1st - 31st October 2017 - California - Arizona back to California - Baja, Mexico

Sunday 1st October

Tony is now feeling fit and well again, we left Petaluma on the US 101 south to San Rafael where we crossed San Francisco Bay on the 580. In heavy traffic we travelled along the east bay through Richmond and Berkeley.

Continued south down Silicon Valley to San Jose where we picked up the 101 again to our destination just north of San Luis Obispo. The concrete roads here are hard going, with plenty of potholes.

South of San Jose we came to Salinas and Monterey. Salinas is well known for being the birth place of John Steinbeck. A predominately agricultural area with salad crop farms and vineyards all along a wide valley, overlooked by golden hillsides. The historic name for the US 101 here is El Camino Real (The Royal Road) because it runs roughly along the old trail linking the Spanish missions and towns.

Our stop for the night was in Paso Robles at The Vines RV Resort a very smart park with hotel facilities.

Peter and Suzy were already there and we went out of dinner at the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. The brewery had a really good menu with a different range of food than usual which made it difficult to choose. In the end I had chicken Masala.

They had an interesting feature in the bar, cans circling around, conveyor belt style.

Monday 2nd October

We said another goodbye to Peter and Suzan. They are staying on in Paso Robles for a week before moving east. Our journey also took us east from the 101 onto State Route 46, passing through Cholame where James Dean died in a car crash at the age of 24 in 1955. We continued through grassland, rolling hills and passed by cattle ranches. After a stretch of prairie flat land we came across a field full of 'nodding donkeys' extracting oil, quite a weird sight.

Climbed through 3000 feet into the Tehachapi Mountains and descended into the Mojave Desert area. It was an enjoyable trip across California. We kept off the interstates, the roads were mainly good and we saw some interesting small towns and landscapes.

Arriving at our destination, Twentynine Palms in eastern California late afternoon. This is an oasis town and the 29 palms trees for which the town is named were planted centuries ago by members of the Serrano tribe. They named it ‘the place of little springs and much grass”. Our campsite was, guess, the Twentynine Palms RV Resort. A nice park at the back of the town on the edge of the desert, next to a golf course.

For dinner we went to, guess where, the 29 Palms Inn. There has been a hotel of some form on this spot since the 1920’s. The hotel building has a simple retro style and there are two huge California fan palms next to the swimming pool, two of the twentynine.

Makes a change to have a non smiley photo.

Tuesday 3rd October

Joshua Tree National Park is a place of boulders, unusual plants and desert. In fact, two deserts; to the west is the Mojave Desert rising 3,000 feet above sea level, where amongst the boulders the Joshua Tree and other trees and cacti grow and bloom, to the east is the Colorado Desert below 3,000 feet and part of the larger Sonoran Desert that stretches into Arizona and Mexico.

The Joshua Tree is actually a type of yucca.

Keys View, a lookout across the Coachella Valley. The San Andreas Fault runs through the valley. On a clear day it is possible to see the Mexican border but often there is a haze that obscures the view. The haze is caused by air pollution that blows into the valley from industrial areas of Southern California. The National Parks Service say the pollution comes from the growth of urban areas in the Valley and from the Los Angeles basin, with a population over 12 million.

We could just see Palm Springs through the haze.

Town town for lunch.

Wednesday 4th October

Oasis of Mara – ‘the place of little springs and much grass’ the place where it all started.