A Travellerspoint blog

Day 175 - Border Field State Park, CA

We make it to the Southwestern corner of the US, Border Field State Park, about 15 miles south of San Diego.

sunny

After spending three nights at Pio Pico Campground, we were really ready to hit the road again - and hoped to get back to civilization (cell phone service). It really felt like we'd been up in the mountains, after all we'd driven across the Imperial valley and through some very barren, rocky and burned out mountains to get there.

Shortly after we left the campground, we drove past Lake Otey and saw another red-tailed hawk. Since we're back on the road again, I stopped to try to get a shot of it.

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Still feels somewhat rural, right? However, just after the lake our little two lane mountain road suddenly turned into a massive six lane highway in the middle of expensive housing developments, Otey Ranch and Eastlakein the city of Chula Vista. We continued following the highways until we finally reached I-5, where the signs listed only three more exits until the border! Mom seemed to think I'd lost my mind and we'd be in Mexico any minute, but I took the next exit and followed the road around until we reached Border Field State Park.

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This Park is the southwestern most point in the US. This is just the sign at the park entrance of course, there is another 1.5 mile walk out to the beach, then another .5 miles to the fence at the border, part of it along a muddy dirt road - so this was close enough for Mom. I walked on out to the beach and was able to take a few pictures.

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Along the walk I also spotted a Belding's Savannah Sparrow, as the park is located along the Tijuana Estuary - one of the few remaining natural estuaries in southern California.

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I also started seeing Ice Plant again - it has been awhile. In fact, there were several different types of ice plant in the park. Although it's only February still, some were very much in bloom.

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It took me about an hour to walk out to the beach and back, but I figured since one of the big objectives of the trip is to visit all four 'corners' of the lower 48 states - this was a milestone worth a few extra minutes. Mom worked on some of her Sabbath books in the RV while she waited and met some people who were heading out to a "Fandango" being held later today by folks on both sides of the fence.

Since we'd also left the campground a little late (we just had to visit the hot tub one more time this morning), it was already after 1 PM when we got back on I5, this time heading north. We went ahead and just drove through San Diego this trip, there are a lot of things to do there, but we're more interested in catching the rural sights and scenery than big city lights on this trip. Somewhere north of SD, we cut over to Highway 101. The signs proclaim this to be the "Historic Highway 101", but much of it looks like any other urban highway. Mom did like seeing so many flowers in bloom in February. We both got a kick out of seeing convertables with their tops down - this one with the beach in front, also in February.

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Just past the convertable shot, we passed a beach that did allow some parking along the other side of the highway. It took awhile, but I finally got the rig turned around and found just enough room at the end of the line of cars to park for a late lunch. It was pretty cool, so we just enjoyed the view while we ate and didn't play in the surf any (we figure we'll see a lot more beaches on the drive home).

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After lunch, we found a place to turn around and start heading north again. Just past the beach where we'd stopped, we saw a bunch of RV's and campers off to the side. It turned out this was Carlsbad State Park, which has camping on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The bluff along the campground is quite a bit higher then the bluff where we'd stopped the first time, but it looked like they might have empty spaces. While it was still early, I figured finding camping along the beach was going to be problematic the closer we got to Los Angeles, so we should check it out. However, when I tried to turn left into the campground, the sign said "U Turn Only" - so I had to turn around (head south again), find another spot where I could make another U-Turn (to head North), then go past the campground, make another U-Turn, then I could turn into the campground! Too bad I was driving an RV instead of a sports car, it might have been fun. However, we did make it, they did have open spaces ($20 for the highway side, $30 for the ocean side) - I got a space overlooking the ocean.

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Mom entertained herself by feeding a friendly squirrel some stale bread while I took in the beach scene a bit.

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The weather forecast calls for more rain tomorrow, overcast Monday, then Sunny and 72 F on Tuesday. According to the ranger, this bodes well for campsite availablity - often they are full, even this time of year. However, because of the rain they had spaces. He also said weekdays should have more availability - so by the time the weather turns nice again, folks will be back in school and at work - and we should find camping along the coast (we can hope).

So we have a nice, noisy ocean to lull us to sleep. Surprisingly we also had a few minutes of a wonderful sunset - it was so overcast I didn't expect much - but somehow just enough light squeeked through.

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We'll continue on the northern leg, the last leg of our trip - tomorrow.

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 83, Cumulative - 17016
Camped at Carlsbad SP, Southern California Coast

Provisions - Gas $29.49 for 9.107 gallons at 126,892

Posted by jl98584 19:13 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (5)

Day 172-174 - Near San Diego, Taxes Done (Not)!

I had to take care of some business this morning, but we did make it to a CG near San Diego. We stayed there three nights so I could do my taxes (Ugh!) Back to sightseeing tomorrow.

storm 65 °F

When I checked my email last night, something came up that had to be dealt with this morning, so we just sat tight until it was done.

