Posts Tagged ‘walk’

Staying on in Tucson

7th April 2011 by Helen
Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon

After a long weekend at the Overland Expo in Amado just south of Tucson we are currently staying in Tucson.  When we met Heath at Land Rover Marin, he was also there promoting his company rangeroverarmour, who fit luxury accessories to new Range Rovers.  Anyway, Heath kindly volunteered his parents to put us up for a few days and act as tour guides while we are in Arizona!  Fortunately, they were up for the offer and here we are.

Monday was a recovery day – chilling and hoovering some of the Arizona desert out of the car.

Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon

Tuesday Paul & Jean took us for a walk out to Sabino Canyon, where Paul & Jean explained some of the plants of the desert to us.  I learned why some of the sagauro cacti look so battered – woodpeckers make their nest in them!!  The buds are just coming out and the cacti will soon be in full bloom.  Such a rare sight in England where even one flower is celebrated as a miracle!! Paul also saw a real wild snake up close and we all saw a Gila Monster right beside the path.  Young fish were swimming in the little bit of water that is currently running through the canyon, but as the summer continues this water is likely to dry up leaving the fish with nowhere to go.  With the drying of the river the verdant scenery along it’s path will also go.  Much to our surpirse a lone duck was swimming around looking for a mate and food and finding neither.  It really was a very lovely place to go for a walk, although only early in the morning before the temperature gets too hot.

view of just a small part of the airplane boneyard

view of just a small part of the airplane boneyard

On Wednesday Paul & I took a tour of the Pima Air Museum and Airplane Boneyard.  Even though I don’t really understand mechanical stuff too well I’m still fascinated by it.  To me it’s just such an important part of the transformation of society that happened with the Industrial Revolution.  And at the human effort that went into much of the development, such as the millions of rivets in each plane, each one of them put in by hand by armies of women working in the factories.  All of the planes in the ‘boneyard’ fall into one of four categories – flyable storage (temporary for up to six months before going back into flying service), long term storage (may fly again one day), being slowly stripped for spare parts, or awaiting destruction.  Just about everything is recycled in some way and the ‘boneyard’ makes quite a good profit back for the military.  It was a fascinating trip and really good value.

On the way back we stopped off to pick up a new, donated, battery, as one of our original batteries is no longer holding a full charge since it went completely dead in freezing Montana!!  Much appreciated and a weight off our mind for the next part of the Americas leg.

Thursday was back to work again, with Paul getting some of those niggly little jobs done on the car, while I caught up with some more jobs on the laptop – boring stuff like getting the back ups done before we leave the US.

The Coast Road

18th March 2011 by Helen
Californian coast - between the main towns

Californian coast - between the main towns

The last couple of days have been a bit of a ‘road trip’.  After leaving the company of the North California Land Rover Club on Tuesday evening we headed south.

We’ve taken the scenic coast road, Highway 1, which has been absolutely beautiful, driving right up close to the coastline, with the beaches and sea to our right.

It’s been a pretty classic experience in many ways.  We’ve seen the surfers out to sea of course.  There are loads of surf shops all along the coast.  The houses are pretty fantastic, and there have been mountains and fields of crops as well.  There have been more joggers out along the coast than we have seen elsewhere.  There also seems to be a proliferation of psychics plying their trade along this coast too.  We’ve passed through or by some famous names we know from old songs and films – places like Santa Barbara, Malibu beach, Laguna beach, Santa Monica, Manhattan beach, as well of course as Los Angeles itself.  Fame however, doesn’t protect from the ravages of nature, and the news all along this coast has been of the recent tsunami following the earthquate in Japan.

looking out to sea - Californian beach

looking out to sea - Californian beach

Yet, despite the expensive homes and stunning scenery, it’s not that different to anywhere else.  Sure, even McDonalds manages to look slightly more upmarket, but it’s still there alongside Wendy’s, Burger King and a whole host of other well known chain stores and tourist shops.

