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Friday, May 31, 2019

Inspiring Survival Story

Aloha Everyone,

News of Amanda Eller rescued after more than two weeks lost in a forest in Maui is truly amazing.  But what makes this happy ending an inspiring story is her focus on living.

In one of the interviews, she stated "There were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up, and it did come down to life and death, and I had to choose.” Her youth, at age 35, her general health as a yoga teacher, her knowledge of healing touch as a trained physical therapist, and knowledge of meditation to remain calm and centered are also contributing factors for her staying alive. Being lost in a forest where she found water and plants to survive all makes this a truly great and inspiring story.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Tornado Alley

Aloha Everyone,

Tornado Alley is in the central region of the United States. Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska are the four main states of Tornado Alley. But also Iowa, South Dakota, parts of Colorado and Missouri are included. 
Skywarn" weather-spotting training is a national program tracing its roots to the early 1950’s. Originated by local civilian groups in “tornado alley” they had  people on the lookout for extreme weather. Today Skywarn’s two-hours free training program is offered by the National Weather Service. The two-hour class teaches people how to properly identify and report significant weather phenomena. Having more trained weather observers all over contributes to public safety.

We have traversed the Tornado Alley and witnessed horrific aftermaths left by tornadoes. While Arizona is not part of the tornado alley, the area is often subject to dust storms. It would be helpful for us to take this training where we will learn:
  • Basics of thunderstorm development
  • Fundamentals of storm structure
  • Identifying potential severe weather features
  • Information to report
  • How to report information
  • Basic severe weather safety
For more info please go to:

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ryan, Certified Venomous Snake Handler

Aloha Everyone,

Ryan welcomed us to the Gila Bend KOA, Kampgrounds of America. As he showed us to our site, Ryan cautioned us to be watchful of snakes in our surroundings. Ryan went on to say if we see any snakes, to please call him immediately. When I commented that he sounds as if he is looking forward to seeing snakes, Ryan beamed and replied, “I love snakes. I had pet snakes all my life!” He told us that his pet python which was only 5 inches long when he first acquired grew to 5 feet when Ryan relocated to Gila Bend 3 years ago. Unfortunately, he had to give up his pet snake as there are no pet stores nearby that can supply its food.

An affable young man, Ryan has certification from the Phoenix Herpetological Society to handle venomous snakes. He told us that anyone can attend the 3-hour long training course. A part of the course is  a lecture component and the remainder is hands-on training. $75 fee is reasonable as you would be gaining valuable knowledge. While I do have an intellectual curiosity, I don’t like snakes and I certainly don’t want to handle one even when using a tongue.

Ryan gave me a permission to include his photo with “wild snakes” from the RV Park. When we asked what did he do with them, his reply was that he would take them to an area about one-mile from where they were caught. Snakes are area specific and if they are taken more than a mile out of their habitat, they might not be able to find their familiar food sources.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Desert Retirement

Aloha Everyone,

Many cities and towns in Arizona are popular retirement destinations. The retirees come from the Northern United States and Canada. Some are so called snowbirds who spend 6 months away from the snow.  By April, they start to go home.  
J.J. and I stopped at one such retirement community in Yuma. The day of our arrival happened to be Memorial Day and the management invited us to join their poolside pot luck dinner. This park has approximately 800 residential units. Although they advertise themselves as RV and golf resort, the residential units are tiny mobile homes and the golf course is only 9 holes. Today, the ones staying are those who reside year around and a few RVs like us who stop for a day or two.

Listening to the conversation of residents, we learned that some chose Arizona for health reason such as to alleviate their suffering from allergies and asthma.
When J.J. and I commented how hot the day is, people jumped in to tell us that 85 degrees is actually cold for them. During the summer, the temperature rises to 128 degrees plus. To prevent even desert plants like palm trees from drying up, each has a dugout with a sprinkler head.  The plants are watered early in the morning or late evening.

Many of these seniors are living on a fixed income relying heavily on their social security benefits. No tax on social security income, no gift tax, estate tax, or inheritance tax can impact seniors. These are reasons making Arizona a retirement destination. The park residents also told us that health care and groceries are affordable. J.J. and I surmise that is true in Yuma but not in places such as Flagstaff where the county has a nearly 10% sales tax.

I did my walk between 5:30 to 7:00 am avoiding the sun and the desert heat.  The place appeared deserted with only a couple of people out and about.
Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Jacumba Mountains

Aloha Everyone,

The Jacumba Mountains is made of untidy, disorganized rock formations that looks as if some giant piled them loosely on top of each other. Many of these mountains made of rocks appears unsteady and ready to tumble down.

The Jacumba Mountain range is approximately 11.5 miles stretching in a northwest-southeasterly direction. J.J. and I have enjoyed its unusual terrain whenever we travel using Interstate 8.

During our previous crossing, we saw snow at Jacumba Peak. With an elevation of 4,512 feet, the temperature usually drops by 10-20 degrees. Today Honu was buffeted by strong wind. The Jacumba Mountain range is supposed to be a good hiking/walking area. However, unless I can join an experienced hiking group, I would have to pass for now.

