mouth” delicious as well.  Here is a picture of Lynda’ half-eaten steak after we got home (the paper plate is ours … the restaurant provided lovely china).  Cody got to enjoy the bone from my Porterhouse.  It’s as big as he is.

Half of Lynda's steak was leftover

Cody enjoys a porterhouse bone

Even though we retired from California (a good place to be FROM), we had never been to Joshua Tree National Park.  If you love the desert then don’t miss this one.  Since we used to have a Joshua Tree in our back yard we were not as enthralled (funny how that happens).  Here are some pictures of the park.

Joshua Trees in the park

More Joshua Trees

Huge boulder formations are found throughout the National Park

Jumping Cholla cactus garden

Ocotillo Plant - Not in bloom

Thorns of the Ocotillo Plant ... and one lonely bloom

Until next time … Keep doing what you love!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Las Vegas & Lake Havasu

From Southern Utah we made our way down to Las Vegas.  It is usually a very pretty drive through the canyons of Northern Arizona and down into Nevada and today was no exception.  However, we followed a thunderstorm down most of the way with lots of rain and fog until we suddenly burst out of it and were greeted with this rainbow … lovely!

Beautiful Rainbow after a Violent Storm

Our trip to Vegas was one of convenience this time.  Kim needed to fly out to Asia (East Timor) to provide professional development for an international school’s teachers using his new book Project Based Learning – How to Take the Road Less Traveled (more on the trip later).  It is a lot easier to go out of Las Vegas than Los Angeles and the location of the Thousand Trails – Las Vegas Park made things very convenient. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the Las Vegas TT Park it is located on Boulder Highway about two blocks from the Boulder Station Casino.  It provides nice security, 50 amp at few selected sites (we were lucky enough to get one of those), great free Internet, and excellent satellite TV reception.  It has a nice pool and club house and an adequate little store.  The spaces are a bit tight and it does not offer a plethora of activities (Vegas has plenty without the park offering more).  It is not a “campground,” in the traditional sense … or in any sense, really, nor is it particularly “family friendly” … but then neither is Vegas.  It provides a really nice location for adults to enjoy the many activities that Vegas is famous for, but is definitely not a “preserve.”  All in all, Lynda and I really enjoy this park, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea … one has to take it for what it IS … not for what it isn’t.  Oh, and by the way, they deliver the paper to VIP members!  Therefore, we give it a really strong 9 on the Moore 10 point scale (taking off only because of the limited 50 amp sites).  We always enjoy our stay here and come back when we are in the neighborhood.

As I mentioned, I left Lynda to mind the coach (she did a quilting project) and took off to East Timor.  Our oldest, Dr. Jason Moore, is the headmaster of the international school in Dili, East Timor, and co-authored our new book along with two really great teachers (Kelli Schiller and Jeff Proctor).  The book is available on Amazon and you can find it by searching for the title (above) or me (K. Patrick Moore, Ph.D.).  I mention it here because of the number of home school parents who follow our blog.  Dili, the capital of East Timor has two paved roads, much dirt, and rampant poverty.  The international community has targeted the country for aid … which is both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing, because they really need the help … and a curse because the Timorese are not learning to do things for themselves.  The school serves mostly ex-pats from English speaking countries, but also has a variety of other foreign students and about 10% Timorese which they scholarship.  Here are a couple of pictures of the landscapes.

Kim on the Beach in East Timor

Timor is a Beautiful Country

Kim working with teachers in East Timor

The teachers work on one of their projects ... Greek play production

Ah the Tragedy of it all!!!

A very innovative costume for the "Furies"

In addition, it was our granddaughter’s third birthday.  Her parents threw a party for a dozen three year olds at the compound’s pool (Ex-pats all live in walled compounds).  Here are a few pictures of her (she is a delight) and her older brother (also a lot of fun) … Sorry … as a grandparent, I just can’t help myself.

Brynn on a new school Trike

Chocolate Cake ... Yumm

Brayden enjoying cake too.

A flock of three year-olds in the pool

Meanwhile, back in Vegas, Lynda took advantage of my absence to work on a quilt project for her mother.  She says she had every available space covered with quilting stuff.  The quilt is a paper piece beauty (a lap sized quilt) with each square having 96 separate pieces.

Lynda's quilt ... the picture went all fuzzy ... It is really extraordinary!

Upon my return, our oldest granddaughter (Nina) and her husband (Brian) came to visit us from Nebraska.  They stayed at the Boulder Station and were given a beautiful room with a great view on the top floor.  We had a great time with them and went to see a few things we otherwise might have missed.  The first place was the international pinball museum.  The museum is free and has rows upon rows of vintage pinball machines that can be played for a quarter or two.  We spent a total of $5.00 for the four of us and had a great time!  Here are few pictures.

Nina (Granddaughter) and Brian enjoy pinball

Playing a quarter game.

One of many rows at the museum.

We took a trip downtown to watch the people (a wonderful place for the odd, extraordinary, and weird).  Brian rode the new zip line ($15.00) and had a great trip.

