Friday, March 7, 2008

Barstow, CA

Yes, we have returned to the most boring part of the trip as evidenced by this cultural wonderland we find ourselves in tonight--Barstow. (Yawn.) We are driving long days in our quest to get home as soon as possible. It seems the closer we get, the more we want to be there. So . . . since I don't expect to have anything of interest to tell you, I'm going to make this my last entry. Anything that happens from here on, you can expect to hear from our own lips. Thanks for reading. It's been fun. See you soon. Mike and Barb

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Yuma, AZ

We are staying in a park about 10 miles out of Yuma. We will be here tonight and tomorrow night. We have decided against going to San Diego. We got overwhelmed by the number of parks and the size of the city. Although we both grew up in North San Diego County, we have been gone from there for so many years that it now feels as if we are on an alien planet whenever we venture into the area. It was big when we lived there, but the growth in Southern California since we left there (in 1975) has been nothing short of phenomenal. As an example, where I-5 and I-8 intersect, the freeway is 16 lanes (at last count). As we started looking for places to stay, we found we couldn't remember exactly where places like La Mesa and El Cajon are. There is a park in beautiful Mission Bay, but that is where the 16 lanes of interstate are. Our teeth began to chatter at the thought of it.

So, with San Diego out, the only thing to do now is head north. We are about 10 miles east of Yuma proper, which makes it easy for us to get on US Hwy 95 and head north to I-40 which will link up with I-5 in Sacramento. And you all know where I-5 north will take us. I figure we will be home within the next 10 days or so if we keep up our drive-one-day-rest-one-day schedule.

Just to say a little bit about Yuma, the tour book explained that it was the only known land passage to California when the west was being settled. It was first discovered by a priest, who didn't really do much with his discovery. It was re-discovered by a different priest who built two missions and established a settlement here. But then, in the last uprising of the Yuma Indians, the priest and the entire settlement were wiped out. It was not explored again until another 50 years later when Kit Carson came here. (I always love coming across names like Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, and Davy Crockett.)

So that's about all I have to say for now. It was quite windy when we arrived, and I really hate those big winds. We haven't done much exploring so far. We aren't too far from the pool and the hot tub, and so I expect we'll walk over there some time this evening. This is a big snowbird park for sure, and the activities on the calendar are geared toward people who live here for months at a time. While I was checking in, a gentleman from Wyoming was in the office taking care of some business. He was saying that he would be heading home the week of April 1st unless the temperature got above 100 degrees. And then he would be leaving sooner. The woman behind the desk told him that it is forecast to be 90 degrees on Sunday. When Mike and I lived in Phoenix, this was the time of year when people started taking bets on which would be the first 100 degree day. Oregon sounds better and better.

Despite the comment from the CPM of the City of Yuma on my last entry (We've been trying to figure out what that stands for. Certified Public Menace is the only thing we've come up with.), we have no plans to make Yuma our home. We are Oregonians all the way into the far-reaching future. I'll keep you posted on our progress as we travel north, but I think we are about finished with sight-seeing. I'm hoping that my next pictures will be in my own woods in my own yard.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tucson, AZ (again)

We are spending two nights in Tucson before making our way to Yuma, AZ. I've already mentioned that it is a favorite place of snowbirds. We don't consider ourselves "snowbirds," rather, we believe we would fall under the category of "rainbirds," and I'm not talking about the sprinkler. I suppose we will fit in with the snowbirds anyway.

Mike has not wanted to make the trip home a "death march," and so we are alternating driving days with staying-in-one-place days. It makes it a little easier. I did a little driving when we were on our way to Big Bend, but if the highway has more than about three other cars on it, I'm still timid about driving. This means that Mike does 99% of the driving. We will probably spend a few extra days in Yuma and explore it a little. We are considering it as "the place" we might want to come to spend our winters in the future. We have looked at several places (Tucson among them), and so far, we haven't found the spot that fits us.

We are staying at the same park where we stayed as we were traveling east. It's a nice park, but it is teamed up with an RV sales and service business, and so there is some pressure to look at RV's and also the irritating problem of gasoline-powered golf carts cruising the park looking for potential buyers. There is a Camping World next door, which would be very nice, except for the vultures swooping down on us every time we walk over there. Annoying to say the least. We are parked on the other side of the park from the sales people this time though, and so the golf cart traffic has slowed considerably. We do like the city of Tucson, however, and have considered it as a place to live if we ever were to decide we'd had enough of Oregon. (For my part, I doubt that will ever happen.)

