Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #15

Life’s like a road that you travel; When there’s one day here and the next day; Sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand; Sometimes you turn your back to the wind.

Tom Cochrane


Sunday, March 26, 2017:  On the road at 1000 hours from Seal Beach, California and heading home…well, heading easterly anyway.  Can’t very well go west any distance, and we’ve spent considerable time in the south.  Originally, we intended to head north to explore more of Oregon and Washington, but Kit and I recently received an offer that was impossible to pass up!  Our Vegas grandchildren are starting spring break in a few weeks, and we have an opportunity to hang out with them!

Soon we were rolling by the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove and Corona, while mixing it up with the typical California traffic.

The morning coastal fog began to dissipate as we traversed the Santa Ana Mountains while heading toward the city of Riverside.

Where we made a stop at the National Cemetery to pay respects to Kit’s mom and dad who are at rest there.

With both of our parents gone, Kit and I are now the “older generation” in our respective families… a fact that seems surreal at times!  We spent an hour wandering about the nicely landscaped grounds while visiting with the many departed veterans, including Frank and Charlotte.

The many US National Cemeteries spread across this land are, in addition to an honored spot of eternal repose, a history lesson in the sacrifice our servicemen and women had made to keep America free…thank you for your service!

Back on the road, and heading northeast on Interstate 215, we encountered the desert “Super-Bloom” that has been in the press as of late!

A rare occurrence, that takes the right amount of moisture and temperatures to develop, the desert floor erupts into a spectacular show of color!

Intersecting I-10, we headed east for our next stop of Twenty Nine Palms, California.

And found the campground onboard Twenty Nine Palms Marine Corps Base…our planned home for the next few days.

The base campground used to be a mobile home park so the sites are large, well spread out, and feature covered car ports and utility sheds.

This base is a prime training facility for marines headed for combat in the Middle East.  The weather and terrain here resembles the land in that war-torn area of the world.

And as the day closes, the desert sunsets are almost as spectacular as those over the Pacific Ocean!



Monday, May 27 through Friday, May 31, 2017 Twenty Nine Palms, California: The main reason for this stop was to spend a few days exploring Joshua Tree National Park, which is located about 10 miles to the south.  J Tree, as it is called, is a relatively new National Park having been so designated in 1994.

It’s 790,636 acres covers parts of two deserts…the Mojave and the Colorado.  The higher and cooler Mojave Desert is the home of the Joshua Tree, actually a species of Yucca, and was named by early Mormon settlers because the tree’s form reminded them of the prophet Joshua praying with outstretched arms.

To me however, the Joshua Tree looks more like something that Doctor Seuss would have designed!

At the tips of the arms on the Joshua Tree during this time of the year, you can frequently see blooms of creamy white flowers.

The next most prevalent plant in the park is the iconic Cholla.

And many of these are blooming like crazy as well!

In fact, driving through J Tree it is evident that the abundant spring rains have produced colorful blooms in every direction.

So, fellow residents of the Joshua Tree and Cholla are also in bloom…such as the Yucca.

And the Ocotillo.

Even the lowly Prickly Pear Cactus gets into the act.

And a lot of wildflowers also dot the desert floor.

Which bloom in a variety of colors.

Many times, they struggle in the open and are barely noticed by passersby…such as this little fellow.

Where there are springs bubbling to the surface you will find larger trees and plants…such as the Palm, the Cedar, the Pinion Pine and the Sagebrush.

Whenever Kit and I explore a National Park, we drive through the campgrounds to see if our rig would fit in any of the spaces.  J Tree, being a newer park did have some suitable sites, but they were reserved many months ago thanks to spring break season.  In rounding a bend on one of the campground loops we encountered this sight.

Yep, it’s a T-Rex…and he stopped by for a visit!

Yep, it is definitely Spring Break in the Pacific Southwest!

So, what brings college kids to J Tree?  Well, in addition to the beautiful desert landscape, there are rocks to climb!

Some of which put on a rather sinister face!

