Nov 082008
 

 

From Saguaro National Park -- beautiful

From Saguaro National Park -- beautiful!

November 8, 2008 — We came back to Tucson yesterday. We gave up on Yuma after I called and confirmed that the Microtel rate had increased (as the books said it would after November 1), thus it wasn’t really worth going back.  So, we decided to come back to Tucson and take a room at the more expensive Extended Stay hotel (that $199 for the week price was great last time, but we just couldn’t go bear that stinky room again).  

 

 

Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus -this is a very versatile plant

On the way out of town, we stopped at the Quail Cafe one more breakfast.  Different cook this time, the home fries were not near as good!  But, that’s o.k. I’m supposed to be on a diet.  I forgot to mention that we had dinner at this same cafe the night before.  Told you, it was  very comfortable place.  We stuck with with specials — lasagna (for Carl) and chicken parmesan (form me).  Just like home cooking — well not my home cooking, but somebody’s.

 

 

Another view from our desert drive

Another view from our desert drive

The ride back to Tucson was enjoyable, especially since we took a road that brought us from 10 down to 8 and thus avoided going through Phoenix.  We got to the new Extended Stay Hotel somewhere around 2:00 pm.  We ended up with the last King size bed, which turns out to be a corner unit, handicap room, ground floor.  All afternoon we felt very lucky to have this oversize unit — it feels like an apartment.  Except that because it is a corner unit, the WiFi is weak (can’t upload photos to the blog; but I could update MostlyFiction.com).  And then the woman who is staying in the unit next door came home from work.  The only positive thing that I can say is that she did turn off the (freakin’ loud) music at 11:05. One more minute and Carl was ready to go to the front office.  So this morning I tried to change rooms, but we have to wait until Sunday — the hotel is booked for the weekend. 

 

 

Greetings from the Saguaro Cactii

Greetings from the Saguaro Cactii

We went looking for an RC airfield this morning out in the Saguaro National Park that we last visited a month ago on October 7th.  This drive was just a beautiful as the first time, though it has cooled down to a reasonable 80 degrees or so.  We love the Saguaro cactus — they make us laugh with their funny “poses.” I am pleased that I haven’t forgotten the names of the Sonoran Desert plants in the time that we’ve been gone.

 

We never did find the airfield, but we got the Prius plenty dirty trying since we ended up going down an interesting dirt road. So, we stopped at the Ina Road Car Spa that we visited last time (and lived next door to when we stayed at the cheap extended stay place). But first we went to a brand, spanking new Starbucks that just opened yesterday for a cup a coffee to sip while waiting for “Miss Pris” to get pampered at her spa.  I love sitting outdoors here — so, so pleasant to do mundane chores. So much better than last weekend’s weather up in in Portland, Oregon.  (Can you believe that was only a week ago? No wonder we are exhausted!)  

 

Carl researching trailers and RVs....

Carl researching trailers and RVs....

We came back to our room and relaxed. Carl is now researching trailers (the kind pulled by a truck).  Can you imagine us driving a truck?  Yup!  That’s what we are considering now.  (Sorry Devon, we might have to sell “your” Prius.)  Anyway, we are long way off from deciding, but you can’t say that we aren’t looking at all options. (If you are wondering if we are considering a “fifth-wheel” rig, we did but we have crossed that off the list because it requires a super truck — the whole thing is more than we want to pay.)  

 

 

Judi working on blog...

Judi working on blog...

I took the afternoon to read (THE DART LEAGUE KING) , nap (! I never do this!), and call my sister Lori.  Of course staying in a handicap room does all kinds of things to my psyche but most of all makes me miss my little sis.  She’s at Spaulding Rehab for two weeks.  Her rehab was cut short last year when she got the bed sore and thus this is a chance to catch up. But as she told me this afternoon, she’s had to start from scratch and there is no way to fit a 2 month program into 2 weeks. She’s not interested in being away from home for that long so she’s just getting what she can from her quick stay.  I’m glad that she’s trying it, anyway. I’m just happy that she sounds happy. (Miss you kiddo!)

