Showing posts with label Julian California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Julian California. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2011




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The steady rain which came in the night pretty well stayed all day.  The furry guys were following me around like crazy first thing this morning so I knew they were needing a break.  Off to Goderich we went in the pouring rain.  They held the fort while I popped into Wal-Mart for a few things.  Just so happens they have a McDonald's in there so I got a Sausage and Egg McMuffin to go and split it with the bums in the parking lot.  I recently mentioned that Kelly & I never eat out much and a commenter wondered about my trips to McDonald's with the guys and if that it counted as eating out.  Well, technically yes but really, no.



Our cold and wet rainy day reminded me of an artsy little town 4,235 feet up in California’s  Cuyamaca Mountains.  We have been there three times over the years and every time we are there it is.....cold and raining.  All of today's photos are from historic JULIAN located just one hour east of San Diego.  Last time we were there I was in search Marshal South's final resting place.....and I found it.

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Somehow I missed FREIGHTLINER'S trip to Cape Breton on Canada's east coast a few weeks ago.  No narrative but they do have some nice photos of the Cabot Trail and stops along the way.  Kinda neat to see the tide going out around a rock formation and then people walking where high tide had just been.  I did that Cabot Trail with just me and my old Volkswagon camper back in 86.  That whole east coast of Canada is another beautiful place in it's own right.  Did Prince Edward Island as well but did not make it to Newfoundland. 


Sure seems to be a big 'fracas' going on over some recent changes to Facebook.  Still sort of looks the same to me but then again I am not a big Facebook user.  Other than my blog being automatically posted in there and checking what a few friends are up to each day, neither Kelly or I have a big interest in all the 'hoop-la' connected with Facebook.  Neither one of us have any interest whatsoever in all that game stuff etc.  Not saying these are bad things but it's just different strokes for different folks.  In a recent post I blogged about my interests shifting and some of that shift seems to be away from a lot of this kind of stuff.  Years ago the interactive social sites would have interested me, but that was years ago.  Kelly feels the same way so I think we will just stay at the comfort and uncomplicated techno level where we are and enjoy life as we can handle it:))DSC_0026


I see a lot of buzz around about the new Google+ social site.  I did manage to stumble my way in there and leave a comment Wednesday but that might be about as far as I go with it.  I will keep it open though with the light on just in case I feel the need to ring somebody up and say, “hey, how’s it going eh.”  The format looks and seems to operate a lot like Facebook from what I can tell.  It's basically another socially interactive site and as I've said, those kinds of sites just don't push my buttons anymore.  If I am going to communicate with someone I still much prefer to do it through email.  I do have a Twitter account but have always asked myself...why!!  My computer interests are evolving but where they are evolving to I'm not sure.  But, I do know where they are evolving from.  Maybe I am just looking for, and hoping to come across, something with a little more meaningful substance to it.  At this point I have no idea what that might be.


I still enjoy writing my daily blog for the most part but I do have my days when I get a little shaky about it.  From emails I have received now and again I know other bloggers go through the same thing.  I have had days where I picked up my cameras, put them back in my camera bag and stuck the bag back into the far reaches and darkened confines of my bedroom closet thinking, that's it, no more blogging.  I'm finished!!  But, regardless of how frustrated I become with myself at times, I am always drawn back to the keyboard each night. 

I keep a close eye on our Sitemeter and figure when the daily number of hits on our site begins to steadily drop, that will tell me interest in our Bayfield Bunch blog has finally run it's course and come to an end.  That will be the time to cut it loose and let it go.   There are a lot of new and upcoming great blogs and bloggers out there so there will never be a shortage of RV blogs for people to read.  I will continue blogging about our trip this winter but when we get home next March I really have to seriously, seriously, sit myself down and think this whole blogging thing through again and decide if, 'enough has finally become enough.'   Or, just pack it in for the summer until we are on the road again.  We’ll see.  Question is, if one likes writing, photography and traveling, where does one go after the blogging era comes to an end.  I am keeping my mind open for new ideas:))


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And, for some mighty fine photos from a Gal who knows her way around a camera, be sure to check out Levonne's blog at A CAMP HOST'S MEANDERINGS: AN RV ADVENTURE  Great header photo............


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GROANER'S CORNER:((  As migration approached, two elderly vultures doubted they could make the trip south, so they decided to go by airplane.
When they checked their baggage, the attendant noticed that they were carrying two dead raccoons. "Do you wish to check the raccoons through as luggage?" she asked.
"No, thanks," replied the vultures. "They're carrion."


