Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bienvenidos a Baja!

(Welcome to Baja!)

After such a glorious introductory trip to Mexico last winter (see my blog posts from Dec 2013 thru Mar 2014 visiting the mainland’s west coast and central colonial cities), I wanted to check out the Baja peninsula this winter to see how it compares.

As luck would have it, my View friends from Denver (Hans and Ursula), were planning their first RV trip to Baja, and thus the idea of a “mini Skinny Winnie caravan” was hatched!  We would leave the U.S. in mid-December to hopefully get a jump-start on the post-holiday snowbirds.

Our rendezvous location was up in the very chilly hills about 40 miles east of San Diego, at Potrero County Park.  Less that 10 miles from the Tecate border crossing, it’s a popular meet-up spot for RVs headed to Baja. 

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Christmas Toys for Boondocking

There’s not a whole lot of things to go buy yourself for Christmas here in Baja, so I decided to buy my Christmas toys a few weeks early while I was still in the U.S.  After my extended boondocking experience in Nevada, I wanted to shore up a few deficiencies and make the Winnie an even better boondocking-mobile for hitting the beaches of Baja this winter.

The weakest link in my Winnie systems seemed to be my 3-year-old Sams Club Duracell AGM batteries.  I had really expected these to hold up longer than they did, but as this was now my second set of low-cost batteries to die an early death, I finally had to admit “you get what you paid for” and pony up to make a proper battery investment.   Just like all the cheap Windows laptops I once had to buy and toss before finally investing big bucks on my Macbook Pro laptop (which is now 3+ years old and still looks and runs like new!).

So my new battery decision was now a no-brainer to buy the “Apple” of the battery world – a pair of Lifeline 6-volt GPL-4CT AGM batteries.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Visiting Family & Friends in SoCal

After 10 days of blissful solitude at my Nevada boondocking site, it was time to head down to L.A. for a Thanksgiving weekend with family.  It had now been nearly 2 months since I’d been near a major metro area, and the transition was nothing short of extreme culture shock!

First, I had to navigate myself around the outskirts of “the capital of the absurd & bizarre,” (a.k.a Las Vegas).  Thankfully, I was able to avoid the most touristy parts of town and just admire the big casinos from a safe distance.  But not wanting to overload my already overloaded senses with 2 major metro areas in one day, I decided I would stop for the night out in Barstow, CA before attempting to navigate L.A. freeways.

As nightfall descended across the Mohave desert, I stopped at the Nevada state line for some dinner, one more tank of cheap gas, and one last glance at the larger-than-life lighted casino signs.  So long, Nevada!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Nevada Jackpot!

After two weeks at a National Park campground (with electric hookups no less!), I was yearning to do some boondocking again and Millie was more than ready to find some wide open space where she could run around leash-free (the National Parks may be beautiful, but by their mandate, they cannot be as pet-friendly as other public lands).

So, with a family Thanksgiving on the horizon in Los Angeles, I decided to spend the 10 days before then at a spot headed towards that general direction-- exploring the area around Valley of Fire State Park at the north end of Lake Mead (about an hour northeast of Las Vegas). 

Jim & Gayle were headed to that area a couple days ahead of me and had just the perfect boondocking spot to recommend just down the dirt lane from their site a few miles south of Overton, NV.  Oh, yes!  This site will do quite nicely!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Classic Scenes from Zion

It’s now been over a month since I completed my first visit to Zion National Park.  It feels almost a whole other world away now as Millie and I are currently enjoying our second winter in Mexico exploring the Baja peninsula.  But whenever I come across a decent WiFi connection here, I’ll keep trying to catch the blog up as quickly as I can!

Even after 2 full weeks in Zion, I felt like I had just barely scratched the surface.  Certainly, some of the “unofficial” hikes revealed a Zion that few tourists often get to see, but photographically speaking, I didn’t make it very far beyond the classic Zion scenes that, no doubt, many thousands of other tourists photograph each year as well.

So for those of you familiar with Zion and these scenes, forgive the repetition of same old-same old.  For others who have not yet experienced Zion for yourself, I hope these images give you a good taste of what this fabulous park has to offer!

Perhaps the most common scene is from the Canyon Junction bridge looking down the Virgin river as The Watchman looms in the background.  I first photographed this scene with about 20 other photographers—all of us standing along the bridge with our tripods vying for the best vantage point.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hiking Zion National Park

I spent 2 weeks at Zion National Park last month and got to meet up with a group of RV blogger-hikers who led me to some pretty incredible places (both on and off the beaten path). 

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The other bloggers posted their trip summaries weeks ago, so I won’t attempt to repeat all their terrific details here.  If you’ve not yet read them, I encourage you to check out Mark & Bobbie’s Box Canyon Blog, Jim & Gayle’s Life’s Little Adventures, and Suzanne’s Take to the Highway

I also greatly enjoyed meeting the non-bloggers of the group— John & Ellen, Debbie, Laurelee, John Q & Joallen.  Thank you all for the fun laughs and pleasant conversation both on and off the trail!

I’m still very much a novice hiker and, as such, spent most of my time huffing and puffing from the tail end of the pack focusing more on simply completing each hike than masterfully photographing them, but I did manage to snap a few shots to share now with you here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It’s Here! Our 2015 Calendar

A few readers recently suggested that I should create a wall calendar of my landscape photography for 2015.  I’m totally inexperienced at this sort of thing, but figured that my recent photographs from Utah might provide a good theme—some of these images have already been featured in the blog, while others from Zion are still to come!

So, just in time for holiday gift-giving, I humbly announce the 2015 WinnieViews Calendar - Utah Rocks!

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