Adventure to Joshua Tree NP – Day 3

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Our stay at the Joshua Tree was wonderful as we were at the Atomic Tiki Ranch in Yucca Valley with its incredible collection of mid-century furniture and collectables with a tiki twist. We loved playing the record player with plenty of classic Hawaiian records to transport us to Hawaii and dance the hula around this super cool party house. Space was huge in the house with a dressing room in the master room with wall to wall mirrors and a huge closet. I imagine back in the day you could get dressed in there for your cocktail party and check your outfit, do your makeup and look fancy! We enjoyed the details in the kitchen with their collection of vintage cups and plates and its original oven in primo condition. I could see that a lot of love was put into this house to create this space and as I am a big fan of the mid-century furnishings and decor this was the perfect place to stay!

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Our last hike in the park was a small low key hike or two, and the weather was Blowing Sand and 4˚C during the day in the sunshine. We thought it should be alright in the sun?!? But no, the weather was windy, the wind was cold, so we had to put on our hoods our jackets were zipped up, and I also had a beanie on! Which is what is happening in this pic with my hood over my head to keep warm. The kids were active and jumping all over the rocks, so they managed to increase their body temperature, and even though we were in the Hidden Valley trail we still had the wind blowing in, brrr!

 

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Examining a prickly pear

 

Ash had bought the California flora and fauna book from the Visitor Centre with his Christmas money and was busy identifying the plants around the place. This was good to see as even though the desert is sparse, the fauna is so fascinating.

 

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Barker Dam with foliage in winter

 

Our other hike was the Barker Dam hike which was an easy loop just over a mile, but I somehow managed to lose the rest of the family in the hike as Missy was not too keen to hike in the wind. My problem is I usually hang back and take pictures and eventually catch up, but these guys were going so fast I kept on missing them at the vista stops. So I continued on following the path as it was a loop it was easy. The dam was very cool to see, and from there the trip back was through many Joshua Trees and distant desert landscape before I found the sign for the carpark.

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Close up of Joshua Tree leaves
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A majestic Joshua Tree with its many branches

The desert landscape was an inspiring place to relax and recharge with its magic and wonder over the land. I feel that winter or spring would be beautiful times to visit as the summer would be so hot!

The 741 km (461 miles) was so worth it as the kids like to break up the drive in the car and on our way back we were in another RV entirely off the highway for a bit but it was so good to discover a new town close to another favourite National Park of our Sequoia. This RV was very cosy with a gas fireplace all ready for us when we arrived in Exeter – we made it just in time for a sunset over the RV in amongst the citrus trees, this town is in the Central Valley – known best for agriculture production.

Missy found the cat, and we gave it some love while Ash enjoyed reading in front of the gas fireplace for the evening reading Warriors. For breakfast on the last leg of our trip home, we went into the town or Exeter and went to the Exeter Whistle Stop a diner that lives up to what American diners are about with endless cups of coffee and big breakfasts. My hubby enjoyed 3 plates of food that morning, and my breakfast was just right with 2 eggs, a muffin and a cup of tea and half a buckwheat pancake! The service was the best, and the staff were just wonderful with their hospitality, as soon as you walked I was asked: “What would you like to drink?” I responded with a cup of tea. It was delivered quick sticks in a teapot with a slice of lemon, our order was promptly taken by the sweetest lady, and we soon had a table full of tasty breakfast goods ready for the drive home. I highly recommend this place if ever you are staying in the Central Valley and going to Sequoia NP or Kings Canyon.

This trip was delightful with the adventuring into new territory and spaces and it really felt like a break even with all the time in the car, I had better get prepared as Australia has some even longer roads to travel with famous deserts of their own to explore!

 

Pacific North West Festivities

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We decided at the last minute to apply for a house sit up in Washington State for the holidays – we submitted as a family and the owner of the house was happy for us to come up to the island and look after her 3 cats for 10 days. We had no idea where this island was and the logistics have been a bit tricky as we had to meet up on Saturday for a tour of the house and how to care for the cats. Everything happened so quickly and we managed to book our flights in time and book an Air BnB in Seattle for the night before to catch up with our friends for dinner. As we travelled to Whidbey Island at the northern boundary of Puget Sound on Saturday morning we saw some snow and as we travelled further north there was more snow and we drove onto the ferry and landed on the island to being snowed on! What an experience driving in snow in a small little hire car, thank goodness we made it to the house and were warm and toasty to watch the end of the snowfall from safely inside our house sit.

