Saturday, April 18, 2015


On April 9 we took friends Rosa and Lindsey Ashby on a Jeepers Creepers run to Harquahala Peak. It is the highest mountain in the southwest quarter of Arizona at 5600 ft. Nancy and Jerry Grout were able to join us. The road is 10miles long, one way, and the same road must be taken to get back down the mountain. As with many 4 wd roads, this one has deteriorated since the last time I drove it at least 4 years ago.


Left to right, Jerry and Nancy Grout, Jo, Rosa and Lindsey Ashby at the sign at the bottom of the road. Nearby is a trail head with a privy and picnic tables.

This shot was taken in my old Canon A1100 IS and is the last one it will take.  Bouncing around in its case on the floor of the Jeep while climbing the mountain must have caused the lens to stop telescoping out when turned on. The 1100 IS is a model first made in 2009, so I have had years of use from it. The rest of the shots are in my cell phone.


View from one of the parking lots at the top. We usually use the lower one for Jeepers Creepers lunch stops.

The Grouts turned around at the most challenging spot in the road and returned to the lower country. Our Jeep spun its wheels there as well, but I was able to find another route over the obstacle.


The Central Arizona Project built this array of solar panels to produce electricity for its communication system.



Above and below are shots looking west and southwest.



The metal structure encloses the modest building built for the Smithsonian Institution employees  living quarters while making solar observations from the peak from 1920 to 1925. Everything had to be hauled, except what little rain water could be caught from the roof for the cistern.

It is too bad that the explanatory signs on the posts are all gone now, so new visitors will not be able to read the story of the solar observatory.


Laura and daughter Katie at the dinner celebrating Katie’s 21st birthday held at Buca  di Beppo restaurant.


From left to right – me, Jo, Mike Williams, Barbara Williams (Katie’s grandmother) Laura, Katie and Jeff Clyde.)


Herb Fust, a longtime member of our 50 year old camping group,  retired from the  US Air Force and as such is entitled to use military  base campgrounds and to bring guests with him.  This was the third time he arranged for the Roadrunners to enjoy parking their RVs on a California beach and sightseeing at nearby attractions.




Members met at the Golden Acorn Casino near Campo CA Tues. night so we could caravan the last 90 miles to Camp Pendleton and enter the base and campgrounds together. We had dinner and breakfast there in return for the free RV parking.


The Williams needed electricity overnight for their RV residential refrigerator, and I was able to fine an outlet for them to use on one of the parking lot light poles. Should you want to park at the Golden Acorn Casino overnight and have power, look for the Ace of Diamonds sign in the parking lot. The nearby parking lot for semis has power outlets on most of the poles in that area.



After arriving at Camp Pendleton and getting our rigs set up we gravitated to the shade under the Williams’ awning. Our adjacent sites were on asphalt, minimizing the sand being tracked in. All other rows of sites had the RVs parking on sand.


Lots of folks enjoyed the nice shallow beach. Someone told me “go fly a kite”, so I happily did so. The ocean breeze made launching a snap.



These sturdy fire rings were provided behind each RV site. Above are Elsie and Tom Holz, Mary and Herb Fust and Jo.


Herb brought his ingredients to make different colored flames in the roaring fire. They usually are blue or green.


Our group had dinner one night at Joe’s Crab Shack in nearby Oceanside.

Front row: Mary Fust, Barbara Williams, Debbie and Kurt Holz; back row: Herb Fust, Mike Williams, Jo Strong. and Elsie and Tom Holz.

After eating we walked around the marina to check out the shops and their wares. A zipppered  hooded sweatshirt was a popular item.


Debbie was the only member of our group to have a bucket of crab legs for her dinner



All of us took the Coaster commuter rail the 40 miles from Oceanside into downtown San Diego for a day’s outing.The cost was only $5.50 per person round trip. The end of the line was the historic Santa Fe depot in the downtown area. Although the Burlington Northern bought the Santa Fe line several years ago, the100 year old  building still is known as the  Santa Fe depot. It is used as a terminal for Amtrak, the Coaster and the local trolley




The interior of the depot is spacious and well-kept.


The tiled design appears on many interior walls of the depot.



Duane Steen led his first Jeepers Creepers trip on March 26. We had 6 folks in 2 vehicle. This blog has few pictures as there are older blogs with lots of shots in Bulldog Canyon (and I must confess I did not take many).

Bulldog Canyon is a nice run on which to take guests. Round trip from our home is only 50 miles. About 25 miles long, the run takes about 2.5 hours on the gravel road with stops for a coffee break and lunch. I feel comfortable doing the run without a companion Jeep.


This time we used the northernmost gate near Blue Point. Duane Steen had a guest with him  and I brought Edna Julien, Brenda Rademacher and her father, Doug Goman from North Dakota.




The spring flowers were few and far between. Recent rains had settled the dust, and the traffic this day was very light.


Four Peaks is in the distance.


Shadows highlighted the rugged mountain.



