Monday, January 30, 2012

SD, CA - Mail

We have finally landed in one place long enough to get mail. My sister-in-law, Cathy, gets all of our mail and sends it to us when we stay in one place long enough to get it. We got a load in Phoenix back in December and she’s sent a second load recently.

We got loads of Christmas cards, and a huge Christmas present from Gary’s father, Lug. How long do you think this will last?
Dibs on the truffles.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

SD, CA - La Jolla Market, Beach

As you can see, we’ve been pretty busy out and about in San Diego, one of our favorite cities. So busy that I haven’t had much time to record our activities. The weather is supposed to turn cooler and cloudier tomorrow for a few days so we have been trying to get as much time in the sun as we can. We can do bookwork and laundry when it is cool and cloudy.

We headed up to La Jolla for the Organic Farmer’s Market and the La Jolla Beach. This is just a great place to people watch, pick up some organic vegetables, find some fresh ciabattas and have a scone. Oops, nix the scone. Seems that the two women with the scone bakery have been replaced by a bigger operation. But I found an 8 lb bag of navel oranges for $4.00, a 6-pack of fresh pitas for $3.00, a huge cauliflower for $2.00. Luckily, I brought Gary to carry it all back to the car. Isn’t that what husbands are for?

Then off to the La Jolla Historical Society museum where they had a special exhibit on WWII in La Jolla. One of the rooms was a black-out room with heavy felt curtains over the windows, a civil defense measure during the war. Flashlights were provided so we could come close to experiencing living during the war on the coast where there was fear of a Japanese attack.

They had some cookbooks from the war years which had recipes that I grew up on. It was designed to show recipes you could make that utilized your food coupons efficiently: lots of chicken and lots of noodles.
A nice smaller museum with a neat display that we might have missed had we not been told about it by 2 women at the market.
Off to the beach to walk the coastline.
We can’t get enough of the ocean on a sunny day. Though we also like it on a cloudy day. What’s not to like about the ocean? Since it was such a beautiful day, everyone was out cruising the beach walk. There were even some Girl Scouts selling their cookies.

We also stopped for a light lunch at a local cafe with a view over the cliffs.
Farmer’s market, coast walking, a small museum with a WWII display, sun, ocean, people and - GIRL SCOUT COOKIES.

What more could we want?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

SD, CA - Hits and Misses

Great minute by minute plans for the day, and, as we all know, the best laid plans....

Up at 4:30. OMG, why in the world would two retired duffers get up at 4:30? Darned if I know. Well, yes, I do. My Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Fred are on a 2-week cruise to Hawaii which arrives here tomorrow at 6:00 and debarks after 8:00 sometime. Since we two landlubbers have never been on a cruise and have never seen someone off on one nor welcomed anyone back from one, we thought it would be a great adventure meeting them when their ship came in.

Of course, Gary and I live in a world long past, when we could greet people arriving by plane or boat right when they debark. Wrong. Remember the excitement of watching a plane land, taxi to the airport, and the passengers coming through the gate? Long gone. Actually, when I last spoke with my aunt, I didn’t even think of meeting them when they got in and calling by cell would be roaming charges since they are at sea. So, we were just hoping they’d come through the gate where we stood. Is this all pie in the sky? Sure is. But, it’s worth a try.

Here’s the plan:

        4:30                up - but I can’t guarantee awake

        5:45                at the harbor watching the ship gliding silently by with its lights aglow

        6:00                at the pier watching it dock

        7:00                walk to Panera - you knew we’d get the sweet treat in, now, didn’t you

        8:00 +            back at the pier to welcome them in

Here’s the reality:

        4:30                up, awake, dressed and off.

        5:45                OOPS, the ship is almost into the pier but we could see its last moments gliding in.

        6:15                at the dock, this ship is huge with 936’ in length as it towers over us. Meanwhile, we learn that the passengers will probably get through customs after 8:30.
        7:15                at Panera having our coffee and bear claw. We must be here earlier than we usually get to Panera since this bear claw tastes like it just came out of the oven. But, have I ever had a bad bear claw at Panera? Never.

        8:30                 OOPS, back at the pier we wait around a bit and then see that the passengers are leaving the ship and heading into the customs area. We stand where the passengers must come through and wait. Lots of taxis surge in and slowly we realize that Marilyn and Fred will probably take a taxi home and we might miss them. Here’s the pricing sign on the side of a cab. What is a 1/14th of a mile? Probably about one rotation of a taxi tire.
        8;45                we head over to where the taxis exit the pier area, thinking we can at least wave to Marilyn and Fred as they are whisked out by a taxi.

