Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 15 - Bakersfield, CA - Morgan Hill, CA

It's now Sunday, June 5. We woke up just after six this morning, got loaded up and went to breakfast at IHOP. The IHOP prices are inflated out here on Interstate 5 just like to gasoline prices. We know this because we've eaten at many IHOP restaurants on this road trip. Oh well, you do what you have to do.

After breakfast we loaded up Fannie Mae and headed out on the highway.
Five miles up the road we stopped at a Starbucks in Buttonwillow. Our bodies needed some high-octane caffeine. Gas here is $3.97. Just think how bad you would feel if you had gassed up for $4.99 and then drove by Buttonwillow and saw it for $3.97.

Stopped at a rest area at Coalinga to take a break.

Exited Interstate 5 onto Highway 152 West headed for Gilroy. Stopped at a little fruit stand just east of Gustine. It was time for another potty break. Linda got some cherries and mangos at the fruit stand.

It's pretty cloudy here today and you can tell is that there's been quite a bit of rain. John's turn to drive. Linda's been driving the last 66 miles.

We got to see something we've never seen before. San Luis Reservoir was just as calm and smooth as glass.

There is a fruit stand about 4-1/2 miles east of Gilroy. They have a herd of longhorn cattle. We stopped and John took some pictures and a short video of them.

Got home about 12:15 in the afternoon. Completely unloaded Wilma so we can take her to get a nice car wash tomorrow. Remember Wilma got bird poop on her passenger door and it's still there.

It feels good to be home it's nice and cool here in Morgan Hill very refreshing.

Click here for a very few pictures in today's photo gallery.

Here are a couple of video clips:
North on Interstate 5 just 111 Miles from Home
Longhorn cattle on Hwy 152 about 4 miles east of Gilroy

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 14 - Palm Springs, CA - Bakersfield, CA

Somewhere around 7:44 AM on Saturday morning, June 4, we left to go to Bakersfield, CA and spend the night on our way home to Morgan Hill.

We stopped in Yucaipa, CA to get a Starbucks and are back on the road.

Next stop was at a Burger King in Santa Clarita where all three of us could use the restroom. They had a very nice green, grassy area for Fanny to use the potty. Which she did. We didn't make a purchase, but don't feel guilty as we have frequented many Burger Kings.

Arrived at our motel, another Rodeway Inn about 30 miles north of Bakersfield, around noon. They had a room ready, so we were able to check in and start working on the travelogue.

The Chevron and Shell gasoline stations out here around the motel are really expensive. The gas is about $4.99. I guess if they have you captive, they can pretty much ask what they want. As we found at the IHOP next day at breakfast.

We had decided to find a Red Lobster restaurant in Bakersfield for dinner. Also thought we could probably find gasoline for quite a bit less in Bakersfield than out on the Interstate. Red Lobster was great. John had wood-fired grilled lobster tail, shrimp and scallops. Linda had a lobster pizza. Both were really delicious.

We found a gasoline station in Bakersfield and bought gas for $3.89 instead of $4.99. It was worth the drive into Bakersfield. And, besides, we had a superb dinner!

You can see the few pictures in the photo gallery by clicking here.

And, here is one video clip:
Wind Turbine Power Generation in Yucca Valley

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 13 - Tucson, AZ

Breakfast at the Carrows Restaurant co-located with the Quality Inn. This particular Choice hotel does not serve breakfast to the guests. That's very unusual. Linda was amazed at the size of the fruit bowl that she ordered for $2.47. You can see a photo of it in the gallery. We would have put a quarter beside it but you would have thought it was not to scale. Can you say Rip Off? But then, you must consider that we are old grouchy senior buzzards.

We left the motel about 8:30 AM headed for the Joshua Tree National Park, with a plan to stop at Shields Date Gardens in Indio, California. At Shields, John bought three different kinds of dates and a package of crystallized ginger for Linda. Linda got some pink grapefruit and something to wear to her Stinkin' Red Roses Tacky Party next week. Strangely enough, it reminded her of a song from the 50s. Shields also had a FREE film about the Secret Sex Life of Dates. Jumped back on Interstate 10 and headed east. You can order the film and dates from Sheilds at or just Google Shields Dates.

