Author: Jill400 (Page 1 of 4)

Some people hang up their chili peppers

We hang the cables for our devices. With two laptops, two cell phones, two fit bits, one iPad, and one Kindle something always needs charging. The cables rattle as we drive down the road, but we know where they are when we need them. Saves a lot of hunting and discussion.

Two Popular Ways to Hit the Trail

Wren has a site at Cactus Country RV Park just outside the city limits of Tucson close to the entrance to Saguaro National Park. My husband, a young friend, and I have hiked the trails there many times over our three-week stay. The senior pass we have includes anyone in the car, so we all get in free. The visitor center has good exhibits, books, video screenings, and rangers to answer questions. We’ve had no trouble “getting our Fitbit steps.” We hit the trails on foot, unlike many who choose to bring a horse and get much further than we can into the interior of the park.

One Useful Item

Two months in the desert this winter led to many fillings and emptying of our water bottles. A thin green scum eventually grows on bottom and lip at the top, but the bottle brush my husband thought to pack in our Wren camper works quickly and thoroughly.

Word from a Surfer Bumper Sticker

What appear to be seals off Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, are surfers waiting for the right wave. The wave of mountains behind them is the rest of Monterey Bay looking west (or south if you’re not from the area.) What a beautiful place.

I’ve been visiting desert landscapes since we left the Bay in early January, but I miss the surfers and the sea. When hiking, a slogan I saw or heard while on the coast comes back to me. I think it’s catchy and helpful.

Use Your God-given Gluts


Don’t Drink the Water

Some cities are reusing gray water, so perhaps that is why we are now buying water at a dispensary like this one outside the water store in Santa Cruz. I first noticed the chemical taste when we stayed overnight in Santa Barbara, which does reuse water. Then met the same unpleasant taste in Santa Cruz. I was advised not to drink the tap water and shown where to buy a sturdy 3 gallon container and steam-distilled water.

Not sure of the process, but the taste is great and the price is .60/gallon. It’s cheaper at the grocery store. Never thought I’d be buying water and have spoken out against the plastic bottle waste created by those carrying around individual bottles. Our system and those with large household, refillable containers are doing better, but still, the fact that the water at the sink is basically undrinkable is a sad state of affairs. New York City, hang on to your treasure of good tasting water.

Earthquake Humor

For three weeks in December, we moved out of Wren into a tiny attached housing unit with lots of light, a full kitchen and comfortable bed in a section of Santa Cruz called Pleasure Point. It’s famous for its waves and attracts surfers and those who love to walk or bike the boardwalk along the cliffs to watch them. The houses quickly become more modest as one walks away from the beach. Here among short streets packed with small houses there’s a neighborly feeling. We’re advised that our doors don’t need to be locked when we leave and as strangers, we get friendly smiles and hellos when out and about on foot.

I’ve had many pleasant interactions with one stand-out. It happened on a mild evening graced with a full moon. After dinner my husband, dog and I headed outdoors for a stroll. Around the first corner we met a man coming from the other direction on tiny Yucca Street. We nodded to one another, and then he asked had we noticed the moon and the ring around it. We murmured something about its beauty, and he said, “Means it’s going to snow or be an earthquake.” Then walked on into the night.

It never snows in Santa Cruz. I laughed in relief that this brand of dark humor is not confined to New England, but flourishes here as well. Great way to regard the real possibility that one will die in the sudden crashing of tectonic plates along the fault lines we’re perched above or in the tsunami that would follow it.

Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz CA

Camping among Giants


This photo was taken at Nisene Marks State Park just south of Santa Cruz in Aptos on a hike with Jerry and Bess. I’m wearing four light-weight layers because the trail we used is quite flat and the day was overcast and in high-fifties only. The Sequoias are loving this cool, damp weather, and I’m loving their deeply-grooved bark, their lofty heights, the green of their needles on the branches, and red of the ones that have fallen at their base to cover the forest floor.

We camped for a week in Big Basin Redwood State Park in the hills outside of Santa Cruz, then moved to a private campground in Felton, CA, among the redwoods for another four nights. Two of those days were rainy, so we got to appreciate days when the sunlight does eventually filter through the crowns of the giants to where we are far below. The young redwoods are a mere 150 feet tall, the elders 300 or so. Those who stay and live among these trees clearly love them and the micro-climate they create for other plants and animals.

Welcome Rattlesnakes


This warning is posted on the office counter at Country Cactus RV Park in Tucson. I read it carefully, twice, and did use a flashlight at night. Did not want to step on a rattler enjoying the warmth of the asphalt after the sun went down or one just passing through. I felt sure I’d survive a bite, but not sure my forty-pound dog Bess would. I did not come across any snakes the week we stayed there.

Better than a Mother’s Scolding

Part of living in Wren has been learning to close each cabinet drawer, no matter how small, immediately. Because quarters are so tight, one is sure to bang forehead, elbow, or temple on the corner of the heavy-duty cabinet door.  Those hinges do not give when struck by part of the human body. Although I still catch myself occasionally, the pain of impact has improved my ratio of closed to left-open dramatically. Did mom ever succeed in getting the kids to shut the drawers and doors after they found what was wanted?


The Road is Life


There’s a tiny farmer’s market on the east side of Tucson on Saturday that includes a food truck worth standing in line to be served from. And I did for at least half an hour. No idea really it was so pleasant with children, grandparents, vendors, gem cutters and locals to eavesdrop on.

Time enough to read the menu and the specials and make a perfect choice, the southwestern grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and peppers. Gooey delicious and mildly spicy, generous and inexpensive. As Kerouac says we are all on the road. Let’s make it worth how hard farmers, merchants, musicians, writers and the rest work to support us, including a long wait for slow food.

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