        9:00                AHA, finally we have a good idea: we call Fred’s cell phone, speak to them and learn that their debarking time is 10:30. we offer to give them a ride home and they agree.

        9:30                we arrive back at our RV, empty the back of the car, change clothes since it is considerably warmer now, talk with the ducks and head back to the pier.
        10:05        OOPS, Fred calls and they are on the pier waiting for us.

        10:15        we arrive back at the pier, pick them up and head to their home.

Well, looks like a few things didn’t work according to plan - mainly because we didn’t know the San Diego cruise procedures. But, hey, we saw the ship gliding in, we saw passengers debark and we got Fred and Marilyn home. Knowing that they wanted to unpack, get their mail, grocery shop, etc. we left them and headed to the beach. Natch.

Here, we tried to read the newspaper but it was a bit too windy for the newspaper and we headed down the beach to get our walk in. Temps in the high 70’s, sunny, Saturday, and the beach, the sidewalk, the shops and the restaurants were all packed. What fun.

And, that was our day. Hits and Misses. But, as my brother-in-law says, a day on the beach in San Diego is always better than a day in the snow in Iowa.                 

Now, it’s 9:00 and we’ve been up since 4:30 - am I tired? Zonked is better like it. I shire hep I con’t make any spilling ertors.

Friday, January 27, 2012

SD, CA - Getting our OCEAN FIX in

The weather is supposed to take a turn for cooler so we are taking every opportunity to get out in the sun to enjoy it. Today, we walked along Pacific Beach which is about 2 miles from our RV. Can we ever get enough of the ocean? Nope. We lived on the east coast for about 18 years, always close to the ocean and we enjoyed it often. We have now lived in Minnesota and Iowa since 1985 and we miss the water. Staying in San Diego for a month each year is how we get our OCEAN FIX in.

There are just so many beaches and parks and walkways that it’s easy to do this. Pacific Beach has a variety of beach venues. There is a midway with rides that I can only watch,
there are volleyball games,
birds wading the shore (why does he have his beak 2” in the sand?
small groups trying to make a buck or at least enough to pay their way home
and sailboarders
Pacific Beach has it all. It’s a lot of fun. However, it also has its dark side. Many of the homes which line the beach are rentals and we’ve seen 20 - 30 people hanging off the balcony with beers in their hand in a single rental unit. Imagine living next to one of these. There are loads of bars and they are open til the wee hours. Many of the owners of homes in the area who actually live in these homes complain of activities of the many drunks who leave the bars and they are petitioning to have the bars close earlier.

However, to say that we enjoyed our walk is an understatement. We could do this every day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

SD, CA - Across the Bay by Ferry

Today, the jaunt is to Coronado, which is the tip of a long peninsula jutting into the San Diego Bay and to get there you get to take the ferry. I’m not sure which I enjoy the most, the ferry or walking through Coronado to the white sand beaches near the Hotel Del Coronado, an old turn-of-the-century hotel for the very rich.

We got to the bay and parked about 3 miles from the ferry pier around the bay at its northern end. Hmmm. And why is that, Nancy? Well, I’m not sure but it might have to do with getting some mileage in for our walk. Maybe it has to do with the fact that parking all along the bay is pretty pricey and, where we parked, it was free. But, maybe it was just a good walk with a view. We walked along the bay looking at moored sailboats, green grass and huge leafy trees, people biking, walking, running and skateboarding to and fro. Just a fun walk.
A boat show is in town and we saw this yacht out in the harbor. On the stern is a helicopter.

The ferry to Coronado was fun as are all ferries. The views of the city are stupendous. You can also get a bayside view of the carrier Midway, moored in the bay and now a floating museum.

On Coronado we walked around the harbor, enjoyed our lunch on a bench and then walked to the Hotel Del. As we approached it, after walking the 3 miles to the ferry and the 1 1/2 miles to the Hotel, I was flagging a bit, this walking in the sun was taking its toll. But a cool soda in the Hotel, a bench on the beach and I was revived. Good thing, since we had to do the entire walk in reverse now. Oh, no, why didn’t I think of the consequences earlier?

