We returned from New Zealand to the U.S. a month earlier than planned and had to forgo  it’s South Island for medical reasons which were treated and resolved within a few days of our arrival in San Francisco.  From there we flew to Santa Fe and had some time with friends before taking ol’ Dan the Van out of storage, cranking him up and putting him on the road again.  He purred with pleasure for the first three days.  Our first stop was to see friends from San Miguel in Mexico who have moved to Fort Collins, Colorado.  We had a great time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with seemingly everyone else in that college town, then headed off toward northern California.  Here’s a look at Dan in The Garden of the Gods, a lovely park outside of Colorado Springs that just screams red rock.DSC03954

We then headed up across a corner of Wyoming and through the Park City and Salt Lake City area of Utah before skirting what seemed to be the endless Great Salt Lake, a piece of desolation as severe as any on earth.DSC03965

Then it was that long drive across the expanse of Nevada and finally into California close, crossing the border from Reno to Truckee and seeing the Sierras still with a bit of snow atop the tallest peaks.  But as we saw repeatedly as we crossed the Central Valley for the Bay Area, the reservoirs remain way down and many are approaching empty.Water Resevoir, Sierras, CA

When we arrived in the Bay Area we were again treated to refuge and respite at Terri Luchsinger’s lovely home in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  This was Easter morning on the terrace looking out over the valley and the mountains beyond.

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We saw lots of friends and family while in the Bay Area and took care of some lingering responsibilities as well, but also were able to enjoy some of our favorite haunts and activities.  Prime among them is riding our bikes on the trails that are atop the bluffs overlooking the Pacific coast at Half Moon Bay.Half Moon Bay, CA

The wildflowers were absolutely profuse everywhere on the bluffs.Half Moon Bay, CA_2

And the mysteriously dark and wind shaped cypress tunnel that borders two meadows had all its customary magic.

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After about three weeks we decided to move on toward Southern California as there were several people we wanted to see down there and it had been awhile since being there as well.  But instead of going down the usual route through Big Sur on Highway 1 we thought we would head over to Yosemite and cross to the eastern side of the Sierras through Tuolumne Meadows and go south through Mono Lake and Bishop, finally ending in the Palm Springs area where we were to meet people.  Rather foolish of us to think that Tuolumne Pass would be open this early; it was still closed solid with snow since it, like most of the other passes, is not plowed out in the winter.

That did not dissuade us, however, and we decided to revisit Yosemite and travel south on the western side of the mountains.  So off we went for Yosemite, stopping first for the night outside of Jamestown, a well preserved  gold rush era town close by the park.IMG_2694

The next morning we drove into the park and like anyone entering its majesty were overwhelmed by how spectacular it really is.

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We had the day on the floor of the valley and were able to revisit the chapel

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where thirty years ago we were married in the meadow next to it on this spot on an early Sunday morning with Yosemite Falls cascading down in the distance.

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From there we traveled down the Central Valley and finally to Desert Hot Springs in the Palm Springs area where we stayed in a a resort campground rich in hot springs and the pools to enjoy them.IMG_2739

Already there and waiting for us were Dave’s brother Don and his wife Carol in their glorious Roadtrek camper, down from their home in Olympia, Washington.

IMG_2737Dan was more than envious and alternated between whimpering and trying to nuzzle up to it from across the hedges that separated us.

We were also in the Palm Springs area to see our dear friend Susan Meredith, and were able to enjoy a lunch and a visit to her new house.IMG_2721

We then took the back route through the wonderful mountain town of Idyllwild, one of those points along the Pacific Crest Trail where hikers are resupplied, and the town was full of signs welcoming them, all given a huge boost from the release of the film ‘Wild’ just a few weeks before.

This led us down into Lake Elsinore and across finally the Ortega Mountains to Laguna Beach where Dave had lived for almost fifteen years.  We were able to stay in a beautiful campground above the Pacific Coast Highway and looking out across it all to the ocean and Irvine Cove, where the Irvine family has its homes.IMG_2763

It is a great place to just sit and enjoy the view and the sunshineIMG_2753

or to entertain old friend Mike Heintz for dinner as the sun set behind Catalina Island.

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After a few days in Laguna, we began the long trek back to Santa Fe, crossing Arizona from Tucson  to Phoenix and finally deciding to stop in Sedona, famous for its red rocks and New Age fancy.  We hiked out into the desert each day

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where even here the cactus was in bloom.

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The campground we stayed in was probably the nicest we had ever enjoyed in the United States close by a river, easy walking distance to restaurants, and  trees towering over and shading everything.  Each campsite even had a rose garden!  Sedona is also where we ran into those two mean looking hombres in front of the mural at the top of this blog.

In another day we were back in Santa Fe and busy packing up for a flight across the country and on to another adventure in Europe where we are now.  But that also involved packing Dan away in the tightest space imaginable.  Here he is squeezing in the doorDan in storage, 2015
and finally in place, so wedged between our last worldly possessions that the only way for Dave to get out was to crawl out, demonstrating his inevitable grace and agility.

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That left only putting the bikes inside and getting Bonnie out of the way as the door came down, locking Dan up until he is called upon for another adventure.Dan in storage, 2015_3