In Jamul and San Diego

Hi everyone,

With this post it looks as though I may indeed catch up to today’s date.


October 3rd to 7th

I’m in the town of Jamul in southern California, in the San Diego area, with my friends Fabienne and Wayne.

We spend Saturday taking a grand tour of San Diego, starting in the north and heading southwards through the beach communities of Solana Beach, Del Mar, Torrey Pines, La Jolla, La Jolla Shores, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Coronado and more… Wayne must have been exhausted by the end of the day. Here are Fabienne and Wayne at the Torry Pines Glider Port with the Pacific Ocean in the background. Those of you back home in Besançon and at the CLA may recognize Fabienne. She’s a bisontine (that is to say, from Besançon) and was once one of our students.

a1_Fabienne & Wayne at Torrey Pines...


Later that day we have lunch at Loew’s, a harbor resort south of Coronado…

a2_later that day, lunch at Loew's

…with a very nice view northward:

a3_the view from Loew's

Our waitress accepts to take a picture of the three of us.  Too bad we have the sun in our eyes:

a4_our waitress took...sun in eyes


At Nahrain’s Fish and Chicken Grill

In the evening we go out to dinner and I meet some of their friends, a most wonderful group of people:

b1_a most wonderful group of people

From left to right we have Chris, Wayne, Will, Arwa, Jeff (standing), Fabienne and Dennis.

Here’s the group minus Dennis who’s taking the picture:

b2_the group minus Dennis

(photo by Dennis)


Here’s Dennis now, charming the ladies:

b3_Dennis charming the ladies

(photo by Jeff, I believe)


Arwa has now selected our fish.  There was a lengthy discussion with the proprietor as to whether we should have two small fish or just one big one.

b4_Arwa selects our fish

(photo by Dennis)

Arwa shows us our bread:

b6_Arwa show us our bread

(photo by Dennis)


Wayne and Arwa have just concluded a pact…

b7_Wayne and Arwa have just concluded a pact, but...a

(photo by Dennis)


Here Wayne suddenly understands that he has committed himself to a trip to Mexico with Will and Arwa…

b8_...Wayne has only just understood...

(photo by Dennis)

…to Fabienne’s great amusement:

b9_to Fabienne's great amusement

(photo by Dennis)

A great evening and a great meal in great company.


On San Diego Bay

The next day Wayne takes me out on his boat, the Tender Lady:

c3TenderLady 2


(photo by Wayne)

c2_Tender Lady (2)


Captain Wayne:

c4_boating_Captain Wayne


First mate Dennis:

c5_first mate Dennis


The crew:

c6_the crew


The sole passenger, John:

c7_passenger John

(photo by Wayne)


The first mate hard at work:

c8_first mate Dennis at work


Once out on the bay we encounter some seals sunbathing on this buoy:

c9_on the bay_seals


Downtown San Diego appears in the distance:

c10_downtown San Diego_distance


The view beyond Coronado Island:

c11_downtown_beyond Coronado


The Spirit of San Diego overtakes us:

c12_Spirit of San Diego overtakes us


As we approach an aircraft carrier a small Naval Security vessel comes to greet us:

c13_aircraft carrier & security


The same carrier a few moments later. Apparently we’ve convinced security that we’re no threat:

c14_carrier later


We approach downtown:

c15_downtown approaches


Another carrier, the Midway, now a museum:

c16_another carrier_museum


At the foot of downtown:

c17_at the foot of downtown


The Star of India moored near downtown:

c18_the Star of India


San Diego International Airport is quite near and the planes come in very near and very low:



Back in the harbor the crew puts the Tender Lady back in her slip:

c20_back in port c21_the crew puts the TL to rest


The Cabrillo Monument

Later in the day Wayne and I go up to Point Loma and the Cabrillo Monument:

d1_me at the Cabrillo Monument


Cabrillo was this guy…

d2_Cabrillo was this guy...

…briefly introduced by this sign:

d3...this guy here...

I remember studying him in California history at school. You can learn more about him here.


Here I am looking through binoculars at the panorama of San Diego Harbor and Coronado Island:

d4_me again at the monument


A few of the views:

d5_panorama1 d6_panorama2

d7_panorama3 d8_panorama4


Back at the house in Jamul

The entrance to the house:

e1_entrance ches F & W


Needless to say, Fabienne and Wayne have plants…

e2_interesting plants that...

…that you don’t find just anywhere:

e4_....just anywhere


Such as this pepper tree:

e5_like this pepper tree

e6_pepper... e7_...berries


Such familiar plants as agave and prickly pear…

e8_agave and prickly pear, but...

…but this prickly pear appears to have only rudimentary spines:

e9_...this prickly pear... e10_appears to have only rudimentary spines


And numerous flowers:

e11_red flower

e12_orange flower e13_orange flower bis


And something that we do indeed frequently find elsewhere:

e12_garden elf


I’ve had a wonderful time here in San Diego, as you can well see. I feel as though I’ve discovered one of the great cities of my home state, with wonderful people and its own way of life. And I’m very grateful to Fabienne and Wayne for their hospitality and their friendship.