Back at the car, we were able to catch pictures of some sailboats out in the bay right before sunset. This must be what it is like to sail off into the sunset.

Home about 5 and time for dinner and showers. Maybe we can relax in the evening.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SD, CA - Who Straightened the Switchbacks?

Hiking is more difficult in San Diego that in Palm Springs, since it is close to the coast and there are fewer mountains close by. However, Mission Trail Regional Park, within the city limits, has a peak that is 1592’ tall and several that are in the 1200’ range. We’ve climbed the 1592’ peak, Cowles Mtn. which is daily ritual for many San Diegans who are looking for a quick aerobic workout. They run up, they run down. The trail is a continual Z as the trail switches back and forth up to the top.

Interesting story about the name of the mountain and the name of the town to the north. Seems that a Mr. Cowles moved out west for his wife’s health, settled in this area and became a successful businessman, naming the town where his ranch was, Cowlestown. His wife’s health improved so much that he died first and, when she remarried, she renamed the town Santee, after her second husband, Now, that’s gratitude. Or, maybe that’s cojones.

Meanwhile, back at the hike: since we had climbed Cowles several times, we decided to climb up to the Fortuna saddle, then to South Fortuna, back down to the saddle and then up to North Fortuna, down the ridge line to the fence along the highway and back to the parking lot.

The first mile or so of the trail was delightful, following a flowing brook and crossing over it a few times on the rocks which had been strategically placed.
We also passed by an original dam, built by the Kumeyaay to supply water to the Spanish mission closer to town. It is pretty substantial and was originally 244’ long, 13’ thick and 13’ high constructed of rock and cement.
This park has also been used as a marine base during WWII. In fact this sign tells you this as you pass by. Several years ago, 2 young boys had found some ammunition, had picked it up and both died when had exploded. How sad.
Then the trail turned up to the saddle, became a road and climbed straight up. Roads don’t do switchbacks, they just climb up (to the electric lines which ran across the park.) Not only was it dull but it was steep with no flat sections to relieve it. It just went up.
But it was the way to the top and that was our goal: lunch at the top of the mountain. And, also at the top were 360 degree views of the San Diego area from the islands in the bay to the mountains in the interior. Here’s Gary standing on what was our lunch ‘table’ surveying the view.
We hiked down South Fortuna and then up North Fortuna along a steep trail. Beautiful views from the top and we also found 2 army ammunition boxes with lots of notebooks inside. Someone had taken the trouble to supply all who climb with notebooks to record their thoughts.The earliest notebook that we found was dated from February 2007. Neat idea and it was fun to read about the previous climbers.
Down the other side of North Fortuna was a trail, what a trail ought to be, not a road. Then, when it met the fence it turned again into a road with steep ups and steep downs. At one point we found a Ranger truck which had tried to get up one of the hills, had gotten about 20’ up, gave up and headed down to park at the bottom. The 4 who were in the truck then walked up like we did. When trucks can’t make it, you know it’s steep.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SD, CA - Giving Gary the Treatment

Are Californians different than we Midwesterners? Is there any question? I’m looking at one of those free weeklies that comes out in San Diego. On one page with 14 ads, here’s the count:

         massage                      2
         weight loss                 2

         laser hair removal       2

         anti-aging                   1

         acupuncture                2

         Brazilian wax             3

         dog wash                    1

         tummy tucks               1
And this is not the only page with this type of ads. The next page has ads for things I’ve never heard of: Active FX, Radisse, Perlane, Dysport (only $99 per area), Juvederm UltraXC. There are also 3 ads for Brazilian waxing.

However, my philosophy is - in California, do as the Californians: I’ve signed up for:

        an IPL Photofacial and Peel

        a Botox

        a Chinese Head to Toe Massage

        a Brazilian Wax

All for Gary. Think he’ll like them?

Won’t he look great on the trail?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SD, CA - High Tide, Farmer's Market and the Mormon Battalion

It rained yesterday, it’s going to rain tomorrow. We’d better get out and doing. And, I’ve got just the plan. We’ll start at the beach where the tide will be high, then to the farmer’s market and then to a museum. Ocean, food and history What could be better?

