Life at Jojoba Hills

There is so much to do that sometimes I forget to keep everyone current, even myself since this whole blogging thing started in 2002 with my notes to myself with lessons learned, campgrounds to return to and those to avoid, which I eventually published in an email to a few friends (I am also practicing run on sentences) . 

I have been playing Bridge any time I can get to the card room at 1 PM. We play duplicate on Fridays and the last two weeks my partner, Dave, and I have come in first. Last week we were sure we would be down in the pack, but we managed to do well with lousy cards – at least a bit better than the other teams. 

Today I finally got to go on another hike, between doctoring and lousy weather cancelling hikes, I haven’t made a hike in 4 weeks. 

From the top of the ridge above Lake Hodge in the Elfin Forest Reserve (no we are not in Ireland).

Bill and Andy guarding my backpack during the lunch break

CJ lying down and Jean in the foreground, Art walking away and John going off to take a picture.

John practicing with his new camera. The  view ain’t so bad either. Our cumulative gain was about 1,500 feet in 6 miles, a bit strenuous. Since we had Bill in our car we stopped at Rite Aid for Thrifty Ice Cream at their ice cream counter on the way home.

We had a pair of visitors on our site, well above our site:

If you look closely to the right of the obvious owl, you will see the back of a second one. I kept grabbing cameras to take this picture and each one had a discharged battery in place. Finally found a good battery for Carol’s Leica. She still can’t hold it properly with cast on her left wrist, next week. 

In the mean time we have been improving our site with fine art. 

A view of our site with Carol’s prints on metal on the shed and on the fence in the background.

Here are the four pictures we put up on the fence just this past week. More to come she tells me. Clearly we need to print a bit bigger for appropriate impact. We will take down the images on the fence when we depart for the summer.

Today was beautiful, cloudless, temps in the low 60’s to low 70’s. Tomorrow not so much, rain and chilly both here and in San Diego where we will be for dinner tomorrow with Jing and Ron, Jing who cared for my other for over 5 years and her husband. Then a sales pitch breakfast by OAT in La Jolla. We like them so much after 10 trips we even are looking forward to the presentation.

When we return it will be time to get the luggage out to prepare for the trip to Panama and Columbia in 2 weeks.

For those who wonder where we are, Panama until March 18, Jojoba Hills from then until mid April. On the road toward Rochester until we arrive. May 23 to 28 in Providence RI for my 55th Brown Reunion. Back to Rochester, Carol’s gathering with Visual Studies Workshop, 29 years since she got her MFA then through the summer with trips here and there I’m sure once Jazz Festival is over. September off to Egypt and October begin the return to Jojoba hills with a stop at Malena and Dan’s place in Virginia. 

How did we manage to plan so many activities?



Perils of . . .

I know I have used this title before, many times. Usually I have some entertaining story about a breakdown, failure happenstance regarding the motorhome. The house on wheels is a bit more prone to failures great and small as we trundle down the road subjecting it to the vagaries of road  maintenance in the US. We have been sitting still since December’s trip to Redlands for service so there is little cause for problem – other than a fan in one of the heat pumps which are getting a workout this year. 

No, this is about the perils experienced by the body as the years advance almost unnoticed. As a fellow hiker noted today we would not expect a car or motorhome to perform well if it were over 70 years old and had been on the road continuously. We do expect our bodies to do just that.  We are noticing that this is a fallacy. Stuff does not work as well as it did years ago. I finally got the pain in my right wrist treated with an injection of a magic potion which has reduced the pain significantly. Carol’s  broken wrist is healing slowly and she is slowly recovering her spunk and energy as she eats and drinks more. 

Today I went on a hike with the hiking gang and we went 7 miles, out and back with a 1,000 foot elevation gain. Upon return to the car I felt fine, a bit tired, and my legs are tightening up a bit. This was a fine day.


It wasn’t hot, but I must have worked up a bit of a sweat. This is at the summit of Bernardo  Mountain

Here is the whole gang that made the climb. I am not the eldest of the group. But we are all staying active by being active.

This is a view down towards I 15 which is where we started the climb. The Pacific is just the other side of those mountains. Come climb with us.

