Lake Elsinore… The Lake and Town

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More About Lake Elsinore

The earliest inhabitants of the Elsinore Valley were the Luiseno peoples, also known as the Payomkawichum or the “People of the West.” Among their survival skills, they figured out a way to extract the toxins from the nut of the California Buckeye bush to stun and capture fish to eat. They also ate acorns turning them into soups, cakes and breads.

In 1797 a Franciscan priest from the mission at San Juan Capistrano ventured eastward through the mountains and saw what is now Lake Elsinore but what looked like a very large swamp. By the early 19th century the lake levels grew providing Mexican farmers and American trappers a place to camp and provide water for their animals. During the gold rush Lake Elsinore was a major route linking the eastern United States to California via the Santa Fe Trail through New Mexico. Later it became an important stagecoach and mail route.

Much of the city’s history revolves around the water levels of the lake. The Great Flood of 1862 allowed the Union Army to create a post here during the Civil War to graze and water its horses. By 1866 the extreme drought killed off most of the cattle in southern California. By 1872 the lake was full again only to evaporate quickly. The great rains of the winter of 1883-1884 caused the lake to overflow in just 3 weeks. Until 1893 the lake’s water level remained high and the Temescal Water Company purchased lake water to irrigate the city of Corona, California. Unfortunately the lake levels receded and the high concentration of evaporated salt made the water unfit for irrigation. Heavier precipitation in 1903 and a flood in January of 1916 caused Lake Elsinore to overflow. In the 1920s the lake offered high speed boat racing and hosted Olympic training, but by the mid 1930s the lake was dry again. By 1938 the lake refilled and during World War II it was used to test sea planes. During the 1950s the lake ran dry but refilled again in the 1960s. A week of heavy rains in the 1980s destroyed surrounding homes and businesses. Now a multi-million dollar project maintains consistent lake levels and an aeration system supports the lake’s eco-system.

Mineral springs near Lake Elsinore attracted visitors seeking the waters’ therapeutic magic. In 1887 the Crescent Bath House was built as a resort spa. The building still stands today as a registered national historic site. It is now known as The Chimes. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Our Big Backyard

Less than 2 miles away the Ortega Highway winds itself through the mountains, dividing Riverside and Orange Counties, from Lake Elsinore to San Juan Capistrano and finally to the Pacific Ocean.

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The Cleveland National Forest intersects the Ortega Highway offering moderate to strenuous day hiking opportunities.

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Getting Our “Bearings”

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Call us snowbirds, call us crazy, but here we are at our new address for the winter: 32700 Riverside Drive Site 150, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530

Welcome to our community!

Welcome to our community!

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Let me take you for a little tour of the campground

Can you find our RV? Hint: We're on the end.

Can you find our RV?
Hint: We’re on the end.

All roads lead to the lake!

All roads lead to the lake!

The top of our street.

The top of our street.

Jeff and Laurel Jernigan Site 150

Jeff and Laurel Jernigan
Site 150

Why we have no next door neighbors

Why we have no next door neighbors

A big old pecan tree takes up too much space.

A big old pecan tree takes up too much space.

The end of our street is lined with pecan trees too.

The end of our street is lined with pecan trees too.

Our noisy neighbors, the crows

Our noisy neighbors, the crows

Home is Where You Park Your RV

image Lake Elsinore, CA

Located in western Riverside County and founded in 1888 as a resort town, the city sits on the shores of southern California’s largest freshwater lake once named Laguna Grande. To the west are the Elsinore Mountains, part of the Santa Ana Mountain Range. East of the lake lie the eroded slopes of the Temescal Mountains and to the north are the steep Clevelin Hills of Country Club Heights. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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We decide to park here for the winter because of its location in Kelly-O’Connell Land. My son, John, and his wife, Amanda, live in Irvine. Amanda’s parents live in Temecula. Lake Elsinore is a midway location, affordable, and on the cusp of potential restraunt employment for Jeff.

We arrive October 31st. John and Amanda join us the next day for John’s birthday after driving Paul to the San Diego airport. (Amanda’s b-day present to John was flying his good friend in for a surprise visit!) Our arrival also marks our 2 month anniversary of full-time RV living. Since August 31st we have crossed the nation from Maine to California!

