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

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