 

 

View from the front of our hotel at sunset.

View from the front of our hotel at sunset.

Anyway, we are slated to stay here at least a week but have not ruled out longer.  We actually signed up for a month but that’s because it’s a better rate this way.  If you sign up weekly and end up staying a month, you get stuck with the higher rate.   

 

We are located on the eastern side of Tucson this time.  It’s closer to the older original section.  It is a large city but since it is laid out on a grid, it is easy to figure out. Our new neighborhood offers a Trader’s Joes a few (large) blocks down and we have gone there last night and tonight to pick up dinner.  And now that we have a kitchenette, we can make our own breakfast (Trader Joe’s Organic Raison Bran cereal).  This is not to say that there aren’t hundreds of places to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  But we are on a diet and budget…

 

So, here we are in Tucson. we just enjoyed an 81 degree day and 68 degree evening.     Ahhhh!

Nov 062008
 

 

Hi Jolly Monument

Hi Jolly Monument in Quartzsite, AZ

 

November 6, 2008 — After checking out of the Super 8 (and a horrible sleep for me — mattress was too soft), we went for breakfast at the Quail Cafe.  Lucky for us, they had Eggs Benedict for a special.  These days, most hotels offer a decent breakfast and we tend to eat in the hotels but after 7 weeks, it does get old.  We know what to expect in each chain and we know how to make the most of it, but still.  The Super 8 is the least of the breakfast offerings but even if it was the equal of the Holiday Express, I think we would skip it.  We were really ready for a sit down breakfast with an egg that wasn’t made about three hours earlier.  

 

 

So, we meandered on the Quail Cafe and were rewarded with some of the best home fries I’ve ever had — made with onions, peppers, and lots of garlic.  Although not the best hollandaise sauce, it was better than the Swiss Knorr package kind that I make. The personality of the cafe probably added to the enjoyment as much as anything.  You just felt good here — it was like we always felt in the Keys.  Even though we didn’t know these people, we could see how easy it would be to become part of this community.

 

 

Hi Jolly Sign

Hi Jolly Sign

As we payed for the breakfast, we studied the For Sale information on the wall next to the register. And that dictated the rest of our day. Actually, we went out to the car, started to leave and then I went back in to the the telephone # and addresses off the flyers.  They were for mobile homes in the park behind the restaurant.  While writing this information, I talked to the woman at the register and said we were on a quest to find our new home, and that we were considering RV living. Of course, she filled me in on her experience and called a man over to ask him if he knew of an RVs for sale in town. In gave me directions for the other side of town for a “diesel pusher” that a friend of his might be selling.  

 

 

Wooden Grave Marker at Hi Jolly -- this has been here since 1863

Wooden Grave Marker at Hi Jolly -- this has been here since 1863 -- things can last forever in the desert!

Loaded with this information, we begin driving around Quartzsite to see if there was an answer to our quest.  We looked at a newish “double-wide” on a lot that only cost about $1500 for the year.  We had been told that he wanted $58,000 for it, which actually didn’t sound to bad to us.  On the same street, there were four others for sale but this was the only “double-wide.”  One of the older ones was only $22,000 and same $1500 lot fee — we turned this one around a bit since it would be such a CHEAP way to live.  

 

 

Quartsite's Hi Jolly Cemetery

Quartsite's Hi Jolly Cemetary

We found the diesel-pusher.  I had to laugh that part of the directions was to “go over the wash and then take a left.”  Living back in NH, I don’t think I’d ever would have heard a direction such as this — but out here in the desert, “washes” are everywhere — these are places that fill with water when it rains — but make good riding for off-road vehicles when its dry.  Anyway, we did find it but decided it was older than we wanted.  But this led us to a new neighborhood and as we explored, we found more and more neighborhoods.  Understand, when I say neighborhood, I am speaking of lots with either RVs (full motor homes, Fifth-wheels, trailers, and home made variations from school buses) as well as mobile homes. Rarely is there an actual house, but where there is, it often made of adobe and really, really cute.  

