Lake Cuyamaca

Lake Cuyamaca
The top of Stonewall Peak, overlooking Lake Cuyamaca in southern California.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stonewall Peak, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, California

 On a trip to Stonewall Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, my friend Janet and I encountered such beautiful wildflowers and greenery, even in the midst of the drought in southern California.
The roundtrip mileage is only 4 miles, and it is a fairly easy trail that is very well marked. The only drawback, the trail goes straight upward, all the way to the top! In the heat, that can be a little difficult. I brought my spray bottle and cooled down in the mist.
Here is Janet, about to be swallowed by a giant rock!
Along the way we had such gorgeous views of Lake Cuyamaca, valleys, purple mountains in the distance and a few trees.
 When you get towards the top of the peak, a stone staircase gives you the courage to keep going.
Windy at the top, much cooler and easy to climb.
A 360 degree view of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is the reward for those who push on and don't give up. Very windy at the top, but fun. We ate our lunch, sitting on a small bumpy ledge, and just basked in the view.
 This was my first time returning to the Laguna Mountains, after the 2007 wildfires burned through southern California. Many living things survived the siege and new growth is blooming everywhere. 
That would be me, a tired but happy hiker at the top of Stonewall Peak. I have had a rough go this last year, but as of this week, I am officially in remission,  a full-on, breast cancer survivor!!!!!
So happy, so grateful to God, so wonderfully looking forward to life.
The spectacular view of Lake Cuyamaca from the top of Stonewall Peak, in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in southern California.
 One last look at the Laguna Mountains, dead trees, huge boulders and a bit of green! God bless you all and may God give you the strength to survive!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tucumcari, New Mexico and Arizona

One of the reasons I love road trips is all the quirky places you see along the way. In New Mexico, I stopped at Tucumcari on old Route 66, and found some odd little stores, gas stations, motels and restaurants. The Blue Swallow motel guaranteed 100% refrigerated air!
I was actually disappointed Watsons wasn't open. It looked like it would have some great BBQ!
I never did find out if the gas pumps actually worked in this place.
 The Palomino was open for business, but I preferred sleeping in my car, which at times can be an experience in itself. On this trip I encountered a crazy women in a rest stop bathroom, a helicopter landing in the rest stop parking lot in the middle of the night, street sweepers nearly sweeping over my car at Walmart, a very forward trucker with an attitude, as well as some very nice people. In spite of it all, I do enjoy listening to the rain on the roof of my cargo box and looking out my tinted windows at the world around me!
I doubt this café gets much business.
This place seemed to be the classiest. Farewell to Tucumcari!
My last stop was in Prescott, AZ, to visit my friend Cynthia. We had a fabulous time shopping in town, eating out at Roses Italian Restaurant, attending a huge worship event in the Town Plaza, and endless cups of coffee and sharing our thoughts, prayers, fears, ideas and friendship.
I fell in love with Cynthia's little white dog, Harry. I tried to persuade her to let me take him home, but she wouldn't have any part of it......goodbye little Harry!
I have always loved the desert, and found this part of Arizona to be especially beautiful. 
 Wild flowers were beginning to bloom around the rocks and boulders.
This was by far the most exotic desert flower I have seen, and grew in great bushes along the highway.
 Clear skies showcase the spectacular views.
 The dark bushes had been burned, most likely in that huge fire last year where 19 Arizona firefighters were killed. Made me sad, especially since I knew my son Jon was fighting fires down in  the San Diego area that had been raging near my home.
Fragile white poppies with thorny stems and leaves hosted a variety of bugs in their yellow centers.
 Saguaro cactus had white flowers blossoming at the very tips of their limbs.
I don't want to see one more curios shop as long as I live.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Kentucky and Tennessee

I really enjoyed camping at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area located between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. My campsite was in Lake Barkley, and was absolutely beautiful; trees everywhere, views of the lake, a great lodge to sit and drink coffee and wonderful people to visit with.
 Lake Barkley is an enormous 58,000 acre reservoir, and was filled with people fishing off their boats, on the shores and off the docks.  I walked this little path near the lodge that followed the lakeshore.
My campsite on Lake Barkley with a view of the lake. My first site was down in the woods and I was the only one down there. Lacy, the campground manager, so graciously moved me up to a lakeside campsite where real people were camping.
That would be me standing in front of my car at the campsite!
When I wasn't at the lake, I was exploring the Land between the Lakes. Everything was so pretty. These two pictures were taken at Cedar Pond, a small pond near the main road.