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Two More Stops… California, But Not “Home” Yet

Our final stop before arriving in Kelly-O’Connell Land is at the Shady Lane RV Camp in Barstow, CA, off I-15 and Highway 58. It is in the middle of nowhere, but kind of fun in a quirky way. Jim, the manager, is a hoot and a half! He guides us into our spot on his golf cart, before asking for any payment, and tells us to settle in. His office is an old camper with a low threshold and he reminds me to watch my head before I enter. Only cash and checks are accepted. Along with my receipt, he hands me the TV Week section of the local newspaper, a highway traffic alert number and a mileage chart to different cities. And, since it is the day before Halloween, he insists I grab 2 candy treats for Jeff and 2 more for myself!

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About Barstow

It is a major transportation center for California’s Inland Empire. The I.E. is the name the U.S. Census Bureau uses to refer to the southern region of California, directly east of Los Angeles. I-15, I-40, Route 58 and Route 66 all converge here. It is also the site of a large rail classification yard where railroad cars are separated onto different tracks.

Begining in the late 1840s Barstow became more and more important as a travel route for people, animal herds, and freight wagons between New Mexico, Utah, and Los Angeles. The fall and winter rains replenished the grasses and water supply attracting travelers to follow the course of the Mojave River past Barstow. Following the discovery of gold and silver, railroads were needed to transport miners and goods. The Southern Pacific passed through Barstow connecting the cities of Mojave and Needles in California. Before the interstate highway system was established Routes 66 and 91 converged in Barstow before continuing west to Los Angeles. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Two More Stops… Kingman, Arizona

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We spend our last 2 nights in Arizona at the Blake Ranch RV Park and Horse Motel near Kingman, AZ, one right turn directly off I-40 West and about 60 miles away from the border to eastern CA. And yes, you read correctly… a horse motel!

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Below is a picture of the horse motel.

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According to the website, the horse motel has twelve 12’x12′ covered stalls with fresh well water and clean shavings provided upon arrival. For self-contained horse trailers and RVs, 30’x70′ pull-through sites are available adjacent to the horse’s area. Two 50 feet round pens are available on the premises to exercise horses kept in trailers. Bunkhouse cabins that sleep up to 4 people can be rented.

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And of course, the RV sites and horse motel areas are separate!

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We stay in site 23 on Willow Way.

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I walk around the premises the day after we arrive and capture the following desert settings:

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The best pictures of all are the ones of the Arizona sunset on the eve of our departure.

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About Kingman

Sitting along the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, between a plateau and the lower Colorado River Valley, Kingman is spared the hot dry desert climate. Because of its higher elevation and its geographic location, summer temps rarely reach 100 degrees fahrenheit and winter temps may occassionally bring snowfall.

The city was founded in 1882 as part of the Arizona Territory. It was named after Lewis Kingman, a surveyor for the Atlantic-Pacific Railroad which ran through the area. Before receiving its name, however, Edward Beale left his mark on Kingman. An officer in the U.S. Navy and a topographical engineer, Beale’s orders were to build a federal wagon road along the 35th parallel. In 1857 he surveyed the area through Kingman and in 1859 he returned to supervise the construction of the road which is now part of Route 66 and I-40. An interesting footnote to this story is Beale’s secondary orders. While surveying for a future wagon road he was also to explore the feasability of using camels as pack animals in the desert. This so called Camel Corps never reached fruition due to the timing of the Civil War. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert Part II

Early families, searching for food and water, settled here from 1250 – 1380 to farm, build pueblos and trade with others. It is likely that drought forced these people to move northwest to join their fellow Hopis. What they left behind is quite remarkable: pottery shards, arrowheads, a solar calendar, and petroglyphs carved into stone. (from Park brochure)

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Look closely to find petroglyphs in the following pictures!

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The next stop on our amazing journey through time is called Newspaper Rock. My pictures do not do justice to capturing this area of over 650 petroglyphs.

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The Teepees area is captured below:

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This area of rock is one of the lowest, and therefore oldest, formations in the Park. (from plaque on trail)

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The Agate Bridge, pictured below, is a 110-foot long petrified log. The park brochure has a picture of a couple standing on the bridge in 1911. Visitors are no longer allowed to walk on it.