 

 

Quartzsite living...

Quartzsite living...

Mexican brick fences are very common here.  In fact, there were many lots that were outlined with these bricks fences that were for sale.  I had picked up some real estate sheets at the chamber of commerce and we learned that these often went for $100,000.  A bit more than we would be interested in or we could believe it would be worth.   

 

We finally exhausted ourselves and felt we had covered every single park and neighborhood in Quartzsite and decided to end our day with a trip to the Hi Jolly monument and cemetery to find out why all the references to camels in this town.  After that, it was just too late to drive to Yuma, so we went back to the Super 8 — and paid $10 extra to get a better room.

My main regret for the day is that I didn’t take photos of the places that we looked at — nor did I get a photo of the family of quails that crossed in front of us.  They were so cute! I think it is one of the things we will laugh about for a long time. I do have photos, though, to share with you, but the current Internet connection isn’t strong enough to post them.

Nov 062008
 

 

Back in Arizona!

Back in Arizona!

November 5, 2008 — It took us all day to go from Blythe, CA to Quartzsite, AZ.  That’s right.  I know if you look at the map, you’ll find that these two places are only 30 minutes apart.  So, why all day?

 

Well, if you read about our adventures yesterday, you’ll remember that the GPS went on the blitz post L.A. So we decided to go to Phoenix to get a new DVD — the one we had was suspect, anyway.  This would then eliminate or highlight the DVD player as the problem. Then we were hoping that the this would be covered under our warranty.  Since our plan was to head for Tucson, this all made sense.  

Instead of just passing by Quartzsite on the highway, we decided to drive through and see how much more it had filled up since our last visit.  We noticed that there were more RVs for sale, solar panels and even information on setting up a Montana LLC (a way to register the RV when you don’t have a permanent address).  So we left and continued on to Phoenix.  While we were driving we started talking about maybe Quartzsite as a place for us to spend some time.  It was the first time that we noticed that there was a Super 8 Motel.

We found a new Toyota dealer in Avondale (outside of Phoenix) and stopped here, rather than driving all the way into Phoenix.  Turns out that we must wait a week to get the DVD. We ordered it anyway. (Staying in this area for a week is not a problem.) Over lunch we decided to head back to Quartzsite, so we drove the 100 or so miles back.  So here we are for tonight.  Though I think we might go to Yuma tomorrow since the Microtel hotel down there is less expensive than this Super 8 and far better.

Nov 042008
 
Snow on Mountain Caps -- Golden Californian fields

Snow on Mountain Caps -- Golden Californian fields

November 4, 2008 — Long driving day today — we don’t like to drive after dark mostly because we miss the scenery, but we seemed to have no choice tonight.  We either had to stop at 3 in the afternoon or we could stick with it and get through Los Angeles and stop on the other side.  I don’t think either one of us expected it to take so long to get through L.A. and then once we did, we couldn’t find a hotel.  Basically, there are no exit numbers on that section of I-10 in California, so when there was a billboard with upcoming hotel information, it would give the exit name/not number with driving directions.  Right, we could remember those after a long day of driving. Right about this time, our GPS went on the blitz.  Double whammy.  And, in the dark I couldn’t read the map, which when I finally looked at it at a rest area, showed that the road ahead was going to be very dark — we would be passing the Joshua Tree National Park. See this is why we don’t like to drive at night — you can’t see anything! So we ended up driving all the way to Blythe on the border of California/Arizona before we found a place for the night.  It was 9:30.

Migrating birds.

Migrating birds.

I was so tired when I went into the hotel lobby to get the room.  But, I was instantly awake and jumping around the lobby in minutes.  Barack Obama was giving his acceptance speech — the American people elected him as our next president.  Wow!  I can’t ever say that I’ve been this emotional over an election.

