Feeling Like Locals at Caliente Springs

View from Caliente Springs

The views from Caliente Springs are amazing.

We’re starting to feel like locals. We’re well into our second month at Caliente Springs Resort in DHS, California. DHS is what the locals call Desert Hot Springs. We’ve been here long enough to find the best place for margaritas and become regulars at the little diner across the street. How much more local can you get?

DHS and the Palm Springs area works well for us during the winter months. It’s a couple hours from daughter, has a decent airport, Other Half has a golf buddy and the only snow is on the distant mountain tops. All good things – especially this year. Both of us have solo travel plans requiring an airport – starting with my annual Ohio trip.

Sister time!

Cindy and me.

Every February I chance the weather and plan a winter vacation to Ohio. This year my trip was planned around bunions. That’s right, bunions. My sister Cindy is a letter carrier and has the bunions to prove it.

I flew into Detroit Metro Airport Friday afternoon. Her surgery was Tuesday morning. That meant we had 3.5 days to goof off before she was laid up.

Journee 2017

Our sister Mary’s adorable granddaughter, Journee.

We started our goofing off with an amazing fish fry with our sister Mary’s crew. We lost Mary in September of 2015, but her spirit lives on in her four fantastic kids and their families. All of us feel her presence when we’re together, especially in her grandkids.

Once Cindy and I recovered from overeating, we made the most of our pre-surgery days. She had decided it was time for an out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new kitchen refresh. She knew I’d be happy to help since I’m an organizing nerd.

We spent a full day on a purge and pitch binge. We cleared out a mismatched collection of pots and pans, dishes, silverware, coffee cups – so many coffee cups – a behemoth blender that made soup and told jokes, an assortment of gizmo gadgets that never worked and an impressive collection of expired health supplements.

Once we finished the pitch part of the re-org we hit Penney’s, Marshall’s and Bed Bath and Beyond with a serious list in hand. We bought so much at Bed Bath & Beyond the cashier asked us if it was for a bridal shower.

Cindy and JJ

Cindy with JJ after bunion surgery.

By surgery time we had her kitchen working like a finely-tuned machine. She was thrilled. Me too. Her surgery went great. After surgery I took care of her the best I could. I did the usual stuff, got her ice pack, made coffee and took the dog out. Most importantly I made popcorn every night. We caught up on old chick flicks like Runaway Bride and While You Were Sleeping and had a great 10 days together. 

Lila & me at Wildwood

Me and my GF Lila at Wildwood Park

While in Ohio I got to spend time with a few of my girlfriends. Lila and I walked at Wildwood Park and had lunch at Bob Evans; Val and I grabbed lunch at B Dubs, (Buffalo Wild Wings) and Peg, Lisa and I had our usual Lebanese feast at the Beirut Restaurant in Toledo. I also spent time visiting my Mother-In Law at Heartland Nursing Home and managed a little time with Ron, one half of the Bucket Buddy duo Kathy and Ron.

My granddaughters

Fun with my granddaughters Ally and Lilly.

The highlight of my trip to Ohio was time spent with my granddaughters Lilly and Ally. We played Barbie’s, watched Moana and the girls demonstrated their stellar tumbling moves.

Lila’s husband, Bob took me back to Detroit Metro for my flight back to Palm Springs. Thanks Bob, hope I did’t talk your ear off.

Other Half Bday

Celebrating Other Half’s Birthday at Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant.

Other Half was happy I was home just in time to celebrate his birthday. The next day I was off on my next jaunt. This time to North Hollywood.

Beesly in cone

Beesly in the cone of shame.

Our granddog, Beesly had developed bladder stones. He disclosed this condition by peeing the bed, daughter’s bed, while sleeping. His stone removal surgery was set – and since daughter works afternoons – she needed me to pick him up from the vets. Beesly was happy to see me – not happy to be wearing the cone of shame.

I’m happy to be back at Caliente Springs.  Happy to be back in the Big Rig. Happy to be back feeling like a local.


