Tincan Travels

Winter in the Southeast 2018

This winter we decided to spend most of our time in Florida visiting with family and friends. We will be criss-crossing the state and camping in state and regional parks.

After a short visit with Andrea & Jeff, we picked up the Tincan from where we had parked it at Mike & Donna’s. We drove to the coast and set up camp at Tamoka State Park. It was a little cold temperatures dropping into the mid-20s the first two nights. This didn’t stop us from enjoying the sand and the scrub hardwood forest. Tomoka State park is located on a peninsula between the Halifax and Tamoka Rivers at the site of an ancient village of the Timucau people. Spanish explorers encountered the village in the 1600’s. At that time it was a thriving town on the peninsula between the two rivers. Today you can still see plenty of shell middens that accumulated from that time. It’s a popular spot for kayaking and fishing.In spite of the cold weather we did see some blooms. Plenty of hiking and biking.

Inevitably the Timucuan people were driven away or enslaved. An indigo plantation was established by Richard Oswald in 1766. (Coincidentally Oswald was a preliminary signer and British negotiator of the peace agreement with the colonies after the Revolutionary War.) In the 1950s,after the park was developed, a group of people wanted to pay tribute to the native people who made their home there. They chose to immortalize a mythical chief named Tomoki from a legend of the Timucuan people. It is a kitschy statue in the old Florida tradition. We spent an afternoon wondering around downtown Ormond Beach on the banks of the Halifax River at the Rockefeller Gardens. Lunch was @ Hull’s Seafood, and old-school fish counter-no pictures but definitely worth a stop. Monday afternoon we moved up the coast for a week at Anastasia State Park in Saint Augustine Beach.

We’re Back in Phoenix

We hooked up the Tincan and left Southern California for the foothills of Phoenix. We’re set up in one of our favorite parks just outside of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills. McDowell Mountain Regional Park has miles of mountain biking and hiking trails that keep calling us back.

The fountain in Fountain Hills

This is the view from our door- and this part of the desert smells great. Actually it’s technically not a desert- more chaparral- and this winter it is getting plenty of rain.

We’re always on the lookout for birds.

Cactus Wren

Camping at McDowell Mountain Regional Park allows us to be in easy striking distance to all the amenities of city life. One of our favorite places to visit is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM).

Besides having examples of the music and instruments from just about every country in world, it also has a changeable roster of special exhibits. The current exhibit is about the development of the electric guitar.

The exhibit consists of historically important instruments from the collection of Lynn Wheelwright.

Charlie Christian’s guitar

For those who don’t know, Charlie was the first significant electric jazz guitarist. He became famous playing with Benny Goodman.

Tommy Tedesco’s Telecaster

Tommy was born in Niagara Falls and made his name as a LA studio musician. You may not know the name but you’ve heard him play. Those guitar riffs from the themes of The Twilight Zone, Bonanza and Green Acres were Tommy’s. If you ever listened to Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys you listened to him play this guitar.

The museum also has a wonderful 300 seat auditorium. We went to see an electric guitar driven jazz quartet- The Nils Cline 4.

Tom Rainey, Chris Lightcap, Julian Lage and Nils Cline

Meanwhile back at camp.

The wet weather has moved on and has left an explosion of flowers and happy cacti.

We made our way back to the Heard Museum after finding out that the Hoop Dancing World Championship was taking place. Public performances of modern hoop dancing began in 1930’s with Tony White Cloud of the Jemez Pueblo. He created a performance program for the tourism industry using willow hoops while dancing to intertribal music. The first World Championship was held in 1991. This is a wonderful event and we highly recommend attending it if you’re in the area. It’s not just the amazing dancers but also the drumming and singing that accompanies the dancers. Put it on your to do list.

The Scenic Trail is a tough trail to bike but a nice 3.8 mile hike. We do this hike whenever we visit.

This is a Crested Saguaro and you don’t get to see many of them. There is no agreement about what causes these rare crested formations.

We lucked out and there were two performances we wanted to see while we were in the area. So… we traveled back to the Musical Instrument Museum for a performance by The Bad Plus. It was terrific.

Orrin Evans, Reid Anderson and Dave King

The bike trails in the park cater to all skill levels and attract a wide variety of riders. It’s a big reason for our returning whenever we’re in Arizona.

The setting sun, always anticipated.

Agua Caliente Springs

We moved from the State Park in Borrego Springs to a San Diego County Park to the south. Agua Caliente is very isolated with no cell service, restaurants or grocery stores near by. So why come? The quiet and the hot springs.

The cool pool- 85 degrees

The medium pool- 92 degrees

The hot pool- 102 degrees

Sitting in hot water will only get you so far in a day. There is also plenty of hiking in the park or a short drive from the campground.