-Tourists see the world, travelers experience it.

-Until one has loved an Animal, their soul remains un-awakened.


The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now...AL.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


DSC_0006 Not sure why the MARSHAL SOUTH & Ghost Mountain story captivated me so much, but it did.  We were boondocked outside of Borrego Springs in the heart of California's ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK back in January of 2008 when we drove to the Park's nature center in Borrego Springs to check on day trip adventures in the area.    A ranger behind the information desk told us of many sites to see & mentioned something about a family that had lived atop a mountain back in the 30's & 40's.  Said the site was over in Blair valley, there were a few ruins of the old cabin left, & it was a wee bit of hike to get up to the homestead.  That thought stuck with me & a week later we were on our way to Blair valley in search of Yaquitepec on GHOST MOUNTAIN.DSC_0100


 BLAIR valley is about a 40 minute scenic drive west of BORREGO SPRINGS through the Yaqui Pass. You can read about our first trip to Ghost Mountain HERE & see our photos HERE.  A few days after that visit Kelly picked up the book, MARSHAL SOUTH & THE CHRONICLES OF GHOST MOUNTAIN.  I immediately set about reading the book & finished it a few weeks later while we were boondocked over in Quartzite Arizona.  I knew at that time I wanted to not only return to Ghost Mountain again but also wanted to see if I could find where Marshal South was buried.  The book said his final resting place was in the little mountain town of JULIAN not far from Blair Valley.   We also found out a documentary had been made by director John McDonald & a second more detailed documentary DVD by the same director was due to be released shortly but not until after we had already headed back to Canada.  I definitely wanted to get a copy of that DVD somehow.   Little did I know that less than a year later director John McDonald himself would actually contact us, meet us at the foot of Ghost Mountain, & give us a signed copy of his DVD documentary, ‘The Ghost Mountain Experiment.’


In January of this year we once again found ourselves boondocked near the CLARK DRY LAKE BED close to Borrego Springs at the foot of the Santa Rosa & San Ysidro mountains.  I mentioned in a couple of my daily blogs that we were going to head over to  BLAIR VALLEY for a second trek up to the Marshal South site on Ghost Mountain.  And I also blogged about our day trip to the little mountain town of JULIAN in search of Marshal South's final resting place.  That day's blog is HERE & the photos of our visit to Julian & the cemetery are HERE.



About this time we received a surprise email from the documentary's director JOHN McDONALD.  Said him & his wife Lydia were camping in the area & could meet us at Ghost Mountain if we liked.  He said our BAYFIELD BUNCH site kept coming up on his computer & he had known of my interest in the Marshal South story for quite awhile.  He has a program on his computer that alerts him whenever Marshal South or Ghost Mountain are entered into a search engine, so people clicking on our site kept bringing up the Bayfield Bunch on his computer.  He began to wonder who this Bayfield Bunch was & decided to email us.  Assuming that is how that search program works you may be reading this blog right now John, so a big 'Hello to you & Lydia from the Bayfield Bunch up here in Canada:))'



The blog for our second visit to Ghost Mountain & meeting John & Lydia McDonald can be found HERE & the photos from that day are HERE.  We did pick up an autographed DOCUMENTARY DVD  from John that day as well.



We will probably be back in the Borrego Springs area sometime in January of 2010 & if we are you can be assured I will once again strap on my hiking boots, throw a camera over my shoulder, & head on up the mile high old rocky trail leading to Marshal South's Yaquitepec atop Ghost Mountain.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, I don't know what it is that captivates me about this spot but it's as if I sense something special when I am there.  Being the totally logical person I am I certainly am at odds with my feelings about all that...........but, in a nice sort of way.



GROANER'S CORNER:((  If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all.


The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now...AL.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


It was nearly a year ago to the day that we first climbed the rugged path of Ghost Mountain leading to the old ruins & homestead of a man & his family who endured many hardships years ago to live a life free of society & all it's trappings. For some unknown reason I was very moved by the experience of walking through the ruins of what the family had called their home.......Yaquitepec. I took many pictures that day, & several days later we bought the book, Marshal South & the Chronicles of Ghost Mountain. I read that book cover to cover & it was the first book I had read in nearly 30 years. The blog I wrote about that day can be found here... Scroll down to January 4th & look for, Marshal South & Ghost Mountain.
On this trip back to the Anza-Borrego area I wanted to see where this man was buried & to-day we drove to Julian in search of Marshal South's final resting place.