We were in Cabo to use two timeshare weeks from March 2 to 16, the first  week at Sunset Beach and the second at what is called Pueblo Bonito Blanco, for its being painted white.  I bought the Blanco timeshare in1991 and have used the week most of the intervening years.

Because I did a long blog on Sunset Beach last year, I will not devote much space to it in this blog. This year our unit was on the first floor of  a building which had a swimming pool directly in front of it. It was great for convenience to go to the pool but not so good on views of the Pacific Ocean. The nice thing about this pool, compared to the Sky Pool which we used extensively the last few years, was that this one was quiet. Most of the folks who used it were senior citizens. While this building was far removed from the wifi hotspot golf cart service to the Sunrise Coffee Shop was fine.



A new building was under construction beside our building. I was glad to see the workers working on the outside of the building being tied off so to minimize the distance one could fall. They all were wearing hardhats. The first time I was at Sunset beach a large building was going up and of the 50 men working on the site only two were wearing hard hats and none were tied off. But the ladder in the upper right was still made of 2 x 4s nailed together! Two other residential buildings also were going up, so the timeshare business must be good!



This is typical of the bougainvilleas throughout the resort. I did not notice any sign there that a strong hurricane had gone through the area six months ago. I was told that all of the glass at Sunset beach was broken by the high winds. I wonder if that was an exaggeration.


The shots below are at Blanco. Our timeshare there is a Junior Suite. But when we checked in we were told that our suite, 323, was occupied and that we could use the next larger suite at no additional charge. We welcomed the extra space.



Right side of living room. We watched very little TV at Blanco as the programming was almost all in Spanish.


Kitchen and dining area


Left side of living room. A patio door at the right opens to a shallow balcony.


View from our balcony with a cruise ship in port. Only three arrived the week were at Blanco, a new now in our experience.


Jo enjoys having a strawberries flambe dessert prepared at our table, probably more  for the flame show than for the actual dessert.





This is the scantiest bathing suit I saw during this trip. The front was equally brief.



We were told that the hurricane took out most of the landscaping at Blanco, particularly the palm trees. While we were there one  palm tree was planted where there had been one before. At the back of the resort stacked debris from the hurricane was still in the process of being hauled away.

Above, workmen are replacing the blue tiles on the domes of the resort. The one at the right was completed while we were there, and the center was almost done leaving the two at the left to be tiled.


This blog will be of interest primarily to my Strong cousins. Cousin Caroline was undergoing chemotherapy when we decided to make our annual visit to her in Tucson on Feb. 13.  She arranged for Jo and me to have lunch with two of her sons and the wife of one in a restaurant in an historic building near downtown Tucson.



From  left to right – me, Caroline Keller, Jo, and Todd Keller.  Todd is in upper management of Granite Construction Company’s Tucson office.

Below - I took this one.


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At the left is Jill, Todd’s wife. At the right is Craig, Caroline’s oldest son. The person in the middle is a friend of both brothers who was in Tucson to ride in a bicycle race with Craig. Craig lives in the Pittsburg PA area and is staying with Caroline while she is undergoing  chemo.


The last time I spoke to Caroline the chemo and followup radiation had been completed and she was beginning, slowly, to feel better.



Below are shots taken at our home on a very unusual day in Mesa. We almost never have fog!





The annual Roadrunners Quartzsite campout was held at  Jan. 22 – 25, 2015. The part of the group shown below parked at the B – 10 RV park for the hookups, while the others with the Machinist contingent dry camped at the usual spot at Main Event. 



Above, the B – 10 group, from left to right, are Mike and Barbara Williams, Jo, Tom and Elsie Holz, and Jeff Clyde.


At the far end at the happy hour gathering are Mary and Herb Fust .


We joined the group at Main Event for potluck. Here Bill Kaml is bringing a contribution to the table.



One of the Machinist group members had paid off the mortgage on their home, so they celebrated by  champaign toasts at the campfire. Here Gale Kaml is pouring while Greg See looks on and Bill Kaml videotapes the event.



Now it is Marg Leduc’s turn to pour, with Greg See still looking on.



A nice campfire was going well by dusk.





Vendors were fewer at the big White Tent this year than last. A coach customizing company displayed this  Winnebago Brave, with two slides and a new interior. A sign said that the conversion cost $30,000.


An ice cream vendor got attention by using a ‘hit or miss” engine to turn its ice cream churn.


When we left the rally at Indio  Jan. 1we visited my granddaughter and family at their new home in Rosamond CA. Samantha found a nearby RV park for us to us park the motor home. These pictures were taken with my cell phone.


Above, the new home with its three car garage. Below is a closer view with Jo and Samantha.




Samantha's nephew Daniel, at left, the son of her deceased sister, has come to live with the family. Next are Chris and Luke. Luke just got his first drivers license.  In front is Tabatha.


The family’s new puppy Oliver calmed down enough in Jo’s lap for a picture.


Ivy at the girls’ desk where Samantha home schools them. She home schooled Luke until last September.


Above, Ivy gave us a tumbling performance, as did Tabitha, below.





Samantha with Ivy in an unusual quite moment.