Blog 7, Temescal Valley and arrival to Orangeland

Temescal Valley is in Southern California.  We are about 60 miles south of LA.  The climate at this time of year is perfect, cool nights and about 85 during the day but with a refreshing breeze blowing.  We’re here to chill out and relax before we spend a week closer to LA where we will be doing lots of exploring.

In this valley we are in a campsite that’s 150 acres in size and is surrounded by hills.  Just over the hill is a very nice housing development.  The area is very well presented and quiet.  I noticed when I was running through this neighbourhood that where the hills come down to the streets there are trailheads but on each one is a sign warning of rattlesnakes, coyotes and bob cats. We had been told in Arizona that when walking in rattlesnake country always listen out for them and because I like to run with music I discounted going into the hills.

Today after a game of pickleball, where I lost every game…!  I decided to go running and Stuart thought he would head into the hills for a walk.  I had warned him about the signs I had seen but we’ve basically been in rattlesnake country since we arrived.  In fact in one of the campsites in Arizona there were warning signs everywhere and I said to Stuart the signs should qualify how many people have been bitten in say the 12 months because it’s helpful information.  If no-one’s seen or heard a rattlesnake for 20 years then that’s good to know that and you need not be so vigilant!  Anyway, I guess we’ve both become a bit complacent.

20 minutes into my run husband phoned me and told me there was a rattlesnake in front of him on the path and when he went to slowly back up he heard there was one behind him too.  He felt trapped.  He was wondering if I was near the office so I could get advice or ask them for help but I explained I was 20 minutes away. He called the office and they said they would send someone out in a golf cart to find him but that in the meantime not to move.  I called him back to see if he was ok and said there was now a 3rd snake.  He couldn’t see them but said their rattle was unmistakable and he could clearly hear 3.

I decided to run back as I was a bit worried and even though I was running on a residential footpath a snake moved along the kerb and into a bush right by my feet!  I only saw the back meter of it but couldn’t believe how quickly it moved! Amazing that between us we had encountered 4 snakes within 1 hour!!

My husband has confirmed he will not be going back into the hills!

What we’ve since learned is that Coyote’s are pretty commonly seen here.  We’ve heard of separate incidents of 2 small dogs and a cat taken from their yard enclosures here in the campsite by Coyotes.  We haven’t met anyone that’s seen a Bob Cat but have seen Mountain Lions. It’s so exciting to think they are in the hills around us, but I can’t imagine how scared I’d be to see a wild cat or dog.

The people here at this campsite are very friendly.  One of the residents Janet gave us both a haircut.

We’ve been playing pickleball each morning with a very nice enthusiastic group.  They are all playing a bit out of my league but it’s still enjoyable.  We went out to dinner last night with 3 other couples to a nearby restaurant.  It was a steakhouse-our first restaurant meal since we arrived here.

On one of the days at the campsite there was a pickleball tournament.  We both entered with many others.  Stuart’s overall team won, mine came 2nd but I won every game I played.  I was very pleased with that.

We met some lovely friends at this place so we leave the campsite with some happy memories.

And onto Orangeland…

We are now at a campsite called Orange land, because there are orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit trees between every parking space all bearing fruit now.  This campsite is only an hour nearer to LA than the last one but we thought we were too far away to explore LA before.   You can’t have charcoal BBQ’s at all campsites in California because of the fire risk, but we can have them here and we’ve had lots!

Swimming pool at the camp site

We are in Orange County which is a huge county of over 3 million people, it’s area stretches out to the coast but we are in an area called Anaheim which is famous for being close to Disneyland.  The area has a very pleasant Mediterranean feel to it with citrus trees everywhere.  Just around the corner from where we are staying is a transport hub with a very futuristic building that links people to trains and busses.



Yesterday was our first full day here and we decided to cycle from Orange along the river towards the coast.

We thought we would ride to a park and have our packed lunch.  The day didn’t really go as planned.  Firstly, the river is actually a floodway for the natural catchment of water that runs from the Santa Ana mountains.  Because the floodway is so wide the ‘river’ doesn’t really flow much and so it isn’t very picturesque-there is lots of bird life as the water is about knee deep.  The cycle path that runs along it is good and we enjoyed it but after we had cycled about 10km Stuart got a flat tyre.  We noticed he had thorns in it and I had some in mine too.  Stuart picked his out but we left mine in there hoping it would keep my tyres inflated.  We headed straight back but before long his other tyre went flat.  Now he was having to pump up both, ride about 1 KM then pump etc.  This wasn’t very funny, but the funny thing is that I still couldn’t catch him up.  He’s such a fast cyclist.

When we got back home I decided to head back out to the supermarket on my bicycle which was about 2.5 km away.  Stuart said my tyres would probably deflate but I went anyway.  I got there ok but when I came out with a few groceries my back tyre was flat so I had to run it home.

We researched what these blasted thorns are.  They are called Goathead, or Puncturevine thorns.  They grow on very pretty yellow flowered ground cover but these thorns are huge and as hard as nails.  They can get stuck even in car tyres but also cause a problem for children and animals as they get stuck in feet and paws etc.  Because the thorns get stuck in everything they are moved from their source and they contain seeds that can remain dormant and viable for 7 years. This is not a plant we want to ever get into NZ!

We had to buy 2 new tyres and 4 new tubes.

Today we had a quiet day, we cycled around Orange which we really like.  We’ve noticed that the coast is often under cloud or fog and is a good 20 deg cooler than inland, so it’s much warmer here.  At the coast they say May is grey, June has gloom and July, Why??  3 months of cold sea fog rolling in!

Orange has some beautiful houses and a delightful town Square which reminded us of Savannah in Georgia.

A Historic Sago

One of many orange trees, this one in the town square

Town Square

Looks like Savannah in Georgia