O.K. I’ll back up to earlier in the day.

We woke up in Corning, California.  The hotel we stayed at actually was set up as voting booth. Pretty cool.  The sky was blue and the air was a bit warmer.  We learned that it was snowing in the mountains — though we had a terrible day driving through in the rain, it was far better than snow.  So it was a good thing we left the Portland area yesterday and didn’t wait. Anyway, this confirmed that we really did see some snowflakes when we passed Mount Shasta.

Black cloud hanging over farmhouse

Black cloud hanging over farmhouse

Anyway, blue skies and a nice drive ahead of us — and a new day of views.  We took I-5 down through the central valley corridor where all the farming is done in California. We saw orange groves, and other groves, fields and fields of hay, a llama herding a flock of sheeps, lots of goats, fields of green, rice paddies, vineyards that went on for miles, bee hives, oil pumps, elaborate irrigations systems, lots of lumber on trucks and much more… It was one thing to see America’s heartland with all it’s corn and soy fields, but this offered much more diversity.

Rice paddy -- there were miles of these but difficult to get a good photo in a moving car.

Rice paddy -- there were miles of these but difficult to get a good photo in a moving car.

Basically the whole day’s drive was flat — no ups and downs, no curves, just one long straight road.  Until we reached the start of the Los Angeles valley — quite obviously to get into the valley means that one has to go over a mountain pass, right? Can’t say that I had thought about this until I saw the mountains ahead of us.  Awesome!  Love these mountain passes. Only difference with this one is the SPEED at which the drivers go.

Driving over pass to reach the L.A. valley.

Driving over pass to reach the L.A. valley.

Driving with hands on 10-2 position on steering wheel at 80 miles per out.

Driving with hands on 10-2 position on steering wheel at 80 miles per hour.

Nov 032008
 

 

Leaves in rain.

Leaves in rain.

November 3, 2008 — We got up this rainy, cool morning, had breakfast, packed the car and drove south down I-5.

 

It pretty much rained the whole day — sometimes heavier than others.  Thus, we really didn’t really see what we should have seen. Still, Oregon is a very pretty state, even in the rain.  And, most of what we saw on I-5 in Oregon, we had just seen days before when we drove up to the Portland area.

We did see more accidents than normal today — one accident happened in the time that we left I-5 to get a cup of coffee and some stuff for lunch for later in the day.  We came back to I-5 and there were firemen lighting torches to guide people away from the accident.  This was a bit unsettling to the propane tank driver in front of us — he was hugging the edge of the highway, keeping away from the flames. Carl decided to hang back a bit from him.  The car that had the accident was very badly damaged, but the driver seemed o.k.

Later, a blue Prius looked to have rolled several times. That was disconcerting.  As I say, it was very rainy.

Oh, one funny thing.  As I mentioned, we picked up lunch earlier but saved it to eat later in the day.  When we crossed into California, we realized there was a chance that our lunch might be confiscated by the California Border Control Fruit Fly inspector.  So we pulled over to turnout just miles from the inspection station, and ate everything in our cooler — fruit flys and all. (just kidding)

It always amazes us when we cross a border and the state looks different. Oregon is all green.  California is gold. And you can see this when you drive down I-5. I wish it was a better day for photographs.

We are going to have to do this trip again. We really could not see much of  Mount Shasta –just the base, still, that was impressive. We were a bit over 4,000 feet up when we were passing Mt. Shasta (a 14,000ft  volcanic mountain) — the rain hinted at being snow for a fleeting second.

We couldn’t see much of Shasta Lake either, but we could see how beautiful it would be on a nice day. Actually it looked a bit low, so it was good it was raining.

We are staying in Corning, California tonight and will get up and keep going south on I-5 tomorrow.  We want to get back to Arizona.

Nov 022008
 

 

Powells Bookstore

Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon

November 2, 2008 — We went into Portland today, finally.  We chose Powell’s Bookstore as our first destination for the GPS — we took the longer route so that we would see more.

