Right Back Where We Started From…

California Here We Come…

Two more long days on the road as we head west from Austin back to Thousand Palms, California…

These are sunset pictures from our 1st day.

We spend the night in Deming, New Mexico  at a Comfort Inn. What a difference from the Super and Motel 8s, and within the same price range!


After a warm complimentary breakfast of eggs, sausage, fruit, and toast we enjoy our last day on the highway recounting memories of all the fun moments we shared with John, Olivia, and Hugo.

And of course, I have pictures from the passenger seat to share with you as well. Since we are driving in the car and not the RV, my viewpoint  is not as spectacular as sitting up high in a motorhome and gazing out at a scenic panorama.

I am not disappointed though and I hope you aren’t either. The United States is a beautiful country even from the interstate highways.

Rocks and hills…

Saguaro cacti…

Quartzsite, Arizona…

This means we are about 20 miles away from the state line of California.  You’ve got to see this place to believe it. Dubbed the “Desert Phenomenon” on the city’s website, Quartzsite just may be the RV boondocking capital of the world. Millions of adventure seekers visit each year to enjoy its scenic environment known for its pristine Sonoran Desert views, surrounding mountains, and spectacular sunsets. Every year during January and February the town hosts its famous two-month-long gem show and swap meet where exhibitors and vendors display and sell rocks, gems, mineral specimens, and fossils. (ci.quartzsite.az.us)

southwestrockhounding.com

quartzsitetourism.com

tripsavvy.com

We’ll be coming around the mountain…

The Colorado River…

In Blythe we leave Arizona and enter California as we cross a stretch of the Colorado River on Interstate 10.

This famous river, originally known as the Grand, stretches for 1,450 miles from its genesis on the Continental Divide in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to just shy of the Gulf of California in Mexico. (americanrivers.org)

The yellow shaded area shows how the Colorado River basin extends through 7 states and 2 countries.

pt.slideshare.net, courtesy of Paula Rodriguez Andres

John Wesley Powell, a veteran of the Civil War, who lost his right arm at the elbow in the Battle of Shiloh, led the Powell Geographic Expedition down the Colorado River into uncharted territory in 1869. After 99 days of one of the most daring journeys in American history, he emerged a hero for leading the first official U.S. government-sponsored passage through the Grand Canyon.

He eventually became the second Director (1881-1894) of the U.S. Geological Survey establishing the tradition of mapping the nation. (usgs.gov)


(This is not the same Colorado River that flows through Austin, Texas forming the Highland Lakes as I mentioned in my previous post about Mount Bonnell.) At over 800 miles long, the Texas Colorado River is one of the longest rivers to start and end in the same state. (coloradoriver.org)


Familiar Sights…

San Jacinto and San Gorgonzola Mountains loom over the Coachella Valley…

We pass by the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park…

The mountains grow taller…

The Indio Hills…

Native California Fan Palms…

Home, Sweet Home…

Thank you, John and Olivia for a beautiful time in Austin. We love you!

Texas is Calling

And We Must Go…

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Actually, John and Olivia are calling, so Jeff and I take a road trip, in our car this time, and head to Austin to spend 3 full days with my youngest son and his high school sweetheart who will become my daughter-in-law next year.

We take the I-10 East through the rest of California and continue driving through Arizona and New Mexico until reaching our final destination.

Even from the freeway, this is beautiful country!


Ten hours later, we stop for dinner in Las Cruces, New Mexico at Dick’s Cafe. (I barely recall arriving here because my brother, Ken, and I reconnect once again by phone. Ken calls me about my grandson, Oliver, and we briefly catch up. It’s been several years since we talked. I owe you a call this time, Ken!)

google maps

google maps

This popular local diner serves everything from burgers and sandwiches to Mexican food, and barbecue.

courtesy of Maiava Ohana, 2019

courtesy of Maiava Ohana, 2019

courtesy of William Matthies, 2018

courtesy of Sam Torrez, 2019

In 2019, Dick’s Cafe celebrated 60 years of serving good meals at decent prices.

courtesy of Cristian Strawn-Monarrez, 2019

This family-owned restaurant started out as a small hamburger stand owned and operated by Dick Perez. In the 1970s the business moved from the Tortugas area to its present location on S. Valley Drive in Las Cruces.

Today, Ace Perez is the 3rd generation owner of Dick’s Cafe and has hopes that his son, Dylan, will take over the family business in the future. (lascrucesbulletin.com)

lascrucesbulletin.com

After dipping tortilla chips in the hottest salsa I have ever tasted, Jeff eats the best burger ever and I enjoy my Mexican dish smothered with salsa verde.


Rested and satisfied, we head southeast on the 10 to El Paso, Texas. Not used to the traffic and lights on a major city, the drive through the city is unnerving and stressful. What a shocking difference from the desert daytime driving!

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Finally through the city, we continue on I-10 in the dark toward Van Horn. Towns are few and far between for the next 90 minutes. We need gas and, of course, no gas stations are available.

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After a very long day of driving, we conk out at a Motel 6 in Van Horn.

Through the Navajo Reservation

On to Monument Valley…

Leaving Kingman On I-40 East, we still have a pretty clear windshield and scenic views.

In Flagstaff we head north on US-89. The scenery changes as we travel through the Painted Desert and the Navajo Nation.

Off the highway dirt roads lead to scattered clusters of trailer homes, hogans, sweat lodges, and 3-sided shade dwellings (upright logs with a roof of dried tree branches.) Colorful horses roam freely.

The windshield is starting to collect insect specimens that mar the marvelous views from the front seats when seen through the lens of a camera. But that doesn’t stop me from capturing images of the flavor of our drive.

Check out this series of 3 photos I quickly took out Jeff’s side of the RV:

Outside Tuba City we pick up US-160 as we head northeast toward Utah. I start opening my window to get better pics.

But sometimes a cool sight catches our eye and I have to sacrifice quality.

Below a cloud shadows part of the sandstone hills.

And these rocky mesas start appearing above the hills while hoodas start rising.

Finally we reach the last 25 mile stretch in Kayenta, Arizona as US-163 takes us across the border into Utah and the heart of Monument Valley.

We are staying 2 nights at Goulding’s Monument Valley Trading Post and Lodge Campground.

Harry and Leone, aka Mike, Goulding purchased land and started Goulding’s Trading Post in the 1920s. During the Great Depression they saw an opportunity to bolster the local Navajo economy by bringing in movie production companies. Harry met with director John Ford and soon after the film, Stagecoach, started production in Monument Valley.

Since then Goulding’s has hosted film crews, photographers, artists, and tourists from around the world. The Trading Post has expanded to include a lodge, campsite, tour operations, restaurant, convenience store, and a private airstrip. In 1981 the LaFont family bought Goulding’s Lodge. (gouldings.com)

Not too shabby!

The Mojave Desert

First night… Kingman, Arizona

We leave the Sonoran Desert behind as we travel northeast into Arizona.

The Ocotillo are blooming in blazes of orange on US-95 North.

Gnarly rock formations have seen it all standing guard throughout the ages and stages of the life of the Mojave Desert.

The Colorado River separates California from Arizona near Needles.

About 50 miles later we arrive in Kingman, Arizona…

My photography skills from the passenger seat of a moving RV are out of practice. At least the windows aren’t too stained with bug juice yet!

We spend the night at the Zuni Village RV Park. “After the solitude of the Oasis, this is a bit depressing,” says Jeff. But we have a pull-through site and we don’t have to unhook the car and tow dolly.

Easy Peasy…

zunirv.com

zunirv.com

Heading West Part 2

60 West Into Arizona to Apache Junction, AZ… November 10th

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Our planned destination is Globe, AZ, about 260 miles from Magdalena, NM, where we stayed last night.

Springerville, AZ

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When we reach Show Low, Route 60 dips south and we enter the White Mountain Apache Reservation. The spectacular drive south presents picture perfect postcard moments of photo ops.

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Meanwhile, we call all the RV Parks in Lake Elsinore, CA (our preferred winter destination) only to find out that our opportunities to stay there are not looking good. No place has room for us this year. Why this area in southern CA? It’s affordable, for one. As you look closer to the ocean or San Diego, the monthly rates skyrocket out of our comfort zone. And more remote places in the eastern desert offer great rates but no internet or cable, and very iffy cellphone reception. (We investigated the costs of Hughes Net, Exede, and Dish, but the additional cash outlay for a short term solution would offset the savings.) We keep heading toward Lake Elsinore anyway.


The only RV Park in Globe is closed for remodeling. So we keep driving. Route 60 turns west again and we head toward Phoenix.

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For the next 30 miles I search for a place to stay overnight. We don’t need a gated resort with spa amenities that cater to the annual snowbirds. Nightly rates are a lot more than we want to pay. I just know there has to be a reasonable place for us.

Then Eureka, I find a spot in Apache Junction…

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This would be a great place to snowbird, in my opinion, at least. It’s clean, affordable, no frills… And Phoenix is only about 35 miles away. We just aren’t quite ready for this part of Arizona yet. But check out the saguaro cactus up close and personal here in the Sonoran Desert. This species of cactus can grow up to 40 feet high.

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Before we retire for the evening, we find a place to stay in California that is about an hour east north east of Lake Elsinore and about an hour west south west of Palm Springs. Diamond Valley RV Resort is located in San Jacinto. ETA… Sunday, November 12th.

 

 

Mexican Hat, Utah

image And Monument Valley

We leave Goosenecks State Park and pick up Highway 163 again, traveling through the village of Mexican Hat.

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This tiny town of some 100 people is named after a unique rock formation consisting of a large flat rock 60 feet in diameter perched precariously on a much smaller base on top of a small hill. (americansouthwest.net)

img_4917 commons.m.wikimedia.org

img_4918 3dparks.wr.usgs.gov


Mexican Hat was originally named Goodridge after the family who first settled here in the 1800s. This small community has a historical legacy for once being a hub for sheep and cattle farming, the oldest oil producing field in Utah, a popular trading destination, and a tent city to some 1200 miners hauling ore out of the mountains for processing.

In the 1880s gold seekers arrived here to sluice the San Juan River. Unfortunately not enough gold was ever found to make this a profitable expedition.

Hollywood brought John Wayne here to ford the San Juan River in his movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and several others. (hatrockinn.com)


We never see the “sombrero” rock, but “Oz” looms in the distance

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as we cross the bridge over the San Juan River

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and continue south on Highway 163.

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Monument Valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat landscape interrupted by reddish rock formations rising hundreds of feet in the air. These buttes, part of the Colorado Plateau (en.m.wikipedia.org), are the last vestiges of the sandstone layers that once covered this entire region. (americansouthwest.net)

Highway 163, linking Kayenta, AZ to Highway 191 in UT, is the only main road through Monument Valley which occupies most of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

The iconic view below is from the long, straight, empty stretch approaching the AZ/UT border from the north.

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You may recognize this scene from the movie, Forrest Gump. After running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours Forrest (Tom Hanks) stops, turns around and says, “I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now.”

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Although many spectacular views can be appreciated from Highway 163, even more picture opportunities present themselves from Valley Drive, a 17 mile dirt road within Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. (americansouthwest.net)


And so, we continue south on Highway 163 towards Kayenta. Jeff drives, the dogs sleep, and I take pictures from the passenger’s seat…

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NV, AZ, and UT

image Interstate 15

Our route to Jernigan Land in Denver, CO takes us northeast from Las Vegas. We snip across the southeast portion of Nevada and cut through 29 miles of northwest Arizona.

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As we enter the tiny corner of Arizona the scenery becomes more dramatic as we travel through the town of Littlefield on Interstate 15 as the highway cuts through the Virgin River Gorge.

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img_4819 bestplaces.net

Ten miles northeast of Mesquite, Nevada, Littlefield sits west of the Virgin River and northwest of the Grand Canyon. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Littlefield and nearby Beaver Dam are isolated by hundreds of miles from the rest of Arizona and are the only 2 towns off this stretch of I-15 in Arizona. (en.m.wikipedia.org)


We cross into Utah passing through St. George and the outskirts of Dixie National Forest and Zion National Park

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before arriving at an RV Park in Beaver, Utah where we spend the night.

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Seein’ Things That I May Never See Again

image We say goodbye to Yuma, AZ, but not before I find out a little something about this city that attracts over 85,000 retirees every winter. (en.m.wikipedia.org) I can attest to that as the streets are lined with RV parks and Passport America’s listing for discounted places to stay in Yuma is lengthy.

image passportamericaclub.blogspot.com

Yuma’s history revolves around the Colorado River which ran wild and unpredictable before the building of dams. Crossing the river was difficult at best but Mother Nature kindly provided 2 outcroppings of granite that squeezed the waters into a narrow enough channel to afford an easy and safe place to cross and settle. The early Spanish explorers found thriving tribal communities living here and named them Yumas, from the Spanish word for smoke, humo, as smoke from their cooking fires filled the river valley. (yumaaz.gov)

Interesting Info:

  • Cesar Chavez was born in Yuma in 1927. (en.m.wikipedia.org)
  • In 1929 Amelia Earhart ran off the end of the runway in Yuma.
  • The Coronado Motel in 1938 was the first modern-style motel to be built in Arizona.
  • The rooms in the Coronado were side-by-side in a single building as opposed to the auto court-style of separate buildings.
  • The Yuma Territorial Prison inspired the 1957 and 2007 versions of the movie, 3:10.
  • The plot of the movie is whether or not the notorious outlaw, Ben Wade, can be held to be transported to the prison on the train departing at 3:10. (visityuma.com)
The Coronado Motel (nostalgia.esmartkid.com)

The Coronado Motel
(nostalgia.esmartkid.com)

Yuma Territorial Prison (cronkitenewsonline.com)

Yuma Territorial Prison
(cronkitenewsonline.com)


MARCH 18, 2016

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Today was a long day on the road. (I think I have solved my problem with how to write being a day behind by dating my entries…) We transverse the Sonoran Desert, for the most part, hot and dry. About 10 miles east on I-8 we encounter the Border Patrol Checkpoint.

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If you look closely you can see the drug-sniffer dog. We are waved through and continue going east until we pick up I-10 which dips south for awhile. Below are some of the sights I captured from the bird pooped-stained passenger seat window. And no, I haven’t piloted the RV yet!

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I come across this sign for the Butterfield Trail and wonder if it is related to the stagecoach trail with the same name in Lake Elsinore’s history. At any rate, I’d like to think so.

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The different types of cacti intrigue me. Today we see tall thick stalks.

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Off in the distance I spot a mountain that I think looks like a cursive lower case letter “r.”  Since cursive is no longer a required skill taught in schools today, I thought I would preserve its memory.

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It’s almost been 7 months since we sold our home and left Cincinnati so the following picture reminds me of all our good friends, neighbors, and acquaintances “back home.”

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The real adventure, however, begins when we arrive at our overnight destination, Mountain View RV Park, which we discover belongs to a guy named Dwayne.  As we take the Bowie exit we don’t see much, just some empty buildings, trains, and a place with a few RVS.

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I walk into the office to register and pay and when I walk out I run into an older and well-weathered man wearing cowboy boots, hat, vest, and a holster with a six shooter tucked inside. Apparently Arizona does not have a conceal law. Oh, how I wish I could have gotten his picture! He was for real, not some suited up actor playing the part.

This place is strangely awesome!

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We are in the middle of nowhere and I am in love with this place!

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There is a store that sells…

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…from elk to python to mako shark. There’s a whole wall with nothing but jerky and trail mixes and dried fruits. Locally grown and spicy concoctions of walnuts, pecans, and pistachios, among other nuts are for sale too. Gourmet jellies and sauces and green olives stuffed with just about everything are colorfully displayed in jars. We buy some pistachios and elk jerky.

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Then there are the trains that roar by often with no horn to blast their warning. This continues all day and all night and just adds to the rustic experience.

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Look closely, the blur in the background below is a train!

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This one is easier to see.

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This place is a place like no other and one like it, I may never see again.

On the Road Again… On to Yuma, Arizona

image We pass through Westmorland. By the number of roadside signs, the town is famous for its date milkshakes.

image yelp.com

So I did a little research and learned that in the 1890s date palm trees were planted in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. Ah, but not just any date palm. It’s true that the over 6,500 acres of date palms produce over 40 million pounds of dates annually, but this yield only accounts for less than 15% of the world’s production of dates. The difference is in the quality of dates produced. Among the 4 primary types of dates produced are the deliciously sweet Medjool variety.  The Spanish missionaries introduced dates to northern Mexico and Southern California in the 1700s. (seecalifornia.com)

According to its web site, cityofwestmorland.net, Westmorland is a small residential community that sits along State Highway 86. Located in the Imperial Valley, it is in one of the most scenic desert locations in the Southwest and is among one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world.

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We pass through Brawley on Highway 86 to catch Highway 111. According to brawley-ca.gov, the Imperial Land Company laid out the city in 1902 and tried to name it after the land-owner, J.H. Braly, who refused to lend his name. In 1908 Brawley incorporated as a “tent city” of approximately 100 people who lived there working for the railroad or farming the land. Today it looks like a city anywhere.

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And also reflects the wear and tear of surviving cities everywhere.

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We head south on Highway 111 towards Mexico and pick up I-8 East towards Yuma, Arizona. Riding along the border we encounter the Imperial Sand Dunes.

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And an RV park!

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The closest exit to Mexico…

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And the Colorado River separating California and Arizona, as captured from the passenger’s seat through the window screen. (You have to be quick when traveling in an RV!)

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Finally we arrive in Yuma, Arizona to spend the night at the Arizona Sands RV Park.

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We’ll catch up again tomorrow. I still have Car Trippin’ highlights to share too. But tonight is an end to another day in southern Arizona…