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Nepal and Mercy Corps; Out of the Desert; Harley Heaven; 14 Lanes of Traffic; Lions? A Dry Camp; Laguna Hills Awakening; The Doolittle Raid; Beaching It

I have always wanted to visit Nepal and see Mt. Everest and Kathmandu, but never made it happen. The recent tragic earthquake and avalanches which killed so many people and destroyed so many priceless buildings there got my attention though, and when Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), a national outdoor equipment co-op of which I have been a member since the 70s, announced a fundraising effort using the respected charity Mercy Corps, I decided to help. If you have some spare bucks that you’d like to donate to a good cause, please consider this organization, which puts 83.7% of the funds it raises to programs and services, a relatively high percentage compared to many charities. Click here for more info.


Back on our tour, the desert town of Needles was a rollicking place, but after two nights we had driven down every street in town and met all four people who live there. So we packed up our coach and headed west, crossing about 200 miles of Mojave desert in a moderate windstorm. We had gusts into the 40s, on the beam, which made driving “interesting”. Bob and Jan may chuckle at that, because they had gusts of 60-70 mph when they drove through southern Utah a couple of weeks ago. What we did find interesting were the hundreds of Harley-Davidson riders heading back to L.A. from a huge rally out in the desert.

When we got into the greater Los Angeles metro area, we were on I-15 south from San Bernardino and it was 14 lanes, 7 in each direction. Even midday on a Sunday, the freeway was crowded, but nothing like during rush hour M-F. We were headed for a small park near Irvine, in the foothills of the Saddleback Mountains, for some hiking and mountain biking.

On the road to our campground, we passed Cook’s Corner, where a popular biker bar is located. MLB thoughtfully suggested that I could meet the locals if I bumped one or two Harleys down, and the resulting domino effect would be sort of neat. (She is always looking out for my welfare and opportunities for social interaction…) 

At O’Neill Regional Park in Trabuco Canyon, we spent one night dry camping, meaning no hookups. Having no electricity wasn’t too bad, because we could run the generator for a few hours a day, such as for meals, but not at night for air conditioning, but that wasn’t really an issue because it dropped into the low 50s at night, perfect sleeping weather, and daytime temps were only in the low 80s. We carry 125 gallons of water, so that wasn’t an issue either. And even better, the campground was almost empty; since we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, most people had already headed home for the work week.

The potentially serious issue was that there were some aggressive local feline residents, and I’m not talking about tabbies or even Maine coons – this sign says it all… I asked one of the rangers about cougars, and he said that it had been several weeks since one walked through the campground; well, that anyone had noticed, anyway. Hmmmm…. 

We were observant on the trails while biking and hiking, and only saw a few birds and squirrels. The terrain was varied, with oaks and sycamores clustered in the ravines and some hillsides, and other areas with scattered brush and cactus. We preferred the sylvan scenes like this one. It was also much cooler in the shade.

Suzanne gave her Awakened Living 301 talk at the Awakenings Center in Laguna Hills Wednesday evening, which was very well received. Thanks to Brandon Camacho for hosting the event and to Amanda for her assistance that evening.

One of the attendees that I spoke to was a young 90-something retired sailor who had served in WW II, part of that time aboard a fleet oiler supporting USS Hornet (CV-8), when she launched the Doolittle Raid in April 1942. In a plan conceived by the Navy to help flagging American morale following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 16 Army Air Corps B-25 medium bombers were flown off the Hornet in the North Pacific and delivered their bombs onto Tokyo and 5 other cities. These were the largest aircraft ever to be launched from a Navy carrier at that point. Lt Col Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to Brigadier General, and the Japanese people learned that they were not invulnerable.

We relocated to the Navy Ammunition Depot at Seal Beach, a terrific campground with all of the modern conveniences. We rode our bikes to a trail that paralleled the water, and Suzanne stopped to take a photo of the Mommy Brigade with their kids in strollers. It looked like a lot more fun than standing around the neighborhood with cars whizzing by. 

A pleasant break was taken for brunch at a cafe at the mouth of the San Gabriel River, where we enjoyed coffee, french toast, eggs and bacon – great fuel for a long bike ride in perfect weather, 72F with an ocean breeze.

I also had to stop for a moment in Huntington Beach, this time to peek in on a local volleyball match. Suzanne asked why now, when I never watched sports on TV. “Well, My Darling, I am admiring the juxtaposition of sun, sand, ocean, waves and athletes. And I think I’ll ask if they need a trainer…” Smack! (When will I learn???) I have found that Southern California is a lot more fun than I thought, while My Lovely Bride says that maybe we’ll go back to Needles…

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