We didn’t see anyone we know to be rich and famous.  Although if we had I probably wouldn’t have known it.  Paul is a little less incredulous these days about how few actors I recognise on screen, or even know the names of, so I truly would walk past them in the street and not know I was supposed to recognise them as someone ‘famous’.

plump seaweed on a Californian beach

plump seaweed on a Californian beach

It wasn’t all driving of course.  We took a little time out to have a look around,

 taking a walk in the park and along the beach.  We couldn’t come to California without a walk on the beach, now could we?!  We happened to choose the same beach a large group of children were exploring, looking in the rock pools and along the sand.  When we looked we found no small crabs or marine life nestling there, nor even many shells on the beach itself.  Although there were quite a few ladybirds on the sand.  There was some plump looking seaweed and a few small pieces of driftwood, but not the richness of life I recall from beachcombing as a kid in England.  Makes we wonder if those beaches back home are more devoid of such childhood delights.  I’ll have to have a look next time I’m there.

Perhaps once again the most profound part of our walks though was the smell.  They say smell is the most powerful of the senses.  In many ways we’ve not felt ‘away from home’ while we’ve been travelling – not least perhaps because, like the molluscs, we carry our home with us.  But here in California the smell of the sea reminds us instantly of England, having both grown up by the sea.  The sounds of the crashing waves reinforces the effect.

Swanton Berry Farm on the Californian coast road

Swanton Berry Farm on the Californian coast road

Another delight along the road was when we stopped for lunch at the Swanton Berry Farm.  This place is an absolute must.  An organic berry farm that also sells pumpkins, the shop is amazing.  It’s in what appears to be an old barn.  Down one end there is the ‘shop’ where they sell some of their produce in the form of some delicious fruit pies or vegetable pumpkin curry.  Their strawberry cider was amazing too.  There’s no till or cashier, just a box with lots of small change and a few small notes.  You work out how much your food comes to, put your money in the box and take your own change.  The rest of the space is taken up with an assortment of chairs or settees, coffee tables and full bookshelves with books and games.  It’s like a real community centre.  The books tend to focus on the organic message, what we are doing to our planet through over-consumption, over-manufacture, etc.  A real treat of a place and we were so glad we had stopped there.

Highway 1 - the Californian coast road - just after the road collapsed

Highway 1 - the Californian coast road - just after the road collapsed

Our journey was not without its drama too.  As we were passing the Santa Monica mountains to our left, and just as we had crossed Bixby Bridge, we saw police lights up ahead.  A few cars were stopped and we pulled in behind them.  Exploring the situation further we found that over half the road had collapsed and fallen down the edge of the mountain at that point.  A local woman just behind us told us she had noticed the level of the road dropping over the last few days and only a few hours earlier it had already dropped by about a foot, so she wasn’t surprised.  The only problem being was that she lived just the other side of the collapsed road and she was now faced with a four hour detour to get home.  It brought to an end the joys of our scenic drive and we too had to take the same four hour detour before we could continue heading south on the highway again.  An hour earlier and we might have got through.  Half an hour earlier and we might have been sliding down the mountainside!!  It takes a while to load but the local newspaper report of the collapse can be found here – Carmel Pine Cone.

Finally, on Friday, we reached Encinitas, close to where we want to be tomorrow to meet up with some car club members, and treated ourselves to a cheap motel for the night, having roughed it a bit the last few nights.

Red faces & radio interviews

13th March 2011 by Helen
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Today has been a variegated day.  We had to take a drive into Santa Cruz to fill up with diesel.  We’ve been taking Highway 1 right along the coast since we left San Fran.  Unfortunately, because it’s not a trucking route, not all the fuel stations sell diesel.  We ran out about three quarters of a mile from the next fuel stop!!  Felt a bit silly having to walk along the road with a jerry can!!

Californian coastline on a dreary rainy day at Santa Cruz

Californian coastline on a dreary rainy day at Santa Cruz

After some shopping and refreshments we took a walk along the coastline.  We both agreed it reminded us of Broadstairs, near our home town of Ramsgate.  Wide, curving road, with very individual and large homes along one side overlooking the sea.  The smell and sound of the crashing of the waves opposite reminded us too of home, all washed down with a drizzle of rain.  We can really understand why California is the agriculture State – a bit like the garden of England (Kent).  The only thing really different is that there seems to be a lot of pretty flowers growing in amongst the grass and there aren’t lots of fences everywhere.  Took some obligatory photos of waves crashing over the rocks.  Actually, rather enjoyed taking the photos, not obligatory at all.

coastline gardens - Santa Cruz

coastline gardens - Santa Cruz

Liked it so much at the campsite last night we went back there again tonight.