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Happy to be Back in the Desert

Desert Hot Springs wind turbinesWhen we left Mission Bay in San Diego we made the several hour jaunt to Desert Hot Springs. It felt good to pick up and move after two months parked. DHS, as the locals call it, is a small community that few people outside the area would know. It’s near Palm Springs in the same way our hometown of Oregon, Ohio is near Toledo, Ohio. I’d never heard of DHS until we came out this way.

This area is popular with snowbirds, especially snowbirds from Washington and British Columbia. Must be those dang cold winters up there.

Other Half and I have been coming to this area for three years now. Our main reason for wintering here is the easy commute to see daughter – and of course the weather.

Loving the desert viewsShocking to both of us, we’ve developed a fondness for the desert.

If someone had told me – ever – that I would come to enjoy the desert – I would’ve laughed. As a born-and-bred midwesterner my idea of the desert was formed watching John Wayne movies with my Dad. John Wayne’s desert was full of gunslingers, rattlesnakes and quicksand. 

Desert surrounding Caliente SpringsThe good news is the desert, at least this desert doesn’t have quicksand, not sure about the other two. The other good news about this desert are the natural hot springs. Thus the clever name, Desert Hot Springs. The hot springs are supposed to make you feel like a kid again.

View of campground from 1000 ft climbWe are camped at Caliente Springs Resort. If you squint you can see the campground in this pic. We stayed here two years ago. This place is a 55 and better community known for it’s fantastic hot spring fed pools. We love the pools.

We also enjoy daily walks in the desert. The resort is surrounded by desert with easy access. There are a half dozen gates from the park into the desert.

Wilderness warningJust in case you forget where you are – this sign is posted at all the gates. This is the sign that freaked me out the first time we were here. That and the warnings from one of the locals. I’ve since gotten over my freak out.

Other Half ready to hikeIn fact, Other Half and I have gotten so brave we now hike the desert. Our first desert hike here was a couple miles with a 1000 feet elevation change. 1000 feet might not sound like much, but it winded us.

On top of mini mountainJust the same, we were all proud of ourselves until we met a couple in their 80’s. They had walking sticks and water bottles and wide brim hats – much better prepared than us. No surprise there. They told us they hike up the mountain every day. Show offs.

Jumbo Margarita (first of 2)Another great find in the area is a local Mexican restaurant with a great happy hour with $3.50 JUMBO Margarita’s. Can’t go wrong there, unless you each drink 2 jumbos. Take it from me, not a good idea.

Little Bro with us in CAOne more fun thing happened recently, we got to spend time with my little bro Clint. He was in the area for work. Always great to see family.

Happy to be back in the desert.


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Mother Nature Soothes … so do Breweries

Beauty of Mission BayIf there is one thing I know about myself it’s that Mother Nature soothes my soul. The good news for Other Half — so does beer.

Other Half at "Book Bar" at SD Modern Times BreweryOther Half and I spent an afternoon sampling craft beers at Modern Times Brewery in Point Loma. The owner has an eclectic approach to decor, as well as beer. I loved it. Check out the bar. It’s constructed from stacked up books – real books. Comic books from his childhood decorate another wall.

Post-it-Note mural at SD Modern Times BreweryThe art on this wall is created with Post-it Notes. It’s hard to get the scale from the pic, but in the lower right corner you can see the top of a standard sized doorway. Oh, and the beer was good too.

Cabrillo Monument Welcome CenterWe didn’t spend all our time sampling beers. With San Diego weather back to blue skies and sunshine we headed to Cabrillo National Monument. This time instead of using Other Half’s National Parks Senior Pass to get in free – I got my own Senior Pass. Since rates are going from $10 to a whole lot more I figured it was a good time to flaunt my birthday.

Shoreline at Cabrillo MonumentWe walked the park and – like always – were in awe of Mother Nature.

Ruxin the Vietnamese mini pigBack at Mission Bay we met our second traveling swine. This pig is named Ruxin and is a Vietnamese mini-pig. He’s full grown at 2-years old and according to his owner – is ornery. Ruxin and Zoey, the other RV pig that’s here, do not get along. Something about male pigs having to establish dominance.

Historic San Diego Women's MarchIn a case of it’s-funny-how-things-work-out, Other Half and I got stopped in downtown San Diego traffic during the Women’s March. I was able to jump out of the car, sprint two blocks and sideline support the historic event.