All night long, the wind had howled, but we were snug in the rig and didn't pay much attention to it. This afternoon when we finally got underway, the wind continued to howl. Now it affected us a bit - I could drive, but stayed under 40 mph all day. So between the late start and the slow driving, we didn't get very far or do very much.

One thing Mom contributed: while I worked on my stuff, she added markers to the CA, OR & WA maps where all the membership campgrounds were located. We found one only about 25 miles east of San Diego, so made reservations there for three nights. (The theory being I'll finally get my taxes done?)

On the way, we had to drive through some very steep, rocky mountains. I was fighting off a nasty headache, so didn't bother to stop much for pictures, but Mom got creative and shot this one at least.

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We got off to take Hwy 94 the rest of the way because the map showed it as a scenic route. It was pretty scenic, more live oaks and lots of very green grass (CA get's its rain in the winter). We did pass some interesting looking things, but we were so late I didn't stop. The last twenty or so miles we drove through a lot of burned tree's and hillsides.

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When we got to the campground, they said there had been a huge fire last October and it pretty much burned everything in it's path. However, there were also many places where the grass was already lush and green. Even though the trees still look burned out, there are places where green leaves are starting to come back. This is more like things looked around the campground, green grass but burned trees.

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The wind had been very difficult to drive through, so Mom & I sat in their hot tub about 20 minutes, but at least got unwound a bit. I've been working on the Yuma blog - I think the problem is that we're just having too much fun - too many pictures = very slow updates (and to think of all the pictures I didn't upload)!

Thursday, I worked a little on the taxes but had some estate/trust problems to work on (hopefully will have an update for folks shortly). There is hardly any cell phone service in this camground, and I can only use the internet if I park myself in the Adult Lounge, so this didn't turn out to be such a smart stop for doing business as I'd hoped. Awkward, but I think I've got it done now. My taxes have never been so complicated before, several extra schedules and forms that I haven't had to work with previously. Ah the fun we have... Anyway, MY 2007 TAXES ARE DONE!!!

--- Ugly Update, before I stuck all the tax forms in the envelope, I had a nagging feeling that I hadn't handled the mortgage interest correctly. Looked it up - there's yet another form I have to fill out - will probably owe money afterall. We'll get back on the road tomorrow regardless, but I guess I'm not quite done afterall (sad face) ---

We're back on track tomorrow (Saturday) - we'll head on down to Border SP, south of San Diego and check off the 3rd 'corner' on our circumnavigation!

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 94, Cumulative - 16,933
Camped at Pio Pico Thousand Trails Campground near Lake Otey, CA (East of Chula Vista)

Provisions - Gas $17.50 for 4.862 gallons at 126,757 (not a fillup) and $25.73 for 7.799 gallons at 126,773, Jacumba, CA

Wildlife - lots of birds, but we didn't stop much to identify them. We heard a pack of coyote's at night (sounded like young ones).

Posted by jl98584 21:07 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 171 - We visit Yuma, Arizona (Photo's Added)

We visited the Quartermaster Station at the Colorado River Crossing, the Yuma Territorial Prison and downtown historic Yuma.

sunny 68 °F

Seems like the last couple of cities we passed through, we just passed through them without really visiting (Phoenix & Tucson). Of course, in our RV the big cities can be hard to navigate & especially to park in, but Yuma wasn't that big and we thought we ought to check it out before leaving town.

We started with the Quartermaster Station - which turned out to be an excellant park with lots of stuff to see (1800's and early 1900's history). It's a museum with about 1/3rd of the displays being related to it's role as an 1800's US Army Supply Depot (Quartermaster = Supply), about 1/3 being related to SW Area History, and about 1/3 misc. stuff. Here's Mom heading into the Entrance.

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On the outside grounds, they had a 1907 Train Engine and an 1875 RR Passenger Car. This probably falls in the 'misc' group, although the Railroad became the main vehicle for bringing in supplies once the tracks were completed through Yuma, so maybe it belongs here?

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Of course, the heart of an Army Supply Depot would be it's warehouse, and the Yuma Depot had a very large one:

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Inside the warehouse are several vehicles on display, including an 1800's US Army Supply Wagon.

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There were also a number of exhibits about how the supply depot evolved. The Army was unable to get enough supplies to Yuma to support it's units in the area when the Depot was first set up. They tried using wagons from Los Angeles and San Diego, but this was too costly and unable to provide the volumn of supplies needed. In 1852, the first steamboat was used to bring supplies up the Colorado River from the Gulf of Mexico. Once this method proved successful, the steamboat company became the exclusive supplier to the Quartermaster Depot. One of the early steamboat captains was Issac Pulhamus, who became quite wealthy running the steamboats full of Army supplies. The steamboats couldn't compete with the railroads once they got to Yuma, but Captain Issac and his family stayed on in Yuma and his descendants are still well known in the area.

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Next to the warehouse is a adobe building used as the main office by the Quartermaster. Since the Yuma Depot served many forts in the American Southwest, it was much larger than it would have been if it was just serving the Yuma area.

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Of course, the Quartermaster Depot was located on the Colorado River - and while the river today is lovely, it is only a small shadow of it's former self. The Laguna Dam was built just a few miles upriver in 1909 and substantial amounts of water are now redirected to irrigation.

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We also decided to stop in the historic downtown area, just to see what was there. There is an 1875 Adobe house under restoration, that was kid of cool, and also a very old adobe building that is used as a museum, which we also went through. Mom liked the flowers blooming in February - a little earlier than back home. (Unfortunately, no photo's were allowed inside the Museum, so at least this section of today's blog entry is short.)

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I went through a Farmer's Market being held downtown and indulged in some red pepper marmalade. The visitor's Center had recommended the old downtown area as a 'must see', but I wasn't quite as impressed. They do have fountains in some of the intersections, but most of the downtown isn't as old as the Adobe Moline building and Museum (shown above). The main street is a little lower and was completely washed out in floods in the early 1900's. It seems adobe tends to 'melt' in a flood - so most of the 'old' downtown is from the early 1900's, not late 1800's.

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Finally, we also visited the old Yuma Territorial Prison. The first thing you see as you pull up is a large guard tower. This was built on top of the water tower, so is probably larger than it otherwise would have been.

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This is the main gate, with Mom pretending she's not really an inmate...

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The Prison is also located on the river, but on the opposite side of the old railroad and auto bridges from the Quartermaster Depot. From the Main Gate, you can see the river banks and bridges.

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Once inside, you can visit the main cell blocks. This isn't a place I'd want to stay in at all.

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Does any of this look familiar? It might. The Yuma Territorial Prison has been used in a few movies and TV shows, including the old version of "The Three Musketeers" starring John Wayne, among others.

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The Museum area had a lot of exhibits on some of the prisoners as well as artifacts and the history of the place. I thought I'd include just one photo of one of the prisoners as an example.

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The above took most of the day (until 3 PM?), so by the time we hit the road again, we had no chance of making San Diego today. We checked out the Imperial Sand Dunes and visited the Old Plank Road (through the dunes). It had rained recently, so there were also lovely little pink flowers in some area's of the sand dunes.

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The 'Old Plank Road' was used from 1916 to 1926 to cover the seven miles of sand dunes between Yuma and Southern California so automobiles could cross the dunes. It was only wide enough for one car at a time, so had frequent turnouts to allow cars to pass each other. The road was built in sections, so if the dunes started to cover it, they could be lifted up and repositioned.

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We made it as far as El Centro (or Imperial) by the time we quit, about 100 miles.

Got some business to take care of in the morning so not sure where we'll end up tomorrow! Isn't that the way this trip is supposed to go?

Posted by jl98584 22:39 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 170 - Dates & Petroglphs (Photo's Added)

We drove south from the Phoenix area and visited a Petroglyph site, Dateland USA (and had date milkshakes), then arrived in Yuma, where most of the RV parks were full.

overcast 65 °F

Most of the drive todeay was pretty uneventful and we thought we might get to Yuma early enough to visit some of the sights there before camping for the night.

However, Mom saw the sign for a Petroglyph site that she'd read about and suggested we visit it. It was about 11 miles off the highway, so wasn't too far out of the way. It was also quite interesting, not at all what I'd expected. The other petroglyph sites I'd seen or heard about were all in cliffs or along cliffs. As we drove up and saw a low mound of rocks, I said "That can't be it, there must be a canyon beyond it we can't see." I was wrong, this low mound of rocks was the site.

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It is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and there is a large campground around it that had very few people in it. The site is well marked, with interpretive signs and information about the history of the area. The Gila river is very close by and was used as the primary trail to the west through the desert since travellers needed a source of fresh water. But, back to the Petroglyphs - these were carved by prehistoric Native American tribes. Scientists who have studied the site and nearby pottery shards believe the Petroglyphs are in two distinct styles: Western Archaic tradition and Gila Style.

There are many rocks with petroglyphs carved on them on the front left side of the mound.

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A stone with a sharp point (called a hammerstone) was used to chip the outer surface of these rocks into a pattern. Here is a closeup of one of the figures, to me it looks like some sort of stylized animal?

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These sorts of designs just cover the rocks, only in this section of the rock mound, but all the way to the top. Look for geometric patters of the Western Archaic tradition (grids, zigzags, circles and wavy lines - often associated with people from 7500 BC to 1 AD) and Gila Style (Animals, Insects, Human Shapes, also zigzags and circles - often associated with the Hohokam people from 300 BC to 1450 AD).

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So a very unusual park indeed.

It was still a little early to camp for the night, so we started back down to I-8. On the way, I took a very nice shot of this Saguaro next to a cliff.

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We also saw some Javelina's, but they were took quick for me to get a picture (yet again). We saw some Great Egrets in the irrigated fields. Seems odd to use so much water to grow crops in the desert, but the Egrets don't seem to mind.

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As we continued heading west in I-8 towards Yuma, I saw signs for Dateland, AZ (a town), but also advertising the "World Famous Date Milkshakes". Anything that unusual must be investigated, at least on this trip! Dateland does grow it's own dates, samples of several varieties are available for tasting in the gift shop. The clerk told me they have over 300 date trees in the orchard just past the gift shop and restaurant. We got two milkshakes, one date and the other cactus, then we split each in half so Mom and I could try both flavors - very interesting and unusual. We also picked up some of the local product for future use...

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After this, we ended up getting to Yuma a little too late to sightsee. I had a terrible time finding a place to stay in Yuma. The local Walmart manager doesn't want any RV'rs in his lot. Almost all of the hotels and campgrounds are full - they even had a segment on this on the evening news tonight! Seems some people who planned their vacations had to postpone them due to the bad weather in the Northern States, so they're here now as well as folks who'd already scheduled their stay for this period. I finally called a smaller campground without a swimming pool and was able to get in - but just for one night. By the time I finished registering, they were also full.

So tomorrow we'll do a little sightseeing in Yuma, then head towards San Diego - we're just a couple miles from the CA border now, so will also be on Pacific Time Zone tomorrow! (No more waking Heidi up at the crack of dawn).

Logistics:

<<Will have to wait, the campground we're in right now only has wi-fi in the clubhouse and all my notes are out in the RV, hmm...>>

Posted by jl98584 20:15 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

Day 167-169 - Visiting Folks in Phoenix (Photo's Added)

We made it to Phoenix Friday morning and spent the day visiting my nephew, Saturday Mom visited with some friends from Shelton, and Sunday we visited Raul's mother, Elva.

storm 63 °F

Blog is more behind then ever, will try to get a few entries caught up tomorrow & Sunday...

Raul was off work today, so we spent some time with him just chatting and enjoying some of his hobbies. Turns out my nephew is quite handy with his hands, getting into wood carving, building a model battleship, and refurbishing things. However, the best picture I got of him was while he was tinkering with something he intends to give someone as a birthday present. Just on the chance they might be checking the blog, thought I ought to try to block it out.

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Lynette had some errands to run, but came over later with her mom, Cindy. Their family has been in AZ long before Air Conditioning, so sounds like they have quite an interesting history here. I also found out Lynette has been working on her family's geneology, so we tried to swap some of the information we'd gathered.

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We played a strange game (Apple to Apple?), which I wasn't very good at - but it was fun, ate pizza and generally enjoyed the visit.

In the morning, Raul made omlettes for us with Rosemary (he's a chef BTW). After breakfast, I took Mom to a Seventh Day Adventist church in Mesa, where she met up with some friends from Shelton who are spending the winter down here. This was a very large church with a rather unusual building.

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After church, Ed & Jean (Mom's friends) treated us to lunch at Old Country Buffet (Mom's favorite restaurant chain). We all ate a little too much of course, then joined Ed & Jean at their motorhome to chit chat a bit. Jean has been following the blog a bit and said she enjoy's the bird photo's. That's it folks, more birds!

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Sunday we visited Raul Jr's other grandmother, Elva (my sister's mother-in-law). She lives in Mesa full time in one of the many, many mobile home parks. She said she enjoys the exercise classes and other activities at the park. She also baked cookies in honor of our visit (perhaps this is why she's known as the cookie lady?)

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I've decided give up on Grand Canyon for this trip and just continue heading west from here - not that we'll have any trouble finding interesting things to do. It's going to be cold up in the G. Canyon area, so Mom would rather avoid it and I can always come back some other time and really make a visit of it. Even San Diego had trouble with snow this week though - so Mom may not be as warm as she'd like even if we don't head north Monday, we'll see.

-- Trying to get the blog caught up, we visited everyone as scheduled and are now heading west again. Staying in a nice RV park in Buckeye, right next to I-10 and Hwy 85. Tomorrow we'll head south on 85 to I-8, then west to Yuma and eventually San Diego.

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 236 (It is a long way between different parts of the Phoenix area!)
Camped at all sorts of places, but final night before heading south was Leaf Verde RV Campground in Buckeye, AZ

Provisions - Gas $20.90 for 7.41 gallons at 126,208 (Flying J in Casa Grande)
.....Gas $27.36 for 9.845 gallons at 126,350 in Apache Junction, AZ

Posted by jl98584 21:31 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

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