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“Water created Agate Bridge and will destroy it. The fossilized tree grew in a lush subtropical forest 217 million years ago. When this tree died it washed into a river and its quick burial by river sediments prevented decay. Volcanic ash dissolved in groundwater provided silica which reacted with the log and slowly crystalized it into quartz. Millions of years later, rivers and streams eroded massive layers of rock strata to expose this fossilized tree. Inevitably, water now carving the small gully under Agate Bridge will cause its collapse. The supportive concrete span, constructedin 1917, is a tenuous attempt at preservation. Water will always have its way.” (from plaque on trail)

Jasper Forest offers a sweeping view of petrified wood, although you need to look closely to see the pieces of logs.

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It is hard to imagine that… these badlands and grasslands were once a vast floodplain intersected with many streams. Tall conifer trees grew along the banks. Small dinosaurs, giant amphibians, and crocodile-like reptiles lived among the ferns and cycads. Eventually the trees fell and washed away into nearby floodplains and were buried under silt, mud, and volcanic ash. The sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs’ decaying process. Meanwhile the silica-rich groundwaters seeped through the logs, replacing the original wood tissues, and produced the colorful patterns of petrified wood we see today. The colors come from the different minerals in the silica-saturated water. Iron, carbon, and manganese create the swirls of yellow, red, black, blue, brown, white, and pink. (from Park brochure)

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The very end of the 28 mile drive, or beginning, depending upon where you start, is the star of the tour. You can get up close and personal with the largest concentration of petrified wood, but it is illegal to collect or remove any petrified wood from the Park. Commercial sources of the wood abound in nearby gift shops throughout the area since it is legal to collect specimens on private land outside the National Park.

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Petrified Forest and Painted Desert Part I

Tucked between I-40 and Route 180 some 25 miles north and south of Holbrook, AZ, lies the Petrified Forest National Park.

This is one of the best places in the world to see fossils from the Late Triassic Period. Prehistoric forests became petrified wood. Smaller dinosaurs fought for survival with crocodile-like reptiles. Even harder to imagine is that this desert grassland was a tropical rainforest over 225 million years ago! Since then, continents moved, uplifted and parted. The climate changed and the river, plants, and animals were buried by layers of sediment. Ongoing wind and water sculpted this area and left behind this prehistoric glimpse of Arizona. (from Park brochure)

We enter the 28 mile forest road off of Exit 311 of I-40 at the Painted Desert Visitor Center.

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The Painted Desert gets its color from the stratified layers of finely grained rock layers of siltstone, mudstone and shale left behind from prehistoric times. Iron and manganese compounds provide the various shades of color. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Jeff, the dogs and I walk along the Rim Trail (a mile out and back) and are amazed at the colors of rock and terrain. From black to white to terra cotta, the desert reveals the limestone and volcanic ash washing down from the flat-topped mesas. The silica from the volcanic ash contributes an important layer of the petrified wood. The erosion of all the sediments from wind and water create the badland dry terrain of the forest. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

The picture below does not do justice to the steep drop-off at the end of the pebbled walkway brightly highlighted in the bottom left of the photo.

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I am standing on the rim of the plateau.

Below lies black basalt deposited by volcanoes between 5 and 16 million years ago. This hard basalt is known as the Bidahochi Formation. Acting like an umbrella, it shelters this region from the effects of weather and erosion. (from plaque on trail)

I hope you enjoy the following pictures of the Painted Desert Rim Trail. Pinyons, junipers, and shrublands sit atop volcanic ash to decorate the landscape.

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The rim trail takes us to the Painted Desert Inn.

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This lodge and national historic landmark overlooks the Painted Desert and serves as a museum and book store today. Designed in the Pueblo Revival Style of architecture, the Civilian Conservation Corps built the complex from 1937 – 1940. The murals below were painted by Hopi artist, Fred Kabotie, during 1947 and 1948. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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The inn closed its doors to overnight guests in 1963 and was scheduled for demolition in the 1970s. Public protests prevented this, however. In 1987 the building became a National Historic Landmark. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)


 

California, Here We Come!… Holbrook, Arizona

OK RV Park…

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… a friendly place offering free coffee and muffins every morning between 8 and 11. The owner is a retired school teacher and the campground office reflects this with a shelf of books to take and read, pamphlets about local history and a knowledgeable staff.

At night the train whistles chug by seranading us to sleep.

Since we park here for 2 nights we plan to spend a day in the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. But before we take our day trip, check out these pictures of the campground area and beyond.

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The street above leads to a cluster of mobile homes. Each morning and afternoon a school bus picks up and drops off students who live here.

