Santa Paws 5k Report

December 16th, 2017

 The Sixth Annual Santa Paws 5k Run/Walk/Stroll/Crawl

The annual Santa Paws 5k event, sponsored by our local Lions Club, benefits Guide Dogs of the Desert. Registered contestants are provided with Santa Claus suits (jacket, pants, cap, beard, black belt and a white t-shirt), lots of upcoming race literature and a little candy cane. The route started at 9 am in the Temple Isaiah parking lot, and proceeded to follow a winding route north to Stevens (a block short of Vista Chino) where there’s an official mid-route water stop, before returning to the Finish Line at the starting point. There’s a separate event later in the morning for small kids on the nearby O’Donnell golf course.

I wore my Santa suit and was accompanied by Tessa who walked and jogged the route au natural. Most of those doing the event wore all or part of their Santa costume and many doggies wore Santa apparel. Men, women and children contestants included marathon runners, other runners, joggers, baby strollers, and lots of well-behaved doggies on leash. I don’t run or jog so Tessa had to pull me for much of the route, for her pace was quite a bit faster than my own.

We started the day at 6 am with our usual 4 mile walk. Managed a nice photo of the sky as dawn was breaking in the east. Clouds were noticeable but appeared to be clearing in the west. Later, around 8:30 am while seeking a parking spot, a few rain drop sprinkles hit the car, but it lasted less than 10 minutes. The significant cloud cover made the morning appear rather gloomy. That, however, made the 55 degree air temperature excellent for running and other physical activities. Like several others, I was dressed almost too warmly, but cooled off on the downhill section. As for rain, we didn’t encounter and during or after the event.

Since the event is an official timed race, RaceWire recorded all the finisher times. They captured the embarrassing finishing numbers for Tessa (and me). Overall we were 361 out of 489 finishers, 189 out of 229 male finishers, and 6th out of 6 in our age group. If I had followed Tessa’s urging to pick up the pace, we would have done better.

Photos of the race/walk also include the one from the early dawn morning walk.

This was our third annual Santa Paws 5k event and we plan on another repeat next year.

Bond & Tessa

Bond Shands
December 15, 2017
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Bonita Ranch Weekend Motorhome Outing

September 28th, 2017

          At least five doggy companions together with nearly two dozen GOPS members (including 7 mobile bedrooms) met for a weekend of camping at Bonita Ranch in San Bernardino county. The local GOPS club (Great Outdoors Palm Springs chapter) sponsored the three day-two night outing that occurred September 22-24. GOPS members, along with their RV motor homes or tents, regularly participate in these planned outings offering opportunities to visit different areas to hike, explore, and learn while enjoying time in an outdoor environment.

          Bonita Ranch is located along Lytle Creek west of Interstate 15’s Cajon Pass in the San Bernardino National Forest. The Bonita Ranch campground is a short, but somewhat energetic hike, from the spectacular Bonita Falls waterfall.  The campground is open year round and includes hook-up sites for motor homes and tent camping facilities (water/electricity/showers).

          Our Friday afternoon arrival schedule included setting up camp, a Tea Time meet and greet, and evening campfire activities. We were located in the vicinity of other groups, including a Christian Fellowship gathering, whose singing appeared to play a significant role in their daytime activities. All camping groups respected each other and mostly observed the 10 pm to 8 am quiet time. 

          Saturday’s schedule started with morning coffee and pastries, followed by a round trip hike up a dry creek bed to Bonita Falls. The view of the Falls was quite lovely but with one rather noteworthy exception. The entire trail along the creek bed and the climb up under the trees was plastered with graffiti of all colors, designs and shapes. It seemed like almost every large rock had been defaced with graffiti. When we reached the Falls that area too had been trashed with graffiti. It was a somewhat saddening experience that leaves you wondering why do some care so little for nature’s beautiful offerings? The hiking route and Falls may be viewed at

          Saturday afternoon a smaller group caravanned to the Mormon Rocks Interpretive Trail in the Cucamonga Wilderness, 1 mile west of Interstate 15. The trail is a short loop that offers scenic views of the unique sandstone rocks in which it is located. The trail area and rocks may be viewed at

          Continuing our Saturday afternoon caravan we drove the Angeles Crest Hwy (State Route 2) up to 7,000+ ft elevation Table Mountain to view the area planned for October GOPS camping activities. Resuming our caravan loop we took the Lone Pine Canyon Road (a 10% downhill grade) back to State Route 138 and return to the Lytle Creek area.

          Saturday evening’s events started with members grilling their entrees over a large Barbecue Pit and sharing potluck side dishes. Afterwards, another evening of campfire activities occurred.

          Sunday morning was set aside for individual member activities. Again coffee and pastries were waiting for early risers. Campground reservations were set to expire with a noon check-out time so most devoted their morning time to breaking camp and returning home. My little doggy, Tessa, accompanied me on the trip and appeared to enjoy the weekend immensely. She received lots of attention and did her best to meet and greet everyone. She didn’t notice the rather large black Tarantula that passed through our camp. I did manage a photo of it but made no attempt at contact before Mr or Ms Tarantula continued on its way.