So there are still lemons on the lemon trees, which is a thrill for me. I'm easily impressed. They have two nice swimming pools, and one is striped for lap swimming. The temperature is a little cool, however, and so I haven't really done any lap swimming. They also have two nice hot tubs. They aren't as big as the one in Las Cruces, but they are very deep. Chest deep for me. My worst pain in my shoulder has flared up and so I intend to take advantage of the hot tub very soon.

That's pretty much all I know for now. We'll be leaving again tomorrow for Yuma, and I'll let you know what happens then. We haven't been to Yuma except for when we lived in Phoenix and we traveled home to Oceanside and Vista in Southern California. We will be looking at it with fresh eyes this time. Back then, it was the first sizeable city on a very long drive to home. So, stay tuned for news about Yuma--exciting, I'm sure. Take care. Hugs all around.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Las Cruces, NM, (again)

We're definitely heading toward home now. We left Balmorhea SP and West Texas this morning and drove into New Mexico and Mountain time. We like this park where we are. We stayed here while we were traveling east. It has a really nice hot tub. I'll bet I've told you that about a dozen times by now. It's just a nice all around park though. Laundry has piled up because we haven't had a sewer connection for two weeks. We've changed locations often enough to use the dump station to empty our tanks, but that doesn't help where the laundry is concerned. Since it drains into the gray water tank, we wouldn't have enough room in the tank to take showers. So . . . this place has a nice clean laundry room with lots of machines. I needed to wash a load of sheets and two loads of towels. Those are easily done in the park laundromat, and I can use our machine for our clothes.

Yesterday we went scuba diving in the San Solomon Springs swimming pool. It was excellent practice, although not much of a dive site. We came to realize that tropical fish have evolved for protection and mating by becoming bright in color. The fish in this area are very silvery, and that seems to be their way of identifying one another. Well, except for the catfish, and they are black. We saw two endangered species, the Channel catfish and the Comanche Springs Pupfish. Pretty cool. Mike took some pictures underwater, and I took pictures above. I'll give you a link at the bottom of this entry.

The pool was absolutely filled to the brim with little schooling fish, mainly Mexican Tetras, Round-nosed Minnows, and Pupfish. There were also bottom feeders in the way of catfish. Occasionally, a predatory Sunfish makes its way into the mix, but it has been determined that they don't eat enough to create a problem for the endangered little pupfish (2 inches long). The catfish are anywhere from 4-12 inches. There are also the cutest diving ducks called Lesser Scaub. We enjoyed watching them very much. And there are spiny softshell turtles. We saw several of them, but we weren't able to get pictures of them. There is also another kind of turtle called a Mexican slider, but we didn't see any of them.

The funny thing about this is that the schooling fish, all varieties about 2 inches long, who followed us all over the pool. When we were diving, they seemed to identify us as their fearless leaders, and they followed us everywhere by the thousands. They also nipped at us because they have come to associate swimmers with food. People feed them all the time, and so this creates a problem. It didn't really hurt, but it was terrifically annoying. We're told the turtles will bite too, and there is a rather large one. (We learned this from the dive shop guy, who teaches diving in the pool.) I'm referring to the pool as a "pool," but technically it is an open body of water because it is spring fed. We were also able to see the many little holes on the bottom where the spring feeds in 1 million gallons of water per hour. That's a lot of water!

It was a shallow dive from start to finish. It was also high altitude and fresh water. For those of you who know about diving, those three things mean that it is difficult to control your bouyancy. As far as I'm concerned, bouyancy control is the most difficult part of diving. In shallow water and with all of the other factors coming into play, it was necessary to be pretty heavily weighted to keep from popping back up to the surface all the time, and having so much weight made it difficult not to end up dragging your equipment and your body across the bottom of the pool. It was 25 feet at its deepest point, and the deep leg off the main pool gets as shallow as 12 feet at the far end. (There is also a shallow leg that comes off the main pool, but we didn't go into that area.) Still, I'm bringing this up because we both did really well controlling our bouyancy, and so we are feeling pretty good about that.

So we're in Las Cruces for a few nights. After that, we'll be heading toward Yuma, AZ, which is a two day drive (two days for us weinies--one day if you're in a hurry). We'll probably hang out there for a couple of days. Then we'll head over to San Diego where I want to visit my mother's grave and place some flowers. Then we'll head north on I-15. We expect to be home around the third week of March, but don't hold us to that date. It all depends on the weather and whether we like the parks we find along the way. (Weather and whether.)

Here is the link to the pictures: