California, here we are!

Delight’s Hot Springs RV Park in Tecopa was horrible – no map of the park was available so the Boss had to walk from unmarked site to unmarked site to find a 50 AMP site long enough and level enough to accommodate the Enterprise (50 AMPs is required to run the AC and all the electrical appliances).  Mr. Big did not want to partake of the hot springs (he still has nightmares of French Lick, Indiana), the Barbeque/Brewery joint at the entrance was closed, and the Sand Dunes where B&B had planned to ride were reported by a park neighbor as being very steep and scary – he even got stuck – so the Boss nixed ATVing!  There were, however, redeeming factors: The night sky was the most dark and beautiful we had yet to see – there were no clouds, the stars were big and bright and twinkling, and even though the galactic center (of the Milky Way) was only “up” for about 40 minutes, it was magnificent! Also, a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant turned out to be a gem, especially the fruit and cheese platter – prepared and presented as only a California chef can do.

 

On the road to the “Yacht Club” in Tecopa Hot Springs

 

Lucky to catch a shooting star!

 

Even with all the light pollution, the Pleiades were magnificent!

Calico Ghost Town in Barstow never changes; I wonder why?  When we first arrived, we were the only people around – two days later every site was occupied and the RV Park was filled with other ATVers and Dirt-Bikers!  Children ran loose, kicking up the dust while driving their loud machines round and round the park (ignoring all signs to NOT do so) while barking dogs contributed to the nighttime cacophony. B&B made two runs on the ATV, but both times their efforts to complete the trails were unsuccessful – the Razor was just not big enough or high enough off the ground to climb over the boulders that blocked all the routes. We were all happy to leave!

A 4% crescent moon rises over Barstow, California

 

Beautiful colors on the Ghost Town ATV trails

 

Can’t go any further!

Adelanto – we were there only for the ATVing! The first ride in El Mirage OHV was picturesque but not exciting and it was freezing cold! Too bad only the first half hour of the ride was captured on the GoPro – the boss had the settings wrong (imagine that) but got it right for their second excursion to the Stoddard Wells OHV area. In the nearby town of Victorville, the Boss sniffed out a Barnes and Nobles where she managed to drop $$$ on books and astronomy magazines (items she claims that she cannot live without) and Mr. Big bought himself a latte and cinnamon bun; as usual I got to wait in the truck.

Mr. Big at El Mirage OHV

Finally, after two weeks in the California Mohave Desert, we landed in a true oasis – the Pala Casino and RV Park Resort in Pala.  Big, wide sites with cement pads, green-grass patio areas, palm trees, a terrific dog park, a Casino, and a Spa! We took advantage of everything and were disappointed only with the “Lobster” Buffet at the Casino – there was no lobster and no doggie bag for me!  The Boss spent a day at the spa where she had about 8” cut off her hair and something done to her face which (she claimed) made her look 10 years younger; Mr. Big and I just looked at each other…  We also drove up Palomar Mountain to visit the CALTECH Palomar Observatory and got a kick out of the fact that the Village of Palomar was for sale.

Still pretty, even in the early winter

 

Last year’s fires didn’t kill the view…

 

On the drive up Palomar mountain – at 4000 feet. Who would even be there???

 

CLS and the Bus at Palomar Observatory

 

Very cute PO

 

Anyone interested?

Thanksgiving in Banning, California was not like Thanksgiving at home; no 16-pound turkey (only a small, pressed meat breast) with Grandma Philipsheck’s wonderful stuffing (only Pepperidge Farms’s fake stuff), no Senator Russell‘s Candied Sweet Potatoes, no dinner rolls, no delicious(?) hot-buttered green beans, no pumpkin pie, and, worst of all, no family or company at all!  I didn’t like the Banning KOA, it wasn’t very dog friendly and was lit up like a used-car lot at night which really depressed the Boss – no pics of the night sky!  B&B needed to be cheered up, so they took the ATV out on the Bee Canyon Truck Trail and evidently the cool air, warm sun, and incredible views did the trick; they came back happy and smiling.