Too Much Excitement

Just a few days after my previous post Carol slumped down in the shower as I was helping her dry with her left arm in that wrist to elbow cast. I helped her to the bed, a distance of less than 5 feet, where she clearly was not responding well. Against her objections I used the service she has worked so hard to implement, I dialed 4911 on our landline and was reassured when Nancy, her co-chair, and Sharon both responded while I spoke with the 911 responder. Almost immediately Nancy and Sharon, both former nurses, were with us. Making sure Carol had clothes and comfort while we waited for the paramedics. First to arrive was CalFire Rescue and one of them occupied me with getting together all of her meds and medical history. Sharon drove down to the gate to admit the ambulance and guide them to our site. As I was getting ready to follow the ambulance to Temecula Valley Hospital, Sharon started putting things in my hands and in a bag so i would have what I needed when I got there. The last thing she handed me was the car keys which I had put down in my distraction. Thank you to Nancy and Sharon and to the whole 4911 team. You are such an important support arm in time of need.

The rest of the story is shorter. Between meds and a determination to keep her sodium levels down, Carol had succeeded to a magnificent extent resulting in low sodium and dehydration which lead to the faint (syncope). 18 hours on IV drip with saline resolved that and she was able to go home the next day. In two days she will see her Primary Care Physician and the Orthopedic Doctor to put a smaller cast on her. 

 That is I am sure TMI!

We had delightful visit with Miriam, Yechiel and family. They came to Temecula and stayed in an Air BnB in town. This put then 20 minutes from us as opposed to over 2 hours. We mostly hung out while the boys road their bikes on the Vail dirt bike trails or met with friends from Astro Camp who live nearby. We took a lovely ride on January 1, headed for Julian, but we met a major traffic obstruction. Apparently we were not the only people with that idea. So we went the other way through Roma and Escondido and north on the 15 to take a brief drive through Old Town Temecula which was also crawling with traffic. We were glad to settle back into the house on De Portola for the evening.

I am writing this on my new laptop. It is has a lot of storage packed into a very slim case. I think this is my third Lenovo ThinkPad . I will miss the numeric keypad, but I really don’t do a lot with numbers any more. 

In parting here is a picture of our West Coast family: Azriel, Miriam, Yechiel and Avi.


We had planned to be on the road for a family reunion by now. It didn’t happen. Medical issues and other factors prevented it. Life goes on.

We stayed in Redlands CA to get some necessary preventive maintenance done and took advantage of the need for the coach to stay overnight in the work bay to take a room in Los Angeles near our LA family. we took them out for lunch and dinner and had pleasant time with all of them. On our way back we stopped in a huge shopping mall so Carol could look for a pair of shoes. It worked out, but stopping in a mammoth shopping mall at this time of year for a pair of shoes? After we got the shoes we drove (!) to the other end to see if Coach had the card case I’ve been using for many years in stock. They did have something like it – with far too many logos to make me happy – marked at 70% off. I looked at the mob at the registers decided I really didn’t like it and my current card holder is good for another million mile.

We made another stop at a Tiffin Motorhome dealer that just happened to have in stock a 2019 coach very much like what we might consider, if we wanted to replace GeeWhiz which is now 6 years old. I have played with the numbers and they can be made to work. Fitting the new coach on our site might be a problem, or not. The occasion for this  process was the desire to have a bath and a half. If I had a house, I could build a half bath for a lot less than this was looking to cost. There are lots of other nice upgrades that are available, but we seem to have chilled on the idea, at least for now.

On a more personal note: Since we have stayed in our resort, Carol got to working on the garden. while returning from the swale at the back of the site she took a path we both agreed was not the safest route. This resulted in a trip to Urgent Care where it was determined she had broken her wrist (radius above the wrist, non dominant actually). The break was reduced and if everything is good, in a week she will have a less annoying cast for as long as healing takes.

With all of this; this morning  we woke up to a horrendous noise from our forward heat pump/air conditioner.  My immediate diagnosis was that the squirrel cage fan was disintegrating. This was verified by the mobile tech who stopped by this afternoon and agreed to order a replacement. We have plenty of heating sources so no worries just one more piece of nonsense to deal with. In my younger years I would have been on the roof making the diagnosis and ordering the part. It is not a difficult job. I will gladly pay someone else to do it. The roof has gotten higher and smaller than it used to be. 

 We are looking forward to surviving the holiday season with little hoopla and a visit with the LA family.

Happy Holidays!

A New Chapter

In 1968 Carol and I met in a living room to begin a campaign to save the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from a demise caused by short sighted leadership. That room was in the home of Mary Anna and Bill Towler. We had a wonderful campaign and indeed the Orchestra survived and continues to thrive. But that is not what this post is about.

We became fast friends with the Towlers and enjoyed their company and especially Mary Anna’s writing as an occasional columnist for the local paper – actually the flagship paper of the Gannet Newspaper system at the time. I will not say that I always agreed with her, but the research was always solid and the writing good to read. One day I had a call and Bill told me that Mary Anna was upset with the restrictions of writing an occasional column and finding that her strongest opinions would not be published. 