The beginning of the zip line

The end of the zip line ... waiting to be unhooked

Also ventured down to The Strip where we visited the botanical gardens at the Bellagio, Paris, and the other casinos in the immediate area, before wearing ourselves out and returning to the Boulder Station for a few penny slots (this time we enjoyed a new one called Invasion from the Planet Moola where cows invade earth bringing cash --- both Nina and Lynda won on this penny machine).

Atrium at the Bellagio

Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio

Kim and Lynda enjoy the gardens

You can find it all in Las Vegas!!
From Vegas it is a short trip to Lake Havasu City.  Since we are on our way to California for annual medical exams, etc. this was a short stop of only four days.  We stayed at Colorado River Adventure – Lake Havasu RV Resort using our Coast-2-Coast membership.  The park is split across London Bridge Road and sits a few miles north of town.  It is easy to get in and out of and we had a nice back-in site.  Unfortunately, it was rather warm and the park only offers 30 amp (unless you purchase a long-term site).  It does have two pools and two club houses (seems they purchased another park across the road some time ago).  Non-members (like us) are placed on the west side of the road, but the sites are just as nice as the members’ section on the east side of the road.  One of the really nice things about Colorado River Adventure parks is the food.  They serve breakfast (eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage) for $4.00 and a nice dinner for $5.00 (taco salad) or $6.00 (choice of liver and onions or chicken).  The menu changes and prices may vary but the quality and quantities are really good and the price is excellent.  Our Verizon Mifi worked here as did our Direct TV (satellite).  The 30 amp. and isolation of non-members causes us give this park a 7 out of 10 on our Moore Scale, but we would visit again ...  for the food.

We met some really nice people at dinner (Steve and Kat) and had a great time with them, sharing meals and cocktails.  They invited us to the Desert Bar outside of Parker.  Unfortunately, I came down with some stomach ailment so Lynda went with them while I slept.  The Desert Bar is run by solar power and is a unique place.  There are no advertisements for the place off of the main highway, but locals know where to turn off onto a dirt road for the trip into the desert for a visit.  It is a 90-minute drive from Lake Havasu (much shorter from Parker) each way.  Lynda had a nice time and took a few pictures.

A church facade at the Desert Bar

For some reason the owners really hate cheese!!

Steve and Kat at the Desert Bar

Lynda poses by the Desert Bar at the Desert Bar

Until next time – Keep doing what you love!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks

We pause in our trip south for a week at St. George RV Park just south of Leeds, UT and north of St. George, UT with an address in Hurricane, UT (go figure how they give these places addresses!).  This is an Encore park that accepts RPI (Resort Parks International) memberships at $10 per night.  In addition, we paid another $3 per night for 50 amp service plus tax on the kit and caboodle of 11.5%.  Still, a week for $101.47 is not bad.   Our first assigned spot was too narrow for us to open our slides with a tree on one side and a post on the other.  The park was very accommodating in moving us to a slightly wider spot that worked.  That being said, we were parked bow to stern with the coach on either side resulting in a narrow corridor for two coach’s utilities and a shared porch on the other side.  The park does have a few amenities: pool, mini-golf, laundry, and showers.  We found it to be good accommodations for our trips into St. George for shopping (Costco, outlet mall, tons of restaurants, etc. etc. …  St. George is a good-sized town), and to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks for sightseeing.  There is some highway noise (the park is just off Interstate 15) but we had a nice view from our coach window of some red cliffs and would stay here again.  Just be aware that it has tight accommodations and is not really conducive to “camping”.  On the Wildride Scale of 1-10 (1 = lousy and 10 = magnificent) we would give this park a solid 6.

View from the Park

Lake in State Park around the corner from Park

As mentioned above we spent most of our time visiting two national parks:  Zion and Bryce Canyon.  Zion is a short twenty-minute drive from the RV Park so we decided to tackle it first.  Wikipedia notes that Zion is “a prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park's unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.”

The park provides a shuttle bus through ion Canyon with 8 stops that allow passenger to get on and off at their leisure.  The bus travels through the bottom of the canyon, so unlike Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon, the view is from the bottom up rather than the top down.  Here are a few of our pictures.

Shuttle Buses go up the Canyon

Human History Museum

Formations in back of the Human History Museum

The Three Patriarchs

View from Zion Lodge

At the far end of the canyon

The Virgin River runs through

Back at the Visitors' Center

Wildlife in the Park is large and small

Bryce Canyon National Park was a 2-½ hour drive from our RV Park (5 hours round trip).  We got an early start on the day and started driving.  It was worth the windshield time!  Don’t miss this one.  We liked it better than Zion.  The drive to the park takes you through the Red Canyon.

Formations in Red Canyon

Formations in Red Canyon

Wikipedia has this to say about Bryce: “The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon which, despite its name, is not a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lakebed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m).”

Since Bryce sits at a higher elevation is was quite a bit cooler than Zion.  In addition, they had stopped their shuttle runs at the end of September so we took our car from view site to view site.  It takes about 3 hours to see the formations without taking any of the hikes.  We took a few easy ones so spent a bit longer.  Here are a few pictures.

Until Next Time … Keep Doing What You Love!!