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July 23, 2020

Kg Turns Seventeen in Quarantine

With the almost daily changes in the local Covid recommendations, we’ve been staying safe. It’s a bit easier now that many PPE items are back on the shelves, including a misting disinfectant from Home Depot.

With the house carefully cleaned, we still set up outside on the patio for a late birthday lunch. Kg requested cheeseburgers from the BBQ.  Easy to do.

For a fun game Fran thought a Jumbo Jenga set would be entertaining.  She was right!

The length of a Jenga block is 3x its width.  I used 2x3 pine studs, thus the length needed to be 7.5 inches.  Each stud yields 12 blocks, making 60 blocks vs. the customary 54. 

Kami brought down beans from her garden, lots of beans!  I didn't plant any so they are most appreciated.

But I have ample jalapenos, which was a fair exchange for the beans.  She makes a jalapeno pomegranate jam that's awesome!  So I'll take that trade anytime! 

The girls challenged dad to Jenga.  Aj carefully lifts her choice to the top.

Despite the height Kg makes a successful choice.

Dad on the other hand should know better than to challenge girl power!

Of course there were a few presents.


Oblivious to the party our local Anna hummingbird continued to use and guard his 'personal' feeder.


Stay Safe y lave sus manos!

July 10, 2020

McCain Valley - BLM San Diego

It was an interesting week in San Diego, which still has the only open beach in SoCal.  But with the spike in Covid cases all indoor activities -  dining, museums, etc. - are again closed!  And I have no desire to brave the beach crowds.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is now open for day use only, tempting, but way too HOT at 110F.  All campgrounds, both developed, primitive and dispersed remain closed within the state park.

All BLM lands in the county are now open, including campgrounds!, but not their restrooms.

I decided to visit McCain Valley at over 3000' it's cooler, and in a recent BLMbytes news letter, the BLM was asking for public input on improvements.  Last time I was here the Tule Wind Farm had not even been started.  I submitted my suggestions based my visit a decade ago.  Since the Wind Farm construction is now complete, it’s time for a revisit.

McCain Valley Road is located on Old US80 just east of Boulevard CA.  The recreation area is 3 miles north of that junction.

McCain Valley Road is paved to the BLM entrance, where it becomes a well maintained gravel road.  Entering the McCain Valley Resource Conservation Area there is a sign giving distances to the major attractions.  I’ll do the Sacatone Overlook first.

This is a narrow jeep trail that requires 4x4 high clearance, or sturdy boots and lots of water :).

Although the road can be driven by a capable 4x4, any vehicle much bigger than a Jeep TJ should expect some additional ‘desert pinstripes’.  The road would be impassible after a rain, plan accordingly.  I drove my Tundra which was too wide and long for this trail, which made for some hiking …

The famous Goat Canyon Trestle is off toward the desert floor behind the hills and not within view.
Photo by Ian2001

IMHO the Sacatone Overlook is the highlight.  Right from the overlook views of the Impossible Railroad are seen.  The view includes not only 7 of the 14 trestles and 1 of the 21 tunnel entrances, but also two box cars abandoned after they derailed.


Before the overlook there is dirt road off to the north to the School Mine, I totally forgot it was there.  Another dirt road to the south leads to Sacatone Spring, which I did not take.  I'll save both for a future trip.

An ambitious or nimble hiker, might continue up to the ridge for a better view, like the Armchair Hiker did … I am not that nimble nor ambitious, the view from here was fine.

I passed by the Lark Canyon day use and campgrounds on the way to the Carrizo Overlook.  I found the Carrizo Overlook the best place for casual hiking trails into the Carrizo Corridor from two different trail heads.

The entrance here is well maintained two lane dirt road that might be a quarter mile long, easily accessible by any vehicle.

The less traveled trail begins at the gate and descends toward Carrizo Corridor, which is a good turnaround point.


The more obvious trail is through the open fence and past the picnic area, before descending toward the desert floor.  Great views are available from either trail.