          Scott Connelly, the outing leader, planned the event, designed the schedule, and led both the hikes and caravan trips. It was a well-organized activity and our GOPS chapter is fortunate in having him as our Vice President of Outings. For more about GOPS visit

Bond & Contessa Le Rouge (aka Tessa)

Bond Shands
September 26, 2017
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Silent Valley Club – The Sunday Dog Show

September 3rd, 2017

       Labor Day weekend festivities in the Silent Valley Club resort included a judged dog show for mostly untitled canines. Her ladyship, The Contessa Le Rouge, lent an air of nobility to the proceedings by agreeing to participate as a contestant.

       Three lady judges, plus a moderator, had selected seven categories to be judged. Contestants were permitted to choose and enter two of the categories. Each contestant received a raffle ticket along with a “Participant” ribbon.

       The judging category list included:
…..Happy Tail Wagging
…..Smallest dog
…..Best Trick
…..Largest dog
…..Couch Potato
…..Most Obedient

       There were no categories recognizing beauty, intelligence, beauty, vocal skills, beauty, agility, beauty, distance walking, beauty, charm, beauty, friendliness, beauty, noble lineage, beauty, pedigree, or beauty. Lacking a category that fit her many fine attributes, Tessa entered the Happy Tail Wagging and Most Obedient categories. She is presumed to have been an undeclared runner-up in her categories for others walked away with First Place honors.

       When the winning raffle ticket was drawn it turned out to be the one issued to Tessa. Her prize was a bag filled with dog treats, two plastic water bowls, waste bags and a food container. So, Tessa was pleased for she came away from the contest a definite winner.

Bond Shands
September 3, 2017
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Another Weekend in Silent Valley

July 12th, 2017

          Late Monday afternoon Tessa and I drove The Rambo home from our weekend stay in the mountainside Silent Valley Club membership RV resort. We had managed to escape the record-setting temperatures Coachella Valley residents experienced during our absence. The 115+ daily temperatures had not seriously abated by the time we returned and the contrast to Silent Valley’s cooler days was significant. Neighbors here in Palm Springs tell me it has cooled a bit but I think they’ve lost touch with the true meaning of the word “cool”. Even the five-mile walk Tessa and I take starting at 5 am through the golf course occurs during temperatures approaching the 90s. Silent Valley’s near 4,000 ft altitude experienced temperatures ranging from the 60s to the warmer 90s. Why did we return to Palm Springs? Well, we’ve proved we can take it so, with nothing else to prove, it’s time for intelligent thinking.

          Tessa and I are leaving tomorrow afternoon – we’ve had enough of the “cooler” Palm Springs daily temperatures. We’re taking The Rambo, our RoadTrek home on wheels, back up to Silent Valley for yet another long weekend. Don’t plan to return before Tuesday. We’ve ready to brave the remotely possible occasional winds, maybe a chilly morning, an abundance of shade trees, a country atmosphere and free entertainment events while contributing to a cooler Palm Springs by removing the source of our body heat from the valley’s floor.

          Tessa is ready to go back to Silent Valley. While there she gets more walks and they occur throughout the day.  She appears to greatly enjoy the additional exercise. Until then she’s managing to conserve her strength and energy in ways similar to those in the attached photos.


p.s. I’ve grown accustomed to doing without my cell phone connection during these long weekends. My AT&T carrier doesn’t have a tower in that area so no iPhone calls or message checking until we return. There is local Wi-Fi service in the Community Center and I use it twice daily to check email messages and read the online version of the LA Times. 

Bond Shands
July 12, 2017
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Silent Valley Weekend Camping Report

June 25th, 2017

Silent Valley Weekend Camping Report

Friday afternoon Tessa and I drove The Rambo up the mountain road to the Silent Valley Club private membership RV/motor home resort. Located ten miles south of Banning, it’s only a forty-five minute drive from Palm Springs. The trip in our RoadTrek Zion RV was uneventful with both streets and highways free of traffic impediments. The weekend goal was to escape the 117 degree heat in the Coachella Valley. Our quest was rewarded by the 90 degree weather we encountered on the mountainside.

Immediately following arrival we found a campsite suitable for The Rambo. Afterwards Tessa and I checked into the membership office to record our campsite space. The next step was to setup camp which consisted of hooking up the fresh water, power and sewer connections. Next came setting up the screened gazebo over the picnic table, adding ground covers and setting out chairs.

As the setup chores neared completion an ongoing disaster became noticeable. Large amounts of water under The Rambo began to appear. Looking underneath the vehicle it became clear the water was coming from inside. Opening the side door water could be seen pouring from the galley sink. The water faucet had been left turned on (was it Tessa’s doing?). The grey water holding tank had completely filled and with no place else to go the water made its way through the galley cabinets below the sink. It required two hours effort to rescue and dry utensils, cookware, drawer, shelves and RV floor. None of the paper goods survived and the soaked contents of my seven-day pill box became worthless. Fortunately I had another supply of the single important pill in the bunch.

Next morning following a 5 am walk with Tessa (60 degrees temperature) we returned to The Rambo for breakfast. That’s when the second and even more significant disaster became apparent. I opened the pantry and discovered no coffee! No COFFEE! I can’t remember when I started a day without coffee. The hour was a few minutes after 6 am and, while there’s a General Store in the Community Center, it wasn’t yet open. I was the store’s first patron at 8 am. The store only carried Folger regular and decaf ground coffee – at $8.99 for an 11.3 oz container. I’m a Starbucks or Gevalia coffee drinker but when the choice is Folgers or nothing I didn’t hesitate.

Yesterday (Saturday) the little pub in the Community Center offered a 2 to 5 pm wine tasting along with appetizers for $15. I was fortunate to find seating at a table with a husband and wife from Desert Hot Springs. The couple are French Canadian who have lived in the US over 30 years – and are still apologizing for their accent which I suspect is more of a conversation starter than a necessity. She doesn’t drink wine and was having water. He, on the other hand, appeared to be a wine connoisseur. I, on the other hand, can distinguish between red and white wines, but more subtle distinctions often escape me. My table mates proved to be excellent conversationalists. As a single glass of wine a day consumer (notice I didn’t say connoisseur) the number of wines we tasted soon exceeded my normal daily quotient. Fortunately I wasn’t driving and the walk up the hill back to The Rambo served to put me on the road towards manageable sobriety. Later in the evening there was a free Rock Group performance that lasted until 10 pm. The musical sounds were heard throughout the resort so it wasn’t necessary to be in the crowd in order to “enjoy” the performance. I was content to listen from the comfort of our campsite.

The Silent Valley Club resort has 850 campsites spread under trees covering more than 400 acres. It’s a great favorite of families with youngsters for the kids can safely swim, bike, run and play in a welcoming environment. The resort campsites are grouped into seven lettered areas (A through F). Sections A and C are adjacent to the Family Center building and pool. Those sections appear to be about 80% occupied by families with tents, trailers and large mobile homes. Section B includes both the highest and lowest site elevations in the resort. It has few sewage hookups and for that reason has the fewest numbers of campers occupying spaces. Sections D, E and F are closest to the Adult Community Center building and pool. These sections also contain some of the more open areas lacking tree shade coverage. It appears these sections are 60 or 70 % occupied. Today The Rambo campsite is in Section E.

There are seven Comfort Stations spread throughout the resort. All are clean and I happen to really like showering in them. The water is much softer than in Palm Springs and the high water pressure shower spray is fantastic. The resort has its own water supplies from wells on the property so aren’t under the water restriction requirements found in the Coachella Valley desert communities. I could stand under the Comfort Station shower forever.

Tessa and I walk the three-mile perimeter road twice daily. It’s not a level ground walk and the up and down makes for a more challenging excursion. One road climb in Section B is referred to by staff members as Cardiac Hill. Have to confess I’m always a bit short of breath every time the top is reached. I also bike the perimeter road – but in a direction opposite the walks. That’s so I can manage the “easy” side of Cardiac Hill.

Verizon is the only public cell phone service available though Southern California Telephone offers a $5 daily subscription service. The resort offers free Wi-Fi available at each of the three service centers. My cell phone provider uses AT&T so I walk to one of the centers and use Wi-Fi for my Internet connection needs. Have tried the Southern California Telephone option but the Valley trees interfere with the signal and service is spotty.

I’m writing this report while sitting in the shade outside The Rambo. Since I’m not linked to the Internet my iPad’s Siri dictation option is not available to me. That’s required me to write with one finger, one letter at a time. Have now added to my list to check the iPad keyboards when we return home (purchased for an earlier iPad model) and see if one will work on the iPad I’m now using.

It seems like everyone camping in the Resort is friendly and helpful. We met the two ladies in the campsite opposite us across the road. They’re here from Arizona but are closing on a condominium second home in Palm Springs. Have enjoyed meeting them and benefited from their kindness.

Tessa, who has been barking at every passing dog, person, people or vehicle, sends her love. She still hopes to catch one of the bunny rabbits, squirrels, deer (we spotted two early this morning), birds or the cunning kitty cat we encountered. She’s taken my “suggestions” that barking may not get her many favorite camper votes, under advisement. As for “under advisement”, I suspect that’s akin to File 13 disposition.

Yesterday we had a little cloud cover but today the skies are clear and a beautiful blue in color. Don’t wish to waste any more of it on this report. Will now take a break, go shower, have a bite of lunch and then walk down to the Community Center and post this to my Facebook page.

Bond and Tessa (and The Rambo)
June 25, 2017
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