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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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Winkelman, United States

Still at Windspirit. Now it's down to only us, Don, and Lee! Juanita will be back in a few days, I guess, but it sure is lonely! We said goodbye to our friends Shura and Blue yesterday. It might be just us and Lee for the weekend if Don goes to his Woodstock reunion!

We've been enjoying our stay. Kevin has even mentioned staying another month. I'm a little anxious to get moving on our adventure south of the border, but it would be nice to avoid hurricane season. I really wish some more people would show up here!

We have explored the hiking trails behind the community. We've been up to "Coyote Peak" a couple times - amazing views from there! Blue led us on a hike on some nearby land a few days ago, but we didn't get to our intended destination (daylight was running out too quickly). It was still nice - we stopped in a nice area and Blue played his Didgeridoo and Kevin played the doumbek (those 2 instruments sound really good together, turns out). Ben seemed to really enjoy the hike. I always considered deserts to be hot, dry, boring, and inhospitable - in other words, I didn't like them! - but this place is really growing on me. It is hot. And dry.. and sort of inhospitable (out in the wild), but I can see the beauty in it too. Especially here in the community where there are lots of fruit trees, shade, and swamp coolers :)

Benjamin got attacked by ants this evening :( His poor little legs were covered in them. Kevin tried to wash them off with water, but they bit him all over, on his feet especially. That's another reason to go - the critters and the cactus's aren't very baby friendly here.

We ordered a new charger for the camera, so we have been enjoying being able to take pictures again! Unfortunately we did not get any of our sexy french friend David before he left. But we have got some more of the community and our other friends, Shura and Blue, before they left.

Oh yeah - the Suburban was fixed and is running great - hooray!

We had some clouds and a little rain for a few days, but now it's back to abundant sunshine and heat. Thank goodness for the pool!

You should be able to click on any of these pictures to view them larger

permalink written by  heddwyn on August 14, 2009 from Winkelman, United States
from the travel blog: To Costa Rica
tagged Desert, Arizona and Windspirit

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Last day of August

Winkelman, United States

Whew! The last day of August is here and my oh my has it been hot at WindSpirit! Our extended stay here has many explanations not the least of which would be Don's kindness and generosity. The land here is filled with good vibrations but unfortunately not ones that attract rain. If anyone were counting they would notice that the past eight storms that were heading towards the Dripping Springs valley missed it entirely! Decent sunsets and a couple misty moments but that's it. This is the driest this location has been in fifty years, so say the locals. That arid heat has sent the critters scurrying for darker/damper places to rest - including our hut. I guess you could say we were fortunate that no one has been stung until now. Regular searches for scorpions will be in order after I relaxed in the vicinity of this bark scorpion. The pain was quite intense but rather short lived compared to the yellow wasp sting noted earlier. Here is the second scorpion found indoors using a black-light.

Finding this one was an exciting process but a blatant reminder of where we are. Earlier this week a rattlesnake and I startled each other on a rarely used path. Again, this area is not without its dangers. The hurricane season (hopefully) is winding down in the Pacific, that will allow us a more pleasant drive along the beaches to the South. Not that we are leaving any time soon. We really don't know when it will happen, only that it will happen in time.

Sylvia and I have been relaxing in the pool, cleaning/maintaining the pool, reading and doing yoga along with various community support tasks... and Ben? well, he's mastered Japanese, mostly done with some variation of Spanish and I'm sure English will be implemented soon! He's got consonants, vowels and even multiple syllables. I'm certain that they will become easier to organize with practice. He can say hut, hat and hot on purpose, that's a start anyway! He continues to tan and his hair is leaning towards blonde now, the sun really bleaches everything here! He has also learned about giving hugs and kisses, and giving "five" to Chewie, one of the neighbors who raises peacocks. He learns new "skills" all the time - the latest he enjoys is carrying things under his chin.

We have taken advantage of the few cloudy days we get by going on hikes. We went up and saw some indian ruins one day, and up to an abandoned mine on another (in hopes of finding some gem stones - found a few crystal formations, but nothing spectacular).

permalink written by  heddwyn on August 31, 2009 from Winkelman, United States
from the travel blog: To Costa Rica
tagged Desert, Arizona, Windspirit and Scorpion

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