The morning's weather was a mixture of sun & cloud. Rays of sunlight poked through into the Borrego Valley but large dark & ominous clouds were sitting on some of the mountain tops to the west & southwest, just the direction we were headed. Borrego Springs sits on the desert floor in the Borrego Valley at the foot of the San Ysidro mountains & the drive to Julian ascends to over 4000 feet high up in the Volcan Mountain Range to the southwest. It's a very winding & twisting road & as we headed upwards through the little settlement of Banner, the clouds came down to meet us. The sun was lost somewhere behind us & as we came around one of the tight curves with the windshield wipers fighting off the persistent rain. A rainbow suddenly appeared in the valley to our right. I was able to get pulled over on the shoulder & take a few photos before the rainbow faded into the mist. By the time we reached the little town of Julian it was very cold & we saw some remnants of the previous night's snowfall. This was our third visit to Julian & as the previous 2 times, we had trouble finding a parking place anywhere. This is a very touristy place & always crowded with people browsing in the many shops. Found a place one block off mainstreet & headed out on foot in the cold rain for downtown. Stopped into the Town Hall for a map of the town & to ask some questions. I wanted to see the fresco paintings Marshal South had done in one of the buildings which is now a Real Estate office. Luckily the office was open & I was able to take a few photos inside. Kelly had some browsing she wanted to do so we split up & I headed for the town's cemetery. Thanks to some excellent directions I found on the internet I was able to find Marshal South's plot with no trouble. As I stood there in the dreary rain looking at this man's grave I couldn't help but think of all his wonderfully descriptive writings about his life & times with his family up on Ghost Mountain in the Blair Valley, so many years ago.Marshal South authored a total of 102 articles & poems for Desert Magazine from 1939 to 1948. Eighty of these articles were about life on Ghost Mountain.

Thought we might grab a bite to eat & a coffee in Julian but after checking out the prices in a few places.....we got out of town!! Headed back down the twisting mountain road out of the cold depressing & dreary rain into the bright sunshine of the desert floor below & made a right turn onto S2 & the Blair Valley. We were in search of the Vallecito Stage Station which had been on the Butterfield Stagecoach route back in the late 1800's. That road took us right by Ghost Mountain where I hope to return one day next week for a last hike up the rocky twisting path to Yaquitepec. We finally reached our destination after traveling through a beautiful area of towering mountains & sweeping valley floors. So hard to imagine how the settlers & pioneers traveled these harsh lands in old buckboards, carts, & stagecoaches. They must have been a very hardy breed of people back then. Something we could all take a lesson from I'm sure.GHOST MOUNTAIN

We finally made it back to our rig just east of Borrego Springs shortly after 2 this afternoon. It had been a great 5 hour day trip & one I will always remember. We are just so fortunate to be here.....................................................


Friday, January 04, 2008


The name Marshal South didn't mean anything to us until we stopped into the Anza Borrego visitor center a few days ago. We were inquiring about hiking in the area & the park ranger suggested Ghost Mountain. Well, anything with the words mountain & ghost in the same sentence is going to perk anybody's imagination so we bookmarked that one to do.
Thursday we did that hike & it turned out to be one of the best days on our trip so far.

Here is a short background on Marshal South, his wife Tanya, & their 3 children.