There is an interesting LA Times article dated April 2, 1995 written by John McKinney called “Moonscape Over Jacumba Mountains”

Here is a link:
Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Wrapping Up Our Visit With My Mother

Aloha Everyone,

This was another good visit which included Mother’s Day celebration! With a cake and flowers, our family showered her with our love and gratitude.

Preparing meals for my Mother was enjoyable. J.J. and I tried to make them  both nutritious and well presented.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, May 10, 2019

Returning to Torrance

Aloha Everyone,

Today we will be returning to Torrance to celebrate Mother’s Day with my Mother.

To all you Mothers and to all you sons and daughters who are fortunate to have a mother, “Happy Mother’s Day” on Sunday, May 12th!

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rattlesnake Warnings

Aloha Everyone,

On my walks around the campground, I have seen at least 3 rattlesnake warning signs. The fact that rattlesnakes are venomous and the young rattlesnakes that have no developed rattles could bite you without warning is alarming.

Sure I am told that you don’t die from a rattlesnake bites but I am not about to personally prove that. Anyway since our arrival, I donned my trusty hiking boots and have been waking on the unmarked trails to take photos, inhale fresh air and yes, hoping to encounter an adult lazy rattlesnake who rather take a sunbathe then coil and strike. If you are interested in learning more about rattlesnake, here is a link:

The campsite has trees where red-headed woodpeckers congregate. There are ducks trying to evade my photographing them. I have seen Blue jays and numerous hawks circling above probably doing better job of spotting rattlesnakes than me. It’s been a joyful stay and with Honu under a canopy of an ancient oak tree, J.J. and I even love the temperature dropping enough for us to bring out our Alpaca blankets at night.

I went out to take a photo of Honu for this blog and ran into Frances and Kent from Wisconsin. J.J. and I had met Fran earlier in the laundry room.  They readily agreed to be in our blog.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Exploring the Temecula/Vail Lake KOA

Aloha Everyone,

There are only a few KOA campsites that are truly located in a wilderness area. This will certainly be one of them. The campground is surrounded by over 8,000 acres of ancient oak trees. The shrubland hillsides are home to numerous avian species and wildlife.

This area is known as “Mediterranean climate” (mild wet winters and hot dry summers) but it seems to have eluded us. It’s been damp, misty and cold with high temperature reaching only 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, this place has a wonderful rustic quality.  I love hearing and sighting familiar birds during my walks.

Campsites are spread out, as the map shows, with names such as Lower Mesa, Merlot Mesa, Chardonnay Mesa and Lower Chardonnay. We are staying at a flat RV camping area called The Oaks. This is one of the 467 camping sites!

Essential amenities including restrooms and laundry rooms are in dire need of upgrades. The road that takes visitors from the security gate entrance to the registration office has been resurfaced. However, the rest of the campground roads are full of potholes and temporary patches.

J.J. and I would be most curious to return here in about 6 months when some of the planned upgrades have been completed.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Temecula/Vail Lake KOA

Aloha Everyone,

Temecula/Vail Lake KOA is one of the newest members of Kampgrounds of America. Previously known as Vail Lake Resort, it must have been a beautiful place at the height of its glory. The  grounds are immense. Located in the scenic foothills of Southern California, it spreads across 385 acres. Sometime around March of this year, J.J. and I tried to stay here. However, due to heavy winter rain that inundated Southern California, the only access road to this campground was made impassable.  

Vail Lake’s history goes back to 1948. It was created when the owners of the Vail Cattle Ranch constructed the 132 foot high Vail Lake Dam. The resort was left to decay and deteriorate over the years. Since 1978, Vail Lake Resort has been owned and operated by Rancho California Water District.

Starting January of 2019, the Vail Lake Resort became known as Temecula/Vail Lake KOA Campground. This alliance should be a win-win arrangement with Vail Lake Resort being able to tap into the marketing and image building expertise as well as existing members of  KOA.

The 1,000 plus acre Vail Lake is visible from two of the campground’s promontories. However the small dirt road access is closed. According to a staff member, she mentioned that Rancho California Water District is working with FEMA for road repairs, but the release of funds are slow.

Once the site of a stopover on the historic Butterfield Overland Stage Coach Line, this area is well-known for camping, mountain biking and hiking.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, May 6, 2019

Wedding of Kimberly & Justin

Aloha Everyone,

This was an intimate gathering of family and friends to celebrate and bless the union of Kimberly and Justin.

The venue of Vitagliano Winery was perfect. Radiant bride and Jim, the proud Dad’s entry on a carriage drawn by two white horses was a page borrowed from a storybook.

The ceremony was officiated by Rev. Don Toshach who with his amiable personality and confident mien brought humor and humanity to an official event. Rev. Todhach’s selections of two memorable readings were well appreciated.  hey were “Wild Awake” by Hillary T. Smith and Excerpts from “The Bridge Across Forever” by Richard Bach.

The two of us are truly grateful that we were invited to share this tremendously important day for Kimberly, Justin and to our dear friends, Jim and Kay. As the parents of the bride, they have been extremely busy. Talk about attention to details. They truly epitomizes what a loving, effective and capable parents-of-the-bride need to do. Even the unpredictable May weather cooperated. About an hour before the ceremony, threatening rain clouds overhead magically moved away blessing the couple with a perfect lighting for videography and photography.

Aloha -- Cathi