We began on Ocean Beach, a short drive from where we are camped. The sun was still behind the clouds and the sky was a steely grey.
The high tide was at 9:24 and we got there at 9:30, just in time to see this rider on the surf. And, look, he’s our age.
Next we headed over to the Hillcrest Certified Organic Farmer’s Market. What a fest: wonderful aromas, wonderful music and wonderful sights. I’ve never seen so many different flavors of hummus in my life. Have you ever heard of peanut butter hummus? Well, actually it’s pretty good. Now, the jalapeno hummus - uh-h-h, I’ll let someone else sample that.
Here’s the street band which was featured and here’s a young break dancer, strutting his stuff. And, his younger brother at the bottom of the picture, was up next.
Finally, we headed over to Old Town, once the beginning of San Diego and now more of a tourist area. Here is the Father Junipero Serra Museum, Heritage Park and the Mormon Battalion Historic Site Museum. We first toured the Serra Museum and learned about some of the missions in California. The original mission was on the hill here but, when they tried to haul water up every day and tried to grow crops here, they decided to move the mission to a flatter plain near the river about 4 miles away. The new mission they called the Mission San Diego de Acala and we toured this last year. The Serra museum was built in 1929 by a man named Horton, a wealthy merchant and philanthropist who then donated the building and the land to the city for a museum.

Down the hill is Old Town, the original San Diego settlement. Old Town itself has lots of old buildings, museums and tons of new restaurants and gift shops. We toured this last year also but not Heritage Square, a new section they are developing. When growth after WWII threatened several old turn of the century homes in other sections of San Diego with demolition, some far-sighted people, using both public and private funds, bought and moved them to this 8-acre site over a period of 25 years. A hotel chain then got involved and planned to turn them into very special rooms to rent. They were remodeling them extensively both inside and outside and wanted to open them as they were ready to go. There were some permit problems since the city wanted them to open all at once. Well, that was that, and now these marvelous old homes sit idle. The outside paint scheme is spectacularly authentic. They gleam in the sunlight. The roadway up is all inlaid stone and these rooms would have been something special to stay in while you were visiting San Diego.

Imagine staying in one of these homes and being transported back to a time of picket fences, stone streets and a slower pace of life.
HistoricalHomesandChurch-12-2012-01-22-20-41.jpg HistoricalHomesandChurch-8-2012-01-22-20-41.jpg

We found a book with a marvelous title in a gift shop in one of the homes.
Last but not least on our list for the day was the Mormon Battalion Visitor’s Center, a new building designed to look old with the mission of telling what the Mormon Battalion was and how it contributed to the history of San Diego. Now, I’ve heard of the Mormon battalion but had no idea what it was. This VC was designed to tell the story and, along the way, possibly get converts to Mormonism.
Being from Iowa, I’ve heard of the killing of Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois and the subsequent march of the Mormons through the southern half of Iowa to an area near Council Bluffs. At this point they requested help from President Polk to move west and establish American presence in the West. Polk countered with an offer of salaries, weapons, transportation west and uniform allowances if 500 men would join the army, march west and fight the Mexicans if needed. Brigham Young, the new leader, thought this a pretty good deal and convinced many to do so also promising them that they would not have to battle the Mexicans (And, actually, his promise did come true - they fought no battles.) Many wives also accompanied them as ‘laundry’ women. And, in one case, a 9-year old boy left the village, followed the army where his father was and caught up with it 9 days later.

It has been called the longest infantry march in American history, approximately 1850 miles beginning on July 20, 1946 and ended in San Diego on 29 January 1847. Later, some of them also were in Sacramento during the gold rush and found gold. Most of their salaries, their uniform allowances and the money from the sale of the gold were sent back to the rest of the group and this helped them move our to Salt Lake City later.

That’s the story and the museum told it well. I’ve seen lots of movies in lots of Visitor Centers but 2 stand out: one in the Texas Museum and this one. Both used multiple screens but this one was extremely imaginative. Here’s a row of pictures in frames. While we were all sitting there waiting for the presentation to start, suddenly these pictures came alive and they started telling the story.
We then moved into another room in the Visitor Center designed to look like the supply room in a fort. Here was a window looking out into the fort (pictured below). Suddenly, someone came up to the window, tapped on it, one of our guides opened it and the person, a laundry woman, started talking to us. Also, while we were in the supply room, the guides dressed some of the kids in the group in uniforms.
Here’s a copy of the type of pack that the men got - to carry everything they had with them, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Not much room here and those straps must have cut into their shoulders after a day of walking.
We then moved into another room which was set up like a camp and we sat on logs in front of a tent, a conestoga wagon and a laundry line with a sheet hanging up on it. Suddenly the side of the tent, the side of the wagon and the sheet turned into screens and we watched a short movie of the Battalion moving across the plains. As I said, it was all very imaginative and really caught our interest. Marvelous way of telling the story.