In February 1932, while the country felt the grip of The Depression, Marshal and Tanya South came to this mountain to build their home and live off the land. They raised their children here, wrote magazine articles, grew vegetables, gathered native plants, and after 16 years decided to call it quits.
Yaquitepec, or Ghost Mountain, still carries the reminders of South's homesteading adventure. The steep, mile long walk to the homesite will give you a breathtaking view of the land the South family called home. Look for signs of the ingenious water system with its cisterns and troughs. The adobe structure is quickly becoming a victim of the elements.
Living off the land proved difficult. Supplies had to be brought by Model T from Julian and carried up on foot. Tanya South tired of her eccentric mate's life-style and the family split up, leaving Yaquitepec to the sun and the wind.
The stories of the South family fade with time in the pages of old copies of Desert Magazine but the melting adobe and the garden terraces will remain atop Ghost Mountain for years to come.
For seventeen years (1930 to 1947), poet, artist, and author Marshal South and his family lived on the remote, waterless mountaintop in California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and is referred to as "Ghost Mountain". For nine of those years, Marshal South chronicled his family's controversial primitive lifestyle through popular monthly articles written for "Desert Magazine". The articles reflected his passion for the desert while praising its early inhabitants and their lifestyle. An acrimonious divorce ended the "experiment in primitive living" and with Marshal's death in 1948, fifty years of silence and speculation followed. Family secrecy, altered names and dates, lost and burned records and letters, left Marshal's grand experiment in obscurity, hidden from even his surviving family members.
More on Marshal South
The drive from Borrego Springs to Ghost Mountain is a twisting, winding, roller coaster, & scenic ride through the mountains to a place called Blair Valley. The old Butterfield Stagecoach used this route back in the 1800's. A turn off the highway west of the little town of Shelter Valley headed us out onto the desert floor & around a large dry lake bed. The road is bumpy with hard & loose packed sand, but is ok. Spotted here & there were a few RV's snuggled up against high rocky ridges. Ghost Mountain doesn't really have a peak on it & we were at the trail head before we realized it. There is a cairn there with a brief description about the South family & their time on the mountain.
Right from the start it's obvious that this is going to be a totally uphill 700 foot climb on a narrow & rocky pathway that is a 2 mile round trip. Good hiking footwear is a must. One of the first things I noticed was the many & multi-colored rocks along the way. Vegetation also increased as we climbed higher. Algava, yucca, cholla, ocotilla, hedgehog & barrel cactus are but just a few of the plants that dotting the landscape. Because of the steep incline, the path had many switchbacks zig zagging back & forth. Wasn't long & we were huffing & puffing a bit. Sleeves got rolled up. The view back down & out across the Blair Valley was beautiful & we could see the sandy roads snaking across the desert floor. Can't imagine how Marshal South made the trip in his old model T to the town of Julian & back for supplies 14 miles away across this valley & along hazardous gravely mountain roads. About 20 minutes into the hike we reached a plateau with a panoramic view & we could see for miles & miles., the path disappeared amongst a mass of boulders leading even higher to another ridge line. We picked our way along the narrow path up & over the fairly easy rocky terrain. Only a bit of rock scrambling here & there. In some places I'm sure large rocks had been moved to form steps. And all along the way are the beautiful desert plants. It was Mother Nature's desert landscaping at it's very best. Just about when you think your legs are not going to go any farther, your there. It was about a hundred yards over that ridge, nestled in the rocks that I first caught site of the homestead ruins. A couple sections of adobe wall, an old iron bed, weatherworn window & door frames, a water gathering cistern system, a smaller iron bedspring, a few upright wood supports & some old rusted cans laying in the sand where the kitchen once was. That's about all that is left of what once was a family of 5 living here for 17 years back in the 1930's. It is incomprehensible how & why Marshal South chose this spot. Every nail, every piece of lumber, every rain barrel, & every bit of building material had to be physically carried up from the desert floor 700 feet below, along that steep rock strewn grueling narrow path to the top. Everything!! But, standing there among the ruins I can kind of understand his reasoning, although it be a little harsh. They were totally alone on a mountaintop, far from the maddening crowds & civilizations far below & far away. In many ways I can identify with this man's feelings. It is an unending view for miles & miles in all directions from this site & I can only imagine how beautiful it must have been on those warm clear summer nights with the stars stretching from mountaintop to mountaintop. As I looked around I tried to imagine the children playing on the rocks, the family sitting down to meals, Tanya grinding seeds in a mortero we found near the house, & Marshal South working on his water system or sitting on the rocks writing his articles for, The Desert Sun. It's a quiet place now with only the wind rustling through the cactus. This is truly a special spot & one that we will always remember as we walked among the ruins, the rocks, & the abundant desert plant life. We were fortunate enough to spend a quiet half hour here before the tell tale sounds of human voices began to drift up from the pathway below. People were on the way so it was time for us to go. It's not likely we will ever pass this way again so it's always with a bit of sadness that we leave a place, & especially a place as peaceful as this. A last look back as we began our descent, & wait......was that Marshal South I saw standing tall on a rock looking over the valley, did I hear the children laughing & was that Tanya by the door watching the children play........maybe, just maybe.
We picked our way down through the boulders passing half a dozen people on their way up. I jokingly told them they only had another 8 miles to go. Kelly picked up some tall yucca stems complete with dried flowers on the end. We also picked up a few small colorful stones. Sometimes the descent down a steep grade can be more difficult than the climb up. It's easier to slip on loose gravel but we finally made it down ok & it was a great feeling to open that car door & sit down on a soft comfortable car seat.
From the Ghost Mountain trailhead we headed south a couple of miles to the site of an old Indian village site where we found many morteros in rocks where Indian women had spent countless hours grinding seed pods, beans, & lentils. The morteros are the only visible sign that there had once been people here & it's hard to comprehend how these women could grind these holes into solid rock using nothing more than another solid rock. Again, wandering amongst these huge boulders, one can only vaguely try to imagine what life must have been like a few hundred years ago in these parts.
The overcast sky was turning dark to the west so it was time for us leave Blair Valley. I turned & said good-bye to the Marshall South family, the Indian families at the mortero site & Ghost Mountain itself. Good-bye & thanks for making this a memorable day for us.
The park's signage is very poor & as we headed off across the desert floor we weren't sure which way the highway was. Sandy roads criss crossed here & there but we stayed on the one that looked most traveled & I felt we were headed in the general right direction Probably took us the best part of half an hour before we saw some vehicles moving along a road in the distance which indeed turned out to be the highway. Always a nice feeling to get un-lost:))
Because the little mountain town of Julian was only 12 miles away we decided to go there & pick up some dog food & a couple of much needed coffees. This is a quaint little village in the heart of the mountains. I think they might have got a bit of snow last week too. The scenic 28 mile trip from Julian back to Borrego Springs was uneventful as I once again got to feel like a Grand Prix driver gearing up down on the tight mountain curves & grades. Just as we reached the Borrego valley, the sun poured out of the clouds lighting the valley floor ahead & it felt like we were home...... even though we've only been here a little over 2 weeks.
This California place is truly remarkable & filled with lots of adventures & wide eyed wonderment & we've come to love it. It will be with sad hearts when we leave her in another week or so.........................:(( (A lot of pictures for the web album so they might not be uploaded yet)