And here I’ll stop. I’m leaving Jamul tomorrow to begin slowly moving up the California coast.

I’m in no hurry.

Gila River Hot Springs

September 10th & 11th, 2014

This morning Captain and I load up Van and head north into the Gila Mountains to camp overnight…

2_Gila forest...

…at Gila Hot Springs Ranch:

3_Gila Hot Springs Ranch

The Gila Hot Springs Ranch is located on one of the upper forks of the Gila River, where the water flows year round. Unfortunately, I seem to have neglected to take a photo of the river itself. The ranch is located below these rock formations:

4_below this rock formation

5_rock formation_different angle

In addition to its semi-developped hot springs and campground (a wonderful place to soak and camp), GHSR is a real working ranch of some importance, with horses, goats and probably other animals too.

6_is a working ranch 6b_of some importance

Horses go by from time to time:

6c_horses go by

Located on this meadow, …

7_near this meadow

…Gila is a veritable village, with some nearby houses…

8_is a veritable village 8b_house

…including this one, with a small secondary dwelling, which is for sale:

8c_this house is for sale 8d_including this small guest house

Gila is a place with a spirit, and humor…

9_a village with a spirit 9b_and a certain humor

…that we see espcially when we drive out:

10_especially on driving out

As said in the previous post about the cliff dwellings, we meet up with our friend Dirk. We find a campsite just next to his:

11_we find a camp site

Dirk has been here since the previous day and his camp is already set up…

12_next to Dirk's who's already here

…and he’s very well equipped for camping:

13_Dirk is well equipped, glimpse of river...

If you look hard, on the left side of the picture, you can catch a glimpse of the Gila River.

Of course, the best thing about a hot springs resort is the soaking pools…

14_...but the best part is the springs

…which, at Gila, are relatively natural…

15_...which are quite natural...

… for such a semi-developed facility…

16_...for a developed resort

…and are clean and well maintained…

17_...with water which is very hot...

Set under the many cottonwood trees that grow along the river, Gila is a wonderful place.  We talk and soak and get caught up. Dirk makes a terrific fish curry for dinner, and we soak and talk and drink beer and wine and tequila (all in moderation, of course).

The grounds at Gila are lovely and many flowers grow here. Some are wild, like these wild sunflowers that I first saw at Pott’s Ranch hot springs in Nevada…

19_...both wild...

…and these too whose name I don’t know (but I’m glad to see that the Occupy Movement has come this far)

21_...glad to see the occupy movement...

…and some not so wild…

18_Many flowers grow on the grounds... 18b_...bis...

22_...and not so wild... fact the proprietor told me...

In fact, the proprietor confirms that these morning glories are domestic. Wild morning glories can be found, though, in these desert regions.  I’ll try to take some pictures.

The following day, after a leisurely morning of soaking and talking and an early lunch of mushroom omelettes, we get ready to leave.

Captain washes the dishes:

25_Captain cleaning up

Dirk packs up his truck:

24_Dirk packs his truck

Dirk is leaving for the small community of Portal in southeastern Arizona where he has some land and is building a house.  We’ll meet up with him again there.

I decide that I’ll come back to Gila on my own in the coming days.  See the previous posts about that.

Right now, though, Captain and I are on our way back to Silver City, where the music festival Pickamania is about to begin.


August 18th, 2014

I leave Redding this morning, heading east into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After getting back from the hot springs yesterday afternoon I did some shopping and a few other errands. Redding is the California town that, in fact, I now know the best. It’s where my mother lived for many years until her death in October of 2013. I would visit her here and spend days at a time in town and visiting the surrounding area.

I pass by my mother’s house on my way out of town. The new owners have, of course, changed it a bit. They have removed a large shade tree that was in front of the house, something I would not have done since summer temperatures here regularly reach 35 to 40 °C or higher. Here’s a picture of the house:

32_mom's house2


Van is ready to go:

33_next morning, ready to leave


And I arrive in the aptly named town of Johnsville around 2 in the afternoon, via the Feather River Canyon scenic route. I stop for a swim along the way, but take no pictures.

Here we are in the Sierra, in an old mining town, where a childhood friend of mine, Mark, and his wife Katie, have a house. We visit the old mine and its museum. Here’s Mark and Katie in front of the old asseyor’s office:

2_Mark and wife Katie


Here’s Mark:

1_my friend Mark

The sign on the end of the trough says the we can pan for gold here all day for just 4$. We have other things to do.


The mine facilities, which finally closed during the first World War:

3_the mine

It hasn’t been maintained the way the Assay Office has, or the Blacksmith shop:

4_blacksmith shop 6_inside the blacksmith shop


Johnsville is entirely surrounded by Plumas Eureka State Park, and the town itself is a Plumas County Historical Reserve. Houses must be restored or built respecting the styles of 1880. We take a long walk around the town.