The Desert Overlook Trail

The Marsh Trail

The trail ends in a small group of Fan Palms

Moonlight Canyon Trail

We liked this one so much we did it twice.

Julian CA

About 42 miles from camp is the small mountain town of Julian. The town got its start during the California gold rush. It turned out that there wasn’t much gold in the area so they reinvented themselves as an apple growing community. Today it is a popular day trip destination from San Diego and the desert towns east of the mountain.

All that remains from those early days as an apple producing locale are numerous pie restaurants and (hard)cideries.

And then there’s beer.

Blair Valley and Little Blair Valley

Anza-Borrego Desert Park is so large and that you couldn’t see it all in a week. At the south end near Agua Caliente there are several remote valleys to explore. We spent a pleasant day hiking the trails in one of them. Blair Valley shows signs of habitation from 1000 years ago. The Kumeyaay people were hunter gatherers who called this place home. They left evidence of agave roasting pits, moteros and pictographs.

Blair Valley features miles of dirt roads.

Blair Valley Dry Lake

Pictograph Trail

Moteros Trail

During our numerous desert visits we have not experienced much in the way of percipitation. That has not been the case this trip. The Southwest can certainly use some rain and camping in it is not always a bad thing. Think flowers and rainbows.

We are moving on to Arizona but have enjoyed our Southern California sojourn.

Anza-Borrego Desert SP

We hooked up the Tincan and moved down to California’s largest State Park- 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and miles of hiking trails.

From our campsite it was a short bike ride to the trail head for Borrego Palm Canyon. It’s a three mile round trip to an oasis of California Fan Palms.

When we were here five years ago there was very little water. Water is life and the canyon was alive this year as a result of higher than normal rainfall. The Natural History Association alerted us to the earlier than expected wildflower bloom in the washes throughout the park.

Desert Verbena

Desert Lily


California Chicory


Desert Sunflower

After wandering the arroyos in search of wildflowers we took a side trip down Font’s Point Wash. The four mile dirt road takes you to a stunning view of the Borrego Badlands.

A short walk from our camp is the beginning of the Overlook Trail, a short steep trail with 360 degree views of the campground And surrounding area.


The “Slot” is another nearby attraction- it’s a little sandstone/mud slot canyon easily accessible on one of the many dirt roads that cross cross the desert.

Borrego Springs is a tiny desert community with the distinction of being designated the second “dark sky” city in the world. They also sport a collection of metal sculptures scattered throughout town.

The sculptures are the work of Ricardo Breceda and were funded by Denis Avery.

We are moving on to some hot springs in a county park at the southern end of the Anza Borrego Desert Park but with so much to explore in the area – it’s worth a return visit.

Back to the Desert

Before we pulled up stakes on the coast and headed inland we managed one last trip down the Coast Highway to spend some time in La Jolla hanging with the locals.

La Jolla Cove Seals

Western Gull- 1st winter(Sep-May)

A parking lot mural in La Jolla

The San Diego Symphony was staging their “Hearing the Future ” festival while we were there. We attended a chamber music concert- A Brief History of “New Music “.

Matthew Aucoin & Keir GoGwilt performing a 2016 Aucion composition, Violin Sonata: It’s Own Accord. It was a lovely evening of music that also included a stirring rendition of John Adams ‘ Shaker Loops.

The hot water at Sams Family Spa keep drawing us back to Desert Hot Springs. This week clouds and fog greeted us on our return.

What a difference a day makes.

There are two date farms down the road from our campground and we make a point of visiting them to stock up. Last Saturday we met our favorite date farmer, Sam Cobb. He grows good dates that are also available for purchase through his website.


We went date shopping with Shelly’s high school buddies Jim and Suzy and then spent the afternoon checking out some of the other hot springs in the area.

Our location in Desert Hot Springs gives us a lot of options for day trips. We are 30 minutes to Palm Springs with its restaurants, shopping and design shops.

The Aqua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians own about 31,500 acres in the hills and canyons surrounding Palm Springs. We visited the Indian Canyons section and the second largest stand of California Fan Palms in the State.

There are a lot of hiking options but we chose to explore Andreas Canyon.

Joshua Tree National Park is about 45 minutes from camp. We’ve visited in the past and always enjoy exploring the park. We were unsure if we’d even be able to access the park during the government shutdown but decided to chance it anyway.

The park was open but had far fewer visitors then we expected.

Skull Rock

The Cholla Garden

The park was in surprisingly good shape. People were camping and hiking and enjoying everything the park has to offer. All made possible by a cadre of dedicated volunteers. It’s hard to believe that this effort is sustainable indefinitely. Our National Parks deserve better.