At the end of the presentation, we strolled through the Old Town section, delighting in the aromas emanating from the myriad of restaurants in the area.

Pretty good day, lots of variety and we enjoyed it all.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

San Diego, CA - Scenic Drives and Interstates


Last week we got an e-mail from the guy who is watching our home which informed us that one of the units in our town home complex had burned and the two units on either side had suffered smoke damage. Yesterday I was just walking through the campground and noticed yellow tape around one of the units. Sure enough, a fire had absolutely destroyed it. The fire was in the middle of the night but the couple and their dog all got our safely. After they had escaped, they went to the RV’s on either side of them to warn them to get out in case the propane in their unit caught fire. What presence of mind. But, no, the propane did not blow.
The fire started in their refrigerator which had been repaired that day by a drive-by repair guy. I see a huge lawsuit coming. But, meanwhile the couple is living in a park model in the campground, trying to salvage what they can. Several in the campground took a collection for them and many of us donated.

We now have a weekly schedule for checking our smoke alarm. Gary already had a rope ladder for us to escape out the bedroom window and two dowels to hold the window open. We’ll have to practice getting out that way.


We love hard ice cream, as anyone who has read this blog can attest to, and were ice cream deprived in Phoenix where we could not find many hard ice cream stores. In Palm Springs, strange as it sounds, is a great hard ice cream in the Rite Aid pharmacy chain. We stopped on our first day here but have not been back. Huh? And, it’s only 4 blocks from the campground. To remedy that oversight, we had planned to hit the Rite Aid yesterday but got working on the RV and other things that we missed it. Today - our last time in Palm Springs before we head to San Diego and we’re heading to the Rite Aid as we head out of the city on our journey. We packed up, hitched the Jeep to the tow bar and, 4 blocks later were standing in front of the counter choosing our flavors. Today, not just one dip, but two, since it might be a long time before our next dips. My 2 dips were at least 5” high, these are big scoops, not round but cylindrical. Whoo-eee. Mocha almond fudge and strawberry cheesecake. Could anything be better?


There is a large mountain range between San Diego and Palm Springs and two major ways of getting around it: one goes north around the mountains through a low pass on interstates all the way. The second winds up to a high pass over the mountains and then goes down on the other side on state highways of varying widths and often without guard rails. Great views and designated a ‘scenic byway.' (The green in each of these pictures, small as it is from this distance is the grass on the golf courses of Palm Springs.)
Guess which one we chose? Yep, you guessed it. We’re going to take our RV, tow bar and Jeep (53’ altogether) over the mountain pass with great views. The results:

        the RV purred up that pass, around those curves and down on the other side
        the driver was firmly in control
        the passenger: well, after she retrieved her stomach from the floor, and pried her hands loose from the seat - well, you get the idea. As much as I like BEING in San Diego, I’m not so excited about GETTING there, especially when Hot Rod Gary chooses the short-cut over the mountain pass. Was I really that nervous? No, but luckily I distracted myself by taking pictures.
We did get some great views. However, the road was so slow that we could have saved about 2 hours by taking the long way north around the mountains. Truth to tell, Gary says he’d not take that way again, he had read several descriptions about it and none mentioned how narrow the road was. Oh, well, we made it.
As we were coming to the end, we saw what looked like a forest fire high up in the mountains. Getting to this fire looks like a difficult proposition, much less fighting it.
Part of the trip is down Interstate 15 past a town called Temecula. Now,the mountain pass road is called a ‘scenic byway’ whereas the interstate is not, probably just because it’s an interstate. But, it is equally as scenic, though with lots of other cars. The land is very hilly often with homes perched on the top.
Vineyards dot the hills, ranches fill the small valleys, greenery and large white boulders cover the hills. It is a neat drive, fully worthy of being a ‘scenic’ interstate.

Note the different colors around the two roads. The first, the scenic byway out of Palm Springs is on the eastern side of the mountains, the desert side. The pictures on the interstate are on the western side of the mountains, not too far from the ocean. Obviously, the mountains prevent the moisture from getting to the desert regions.