 

 

The entrance to Powells -- Im so excited I embarrass Carl with my camera flash

The entrance to Powell's -- I'm so excited I embarrass Carl with my camera flash

No doubt, Portland is an excellent city.  It is a big city, but it didn’t feel like one as we drove in. Not like Phoenix, or even Tucson. I’m not a city person, but I could live in this one (right next to Powell’s and Whole Foods would suit me perfectly).  To me, it felt like an oversize Portsmouth, NH, with the river running through it and the multiple bridges and a unquantifiable “hip” feeling to it.  Carl thought it felt like a large Cambridge, Massachusetts — which is probably a more appropriate description.  Mind you, we didn’t spend a lot time here.  It was drizzling raining and colder than we have been used to.  And no sun. But, still, this is a place we could most definitely live. 

 

 

Sci-fi authors autographs

Sci-fi authors autographs

For me, I’d move to Portland just to have access to Powell’s.  This is no doubt the best bookstore that I have ever been in. But then again, I have never been in one that took up a whole city block before.  You navigate the store by color group — and there is large directory that tells you in which color that you find what you are looking for.  For example, Science Fiction is in the “Gold Room, which was up a set a stairs.  As we entered the Gold Room, there is a graffiti column in which different sci-fi authors have signed their names.  Right off, I noticed William Gibson and Neil Gaiman, amongst others.  Of course, the store is no dummy, the signatures are protected behind a plastic shield.

Bookshelves at Powells, notice how they slant so that you can see all the book titles?

Bookshelves at Powells, notice how they slant so that you can see all the book titles?

 

 

 

There are a lot of books in each section.  I mean a LOT.  I think they carry the complete bibliography of most every author — and they can do this because they mix the used books with the new books, paperbacks with hardcovers.  (They also have posters that advocate buying used to save trees.) The other interesting thing is the way they have built the bookshelves — rather than being straight up and down, they curve out so that it is easier to see all titles.  The shelves are tall with overstocks on the upper areas.  Also, the shelves are made out of rough wood, and are not uniform looking.  You get the impression that the books are what’s important here…

Like any bookstore, they use the “cap end” to promote recommended books. But unlike most bookstores, they didn’t worry about publication dates. Although some books are newly published, but many were not — a lot of the “top picks” are ones that we recommend at MostlyFiction.com as well.

They seem to have every book that I have ever owned.  It was so comforting to see books that I never thought I’d see again — it takes away the pain of having to “let go” my thousands of books just before we started this trip. This is better than a library.

 Because they keep books by author — mixing hard covers with paperbacks with new and out-of-prints — it was fun to see the different cover arts for multiple printings.  It was like visiting a book museum.

One more comment — Carl and I agreed to meet in the cafe.  Of course, he wasn’t there when I finally broke away from perusing a city block’s worth of books.  What struck me as unique about this cafe was that almost everyone was looking down, reading.  (Carl stuck to the scifi section, so he was easy to find.)

 

The Dart League King by Keith Lee Morris

The Dart League King by Keith Lee Morris

So what did I end up buying?  I decided to buy THE DART LEAGUE KING by Keith Lee Morris because Poornima and Sudheer really liked it and feel that the author needs more recognition. So I “voted” by buying it.  (BTW, I couldn’t remember the name of the book or author, but because Powell’s wifi works for free, I was able to bring up MostlyFiction.com on my iPod and find the book title and author.  When I went to check out, I noticed the Powell’s flyer  featured a Q&A with Keith Lee Morris — and he will be reading at the bookstore on November 10th!

 

 

We did not miss autumn, afterall -- look at these trees -- and a peak of blue sky.

We did not miss autumn, afterall -- look at these trees -- and a peak of blue sky.

