Friday, November 11, 2016

IDYLLWILD COUNTY PARK (San Jacinto Mountains, Riverside County, CA)

Our second trip in our Winnebago ERA RV was to Idyllwild County Park up in the San Jacinto Mountains. Idyllwild is approximately 50 miles (a leisurely 1 hour, 10 minute drive) from our home in Murrieta. The  road up the last leg of SR 74 and ascending SR 243 is gently winding, with pullouts and passing lanes.

The morning of our trip started out auspiciously. Gil took that Friday off and we had everything packed and ready to go by 9:50am. The weather was a gorgeously mild & sunny 69F, the birds were singing, the fur babies beyond excited, and all of our mundane worries melting away when, all of sudden, about a five minute drive from the house, the check engine light went on. Gil pulled over to the side of the road, got out and popped up the hood. He fiddled around for a few minutes and then started pulling out small twigs, leaves, and what looked like dryer lint from the upper right hand corner of the engine bay. No - NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! It can't be! Tell me it ain't so! Bad, bad deja vu happening right now...

Flash back a couple months ago when Gil, after a routine check on the RV, which was parked on the driveway next to the garage, discovered a substantial rodent's nest inside of the engine compartment. WTF? This must be the price one pays for living out in the boonies. Needless to say, the check engine light lit up when he started the ignition. He managed to drive the RV to Fletcher Jones in Temecula for a diagnosis and, after a day in the shop and about $600 later, they replaced all the damaged parts.

Fast forward to the morning of our Idyllwild trip, and it happened again, despite Gil's past diligent effort (upon advice of the mechanic) of stuffing scented dryer sheets galore in the engine compartment and setting up mouse traps underneath the RV to deter the little M-effers. At this point, he was really pissed off and I was resigned to scrapping our travel plans. But then Gil decided that no stupid rodent was going to ruin our trip. So he proceeded to wrap up the chewed wires with electrical tape and off we went, ignoring the check engine light all the way.

11/4/16 CA State Route 243 was renamed the Esperanza Firefighters Memorial Highway in 2007 in honor of the 5 firefighters from Engine 57 of the San Bernardino National Forest's Alandale Station near Idyllwild, who died in the 2006 Esperanza Fire. The fire, started in Cabazon by arsonist Raymond Lee Oyler (arrested and later sentenced to death), not only killed these firefighters, but ultimately caused over $9 million in damage, burning over 42,000 acres, destroying 34 houses and many outbuildings.

En route, we stopped at Albertsons in Wildomar so I could pick up some dog food and coffee, while Gil pulled into the nearby Shell station to pump air into the RV tires. We left at 11am, and it was 12:30pm when we arrived at our campsite #84, which Gil had reserved online about a month ago. We were very pleasantly surprised that the campground was almost completely empty. After a lunch break, we trekked down the campground road with Addy and Sasha for a leisurely hike. When we got back, however, we noticed that a few campers had shown up and were setting up their tents nearby - turns out that they were part of a yoga group. As the afternoon-evening wore on, more of the yoga group showed up until, in the end, there were probably about 15-20 of them, many with their pet pooches in tow. A couple of the ladies came by our site to introduce themselves with, of course, the ulterior motive of wanting to pet our fur babies. Addy, of course, was a slut all over them like a cheap suit, while Sasha was, well, in her typical Sasha mode (I'm a scardy-cat, please don't pet me cuz I'll bark at you and then jump behind my bro or mom for protection).

Highlights of the trip:

1. Lots of doggies with their pet parent campers nearby. Addy & Sasha were pretty much ok with them, so long as they kept their distance.

2. Some of the little dogs (i.e., a chihuahua and a poodle named Gnocchi) were fearless aggressors, running up to and barking at our pooches.

3. The yoga instructor also happened to be a dog walker (Gnocchi was her walkee).

4. Our yoga group neighbors were really nice, even inviting us to join in on their yoga session in the morning. Gil noted that he wouldn't be able to get up if he bent down.

4. Weather was perfect: 66F in the afternoon, down in the upper 30s later that night (being in an RV helps in that department).

5. Next morning, around 7:30am, the yoga group had their yoga mats out. We heard a strange high-pitched howling throughout this exercise and it turned out to be the husky whose owner was one of the ladies (with a Russian/Eastern European accent) who came by our site yesterday to pet our fur babies. The husky was yelping and pawing at her the whole time she was trying to do the OHM thing.  She eventually escorted him aside to have a heart-to-heart about the indignities of disrupting a yoga session, but alas, to no avail. And then there was Gnocchi, the errant, moplike poodle, who kept escaping from his doggie bed next to the yoga instructor/dog walker. A comedy of errors. Moral of the story? Don't bring your pooch to a Yoga camp unless he/she is super zen and well-behaved.

7. Gil found a dead, headless rat at our campsite the next morning. Wherefore, why, how? Regardless, anyhoo, and staying true to the mantra of no trace left behind, gloved Gil picked it up by its tail, ensconced it into a plastic bag, and discarded the whole sordid portmanteau into the nearest dumpster.

8. Love this campground, which is surrounded by incense cedars, black oaks, manzanitas, pines, hiking trails, and close to the town of Idyllwild. All's well that ends well.

 Keenwild Fire Station at 4,675' elevation off State Route 243 north of Mountain Center and State Route 74

 Ascending State Route 243

Idyllwild County Park at 54000 Riverside County Playground Road

 Entrance to Idyllwild County Park

 Site #84

 Oooh! No one except us at the far end of the campground (for now, at least)

 Gil, fishing out the remnants of the rodent's nest from the engine compartment

Addy, doing his boy-dog duty of marking the campsite marker

Campsite marker

White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) on a Jeffrey Pine near our campsite

Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) off the campground road

Pictograph Rock off the campground road. 
Gil and I look really hard, but couldn't really see any pictographs. 
Must be our aging eyes, lack of visual imagination or (egads!) BOTH...

California Black Oak (Quercus kellogii) in fall foliage

Pink-bracted Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei spp. drupacea)

White Fir (Abies concolor)

Incense Cedar

Pink-bracted Manzanita

Black Oaks, Incense Cedars, and Jeffrey Pines along the campground road

Gil and Sasha, semi-ruminating

Gil and Sasha, moseying along the campground road

Campground bulletin board. 
The no campfire rule was recently imposed on many of the San Bernardino National Forest and Riverside County Parks campgrounds due to the prolonged drought here in SoCal. No fires, even in the fire rings for the time being

One of several trailheads in the park

Information kiosk

A vacation rental just outside the entrance to the park

Slender Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium thermale)
Campground road

Addy and Sasha, scoping out that strange man coming down the road

Oh, yeah - that's daddy!!! 
He was gone for an infinitesimal, redonkulous 10 minutes, so let's Sumo wrestle to show how excited we are to see him!

11/5/16 Sasha at her station the next morning. It was a chilly 40F, perfect Akita weather

 Top of the picnic table = a better view

 Road from our campsite #84

Packing up camp (the yoga group's tents are in the background)

 One of the yoga groups, including the irrepressible husky and his owner, doing their yoga thing behind the RV

 Exiting the campground

 Descending State Route 243

 Whitebark California Lilac/Chaparral Whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis)

 California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium)

 Birch-Leaf Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides)

 Big Sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata)

 Red Shanks/Ribbon Wood (Adenostoma sparsifolium)
4,800' elevation, SR 243

SR 243

SR 243

Junction of SR 243 & SR 74

Hmmm...must check this out. Would be cool to have a cabin up here.

Descending SR 74

Descending SR 74

4,000' elevation, descending SR 74

Thick-leaved Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium), 4,000' elevation, SR 74

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