Enjoying Bites of San DiegoThe following Saturday, we spent the day overeating. Our son Heath and family had given us a Bites of San Diego tour for Christmas. We love to stuff ourselves so we were excited. The tour started with Indian food, then pizza and beer, followed by French pastry, then BBQ served with a Mexican flair, then a rooftop bar and finished off with Baja Mediterranean. What a great day! Good thing it was a walking tour.

Torrey Pine Reserve Welcome CenterWanting more of Mother Nature’s splendor, we spent an afternoon at Torrey Pines State Reserve. If you’re a golf fan you’ll recognize the name Torrey Pines. It’s where Tiger Woods bombed out at the Farmers Insurance Open the last weekend of January.

Other Half on Razor's Point TrailAt the reserve we hiked the Razor Point Trail. The trail was sandy but doable for rookies like us. Thanks to erosion, there were some challenging sections that we carefully maneuvered. We were feeling proud of ourselves – until more than one runner sprinted past us. Show offs. 

Badlands at Torrey Pines ReserveThe views were worth the hike.

A Torrey Pine treeAnd in case you’re wondering, this is a Torrey Pine tree.

Wowed by Mother Nature!After the hike we spent time sitting on boulders at the beach. If you ask me, you can never get enough of Mother Nature.

Promenade walk at Mission BayBack at Mission Bay, we took our last walk around the Promenade with Fuzz-Butt, aka Rigby. We’ve walked the Promenade lots of times over the last 3 winters. This time was different.

Dolphin spotted at Mission BayWe were entertained by a pair of dolphins. We only caught one in the pic. The second was camera shy. If you know me, you know I love seeing wildlife in the wild.

Other Half on top of Big Rig at Mission BayOther Half said so long to San Diego from the roof of the Big Rig. After two months parked under a Eucalyptus tree our roof needed a good once over.

Just another amazing Mission Bay sunsetSo long Mission Bay. So Long San Diego. No worries, we’ll be back.


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Friends & Food on the Open Road

Despite the winter weather San Diego has been experiencing, we’ve been enjoying our time here. Winter in San Diego is a lot different than winter in Ohio. We can deal.

Beesly being adorable.This past weekend started with my Thursday trip to North Hollywood to pick up this guy, Beesly. Daughter had plans to spend the long weekend with a friend in Arizona. I’m happy to do the “Mom thing” whenever I can.

Brought Beesly back to Mission Bay and for the next three nights Beesly, Rigby and I slept on the sofa bed. The plan was Beesly and I would sleep on the sofa bed and Rigby and Other Half would sleep in the real bed. Part of that plan worked out. Good thing the sofa bed is comfy. At least we know the dogs sleep fine together.

Took Beesly home Monday and spent the night sleeping on daughter’s sofa. Noticing a theme here?

Ray, Kathy me and Other Half at Mike's TacosGot back to San Diego Tuesday in time for crazy good tacos at Mike’s Taco Club on Ocean Beach. Our good friends Ray and Kathy Crabtree joined us. They stopped to see us on their way back to Portland OR. They’re on the final leg of a 6 week, 9000+ mile road trip.

Ocean Beach Fishing PierThe day was windy and cool but not raining – which is a novelty around here lately. After stuffing ourselves on fish tacos we took advantage of the weather and spent time walking the gigantic Ocean Beach Fishing Pier. The pier is incredible.

Blue water view from OB PierThis is just one pic from the pier. Gotta love the Pacific Ocean. 

Earlier the guys spent time touring the USS Midway Museum, located alongside the San Diego Navy Pier. The USS Midway is one of America’s longest serving aircraft carriers. Over the years 225,000 sailors served on the Midway.

Other Half taking in the MidwayOther Half took in the views.

Ray Crabtree and SnidgeAnd Ray admired the “Snidge.” That’s the nickname of this WWII pilot trainer aircraft. Variations of this plane remained in service into the 1950’s.

We finished off our day together with some of San Diego’s best Thai at Lanna’s Thai Cuisine. The next morning we said so long after breakfast at The Broken Yolk Cafe. Other Half and I will be heading their way in June.

Kathy Crabtree and me.It’s great to have friends on the open road.


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