Saturday, 22 February 2014

Now in Arizona

We stayed in San Diego for another week. We went back to Mission Beach and walked the Boardwalk from Pacific Beach
Pacific Beach Pier

Vacation homes behind Pacific Beach
down past the roller coaster 
Roller Coaster in Belmont Park

and wave surf pool in Belmont Park. The condos and home are incredible.
Some are modern,
Some are more rustic-looking
Some have many units
Some are single family homes

The surf pool is amazing. It was about 10 yds wide and 10 ft high, with a steep slope. One large wave is generated. Riders start at the left, the beginning of the wave, and surf along it, as long as they can stay standing. Some were even doing turns. They basically stay pretty much in one place, unless they get sucked into the curl and wipe out.
Looking back at Mission Beach

We went back to Balboa Park, driving this time since parking is free, and went through the Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Man’s Instruments of Torture exhibit and their larger museum

with Mayan, Beerology, Mummies of Ancient Egypt, Mexico and Peru, and Footsteps Through Time- 4 million years of human development revealed through scientific discoveries. The Instruments of Torture display was really gruesome, Thumbscrews, Skull-Splitters, Iron Maiden and Chastity belts were monstrosities of metal. It is hard to imagine men developing these horrific methods of torturing another human. The Mayan exhibit centred around Stellae and their interpretations, and artifacts from the ancient Mayan civilization. Beerology was a fascinating history of Beer-making, and types of beers. To our surprise, we learned that Sake, Japanese rice wine, is actually a beer. The Museum Of Natural History has excellent displays with dinosaurs, fossils and geology of the San Diego area. 

John went cycling with our neighbour Dave. They took the trolley from Santee, then the ferry to Coronado, and cycled around Coronado, and down as far as Imperial City. They took a break to enjoy a beer on the patio of the Hotel Del Coronado. They picked up the trolley in Imperial Beach back to Santee. They were both rather sore!! Kathy and I stayed home. She walked the dogs. I did a couple of loads of washing, took some more pictures of Santee Lakes, 
To the East of the Lakes

Trailers by the Lake 7

Floating Cabins

Picturesque Lake 7- to canoe or paddle
The ducks all come running, most are American Coots
read for a while, then began the task of sorting through all the pamphlets and information I had collected so far, to see what I wanted to use in our scrapbook. I was making chili for dinner, and when Kathy and I were talking and she had nothing planned, I invited them over too, and just doubled the amount! We spent an enjoyable evening swapping travel stories and getting to know our neighbours better.

John and I took a drive to Coronado over the bridge on hwy 75. We parked and wandered around the downtown area.
A main street

A Bank, part of a block-long building
It is a beautiful city on what was once an island. There are many interesting shops, boutiques, and restaurants. We shared a delicious hamburger, and then had lattes at a little table outside a bookshop.  Then we walked to “The Del”

The front of the Hotel del Coronado

The back of the Hotel Del Coronado, the Dragon Tree on the right

The Dragon Tree Story
to relax on the patio over-looking the ocean.
Total relaxation...
The hotel, built in 1888, is spectacular. It is one of the grand old wooden resort hotels with an atmosphere of opulence and wealth. I felt so decadent, drinking a Margarita, watching the ocean and folks wandering the beach. It was quite windy; however, the patio is protected by a plexiglass wall, so we basked in the sun. 
Coronado Beach
On the way home, we drove down towards Imperial City. There is an RV Resort, Silver Strand State Beach Campground, right on the ocean. We decided to look at it for a future trip. However, although it is right on a beautiful sandy beach, it has only electric hook-up, cold showers, is like a huge parking lot, with many quite small sites close together, and is expensive at $65 per night. In addition, the gate is locked at 7pm, and if you are out later, you have to park across the highway and walk back to your RV. We are rarely back by 7pm, so we would be doing a lot of walking.

Islands of Mexico seen from Imperial Beach

But sunsets are fabulous
On the weekend before we left, we spent most of Saturday in Oceanside visiting with our friend Pete, and his lab Bella, on his boat. John really misses having a dog, and he and Bella were inseparable.
John and Bella
[No, we will not be getting another dog until we decide to stop full-timing.]  We had an early Valentines dinner at Karl Strauss in Carlsbad, so I could try, [and John could enjoy again] their Cioppino. It is a spicy bouillabaisse-type dish with a variety of seafood, and is really delicious! We have several recipes to try. Sunday we spent most of the day getting the Airstream ready to travel once again. Having been a month in one place, many things had crept out of their “travelling homes” and had to be repacked. We went for dinner with our new friends, Kathy and Dave, to a favourite restaurant of theirs in Imperial Beach, for a delicious Prime Rib dinner. 

Sadly, it was time to leave Santee Lakes, and move on. We were supposed to be out of the site by noon; however, all our neighbours stopped over to talk, even Tucker and Charlie. We headed to Arizona via I-8. There were 4 mountain summits or passes
as we didn’t actually go over a mountain top. In general, the landscape was much greener,
probably due to the recent rains. There were still huge boulders on the mountain slopes.
Once over the mountains, we were back into desert- dry, flat and hot.

Dunes by a rest stop
That is, until we reached El Centro in the Imperial Valley. Here we found huge emerald green fields,which we think might be alfafa, 

many with sprayers and irrigation pipes along the fields.

There were huge bales and even a feed lot.