Beyond our campground lies a vast expanse of desert scrubland,

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and a pot-holed dirt road leading somewhere.

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Naturally, I have to find out where it leads.

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… some kind of church…

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It turns out to be a Mormon Church!

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About Holbrook

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Between 1881 and 1882 railroad tracks and a depot constructed here founded this city in Navajo County AZ. Holbrook was named for the first Chief Engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The A and P Railroad consisted of two disjointed segments. One segment connected connected St. Louis, MO with Tulsa, OK. The other segment connected Albuquerque, NM with southern CA. This railroad station was replaced by the Santa Fe Depot in 1892.

On July 19, 1912 a trail of smoke appeared in the sky and eventually exploded over the town. A meteorite with an estimated mass of 419 pounds showered Holbrook with over 16,000 stones. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

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California, Here We Come!… Albuquerque, New Mexico

Just off I-40 West within sight of Route 66, Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post is worth a stop.

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Originally known as the Hill Top Trading Post built in the late 1940s, the adobe style building did some crazy advertising to attract visitors: from a line of teepees on the roof, a stuffed bear at the door, and even a live burro wandering the parking lot. The property was converted into a campground in the early 1970s but many kitsch features remain on the property and in the building. Take a look at these vintage travel trailers! (from campground brochure)

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The Trading Post is fun inside too. The campground staff are among the friendliest we have encountered. The gift shop is filled with jewelry, Route 66 mementos, and collectibles that are not for sale. Even the laundry room has old washing machines and a mangle on display.

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Our RV site faces east toward the Sandia Mountains. Unfortunately Camping World obscures our view.

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The good news about Camping World, however, is that Jeff can walk there and purchase a kink-free potable water hose, an inside/outside temperature guage for which he has a fettish (I think he secretly wants to be a meteorologist), and a membership to the Good Sam’s Club! We are now the proud owners of a telephone-book sized directory of every RV Campground that offers us a 10% discount because of our membership in Good Sam.


The Sandia Mountains

Their name means “watermelon” in Spanish and some say it refers to the color of the sides of the mountain when the sun sets.

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Others reference the silhouette provided by the line of trees growing across the top resembling the rind of a watermelon.

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The Sandia Indians offer another explanation. When the Spaniards came to this area in 1540 they thought the squash gourds growing on the mountains were watermelons. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

The world’s second largest tramway, 2.7 miles, ascends over 4,000 feet in 15 minutes, carrying passengers to the top of the Sandias. Supposedly the longest aerial tramway is in Armenia. Crossing the Vorotan River George, the “Tatevi Trevor”, the Wings of Tatev, is some 3.5 miles long. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)

When my son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Jen, lived in Albuquerque we rode the tram at sunset and I witnessed the reddish pink color of watermelon bathing the sides of the edifice. Jen often ran on the trails atop of the mountain. When I visited, however, the trails were closed because of the severe threat of forest fires due to the heat and lack of substantial rain.


About Albuquerque

This largest city in New Mexico sits in the high desert in the northwest quadrant of the state.

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The Sandia Mountains lie to the east and the Rio Grande River flows north and south through the city.

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Before the Spanish, Mexicans and colonists arrived here the Pueblo peoples populated and cultivated the area of the Rio Grande Valley as far back as 2,000 B.C. (from visitalbuquerque.org)

It was founded in 1706 as a Spanish colony. Three explanations of how the city was named exist. The first supposition suggests that it was derived from the Latin “albus quercus” which means “white oak” and refers to the color of the cork oak trees of the region when their bark is removed. Wine bottle stoppers and flooring are produced from these evergreens. The second premise is based on the word “albaricoque” which means “apricot” in a northwestern dialect of Spain. Spanish settlers introduced the apricot to New Mexico and eventually planted trees from the seeds. Since an apricot tree grew nearby the Spanish settlers named their land “Ciudad de la Albaricoque.” Western pioneers could not pronounce the Spanish word correctly and the name morphed into “Albuquerque.” (en.m.wikipedia.org)

The third explanation is more historical. In 1706 King Philip of Spain gave his permission to establish a villa here on the banks of the Rio Grande River and beneath the mountains which provided both protection from and trade with the Native Americans living in the area. The governor of this new city named it “La Villa de Alburquerque” in honor of the Duke in Spain with the same name. Through time, and I am guessing spelling hassles, the first “r” was lost. (from visitalbuquerque.org)