On the Coast in So Cal

We moved the Tincan over to South Carlsbad State Beach Campground just north of San Diego. We are perched on a bluff above the beach.

On the inside looking out.

Access to the beach is by way of an impressive set of stairs.

Low tide has been arriving in the early evening and has made walking the beach difficult but not impossible.

Our search for walkable sand beaches lead us to Oceanside, just up the coast highway.

The fishing pier gives you a great perch for watching the surfers.

The pier also lets you get an up close view of the locals.

Western Gull

Snowy Egret

We also made our way to the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park in Carlsbad. Those of you of a certain age will remember that Leo Carrillo was the actor who played Pancho in the 1950’s TV series “The Cisco Kid”.

Leo started restoring this 1868 homestead in 1937.

Bird of Paradise in bloom

And other birds as well

Find the Hummingbird

It’s not always sunny in Southern California. It can be grey and wet in January.

Where is everyone?

This sunset started nicely but progressed quickly to the sublime.

California Here We Come!

We left the Phoenix area and went south to Tucson for a brief New Years stay before heading further West. Our time in Tucson was limited but we did manage a chilly New Years Day hike.

Yes, that IS snow in the Catalina Mountains. In fact, the day we left there was snow in the air. Mind you, not Buffalo snow but snow none the less.

Lake Havasu City on the California border was our next stop.

Lake Havasu City is home to London Bridge. The bridge was built in the 1830’s and once spanned the Thames River in London. The bridge was purchased and reconstructed in Arizona in 1972. It now spans a canal to an island in the Colorado River.

Our “backyard ” offered a great vantage point for watching the sun set on the California side.

The plan was to head over to Joshua Tree National Park. The Trump Tantrum put an end to those plans. (We’ve learned the importance of flexibility when traveling). Instead of staying in Joshua Tree we found a spot at a private RV park in Desert Hot Springs, CA.

The appeal here are the mineral hot spring pools of varying temperature as well as its proximity to Palm Springs and a couple of date farms.

Our favorite farm is the Sam Cobb Farm. They do an internet business if you are interested. Dates must be pollinated by hand and as they ripen are “bagged” on the Palm to keep birds and insects at bay. No pesticides are used here.


Our son alerted us to the Palm Springs Film Festival which was taking place while we were in the area. We saw “Blue Note: Beyond the Notes” by Sophie Huber, it’s a terrific documentary and comes highly recommended.

A macchiato, Palm Springs style

There’s plenty to see as you wander Palm Springs.

While Palm Springs is a picturesque city to wander around, the desert in this area is starkly beautiful. Mostly barren hills are punctuated by oasis of native California palms. One afternoon we took a walk through the Coachella Valley Preserve-Thousand Palms Oasis situated along the San Andres Fault.

The Louisiana Red Crawfish, introduced in the 1950’s is wrecking havoc on the oasis’s biodiversity.

It turns out that two of Shelly’s high school friends live in Desert Hot Springs. We met up for pizza and had a great time catching up with Jim and Suzy.

One last desert sunrise and then on to the Pacific Ocean.

Phoenix- The Usery Mountain Edition

The state and regional parks in Arizona limit your stays to 14 days. Fortunately, Phoenix has a number of outstanding parks. We hooked up the Tincan and moved over to Usery Mountain Regional Park.

The park offers 29 miles of biking and hiking trails. Most are easy to navigate.

We continue to enjoy our prickly environment.

Hedgehog Cactus

Buckhorn Cholla

Saguaro Cactus

Chain Fruit Cholla

A group of Compass Barrel Cactus

There are a number of excellent art galleries in Phoenix. The Heard Museum specializes in showcasing the arts and cultures of the Native people of the Americas. The exhibit that caught our eye was “Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit”. The exhibit featured works by Matisse and the Native Alaskan masks that inspired him. The show included works never exhibited in the US.

The museum’s has a wonderful sculpture garden and a collection of Kachina Dolls once owned by Barry Goldwater.

We abandoned the Tincan in Phoenix for a few days to visit family in Chicago.

Our granddaughter

Shelly’s sister and her husband also live in Chicago and were kind enough to have us stay with them. They live downtown in a high rise with a view.

Back in Phoenix we had the pleasure of meeting up with two couples, full time RVers, who we follow through their wonderful blogs. Amanda and Tim of Watson Wanders http://watsonwanders.com/ and Laurel and Eric of Raven and Chickadee https://ravenandchickadee.com/

Both of these blogs are excellent and over our years of travel we have gotten a wealth of information from them.

Back at camp we enjoyed one last hike and more of those Phoenix sunsets.

Next up Southern California.