On the Bee Canyon Truck Trail…

Leapin’ Lizards! Isn’t that what Orphan Annie used to say?  Anyway, I like it here, in the Leapin’ Lizards RV Ranch on the edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert in Ocotillo Wells. It’s quiet and the park is attractive with tall desert hedges surrounding each site, providing welcomed privacy.  The ranch roads are hard-pack sand, which I like to walk on, and the dog park is really big with strategically-placed hoses and bowls of water.  The boss let me walk around the ranch off-leash (but next to her) and I could have spent hours just wandering and sniffing.  We unloaded the ATV and parked it next to the truck near the special off-road vehicle entrance, and B&B had only to drive the ATV out of the ranch to the Ocotillo Wells SVRA which was literally across the road.  Of the three rides into the desert, the most memorable was almost fifty miles (and three hours) to the Tectonic Gorge / Tierra Del Sol Loop (look for it on You Tube); even the Boss had a great time!  Dust in the air, the almost constant wind, and every-day early morning and evening clouds put a damper on the Boss’s night sky viewing but she did manage to get a pretty shot of the Moon, Venus and Spica forming a triangle in the sky as the sun rose.  And guess what? Both Mr. Big and the Boss managed to live for a week without their phones and internet access!

A Leapin’ Lizards sunrise

 

Our site at Leapin’ Lizards

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park…

Out of the State Park and into the valley

 

Beautiful Colors!

 

ATVing at Ocotillo Wells SVRA…

The Moon, Venus, and Spica form a triangle in the early morning sky

Seventy five miles southeast found us at the Glamis North Hot Springs Resort in Niland, on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. A haven for off-roaders, the park was packed with a group of Polaris Razor enthusiasts (we have a trail-sized RZR 900) who carried on over the course of an entire weekend, partying and drinking while driving their ATVs. I was shocked and appalled (to use one of the Boss’s phrases); shocked that grown men and women let their dogs run loose, play loud music that everyone within a 100-yard radius is forced to hear, and light huge fires that burn all night, filling the air with stinky billowing smoke that blocks out the beautiful stars (and nearly choked me to death) and appalled at the lack of respect these presumably same people show for the desert environment by throwing their trash all over the place and, ignoring all postings to “stay on the trails” drive over the desert vegetation, killing it.  Does it sound like I had a good time?  NO!  The Boss was disappointed that she and Mr. Big  had to drive the ATV for more than 10 miles before picking up any good trail or to even reach a specific destination, but they bit the bullet and in addition to several short, two-to-three-hour rides willy nilly, they took a terrific ride on the Bradshaw Trail out to Red Canyon and the Pinnacles.  On our arrival in Glamis Hot Springs it rained all night and day and the flash flood warnings were flying.  We took advantage of the bad weather by driving north to the beautiful desert cities of Desert Palms and Indio to go to the bank and do grocery shopping.  On the way we passed through the Coachella Valley, a hub of produce growing and distribution where we saw groves of date palms, figs, oranges, lemons, cabbages, tomatoes, grapefruits, chilis, and brussel sprouts and I was surprised to learn that Imperial County supplies 80% of our nation’s winter crops.  However I was very distressed to learn that there is also a toxic dust and asthma crisis in the region… couldn’t wait to head out!

Passing thru Desert Palms – picture perfect!

 

A desert sunset

 

A view of the far-off Salton Sea from the Bradshaw ATV Trail

To the Red Canyon and the Pinnacles…

End of Red Canyon Trail!

Our last stop in California was El Centro and the Sunbeam Lake RV Resort.  The Boss had hoped to photograph the Geminids Meteor Shower and the Wirtanen Comet, but the clouds, pollution, and incredible amounts of dust in the air, put a real damper on even viewing those celestial events!  The palm trees in the resort were lit up with colored lights, and almost every RV site was decorated to the hilt for Christmas – very pretty, but way too bright for my sensitive eyes or any night-sky photos.  Close to Sunbeam Lake is the Superstition Mountain OHV Area, so B&B put the sand tires on the Razor and made two jaunts out to the sand dunes where they had excellent rides while I had excellent naps in the air-conditioned Enterprise!

Colored lights on palm trees and a cloudy sky…
Orion just visible in the night sky

 

From Superstition Mountain, Mexico and dust pollution on the horizon

Arizona coming up, stay tuned!  Your friend, Buster.

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