Our next stop was Benson, in the Southern Arizona desert, not too far from Tucson and also near lots of great places to explore. We stayed in the Saguaro SKP park, an Escapee Co-op, where we stayed a couple of years ago. It’s a very nice park, and as a bonus our friends Paul and Nina were staying there as well.
The park has a first-come first-served policy, but it has an overflow area where RVers can stay while they wait for a full hookup site. We lucked out and got the one spot in the overflow area that had full hookup. Which was great since it was starting to get hot and we needed to run the A/C. Continue reading →
After leaving San Diego, we headed to the Arizona desert where we planned to make several stops before landing in Tucson in March. For the next month or so, we moved to six different locations, met friends, had a medical scare (everything turned out ok), had maintenance issues, met more friends and enjoyed the desert. At times we felt like desert tumbleweeds. Oh, and I flew to Puerto Rico for ten days during that time – more on that in a later post.
Our first stop was Quartzsite, our third visit in three years during their annual RV show. This year we arrived only a few days before the end of the show, since our main purpose in going was to meet friends.
During our drive to Quartzsite I received a call regarding mammogram results from my medical exam in San Diego. Something showed up in the first mammogram, and the doctor wanted me to have a second one and maybe an ultrasound. Medical issues while RVing are always a challenge, but we continued on while we thought about next steps.
We boondocked in the Dome Rock area of Quartzsite, the area where we stay every year. During a quick walk through the show we met our friends Jack and Karen and made plans to meet a few days later.
Meanwhile, we had to figure out a way for me to get a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound. And, for various mostly insurance related reasons, we decided that it would be best to return to San Diego for the additional tests. Hector had the idea to double back to Anza Borrego State Park, not too far from Quartzite. This would put us day trip distance from San Diego, so we could drive our car to my appointment, thus avoiding crossing the mountains again in Island Girl.
We had a couple of days to socialize so we spent part of our time hanging out with our friend Vince who was staying at “our” regular campsite nearby. And we watched some beautiful sunsets. Continue reading →
Leaving Nevada we still had miles of really lonely highway ahead before finally reaching Delta, Utah and the real end of the Loneliest Highway.
After having the car and the motorhome covered inside and out with dust from the desert, and the outside turning to mud while driving in the rain, it was time for a stop to do some Spring cleaning or de-deserting as Hector calls it.Continue reading →
At the end of the Nevada section of Hwy 50 is the Great Basin National Park, a national park that we had never heard of before we began our drive on the Loneliest Highway in America. We love the national parks, and visiting new ones is always fun.
The Great Basin is comprised of multiple basins, from the Sierra Nevadas on the West to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains on the east, with lots of mountain ranges and few rivers. These narrow basins surrounded by mountains offer no outlet to the sea for their streams and rivers. So the water in its shallow salt lakes, marshes and mud flats evaporates.
Great Basin National Park was created in 1986 and includes much of South Snake Range, a desert mountain island surrounded by desert. This and other mountain islands support species of plants and animals that can only survive on the tall, cool mountains. At these higher altitudes there is lots of diversity – streams, lakes, and wildlife.
There are five campgrounds in the national park, one that accommodates big rigs. But we chose to stay at Sacramento Pass Recreation Area, a free BLM campground. It was just off the road but quite nice. There is an equestrian campground with even lovelier views on the upper level but there was one trailer there, so we chose to be on our own on the lower level. Read my review of the campground here.Continue reading →
We really admire reinvention. And areas with a rich history. That is why we chose to take a drive on the Loneliest Road in America.
Apparently, in the late 1980’s Life Magazine ran a “very negative article” about Nevada State Highway 50 titled “The Loneliest Road”. Then a spokesperson for the AAA put the nail in the coffin by describing the road as follows “It’s totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they’re confident of their survival skills.”
That is when some shrewd Nevada tourism officials began to call Highway 50 “the loneliest road in America”, and developed “The Loneliest Road in America, Official Highway 50 Survival Guide” marketing its non-traditional and unique places of interest, most of which were and are still free. Touché.
Our first visit to Mono Lake was on a day trip from Yosemite National Park more than 30 years ago. We drove east on Tioga Pass and wound up on the east side of the pass looking at this brilliantly beautiful lake. This was my first encounter with the many colors of Mono Lake.
The lake was stunning and her colors changed when viewed from different angles. So much so that I later became convinced that there was more than one lake. And I never forgot her.
So this year we planned to return and spend some time there with the intent of watching sunrise over the lake, and of course photographing her. When we arrived in the area, our friends Nina and Paul and Russ and Todd had saved us a spot next to them overlooking the lake.Continue reading →
The day after visiting Manzanar, we continued heading north on U.S. 395 towards the town of Bishop and the Volcanic Tablelands. We were excited about visiting Bishop and boondocking in the nearby BLM Volcanic Tablelands. It was still somewhat windy, but the weather forecast was for the wind to die down, so we forged ahead.
Island Girl climbing the washboard road up to the plateeau
With help from our friend Nina, we found a nice campsite on the tablelands (only a couple are suitable for big rigs). It had a 360-degree view of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the west and the town lights of Bishop and lower mountains to the east. Absolutely stunning, see my review here.
That evening we stayed at our campsite and enjoyed the view.
On our last day in Lone Pine, a windstorm blew into the area. It began the previous night and by the next day had developed some pretty fierce gusts. And that is the day we chose to visit the Manzanar National Historic Site.
The site of the Manzanar National Historic Monument is in the Owens Valley surrounded by majestic mountains. Mountains that have stood as silent witnesses to more than one grave injustice.
About 1,500 years ago, Paiute Indians settled in the Owens Valley. In the early 1860s miners and ranchers who moved into the valley homesteaded Peiute lands and a few years later, almost 1,000 Paiute were forcibly relocated by the military.
Then in 1910, the town of Manzanar developed into an agricultural settlement. But the acquisition of water and land rights by Los Angeles, and the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 diverted water from the town and ultimately caused its downfall.
At the start of World War II, the U.S. established the Manzanar War Relocation Center for the internment of Japanese American citizens and U.S. residents of Japanese descent. This was one of ten camps where almost 120,000 people were interned. These actions were driven by fear of possible espionage in “military areas” on the Pacific Coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and fueled by racism.
Hector has wanted to take me to Death Valley National Park since he went there many years ago and fell in love with the desert. Our original plan was visit during March and see the wildflowers. A month later the flowers were gone and with temperatures in the 90’s to 100’s, dry camping was not an option, so we decided on a day trip instead.
Death Valley is the largest national park outside of Alaska. It is a vast landscape and also the hottest, driest and lowest national park. And it is also diverse; with salt flats, mountains, canyons, rolling sand dunes and spring-fed oases. Ninety-one percent of the park is designated wilderness.Continue reading →