My pedometer says I logged only 3.2 miles here – hmm it must be broken!, it sure felt like a lot more :)

Cottonwood Campground is 10 miles from the entrance, which makes a good turnaround spot for this day-trip.

It’s an OK campground with some shaded sites under the Cottonwood trees.  I took a break for a PB&J Burrito at shaded site 16.  There are reports of morteros near sites 11 and 25.  I did not look for them, now glyphs … I would have made the effort.

Returning down McCain Valley Road I stopped at Upper and Lower Lark Canyon Campgrounds, which  are pretty lame.  Just wide spots for an overnight for those who want to take advantage of the off-road area.

Only one shaded campsite:

Lower Lark Canyon:

Again only one shaded campsite and it was occupied:

All three campgrounds are self registration and cost $6/3 per night, all have water available and vault toilets.

In my previous trip here, a decade ago, I took the quad to the day-use area.  Like Coral Canyon OHV, the trails are better suited to motorcycles … I was not impressed then.


If/when I return it would be to explore the Native American habitation sites.  The San Diego Reader mentions a Kumeyaay Home Site at Redondo Flats.  The only blog I found to mention it is San Diego's local Armchair Hiker.  He also mentions that the site is now closed to the public … I suspect it would be in the vicinity of Redondo Spring.

Here are a few pictures of Trump’s Border Wall.  The gap in the wall looks big enough to pass items through.

The wall currently has a gap just east of Jacumba.  The opening is to allow wildlife to migrate over the Mexican/US border.  Trump wants this, and the other wildlife corridors walled off, as he did in Arizona's Oregon Pipe Cactus National Monument.  Curious what the courts will decide.

In this week's BLMbytes, they are asking for public input on the future of the Alabama Hills.  There's still a chance to make your interests known.

July 02, 2020

Staying Home - Staying safe

California remains under Stay-at-Home orders after an uptick in the percentage of Covad-19 cases.  No safe opportunity for a Road Trip this year, so we blew the travel budget on the counter tops completing our kitchen update.

The installation crew wanted an additional $500 to remove and anther $500 to reinstall each of our two kitchen sinks.  We saved most that by me doing the demolition and reinstallation.

There was the one-time expense of a trip to Urgent Care … While removing the small vegetable sink's garbage disposer I broke off the soap dispenser!,  Yikes!  I jumped so hard I broke my safety glasses!  Fortunately only my right eye was flooded with the very painful Dawn dish washing liquid.

Ever get shampoo in your eye?  Try dish soap!  While I’m rolling on the floor in agony Fran was scheduling a golf T-time.  The golf guy can hear me!

Golf: Is everything OK?
Fran: Is 3 O’Clock available?
Golf: Yes
Fran: I’ll take it!  …  click 

And she bundled me up and we were off to Urgent Care for a profession eye-wash.  We were back in time for Fran to keep her T-time!  I kinda watched TV with an ice-pack, maybe a pirate patch would have been more appropriate.  But nice to know that there was no permanent damage.

I can say with some authority that I would not recommend using Dawn dish washing liquid to clean a cornea.  It took 10 days for my eye sight to fully return.

I ended up behind on the demolition time frame and there are no pictures of that part of the project, but was ready when the stone counter tops arrived around noon at the end of June.

I was surprised that the stone was cut at the fabricator, we were told it would be cut onsite.  Glad we didn’t change any dimensions!

I know there certainly could/should be more before pictures, but I did take a few days off :)

A 3/4” plywood base was set fir
st, the stone counter top will be set on top.

Note that the plywood was screwed to the existing cabinets!  No way to change our minds now without destroying the cabinets.  Our first view of the counter top is the main sink cutout.

Enough material was maintained to keep the thin front and back sides from breaking during transport.

yes we do still have a fridge that will hold our travel magnets!

The cook top and small vegi sink side.

The main kitchen sink, ready for me to install the plumbing.

I still have to figure out the microwave shelf and the range hood, which will be above the stove top.  But I’m in no hurry now that the kitchen is again functional and looks a lot better!  A view of the stove top and the vegi sink.

Cabin Fever can be expensive!, even though it does make the cabin a lot nicer.