Kit and I have tried to visit J Tree during past Excellent Adventure trips but it has never worked out…we are sure glad we finally made it…and Kit made a new friend!

We had planned to only spend three nights here in Twenty Nine Palms, but a ferocious wind storm came up and pinned us down for an additional two nights.

The 60 MPH desert storm was blowing sand everywhere, and making travel difficult!

The fine sand and dust even found their way into the closed-up camper!

And it masked the sun for much of the day!

One day we never left the camper, just spent time catching up on reading, correspondence and online banking…Kit also put up a nice crockpot of pork ribs to lighten the mood!

And, the second day of the storm we sought refuge at the Post Exchange. That’s the nature of being on the road…you just roll with the punches!  Tomorrow we head to Las Vegas!


Saturday, April 1, 2017:  Oh boy…we had planned on leaving this morning, but another weather issue has confronted us!?!?

What a cruel joke to play…not on me and Kit, but you folks!  Happy April Fool’s Day!  It is actually 73 degrees and sunny with calmer winds…finally!

As I’ve mentioned in many journals, the information that allows these journals to be developed are due to the efforts of Kit keeping a detailed account in a spiral bound notebook.  There is a funny quote in today’s notebook entry where she wrote: “Sayonara, nice to know you…once is enough”!  Guess she didn’t like all that wind!

Oh, and ask her about the nylon reusable grocery bag that took flight.  Reenactment photo is provided above as I was laughing too hard when it happened to snap a photo!

On the road at 1030 hours and making tracks for Las Vegas!  As Kit and I headed out of Twenty-Nine Palms, we encountered this strange contraption.

Guess that sailor really doesn’t want to heel over too much!?!?

Pulling off on Amboy Road we headed toward the northeast and the Bullion Mountains.

Rolling through the foothills Kit noticed a few riparian areas where small settlements were thriving.

After threading our way through the mountains, we descended back into flat desert terrain.

Intersecting US Route 66 Kit and I hopped on the historic highway and headed into the town of Amboy, California.

Photo From the Web

Amboy was a thriving stop for the Santa Fe Railroad as well as the motoring public heading to the coast…until 1973.  That’s when Interstate 40 opened and the town slowly died.  A scrappy town, it is self-described by the 4 remaining residents as “The Ghost Town that Ain’t Dead Yet”.  However, Amboy is beginning to come back to life with the purchase by a wealthy businessman who intends to market the location to Hollywood for movie shoots.

Just outside the town of Amboy lies the salt extraction operation of The National Chloride Corporation.

Located at Bristol Dry Lake the area contains an estimated 60,000,000 Tons of salt in repository.

Kit and I had intended to head north through Death Valley toward the town of Lone Pine, California and visit the Manzanar National Historic Site.  However, the two-day windstorm delay caused us to reschedule this bucket list item until a future trip.

After a meander on Route 66 we moved over to its nemesis I-40 and continued toward the east.  By early afternoon, we encountered US-95 and headed north through the town of Searchlight and crossed the Nevada border.  Pulling off the highway as we neared Las Vegas, we encountered this western scene.

There are a surprising number of horses in the Las Vegas area…most of which are on the periphery of the city.

At 1615 hours we arrived at Nellis AFB and set up at their RV Park in “The Low Rent District”…partial hookups and off by itself.

Oh well, it was flat, clean and cheap.

Since we arrived a few days earlier than anticipated, no one knows we are in town…time for some stealth “touristing” (is this even a word? Kit) before we pick up the boys for their week of spring break.

Stay Tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s:  Glad to have finally seen Twenty Nine Palms!  I’ve heard about it for many years and always imagined it as a lush green oasis in the desert. Not! The town itself was interesting, there are many murals on the town buildings which are interesting.  And, the town itself was quite nice.  However, I wasn’t prepared for the worst wind storm we’ve ever experienced!  I was very thankful we were in a rather heavy camper.  If we had been in a tent, well, no telling what would have happened.  We may have blown over to those very rugged mountains and been lost forever!