Thursday, December 27, 2007


First, let me thank a couple of folks who were reading the blog for pointing out an error in my sheep identification. Guess I had cows on the brain that morning (Palm Canyon Hike) instead of sheep because I called those nimble footed rock scramblers, "long horn sheep" instead of "big horn sheep." Yes Toto, there is a difference & thanks, Kris & Al. Of course I am feeling a bit sheepish about that mistake now:))

I had fully expected my wrenched knee to be totally seized up this morning & couldn't believe my luck when I realized all the pain was totally gone & it was fine, but I can tell I'm going to have to be careful with it. Celebrated my good fortune with a 2 mile doggy walk. Now, that wasn't too smart, was it!!

Figured it was a good day to take a drive to the little town of Julian about 28 miles up in the mountains to the southwest. It was a loooooong 28 miles because the road is a never ending series of twists & turns. A lot of the time I had to gear down to third gear in the corners & some of them I was down into second. It's a real fun & challenging road for anyone confident in their driving skills. The higher up into the mountains one goes, the greener it gets. Trees begin to appear & a lot of them were still holding on to their fall colors. Slipped through a little place called Banner Springs which reminded me of some spots I had seen in the Smokey mountains over in Tennessee years ago. A really pretty area.
Julian suddenly appeared out of the curves & we rolled into a very busy & colorful high altitude town. And because of that was cold!!!! And the wind made it even colder. Streets were lined with cars & people so it took us a bit of back street cruising before we found us a parking spot. I was ok but Kelly was wearing shorts & flip flops because it had been really warm when we left Borrego Springs. We quickly ducked into the Julian Bakery & Cafe for a bite to eat & a coffee. We were hoping to get warmed up but it was cold in there too. I think a lot of people had the same idea because the cozy little place was overflowing with people......and some of them with shorts & flip flops too. We didn't spend too much time in Julian because of the cold winds so we jumped into the car & headed out of town in the direction of Santa Ysabel. More scenic twists & curves as we made our way through the mountains heading in the direction of Borrego Springs. A couple quick checks of the road map confirmed we were on course & before long we were in the clutches of Montezuma's mountain road & began the long winding 8% drop to the valley floor at Borrego Springs. This stretch of mountain road is a real brake line burner & would be a real challenge bringing a motorhome down. I would put it right up there with that real nasty stretch of road going over Mingus Mountain back in Arizona. I think Mingus had some tighter corners though & the road was definitely much narrower. Regardless, they are both a real challenge!!

Back to the campsite, out came the lawnchairs, & away went the Julian chills. Thanks California for another nice day. To-morrow it's Yankee potroast at the local community center & Friday Kelly has signed us up for a free jeep tour at the Anza Borrego Nature Center. Lots to do here:)))))

P.S. We are under attack by HUGE wind gusts at the moment so our next transmission may be from somewhere a couple hundred miles east of here somewhere by morning!!!!!!!!!!