After we left Powell’s we drove around the city plugging in different addresses, such as Earth Mail — the company that is managing our mail while we are “homeless.”  Unfortunately, they don’t have the means for customers to pick up mail at the facility, so we still don’t have our mail.  We drove around both within the city and outside (driving up into Washington state and back down).  Our impression of Portland and Oregon is extremely positive and we still plan to come back to live here — but not right now —  we want warmth.

 

The fortress of a building where Earth Class Mail operates.

The fortress of a building where Earth Class Mail operates. We were not successful in getting our mail which we knew before we came here, but it gave us an excuse to drive to Beaverton.

Nov 012008
 

 

View of hotel parking lot.  Reminds me of Colburn Woods in Nashua.

View of hotel parking lot. Reminds me of Colburn Woods in Nashua.

November 1, 2008 — We got up late and did nothing today.  That is, we drove maybe a total of 2 miles — over to Starbucks and back and then over to the grocery store for waters and back and then to Subway and back.  It’s a gray, drizzling day.  Not too cold. 

So, after talking to my sister Lori (I MISS YOU),  I spent the majority of the day finally posting the photos from last weekend at Death Valley. Actually, now that I’ve finally caught up, I want another “nothing” day tomorrow so that I can just hang out and read for the day.  

Anyway, we enjoyed the day.  It’s a very comfortable hotel, inside and out. 

At hotel in Wilsonville.

At Best Western hotel in Wilsonville.

Oct 312008
 

 

Scene from I-5 in Oregon

Scene from I-5 in Oregon

October 31, 2008 — We drove north on I-5 today towards Portland.  Since it is Friday — the most expensive day to get a hotel room, we decided to stay just outside of Portland in a little town called Wilsonville.  

 

Our first impressions of Oregon are very positive.  It feels familiar to us New Englanders — it feels like Maine, or the Berkshires or maybe even New York State.  Only the mountains are bigger, the trees are straighter and the even though it is basically November 1, the leaves are still in full autumn colors and are still on the trees.  The day temperatures are similar to Nashua — but the night temps are a lot milder.

 

Rainbow on I-5 highway

Rainbow on I-5 highway

There is also a whole stretch that reminds us of central valley in California — lots of vineyards and other vegetables.  

 

The hotel that we chose to stay at says a lot about the climate here.  The buildings are not attached to each other and you must walk out doors to get from one floor to another.  That tells us that it never gets too cold here.  

 

Pumpkins outside of Coffee shop -- which one would you vote for?

Pumpkins outside of Coffee shop -- which one would you vote for?

We arrived in Wilsonville around 1:30 in the afternoon and we decided to stay in and relax (and do laundry).  It is kind of nice to actually use the hotel room that we pay for!  We went into Wilsonville to grab a bite to eat later in the afternoon.  Cute town.  I looked it up an it was only incorporated in 1969, so it is a rather new town.

Oct 282008
 

 

Carl at coffee shop, once again after 15 plus years.

Carl at coffee shop, once again after 15 plus years.

October 28, 2008 — So first thing this morning we went looking for Carl’s old coffee haunt on State St, which is the main street in Santa Barbara.  He actually had low expectations that it would still be there or if it was that it would not be the same.  He figured that by now it would have been turned into a Starbucks.

 

 

Mall in Santa Barbara - prettiest Macy I

Prettiest Macy's that I've ever seen!

 

Santa Barbara Mall

Mall on State St. in Santa Barbara

Guess what?  It was there — despite Starbucks on two or three nearby corners! So we sat outside and had a nice cup of Capachino in a large ceramic coffee cup.  Yum!

 

Hula Hoops in the park

Hula Hoops in the park

 

Is that Santa with balloons?

Is that Santa with balloons?

Meanwhile, I was in awe of the shopping “mall.”  Not so much with the stores — they were the usual, nothing too high end, really — but the notion of “mall.”  I’m not even sure I can describe it.  The stores are all on a block and have entrances from the streets, but also to a open air corridor.  So the downtown looks very nice, but the shopper has access from inside the block as well.  If we didn’t have so much sight seeing to do, I could have really spent some time shopping in this place.

