Wednesday, February 15, 2017

California to Arizona to Nevada

Before we all leave Palm Springs, I must say our last day there gives points to California.  We did a motorcycle ride climbing up to about 6000 feet elevation, giving us views like this:

       ..... then through an adorable little hamlet called Idyllwild, with shops like this:

..... and to a tiny town called Julian, which is best known for this:

..... where we HAD to buy this:

It was an apple/cherry pie.  Fantastic!
Then, to Husband's delight, we came back down the mountain on this:

It might go down as our best ride of the trip.  Thank you California!

Our next location was a quirky, dusty little town called Quartzite, barely into Arizona.  If you are an RVer, you will have either been there, or have heard of it.  It goes from a population of two to three thousand in the hot months to over a hundred thousand in the cooler months.

I am not kidding:

Yes, those are all RVs.
There are shows and entertainment, highlighted in January and tapering off through February.  We got there after a lot of people had left.  It was a do-once type of thing, with blocks of flea-markets selling everything you never thought you'd need for your RV.

Ambience and charm are NOT the objective here.
We bought a new filter for our water tank and some Kettlecorn.  That was about it.  Other than that, the town featured a few truck stops and a handful of other small businesses.  But our camping spot was great and we stayed there five nights for free!

Oops!  I just noticed this picture also shows my socks hanging out to dry.
We went to bed with this:

And woke up to this:

We did some car/motorcycle trips to Yuma (loved Yuma!) and to Lake Havasu City, before pulling up the anchor and heading on to Pahrump, Nevada.  (Ya can't help but have fun with that name.)

Why Pahrump?  Two reasons.   We found a deal in an RV park with all the amenities plus laundry facilities, and it is near Death Valley.  Oh!  And it gives us a 20% discount at Dairy Queen!  (That's three reasons.)  We did a day-trip into Death Valley, where we discovered we can boondock (rely own our own water and power) for $7/night, so that will be our next stop in the Beast.  There Husband plans to do some sunrise/sunset photography.   (Did you know that the heat record there is 134 degrees and is the hottest spot on the planet?  But thankfully not in February and we might even see some rain.)

Thoughts about Pahrump ..... it's not a big town, but it sprawls out all over.  It seems typical in Arizona and Nevada to set a sign at the city limits announcing that you are entering the town, with the town no where in sight.  You must drive another five or so miles before anything man-made starts to appear.  And in the town, there are big empty gaps between buildings.  Just empty land between the Texaco and the Walmart, and between one strip mall and the next.   And huge gaudy, glitzy, obnoxious casinos gracing every other block along the way.  Kinda weird.

And that brings us up to date.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Stuck in Palm Springs

Our intent was to be here a week.  But unrelated to the small fiasco I wrote about in the previous post, we have had some bouts with an overheating engine.  The light would come on, typically going uphill, Husband would back off the throttle, it would go off.  So last week he found a truck mechanic nearby.  We're now on the third nonconsecutive day, of running tests.  At least the appearance of this shop encourages much more confidence than Smitty's did.

The culprit has been narrowed down to the fan controller and the fix will be either:  1. reprogram the controller, or 2. replace it.

Right now it's on its third trip to the mechanic, as we have had to work around his overloaded schedule.   At least we can drive it back to the RV park each time.  Might I add .... "bringing in" a motorhome is not at all like taking a car somewhere.  It must be prepped for moving which can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes or more (depending on how settled in we've been) and navigated out of the space it's been quietly occupying.  Plus, while it is gone, we are homeless.   So, to end a long, dull story, we are currently in limbo.

But hey ...... Palm Springs.  Who's complaining?  It's 70 degrees.  We have a swimming pool, a hot tub, pickle ball courts, miniature golf, friendly neighbors, and a large portion of south-central California to explore.  Which we've been doing.

About 40 miles away is Joshua Tree National Park which was created by God of course, but with the help of Dr. Seuss.  We did a quick exploratory drive there a few days ago and then returned to it on the motorcycle.  A few pictures:

These odd creations are the Joshua Trees after which the park was named.  I just learned, via a sign in the park,  the name came from Mormon pioneers who thought the trees looked like Joshua of the Bible, when "he raised his hands to the sky in prayer" ...... and if you can find this story in the Bible, please let me know ..... because I can't.

And this gem below is by the Husband, who loves to play with night photos and lighting ..... including that from headlights of a passing car.

But in my opinion, the rocks steal the show.  This one is called Skull Rock.

Below is the cholla cactus, (pronounced choy-ya).  Don't touch.  Those prickles are nasty.

When the sun hits it just right, it lights up.  (Not in this photo.)

We also did a motorcycle ride around the Salton Sea, a sad mishap of nature and man.

With no where to drain, it's very salty and is polluted by algae (mostly) and local farming pesticides (secondary) so it is more of a blight, than the lovely lake one would expect it to be.  The water is a blackish brown, with an odor.   It has an interesting history.

We stopped, along with a friendly group of Harley-riders, for burritos at a homey little cafe in the tiny town(?) of Niland.

Which sat next to this.

A couple of the towns we passed through on this ride weren't bad, but nowhere I'd choose to live.  (An understatement.)  In one area, you can buy a lake-front building lot for under $8,000.

It's sad, in my opinion.  Disclaimer:  I am not a fan of California.  Many of the coastal areas that I've been to are nice, but too many are plagued with crazy traffic.  A lot of what we've seen is seedy.  Palm Springs is upscale and appealing, but a few miles out, you're back to seedy.  The economy for many of the rural areas does not appear to be going well.  Mexican culture has spread across the border, judging by the music in the stores, products sold, and Spanish spoken everywhere ..... which I'm not at all saying is a bad thing, it's just very evident.  (Everyone here seems to have a favorite local Mexican restaurant they're happy to recommend.)   Poverty permeates the air in areas where it shouldn't be .... although, I can't think where it should be.   Some of the towns looked like the money spent to build them, quickly ran out.  A big part of the problem is the drought.  A lot of barren, dry land, that should be full of citrus and almond orchards, is for sale   And without going into politics, I'm not a fan of what's happening here in that department either.

So yesterday we hiked a beautiful slot canyon, called Painted Canyon, near Mecca, CA.  It was over five miles of sand, ladders, rock scrambling, and views.  If you ever do this, get a good map online and copy it to your phone.  They say you can't get lost if you stick to the trails.  We have proven that to be false.   (And we had a map!)

This canyon, they say, sits atop the infamous San Andreas fault.  I tried not to think about earthquakes during this part.

It's easy to see this was once a huge mud flow because the canyon walls were made up of dried mud which, apparently, anciently flowed from who-knows-where, picking up every type of rock along the way.  This is a close-up shot:

All in all, generally the scenery here is not pretty.   (Sorry, but I can't quite shake my inner Oregon snob.)   Too brown.  Too arid.  Too many mountains look like someone dug a big hole somewhere, trucked the dirt to here, and dumped it in big piles.  The really big mountains are pretty because they are still topped with snow and the palm trees are always way cool.  

Palm Springs itself is not what I expected.  Instead of it being all resorts, golf courses, and expensive boutiques as I have pictured for years, it has a charming, almost funky downtown with lots of shops, restaurants, and cafes .....  

.... where you MUST try a date shake (says my sister, Susan) from one of many shops who ALL say they make the best.

So I guess, if you have to be stuck somewhere, this ain't bad.