When we got to San Diego, we wanted to find a diesel station since it’s always a good thing to have a full tank with Stabil in it if you are going to park for a while, and we’ll be here a month. At the station, we both wanted to use the rest room. I went inside, saw none, asked and was told it was outside. And, you know what outside bathrooms look like. I asked for a key and was told that it was unlocked. Oh, no, even worse. I hesitantly walked around to the door and found - a very clean bathroom. What a pleasant surprise.

My second surprise came when we were checking in to the resort. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that our reservation actually began on 1/15 and we weren't getting there until 1/19. My mistake. I e-mailed them and got a phone message that they had held our space for us since I had put down a deposit. However, that would mean that we would not have a full month here. So, when we arrived, I entered the office an spoke with a young man, I threw myself on his mercy, batted my eyelashes, wiped a tear from my cheek and asked if we could have our reservation start on 1/19 and go to 2/19. YES, he said. What a delightful surprise. Actually, they had spaces so they didn’t lose any business but I would understand if they did not adjust our reservation.

Monday, January 16, 2012

PS, CA - Ladder Canyons hike

The plan is to eat breakfast out and then head on to some hiking. When we left the restaurant, we both felt chilly, chilly enough to decide to head back to the RV to get another layer to put over our hiking shirts. Then onward.

Some hikes are long, some are high, some are both but some are just for fun and today’s ladder hike is for fun. It’s in a section of badlands southeast of Palm Springs where the hills are folded, wrinkled and full of slot canyons. It’s also right on the boundary of the North American Plate where the San Andreas fault converges with several other fault lines. Over millions of years these fault lines have created a tortured landscape uplifting some hills and creating cracks, some of which widen into large washes with every rain and some which are in harder rock and form slot canyons. The cliffs look like huge solidified mud plates with rocks layers stuck in them.
Doesn’t this all sound like exciting territory to hike in? Well, probably not but these hills have a beauty all their own and the hiking is unusual enough to attract many. We drove down the washboard road with out teeth rattling in our head only to be slowed by the deeper sand nearer the wide sandy swath called a ‘parking lot’. We parked between two Canadian cars near 6 other cars.

Amazing how many Canadians we meet on the trails. I will admit that there are a lot of Canadians in the desert Southwest but it seems as if we meet more Canadians on the trails than Americans. Today, as were getting out of the car, the 4 Canadians in the car next to us were getting ready also. We hiked with them for an hour through the first series of slots but, when they turned back and we were hiking on, we met up with two other Canadians and finished the hike with them. We’ve met so many that I can tell a Canadian accent. Eh? And, we all had the same map from the same book, ‘140 Great Hikes in Palm Springs.’
We got our packs on and decided that it was warm enough to take the legs of our pants off. Hey, is this the same couple who went back to their RV for warmer clothing? Yep. wasted trip. We set off with the 4 from the other car, 3 adults and an 8-yr old boy, Dev. He was full of energy and this is a great trail for kids to scramble over rocks, under boulders and up the ladders. He was always ahead of us.

This is really a unique hike for this area since most slot canyons are in Utah. The slot sections are narrow and twisty, you can’t see 6 feet ahead in parts. Then there are the ladders which climb up some 10 - 12’ walls in the slot. The ladders are put there by volunteers and are in differing conditions. Sometimes, the rains create flooding in the canyon and the ladders are broken. The first one we hit was wooden and was missing the bottom 3 rungs but we could put our feet into the cutouts where the rungs had been. Then, there was this large boulder over us, wedged in the slot but so close above us on the ladder that I had to lay on the ladder so I and my pack could get under the boulder. Pretty tight.
The rest of the ladders were not so precarious and we all climbed them easily. After a mile in the slot and having climbed 5 ladders, we came out of the slot onto the top of one of the cliffs. Here we found a LARGE cairn.

Looks like everyone who had passed this way had put their own rock here. The other 4 turned back at this point but we hiked on, looking for the alternate way back so we could make a circle. This is where we met the other 2 hikers. We all had some trouble finding the trail, agreeing that the trail description is sometimes a bit vague. But, we bushwhacked and scrambled down a cliff face and headed back out the large wash that was there. Note the crack in the rock below. It probably won’t fall for thousands of years but I avoided walking near it.
Interesting day, marvelous hike and good company for the trek. This is the second time we’ve done this hike and it won’t be the last.