A Travellerspoint blog

Seething metropolis to lush wooded hills to arid desert

With pie on the way. And all this in California

sunny 41 °C

Room 21221, Gold Nugget, Las Vegas, NV
22nd May 3.53pm

California is an incredible state. From one extreme to another. Cool, foggy coasts, to hot wooded hills, to arid empty deserts to market gardens the likes of which we've never seen.

We spent some time planning our routes and the last couple of days showed how well worthwhile it was. Apart from a stop for pie, in a little place called Julian where, on a Sunday, the bikers come up from LA, we all-but had it to ourselves, something we thought we could no longer do with advanced and mass tourism. But we could and did.

This was the essence of our trip. We were Just Driving.

We left San Pedro on the San Diego Freeway, and Lori, our navigator-in-a-box, took us onto a stretch of toll road. Just like home! Hardly a soul on it. Remarkably like the AP7. We came to the toll booths, about twenty of them, and just one of them was manned, and he did not look in very good condition. I suspect he liked a drink or twenty!

Of course, MOST Americans are perfectly sane.....

We first came to the San Luis Mission, the biggest and wealthiest of the Spanish missions, built, originally, as fortresses.


Then we turned into the hills and climbed and climbed, with the blue Pacific Ocean behind us, right up to the Palomar Observatory.

On the way, we passed through about 7 native American ("Injuns", says Arthur) reservations, the first containing a giant casino. Rather sad that tribes have to resort to making money from gambling to survive. As they are outside state law, any gambling regulations do not apply.


Down again to the apple growing area where the town of Julian was its pie-eating capital. Could we resist? I leave that for you to guess. Anyway, Bob's was traditional apple pie with cinnamon ice cream and John's was mango nĀ“apple with cinnamon ice cream. Very small portions I hasten to add.


From here, we crossed an invisible line into bleak yet beautiful desert, skipped a town called Borrego Springs and down to the inland salt sea of Salton. Here was planned a sort of giant Camposol for people to come and live in the desert by this salty sea. But it never took off and the early birds are still there, with no hope of selling there bleak and lonely houses.


Then along the shore through massive market gardens where huge date palms are farmed as well as mile upon mile of pots of succulents and citrus trees for resale in garden centres throughout California. Huge groves of mature citrus trees, meanwhile, seemed to have been abandoned and looked rather sad.


We came for the night to the town of La Quinta. A very well healed retirement resort (houses available "in the low millions") where illuminated signs were banned and everyone lived in gated and walled communites, to keep the nasty Hispanics away, apart from those allowed in to tend their gardens. As mentioned, a place for aged, well-heeled and moneyed Californians come to die before which they drive round in their Lexus and BMW SUVs.


A lovely hotel where we were upgraded to a fabulous suite and given a free comprehensive brekafast with LOTS OF FRUIT!

Then on through the desert, even more arid and hotter than before (107F). Through the haunting Joshua Tree National Park and on through the Mojave Desert Preserve. Empty of humans but quite a few million succulents and aloes and creosote bushes one colony of which is reputed to be 10,000 years old.


We stumped across an old railorad depot (Kelso) which had recently been restored.


Oh, and some local lads, who only allowed me to photograph them in black and white for religious reasons:-

Eventually we hit the busy Interstate to Las Vegas where we are safely esconced in our great room on the 21st FLoor looking towards The Strip waiting for the lights to come on.

2 Fantabulosa days, as Julian may have said.

As ever, thank you so much for all your comments, especially ones about wigwams!

PS, a few more memories of those days. One Indian tribe is called "29 Palm Trees". As we turned away from that reservation, we saw the warning "No Services For 100 miles". And another, "Watch for Tortoises".

Posted by Johnash 17:11 Archived in USA

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That was a bit of a stroll down memory lane for me.The desert deserted roads,The Joshia Trees,and then Vegas.Hope you win more than we did.Glad to see apart from apple pie you managed to get FRUIT.Cant find your scales,but maybe you wont want them found!!!!!!!!

by Bren Collis

It reminds me of our visit to California too. The San Luis Mission looks like the church in Mazarron.
Will there be pictures from Las Vegas of winnings instead of food?

by Brien

As the words fruit was large for all to see you expect us to believe that you eat some. Apple pie I believe. Good to see Bob driving more guts than me that is for sure. Glad you are both enjoying yourselves how do you keep getting upgrades in hotels any more presnts for your 65th yet.xxx

by vivienne

Thank you Blog fans! We do keep winning. Not enough to retire to La Quinta but enough to keep swelling the pot. We have put in $160 and still have $260 left in the pot, having gambled quite a lot. It's nice to keep ticking over. Last time our money was lasting about 20 minutes per session.

I am NOT getting on any scales. I will worry about it when I get home else I'll not enjoy this holiday. Anyone got any good, easy diets? (Not now, please!).

Day off today but more soon! Been seein' y'all.

PS Bob has a new Stetson hat (well John does too) but Bob really looks the part. Sitting at the VP machines as if he's astraad his horse! xx

by Johnash

It's not your weight I am worried about it's mine.Brenxxx

by Bren Collis

According to your pics you are both still looking way to slim for 2 chaps on your hols (or is there a bit of airbrushing going on,come on fes up). I'm glad you're having a fab time in vegas. Remember what happens in vegas stays in vegas. Have you bumped into Elvis yet?!!!! Can't wait for the next blog update. Have fun. We have our fingers, toes & pet paws crossed that you win big xx

by Antonia

Well, Bob's OK. John, whilst slim compared to an awful lot of people here, will need to take some action on return to Bag End! But not yet!!

No big wins but keep getting the odd $80-100 win to keep us going.

Just watching "Jeopardy" (the GAME show where Bob appeared as a contestant) then hitting the Strip. Maybe Bellagio tonight?

Love to all in Fuente Meca.

by Johnash

Cheer up Bob we haven't seen a smile yet. Perhaps winning at the tables in Vegas will help. Glad to see you avoided a confrontation with the bikers in Julian. Didn't look like Hell's Angels.

by Bob & Frances Holloway

I,m now craving apple pie I will have to pop to Tescos after writing this.The drive to Las Vegas looked great we only did a fraction of this from Palm Springs to Las Vegas but remember the Mojave Desert did you see any ratlers, enjoy the casinos and I hope you win lots of money I remember on one of your early trips you got lucky.

by jan

Just learned that our Elton John concert has been cancelled. He was rushed into LA hospital with serious respiratory infection early yesterday morning. But released and told to completely rest.


Ah well. Just hoping he's OK and get's better soon, along with other friends suffering at the moment.

by Johnash

Thats a shame,but as you say as long as he gets well again.I'm going to tax my brain tonight at the quiz.Brenxx

by Bren Collis

First chance to catch up...Hey, sorry to hear about Elton was going to say "sods law" but on second thoughts won't. Anyone else you can get tickets for? Failing that why not treat yourselves to a slap up meal ;) Otherwise all sounds great. Carry on enjoying... xx

by Paul

I'm gutted for you as its not every day you get to see a concert in Las Vegas. If it makes you feel any better John has to put up with Westlife for 3 nights running whilst he plays with his panels on site at the O2. I think hes using earplugs tonight.

by Antonia

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