Got off Interstate 10 at Cottonwood Springs Road. It is 7 miles from the Interstate 10 exit ramp to the Cottonwood Visitor Center in Joshua Tree National Park. Here we took the opportunity to use the restrooms, get our National Park Passport stamped and to get Linda a lapel pin for the Joshua Tree National Park.
You just can't have too many National Park lapel pins.

The park consists of mainly two different ecosystems, the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. The Mojave Desert ecosystem occupies primarily the North and West part of the park. There you will find many Joshua Trees, for which the park is named. The South and East part of the park is primarily Colorado Desert (an extension of the Sonoran Desert) where you will find Ocotillo cactus and "jumping" Cholla cactus.

About 18 miles into the park we came across an Ocotillo patch. This is the first time we had seen these coming across the park. Also there are no Joshua trees in this area. That's because this part of the park is in the Colorado Desert ecosystem and Joshua trees don't do well in that ecosystem.

At about 20 miles into the park we came upon the Cholla Gardens. All of a sudden there were thousands of Cholla cacti in this particular area the desert, which was also in the Colorado Desert ecosystem. Very amazing. And VERY prickly. You can see some of their stickers in the photo gallery for today.

After the Cholla Gardens, we came upon the Silver Bell Mine. This mine used to produce gold, lead and copper. The park does a great job of posting informational signs. This makes your visit more meaningful if you take time to stop and read the signs. We have time. We are retired and loving it!

We came out of the park at the Joshua Tree entrance which is about 5 miles out of the actual town of Joshua Tree. From Joshua Tree it's about another 30 miles or so back to Palm Springs, mostly by way of the Twentynine Palms Highway.

John found a station on the way back from the park and filled up for $3.79.9 which is the best we've seen around here. We stopped at a Carl's Junior to let John get a Six Dollar Guacamole and Bacon burger which we took back to the motel. Linda had her raw bits twang twang and some of the freshly purloined grapes and one of the pink grapefruits from Sheilds date place.

The light switches in our room are motion sensitive. If you are sitting at the computer (as we both are) and not moving much, your lights (and computer power) will go off after some time. We understand that they want to save electricity, but this is really annoying.

For dinner, John wants to snack and has a hankering for Triscuits and dry salami. Go figure.

You will find tons and tons of photos in today's photo gallery. Probably more than you want. You can view the photo gallery by clicking here.

And, here are some video clips:
Joshua Tree National Park Coloradoo (Sonoran) Ecosystem
Joshua Tree National Park Mojave Desert Ecosystem

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 12 - El Centro, CA - Palm Springs, CA

Alarm went off in El Centro at 6:30 AM as scheduled. The bed in this room is so hard that John thought it was like sleeping on a concrete bench. On the other side of the bed, Linda thought it was a great mattress. Note that the elevation in El Centro is 25 feet above sea level. This is much more to John's liking.

We left the motel at exactly 8 AM after having a continental breakfast. We are on our way to visit the Salton Sea then head the long way to Palm Springs, CA.

We stopped in Brawley, CA to go to a Starbucks and get some refreshment.

For those of you playing mileage madness we left El Centro, California headed north on Highway 111 to Brawley and then up to Niland from there we are going to take Scenic 111 around the Salton Sea to Mecca. You have to go east to get there.

Just a comment about that Rodeway Inn and Suites we stayed at last night. That was a Choice hotel. Unfortunately, it was a bad "Choice".

After Starbucks, driving back through Brawley, we came upon a guy picking up white onions off on the right-hand side of the street. Later we saw another "cluster" of white onions on the right side of the street and someone grabbing them. Then we saw a large truck hauling bags of white onions. He was pulled over to the curb on the right side of the street. Apparently, they had fallen off of his truck. So when those folks picking them up share them, they can honestly say that they "fell off of a truck". Looking at the halted truck, it was obvious that the two bags of onions had fallen off of its load. There were a few more onions scattered along the side of the road but he pulled away without trying to pick up his onion "litter".  We hope they get used in some delicious Mexican food instead of mashed under tires.

Wonder of wonders! In California there is a rest area on Highway 111 (not an Interstate) between El Centro and Niland. It was not only open, it was actually a very pretty rest area. What's going on?

On Highway 111 just south of Niland, there was a field filled with bales that were a lucious dark green. It certainly wasn't hay. We were guessing it was alfalfa. A little further down the road we found another field of this green stuff, so we stopped. Linda went off to investigate. She took pictures and cut a sample of it. Pretty sure it's alfalfa. Where is Spanky when you need him?

We were happy to see there was another border patrol checkpoint between Niland and Mecca on Highway 111. Seems they are trying to do the job for us.

Getting close to the Salton Sea was really nice and very interesting. However, the community of Bombay Beach is really sad. Bombay Beach is mostly a run down and dilapidated town. There are just so many houses that are in shambles. Many were actually trashed. Though a few are nice. On the bright site, they do have a Community Center and we drove by the bulletin board to see what activities were coming up. Linda found a sign posted on the bulletin board for the local Red Hat Society group yard and bake sale for the benefit of California Guide Dogs. There was a photo at the top of some cheery ladies in red hats. Their name is The Bombay Bloomers. This made Linda very happy!

We found a place to get close to the Salton Sea where we learned that it is 20% saltier than the ocean. One fellow was fishing and pulled in a talapia just as we arrived. Linda told him that she had talapia last night at IHOP but that it was the first "live" one she had ever seen. He was happy to hold up his catch so that she could take a photo. She also photographed some of the run down abodes that were in that area.

The Morgan Hill Photography Club theme for the month of June is doors. At the Ski Inn in Bombay Beach, John spotted a very unusual door that said "God Bless John Wayne" on a bumper sticker. It had 27 different one dollar bills (yes, real ones) posted on it with notes written on them. While John snagged the picture of the door, Linda took some close-ups of a couple of the bills. You'll find these in the photo gallery. It was at the VFW Hall, apparently a popular place in Bombay Beach.

Driving from Mecca to Desert Center we were on one of the back roads (Box Canyon Road) and we stopped by date farm, a citrus orchard and a vineyard where Linda stole some grapes (both red and green, and both ripe and sweet) as well as took photographs of them.

Box Canyon Road ends at Interstate 10. We went west on Interstate 10 To Desert Center. From here we will be going on Highway 177 around to Twentynine Palms. It's a scenic routethat skirts the east and north sides of the Joshua Tree National Park where we are headed tomorrow. We stopped at The Desert Center Café for lunch. Linda got a chef salad to go and John got a club sandwich to go. We couldn't leave Fannie in the car because it was too hot. So, we got our lunches and parked underneath an abandoned service station portico next door (see photo gallery) to eat our lunch. Wanna guess how long ago it was abandoned? The last purchaser of the cheap Chevron gas bought 22.3 gallons for $8.88 (Yes, that's 36.9 per gallon!) You'll find photos of Desert Center and the gas station in the photo gallery.

We finished lunch at about 1:00 PM. Before leaving Desert Center, Linda discovered that in the late 1800's, just six miles west of Desert Center, a hospital was built to care for workers on the aquaduct. The doctor that started this hospital hooked up with Henry J. Kaiser and started Kaiser Permanente...right here near Desert Center. We left on Highway 177, the scenic route, up to Twentynine Palms.

Filled up with gas at Twentynine Palms for $3.95.9. Not bad for California.

We drove on into Palm Springs and go to our Quality Inn and Suites (another Choice property) around 3:30 PM. We plan on being here for two nights and the good news is that we checked all the facility functions of our room BEFORE we unloaded. Happy to report that the sink works! And, the bed actually has some nice "give" to it. John thinks it will be much more comfortable than last night's concrete bench.

Dinner tonight will consist of left over Mexican food from La Parrilla Suiza in Tucson. We each could only eat half our meal, so we kept the other half in the cooler. And, unlike El Centro, we have a microwave in our room. For dessert, we'll have dates and, you guessed it...grapes.

Lots of photos in the photo gallery for today. You can view them by
clicking here.

Salt Creek Beach on the Salton Sea
Birds Just Off Salt Creek Beach
Driving by the Salton Sea with Snow-capped Mountain Ahead
Driving on Box Canyon Road to Desert Center
Highway 111 from Desert Center to Twentynine Palms

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 11 - Tucson, AZ to El Centro, CA

We left our motel in Tucson at 9:07 AM. The current temperature here is 89°.

We had wanted to get some dates in Indio on our trip out, but our timing was bad with the hours of the date stand. So, we stopped in Dateland, AZ. Linda shopped for and bought bags of four different kinds of dates. What fun to taste different dates.  There were about 6 different kinds to taste and they were each a little different. Linda liked them all so it was just a matter of choosing which bags she could get to total the amount of money in her pocket.  The total came to $24.75 and she had to go back to the van for $1.75. One bag even had pitted dates in it. Linda intended to make date shakes at home with these but they are so good they may not make it to Morgan Hill.  When she got back to the car, she exclaimed, "Dates.... nature's candy"! Just west of Dateland on Interstate 8, we found an Arizona rest area that was closed. How unusual!

We stopped at Mc Donald's in Gila Bend in order to take a bathroom break and change drivers.

A stop at a Barney's just east of Yuma let us fill up with gas for $3.67.9 per gallon. We rearranged and hid all but one bag of the dates in order to go through the California agricultural checkpoint. We just weren't sure if dates would be considered "contraband". Then we went to Jack-in-the-Box to grab a bite for lunch.

Fannie Mae is continuing to be a great road tripping buddy. She rides up with Linda when John is driving and in her crate when John is driving. He doesn't have as much of a lap as Linda does. And at night, her special treat while on Road Trips is to sleep with us on the bed instead of her crate. She really knows the meaning of cozying up. She had her nose in Linda's ear one night and Linda could hear every breath which was sort of fun.

Arriving at the agricultural checkpoint, John held up an orange from our breakfast at the Comfort Inn and ONE open bag of our dates. He told the inspector that the orange came from the Comfort Inn in Tucson and the dates from Dateland, AZ. The inspector said only the citrus was not allowed. He offered to let us pull over and eat it, or he could throw it away. I hope his family enjoyed our orange that evening.

We stopped and took some photographs at Imperial Dunes, just inside California on Interstate 8 coming from Arizona. It apparently is, or was, a State Park. However, the Border Patrol has taken over the Park Ranger station. We just drove right in and positioned ourselves to take the photos. No problem.

Made it to El Centro and the Rodeway Inn at 3:15 PM. One Border Patrol checkpoint along the way. After checking in and unloading all of our belongings. we got busy setting up both of our laptops. Linda discovered the bathroom sink would not drain. The motel desk clerk wanted to move us to another room. We explained that we had already invested a lot of time in setting up our equipment. Housekeeping and motel staff came to the room and attempted to fix the problem, which they blamed on the room behind ours. The motel desk clerk kept insisting that we move next door, she even offered to carry all of our things next door for us. She kept insisting we move and we had to finally tell her "no" in no uncertain terms to get her to shut up. Brushing your teeth and spitting into the toilet and cleaning your toothbrush over the toilet from a glass of water is not that difficult. The tub/shower worked fine, as did the commode. It almost seemed like she was trying to do what was easier for her than what worked best for us. Her name was Melinda. Don't stay there. The first time she came in to our room to "help" us she said that we hadn't told them that we had a pet. Total lie! We always disclose our Fannie as one of the 1st bits of information after we tell them we are senior citizens. She went back to check on that and we never heard another mention of it.

We worked on the travelogue, then went out to eat.

We had dinner at one of our favorite places, IHOP. Linda had her favorite talapia with Hollandaise. John had his favorite breakfast for dinner: bacon, eggs and pancakes and fruit (instead of hashbrowns).

To see the photos in today's photo gallery click here.

No videos for today. So, goodnight one and all.