We left Mesa, Arizona on the last Friday in December and before we took off to go to California for the winter, we had some maintenance work done on the 5th wheel. Since we didn’t get on the road again till the early afternoon we stopped half-way at Quartzsite, AZ for the night. Quartzsite is well known in the RV world as it has a huge RV rally in January and February for the gem show, where over a million RV’s will come to visit the area. When we were there it wasn’t busy yet but a few weeks later we went passed the area and it was packed full!
We are now settled in at Lake Elsinore in Southern California for the next two months. Our site is right on the lake and every day we are greeted by seagulls, cranes, and pelicans. We are less than an hour away from the beach and less than two hours away from many popular places like Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs, LA, San Diego, and Disneyland, just to name a few. We are close to family and we also made friends with another full time RV couple who have showed us around the area and have told us about secret hikes around the Lake Elsinore area.
This is the first time we have been to SoCal (other than LA) and we have been busy exploring the pretty and sunny area. Here’s a breakdown of what we have been up to:
Los Angeles: Brad and I have been to LA before so the couple of times we have been back have been more to just relax and enjoy the company of Brad’s brother and his wife. It’s nice to be so close to them and we have had fun going out to new restaurants, watching MSU basketball, going to the beach, and walking around new areas such as Barnsdall Art Park, where the Hollywood sign can be seen, one can tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and is known for the opening scene of Big Little Lies.
Dana Point: Dana Point is a popular beach town with miles of beautiful beaches, a pirates cave, and multi-million dollar homes. To get to Dana Point, we took Ortega Highway, a popular road frequently used by motorcycles due to the road winding its way up into the mountains with its steep and many hidden twist and turns. This road literally cuts through the mountains to get to one town to the other, making it a popular short cut for many motorists. We have been to Dana Point a couple of times and the first time we went it was cloudy and windy and actually made for a great beach day. Brad and I both felt like we were back on the Washington or Oregon coast, and enjoyed the solitude that the weather brought while walking along the beach with the crashing waves. We were surprised by all the surfers that were out, but we did get to see a couple of really good surfers riding the waves.
Arizona: Yep, we went back to AZ shortly after we got to Cali, we just missed it so much. 😉 Actually, we went back to watch my younger sister race in her first ever half marathon and she did awesome! It was
great to be a cheering spectator while she ran, and to hang out with our cousin and her husband, as they all flew in from Chicago for a long weekend. It was nice to be back to the familiar sites of Arizona and to show the family around.
Hiking: There are numerous hiking trails right around the corner from where we are staying and we have taken advantage of that. There are many truck routes that go for miles and miles into the mountains that people use to hike or to take a dirt bike or ATV. Off of Ortega Highway is the Cleveland National Forest, where we have done most of our hiking. The two big hikes we have done there are Bear Canyon and Los Piños Peak. Bear Canyon was right off Ortega Highway and if we listened closely we could still hear motorcycles driving on the road throughout the hike. The views were pleasant and we met a lady on the hike that showed us a secret view from the trail that was the best view we saw during the hike. The hike intersected at an area called the 4 corners where one could connect with multiple other trails. However, we chose to finish the loop and head back.
Los Piños was a 10 minutes drive off of Ortega Highway and that made for a huge difference with views and noise. We didn’t hear any traffic and the views were pretty the whole entire hike. The first 1.5 miles was up and up on a truck trail and for the second half of the hike it was through a partial forest. There were actually pine trees growing, hence the name los piños. The trail ended at the 4th largest summit in Orange County with views of the mountains and on a clear day views of the ocean. It was a great hike and one we would definitely recommend to others.
We have lots more adventures to share so till the next blog post, happy travels!