She wanted her own paper, where she could be the Editor-in-chief and express herself as she chose. Thus began City East, soon joined by City West and eventually united into City Newspaper, a weekly alternative newspaper. Somehow I found I had made an investment in that paper and sometime after the merger I was invited to join a very small Board of Directors. After several permutations and changes we were 4, Bill and Mary Anna and Tom R (I haven’t asked his permission) and the attorney Joe T (If you read this and want I will add your names).  We went though some rough times and recovered and then one day we sat around to decide whether to bring out one more issue or just close the doors. Obviously they brought out one more issue and then another and the paper flourished. 

As the years passed I kept asking how do we keep the paper going when you retire? The usual answer was, “I’m never going to retire, I love writing too much to stop” Bill was a bit less aggressive in refusing to consider an exit strategy. At a point when the paper had passed it’s 45th year reality checked in. The world of print newspapers, daily and weekly was shrinking and there was not going to be a ready market, or for that matter any market for a relatively small weekly in Rochester NY. Major weeklies in Boston, New Yok and other large cities were folding. The board members considered many alternatives and Bill shook the trees for potential buyers and all he got was headful of leaves. In a brainstorming session the Board came up with WXXI Public Broadcasting. they had already shown their appetite to expand into other community enterprises having bought the Little Theater, a wonderful art house that somehow never got torn down along with all the other 30’s and 40’s movie theaters in the city. 

The story continues. Today WXXI and City Newspaper have announced a plan for WXXI to acquire the paper. I expect my last act as a Board Member will be to authorize the completion of the transaction when all the due diligence and necessary steps have been done. 

I will miss our small gatherings once or twice a year to hear reports on profits and losses and plans for the coming year. I do not expect to get together with Mary Anna and Bill any less frequently when we are both in Rochester. 50 years later they are still very dear friends.

Home from Spain and Portugal

Rather than try to recap the details of the trip I am summarizing the experience and what I learned. 

History – an abbreviated short form

Everything starts with 711, as every guide began. In that year the Muslim forces entered the Iberian Peninsula  and swept through in a 7 year conquest to rule everywhere in Iberia. This began a rule that lasted in some form or other until 1492 when essentially all non Catholics were required to leave Spain. 

Prior to the Muslims there were the Visigoths who were christian. They made life miserable for everyone that wasn’t them, especially the Jews. The Muslims considered Christians and Jews lesser groups who were tolerated within their society so long as they paid taxes. This lead to a golden age for Muslims and Jews which lasted almost 500 years. The Reconquesta (When the  Catholics started to retake Spain) turned this around and tolerance for “other” began to diminish. Through the 1400’s many Jews found it better to convert for safety and to reduce their tax burden rather than to continue to openly practice as Jews. The 1492 expulsion of all non Catholics swept away the remaining unconverted Jews and Muslims. 

We visited Churches which were built on/in Synagogues and Mosques. One mosque in Cordoba, the Mezquita, contains a Cathedral within it. The mosque is so large that the cathedral cannot be seen from everywhere within the remaining mosque. We visited synagogues that had been converted to churches and then restored as museums and so many variants of the theme that it is hard to list. 


From the Prado (Madrid) to the Guggenheim )Bilbao) by way of Fundacion Miro, Picasso, Tapies  (all Barcelona) and so many more. To capture some of the span, we spent time in the Prado is  front of Velasquez Las Meninas to Picasso’s Las Meninas In the Picasso Museum in Barcelona  in which he recreated the painting in his style, but oh so much more. We visited Gaudi’s Casa Batlo and Sagrada Familia, not to mention Park Quell. And then in Cantabria we visited El Capricho. 

Wine (actually Port):

We learned that Port is still made by stamping out the grapes in vast tubs.

Touring through miles of vineyards, olive trees, cork trees (in Portugal) with rivers, mountains and small towns to stop for a technical break and an espresso. For those of us who are addicted to long road miles and seeing things from ground level this was a most magnificent trip.

Our “mountain climbing” was replaced by carrying our carry on luggage up long steep cobbled walks to several of our Paradores which the bus could not get to. Even in Madrid the bus could not get closer than a block from the entrance because the streets are so narrow. 

We are assembling our pictures and one of these days I will put up a slide show of mine in the blog.


Bilbao and Environs

We did spend three more days in Madrid and saw two more museums, special item was Guernica by Picasso in Sophia Reina Museum. We said farewell to our main tour the last night in Madrid and while they flew home we four flew on to Bilbao for the Post Trip Tour of northern Spain. 

What can I say:

Iconic images of Bilbao and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. We  are footsore and exhausted. This morning we took public transportaion with our Tour Leader to Gernicka where the terrible bombing attack  on civilians in 1937 that inspired Picasso’s painting took place.  It is a small peaceful town in the heart of Basque country. It is the center of the Basque history of self governance since before John Adams visited. 

On our return to Bilbao we took a lunch break and went to the Guggenheim where we explored the Tannhauser Collection and then the retrospective of Giacometti’s work – over 200 pieces of painting and sculpture. DONE the brain can take no more. The feet are done. in 15 minutes we will meet our fellow travelers to see if we can take in some art at the Museum of Modern Art across the street from our hotel then dinner, pack and be on the bus at 9 tomorrow. 

Fantastic fun for another 5 days, then back to a form of reality.


This small city on the back roads of Spain between Ramona and Madrid provided us with a fascinating day. We started by harvesting olives and following them to the San Francisco Olive Oil plant where we saw them being made into olive oil which we then consumed as part of our lunch of tapas, along with wine of course.

We returned to our Paradore to clean our shoes and rest a bit until it was time to follow Andres, our tour leader to a special place he had arranged for us. He knows we started on a Jewish History tour and are interested in all things Jewish. Here in Ubeda is yet another supposed synagogue and mikvah.  I qualify the description only because I am no authority, but I saw nothing to cause me to doubt. 

Women’s Gallery

To quote Andres, “but wait, there’s more” The previous day we had stopped in Cordoba to tour the Mosque/Cathedral (again) and to walk through the Jewish Quarter. This day the Synagogue which was closed for renovation when we were there in October was open. Here are some pictures of the interior:

Look for the Hebrew lettering in many of these pictures.

Tomorrow Madrid. I may have some time to write while we are there, or not.

Lisbon to Evora and on to Carmona, Spain

Somehow this trip is unreeling faster than I can get my head together to write about it. Three days in Lisbon with a side trip to Sintra to visit the fairy tale Pena Palace high on Pena mountain overlooking an impossible park planted with trees that could never have been in the same landscape had they not been purposely brought there from all around the world and planted to create the park in 1839! This was happening as the palace was being built. 

The next day we left Lisbon for Evora in the south of Portugal for our fist Pousada located in a former monastery. Our room is an historic cell for a monk who enjoyed more space than we might have imagined, still less than is common in most hotel rooms, but this is what we signed up for. This trip continues to be about food and wine. Yesterday, Saturday, we had a home hosted dinner with a well off family in a room they built to entertain family. The 17 of us had plenty of room to sit at the table with the four family members present., father, mother, daughter and long time boy friend of the daughter. The younger daughter and her boy friend were absent. This was followed up today with a “cooking lesson” Where we assisted in the preparation of 2 appetizers, 2 deserts and 2 main courses, plus side. This was aided by the application of continuous flowing sangria. 

Andres, our OAT Tour Leader felt we had not had sufficient wine yet so some of us set off for a wine tasting of the wines of the Evora region. One stands out as memorable. It is called “Invisible”. It is almost as clear as water although it is a tempranillo type grape having been taken off the skins and stems before they have a chance to color the wine. The flavor was quite strong, surprising me. 

Preparing to leave Porto

This post has been gathering dust for 3 days as we had lousy connection in Lisbon and little time to do battle with it. Here it is without my planned pictures just to get it up. Posting from Evora in the Pestana  Monastery from a former monks cell.

In short we joined our OAT tour group after our continued museum/art gallery extravaganza and began doing some touring of historical and interesting places. Our hotel, the Grand Hotel Porto, is located on a walking street with permits for buses and taxis to pick up and drop off passengers. It is an old hotel with much history harking back to the times of British desire for Port. Actually Porto predates the British by many centuries as the Romans founded a settlement here, but the hotel isn’t quite that old. What it lacks in some amenities it makes up for in location. 

We have been to the northwest to the Douro Valley where Port   the comes from and we tasted it on location. and we have been to the northeast where “green” wines come from and where the country claims to be the to be the birthplace of Henry the Navigator is in that region. The “green wine” not so much, the pastries filled with pumpkin sugar are phenomenal. The green means young, not color and it is sparkling and served chilled.  

After touring closer in parts of Porto today and a lovely lunch in Gaia – the section of town across the Douro River Carol and I were dropped as the Casa De Musica a modern concert hall designed by Rehm Koohlhaus, a Dutch architect. We took a tour of this unique venue and were again overwhelmed by the creativity of the architect and the community that has adapted to the shapes provided.

Seeing the World/Seeing the US