We exited at Yuma looking for Paradise Casino signs, but couldn’t find them and had to use the GPS to find the site where we planned to stay for the night. They have a huge dirt and gravel lot for RV’s.
Paradise Casino, parking for RVs
There are no services, but it seemed that many folks were set up there for longer than just one night, with generators and TV dishes set up. There are 7 or 8 wide lanes separated by a small berm. RV’s park on both sides of these lanes, with plenty of room in between. There must have been 30 or 40 RV’s in the lot. We had dinner in the Casino restaurant, then noticed that the Olympics were being shown on the TV over the bar. We ended up ordering several drinks and watching Olympics until 10 pm. 

Next day, after our $2.99 breakfast, we were off again. It was a scenic drive, through valleys and barren mountains, with just a lot of cacti, not even scrub trees. Dome Valley was very flat. Further on there were saguaros [ Sah-WAH-rows], green bushes and green shrub trees. Saguaros only grow in the Sonoran Desert, in southern Arizona, with a few on the California border. 
The desert here has very interesting geology, basalt volcanic flows and lava volcanic flows in the same area.
Basalt mountain
Our destination was a BLM site, Painted Rock Petroglyph Campground north of I-8. It is in the desert, boondockers only – no services, just propane and our solar panel, by a huge pile of rocks and boulders with interesting Petroglyphs.
A Pile of Petroglyphs
A field of petroglyphs
Individual petroglyph rocks

The desert here was quite fascinating as it had a green haze,

which we later discovered was many small grass-like plants with 2 or 3 leaves each. There were also large clumps of bright yellow flowers, bushes with small yellow flowers,
The flowers in the forefront are on a Brittle bush, and those to the right are a Creosote Bush
small white, yellow, orange and purple flowers.
Tiny purple flowers
The barrel cacti had yellow fruit, just starting to come out.

The best Barrel Cactus we saw.
The park is beautiful. Sites are well spaced and each is marked out with rows of small rocks, and has a concrete picnic table and a fire ring.
Morning coffee outside
Sites were so large, we were able to pull the trailer in, unhitch, and pull the truck forward to pull out of the site.
Our site
Sunsets were amazing every night
We walked around the petroglyphs, and talked to a couple who are members of the Escapees. They have a site in a co-op SKP park in Benson AZ. They get a discount at many coop SKP, Rainbow and other parks in the US and some in Canada. It is possible to stay in a site at one of these parks for a very reasonable rate. This is certainly something we will look into. 

Next day we drove through back roads to get a better look at the mountains, to look for a memorial and the site of a massacre of a pioneer family, and to look at a dam on the Gila River. All we saw were some excellent views of the mountains with clumps of beautiful yellow flowers on their slopes,
basalt fields,
Basalt field [ was even allowed to pick up 2 rocks!]
a roadrunner sitting on a post,
A sitting Roadrunner, but we saw him running too
lots of saguaros,
The perfect saguaro
and we got lots of fine silt all over the outside and inside of the truck. We couldn’t find the site, and the road to the dam was closed. 

This was the perfect test for the new Lifeline AGM batteries we had installed in Corona, CA. They worked beautifully. In the morning, with the furnace on for part of every night, and using the stove, frig and hot water heater, the batteries were at 80-% - 85% in the morning and back to 100% by 10am.

On the way back to I-8, as we were leaving, we came across some interesting sights.
A paddle wheel to monitor the flow of irrigation water

Part of a road flooded out IN THE DESERT
The Solana Solar Generating Project.

Our next stop was Picacho Peak State Park on I-10.
A field of saguaros and more green than I-8 desert

We choose the area we want to visit, then look for interesting National, State or County Parks. This unique park offers interesting trails that wind up to the peak, and is relatively close to Tucson. Picacho Peak is a 1500-foot uniquely-shaped mountain
Picacho Mountain- campsites at the base, in the centre [white dots]
that rises out of the desert and has been used as a landmark by travellers since prehistoric times. It is made up of faulted, tilted and eroded remnants of a sequence of lava flows. Originally it was part of the mountain across the highway. However, when the Sea of Cortez was formed, as the land was "stretched" this mountain range 'broke apart', and Picacho Peak was separated from the main mountain. [This is really an elementary, layman's plate tectonics explanation that we were given.] In the daytime looking down on the I-10, you see a line of ‘toy’ cars and trucks,
From the Airstream - the little white boxes are Semis on the I-10
in the evening, a ribbon of light.

 Looking across the highway at sunset, the original mountain is beautiful.

Sites are level, large, and landscaped with a Paloverde tree [the bark is green so they can photosynthesize even without leaves] or Saguaro cactus, and a picnic table off to one side or behind the RV.
Our site- 2 Paloverde trees
We went into Tucson to see the Gem and Mineral Show. We only had time to see the exhibits in the Convention Centre. It was spectacular displays of public
and private collections of minerals and gems, both rough and faceted,
and many displays of jewellery, some vintage
 Columbian Emeralds and Diamonds designed for Tiffany & Co in 1950's
and some for sale. The crystals ranged from small single crystals to very large massed crystals. 
Smithsonite [turquoise], Descloisite [black], Gypsum

Beautiful, aren't they!

Amazing colours
We have been able to get a variety of TV stations using the antenna, so we've watched NBC Olympics each night .We are staying here a few more days [so more on Tucson soon], and then moving to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, closer to Phoenix, before we move on to Sedona.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in Arizona many years ago, my friend & I were told to avoid dry river beds as they can flood without warning. The rain falls in the mountains and just rushes down and across the desert, following the 'dry' riverbeds. So I can quite believe you saw a flooded road! Old Tucson was interesting as was a 'zoo' out in the desert. We also visited Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Phoenix, and the Painted Desert in the north of the state. Enjoy!!