 I followed the path all the way around the pond; so quiet, so peaceful.
 Eastern Bluebirds are all over Kentucky, yet at one time were struggling to survive. The introduction of bird houses helped the birds nest and rear their young without the competition of stronger birds.
Every time I tried to get close to the birdhouse, the bird flew at me. She looks like a gray moth in the picture. Very protective, good mommy.
The Homeplace is a settlement on the Land Between the Lakes that shows how a typical working 19th century Tennessee farmhouse operated.
The workers dress in period clothing and do all the work around the farm; planting, cooking, caring for the garden and farm animals.
 The quilts on the bed were hand-made by the women who work at the Homeplace. No sewing machines were used! The lady in the doorway is real, and works at the farm. She and I had a nice long talk while she made a rug and I recovered from the heat.
 There are 16 log structures on the farm that are the real thing.
The insides are furnished in period furniture and décor; all very cool.
This little pig actually climbed up into the feeding trough to eat and still managed to look sweet.
My sister Dorothy was the only one to notice this strange short horned steer with two heads and eight legs. She laughed so hard I thought she was going to have heart failure and go to steer heaven. It took me a while to get his pose, which is why they were probably staring me down. Love you Dorothy! 

After the Lake, I drove up to the Amish community in Marion, Kentucky. Brilliant yellow flowers blanketed the fields, while puffy gray clouds filled the sky.
It rained on and off all day, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this Amish community. The most wonderful thing I saw was a young boy about 12, bombing the hill on his roller skates. He had his head down like the Olympic Skaters do when they race, and had his hat in his hand, pressed against his chest like a shield. His hair was flying back as he raced down the hill, just like my boys did, only they used ultra modern skateboards. 
A barn door was open and I caught sight of the black buggies they use instead of cars. I saw Amish folk walking in the streets and driving their buggies, but I didn't dare take their picture.
Various farms have goods for sale; baked goods, plants, rugs, furniture, saddles. Everything handmade. I bought a beautiful oak and hickory magazine stand at one of the farms, strawberries at another, and cheese bread and pumpkin cake at one more.
A typical Amish farm; clean, white, lots of green grass, gardens and animals.
 
 On Sunday it was Mothers Day, so I drove up into the Ozarks in Arkansas where my Redneck friend Mike calls home. The hills are so green, probably because it is always raining!
I took a wet, muddy  hike out to Pedestal Rocks, where flowers mixed in with all the greenery.
 Beautiful, convoluted formations have eroded from the cliffs, creating these rocks.
I not only saw them from above, but had to climb down the rocky hillside to see them from the bottom.
Balanced Rock; a formation that reminds me of similar formations in Arches National Park.
On my way down the mountain, I stopped in old general store built in the early 1900's. On the counter was a huge bouquet of these pink honeysuckle flowers. The lady behind the counter proudly told me how her husband had picked them as a gift for Mothers Day! I found the honeysuckle growing wild in the hills.
Inside the old store is the original post office they used back in the day. Deer and elk heads were mounted on the walls along with all kinds of strange antique tools.
 
 My last stop was at the Illinois Bayou. I couldn't resist parking and walking down the steep trail to see it up close. One couple was fishing and a group of boys were horsing around at the other end.
 These boys ranged from 5 to 19, and were having a ball swinging on the rope into the river and pushing each other on and off the one inner tube they had.
Boys will be boys, no matter where they live. I wanted to jump in with them, but I didn't have my swimsuit. It made me so happy just to watch them, and remember how much fun I had with my boys growing up. A great way to spend Mothers Day since I was so far from home. Love to all of you, my family, friends and those friends I haven't yet met.

Copyright©2009 Susan Little, thecampingqueen72@yahoo.com. All rights reserved. Use of photos requires written permission.