Friday, June 9, 2023

Will we get in on our second attempt?

We left Ventura Friday morning with day-time highs in the 60's. A large part of our trip were in mountains, big ones. Way up and then way down. We started out near sea level and our highest elevation of 4,160 was at Tejon Pass. Pat remembered to let the air out of our sleep number bed before we left. A bag of chips popping is one thing, our bed not so much!

There was orchard after orchard with nuts, oranges or halos, and even olive groves. Saw a huge dairy farm. Lots of produce stands with strawberries and oranges. I wasn't tempted with the free shit.

Arrived at Three Rivers Hideaway early afternoon, with temperature at 80°. Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP (on the north side of Sequoia) are make-up parks. In 2021 we were one week away from coming here, and actually staying at this same RV Park, when we got a call. Three Rivers Hideaway called to say the town of Three Rivers was being evacuated due to the forest fires in Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP and they were closing. We knew Sequoia and Kings Canyon had closed because of the fires and we were trying to decide what we should do. Problem solved, we headed to Napa instead.

This year the parks experienced flooding. The road connecting Sequoia and Kings Canyon is closed due to mud slides, as are major attractions in both parks. We can get to a small portion of Sequoia (a visitor center and a couple of trails) from here, and with a 2 hour drive around, we can get into Kings Canyon, or at least part of it. It's another long drive down into Sequoia NP from the north to see the giant sequoias and the famous General Sherman Tree. The only way back to our campground is to take that long trip in reverse. I had told Pat a while back that if the parks completely closed due to flooding I was going to at least stick my foot on National Park Land and claim it! 

Fosters Residence Campground, Ventura, CA

I was scrambling for my phone or camera to try and get a picture of what Pat called a pepperoni car. Didn't do a great job of it. 


In July of 2001, Pat, Chris, and myself followed Josh and Eric on part of the solar car race on historic route 66 from Chicago to California. We were surprised to see a Ryder truck pulling through the Sequoia campground. And more surprised to see Josh (our elder son) and Zia in it. Zia had to return the rental up North and they decided to try and find us.  Pictures below. Yes, I know I also posted these back in 2021 when we thought we were coming to Sequoia.

Where are the Piepers now? Three Rivers, CA

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

They know you're from the midwest when...

Mission Basilica San Buenaventura

We were a little backwards on our visit to the National Park Visitor's Center, located on the mainland in Ventura Harbor. On the previous day the visitor's center was closed before and after our ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island. 

Channel Islands Visitor Center

The Island Scrub Jay is only found on Santa Cruz Island and we didn't see him.

The spotted skunk is another animal only found there.

And finally the Island Fox also only found there. Pat got a quick glimpse of one Monday.

Bones of the pygmy mammoth were accidently found on Santa Cruz Island in 1994. Buried for 13,000 years it is the most complete fossil of the species.

Views of the Channel Islands from the observation tower.

The harbor below. 

Founded in 1782 in Ventura, Mission Basilica San Buenaventura was the 9th and last  mission consecrated by Father Junipero Serra. It was intended to be the third but it experienced delays. The first church burned down in 1791 and the second church wasn't completed until 1809. Today all that remains of the original mission is the church and the gardens. 

Father Junipero Serra

The first settling tank to provide mission water. 

Wednesday we took time for some chores, sealant work on the outside of the RV, cleaned air conditioner filters, replenished supplies, etc.

They know you're from the Midwest not just when you're watching your cart go down the cart belt, but your filming it AND not for the first time! I think it's neat, Pat just says I'm easily entertained. I was very lucky that I didn't fall at the end of the escalator though.

Where are the Piepers now? Ventura, CA

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Thank you to the 4 Texans (Dallas) we sat with on our boat ride back from Santa Cruz Island yesterday for bringing all of us good luck!

Stunning! The Harbor is shaped like a potato.

Another National Park scratched off our map! I told Pat this park might top my all time favorite, Acadia. Pat said not for him. Why? No trees. According to him National Parks should have trees, lol.

We left Ventura Harbor Mon. on the 9 a.m. ferry with Island Packers, a National Park Concessionaire. Santa Cruz Island is the largest of 5 islands in Channel Islands National Park. It is also California's largest island. I was surprised to learn that the National Park Service only manages 24% of the island while The Nature Conservancy manages 74%.  

Santa Cruz has been populated for over 9,000 years. The American Native Chumash tribe had several villages on the island, later there were ranchers. It was established as a National Park in 1980 and includes a 6 miles marine sanctuary. Five endemic species can only be found in the Channel Islands including the Spotted Skunk, Island Paintbrush, Torrey Pine and the Island Fox. The Island Scrub Jay is only found on Santa Cruz Island itself, no where else in the world

You can also get to the island by private boat. There is camping, hiking snorkeling, and sea kayaking. Back in November we secured tickets and selected Scorpion Anchorage from the two landing spots on this island. On our trip to Santa Cruz Island we saw sea lions and stopped 3 times for the crew to remove mylar balloons, marine life killers, from the ocean.

Returning from the island we not only met the nicest 2 couples from Texas, but according to them, the luckiest! Enjoyed their company. On their 9:30 a.m. trip to Santa Cruz Island they saw sea lions, dolphins and more than one kind of whale (but no mylar balloons😀). A little sad we had only seen the sea lions that morning but we've seen them before so really no big deal...

...or so I thought! We could watch the boat moving on a map on a screen inside the boat.  Seemed we were going a little out of our way.  The boat stopped and the Texans jumped up, taking me with them to the rails, to see what the captain called a pod of dolphins. NOTHING like I have ever seen before.  Not 10, 20 or 100 dolphins, but HUNDREDS, maybe a 1,000, on all sides of the boat, jumping and showing off. 

We also stopped and saw a whale spouting (humpback I think) and saw his tail as he dove, a sunfish, and rescued several more mylar balloons. Sunfish can weigh anywhere around 250 to 2,300 pounds, have no tail, and are flat. This one was considered small,  but it looked big to me.

We had food, water (Santa Cruz did have water at the campgrounds), extra layers, a light rain coat, and other supplies. Our 8 to 10 lb. packs are the beginning preparation for an overnight backpacking night in Aug. The layers were needed, with the highs only in the upper 50's and cloudy most of the day.  This was a carry-in, carry-out park. We chose to hike to Potato Harbor, on to Cavern Point, and then back to Scorpion Ancorage to wait for our 4:00 ferry back to the mainland. Lots of pretty flowers and plants, some unique. Scenery was unbelievable!

Ventura Harbor

Arrival at Scorpion Anchorage.

Looks like we'll be going up. 

Eucalyptus tree

One of the backpacking tent areas.

This raven was near Potato Harbor. Pat was the only one of us to see an Island Fox, although they are plentiful. The Ranger warned us that the fox and ravens had both learned to unzip bags.

Everyone appeared to be having lunch at Potato Harbor.

With this view we joined them!

We went down and had to go back up to get to Cavern Point.

Headed down to Scorpion Anchorage.

Waiting on the beach for our boat.

Even in the 50's there were swimmers.

As the boat sped up the Dolphins like to ride the waves near the sides. The gentleman beside me said he went surfing on a wave with two Dolphins once.

What a great day. As usual we met the nicest people, some local, Ohio, Texas, etc. I really wanted to see the Island Scrub Jay, only found on this one island and no where else in the world, however, it was populous on the other side of the island not where we were. No tickets available for that tour during our stay so we'll just have to come back. We were looking forward to a local fish dinner too but we were both so exhausted we went back to the motor home and settled in for the night. 
Where are the Piepers now? Ventura County, CA