Mark and Katie’s house:

7_M & K's house in Johnsville 7b_their house bis


Another house that was in Mark’s family for a long time:

8_red house in Mark's family 9_red house2


There are many picturesque and attractive houses in town:

10_grey house


These more rustic ones:

12_rustic wooden house 13_another rustic


These, either renovated or newly built in the style of the period:

14_cute farm style house 15_modern rustic house


This one is for sale:

16_house for sale

Mark tells me that there are at least six houses for sale in Johnsville at the moment.


Then there is the old Johnsville Hotel:

11bis_hotel 11ter_hotel


Of course there are a few period structures too:

18_old fire house 19_a period structure

The one on the left was once the Johnsville Fire Department.


The Johnsville Historical Society occupies the old church:




22_inside the old church

…there is a display of period kitchen wares…

23_display of period kitchen wares

…a period organ and piano:

24_organ 25_upright piano


After an excellent dinner we take a bumpy drive up the mountain to Eureka Lake for a swim:



The next morning I take a few pictures of the deer that come near the house. Mark has set out a salt lick for them on a tree stump:

29_deer at salt lick


They soon see me, but don’t seem too afraid:

30_they see me, but...

The chipmunks, however, avoid my camera.

I leave Johnsville just after breakfast.  And now, as promised, I am off on my true road trip, out across the desert.

On the Mendocino coast

August 13th, 2014

I leave Orr Hotsprings just after lunch and arrive in Fort Bragg at the end of the afternoon at the home of my longtime friend, Louise.  The Mendocino coast in summer is a land of fog and cool temperatures, though a few miles inland Mendocino County is warm and sunny.

Here is Van parked in front of Louise’s house:

1_Louise's house 1


The house is set among redwoods just north of town:

2_Louise's house 2


In her garden out back Louise grows much of her own food.  The area has a very long growing season:

3_Louise's garden


Here’s Louise and her dog, Oso:

4_Louise and dog


Dinner this evening is salmon poached with dill…

6_salmon for dinner

…with vegetables and salad from the garden:

7_salmon, radishes and salad


Louise with her son Isaac:

5_Louise with Isaac


The next day Louise and I drive inland to visit another redwood forest, Hendy Woods:

8_Hendy Woods entrance


I’m not going to show you all of my photos; you’ve already seen plenty of redwoods, but a few of these are worthwhile to give you an idea of the size of these trees:

9_Louise and redwood tree

10_John and redwood tree


Here’s Louise standing inside one of the burnt-out trees:

12_Louise inside burnt out redwood


…and on top of a fallen stump:

11_Louise on top of fallen stump


There are some interesting tree sculptures here too:

14_more sculpture

…and up close:

15_sculpture up close


But we don’t only visit redwoods. We also go wine tasting at several of the area’s many wineries. Here’s just one of them, called “Toulouse”:

16_Toulouse winery

And some of our purchases:

23_some of our purchases at the wineries

Notice the goose on each label.


On the way home we find a perfect place on the Navarro River for a swim:

20_perfect place for a swim

But it’s getting late:

22_but it was getting late


The next day Louise and I take a long walk in the morning, and in the afternoon we go for a bike ride along the Navarro River:

24_bike ride_fog

Notice the fog. We’re at the mouth of the river, just a few steps from the beach.

Louise, after an hour’s pedaling:

25_Louise after an hour's pedaling

And me, looking fat and out of breath:

26_and me, looking fat and...

By now the sun has appeared and it’s getting warm.

The road goes on…

27_the road goes on

…with its share of wildflowers…

28_among the plant life are these flowers

…and the ever-present poison oak:

29_along with the poison oak


At some point we get side tracked onto this trail while looking for a place to swim:

30_we get side tracked on this trail, but...

But it’s getting late and we have to turn around. We must have done about 15 miles.

Evening comes and Isaac makes us an excellent dinner; some friends of his come over, Michael and Alexandra. Unfortunately, I forget to get out my camera. The following morning I leave Fort Bragg, heading north again, but first we go out for breakfast.

Louise and Isaac at the restaurant:

31_L&I at breakfast the next morning

It has been a wonderful few days on the Mendocino coast.

These last few days…

I’ve been staying here at the Flying Rock Ranch near Santa Rosa, California:

house, back

barn, facing the yard

My quarters are in the barn, above the garage.

My friends Debbie and Cheryl:

Debbie and Cheryl  at restaurant

And last Sunday my brother Tim and his wife Ann-Marie had a party for their 25th wedding anniversary.  On this occasion they renewed their vows.

My nephew Isaak introduces his parents:

Isaak introduces his parents

The vows:

vows - Tim and Ann-Marie

Tim and Ann-Marie the next day, standing in front of Van as we parted company:

Tim, Ann-Marie and Van

The real road trip is coming soon folks, but for the moment I’m visiting family and friends.  That’s important.