Last Tuesday was the final workshop at the library for the Sew Sew with FabMo and we made Christmas decorations with felt and FabMo fabric. It is a fun little hand sewing project with various levels of skills in sewing which I always love. We had beginners who made tried sewing for the first time to a European contingent who were very skilled with a needle and made their own creatures including a hedgehog. I highly recommend coming to check this out if you would like to make your own decorations for friends or family and want to start sewing with a small project.

Wednesday I had a lunch date with a friend of mine who has just started a job at Stanford. I promised we would get together for some art lunch dates while she is working there so it was the perfect time to head on down to see the Nick Cave sound suit exhibit. We had been to the De Young and that is where I saw my first Nick Cave sound suit and I had to ask my friend this isn’t Nick Cave from the Bad Seeds fame. Lucky she knew and put me in the right direction, since then I have been researching these wonderful sound suits and the choreography with the suits and I really love them and the stories behind each suit. I am totally drawn to them as they are so textile focused and that is my love.

What I really enjoyed is the detail of each suit – as you can see in these pics there are lots and lots of buttons sewn onto the fabric as are pieces of knitted fabric pieces with a little-stuffed toy in between. The brushed wire is amazing in real life.

As a family activity, this is wonderful with a felt wall so you can decorate the sound suits as well as a caravan out the front of the gallery to design your own sound suit – the interactivity for the kids would make it a great winter activity for the school holidays.

If you have already had lunch a wander down to the Arizona Cactus garden is a fun thing to do with an amazing collection of cactus and succulents. I just love succulents so I was in plant heaven checking this out – the light was overcast and perfect for photographs as there were no shadows. The parking is $1.25 for 30 minutes so I would recommend a couple of hours max and then finding somewhere to eat close by or even head on back home if you are a local.

While I was near the cactus garden there is a mausoleum for the Stanford family and right next to them a sculpture of the family with these icons beneath them on how they envisaged the university for their son who passed away at 15 years old from typhoid. The Stanford family then wanted to educate all the children of California, they had some grand plans for the time and their sense of education was pioneering. I really liked seeing crafts, science and art as part of their vision.

On Friday and we made our way to the airport to fly to Seattle – we stayed the night in an Air BnB and visited our friends who live close by for dinner. We had a tasty dinner of Thai food and we walked from their house to the downtown for ice cream?!? Yes, ice cream in winter – there are 3 ice cream shops within a block of our friend’s house. We went to this place called the Nutty Squirrel and I enjoyed an amazing combination of Olive oil and Clementine on a cold winters night. After ice cream we went to our friend’s neighbours house for a nice glass of red wine – I am loving the Pacific North West.

 

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Finding the coffee shop in the snow
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Finally found a latte to keep us warm
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Getting snowed on and eating snow flakes
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Beautiful blown glass baubles from the studio in Langley

 

Saturday we made our way up to the island with no idea that we were going to be travelling in the snow. As we headed up north on the I-5 the snow was coming down and by the time we made it to the ferry, there was a blanket of snow on the ground. We drove onto the ferry and sat in the car for the 30-minute ride and off we went on the island to find a coffee shop to enjoy a snack before we drove up to the house. The Useless Bay Coffee Shop in Langley was recommended to us and it was a real local hangout with excellent service and food. After our snack we made it out to the snowfall and had to drive a hire car in the snow – what a scary experience. The drive to the house had a few hills and with the power of the universe, we made it to the house with no chains on the tyres and the car riding a rollercoaster ride on the snow.

With a sigh or relief, we found the house with the driveway covered in snow – I had to quickly text the owner to let us know which garage to enter in as it would be so hard to move the car out in the snow. We had only met via email so to meet each other in person finally was so good. We toured the house and checked out where the kitties hide and here we are, enjoying a quiet, relaxing break away from everything.

There are 3 kitties to look after at this house with an older cat called Spike living in the house and he really loves brushing. He is used to us now and loves to get brushes whenever he comes out from his resting spot. The other two kitties live in a barn as professional rat catchers. They have their own little room with a heater and lots of cat toys and even a chair to hang out with them for pats. They are Artemis and Apollo and enjoy our visits to give them some snacks in their cat hangout room.

Today in 5-degree celsius weather I took a wander through the orchard to see if I could find any apples on the trees, there was just one with other little ones who are just hanging on. The owner of the house gave us some cider from these orchards and we had some mulling spices to make a delicious mulled cider and so our festive season began.