 

 

After coffee, we drove the rest of the way down State Street to the ocean.  We parked and took a walk in the park on top of a cliff looking over the ocean.  It was a nice park — lots of people out and enjoying the morning.  BTW — temperature here is a bit cooler than the desert. We wore jeans today. 

 

Looking over cliff at park

Looking over cliff from park

After this, we drove along the ridge line of the mountains that border Santa Barbara — Paradise Road, which is off the San Marcos Pass Road and goes through the Los Padros Forest. We tried to anyway. After a couple of hair raising moments of meeting big trucks on this curving, narrow ridge road, we came to a point where the road was closed. Obviously they were working on the road.  So we turned around and when we reached the bottom, we drove north along the San Marcos Pass Road.  Since Solvang was only 14 miles away, we decided to go there next.

View from Mountain Top Drive

View from Mountain Top Drive

 

 

 

 

Lake Cachuna -- when Carl lived here it was a dry bed

Lake Cachuma -- when Carl lived here it was a dry bed

But first we stopped to check out Lake Cachuma.  When Carl lived here, this lake was dry, there had been a five year draught. In fact, Santa Barbara had invested in a salination plant, which never went online because it rained just as the plant was finished and read to be of use.  So they moth balled it. There was a fee to get into Lake Cachuma, so Carl drove up to the Lake Cachuma Dam.  

 

 

Clock Tower in Solvang

Clock Tower in Solvang

After that we drove to Solvang, a Danish community.  As you know, Carl and his family are from Denmark — in fact there is a Petersen Inn right in town — so I have heard about this town for as long as I’ve known Carl.  This town smells so good, we bought treats at three different bakeries that we will have as snacks for the next few days.  There is more to Solvang than bakeries — there are several places to buy quilts, dolls, and embroidered handcrafts.  There were also several inviting restaurants — too bad we ate so much at the complimentary breakfast this morning.

 

Solvang Danish architechure

Solvang Danish architechure

 

 

After walking around Solvang for an hour or so, we drove back to Santa Barbara.  I’m not sure where it was, be we walked along a pier in which lots of people were fishing.  We sat on a bench and ate one of Danish treats here.  We were overlooking the University of California, Santa Barbara branch in the distance.

Windmill in Solvang

Windmill in Solvang

 

 

 

Chumash Indian carving of Mountain Lion - oldest known carving

Chumash Indian carving of Mountain Lion - oldest known carving

After that, we drove to the Old Mission Santa Barbara and walked around there a bit.  Most interesting part of this place was the Chumash washing trowel in which the oldest known American carving still exists.

 

 

Judi and Carl on the beach

Judi and Carl on the beach

We ended the day by going back to Hendry’s Beach and having dinner at the restaurant that Carl used to eat at all the time.  It may have changed but it was still appropriate to eat there.  It turned out to be delicious — and not even that expensive.  After, we walked a good way up the beach.  And then we came back here — worn out from a great day.

Danish treats in Solvang

Danish treats in Solvang

Oct 272008
 

 

Morning sun on mountains as we leave Death Valley

Morning sun on mountains as we leave Death Valley

October 27, 2008 — We got up a little earlier this morning to give ourselves plenty of time to reach Santa Barbara.  The GPS originally thought it would take us 8 hours, but once we got underway, it adjusted and it took closer to 7 hours.  

 

 

At the top, looking down the next valley.  This, like Death Valley, was once filled with water.

At the top, looking down the next valley. This, like Death Valley, was once filled with water. See the straight road that we will be on soon?

One of the things that I’m realizing is that when you see a a bunch of mountain ranges in the distance, that between each range is a valley.  So, to leave the valley, means to climb up a mountain range and to descend down.  As logical as this all is, I must admit that living on the east coast all my life, I hadn’t really thought about this.  Anyway, the best part about this driving to the top of the mountains is the surprises that we discover when we get to the top. Looking down is always rewarding.  This morning’s first ascent/descent was no less rewarding. 

 

Panamint City's interesting fate

Panamint City - click image to read plaque

Today’s ride took us through a lot of different places.  We passed the Ballarat Ghost Town — which is really just a marker on the road, well two markers on the road — and one for Panamint City.  Since all three markers are in one place, they must have been near each other.

Ballarat was established in 1897 and had 3 hotels and 7 saloons and a Wells Fargo Station.  It had a population of 500 people.  It declined after the Rackcliff Mine closed in 1905 and became a ghost town in 1917 when the post office closed.

 

 

 

Passing Red Rock Canyon on 14

Passing Red Rock Canyon on 14

A bit later, still going down 178, the air got really, really smelly.  We discovered Trona — a very poor looking town that starts off as just a large junkyard, and then as it does get more populated it seems that half the houses are abandoned and those that aren’t, are not well kept. Then you come to the reason for the town’s existance — and smell — a mineral processor.  I looked up Trona in Wikipedia and turns out the town is named after the mineral that is mined a the Searles Lake. As I suspected from the very large white piles near the the West End plant, they produce borax as well as  boric acid, soda ash, salt cake and salt. I suspect the smell was from a chemical needed in the production.

 

 

First glance of the Pacific Ocean!

First glance of the Pacific Ocean!

We passed through Red Rock Canyon, which was red, but after seeing the red rocks earlier in our trip — it wasn’t all that “red.”   We then went down 14, into Mohave.  This was of interest to us since we learned yesterday that the 20 Mule Team brought the Borax to two places: Mohave and Daggett.  It took 10 days.  

 

 

Carl lived here for about 4 years, until February 1993. His condo is the one in the back.

Carl lived here for about 4 years, until February 1993. His condo is the one in the back.

We continued down 14 for some time going through lots of little towns.  I hate to say it — we’ve had so much stimulation visually, that I was a little bored during this stretch! Then, suddenly the traffic picked up speed as we got closer to the L.A.  A little much after all our scenic driving for the past few weeks! But that was brief because the GPS took us through a short cut over to Santa Clarita to get to I-5N.  We were on I-5 for basically one exit and then we picked up 126.  This was a road that Carl knew well from when he lived in Santa Barbara — but the road had changed a lot.  Whereas it had been a slow road with lots of farms and farm stands, it has since been expanded to more lanes and the farms now grow trees and sell “plant pot” trees.  We did see some orange trees, but not many. I guess landscaping is more profitable than growing food.

 

 

Judi steps into the Pacific Ocean -- after all those weeks in the desert!

Judi steps into the Pacific Ocean -- after all those weeks in the desert!

 

Carl on bench at beach in front of his old restaurant!

Carl on bench at beach in front of his old restaurant!

We arrived in Santa Barbara around 4:00 in the afternoon. We were too tired to really explore.  Actually, it is not officially exploring. Carl lived here for about 4 years before moving east (so that we could meet :).  So really this is an opportunity for Carl to show me about his life here until he moved east fifteen and half years ago.  So when we arrived, we went to the condo that he had lived in and then we went to his favorite beach spot with his favorite beach front restaurant.  He was dismayed to see that his favorite restaurant has been “fancified,”  not that he didn’t expect change… Anyway we drove around a bit and ended up taking a Best Western in Goleta, which is just outside Santa Barbara. Carl worked in Goleta, so this is actually part of the official tour.

 

 

 

 

 

View of Pacific Ocean from Hope Ranch

View of Pacific Ocean from scenic drive through Hope Ranch

I think it was a bit overwhelming for Carl — he really hadn’t ever thought he’d be here again. And he was also “fuzzy” tired from driving all day. And amazed at how much he didn’t remember about getting around. Though it had been over 15 years since he was here. As for me, it was great to finally put a real image to all the places that Carl has told me about for the past 15 years! I look forward to tomorrow’s explorations.