With pie on the way. And all this in California
20.05.2012 - 21.05.2012 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 n´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".