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From Mono Campground to Windspirit

Winkelman, United States

We decided to camp for a while so we head up into the Los Padres mountains behind Santa Barbara. We tried Lake Catchuma, but the campground was rather packed, and we learned that touching the water is not allowed, even though people are allowed to drive their boats on it (no fun!). So we left and found the ranger station. He helped us pick a place to go. Kevin liked the idea of hot springs, so we made our way to Mono Campground.

What a drive over the mountain tops! It was scary, and thankfully Ben slept through almost all of it, but the view on both sides was amazing. The drive ended up taking over 2 hours even though we probably only went 20 or so miles. We tried to find the spring, but decided to save it for the next day so we could set up camp before it got dark. We were so far out! The campground was a short walk from the truck so it was a lot of trips back and forth.

Very weird night - very loud crickets, strange sounding birds, and... screaming? Kev and I both experienced some heart pounding that night, but Ben slept pretty good. We hiked to the hot spring the next morning, but it didn't turn out to be very interesting. The day was hot and dry, as was the environment. Not being much of a desert person, I wasn't thrilled about staying another night. We explored the area around our campground a little, and found a dam built in the 30's. Kevin climbed up and over it and got a little spooked by the hollow tunnel throuh the inside, but didn't get any pictures (doh!).

When Ben finally settled down for a nap, I convinced Kevin to pack up and go. We headed into Santa Barbara, while Ben slept through the rough drive again. Finding the campgrounds all full and facing quite a bit of indecision (along with disappointment over the hydrogen cell having overheated and being out of service), we eventually decided to head to Arizona to visit a community I had found on the internet. Windspirt community was hot, dry, and didn't have a lot going on during this summer (accoring to Don via phone conversations with Kevin). Hot and dry did not sound appealing at all, but we didn't have other plans either. We drove to Banning and stopped at a hotel to get some sleep.

We drove 2-3 hours to Pheonix, did some shopping, and found a hotel next to a water park. We had planned on going to the waterpark to have some fun, but Ben was having tummy issues (probably thanks to the smoked mozerella pasta salad I ate the night before), so when he traded his discomfort for an early nap, we headed to Windspirit.

We were warmly welcomed by Don Clark and Deena, and given a tour. It's a really neat place! We are planning on staying about a month. We might consider staying longer but for worrying about Ben turning over a rock to find a scorpion, or falling into cactus thorns. Not a very baby-friendly environment. Very hot, and dry, it's true.. but the community has lots of trees and shady trails, swamp coolers for the buildings, and even an above ground pool which Kevin and I cleaned and filled up for all to enjoy. It is leaking however, so we need to patch a few holes. We had a choice between an old bus converted into a home, and a small "dome"/hexegonal house. We chose the little dome. It's really cozy and cute. All 3 of us barely fit on the mattress together, but it's working out fine. There are red cardinals that live here, which is quite a treat! I was always enchanted by the pictures of them in books, and they are so beatiful in person! It's really relaxed around here - not a lot of work to do in the summer heat (some days are 105+), so we pass the time however we can between meals, enjoying the quiet and laid back nature of the place. Kevin is enjoying having some like-minded people to talk to, and helps out at night digging ditches for the water lines Don is putting in. We have only seen one scorpion so far- I shook it out of the shower curtain in the bath house. It was a bark scorpion, of which the venom can be dangerous to children, so I've been being extra careful keeping an eye on Ben. Today (July 29) we are trying one of the solar ovens. We prepared some potatoes and veggies, and around 5 or 6 it should be a nice steamy caserole. They have composing toilets in place, an outdoor shower which Kevin and I really enjoy, a well, and lots of fruit trees and gardens; we are still not sure what grey water systems they have in place if any (not sure why we haven't asked). The people here are very nice (Don, Lee, Blue & Shura, Juanita, and David), and we are enjoying their company. The other day we witnessed a horny toad snacking on some ants. He was not shy at all - I had never witness a creature like him before, it was neat! Ben eventually got really close and he scurried away, but for the most part he didn't seem to mind our presence at all.

The Suburban unfortunately is having some issues. Kevin thinks it is the fuel pump and has headed into town today with Don and Lee following to leave it with a Mechanic. Hoping for the best! Not sure what happens next - planning is difficult at this point. We are in a sort of limbo. But we are making the best of it.

Our camera's battery charger is missing - not good! We won't be able to take pictures until we either find it or get a replacement.

permalink written by  heddwyn on July 29, 2009 from Winkelman, United States
from the travel blog: To Costa Rica
tagged Camping, Windspirit, DesertCommunity and Hydrogen

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