California to Arizona

1/10-22
During our usual week in Hemet, CA, the stately date palms were fruiting.

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We got our favorite spot.

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Salton Sea, hot springs, a couple of nights.  Then a most unsatisfactory place outside Yuma.  We won't be going back to Pilot Knob.  But the next two nights we were at our favorite park south of town.  We even got to see a movie.

1/23
For 4 nights in QuartzFest we parked with Connie and Cal and Ellie  and Pete.  We were entertained in the beautiful K-Star one evening, and ate out another.  Pete won a prize for having the strongest radio signal.

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Ellie
Pete, Cal, Stan
Pete with prize

Then it was back to Desert Hot Springs, where Connie and Cal later joined us.  We all had a mall trip to Palm Springs and hiked in Palm Canyon.

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Burgers on our way to LA.  We never know where we'll go next and whether there will be In-N-Outs there, so we need to be alert.

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2/1
The nicest RV park in La Canada-Flintridge is at the home of our old friends Debby and Marty.

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Debby took Liz to the local barber for a long overdue haircut.  Marty had the day off for his birthday and graciously escorted us around LA, first to his hospital and office, and then through the heart of town.

We goggled at City Hall (remember "Dragnet"?) and Disney Concert Hall, a stunning Gehry building.  

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After a delicious lunch at the Santa Monica pier, Debby and Liz saw the haunting photographic exhibit "Ashes and Snow" at the Nomadic Museum.

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Marty and Stan walked out the pier, and then we all walked down to Venice beach.

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2/2-12
The weather warmed up so we headed north. In Santa Cruz we stopped to see our friend Suzanne and meet her fiancee, Marc. 
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In Boulder Creek we spent 3 nights with family at  Kate and Ralph's beautiful home hidden away in the woods.
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Liz's nephew Ben, his fiancee Kim, and her dad Ron met us there for the Super Bowl, during which we consumed all the yummy naughty foods we usually avoid.  We enjoyed the hot tub with deer watching us from the hillside.

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It was nice to have space to cook in.  The house is a delight: check out this gorgeous kitchen!

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One final night in civilization with friends Jerry and Joanne in Los Gatos, and we'd had enough of cities and traffic.  The weather was holding up well, so we headed east for the national parks: Yosemite, Kings Canyon & Sequoia.

The long drive across the San Joaquin valley was enhanced by miles of early flowering fruit trees, but the air was so thick that we could not see the Sierra Nevada until we were quite close.

We picked a camping spot outside Yosemite in Groveland and made our plans.  Fortunately the weather was fine, but only a few roads were open to traffic.  There were hardly any tourists, so the experience was both very wild and very peaceful.

Yosemite: pictures speak for themselves.

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On exiting, we stopped at an overlook and Stan discovered the power lines overhead were inducing frighteningly high voltages in their surroundings, including the van! Measured over 750 Volts AC between Van and a water puddle.

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Kings/Sequoia, another day of extremes.  Extreme roads, extreme altitude changes.  We were over 8000 ft, but also much lower near the beautiful Merced river.

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We learned the difference between giant redwoods and sequoias (the sequoias have a rounded top and very different bark).  At the famous Sherman tree a huge limb had fallen, so we got up close and personal with how the tree looks higher up. 

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The feeling we had in these awesome groves

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was not quite equalled by the sight of this lone straggler.

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2/13-21
Once again we had a full moon at Calico after a long day driving across the Mojave.  Then we returned for the third time to Desert Hot Springs to say hail and farewell to Connie and Cal, who were spending the whole month of February there.

We got caught up a bit, did some laundry and cleaning, and had one last In-N-Out burger in Indio, and finally (after 64 days) left California (or, as we have come to call it, "CARifornia").

After diverting to Gila Bend to see friends Ed and Hazel at the Goldwater AF Range, we decided to stay put for 5 days in Benson, AZ.

Here are scenes from our domestic setup in the van:

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We attended our first calf-roping here in Benson.

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Warmup
The Chase
End of rope
Horn hat

It's been over 3 months since we left home.  Plans now (as much as we ever plan anything) are Pancho Villa SP on the Mexico/NM border, and then on into Texas.  Probably we'll spend a week in Brownsville before the end of March.

All is well, we are healthy, happy, and comfortable.  We hope the winter is treating you kindly wherever you are.