Friday, November 27, 2009

Joshua Tree to Arizona

Palm Springs, our planned stopover for a few days, ended up being a one nighter and source to gather supplies. Our RV site was very comfortable and folks very friendly (lots of British Columbia snowbirds) but the once very popular spot for weekend get-a-ways from LA LA land has seen better days. Of course, the sidewalks still have the "stars" cemented in their centres which we observed during our morning run. However, we were too young and had not had enough plastic surgery to warrant staying longer.

We both agree in our 4.5 months on the road that the most enjoyable stays have not been in the cities but rather away from the bustle. So off we escaped again, to Joshua Tree National Park. The Park contains parts of both the Mojave and Colorado deserts. We decided to camp at Jumbo Rocks famous for it's stacked boulders and picturesque joshua trees. There were no roadrunner sightings and luckily no rattle snakes either. The daytime temperatures were ideal for running and hiking though the nights and early mornings were quite cool. A memorable hike up Ryan Mountain (5461 feet or 1664 m) gave us great views and the cell coverage to leave a birthday message for my friend Diane. Time definitely slows down when we have no phone, internet, tv or radio distractions. After several days we needed to replenish our water and supplies so reluctantly we left our spot at Jumbo Rocks.

Indio, our destination to gather supplies was great. Temperatures were very hot and the RV Park was a resort with an inviting swimming pool and hot tub. We met some Californians who had just purchased a large "A" coach but had not travelled outside their own neighbourhood and were impressed to hear our tales. Next morning before heading out to "Slab City" we had a great 10 km run (my fastest in a year) through Sun City (a planned retirement community).

A description of the Salton Sea and Slab City (where we boondocked) that does it justice is hard to do with words alone. Hopefully the added pictures will help.

The Salton Sea is a saline, endorheic body of water which means water runs in but not out which in this case means polluted water in and increase saltiness due to evaporation. What was hoped to be a resort lake in the 60's in now a desolate area of boarded up motels, wrecked playgrounds, ramshackled trailers and shorelines of dead fish. Despite this it is one of the major wintering spots for birds. It was here at the Salton Sea in the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge that we finally saw roadrunners.

We dry camped at the Slabs. A de-commissioned World War II base now populated by a mixture of those who want off the "grid" either full-time or just wintertime.

One notable character is Leonard Knight who has been building his monument to God for the past 20 years. It is made of odd pieces of timber, hay bales, adobe and donated paint and aptly called Salvation Mountain.

Our final stop before leaving California for the last time on our trip was Quechan Indian Reservation. Our campsite here was just a short walk across the border to the small Mexican village of Los Algodones. So for American Thanksgiving we crossed the border to savour tacos, barbecued chicken, rice, refried beans, salsa, guacamole and of course cervasa. The village serves Americans and Snowbirds without drug or dental coverage. It has streets lined with dentists, opticians and pharmacies.

Arizona next.....

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