Planes, Birds and Friends – Metro San Diego Area, CA

Comments 16 Standard

We initially thought our six week stay in the San Diego area might be a little long and tedious with all of the noise and traffic.  But there were so many people to see and things to do that the time just whizzed by.  While here we stayed in three different campgrounds: Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, Sweetwater Summit Regional Park and the San Diego Metro KOA.  The weather was perfect – dry, sunny and warm with only one day of rain from a passing winter storm.  We can handle winters like this one!

Pacific Ocean

My ritual each time we return to the ocean – it’s been a while!

San Diego skyline snapped from the Coronado Bridge

A fading sand castle with Cabrillo National Monument in the background

Having visited San Diego in our prior working life, we focused on some new experiences this time.  We were impressed by the many urban trails that wind in and out of cities, under freeways and up to lakes and mountains.  There were plenty of things to keep us busy, and lots of friends to see:  RV’ers here for the winter like us, new friends we met in Europe, and old friends who drove down from the Bay Area to hang out with us.

San Diego International is the busiest single runway airport in the United States, and we were able to enjoy watching the approaching aircraft from our campgrounds and from the roof of a building in the city:

The birds waiting to fly at San Diego International Airport

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve

There were seven lakes at Santee Lakes Preserve, all just a short walk from our campsite. The lakes are water reservoirs for San Diego, and the Preserve is run by the Water District.  The sight of so many birds upon our arrival made me giddy, and I grabbed for my camera:

Lake 3, Santee Lakes

Snowy Egrets are all focusing on one fish, I’d hate to be him!

I got dinner tonight! says the Great Blue Heron

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park nearby has miles of trails to choose from

U.S. Navy Ospreys flew overhead every day

Steve’s good deed for the day, locating an electrical problem on our neighbor’s coach

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

After two weeks at Santee Lakes, we moved about 20 miles south for the next three weeks.  We were glad Hans and Lisa had introduced us to this park.  Our site was spacious, with access to hiking practically at our front door.  Our site was up on the summit, overlooking the 54/94 freeway and a golf course and with Sweetwater Reservoir just down the hill.  We spent many hours sitting outside, watching the birds around our feeders and making sure the planes approaching SAN were doing a good job.

Betsy’s right there in the center of the closest row, site# 121

John and Pam came for a visit and of course we took a hike around the reservoir

We were mostly chilling out while at Sweetwater, our stay was over the holidays

These were my practice shots in the hope of capturing airplanes during full moon, but cloud cover stopped me during the critical time:

Sometimes I get crazy/creative with my shots along the trail.

The reservoir was open only on weekends, but I got plenty of “bird time”

This guy didn’t hang around long after I took the shot

For bird lovers click here for my updated bird photos.

There were lots of Steller’s Jays at our friend’s site during our visit, they love peanuts!

San Diego Metro KOA

We spent our last week here and didn’t like the RV park (way overpriced and cramped with lousy utilities), but it was convenient to the things we wanted to do with our friends from the Bay Area:

At USS Midway, with Vic and Pam

On a cloudy day at Cabrillo National Monument

Balboa Park is a must see if you ever visit San Diego!

Botanical Garden at Balboa Park

With two National Wildlife Refuges nearby, I made sure to check out the birds at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge and at the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge:

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge on a hazy morning, we took a long walk here

A flock of Black-necked Stilts resting along the bay

Tijuana Slough Wildlife Refuge

A quiet day at the Tijuana Slough Wildlife Refuge

Last days of Century plant flowers

A lone surfer at Imperial Beach

A sign at Liberty Station.  This was a cool place to walk around with restaurants galore!

Trail under the freeway just outside San Diego KOA

Historic Hotel del Coronado.  We had to have an overpriced drink with our friends there!

Lobby at Hotel del Coronado

Alone on Coronado Beach

It may appear we were constantly on the go, but we actually had a lot of “chill time” during our 6-week stay.  And we were both satisfied –  I, with the birds and Steve watching his airplanes.

The last setting sun of 2017

 

Next up:  Back to the Sonoran Desert



 

 

Our close encounter of the third kind – Roswell, NM

Comments 12 Standard

In ufology, a close encounter is an event in which a person witnesses and/or interacts with an unidentified flying object.  A system of event classifications was introduced by an astronomer and UFO researcher, J. Allen Hynek.  According to him , Close Encounters of the First Kind refers to visual sightings of an unidentified flying object seemingly less than 500 feet away.  A Close Encounter of the Second Kind is a UFO event in which a physical effect is alleged, such as animals reacting or physical trace-like impressions on the ground. Close Encounters of the Third Kind refers to encounters in which one or more animated aliens are present, as was reported in the 1947 Roswell incident.  We learned these classifications, along with some other interesting factoids during our visit to the UFO Museum in Roswell .

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Yep, we’re getting close to our destination!

When most people hear a reference to Roswell, they’re reminded of the 1947 UFO incident.  Since we weren’t around at that time, we relied on the information we read at the museum.  The story of the Roswell Incident has been painstakingly documented, as has information about aspects of other UFO phenomena, crop circles, UFO sightings and Nevada’s Area 51.  Only those who are “believers” or are really interested in this subject will spend the many hours required to read all of the museum’s displays and exhibits. There was so much material that we basically skimmed through what most interested us, then we watched the showtime movie “Roswell” at the museum’s theater.

UFO Museum

Kind of a creepy exhibit

After a couple of hours reading about witness stories and government cover-ups, we drove around town.  We quickly noticed these folks really play up the UFO thing – many of the store facades were alien-themed.

Roswell, New Mexico

Even some of the local landowners get into the act!

Looks like someone is trying to phone home…

Roswell, NM

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Roswell has other museums that are not about UFO’s or Aliens.  Our blogger friends Hans and Lisa of Metamorphosis Road, who were only a few days behind us, visited several other museums in town.  Check out their site to see what fascinating things they discovered during their stay.

Lee, the owner of the Red Barn RV Park (Steve’s review here), gave us a list of things to do while in town.  One of her suggestions that I followed was a trip to the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge to see if any migratory birds might be hanging around.

Bitter Lake NWR

I had my priorities straight, and went to visit some of my feathered friends.  Steve tagged along so he could walk some of the four trails there, and we ended up following the easy 2-mile Oxbow Trail.  We didn’t see any birds close-up on that walk, but we spotted a few during the 8-mile wildlife drive within the refuge.

The Bitter Lake NWR was only about 12 miles from our home base and consisted of over 24,000 acres in three units along the Pecos River.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Bird Blind in the middle of the lake – well, it was a lake at one time

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

The ever-diligent bird spy

Bitter Lake NWR

I went inside the bird blind, but they all flew away when they heard me

After our walk we continued on the driving tour and stopped at a few overlooks.  We finally saw some White Pelicans and a variety of ducks in the distance.  The park ranger informed us that fall and late winter are the best times to see Sandhill Cranes, ducks and geese.

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American Avocet

First time I’ve seen an American Avocet

If you happen to be in the Roswell area in September, be aware that the 14th Annual Dragonfly Festival at the Refuge will be held then.  The refuge boasts having the most diverse population of dragonflies and damselflies in North America, and they will be there in great numbers by fall.  Access to the refuge is free, so you can visit as many times as you like.

After three nights in UFO land, we packed up and resumed our northward trek.

 

Next up:  Venturing off  of the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway