Sunday, March 31, 2013

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park- Saturday, March 30, 2013

Again today we struck out traveling south from the campground.  The area around Indio is known for growing dates.  We did stop at a roadside date store to purchase some dates to take home with us.  We continued south on the western side of the Salton sea that we had visited on Thursday on the eastern side of the lake.  Our destination today was Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. To get to the Visitor’s Center of the Park we had to pass through  Borrego Springs, a pretty town with lots of green grass and flowers.  This small town has several campgrounds that are used mainly in the winter months by snowbirds.  The Park surrounds this town.  In the Visitor’s Center we watched a short film about the park and then obtained some information about where to go within the 650,000 acres.  Many roads in the park can only be traveled with 4-wheel drive vehicles.  We drove a short distance up the Coyote Canyon Road looking for a picnic area that we did not find.  We then saw metal sculptures in an open area that we drove to, took some pictures and then ate our packed lunch in the Jeep.  Font Point was an area that was pointed out to us so we drove the 4 miles of a sandy, rough road to the Point.  This point overlooks the Badlands of California that is somewhat like the Badlands in the Dakotas.  Bighorn Sheep (borrego- the park’s namesake) that inhabit this area are endangered and unfortunately we did not see any today.

On the return to the campground in Desert Hot Springs we stopped at Sam’s Club to replenish our supplies.  After returning to the motorhome we decided to go out for dinner.  We had trouble finding some place that suited our taste but finally we returned to Palm Springs and the restaurant Maracas that we had eaten at before.  In addition to Mexican food, they have wonderful dinner salads which is what we ate this evening. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"The Flower Fields" Friday, March 29, 2013

We drove to the Pacific Coast to the town of Carlsbad, Ca.  Our first stop was at the Visitor's Center and from there we were given directions to "The Flower Fields".  "The Flower Fields" are fields of rununculus flowers that are grown in order to sell the bulbs.  The flowers are in bloom during the months of March and April.  There are 13 colors of these flowers currently.  There are also other flowers in flower beds and gardens on the grounds but the main business is the growing of the rununculus flowers.  The slide show tells the story.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Short Move and Salton Sea, Thursday, March 28, 2013

This morning Tom called Caliente Springs Resort in Desert Hot Springs to check if we could get an RV site there for the next 4 nights.  We were in luck.  A little after 9:30am Tom squeezed out of the campsite at Happy Traveler RV Park in Palm Springs and I in the Jeep and we were on our way to Caliente Springs Resort.  It was a short move, 15 miles, and we were there in less then a half hour.  We were glad that we had made the move.  Compared to Happy Travelers, Caliente Springs has nice campsites that accommodate the motorhome and the Jeep- no need to park on the roadway, the slideouts are not up against the hedges that formed the boundaries between sites.  The best part is the cost as we pay for 2 nights what one night cost us at Happy Travelers since this is a Passport America Park and the discount is honored for all 4 nights.  And did I mention that this is indeed a resort with beautiful landscaping, a huge swimming pool/spa including a mineral springs spa and a full schedule of activities. 
After lunch we decided to drive to Salton Sea.  On the way, we came to Coachella Valley Reserve and stopped.  This was an interesting reserve that is an oasis on the San Andreas fault.  Tall Fan Palms are growing here.  Along the fault line water bubbles up.  A board walk allows visitors to walk along the fault line among the tall palms where it is noticeably cooler.  There are other trails through the reserve that we did not take as we wanted to move on toward Salton Sea.
Salton Sea is California's largest lake at 35 miles long, 15 miles wide and 227 feet below sea level.  It has no outlet so what flows in, including agricultural runoff, stays in the lake.  The lake is a state recreation area with campgrounds situated around it and almost limitless fishing.  Tilapia fish are the most abundant according to information we were told at the Visitor's Center.  Migrating birds are in this area during the winter months drawn here by the food source, the fish.  Over the years the salinity of the lake has increased which has affected the types of fish that can survive here and will eventually affect the birds.  The state is attempting a restoration program for the lake.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Palm Springs, Ca. and Aerial Tramway, Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We moved camp this morning to Palm Springs 57 miles to the west.  As we traveled on SR62 we were driving through mountainous terrain and descended several long hills that went straight down, no curves.  As we got close to to connecting with I-10 there was a huge windmill farm.  There had to be hundreds of windmills of different sizes and different blade configuration.  We have seen other windmill farms but this is by far the largest.  A short hop on I-10 and then off into the city of Palm Springs and to the Happy Traveler RV Park.  The RV park is an old park, well-maintained but small, small spaces.  Our motorhome is in the site but our Jeep is parked in front of the motorhome in a roadway through the park- like other towed vehicles.  At $48.00 for the night we are only staying here tonight.

Palm Springs is a very clean city with beautiful flowers blooming throughout.  We went to the downtown area and had lunch at Maraca’s, a Mexican restaurant.  We ate in their outside dining area, something that most restaurants in this town have.  The sidewalks have pavements with blocks of various celebrities that apparently have been affiliated in some aspect with this city.  A statue of Sonny Bono, the mayor at one time, is located here.  A huge statue of Marilyn Monroe is in another plaza area.   Before leaving the downtown, we went into a See’s candy store for our dessert of a couple pieces of this decadent candy.

Leaving the downtown, we drove to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  In 10 minutes we were transported by the tram from the Valley Station (2,643 feet) to the Mountain Station (8,516feet).  The temperature varies about 40 degrees between the 2 stations.  It was 50 degrees on top.  The tram can carry up to 80 people and while underway  the floor of the tram rotates allowing passengers to continuously have different views.  At the Mountain Station we watched a short movie about the tram and then walked about outside to the viewing areas.  A paved walkway  from the Mountain Station descends to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.  Tom and I walked down the walkway but didn’t continue on any of the trails- the walkway with the switchbacks was challenging enough for us.  We had been assigned specific tram times going up but going back down we just got in a line and waited our turn.  A fun day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Second Day in Joshua Tree National Park- Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We returned to Joshua Tree National Park today.  We wanted to travel the Geology Tour Road that was said to have the "most fascinating landscape in Joshua Tree National Park".  It was an 18 mile tour with 16 stops that corresponded to a paper that we had gotten at the Visitor's Center yesterday.  The road was composed of soft sand and some steep grades.  4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.  We were in the Jeep but didn't need to resort to using 4-wheel drive at any point but a higher clearence vehicle is a definite need.  Again we saw piles of rocks but then we crossed a valley, Pleasant Valley,  which was still desert environment but different than the other areas of the Park.  The tour took about 2 hours as we stopped at several places.  Squaw Tank is a concrete dam built in a wash.  Dams were built by cattleman to catch the run off water for their cattle in the early 1900's.
After the Geology Tour we drove to Keys View, the highest point in the Park accessible by car.  It was noticably cooler there but the views were wonderful.  We ate our packed lunch at Quail Springs picnic area and were entertained by the ground squirrels and families with small kids crawling over the rocks.
 Moving on, we stopped at a pull out and walked a trail to the Ryan ranch. The Ryan's were a ranching family that had lived here years ago raising cattle.  Apparently, there was a strong well that was able to supply water for the livestock at that time.  Today there are just remnants of adobe buildings on the property.  As we were walking the trail to this ranch we were watching rock climbers climbing some distance away.  Rock climbing is the sport in this park.
About 3pm we returned back to the campground with a feeling that we had gotten around the Joshua Tree National Park well and tomorrow we would move on.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Joshua Tree National Park, Monday, March 25, 2013

Today we spent the day in Joshua Tree National Park.  Our first stop was at the Oasis Visitor's Center of the Park, about 2 miles from the campground, where we picked up some information about the park.  This park named for the unique trees that grows here also has some interesting rock formations.  There are what appears to be piles and piles of rocks as well as monolithic formations.  Our first stop was at a formation called skull rock that had the appearence of a huge skull and is amongst "Jumbo Rocks". 
Moving on we stopped at a parking area for Barker Dam.  From this parking lot there were 2 areas to hike to, Wall Street Mill and Barker Dam.  We first hiked the 2.2 mile trail to Wall Street Mill, an old stamp mill used for procuring gold and silver up until 1966.  Then we hiked the 1.1 mile trail to Barker Dam, a dam that was built to contain water for horses and cattle that were corraled in this area.  
At this point we were ready for lunch but so was everyone else.  The picnic areas were filled with no available parking.  We found a parking area for a trailhead that had parking available for us to sit in the car and eat our lunch. In this area there were some big monlithic rocks that numerous people were rock climbing.
Our last hike was a mile hike into Hidden Valley, an area with some varied vegetation in the center of a ring of huge rock piles.  We saw a snake slithering across the desert, got a picture of him but didn't try to figure out what kind of snake he was. The Joshua trees are in bloom at this time.  Birds seem to enjoy sitting on the blooms and picking at the florets.  The weather has been just about perfect, bright sunshine but temperatures in the low 80's and a cool breeze gently blowing nuch of the time.  It does get cold at night- this morning it was 47 degrees.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

California- March 24, 2013, Palm Sunday

We left Quartzsite this morning a little past 8:30am and traveled 152 miles to Twentynine Palms in California.  We started out on I-10
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going west after 20 miles we crossed the Colorado River and we were now in California.
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  Traveling another 44 miles on I-10 we came to SR177 which took us north to SR62 west that was a direct route to Twentynine Palms.  Much of the route on the state routes skirted the Joshua Tree National Park, that we want to visit.  We are staying at Twentynine Palms RV Resort that is 2 miles from Joshua Tree N.P.  After lunch and watching the NASCAR race (I read and napped) we drove into the N. Park.  We had not seen any Joshua trees coming into this area this morning and had to go several miles into the park before we started seeing some.  This area is in the Mojave Desert.  The houses here range from just shacks to some nice homes but what is interesting to us is that all the houses have dirt yards- no vegetation, no decorative stones, just the dirt.  Tomorrow we plan to see more of Joshua Tree National Park.  The weather has been pleasant with temperatures in the 70's but will drop probably into the 40's tonight.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Quiet Day in Quartzsite- March 23, 2013- Saturday

This morning we thought we would eat breakfast at the campground breakfast but when we went to the rec hall we were told that they were not doing breakfast today.  So we hopped into the Jeep and went to a local restaurant for breakfast.  We both had omelets which were very good.  We returned to the motorhome and spent time looking at maps and guide books planning our travels.
After lunch and a little rest we drove around this community.  Tom wanted to go to the Hi Jolly gravesite.  "Hi Jolly" was a Syrian that lived in this area and worked with camels that had been brought here in the 1800's to be used by the army.
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  We then just drove around the area and did stop at a couple of stores.  Returning to the motorhome we walked about the campground before having dinner.  

Quartzsite, Arizona- March 22, 2013- Friday

We got an earlier start today (don’t know why, just happened) and by 8:20am we were leaving Justin’s Diamond J RV Park going west on I-10.  After the past 2 days being overcast with clouds, today was a bright and sunny.  Driving along about 11:30am we heard a horn beeping.  Tom immediately thought someone was trying to get his attention that something was wrong.  About that time the beeping car, a green Prius, passed us and folks were waving.  It was Patty and Braxton that we had visited with yesterday.
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  We knew that they were going to California to visit a son and his family but didn’t dream that we would see each other on the highway.  Of course, they were soon well on their way ahead of us.  We had thought about going to Blythe, Ca. tonight but when I called to be sure they had room they said they were full.  We had stopped in Quartzsite to refuel before going into California and decided we would just stay in this area.  So we checked into the Holiday Palms RV Park, a very nice campground.  Once before we had stayed in this area but we were camping with a group out in the dessert during the very active January time.  At this time of the year it is much less hectic  here.  The drive from Tucson was 258 miles. 
We have not done much planning for this trip as far as exactly where we will be going in California and how long we will be staying at various places.  We thought that we would stay here in Quartzsite for 2 nights to for us to do a some planning. 
Late in the afternoon Tom decided to install the new kitchen faucet.  So like every project (so it seems) after getting the old torn out, he realized that he needed to go to a hardware store for something to complete the job.  This time he needed water line extenders.  So we went to the local hardware store and sure enough they didn't have what was needed.  So off to Blythe, Ca., 22 miles away,  when we located the Ace hardware store it was 6:02pm and they were closed.  A young man was pushing carts back to the store so we asked him if anyway for us to purchase something from the store.  He first said that they were closed but with more persuasion he said he would ask his supervisor and by luck Tom got the necessary parts.  Returning to the motorhome the job was completed and a late dinner was eaten- and no more leaking faucet. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Visiting in Tucson- Thursday, March 21, 2013

This morning after breakfast we drove out in the Jeep in search of Camping World.  According to the pamphlet from the RV Park, Camping World was in a new location but after going to the “new location” and not finding a Camping World we check further and found that it is in the same location next to Lazy Days.  Returning the wiper blades that did not fit our motorhome the clerk told us that Camping World would be moving to the location that we had gone to in the future.  We then went to a Lowe’s to get a replacement for the kitchen sink faucet since the present one is has a big leakage problem.

Returning back to the motorhome, I attended to some laundry and then we were off  to visit with my cousin Patty and her husband, Braxton.  Rather than traveling the main roads to their house we drove across Gates Pass road that goes across the mountain, a very scenic and less hectic drive.

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  We had planned to go out to lunch but when we got to their house they had prepared a nice picnic lunch to eat on their patio area by their pool.  The weather was just perfect for sitting outside enjoying good food and good conversation.  It was a most enjoyable afternoon.  We return back towards the campground making a stop at a CVS store and then on the Gates Pass road we stopped to take a few pictures at an overlook.
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  Closer to the campground we stopped at Tiny’s , a local restaurant, to get a bite to eat for supper. 

Tomorrow we plan to move on.  Thus far,  there have not been any wind that we feel could be a problem. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tucson to Visit and Rest- Wednesday, March 20, 2013

At 9am (Mountain time) we left Las Cruces, New Mexico stopping at a nearby Pilot truck stop for fuel before getting on I-10 heading west.  We were seeing the familiar southwest views of cacti and other desert plants and treeless mountains that change colors as the sunlight changes.  We stopped at a rest area as we entered Arizona and had lunch.  Continuing our travels through Arizona we were reminded of our previous stays in this area and there was a certain homey feeling.  We had planned to stay at the Lazy Days campground in Tucson and for some reason we thought maybe we had better call to see if there would be a site for us.  Tom made the call and was told that they were full until the 24th of March.  So we started looking at other campgrounds and decided to check with Justin’s Diamond J RV Park, a place we had stayed once before, and they had vacancies.  About 2:15pm (Arizona Time) we arrived at the campground, after 286 miles, and we were soon parked and set up.  We planned to stay 2 nights.  We wanted to visit with my cousin and her husband, Patty and Braxton, if we could arrange a time to get together- they are busy being retired also.  We needed to get some groceries,  wanted to go to Camping World to return the wiper blades that we purchased several days ago and did not fit, and the kitchen faucet sprayer needs to be replaced as it is leaking badly.  And we were hearing the predictions for very windy conditions for the next 2 or 3 days and did not want to be traveling in 50mph plus winds.   We are both feeling weary from the rapid time changes – yesterday morning we were in Central time and tonight in Arizona, because they are in Mountain time but do not change to daylight saving time, we have gained 2 more hours essentially we are in Pacific Time.  I did call Patty and Braxton and we have arrange to get together tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Good-Bye Texas, Hello New Mexico- Tuesday March 19, 2013

This morning before 9am (Central Time) we pulled out of Midessa Oil Patch RV Park in Odessa, Texas. After reading a blog a couple days ago by Nick Russell about an alternate route of travel to Las Cruces, New Mexico we decided to give it a try. I-10 swings south and then goes right up through El Paso, Texas into New Mexico. The route we took skirted along the northern border of Texas going along the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and then catching up with I-10 north of El Paso for the last 40 miles. Today like yesterday started with travels through the oil drilling areas of Texas until we started climbing the hills leading into the Guadalupe Mountains. The time changed from Central time to Mountain time so we gained another hour. We stopped at the Visitor's Center for the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and watched a short slide show about the mountains. Leaving the mountains we passed through salt flats. Salt Flat Cafe had been pointed out to us at the Visitor's Center as a place we could get lunch. After nearly passing the cafe we did stop and had a lunch of burgers that were very good. The last leg of the route getting us to I-10 north of El Paso had detours that caused some anxiety in both of us until, by luck, we caught up with the route we needed and knew we were on the right track. At 3:25pm (Mountain Time) we pulled into the Coachlight RV park for the night after 332 miles.. 

  The weather continues to be very pleasant with temperatures in the 70's during the day and dropping down in the 50/60's at night.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Texas Oil Fields- Monday, March 18, 2013

We were on the move this morning at 8:40am heading west on I-20.  We did stop for fuel at a Love's soon after starting.  We traveled through the hill country of Texas and then we were in the oil fields area.
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  We stopped at a rest area near Sweetwater for our lunch.
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  There were a large group of windmills in this area.
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  As we got closer to Midland the oil business seemed to be booming.
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  Oil drilling equipment was being relocated and the refineries appeared to be in full swing.  We had planned to stay in Odessa tonight but had heard that the campgrounds were filled with workers from the oil fields so we weren't sure if we could find a site in a campground or would need to go to a fair ground in the area.  We stopped at Midessa Oil Patch RV Park and were able to get a site for the night although there are many workers in this campground.  Our travels today were a little shorter than the previous days at 298 miles and we were off the road before 3pm.  Tomorrow we hope to be through this state of Texas. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013 St. Patrick’s Day Going West on I-30

This morning at 8:35am we left the Downtown Riverside Park, in North Little Rock, getting on I-30 and traveling through Arkansas and then into Texas.  We were in need of a few things from Walmart so when we spotted one in Arkadelphia, Ar. we decided to stop.  When we got to the parking lot we found entryways with 12 feet6inches height barriers.  We may have been able to get in but we didn’t want to chance it.  Luckily there was a parking lot across the road that we were able to park but we didn’t get any cases of water that would have been gotten if we had been parked closer to the store.  Tom did find wiper blades for the motorhome.  The blades that Tom had bought at Camping World on Friday did not fit and will need to be returned to Camping World at some point.  There are only 2 rest areas on I-30 in Texas, the first just as we entered the state and the second one at mile post 143 that was filled to the brim with vehicles.  In this case, we stopped for lunch in Sulfur Springs and found Juan Padre Restaurant with a large gravel parking lot across the street for parking the motorhome.  Traveling through southwestern Arkansas and the northeastern Texas areas we were seeing redbud and Bradford pear trees in bloom and other trees with leaves developing.  The weather has been really nice with temperatures in the 70’s.  We have hung up our heavier coats and gone from long sleeved to short sleeved shirts.  We traveled 377 miles today a little farther than we like but we also wanted to be west of Dallas/Fort Worth so we didn’t have to face that first thing in the morning, a Monday morning.  We are stopped for the night just a few miles west of Fort Worth as I-30 runs into I-20 at Cowtown RV Park-a Passport America Park that does not honor the discount since the occupancy rate is high at this time.  Tomorrow we will continue our travels through Texas on I-20.    And that is how we spent St. Patrick’s Day- driving west from Arkansas into Texas and eating Mexican food for lunch!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013 West of the Mississippi

We got underway this morning at 8:40am.  Our travels today continued west on I-40 through Nashville, Memphis and then to North Little Rock, Arkansas, 375 miles.  Crossing the Tennessee River west of Nashville we noticed there were quite a few fishermen out on the river.  About 11:30am we were sitting on the highway as traffic had stopped due to an accident.  The talk on the CB radio indicted that it would be a while before the clean-up would be completed so I make sandwiches and we ate lunch as  we waited.  We were moving shortly after eating.  We did make a fuel stop at a Pilot Truck Plaza. 

At a little past 4pm we pulled into Downtown  Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock.  This small, 56 sites, park is city owned and is on the north bank of the Arkansas River.  The park honors Passport America discount which we have so we only needed to pay $11.56 for a full hook-up site with 50 amp electric.  Next to the RV park is an old railroad bridge that is now owned by the city and has been converted to a pedestrian walkway across the river, The Clinton Presidential Bridge.  Immediately, on the other side of the bridge is the Clinton Presidential Library and adjacent to the library is the William “Bill” Clark Presidential wetlands with a boardwalk around the wetlands.  After supper this evening we walked across the bridge, took some pictures of the Library which was closed for the evening and then walked around the wetland park.  There were a couple ducks in the water and numerous turtle heads poking out of the water.  This RV park was a good stop.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A New Motorhome Adventure- March 15, 2013

Yesterday, Thursday, March 14, 2013 we left home again for a new motorhome adventure that will have us making a big circle tour.  It was a cold morning with temperature at 31 degrees and a strong wind.  Finally at 10 am we were finally ready to hit the road.  Traveling southwest we came to I-81 in Virginia and proceeded south on that route through miles of Virginia.  Driving was challenging for Tom with the wind until we were south of Harrisonburg.  It was cold all day even though there was bright sunshine.  After 311 miles we stopped for the night at Fort Chiswell RV Park in Max Meadows, Virginia a little past 4pm.

This morning we got an earlier start at 8:20am.  It was still quite cold but not as windy with reported temperatures to be in the upper 20’s.  We stopped for fuel a couple miles from the campground at Flying J’s.  We continued on I-81 through the 80 remaining miles of Virginia and then into Tennessee.  East of Knoxville I-81 ended and we were then on I-40 headed west.  Tom was concerned about replacing the wiper blades on the motorhome.  When we saw a Camping World near the highway in the Knoxville area we made a stop.  Since it was around noon we decided that we would this would be a good lunch stop.  So as Tom shopped for wiper blades I threw together salads for our lunch and we had lunch.  About 30 miles east of Nashville we stopped at Countryside Resort near Lebanon for the night at 2:35pm central time.  Not only were we in a different time zone but we found ourselves in a much nicer weather zone.  It was 75 degrees with clouds.  What a difference 356 miles makes!  Our windows are open and we are in our shirt sleeves as we walk about the campground at 6:30pm.